Safrin La Batu, Jakarta The Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police will soon establish a joint task force to help address health problems in remote areas in Papua, the country's easternmost province where outbreaks of measles and malnutrition have recently been occurring.
The plan was made following President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's instruction he issued during a military-police leadership meeting at the TNI headquarters in Cilangkap, East Jakarta, on Tuesday, said TNI chief Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto.
"The military commander and the police chief will soon discuss the technicalities and other details so the task force could start the operations there very soon," Hadi told reporters after Tuesday's closed-door meeting.
Among the planned duties of the task force, which is expected to operate for a year, are to regularly transport medicine and doctors to Papua, as well as to monitor health issues in the province, particularly in Asmat, a regency in the southern part of Papua, and other areas prone to outbreaks.
The measles outbreak, along with malnutrition, has claimed at least 59 children in Asmat from September 2017 to January this year.
The Health Ministry had tried to prepare for the health emergency since September last year when they first received reports about the situation in Asmat, but some districts were difficult to reach quickly.
Jokowi had earlier also instructed the ministry and the TNI to work closely in tackling the health problem in Asmat, recently prompting the military to send its medical team and food supply. (ipa)
A measles outbreak is feared to have killed about 100 malnourished people in Indonesia's Papua, an official said Sunday, highlighting a health crisis in the country's easternmost province.
A total of 69 toddlers have died in the remote Asmat region, said Papua military spokesman Muhammad Aidi, while reports on the ground suggest 27 people have died in an equally remote and mountainous district named Oksibil.
"We have received reports from villagers that the outbreak is also happening in Oksibil district and our staff have confirmed that, but we still need to check how many people have died," Aidi told AFP.
"Measles is not dangerous, it's a mild disease. But because those children are malnourished, they can't cope in that condition."
The government and military have sent medical teams and are supplying villagers with medicine, vaccines, medical equipment and nutritious food in Asmat. But the difficult terrain means the team will not arrive in Oksibil until Monday at the earliest, Aidi added.
Both areas suffer from a severe shortage of doctors and health facilities as well as poor infrastructure and communications networks, delaying news of the outbreak.
About 129,000 people live in Asmat, a swampy region criss-crossed by rivers that can only be accessed by a flight from Papua's capital Jayapura followed by a helicopter and boat ride.
The district of Oksibil has a population of 4,000. To reach some of the villages, people must walk for about a day.
"We have sent aid, now we are making sure that it is actually distributed to those remote villages and not just stocked in a warehouse," said social affairs minister Idrus Marham.
Jakarta proclaimed western Papua to be part of Indonesia after a self-determination referendum in 1969 which some regarded it as a sham.
When President Joko Widodo took office in 2014 he vowed to speed up the development in infrastructure in Papua to speed up economic growth.
Dozens of pre-school children in a region of Indonesia's Papua province have died from malnutrition and measles in the past few months.
According to an Indonesian military spokesman, local health officials have confirmed the death of 59 toddlers in Asmat regency.
Agence France-Presse The AFP reported Muhammad Aidi as saying the children died from a combination of measles and malnutrition.
Asmat is a remote region of swamp-land along the southern coast of Papua with scarce medical services and a severe shortage of doctors.
The spokesman said it was unclear whether the malnutrition was caused by lack of food or by the parent's poor knowledge about a healthy diet.
But he said, in response, the military had deployed medical teams and support staff to supply Asmat villagers with medicine, vaccines, medical equipment and nutritious food.
Jakarta Indonesia is deploying military paramedics to carry food and vaccines to a remote part of its easternmost province of Papua, where reports say at least 61 infants died from malnutrition and diseases such as measles.
Papua is one of Indonesia's poorest provinces despite being rich in resources and President Joko Widodo pledged to speed its development when he came to power in 2014.
The situation in the remote Asmat regency was an "extraordinary incident", the health ministry said in a statement, adding that it was sending 39 health workers there.
The Indonesian military has sent 53 personnel including paramedics, besides medical equipment, vaccines and 11,100 packages of instant food, it added.
"We are handling the situation," Health Minister Nila Moeloek told Reuters, blaming similar previous incidents on several factors.
"There is a link between the malnutrition and (catching) other diseases," Moeloek added. "If you're undernourished, you will get those diseases."
The ministry said it was still trying to estimate the number of deaths but daily newspaper Kompas on Monday said at least 61 infants had died.
Many Papuans, who are predominantly Christian and a minority in the Muslim-majority country, criticise the government in Jakarta for neglecting Papua and instead being too focused on the densely-populated island of Java.
The province has also had a long-running and sometimes violent separatist movement since it was incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticized U.N.-backed referendum in 1969.
Catholic priest and rights activist John Jonga, blamed the crisis on a lack of vaccinations and a switch from more nutritious tubers to rice as a staple food.
He said he had voiced questions over Widodo's policy of sending aid to Palestine and Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim minority, rather than to Papua at a recent seminar at the Indonesia Institute of Sciences in Jakarta, the capital.
"We are lacking health facilities," Jonga said. "That's why in the seminar I asked why the president was busy with Myanmar and building a hospital in Gaza. Whereas in Papua, we have problems, difficulties with drugs and medical workers."
One minister denied the extent of the health crisis had taken the government by surprise.
"We have anticipated this since September 2017," Puan Maharani, the coordinating minister for human development, told reporters. "The location in Asmat is not easy to monitor. We have asked the health ministry to coordinate for this (health crisis) to be evaluated."
Anna Verdon A woman and her partner were publicly whipped for getting "too close" to each other just days before their wedding. The shocking public punishment took place in Aceh, Indonesia.
Closeness is seen as a step towards pre-martial sex which is against Sharia Law and as a result the couple each received 20 lashes, in front of gathering crowds.
The pair were among a group which were brought forward for public punishment on a makeshift stage outside a mosque on Friday.
An Indonesian Christian was also whipped for selling alcohol in the conservative province of Aceh. Islamic law also forbids selling and consuming alcohol and Jono Simbolon was arrested in October and sentenced to 36 lashings.
As a masked officer whipped his back with a rattan stick the man could be seen grimacing in pain in front of the jeering crowd. After 10 of the lashings a doctor was brought in to check on Simbolon but he gave the go-ahead for the whipping to continue.
Simbolon is the third non-Muslim to endure a public whipping since Aceh began implementing Islamic law in 2001 the only province in Indonesia to do so.
Banda Aceh mayor Aminullah Usman said: "This is our government's commitment to enforcing Islamic law. "If there is a violation immediately report it to the Sharia police and we will carry out a punishment like today's caning."
About 98% of Aceh's five million residents are Muslims and are subject to the Sharia law. People are flogged for a range of offences including gambling, drinking alcohol, gay sex or any sexual relationship outside of marriage.
An Indonesian Christian was publicly flogged on Friday for selling alcohol in conservative Aceh province, a violation of Islamic law, as a crowd of onlookers including children jeered.
Jono Simbolon grimaced in pain when a masked religious officer lashed his back with a rattan stick on a makeshift stage outside a mosque in the provincial capital Banda Aceh.
He is only the third non-Muslim to suffer a public whipping since Aceh, on Sumatra island, began implementing Islamic law after it was granted special autonomy in 2001 an attempt by the central government to quell a long-running separatist insurgency.
"This is our government's commitment to enforcing Islamic law," said Banda Aceh mayor Aminullah Usman.
"If there is a violation (of the law) immediately report it to the sharia police and we will carry out a punishment like today's caning," he said, referring to religious authorities.
A doctor checked on Simbolon's condition after 10 strokes before the flogging continued.
He was one of 10 people eight men and two women caned after Friday prayers for offences including pimping, prostitution and gambling.
One unmarried couple received 20 strokes each for being too physically close to each other seen as a prelude to banned pre-marital sex.
Simbolon was arrested in October and sentenced to 36 lashes for selling illegal alcohol.
About 98 percent of Aceh's five million residents are Muslims subject to religious law, known locally as Qanun.
Non-Muslims who have committed an offence that violates both national and religious laws such as selling bootleg liquor can choose to be prosecuted under either system.
"(Simbolon) is a Christian but he decided to bow to Qanun," chief prosecutor Erwin Desman said, adding that the man may have chosen a flogging to avoid a lengthy criminal prosecution.
Aceh is the only province in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, which implements Islamic law, or Sharia.
Last year, two gay men who admitted having sex were flogged in Aceh, with each receiving 100 strokes of the cane, drawing heavy criticism from rights groups.
Gay sex is not illegal in the rest of Indonesia, which mainly follows a criminal code inherited from former colonial ruler the Netherlands.
Caretakers of a mosque in the city of Meulaboh, Aceh cut down 10 pine trees that were planted just outside the house of worship's front fence. Their religiously motivated reason for doing that has caused quite a backlash even in the conservative province.
The trees were cut down on January 7. Anwar, the mosque's head caretaker, said that they cut down the trees because they were obscuring the view of the mosque from the adjacent road and that the trees weren't properly maintained. In addition, he said they were cut down because they resembled Christmas trees (the holiday symbol is cut down conifers, after all).
Azhar, a member of the West Aceh Regency Council, heavily criticized the cutting down of the trees, especially the Christmas trees resemblance excuse, which, to him, made no sense.
"In that case why don't we hack down all the pine trees in West Aceh? How much has been budgeted all this time to maintain those trees only for them to be thrown away just like that?" Azhar said, as quoted by Tribun yesterday
Azhar added that before they were cut down, the trees provided shade for street vendors and cars parked near them.
The city's Environment Agency also denied the mosque caretakers' claim that the trees hadn't been properly maintained.
"All this time, the trees in Meulaboh have been maintained. We have budgeted IDR7 million (US$525) per year for their trimming and IDR15 million (US$1,125) for fertilizer," said head of the Meulaboh Environment Agency, Adi Yunanda.
Adi added that the mosque caretakers unilaterally came up with the decision to cut down the trees which were public property but did not mention any possible sanctions for them.
Aceh is the only province in Indonesia given regional autonomy to enforce Islamic sharia law. The province has been criticized for systemic human rights abuses, including public floggings for alleged adulterers and those suspected of homosexuality.
Jakarta Indonesia said on Tuesday it was pinning its hopes on U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to help ease American limitations on ties with an elite Indonesian special forces unit imposed over human rights abuses in the 1990s.
The United States announced in 2010 that it had lifted its outright ban on U.S. military contacts with the Indonesian special forces unit, known as Kopassus, which was accused of rights abuses in East Timor as it prepared for independence.
But legal restrictions meant to ensure the U.S. military does not become entangled with rights abusers prevented contacts with Kopassus from advancing beyond preliminary levels, U.S. officials say.
"For a while there have been sanctions against Kopassus... (Mattis) will try to remove this," Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu told reporters in Jakarta, following talks with the U.S. defense chief.
"One of the sanctions is clearly that they are not allowed to go to America. They can't do training together, and he will reopen this."
Mattis expressed hope for deepening defense ties with Indonesia but he did not directly address Kopassus in his remarks to the press after talks with Ryacudu in Jakarta.
U.S. officials told reporters traveling with Mattis that they were exploring possible ways to expand contact with Kopassus, while complying with U.S. law.
Mattis' trip came as Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 17,000 islands, appears increasingly ready to assert its sovereignty in the contested South China Sea.
Indonesia has clashed with China over fishing rights around the Natuna Islands, detaining Chinese fishermen and expanding its military presence in the area in recent years.
In July, Indonesia renamed the northern reaches of its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea as the North Natuna Sea, a move seen as a significant act of resistance to China's territorial ambitions in the South China Sea.
Mattis seized upon Indonesia's name for the waterway as he praised the country's strategic maritime reach, calling the country "a maritime fulcrum of the Indo-Pacific area."
"It's critical," Mattis said of Indonesia. "We can help maintain maritime domain awareness in the South China Sea, the North Natuna Sea. This is something that we look forward to doing."
The United States is one of Indonesia's top arms suppliers, recently delivering Boeing's Apache helicopters and 24 of Lockheed Martin's F-16 fighter jets. But Indonesia also buys arms from U.S. rivals, including Russia.
U.S. officials said Indonesia asked for pricing for an additional 48 F-16 aircraft, a deal which could be worth $4.5 billion. But Indonesia played down any imminent purchase and suggested it was still evaluating how many more aircraft it needed. Ryacudu said Indonesia would buy weaponry when it "has the money."
"We only just bought F16s and everything. In (the) future there will definitely be (more purchases) because, as the years go by, there are things that must be replaced," he said.
Sheany, Jakarta Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights, or Komnas HAM, will soon issue a reference standard for law enforcers and members of the public to exercise authority and rights within acceptable limits, one of its commissioners said on Wednesday (17/01).
"We want to create a standard that can be used by everyone... as a guideline on how authority should be exercised by government officials and law enforcers, and how the public can also exercise their rights without going overboard," Komnas HAM commissioner Choirul Anam said in a discussion at the 2018 Indonesia-Netherlands Rule of Law and Security Update in Jakarta.
According to Anam, such standard that defines limits on interpretation and use of authority over state institutions currently does not exist in Indonesia.
Having a reference standard will also improve collective understanding on human rights issues in the country, Anam said.
The commissioner pointed out that thorny issues such as hate speech, in which the complex relations between freedom of expression and social cohesion are intertwined, must be addressed without neglecting basic human rights.
A reference standard, Anam said, can be used to prevent excessive use of force.
Anam also said Komnas HAM has been trying to create an instrument to monitor and enforce the 2008 Law on Eradication of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination.
"This law has yet to become a strong instrument. Many times it's improperly applied by the police or other institutions," Anam said.
The law may play a very crucial role in the regional elections in 2018 and the general and presidential elections in 2019, Anam said, especially when recent elections have shown that politicians like to play the race and ethnicity cards.
"[When that happens] democracy loses and public division is entrenched... the commission is now working on a comprehensive instrument to implement that 2008 law," Anam said.
Ariel Heryanto Many Indonesians are worried about the damage that hoaxes and disinformation are causing to social cohesion in the country.
Concerns first emerged during the 2014 presidential election and reached a fever pitch following the polarised 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election. But these elections were just a practice run for the main event. Many observers expect a deluge of hoaxes in the months leading up to the 2019 presidential election.
Hoaxes are powerful, but dangerous, political tools. Politicians who rely on hoaxes are like factories that dispose of their toxic waste into the public water supply. They only care about profit, not the damage they cause.
The Ministry of Communication and Information has already begun making preparations. In the new year, it began operating a "negative content crawling machine", worth Rp 194 billion (A$18.3 million), which will target pornographic content and hoaxes. Some 58 staff will work 24 hours a day to track problematic content, split over three shifts.
This is typical of many responses to the problem of hoax news. They deal with the problem superficially, on a case-by-case basis, and fail to get to the bottom of the issue. Combing through social media to censor hoax news is like trying to use an ointment to cure cancer it won't do anything to treat the underlying problem. Many of the so-called "fake news" stories that have emerged in recent times could be considered "secondary hoaxes", made possible by the existence of a larger, more potent "primary hoax".
In the history of the Indonesian republic, it is difficult to find a more powerful or destructive hoax than the story of the 30 September Movement (G30S/PKI). The story of G30S/PKI was devastating in the extent of lies told, and the number of victims it affected. This was a hoax that was produced and disseminated by the state on a massive scale for more than three generations, since 1966. Civil society organisations and private firms were complicit in its spread.
There are two common misconceptions about hoaxes. First, although the word "hoax" is a relatively new term in the Indonesian lexicon, it would be wrong to assume that hoaxes have only become a problem over the past few years, with the rise of social media. Second, hoax news cannot be resolved or debunked simply by providing accurate information as an alternative, especially when nothing is done about the primary hoax.
Hoaxes that have targeted President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and environmental activist Heri Budiawan demonstrate these problems.
Since running for president in 2014, Jokowi has often been the target of hoax news and smears. During the 2014 campaign he was accused of being a Christian of Chinese descent, and he and his family have repeatedly been accused of having connections to communism. These allegations are rubbish and can easily be refuted. When these political attacks rely on potent myths about communism, however, they can't be ignored.
But any response appears incapable of countering propaganda that has been absorbed by the population for three generations. Even the most accurate facts are incapable of neutralising phobia about communism. Instead of repeatedly rejecting the accusations, on occasions, Jokowi has tried a different strategy. He has said that he would "clobber" the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) if it rose again.
Perhaps by making such statements Jokowi is trying to appear firm or powerful. But for anyone who understands the roots of the problem, Jokowi's statement simply reinforces the propaganda that he was trying to refute. He ended up reproducing the myth about the "danger of PKI", a hoax that stems from the primary hoax about G30S/PKI.
No statements, slurs, or compliments have a natural power to damage or elevate an individual's reputation. Such power must be constructed, cultivated, reproduced and maintained in public. This is true of all stories: be that about the "miracle" of camel urine for health or the dangers of the PKI. The G30S/PKI hoax spread so widely because it was tightly protected by armed military officials and the thugs who were trained by them.
After being reproduced for more than a generation, the G30S/PKI hoax has become established, and has entered the national imagination and everyday language. Thugs and weapons are no longer needed to safeguard the myth from the threat of counter-narratives.
The G30S/PKI hoax is now accepted as fact. It has been widely accepted as if the PKI is a serious threat to the nation. As if communism is identical with atheism and is the enemy of religion. As if in 1965, the PKI rebelled against the state. As if members of the Indonesian Women's Movement (Gerwani) that was affiliated with the PKI had an orgy at Lubang Buaya and mutilated the bodies of the kidnapped generals.
The primary hoax about G30S/PKI has provided fertile ground on which various kinds of other nonsensical hoaxes can flourish. Accusations that someone is "PKI" only carry political weight if the primary hoax is still accepted as unquestionable fact. It is enough to accuse someone of being PKI without needing an explanation of what is so bad about being affiliated with the party.
In this way, hoaxes can become like superstitions or beliefs. They are feared, without being understood, and cannot be countered by facts. As long as the G30S/PKI hoax remains a superstition, accusations of PKI can be easily thrown by anyone, at anyone.
The second demonstrative case involves environmental activist Heri Budiawan, also known as Budi Pego, from Banyuwangi. In early January, prosecutors at the Banyuwangi District Court accused Budi Pego of spreading communism, or Marxism-Leninism, and demanded that he be sent to prison for seven years.
This was only the most recent of thousands, maybe even tens of thousands, of similar cases. It won't be the last either, unless something is done about the primary hoax.
The case against Budi Pego was based on suspicions that he made a banner that included a hammer and sickle and used it in a demonstration against a goldmine in Tumpang Pitu Mountain, Banyuwangi, in April 2017. But prosecutors have been unable to produce the banner in court, leading to several observers questioning the validity of their indictment. It would be a shame if criticism of the indictment stops here.
A more reasonable question would be: What is the problem with such a banner if it exists in the first place? To equate preparing and public displaying a banner with a hammer and sickle with spreading communist teachings is just as silly as suggesting that corruption can be reduced if more anti-communist banners are displayed in public.
One could go further. What is wrong with an ideology or discipline, including communism, being studied critically and openly? Studying communism does not necessarily mean that a person will become a communist. And even if they did, what would be the problem?
The question is not whether Jokowi, Budi Pego, or anyone else is a communist sympathiser. Rather, we should be asking: what is the problem with communism? What really happened in 1965? What type of myths did the state perpetuate and maintain across three generations? What was the goal, and what have been the social costs for the Indonesian nation?
What is the difference between believing that drinking camel urine is beneficial to health and listening to stories about the danger of the rise of the PKI in the twenty-first century?
Amal Ganesha, Jakarta The Indonesian government has doubled its budget for a program to develop irrigation systems in country areas which is also intended to create more jobs for grassroots communities.
The Irrigation System Accelerated Program (P3-TGAI) has existed since 2013 and employed tens of thousands of workers last year. It has a total budget of Rp 600 billion ($45 million).
This year, its budget has been increased to Rp 1.1 trillion and the program is expected to create 62,400 new jobs.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, accompanied by Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono, visited Dukuhlo village in Tegal, Central Java, on Monday (15/01) and Kersanagara village in Tasikmalaya, West Java, on Tuesday, to inspect the program.
"The progress of [this year's] program has been fast, even though it had just kicked off a week ago," Jokowi said in a statement received by the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday (17/01).
Jokowi hopes the program will reduce unemployment especially in country areas.
Indonesia had 10,000 new unemployed workers last year, bringing up its total unemployment number to 7.04 million, or 5.5 percent of the country's total workforce, as job creation failed to catch up with growing population entering the workforce, according to the latest available data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), published in August 2017.
"P3-TGAI targets 5,000 spots in 34 provinces to build new irrigation systems or repair existing ones. Each spot will receive Rp 225 million," Minister Basuki said in the statement.
The program pays each worker between Rp 80,000 and Rp 100,000 per day and provides construction jobs, each one lasting around 50 days, to farm workers who typically need other jobs between rice planting and harvest seasons.
Jokowi said P3-TGAI is a government program to minimize purchasing power parity in Indonesia's under-developed regions.
The Public Works and Housing Ministry allocates Rp 11.28 trillion this year for labor-intensive infrastructure programs. Aside from P3-TGAI, the ministry also has programs to build houses for the poor, protect environment in residential areas and repair public infrastructures including bridges and roads.
These programs are expected to create 263,000 jobs this year.
Concerns that the Indonesian government will keep using the country's draconian Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE) to silence critics seem unlikely to be addressed this year as there have already been two questionable convictions under the law in just the first few weeks of 2018.
After a man was sentenced to 1.5 years last week for criticizing his fellow Muslims' treatment of former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, today a teenager was also sentenced to 1.5 years in prison for violating the ITE law by insulting President Joko Widodo as well as National Police Chief Tito Karnavian.
The teenager an 18-year-old from Medan, North Sumatra, identified by his initials MFB had created a Facebook alias by the name of Ringgo Abdillah complete with fake photos of an unidentified man to upload memes insulting President Jokowi online (a photo in this link shows that MFB uploaded a photo of Jokowi edited to make it look like he's the devil).
On top of that, MFB also posted statuses on Facebook taunting the police to find and catch him, such as this one below that reads, "A week has passed, yet not one cop has arrested me. What is going on with the police institution?"
But find him they eventually did. A warrant for his arrest was filed on July 16 and MFB was arrested about a month later by the Medan Police.
Maman, MFB's father, apologized to Jokowi and Tito and pled to have the charges against his son dropped, claiming his son was "just naive", but to no avail.
At the conclusion of MFB's trial today, the panel of judges declared he had violated UU ITE by slandering the good name of the president and the police chief. The 1.5 year sentence was less than the 2 years demanded by the prosecution.
It was reported that during the trial, the teenager admitted to insulting the president and police chief, but said it was due to his frustration at unsuccessful governmental policies, ranging from the problem of rising food prices to the high unemployment rate.
Was it wise for him to express his frustrations over those very real problems by posting insulting memes about two of the country's top leaders online? Probably not. But does he deserve to spend the next 18 months of his life in jail for that? The judges in the case have spoken, but what do you think?
Sheany, Jakarta Indonesia's Alliance of Independent Journalists, or AJI, and Malaysia's Gerakan Media Merdeka, or Geramm, urged for better treatment toward journalists after a recent report revealed allegations of sexual harassment by elected government officials against female reporters in three Southeast Asian countries.
Last week, the Asian Correspondent published a report detailing the experiences of eight female journalists from Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines who were sexually harassed while on the job.
In the report, several journalists said they have had to deal with unwanted sexual advances ranging from text messages, forced physical contact and dinner invitations, and were told to "capitalize" on the situation by their work superiors in order "to get a scoop."
In a joint statement received by the Jakarta Globe on Monday (22/01), AJI and Geramm said that sexual harassment against journalists has been ignored for a long time, considered unimportant and normalized as part of common interactions between journalists and their sources.
"The blurred line of what constitutes sexual harassment by a source should be clearly drawn and to ensure that there are appropriate channels for such matters to be addressed," the organizations said in the statement.
They touched on the possibility of educating media organizations and journalist groups on what constitutes sexual harassment and how to handle resolving those situations should they occur.
"In addition, clear and just conduct in the form of law should be looked upon by the powers that be, as sexual harassment especially against women is widespread in the region as well," AJI and Geramm said.
The press freedom advocates also demanded respect toward journalists on duty and said that the issue of sexual harassment should be addressed holistically.
Safrin La Batu, Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo told leaders of the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police on Tuesday to maintain their neutrality during this year's regional elections (Pilkada) and the presidential election next year.
"The President's main emphasis is to have us, the police and the military, maintain neutrality," National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian told reporters after Jokowi gave his speech in a closed-door meeting at TNI headquarters in Cilangkap, East Jakarta.
Jokowi, however, refused to respond to journalists who tried to interview him when he left the meeting venue.
The meeting, which was attended by 359 military and police generals, marked security discussions ahead of the two elections, which are predicted to be marred by tensions, particularly in some of the 171 participating regions in the simultaneous Pilkada. Each of the two institutions is set to conduct a more detailed discussion separately after Tuesday's joint meeting.
"The President also instructed the police and the military to map conflict potential in the 171 regions [...]," Tito added. "[And] to build synergy in dealing with those conflict potentials."
The General Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) previously launched a study of conflict potential during Pilkada and identified Papua and Maluku among the provinces with the highest conflict potential.
This year also sees a number of former police and military generals joining the election, such as former Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) chief Lt. Gen. Edy Rahmayadi, who retired from the force to run in the North Sumatra gubernatorial election. (ipa)
Jakarta Rights Group SETARA Institute chairman Hendardi evaluated that the current force of National Military (TNI) and Police can guarantee neutrality in 2018 Regional Election. Thereby people, he stated, need not be concerned about their neutrality in the election.
"Such a concern is understandable, but when we consider the leaders of both forces, neutrality will be strongly upheld." Hendardi said on Saturday (20/1).
Nevertheless, in the long term, Hendardi went on, election committee needs to establish measurable mechanisms to ensure National Military and Police neutrality. "For instance by implementing a certain period of time for Military and Police members to be able to contest in politics," he said.
In a short term, Hendardi claimed, concerns on National Military and Police neutrality in the upcoming election must be neutralized by the performance of Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) and other law officers to ensure that both institutions do not intervene.
Telly Nathalia, Jakarta Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's decision to reshuffle his cabinet on Wednesday (17/01), picking among others Golkar secretary general Idrus Marham as his new social affairs minister, has been seen as a clever political move by analysts.
Idrus, 55, replaced outgoing minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa, who will run in the East Java gubernatorial election this year, a statement from the presidential press bureau said.
Golkar, the second largest political party in the country, now has two men in the cabinet since its newly appointed chairman Airlangga Hartarto has retained his position as industry minister.
Djayadi Hanan, a political analyst from Paramadina University in Jakarta, said by taking on Idrus as a minister, both Jokowi and Golkar will benefit politically.
"Jokowi can now be assured of a solid [political] support from Golkar... whereas Golkar will now have better access to power. This will help the party consolidate before the 2018 and 2019 elections," Djayadi told the Jakarta Globe.
He said what Jokowi wants most of all is political stability, and he might be able to get that with solid political support from Golkar, which will also strengthen support for his government.
Djayadi warned, though, that Jokowi has to avoid the perception that he is playing favorites with Golkar politicians in his cabinet since they have not been forced to give up their positions in the party, as other cabinet members have.
Djayadi pointed out that Airlangga might lose his focus as a minister since he is now also the chairman of Golkar.
"Airlangga and the industry ministry need to help Jokowi finish off his economic programs first. They only have one and a half year left," he said.
Jokowi has also installed Air Vice Marshal Yuyu Sutisna as a new Air Force commander, replacing Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto who is now the Indonesian military commander.
The president also appointed two ex-generals to his cabinet, Agum Gumelar as a new member of his advisory board and Moeldoko as his new chief of staff replacing Teten Masduki.
Jakarta The former chairman of the East Java Chamber of Commerce and Industry La Nyalla Mattalitti denies saying that the Gerindra Party Chairman Prabowo Subianto had extorted him. He blames the media for inventing the phrase.
"I also never said that Prabowo asked me for a political dowry," he said in a press release received by Tempo today, Jan. 17.
La Nyalla said that the Rp40 billion that Prabowo asked of him was not a political dowry, but was instead to fund Gerindra's members who act as witnesses in voting polls.
However, La Nyalla refused to give the funds considering that he is only willing to provide it after he is officially registered at the General Elections Commission (KPU) as a gubernatorial candidate.
"Pay close attention to my statement. I said that I was asked by Prabowo to fund the witnesses," La Nyalla confirmed.
On January 12, La Nyalla bluntly said stated that he was asked by Prabowo to provide Rp40 billion for his candidacy in the 2018 East Java Gubernatorial election.
"The money was to fund witnesses before Gerindra can issue an official recommendation letter," said the businessman and Gerindra Party cadre during a press conference on January 12.
La Nyalla would only agree to fund party witnesses and the winning funds after he is officially registered at the KPU. He, therefore, also wrote a check for Rp70 billion that can only be cashed after he is officially a gubernatorial candidate.
M Yusuf Manurung
Francis Chan, Jakarta President Joko Widodo on Wednesday (Jan 17) appointed another senior member of Golkar Party to his Cabinet by replacing Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa with the party's Secretary General Idrus Marham.
Also out is Presidential Chief of Staff Teten Masduki, whose post was handed to former Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) chief Moeldoko.
Mr Teten, 54, who was a key member of Mr Joko's campaign team in 2014, is said to be taking a break, while Ms Khofifah, 52, has resigned to contest in June's East Java gubernatorial elections.
This is the third Cabinet shake-up in the president's five year-term which started in October 2014.
Mr Idrus, 55, is the second Golkar cadre member to be holding a ministerial position in Mr Joko's current administration after Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto was appointed in July 2016.
The reshuffle was widely expected following Ms Khofifah's resignation last week, which came just weeks after Mr Airlangga took over as Golkar chairman on Dec 13.
The move to appoint Mr JIdrus would be seen as Mr Joko locking in the support from Golkar the second largest politcal party in Indonesia when the president runs for re-election in 2019.
Less expected was the re-emergence of Mr Moeldoko, 60, who retired as TNI chief in July 2015 and was once mentioned as a potential running mate of Mr Joko.
The retired four-star general has kept a low profile until he was spotted at the wedding of Mr Joko's daughter Kahiyang Ayu last November.
Also sworn in on Wednesday were retired army general and former transportation and defence minister Agum Gumelar, 72, as a member of the Presidential Advisory Council; and Air Marshal Yuyu Sutisna as Air Force Chief.
Air Marshal Yuyu, 55, replaces Chief Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto who Mr Joko promoted to TNI chief in December last year after the early retirement of General Gatot Nurmantyo.
Wataru Suzuki and Erwida Maulia, Jakarta Indonesian President Joko Widodo reshuffled his cabinet on Wednesday, his third such change since taking office in October 2014, roping in senior members of his coalition and the military, in a move seen as an attempt to consolidate his support ahead of the presidential election in 2019.
Idrus Marham, secretary general of the Golkar Party, Indonesia's second-largest political party and a member of the ruling coalition, was appointed social services minister. He replaced Khofifah Indar Parawansa of the National Awakening Party, another coalition member, who is running for governor of East Java in June.
The replacement increases Golkar's influence in Widodo's cabinet, which includes Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto, who became party chairman in December. The Social Services Ministry oversees channeling of aid to regions, a position seen as key ahead of 171 regional elections to be held in June.
"This is a big victory for Golkar," said Burhanuddin Muhtadi, executive director of pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia. "Golkar has declared support for Widodo in the next presidential elections, so [the appointment] will be insurance."
Widodo, the country's first president to come from outside the country's political elite, is backed by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, or PDI-P.
The reshuffle comes at a time when Golkar's reputation is suffering. Its former chairman and former House Speaker Setya Novanto, was indicted by the Corruption Eradication Commission in December for his alleged role in a massive graft case. Hartarto replaced Novanto as chairman that month and pledged to reform the party's governance. Widodo's vote of confidence in Golkar will make it more loyal to his government.
Another Golkar politician, Bambang Soesatyo, was on Monday sworn in as the new speaker of the House of Representatives, helping to cement Widodo's support in parliament.
Widodo has also brought more former members of the military into his inner circle. Retired military commander Moeldoko was appointed as the new presidential chief of staff, while Agum Gumelar, a former general and defense minister, became a member of the Presidential Advisory Council.
Some observers see the decision as an effort to slow the momentum of former Gen. Prabowo Subianto, who lost to Widodo in the 2014 election and is seen as the strongest contender in the 2019 presidential vote. Former Education Minister Anies Baswedan, who was backed by Subianto, won the Jakarta governor's seat last year after defeating a key Widodo ally, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.
While Widodo has yet to declare his candidacy for a second term, he is favored to win, according to opinion polls. In an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review in December, Widodo said, "It's up to the people," whether or not he runs again.
The latest cabinet reshuffle is much smaller than the previous one in July 2016, which saw a sweeping change in key economic ministers. Observers see the latest change as politically driven and unlikely to affect economic policy much. Indonesia's benchmark stock index was little changed in early trading on Wednesday, while the rupiah was slightly weaker against the dollar.
Zulkifli Muhammad Ali is a famous firebrand preacher in Indonesia who often gives sermons on TV programs such as Islam Itu Indah (Islam is Beautiful). While popular with many, the ultra-conservative ideology and medically and scientifically inaccurate views he has expressed in his sermons have caused controversy before and now they could get him thrown in jail.
Yesterday, Zulkifli was questioned by Indonesian police over a viral clip from a sermon he gave in November that authorities suspect contains elements of criminal hate speech.
In the clip, Zulkifli mentions millions of Indonesian ID cards were being printed in France and China and that they would be used by foreign nationals and had troops ready to enter Indonesia.
"It's a lie that has spread false information that can disturb the public, and, of course, because this news has been spread, it must be stopped," said police spokesperson Sulistyo Pudjo yesterday as quoted by Detik.
Pudjo said the police began the investigation into the hate speech case after the clip went viral and they received numerous reports from the public about it.
Upon arriving at the Police Cybercrime Directorate for questioning yesterday, Zulkifli told the media that he wanted to straighten out the police's misunderstanding as his sermon was based on hadiths (Islamic scripture) from the Prophet Muhammad.
After being questioned by investigators for four hours, the celebrity preacher explained that his sermon was actually based on information he heard "in the field" and from other reliable sources.
"In 2016 there was a massive amount of news (about the ID cards printed in France and China). Proof could be found in the field and there were media saying that and many Islamic scholars presenting that from the pulpit until finally I followed suit," said Zulkifli.
He also dismissed the police's allegation that his sermon caused a disturbance to the community. He argued that his sermon had been unfairly singled out because of how popular he is.
"It's possible only because I have 'full power' (note: he actually said "full power" in English) so I'm in the spotlight more and also there was a recording."
If charged and found guilty of spreading hate speech or false information over the Internet in violation the Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE), Zulkifli could face up to six years in prison.
Another sermon that Zulkifli gave last year, in which he gave dangerously inaccurate medical advice and said 'cesarean sections are a form of anarchism of the devil', was one of the reasons the Indonesian Ulema Council began efforts to set standards on the sermons given by preachers on TV.
Jakarta The East Java police have reportedly taken down hundreds of social media accounts that mainly focus on spreading hoax. Police conducted the cyber patrol nearing the 2018 simultaneous regional elections.
"We have taken down 398 social media accounts responsible for spreading hoax information, hate, and issues regarding ethnicity, religious, racial and societal groups (SARA)," said the East Java Police Spokesman Comr. Frans Barung on Wednesday, January 17.
Despite only having taken down almost 400 of them, the East Java Police revealed that they constantly monitor 1,524 social media accounts that they deem prone to potentially spread negative contents during the 2018 simultaneous regional elections.
"These social media accounts were made specifically to spread issues regarding SARA, lies, and others," said Frans.
Cases heavily related to hate speech are expected to rise during the 2018 Regional Elections. According to Professor of Criminology Adrianus Meliala at the University of Indonesia said that hate speech has become a potent weapon to be used against a political opponent.
Hans Nicholas Jong Officials in Indonesia and Malaysia, the world's biggest producers of palm oil, have lambasted the European Parliament's decision to phase out the commodity from motor fuels over the next three years due to environmental concerns.
Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said Thursday that the vote to reduce to zero "the contribution from biofuels and bioliquids produced from palm oil" by 2021 was misguided and unfair, given that Jakarta had taken steps to address the environmental impact of the palm oil industry.
"They can't eliminate palm oil exports so easily because demand is very high," he told reporters at the Indonesian parliament. "If it's suddenly stopped, then what about Unilever detergent [which uses palm oil]? We don't want to be the target of a negative campaign all the time."
Enggartiasto urged the European Union to open a dialogue with the Indonesian government over its concerns about the impacts of the palm oil industry on the environment.
The trade minister's remarks came a day after the European Parliament voted on targets to cap crop-based biofuels, which follows the parliament's overwhelming decision last year to ban the use of vegetable oils in biofuels. The amendments will now go to the European Commission and member states before they become law.
The move will have serious ramifications for Indonesia and Malaysia, who together produce nearly 90 percent of the world's palm oil.
"The voting [Wednesday] in the EU Parliament to ban palm biodiesel was not only discrimination, but it signified a black day for free trade," Malaysian Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Mah Siew Keong tweeted Thursday.
He accused the European Parliament of engaging in protectionism to benefit the European oilseed industry an argument frequently deployed by palm oil lobbyists who see a conspiracy to undermine palm oil in favor of vegetable oils produced in Europe and North America.
"A fair share of treatment should be given to other vegetable oils used in the biofuel mix in Europe, such as grapeseed. But then, the EU Parliament has always been anti-palm oil," Mah said at a press conference in Malaysia.
Indonesia's Enggartiasto expressed similar views, adding that other types of vegetable oils used in biofuels also required clearing sizeable plots of land one of the key environmental sustainability concerns that has long dogged palm oil.
The Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (GAPKI) claims palm oil uses five times less land than vegetable oils like soy for the same yield, and that any deforestation as a result of clearing land for new plantations is legally permitted.
This latest development has sparked fears in Indonesia and Malaysia that other countries could move to impose similar bans.
"Other countries might follow suit, as Europe is big and a market leader, and most countries view it as an important export destination, therefore there are chances they would do it as well to comply with the EU requirement," Ahmad Kushairi Din, director general of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), said at the same press conference as Mah.
To counter the motion, the two Southeast Asian governments have sent official letters to the EU. "We've written to the 27 EU energy ministers, with correct facts and solid figures, to again reiterate our stand, and to show our disappointment," Mah said.
The Indonesian Trade Ministry last month wrote to the office of the EU trade commissioner and EU trade ministers to protest the proposal. It is considering sending another letter in the wake of the parliament's vote.
"But [the amendment] has only been approved by the parliament; it hasn't been passed into a policy," the ministry's chief trade negotiator, Iman Pambagyo, said in a text message to Mongabay.
"We need to see how the European Commission reacts to the parliament's decision. But right now we're discussing steps that we'll take before there's any decision by the EU Commission."
While the governments seethe, conservation and indigenous rights activists have welcomed the phase-out vote, citing the massive toll the palm oil industry has taken on tropical rainforests and the local communities dependent on them.
Eep Saefulloh, a researcher with Sawit Watch, an NGO that monitors the palm oil industry in Indonesia, criticized the industry talking points that the deforestation caused was legally sanctioned.
"If we're talking about large palm oil plantations, of course they cause deforestation," he said. "Unless we're talking about small farmers only need a hectare or two. But if we're talking about large plantations that can extend beyond villages and districts, what do we call that if not deforestation?"
While he acknowledged that steps have been taken to improve sustainability in the industry, such as the implementation of various certification schemes such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), he said the challenge was in how to apply those standards in practice, with some companies still clearing lands beyond those designated for plantations.
"We can see that everywhere," Eep said. "The latest development is in Papua. We all know that Papua is our last frontier for our rainforests and it is also threatened by palm oil expansion."
Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta The Indonesian government has slammed the approval of the new EU bill on clean energy by the European Parliament on Wednesday, which, among other things, will limit the use of palm oil for transportation fuel starting from 2021.
The bill contains a plan to increase renewable energy use for at least 35 percent of overall energy use, but it also limits the use of biofuels made from food and feed crops to only 7 percent of all transportation fuels.
"We are disappointed with the decision; we view it as discriminative," Foreign Affairs Minister Retno LP Marsudi said at the State Palace in Jakarta on Thursday.
She added that the bill had not been implementable yet, because the European Parliament had to consult with the European Council and the European Commission.
Retno said the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Trade Ministry would soon talk to the European Council and European Commission about the issue.
Indonesia plans to show data about the Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) program and facts that oil palm plantations had helped millions of people escape from poverty and had been managed sustainably.
"The ISPO is one of Indonesia's ways to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). That is what [the EU] does not see. We are talking about the lives of millions of people who depend on oil palm plantations for their living," she said. (bbn)
Jakarta Asrul Sani, member of the working committee of the draft criminal code (RUU KUHP) asserted that the Article overseeing adultery and the criminalization of LGBT groups is not aimed at merely condemning people with LGBT status.
"I assert that the sentencing is not just because of the LGBT status a person is bearing. It is rather to the deviant actions [they conduct]," said Asrul today on Tuesday, January 23.
Asrul explained that the devious behaviors are not only linked to the LGBT community, but it also applies to heterosexual people. "We are only broadening this law so that it does not just apply to men and women, but also for same-sex couples," said Asrul.
According to the United Development Party politician, Article 285 in the Criminal Code (KUHP) oversees the punishments towards adultery in general. The draft criminal code (RUU KUHP) broadens its subject to include same-sex couples.
Asrul claims that every faction has agreed to broaden the Article in the RUU KUHP, even though it has yet to enter its formulation stage. "Eight factions have agreed. PAN and Hanura were absent, we'll ask them later [why they were absent]," he said.
Jakarta Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said there is no religion that tolerates lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT).
Therefore, he doubted that there is a party faction in the House of Representatives (DPR) that support LGBT. "I think there is a mistake (information)," he said in Senayan complex, on Monday, January 22.
In the Tanwir I Aisyiyah event in Surabaya last Saturday, Chairman of People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Zulkifli Hasan revealed that there were five factions in the House of Representatives (DPR) who approved LGBT behavior.
"Currently the House is discussing LGBT law or same-sex marriage. There are already five political parties that approved the LGBT," he said. Lukman added, Indonesia is a religious country. So, there can be no LGBT acceptance is legalized.
Lukman is reluctant to comment on the perceived issue of LGBT deliberately rolled out to be politicized. "I do not want to suppose if it is politicized or not," he said.
The same opinion was conveyed by House Speaker Bambang Soesatyo. "There is no DPR that supports LGBT and I affirm the DPR refuses LGBT," said Bambang.
Jakarta Indonesia Islamic University (UII) Rector Nandang Sutrisno called on the public not to vote for legislative candidates who are endorsed by pro-LGBT parties.
The statement was issued after People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Chairman Zulkifli Hasan announced that five political parties in Indonesia are supporting the LGBT legalization in the draft criminal code (RUU KUHP) that is being deliberated by the House of Representatives (DPR).
"We urge the society to impose a political punishment by not voting for those political parties in the general elections, presidential election, and the regional head elections," said Nandang on Monday, January 22.
Nandang asked the public to not view the university's statement negatively or as an attempt to attack certain political rivals. However, he urged people to view this issue from the perspective that LGBT cannot be justified by any disciplines.
Moreover, Nandang urged the DPR to include social behaviors linked to LGBT as crimes. "Any acts linked to LGBT must be considered as criminal acts that need to be severely punished," said the UII Rector. He also urged the public not to be permissive towards the LGBT community.
Pito Agustin Rudiana
Shannon Power Indonesia's Ministry of Communications and Information wants technological giant Google to ask it to block access to about 70 LGBTI apps.
The Ministry asked the company to block access to the apps in the Google Play store. Rudiantara, the Minister responsible for the request singled out gay social networking app Blued. He asked Google to shut it down.
Blued's website is blocked in Indonesia after the government banned LGBTI content online. But the government has struggled to close down the website because it keeps shifting its domain name.
'Blued kept moving [domains], they have changed their DNS (domain name system) six times,' Rudiantara told CNN Indonesia.
The Chinese owned Blued is the world's largest gay dating app, with more than 27 million users globally.
Indonesia's move to block LGBTI social networking apps is the latest in a move to oppress the country's LGBTI communities.
In November last year, the government blocked the use of GIFs on the popular instant messaging service WhatsApp. The Ministry of Communications and Information said it could not monitor GIFs because of WhatsApp's encryption and GIFs could be used to spread 'obscene content'.
There have also been multiple raids of 'gay parties' where men have been arrested under Indonesia's anti-pornography laws.
Just last week police in West Java, monitored the activity of five men on gay dating apps before raiding a party in a tourist villa they attended together.
But in December the Indonesian Constitutional Court rejected a petition to make gay and premarital sex punishable by up to five years in prison.
In December, Indonesia's Constitutional Court rejected a petition to amend the country's criminal code (KUHP) in a way that would have made homosexual acts, and indeed all sex outside of marriage, illegal. Although human rights activists cheered the decision, the judges primarily based their decision on the idea that such an amendment was outside their jurisdiction and that it was parliament's job to create new laws.
Since then, anti-LGBT forces have focused on lobbying political parties to support passing an updated version of the KUHP, including the criminalization of same sex relations. A shocking falsehood told by the chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), Zulkifli Hasan, over the weekend may have ensured that an anti-LGBT version of the KUHP has sufficient support to pass.
"Currently in the Parliament they are discussing an LGBT law or same-sex marriage. There are already five political parties that approve LGBT," Zulkifli said on Saturday as quoted by Merdeka.
There is absolutely no draft laws in discussion in the Parliament regarding positive LGBT rights or same-sex marriage (both ideas that are abhorrent to the vast majority of Indonesians, making such an accusation extremely controversial). Zulkifli, who is also the head of the PAN Party, refused to name which factions supported those imaginary laws on more than one occasion.
House Speaker Bambang Soesatyo said that Zulkifli was incorrect in that there were no such laws under discussion. But he did say that House Commission III was discussing a new draft version of the KUHP, including the possible criminalization of same-sex relationships.
Bambang said the currently the KUHP explicitly makes same-sex acts between an adult and a minor illegal, but that there was widespread support for extend that law in the new version to make all same-sex acts illegal. The house speaker added that he personally rejected LGBT for destroying the nation's morale and that he believed the majority of parliament members felt the same.
"Certainly we should extend the scope of punishment against LGBT behavior, not only for adults abusing children but all same-sex relationships must be punished," Bambang said as quoted by Tribun.
Arteria Dahlan, a member of Commission III from President Joko Widodo's PDIP party, said Zulkifli's statement was ridiculous and challenged the MPR chair to prove that there were in fact five "pro-LGBT" parties in parliament, saying that it might lead to a public misunderstanding otherwise.
Most worryingly, Arteria said that almost all of the party factions on the committee drafting the new KUHP have expressed their support for expanding the criminal code to include homosexual acts. He said that only factions that had not were PAN and Hanura, but only because they had not attended the discussion (both parties have made clear that they are anti-LGBT).
Last month there were reports that there were three factions that still rejected the addition of homosexual acts to the KUHP, but under intense pressure and widespread public paranoia about LGBT, those numbers may indeed now have shifted. The commission is scheduled to have a final revision of the draft KUHP ready for consideration by the rest of the house on February 5.
Jakarta Chairman of the House of Representatives (DPR), Bambang Soesatyo stated that he is ready to stake his position if the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender or LGBT behaviors become legal in Indonesia.
To prevent it, Bambang said that the DPR is currently discussing the LGBT Law in the Criminal Code (KUHP) revision. "The passion is for extending the law, not to legalize it," he said when contacted by Tempo on Monday, January 22.
The working committee of the Criminal Code revision in the House proposes that same-sex sexual intercourse can be imprisoned. Previously, crimes for the same-sex relationship had not been fully regulated in the old Criminal Code.
The Criminal Code regulates a five years criminal law only for adults who have the same-sex relationship with children under 18 years. In the revision, the two parties namely PPP and PKS proposed criminal law become nine years in prison.
Besides, the same imprisonment also applies to homosexuals aged over 18 if the relationship is violent, publicly violating decency, publicized, and contains elements of pornography.
Bambang said he also got advice from the Muslim scholar, Ahmad Syafii Maarif who is familiarly called Buya Syafii. In his meeting with Buya Syafii, Bambang Soesatyo asked that the DPR not legalize LGBT as opposed to the values of Pancasila. "I am ready to step down if LGBT is legal," said Bambang.
M Yusuf Manurung
Dadang Kurnia, Bambang Noroyono The sensitive LGBT issue has become a political hot potato following a statement by People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Zulkifli Hasan.
Zulkifli claimed that there are five political parties (factions) in the House of Representatives (DPR) that do not have a problem with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community flowering in Indonesia.
The general chairperson of the National Mandate Party (PAN) however declined to cite the names of the political parties whose factions allegedly support LGBT.
He made the statement, which has caused other DPR members to get all steamed up, when speaking to branch members of Aisyiyah the women's wing of the Islamic mass organisation Muhammadiyah at the Muhammadiyah University campus in Surabaya on Saturday January 20.
This situation, he said, shows that there are still political disparities in the country. This has been demonstrated by the majority of society being in conflict with the political parties or members of the DPR, who should represent the voices of the ordinary people.
Following the speech, journalists tried to delve deeper in to the statement but Zulkifli was reluctant to answer. During a doorstop interview he gave no reply on the LGBT issue.
The statement has also gone viral on social media with many becoming furious over Zulkifli's remarks. Others admitted that they were not surprised by the statement. "I've already said so, right? There are many who support [LGBT] in the DPR", tweeted former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD.
DPR Commission III member T. Taufiqulhadi from the National Democrat Party (Nasdem) faction denied that there five political party factions in the house that supported LGBT rights during deliberations on the Draft Criminal Code (RUU KUHP).
"All of the revisions to the RUU KUHP have been discussed. The individual factions however will only be declaring their positions on January 28", said the RUU KUHP Working Committee (Panja) and Drafting Committee (Timus) member on Saturday.
The RUU KUHP has been in the hands of the drafting committee for the last few months. Taufiqulhadi explained that following this, the draft will be taken to the KUHP working committee on January 28. If all the factions in the working committee agree then it will be taken before a full plenary session of the DPR and then enacted. In relation to the LGBT issue, he continued, the drafting committee agreed to later take the matter before the working committee. It is at the working committee that the positions of the individual factions on the LGBT issue in the RUU KUHP will be seen. "So, the view that there are five factions that already support LGBT is not true", Taufiqulhadi explained.
So far, the issue that has almost been agreed upon by all the factions is that homosexual practices will become a criminal offence if they are committed against a minor, that is against someone who is 18 years or younger. Criminal provisions will also apply if violence is involved.
It will also be a criminal office to disseminate such activities by video. Public demonstrations in support of LGBT such as those that occur in the West, with people of the same sex kissing in public, will also be criminalised.
The Islamic based United Development Party (PPP) has called on the factions in the DPR not to let the LGBT issue become a political commodity for image building.
PPP Secretary General Arsul Sani explained that party members, particularly those with an Islamic mass base, will be working concretely in the parliament to oppose same-sex marriage and the legalisation of LGBT. Arsul's remarks were in response to Zulkifli's statement about the RUU KUHP deliberations related to LGBT. Arsul, who is also a member of the DPR's Commission III, refuted Zulkifli's remarks.
Arsul instead questioned the consistency of the PAN faction in the DPR, which has not taken part in the discussions on the LGBT and same-sex marriage articles in the RUU KUHP. Between Monday (15/1) and Thursday (18/1) the factions in the DPR did indeed discuss the LGBT issue and same-sex marriage during RUU KUHP working committee meetings at the Commission III legal affairs offices.
During the discussions, out of the 10 factions in parliament only eight were present. The eight factions, said Arsul, were the PPP, Nasdem, the Golkar Party, the Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS), the National Awakening Party (PKB), the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the Democrat Party and the Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra).
"All (the factions) present agreed that LGBT [should be] a criminal act. The factions that came agreed to define LGBT as a criminal act", said Arsul.
The fact is, he added, PAN and the People's Conscience Party (Hanura) were not present during the discussions on LGBT. As a result, the other eight factions still do not know the political position of these two parties on the issue of LGBT and same-sex marriage.
Arsul explained that the discussions on LGBT pertained to the RUU KUHP Book II, which contains articles on criminal provisions. During the discussions the factions that were present agreed to categorise LGBT as an obscene act (perbuatan cabul). In the initial conceptual discussions with the government, said Arsul, obscene acts under LGBT was only to apply to those under the age of 18 or minors.
Two factions however, said Arsul, the PPP and Islamic based PKS requested that the definition of LGBT as an obscene act be broadened. In the end, a new paragraph was added to the RUU KUHP Book II which clarified that LGBT acts are deemed to be obscene for those who are 18 years or older or adults.
The punishment, explained Arsul remained the same, nine years in jail. This sentence would be applied to perpetrators who committed obscene LGBT acts with violence or the threat of violence, in a public place or which were published. The PPP however, explained Arsul, wanted to broaden this still further.
The faction from the party with the symbol of the kiblah [the direction which Muslims turn to pray] wanted obscene LGBT acts to be categorised in the same way as acts covered under the articles on adultery (zina). This was supported by the PKS faction and the six other factions that were present at the working committee. PAN and Hanura were not present.
The chairperson of the PKS faction in the DPR, Jazuli Juwaini, asserted that his party is not one of those that cited by Zulkifli as supporting LGBT acts. He has instructed all party members to oversea the deliberations on the RUU KUHP to ensure that LGBT is criminalised.
"I confirm that it's impossible. We are in fact fighting for (LGBT) to be prohibited under the KUHP", asserted Jazuli on Saturday January 20.
Jazuli explained that as the head of the PKS faction, he has instructed all party members on the DPR's Commission III and the RUU KUHP working committee to oversee the issue in a serious manner. He repeated that LGBT must be prohibited under the KUHP.
"Because LGBT conflicts with the [state ideology of] Pancasila, with all religious teachings, with eastern traditions and with the goals of the law on national education. This is non-negotiable for the PKS faction", he said.
Because of this therefore, he is calling on all parties to be solid in safeguarding all religious teachings that are acknowledged in Indonesia. He also called on all parties to safeguard the values of Pancasila.
Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin claims that he was surprised to hear the MPR speaker's statement. Moreover, he said, no religion tolerates any form of LGBT.
"I was very surprised by the reports (that five factions support LGBT). LGBT is something that is not tolerated in any way by any religion, let alone the religion of Islam", said Lukman at the Muhammadiyah University campus in Surabaya on Saturday January 20.
Nevertheless, the minister was reluctant to comment at length on the claim that there are five factions in the DPR that support LGBT. "So please go ask those concerned", said Lukman.
Soon after Indonesia's former house speaker, Setya Novanto, officially stepped down due to his highly controversial and dramatic corruption case, Bambang Soesatyo, a fellow politician from the Golkar party, assumed his place.
Mere days into his tenure, Bambang is already having to contend with potentially criminal allegations in his case, one that involves a swanky red Ferrari.
The Jakarta Provincial Government is currently going on a tax arrears collection drive targeting the owners of luxury cars. One of those cars is a red Ferrari with the license plate B 1 RED that has reportedly piled up IDR364 million (US$27,312) in unpaid taxes.
Netizens soon identified the car as belonging to Bambang Soesatyo, who posted a few photos of himself posing with the sports car on Instagram in 2015. Answering allegations of tax evasion, Bambang said that he owned the red Ferrari for less than a year before he sold it.
"If there is news or information that there is overdue tax for a red Ferrari with the license plate B 1 RED that belongs to me, it's wrong because I sold the car a long time ago," he said, as quoted by Kompas on Saturday.
Bambang added that he doesn't remember specifically when he sold the car, but that it must have been around two years ago. He also said he paid the car's taxes while it was under his ownership.
But here is where things cease to add up. According to data from the West Jakarta Vehicle Document Registration Center (Samsat), the Ferrari is registered to a man named Andi Firmansyah who works as a security guard and lives in a narrow alleyway in Palmerah, West Jakarta. Furthermore, Samsat officers found out that the supposed owner no longer lives at the provided address when they visited it on Saturday.
"The neighborhood chief said Andi Firmansyah moved out three or four years ago," said West Jakarta Samsat officer Elling Hartono, as quoted by Kompas yesterday. "According to the neighborhood chief, Andi works as a security guard in Tanah Abang."
Kompas described the alleyway on which Andi supposedly lived as so narrow that it's only passable by motorcyclists and pedestrians.
More curiously still, under West Jakarta Samsat's records, Andi is the first and only owner of the red Ferrari ever since it was purchased in September 2014, putting into question Bambang's claim that he sold the car a couple of years ago. Andi's current whereabouts are unknown.
When pressed on the matter by journalists yesterday, Bambang responded, as quoted by Kompas, "Let it go. I gave you the chance to skin me. [Reporting on my] private issue is over. I gave you one week to skin me. I have been open about this. There's no covering up anything."
Jakarta (Antara) The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Deputy Chairman Laode M Syarif asked for authority to tackle corruption in private sector stipulated in Criminal Code (KUHP).
"In Criminal Code, there should be an article stating that KPK has the authority to handle corruption cases in the private sector," Laode said in Jakarta on Saturday, Jan. 20.
The House of Representatives are currently finalizing the draft of Criminal Code stipulating that corruption cases in private sectors purely committed by private sectors without including state institution will be included in Criminal Code.
Corruption cases in the private sector have already stipulated in Law No. 7/2006 on Ratification of United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). However, the regulation is still insufficient since the authority is only given to the Police and Attorney General.
KPK is excluded from law enforcement that can handle corruption in private sector since KPK Law No. 30/2002 only authorized tackling corruption committed by state institutions.
The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the most notorious of Indonesia's Islamist civil society groups (locally referred to as ormas or mass organizations) has violently attacked or threatened groups ranging from teenagers that have criticized them online to religious pluralists and elderly survivors of the country's brutal anti-Communist purge. Over the weekend, the group added attendees at a children's birthday party in Pamekasan in Madura, East Java, to the list of their targets.
A group of men belonging to the Islamic Defender Troops (LPI), the para-military arm of FPI, conducted a vigilante patrol (or "sweep" as they call it) in Pamekasan's Ponteh Village over reports that a house in the neighborhood was being used to facilitate prostitution.
According to local residents, the self-appointed moral police, weapons in hand, unlawfully went door-to-door searching houses and ended up targeting a home where a children's birthday was taking place.
"At the time of the incident, there was a child's birthday party taking place at the home. Suddenly a group of people dressed in white came and grabbed some of the women who had come to take their children to the party," said Agus Aini, a resident of the neighborhood, told CNN Indonesia on Sunday.
Agus said that this quickly led to a fight between the LPI members and residents trying to defend the mothers. He said he was injured during the incident and many of the children were traumatized by the violence.
Local police said that five residents of the neighborhood were injured in the clash and that they were currently investigating the incident and collected evidence including weapons, car windows smashed and even chili powder reportedly used as a weapon by the vigilantes. Although they condemned LPI's actions, they have apparently not made any arrests related to the case.
Meanwhile, the leader of the Commander of LPI Madura, Abd Aziz Muhammad Syahid, said the sweep was carried out as an effort to practice the teachings of Islam. He claimed that his organization had asked the police to crack down on prostitution in the area, but claimed their request had been ignored.
The FPI has become increasingly influential in politics in recent years since the organization helped organize and fuel the protests against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja" Purnama that ultimately led to his election defeat and imprisonment. The group is known for regularly engaging in vigilante sweeps looking for those violating Islamic sharia law, but they have often been accused of being a rent-a-thug funded largely through "protection money".
Prima Gumilang, Jakarta A sweeping action (raid) by the Islamic Defenders Militia (Laskar Pembela Islam, LPI) has ended in a clash with residents of Pamekasan on Madura Island in East Java.
Local people resisted the raid which resulted in 10 people being injured including housewives and children.
The LPI, which is affiliated with the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), conducted the sweep in the Ponteh village in Galis sub-district, Pamekasan, on Friday January 19. The group suspected that the one of the houses in the village was being used as an illegal brothel.
One of the eyewitnesses to the incident, Agus Aini, explained how the children who witnessed the clash were traumatised.
"When it happened, there was a children's birthday party at the house. A group of people wearing white clothing suddenly arrived and dragged out women who come to the house to bring their children to the birthday party", said Agus as quoted by the Antara news agency on Sunday January 21.
The LPI suspected that the group of women that they dragged out of the house were commercial sex workers (PSK). According to Agus however, the women were housewives who had been invited to celebrate the birthday party.
In response to the raid, local residents and Agus' neighbours immediately sprang to the women's defence. A clash between the LPI members and residents was unavoidable. Agus even feigned during the incident when LPI members tried to forcibly drag him away.
"Many of the children were terrified, crying hysterically, it was like a carok [a Maduran traditional fight for honour], what's more the LPI militia carried clubs", said Agus.
District Police Criminal Investigation Unit Chief Deputy Police Commissioner Hari Siswo said that police have collected several pieces of material evidence related to the clash.
These includes glass from a LPI car window that was smashed by residents, several clubs that are believed to have been brought by LPI members and a chili powder sprayer which was used by LPI members during the raid.
Based on police data, five Ponteh village residents were injured in the clash. They were Agus Aini (35), Satruki (45), Hamidi (28), Hamid (28) and Suramlah (55). One LPI member was also injured.
"These five people, all of them are residents of Dusung Langtolang, Ponteh village, Galis sub-district", said Siswo as quoted by Antara.
Satruki suffered contusions to his upper body and forehead after being hit by a club. Hamidi meanwhile suffered injuries to his eyes after being sprayed by chili water.
In addition to this, Hamid suffered chest injuries while the other victim, Suramlah, is suffering from shock after narrowly escaping a beating by LPI members.
Siswo said that police would thoroughly investigate the use of violence in the name of religion that took place in Pamekasan. Aside from upsetting the local community, according to Siswo, the case has attracted the attention of the national leadership.
"This LPI case is the same thing as disregarding the role of security personnel and law enforcement officials in this country", he said.
LPI Madura commander-in-chief Abd Aziz Muhammad Syahid says that the group conducted the raid as part of putting Islamic teachings into practice.
"This clearly clashes with Islamic law, as well as the vision and mission of the Pamekasan regency which is implementing Islamic law through the Islamic Community Development Movement (Gerbang Salam)", said Aziz.
Before carrying out the raid, said Aziz, the LPI had requested that the regional government and law enforcement officials carry out a program to curb prostitution in Pamekasan. According to Aziz however, the request was not heeded.
Jakarta Violations of religious freedom declined in Indonesia last year, indicating that the country's efforts to promote tolerance are starting to pay off, the Setara Institute said on Monday (15/01).
The human rights group's "2017 Report on Religious Freedom and Religious Minorities in Indonesia" showed that the number of recorded violations decreased to 155 incidents last year, compared with 208 in 2016.
The report also showed that there were 201 recorded incidents of religious intolerance last year, compared with 270 in 2016. Most incidents were reported in West Java and Jakarta, followed by Central Java, East Java and Banten.
Although the number of incidents is still relatively high, the Setara Institute said "the decline in religious freedom violations and acts of religious intolerance must be seen as progress."
The human rights group said the relatively high number of recorded violations shows that religious freedom has yet to be "ideally developed" in Indonesia. It added that this would include fair and strict law enforcement and civic awareness of the need to respect freedom of worship as a human right.
Furthermore, acts of intolerance perpetrated by state actors also declined significantly to 75 last year, compared with 140 in 2016. Most of these were committed by district governments, followed by the police and educational institutions.
"This data gives us hope that the state will fulfill its role and function as a duty bearer to respect, enforce and promote human rights, and not be a dominant actor in such violations," the Setara Institute said in a statement received by the Jakarta Globe.
Despite notable progress, the Setara Institute warned that the upcoming regional elections in June and general elections in 2019 may see the politicization of religious and social differences, which may negatively affect government efforts to promote tolerance and religious freedom for all citizens.
Jakarta Two men aged 21 and 31 were arrested in Depok, West Java, on Saturday evening for allegedly uploading a video of themselves having sex onto the internet.
The men have been charged with violating the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law and may face up to 12 years imprisonment, said Depok Police spokesperson Adj. Comr. Sutrisno.
"Our cyber team began conducting an online investigation following a tip from the public," Sutrisno said on Monday as quoted by kompas.com.
The video, which was allegedly recorded in a gym in Pancoran Mas, Depok, was initially uploaded in June 2017. (fac)
In Indonesia, bird-singing competitions have become a major obsession among many. While such avian competitions may sound quaint, hobbyists here spend huge amounts of money on competitions with enormous cash prizes and songbirds that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Some of the priciest songbirds come from protected species that are illegally trapped for sale to competitors (a major concern for conservationists).
Naturally, such high stakes competition tends to create hot-headed people. At a bird-singing competition in Surabaya on Sunday afternoon, an organizer claims to have tried to cool down the contest's heated atmosphere with a sexy dance stunt that quickly went viral on social media and has now caught the attention of the police who are investigating it as a possible violation of the country's controversial pornography law.
Besides the obvious reason for why videos of the sexy dance performance went viral on social media, many commentators expressed outrage specifically at the fact that there were young children in attendance at the competition who witnessed the adult dance display.
The bird-singing contest's committee chairperson, a 36-year-old man named Darusalam, said that while the young women were SPG (sales promotion girls) who were always at their competitions, the sexy dance performance on Sunday happened "spontaneously."
Darusalam explained that he asked the two SPG to dance in the middle of a heated judging period. "It was not in our program, but happened because at that time the contest situation was again heated because the participants were dissatisfied with the jury's decision," Darusalam told Detik.
While it may have successfully drawn attention away from the judges' decision (there were no reports of violence later at the competition), the sexy dance caused shock amongst the spectators, many of whom whipped out their phones to record the performance and complain to the police.
Bubutan Police Chief Dies Ferra Ningtias said her officers were investigating the incident as a possible violation of the country's pornography law, justifying its application by noting that the bird singing contest was done in public with minors present.
Indonesia's controversial pornography law makes illegal the production or performance of anything that could considered vulgar or pornographic. Many human rights critics argue the law's vague wording makes it easy to abuse, and recently the police have been criticized for using it to criminalize gay men having consensual relations with other adults in private. Convictions under the pornography law can be punished with up to 10 years in jail.
Jakarta A young couple in Belapunranga village in Gowa regency, South Sulawesi, has been forced to marry in a traditional ceremony after being caught alone at a rambutan farm by local residents.
The couple, identified as Manai, 20, and Sugiani, 19, were married on Monday in the presence of a penghulu (Muslim wedding official), with village officials and police personnel of Parangloe subdistrict as witnesses.
The two were found to be alone on the Rambutan farm on Jan. 6 and had since become a target of intimidation by local residents. Afterwards, Sugiani's family confronted Manai's family, accusing the latter of violating the customary law called siri.
"This is a problem of siri [customary law]. If not handled properly, it will lead to a disaster because it is related to the dignity of a family," Belapunranga village head Jafar Daeng Talli said as reported by kompas.com on Tuesday.
Police officials subsequently stepped in to defuse tensions between the two families, who had nearly clashed with one another. Through the mediation assisted by police and village officials, the two families decided to wed Manai and Sugiani.
"We have a problem-solving program, which aims to create order in society through persuasive and early conflict-prevention approaches," Parangloe Police chief Adj. Comr. Abdul Majid said. (afr/rin)
Jakarta The Indonesian Traditional Salt Producers Association (KNTI) has rejected the government's plan to import 3.7 million tons of salt, said KNTI chairman Misbachul Munir in Jakarta on Sunday.
He said salt imports that exceeded local demand would only disrupt efforts to become self-sufficient in the commodity.
He said the reasons for the quota were weak. "It was decided only because of the rainy season and to add to the national stock," said Misbachul as reported by tempo.co.
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti previously questioned the Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister's decision to import 3.7 million tons of salt, while Susi only recommended 2.1 million tons of salt import quota.
According to the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, the country is projected to consume 3.9 million tons of salt this year. Total production stands at 1.5 million, while remaining stock at 340,000 tons.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister's undersecretary for food and agriculture, Muzdalifah, said the import quota would be realized if local farmers failed to meet the demand.
Misbachul mentioned four reasons why the producers rejected the import. First, the government had imported too much salt in the last four years. Second, the import policy had discouraged farmers from producing salt.
Third, because of the import policy, state-owned slat producer PT Garam had only absorbed a small amount of salt produced my farmers. And fourth, because of the import, the government is reluctant to expand the salt farms. (bbn)
Jakarta The Agriculture Ministry's director general for food crops has criticized the Trade Ministry's decision to import rice, as the country produced enough rice to meet local demand, and stressed that importing the commodity could disrupt long-term rice production.
Food crops director general Sumarjo Gatot Irianto stressed said on Sunday in Jakarta that he could prove that Indonesia produced a sufficient amount of rice through satellite images that showed the rice harvest across the country as well as the dates of the rice harvest, reported by tempo.co.
Sumarjo also criticized those who questioned the rice production data, saying that his office had valid data.
"The question is why the market experienced a shortage in rice when distribution has been smooth and the harvest was huge," he said.
He suspected that the rice supply chain was disrupted, and that relevant parties in the government should find a better solution for easing the price hike rather than simply importing the commodity.
Sumarjo said that importing rice as a solution would disrupt long-term rice production, as it discouraged farmers from producing the commodity. "Don't introduce a solution for a short-term problem that will disrupt the agricultural production system," he added.
The government decided on Jan. 11 to import 500,000 tons of rice through the Trade Ministry, in an effort to ease increasing rice prices that had exceeded the government's ceiling prices since last month. (bbn)
Jakarta The Indonesian Regency Administrations Association (APKASI) has called on the central government to review its plan to import rice, as it will cause farm-level prices for unhusked rice to drop ahead of the harvest season in the coming weeks.
"Based on the data, facts and aspirations from regents, APKASI calls on the central government to review the rice import plan," APKASI chairman Mardani H. Maming said in a statement on Wednesday, as reported by Antara news agency.
Mardani, who is the regent of Tanah Bumbu in South Kalimantan, added that without a thorough study on regional rice production, the import policy would harm farmers whose livelihood depended on the agriculture sector.
Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita announced last week that the government would import 500,000 tons of medium-grade rice from Thailand and Vietnam to ease the commodity's price, which had exceeded the government's ceiling price.
Banten's Serang Regent Ratu Tatu Chasanah made a similar statement, saying that the central government needed to listen to the farmers' aspirations before introducing a policy that might affect them directly.
She said the people in her regency would be hard hit by the policy, as they relied on the income they made from rice sales. She added that Serang's harvest season would commence in the third week of January.
North Sumatra's Serdang Berdagai Regent Soekirman echoed her concerns, saying that the harvest season in his regency would start this week. "I am concerned about the rice import plan," he said. (bbn)
Jakarta The government's decision to import 500,000 tons of rice to ease the increasing price of the commodity received criticism as critics said it would affect the income of farmers.
Michael Wattimena, deputy chairman of the House of Representatives' Commission IV, which oversees the agriculture sector, among others, said on Tuesday the policy would negatively affect farmers' income as the harvest season would come within the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, the imported rice is scheduled to arrive late this month. "Don't let our farmers pay the price because of the government's decision to import," said Michael, as reported by tribunnews.com adding that the government should have a proper policy to stabilize rice prices.
The lawmaker also criticized the government-sponsored Food Taskforce (Satgas Pangan), which he claimed knew nothing about the ongoing the price increase.
The government has set ceiling prices for medium-quality rice according to region: Rp 9,450 (70 US cents) per kilogram in Java, Lampung, South Sumatra, Bali, West Nusa Tenggara and Sulawesi; Rp 9,950 per kg in the rest of Sumatra, Kalimantan and East Nusa Tenggara; and Rp 10,250 per kg in Maluku and Papua.
However, Bank Indonesia's price tracking website hargapangan.id showed a gradual increase in rice price in many parts of the country.
Meanwhile, Confederation of Indonesian Workers Union (KSPI) president Said Iqbal said the rice import decision would further weaken the farmers' purchasing power due to lower incomes in the upcoming harvest seasons due to the decrease of their commodity price. (jlm/bbn)
Padang Refusing to be evicted from their land, on Wednesday January 18 hundreds of local residents from Kapalo Koto in Limau Manis village, Pauh regency, Padang City, blockaded the main road in the direction of the Andalas University campus.
The residents, the majority of whom were housewives, also set fire to tyres and wood in the middle of the road to block the eviction.
According to observations by harianhaluan.com at the site of the protests, a clash broke out with the demolition team, who were backed up by hundreds of police and TNI (Indonesian military) officers. Residents also threw rocks and women blocked a police water cannon.
A housewife could even be seen waving a length of wood to hold back police who were about to clear her land and house. Police were forced to take her into custody because she was stopping officials from carrying out their duties.
Based on information gathered at the scene, there were around five people who were detained by police for creating a disturbance. A child was also taken into custody for carrying a sharp weapon.
The land execution began at 8am and as of filing this report, access to the road to the site was still being blocked.
Edzan Raharjo, Yogyakarta Protesters opposing the New Yogyakarta International Airport (NYIA) at Kulon Progo held a demonstration this afternoon at the Yogyakarta Regional House of Representatives (DPRD DIY).
The protesters oppose the construction of the airport at Kulon Progo, south of the Central Java city of Yogyakarta, because it is not in the interests of the ordinary people.
"We call for a halt to the construction of the airport. Because farmers are being evicted from their land", said action coordinator Fikri M Farok near the DPRD DIY in the Jl. Malioboro shopping district on Tuesday January 16.
The protest action became heated when the demonstrators tried to force their way into the DPRD by pushing on the front gate, which was locked securely.
Scores of police officers closely guarded the action which was held while a plenary meeting was taking place inside the DPRD building.
The demonstrators also demanded an end to forced evictions at Temon Kulon Progo, and end to violence against local people, an end to the construction of the NYIA and condemned violence by security personnel against Kulon Progo farmers.
The protesters brought a number of posters to the demonstration with messages such as, "Stop the intimidation and repression of Kulon Progo farmers", "Stop the forced eviction of Kulon Progo farmers from their land" and "We reject the NYIA airport construction".
Jakarta Hundreds of angkot (public minivan) drivers refused passengers on Monday, instead opting to rally in front of City Hall, demanding that the Jakarta administration reopen Jl. Jati Baru in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta.
The drivers held up posters reading: "Return sidewalks and street functions to their original function!" and "Stop messing up with our beloved Tanah Abang!"
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan closed Jl. Jati Baru for street vendors, as part of his plan to turn Tanah Abang into a big market like the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. The drivers said they had experienced significant income loss since the road closure.
"We have to pay the minivan owner daily deposits of as much as Rp 110,000 [US$8.2]. We also must spend around Rp 45,000 on gas. Now [after the road closure] we can barely collect Rp 50,000 a day," driver Sairin told The Jakarta Post.
The drivers also complained about the alleged actions of transportation agency officials. "They often say curse words and even damage minivan windows," said Yono, an angkot owner.
Yono said he owned four minivans and employed 12 drivers. "Drivers also have to pay to fix broken windows," Yono said, "It is too much of a burden for them, especially with the road closure."
Transportation agency head Andri Yansyah said he could not promise that Jl. Jati Baru would be reopened. The protest went peacefully until the drivers were dispersed around 4:30 p.m. (gis)
Jakarta Residents earning less than the provincial minimum wage (UMP) may not be able to buy an apartment under the zero down-payment scheme, Jakarta Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno said on Monday.
"It seems [those earning less than the UMP] cannot be included in the Rp zero down-payment scheme. Therefore, he said, the administration's involvement will be needed to provide other options," Sandiaga said, referring to the housing scheme with apartment prices ranging between Rp 185 million (US$12.950) and Rp 320 million.
Therefore, he said, the city administration would consider other options so everyone could buy a house. "One of the options is to build low-cost apartments [Rusunawa]," Sandiaga told kompas.com.
According to Sandiaga, those earning less than the UMP of Rp 3.6 million would be allowed to rent a Rusunawa for a certain period of time. If the tenants consistently paid their rent on time, they could earn ownership rights to the apartment after the rental period ended.
"As for now, the Jakarta Public Works and Housing Agency is still researching and calculating the cost for the housing payment scheme," he said.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan launched the construction of two apartment towers under the housing program in Pondok Kelapa, East Jakarta last week and assured that the houses would be made available for those with salaries under Rp 7 million per month. (dpk)
Jakarta The Jakarta Transportation Council (DTKJ) has stated that the city administration never consulted them on the new transportation policies that have recently been in the media spotlight.
"They never consulted us on their recent regulations," DTKJ head Ellen Tangkudung said on Tuesday as reported by kompas.com.
She was referring to the administration's latest policies, such as the Tanah Abang plan, revoking the motorcycle ban on Jl. MH Thamrin, and reviving the becak (pedicab) in Jakarta.
Regarding the pedicab policy, Ellen said her team would meet to discuss the issue and that Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan would be notified on its conclusion. Ellen said that Anies needed to consider passenger safety in the matter.
"Moreover, if Anies is genuinely concerned about becak drivers' welfare in the wake of app-based transportation services, a huge [income] gap will still remain between becak drivers and those in online transportation, because most people prefer the latter," she added.
Anies is planning to issue a gubernatorial decree to allow becak to operate in Jakarta again, after they were banned from the capital during the 1987-1992 administration of Wiyogo Atmodarminto.
Eliza Handayani Jakarta can be a stressful place to live in, with heavy pollution and few green spaces, street artist Marishka Soekarna says.
"All that I see is busy people and traffic, uncontrolled advertising and unmanaged trash," says the 34-year-old, who hopes to add life to the sprawling Indonesian capital's walls by splashing them with colour.
Soekarna, who is a professional illustrator, paints vibrant murals depicting a smiling female character surrounded by foliage. "I want to contribute something that stimulates a positive feeling for passers-by," she says.
Fellow street artist Ryan Ryadi's work is more focused on social critique. The 35-year-old's mission is to voice Jakarta's problems through murals. Since 2001, he's done this through the character 'Popo', short for Positive Progress.
"I paint about social issues around me. I read newspapers and magazines," says Ryadi, better known as Popo, after his signature drawing. "I'll have an idea for a mural and I'll look at sites. The idea and the site have to be connected."
With a plain white oblong head and body with bulging eyes, Popo is usually accompanied by rhyming lines such as demi flyover pohon game over (build flyover, trees game over), and aku tak percaya hari akhir, aku percaya Jakarta hujan sedikit pasti banjir (I don't believe the world will go down, I believe each time it rains Jakarta drowns).
"Unlimited loyalty makes life more limited," writes another artist, Jablay, who's also known by the name Bujangan Urban but preferred not to reveal his full name, on a big wall across a bank tower. It's intended to question the quality of life in a system where employees tirelessly serve their companies.
More recently, Jablay, 32, moved away from using text. "I now think that everyone can make a statement, but it's no guarantee people will care."
He currently prefers to paint a simple flower. "It's a shape that many people appreciate. I've often experienced that when I'm caught painting on the streets, in the end they'll accept it because I'm making a flower. And they let me go."
Soekarna prefers to get the community's consent before starting work on a wall. She uses regular paint and not spray paint, which means the process takes too long for a "hit-and-run", she says. British men sentenced for graffiti on Seoul trains
Ryadi and Jablay have had run-ins with the police. In 2010 Ryadi was arrested when painting on buildings by some railway tracks. There is an injustice in the way police enforce law on the streets, says Ryadi. The police are quick to arrest street artists for vandalism but lax with corporations who put up ads in an ad-free zone, for example, he says.
Artists doing work in public sometimes also face harassment. Women in particular have to cope with being catcalled and propositioned on the street. Jakarta was found to be the least safe city for women in Southeast Asia in a 2017 survey by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Indonesia has large numbers of unemployed and underemployed people the International Labour Organisation estimates more than 70 per cent of the adult population works in the informal, unregulated economy which means many young adults face economic hardships and have time to idle.
Bunga Fatia, a female artist, says she has even had to offer money to some men who were verbally harassing her, so they would let her paint in peace. In 2014 she and fellow graffiti artist Cintya Meydina founded Ladies on Wall, a collective of female street artists.
"I was happy to find many girls and women who are into graffiti," Bunga says. "I want to support fellow female street artists, but what can I do when their parents won't let them out after dark? During the day they have school or work."
Bunga promised her own parents she would always take a male friend with her whenever she goes out to paint.
Jakarta's street artist community coalesces around Gardu House, a venue in South Jakarta that's been putting up a yearly festival since 2011. Today, the scene is diverse and flourishing, with Indonesian artists being invited to speak at workshops and given residencies and exhibitions around the world.
But Ryadi believes an artist's achievement is not measured by recognition. He considers his true achievement is inspiring others to find creative ways to express their concerns. One of his murals complaining about Jakarta's traffic congestion has been replicated in other Indonesian cities. "It means my work resonates," he says.
Lion Air is one of the fastest growing airlines in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, but it has also been the subject of numerous articles regarding passenger complaints about the airline, often due to flight delays or other service problems, often caught on video featuring Lion Air personnel facing crowds of angry customers.
The latest viral video about the airline comes from Facebook user Pendi Manalu, who was on flight JT 305 from Medan to Jakarta on Saturday night. His post features a video documenting the disbelief and anger of the flight's passengers after they see their luggage coming down the baggage carousel, along with photos showing strong evidence that the bags had not simply been treated roughly but were actually damaged for the purpose of getting at the valuables inside.
The other videos show the furious customers yelling at Lion Air personnel after finding out that many of them had valuable items stolen from their bags. Since Pendi published it, the post has been shared over 47,000 times.
JT-305 had been scheduled to leave Medan's Kualanamu Airport at 6:20pm but its departure was delayed until 8pm. Passengers only learned about their damaged luggage upon arriving at Soekarno Hatta Airport at 11:35pm.
"Our bags were damaged, as well as other passengers', we do not know if they were broken into in Kualanamu or at Soekarno Hatta," Pendi told Okezone on Tuesday.
Investigating their seemingly ransacked bag, many passengers said that their valuables had been stolen out of their luggage including money and jewelry.
"There was also a student who lost the money from a wallet she had placed in her bag, she did not even have the fare to leave the airport," Pendi added.
According to his account, passengers who went to complain were only given complaint forms and directed to file them with the airport police.
Pendi said it wasn't until 5am that he and his wife managed to complete their report with the authorities and leave the airport. He claims Lion Air promised to resolve the problem with 48 hours but as of yesterday said he had not gotten any official word and was planning legal action.
On Sunday, the head of the Soekarno Hatta Police PR division, Ipda Prayogo, said airport authorities were investigating the case and said they suspected the passengers had been the victim of "tikus bagasi" ('trunk rats") who had purposefully broken into the bags to steal money.
Ramaditya Handoko, a spokesperson for Lion Air, also on Sunday confirmed that nine passenger suitcases had been ransacked, but said they were not legally responsible for the valuables taken from the bags.
"In terms of lost money, according to the law, we do not have to replace it. Because there is no evidence [it was there before]. As for the damaged suitcases, we can replace them," he told Medan Today.
According to the Lion Air spokesperson, investigators were checking CCTV cameras and interviewing witnesses at both airports. He also appealed to customers not to put valuables in their check-in bags to prevent similar losses.
Bandung, West Java A number of chicken traders in Bandung, West Java announced a plan to go on strike for three days starting on Friday on account of a lack of supply and price increase of the commodity, tempo.co reported on Thursday.
"The price started to increase before Christmas Day," said Euis, a chicken trader at Kardon Market in Bandung on Thursday.
Euis and other chicken traders had informed their customers about the plan. She said some customers had purchased a three-day stock ahead of the planned strike.
The traders were forced to halt operations because the suppliers had informed them that they would not supply the traders.
The price of broiler chicken normally stood between Rp 35,000 (US$2.5) and Rp 36,000 per kilogram, while it currently reached Rp 39,000 per kg. Euis expressed the hope that the government would soon seek a solution to reduce the price.
According to Trade Ministerial Regulation No. 27/2017, the price ceiling for chicken was Rp 32,000.
Meanwhile, National Chicken Breeders Association secretary-general Sugeng Wahyudi said the price increase of chicken had been caused by an increase in production costs. (bbn)
The Indonesian government continues to maintain its hardline rhetoric about the country undergoing a deadly "drug emergency" that has been used to justify their use of the death penalty and, more recently, the sharp increase in drug suspects who were killed after allegedly resisted arrest.
But while the police talk tough on drugs, it's an open secret that the country's notoriously corrupt prisons are hotbeds of illegal activity, with more than one drug kingpin having been caught continuing their operations behind bars with the help of prison employees.
However, the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) has had some success catching prison officials suspected of abetting drug dealers. The latest took place on Monday, when BNN officers arrested Cahyono Adhi Satriyanto, the warden of Purworejo Prison Class II B in Central Java's Purworejo Regency.
BNN Chief Budi Waseso said Cahyono is suspected of having carried out a number of illegal actions on behalf of a drug dealer named Christian Jaya Kusuma AKA Sancai.
According to Budi, evidence of Cahyono's crimes came from bank records showing money sent to Cahyono from two accounts suspected of transferring the money on Sancai's behalf.
Sancai was arrested on November 8 in Semarang with 800 grams of crystal methamphetamine. Since he has been in prison, BNN believes that Sancai has channeled hundreds of millions of rupiah into Cahyono's bank accounts.
"The flow of funds received by the Head of Purworejo Prison from Sancai happened on a regular basis, as many as 18 times, with the transactions totaling IDR313,500,000 (USD22,000)," Budi said as quoted by Tribun.
BNN said Sancai and Cahyono knew each other previously from when Cahyono served as the head of security at Nusakambangan Narcotics Prison, where Sancai was previously a prisoner.
Cahyono and the two people suspected of sending money to his account on Sancai's behalf are being charged with violating laws on money laundering and narcotics trafficking with a maximum sentence of 15 years.
In June, BNN announced that they had discovered a drug criminal living in a "luxury cell" at East Jakarta's Cipinang Prison, complete with AC, wifi and even an aquarium. The warden, who claimed to have no knowledge of the prisoner's deluxe accommodations, was fired.
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta The Constitutional Court's (MK) ethics council has handed down a sanction and issued a verbal warning to Chief Justice Arief Hidayat in relation to allegations that he lobbied lawmakers of the House of Representatives to secure a second tenure at the court.
The council concluded that Arief violated the code of ethics for attending a meeting with lawmakers from House commission III overseeing legal affairs at a hotel in Jakarta without an official invitation, court spokesman Fajar Laksono said.
The council launched investigation involving a series of questioning sessions with Arief, activists and lawmakers. However, the council found no evidence that could prove Arief's alleged backroom deal with the lawmakers.
"There is no evidence that [Arief] conducted political lobbying of any kind related to his interests to secure reappointment," Fajar told a press conference on Tuesday.
"The ethics council concluded that Arief committed a light violation because the invitation was only made by phone [...] for MK justice, attending a meeting without an official invitation is an ethics violation," he added.
The council's investigation into Arief was launched following reports filed by a group of activists suggested there had been political bartering between Arief and the House over his reappointment and an ongoing judicial review on the House's inquiry rights.
The verbal warning announced on Tuesday was the second for Arief, following a similar sanction handed down by the council in 2016.
Arief previously violated the court's code of ethics by sending a memo to former junior attorney general for supervision Widyo Pramono. In the memo, which was written in 2015, Arief requested special treatment for his relative in Trenggalek regency, who was working as an attorney at the Trenggalek Prosecutor's Office in East Java. (rin)
Fadli, Batam Personnel from Batam Immigration Office in Riau Islands province are looking for two foreign nationals who allegedly joined a protest by ride-hailing application drivers in front of the Batam mayor's office and the Batam Council (DPRD) in the city on Tuesday.
The two men were seen taking part the protest by hundreds of drivers from online-based transportation services and took photos along with other protestors, Batam Immigration Office head Lucky Agung Binarto said.
A team had started to look for the two foreigners, believed to be from the United States, as they appeared to have violated their visit permits. Lucky said the immigration personnel made the move after noticing their presence from local media reporting on the protest.
The news reported that the two men gave their support to the drivers saying that they too used the application. Their photos taking part in the protest and wearing GoJek jackets were also shown on local news outlets. They then left the vicinity while hundreds of drivers continued their protest.
Lucky said the two men allegedly violated the 2011 Immigration Law that restricts foreigners from conducting activities outside their permits, especially taking part in protests.
The online transportation drivers staged the protest demanding the Batam administration and DPRD guarantee their right to work without being intimidated by conventional public transportation operators.
Protests against online transportation have been going on in the city for the past year where conventional drivers such as ojek (motorcycle taxi), public minivan and taxi drivers have complained about their reduced income since the emergence of the online services. (rin)
Adinda Putri, Jakarta Indonesia posted an $11.84 billion trade surplus in 2017 a five-year high thanks to improving exports to key trading partners and as the global economy continued to recover and commodity prices improved.
Total exports last year were $168.73 billion, up 16.22 percent since 2016, the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) announced on Monday (15/01). Meanwhile, imports also increased 15.66 percent to $156.9 billion in 2017.
Indonesia Southeast Asia's largest economy suffered from trade deficits from 2012 to 2014, before returning to the black in 2015 with $7.67 billion in trade surplus and in 2016 with $9.53 billion.
According to BPS head Suhariyanto, the highest trade increase was in Indonesia's commodity exports. The country also managed to boost exports to non-traditional markets, most of them to Turkey, followed by Egypt and Brazil.
"We're confident surplus will be bigger still in 2018. Last year we had $20 billion in non-oil and gas surplus, but that was offset by an oil and gas deficit of $8.56 billion," Suhariyanto said.
Non-oil and gas exports earned the country $153 billion last year, up 15.83 percent since 2016 thanks to much-improved global commodity prices.
Despite the overall yearly surplus in 2017, Indonesia did post a trade deficit of $270 million in December, as export increases were offset by a surge in imports boosted by purchases of capital goods and raw materials by manufacturers. During the year, Indonesia posted a trade surplus every month except in July and December.
Suhariyanto warned of possible import increases as oil prices are still rising in the global market. Indonesia imports crude oil to help meet fuel demand at home as domestic production had dwindled in recent years.
However, higher imports of raw materials and capital goods are good signs that the country's labor-intensive manufacturing sector is expanding which will help stimulate the economy. China remained Indonesia's biggest trading partner in 2017, buying up 13.94 percent of the country's exports and delivering 26.79 percent of its imports, followed by Japan.
Jakarta The Indonesian energy subsidy is estimated to reach Rp 127.7 trillion (US$10.22 billion) this year, or 0.2 percent from gross domestic product (GDP), due to increasing global oil prices.
Last year, the government spent Rp 97.6 trillion on energy subsidies, or 108.7 percent from the amount allocated in the 2017 state budget, which was Rp 89.9 trillion.
Standard Chartered Bank Indonesia chief economist Aldian Taloputra said the increase in the energy subsidy projection was due to the increasing global oil price, which was currently at $70 per barrel, much higher than the government's projection of $48 per barrel in the state budget.
The government has announced that it would not increase the subsidized fuel prices until March. Aldian said the swelling amount of the energy subsidy would widen the state budget deficit to 2.6 percent of GDP from 2.2 percent of the government projection.
"The oil price increase will cause the deficit figure exceeding the government target," Aldian said in the global research briefing 2018 Global Outlook in Jakarta on Monday.
He said the government's decision to join countries in the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) was expected to help increase the tax revenue in 2018, particularly from taxes of Indonesians who kept their wealth abroad.
"The transparency due to the AEOI is expected to become an instrument for the government to collect more tax revenue. We still see the shortfall, but it can be controlled between 2.5 to 2.6 percent," he added as reported by kompas.com. (bbn)
Jakarta Deputy Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Arcandra Tahar has said Indonesia plans to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to two South Asian countries Pakistan and Bangladesh with the trading values at about US$6 billion for each country.
Arcandra said in Jakarta on Wednesday the LNG export would be decided during the visit of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to the countries in the near future.
"The sale purchase agreement is expected to be signed during the visit. It is what is being discussed in the ministry," he said as reported by Antara, adding that the export volume reached between 1 and 1.5 million tons per annum.
In the implementation, state-owned energy firm Pertamina will cooperate with its counterpart in Bangladesh (Petrobangla) and its counterpart in Pakistan (Pakistan LNG Limited). The contract agreement is to be designed in 10-year terms each.
The LNG export plan to the two countries is a follow-up of a memorandum of understanding between Pertamina and the two companies. (bbn)
Dames Alexander Sinaga, Jakarta Indonesia's Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry said on Thursday (18/01) activists should stop provoking fishermen to protest against government policy on cantrang, or fishing trawler, after an agreement was reached between fishermen from Java's north coast and the ministry.
The ministry said the use of cantrang is unsustainable and not environmentally friendly since its net reaches the seabed and destroys coral reefs and the ecosystem around them.
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said the ministry will replace the fishermen's cantrang with more environmentally friendly equipment.
"We're well on our way to replacing all of them. I don't want to hear stories about cantrang anymore," Susi said in a press conference at the ministry's headquarters.
The ministry issued its ban on cantrang earlier this month. On Wednesday, thousands of fishermen rallied in front of Merdeka Palace in Central Jakarta to demand they be allowed to keep using the antiquated fishing trawler.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo met four representatives of the fishermen, four district heads from the area where the fishermen are based and a city mayor.
The meeting ended up with an agreement that the government will not revoke its 2015 ministerial regulation banning the use of cantrang and other fishing trawlers.
The agreement also said fishermen who have registered their boats to the ministry are allowed to use cantrang until they are given a replacement. "We're giving the fishermen more time... we're no longer giving them a set deadline to replace their cantrang," Jokowi said in a statement.
After the meeting in the palace, Minister Susi walked outside to talk to the other protesters from a podium, demanding them to follow the government decision.
"Please respect the decision. I don't want to see any more boats using cantrang and no more unregistered boats," Susi told the protesters. "All boats equipped with cantrang have to be remeasured and will only be allowed to operate off the northern coast of Java,"
The ministry distributed more than 7,500 new fishing equipment to fishermen whose boats were in the "under 10 tons" category last year, in a bid to promote sustainable fishing habits among small-scale fishermen. Nevertheless, cantrang had remained popular with fishermen all over Java.
Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti received fishermen, mostly from Central Java, at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Wednesday.
The fishermen, who protested the ban on cantrang (seine net) use, held a demonstration in front of the palace on Wednesday morning.
At 2 p.m., Jokowi decided to receive some of the fishermen. The President was accompanied by Susi, State Secretary Pratikno, Tegal Regent Ki Enthus Susmono, Tegal acting mayor Nursholeh, Pati Regent Haryanto, Rembang Regent Abdul Hafidz and Batang Regent Wihaji.
Tegal Regent Ki Enthus Susmono said that the meeting aimed to bridge the differences between the government and fishermen on cantrang use.
Susmono said the fisherfolk community had worked with research institutions, including the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) to assess whether the use cantrang negatively affected the environment.
"The fishermen have conducted technical tests with five research institutions. They believe cantrang does not disrupt the ecosystem," he said. (bbn)
Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Tuesday criticized regional governments that have not deregulated the lengthy process of issuing business permits, believed to be responsible for sluggish investment growth in the country.
Jokowi said in Jakarta on Tuesday that the average time for independent power producer investors to obtain licenses from central government was 19 days, but investors needed 775 days on average to obtain licenses from regional governments.
For agriculture related investment, central government needed 19 days to issue licenses, while local governments needed 726 days on average, he added
"I present the data to you now. It means we have a problem in the regions," President Jokowi said in front of regional provincial governors and speakers of regional legislative councils at the Presidential Palace.
He said many investors had canceled their plans to invest after facing numerous problems. "Please analyze bylaws and other regional regulations, especially those relating to investment," said the President.
Jokowi also called on the regions to establish Investment Acceleration Task Forces to help smoothen the process of issuing investment permits.
South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin said only 10 out of 34 provinces and only 75 out of 514 regencies and cities had established task forces. Alex's province had yet to establish the task force.
"We will establish the task force soon, the target is [by the end of] this January," he told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the meeting at the Presidential Palace.
Similar comments were made by Banten Governor Wahidin Halim, who also promised to establish the task force. (bbn)
Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo called on banks to diversify their loan disbursement to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to help them expand their businesses.
"I see the debtors [of banks] are the same people over the years. I want more people to have access to banks," he said at a Financial Services Authority (OJK) gathering event in Jakarta on Thursday.
According to an OJK report, in 2017, the loan disbursement only grew 8.35 percent year-on-year (yoy) to Rp 4.78 quadrillion (US$358.5 billion) while the third-party fund grew 9.35 percent yoy to Rp 5.29 quadrillion.
Jokowi said by providing MSMEs with more access to banks, they were expected to be able to upgrade themselves to become bigger business players. "We have to put forth extra effort to help them from micro to medium businesses, etc.," Jokowi said.
Jokowi stressed that several government programs had paved the way for low-income families to have access to banks.
He cited the noncash social assistance that required the recipients to have bank accounts to receive the assistance, and the land certification program that provided free land certificates to people.
The program would help people obtain bank loans by using the certificates for the collaterals, Jokowi added.
Meanwhile, University of Indonesia economist Andi Fahmi Lubis said it was not easy for the banks to find MSMEs, particularly in rural areas, whose business was bankable.
He said many banks were "lazy" to find deserving recipients of the government's microcredit program, known as the People's Business Credit (KUR). (bbn)
Marchio Irfan Gorbiano, Jakarta Indonesia's foreign debt stood at US$347.3 billion in November last year, growing by 9.1 percent year-on-year (yoy), according to Bank Indonesia's (BI) report.
The central bank revealed that debts in the private and public sectors were recorded at $170.6 billion and $176.6 billion respectively.
The bank, however, considers the foreign debt to still be at a controllable level as 85.7 percent of it is long-term debt, while short-term debt is at 14.3 percent. BI added that long-term debt grew by 7.5 percent, while short-term debt grew by 19.8 percent yoy.
"[BI] continues to monitor the development of foreign debts from time to time to ensure that it takes a maximum role in supporting the development without creating risks that could affect economic stability," said BI spokesman Agusman in a statement.
The latest figure brought Indonesia's debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio to around 34 percent, which according to the central bank remains lower than in the peer countries.
The foreign debts in November were concentrated in the financial sector, manufacturing industry, electricity, gas, clean water and mining sectors, garnering 77 percent of foreign debts in private sector between them.
The shares from the six sectors increased from 76.9 percent from the figure recorded in the previous month, data from BI revealed. (bbn)
The woodcarvings of the Asmat people of Papua are world famous. But it has been the shocking reports of the death of over 65 infants mainly from malnutrition and measles that have turned the spotlight on the regency's health conditions. Hundreds more including several adults are being treated at a hospital in the capital Agats as medics and aid pour in.
The Health Ministry has just revived its "Flying Health Care" program to help address the measles outbreak and the complications exacerbated by malnutrition, including pneumonia although too late for dozens of grieving families.
The rapid response will hopefully save lives. However the warnings and reports of low immunization coverage and malnutrition reached the Health Ministry in September, officials said. What happened between September and January? Apart from low immunization coverage not only against measles many breastfeeding women were known to be malnourished.
As in the 2009 reports of famine in neighboring Yakuhimo, the remoteness of villages has been cited as one reason for difficult access to health services. Over 100 died in the highlands back then, blamed on a failed harvest, not famine, the government said. In Agats district, villagers can only reach the nearest health facility by an hours-long boat journey along the river, when the only boat in their hamlets is not being used for other purposes.
In Jakarta the blame game quickly began, with the Health Ministry insisting that under regional autonomy the primary responsibility lay with the local governments and Papua's provinces and regencies have received huge sums of special autonomy funds, derived from their rich natural resources, for education and health services.
How often local authorities attempted to implement mobile health services is unclear, as many communities will forever be "remote" from their capitals in Papua, located in part of the world's second-largest island. One third of Asmat's population is categorized as living below the poverty line.
So given the four months or so since the warnings of a health crisis were first raised, maybe the real question is: Who really cares? Would a much smaller outbreak not cause much greater uproar among netizens if it occurred, say, in Java or Sumatra? Indonesians are whipped up instantly not by the conditions of our chronically poorest province, but anytime a separatist flag is raised. Few question the arrest, torture and shooting of Papuan protesters, without questioning why anyone in a poor province would demand independence. As critics among Papuans reiterate, most Indonesians care about the rich land much more than their Melanesian brothers and sisters living too far from the capital and other more developed areas.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has visited Papua more frequently than any of his predecessors. This shows how Jakarta does care about the easternmost province by, among other policies, ensuring major progress in its infrastructure development. But the central and local governments should learn from some innovative regions that have successfully created outreach programs to remote populations, which do not require grand-scale projects. They just need to care about their citizens.
Alek K Kurniawan Tourism is a priority of Indonesian President Joko Widodo. He has built a lot of infrastructure for it. He has created a friendly policy toward investors. He has also conducted a friendly policy toward foreign tourists but he has often forgotten his own people.
Many infrastructure developments do not bring prosperity to local communities. The government needs to powder the rough faces of Indonesian tourism.
Kota Batu, East Java, is a tourist location that is often proudly touted by the government. The city has a million charms and stunning natural scenery, but a tourism policy that doesn't consider the environmental impacts has resulted in damage there.
In 2005, there were 111 water sources commonly used by residents in Kota Batu. Between 2012 and 2014, the presence of resorts and hotels abounded in the city, and one by one springs used by citizens vanished, leaving only 58 sources of water by last year, according to Tirto.id.
The construction of Kulon Progo Airport in the Special Region of Yogyakarta in order to support the tourist area of Borobudur is also problematic.
The construction of the airport violates the spatial plan of the Java-Bali region as specified in a 2012 Presidential Regulation and an earlier provincial regulation, which include no mandate for the construction of airports in coastal Kulon Progo. In fact, the area has been designated as a geological protected zone because it is a tsunami-prone area.
Furthermore, land acquisition for the airport snatched up productive land used by the community for farming. Keep in mind the crops produced by Kulon Progo residents are excellent commodities, such as rice, chili, watermelon, eggplant, and other plants that contribute to the national food supply. Where are the great ideals of the government in realizing food sovereignty for the people when the productive lands of famers are impaired?
Moreover, how can common sense accept the establishment of development projects without environmental-impact analysis? Even the governor of Yogyakarta had no idea that there must be an environmental impact assessment before determining the permit location of such a project, Tempo reported in May 2016.
Tourism is no longer a prima donna if its development results in disappointment for the people of Indonesia. Understanding local residents' attitudes toward tourism development is vital for its success and sustainability.
What kind of prima donna is tourism to the villagers of Miliran, Yogyakarta, whose wells have been dry for months since the proliferation of hotels around their area? What kind of prima donna is tourism to Komodo villagers who are left behind and now have difficulty finding fish?
What kind of prima donna is tourism to the students whose bodies were targeted by the boots of security personnel when they voiced their thoughts about the construction of the airport that removed the living space of people in Kulon Progo? What kind of prima donna is tourism to coral reefs, mangrove vegetation, shrimp herds, fish and shellfish that are threatened in the area's of Bali's Benoa Bay that are to be reclaimed.
According to a theory of tourism put forward by Washington State University scholars Dogan Gursoy and K W Kendall in 2006, local residents will be happy to participate if they benefit without sacrificing too much. If the benefits are greater than the negative impacts, they will support the development of tourism in their area.
Conversely, if the losses incurred by tourism are perceived to outweigh the benefits because of cultural loss as well as natural damage, they will resist.
John McBeth Jakarta What was billed as a Cabinet reshuffle turned out to be little more than a riffle, but in replacing his chief of staff with a retired military commander Indonesian President Joko Widodo is clearly inserting some starch into the ranks ahead of legislative and presidential elections in 2019.
General Moeldoko stepped down in mid-2015 with the avowed intention of running for the presidency, just as his troublesome successor, General Gatot Nurmantyo, did before his ambitions got ahead of themselves and he was sacked three months before retirement.
Moeldoko, 60, has now made it to the presidential palace, but in a somewhat different role than he saw for himself, managing the president's day-to-day affairs and acting, presumably, as the ultimate palace gatekeeper.
That leaves Widodo surrounded by a coterie of uniformed loyalists, including new military commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, police chief General Tito Karnavian, Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu and political adviser Luhut Panjaitan, an ex-special forces general serving as maritime coordinating minister.
Another is police general Budi Gunawan, head of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN), whose first loyalty may be to Indonesian Democrat Party for Struggle (PDI-P) leader Megawati Sukarnoputri, but who spends a lot of time briefing the president on domestic political developments.
Gunawan, 58, recently replaced Vice President Jusuf Kalla as chairman of the Indonesian Mosque Association, which will effectively give him oversight over the country's estimated 800,000 mosques, including those that could be used to rally support against Widodo when the presidential campaign begins in earnest this August.
Sworn in this week as well was Agung Gumelar, 72, a retired special forces general and former transportation minister recently appointed to head the nine-man presidential advisory council, which also contains Suharto-era army chief General Subagyo Hadi Siswoyo.
A member of Political Coordinating Minister Wiranto's People's Conscience Party (Hanura), which he formed after leaving the Golkar Party in 2006, Moeldoko replaces Teten Masduki, the mild-mannered human rights campaigner with what insiders say is a shortage of the stamina required for such a high-pressure job.
Wiranto, 70, is another retired military chief who has been allied with the president since the outset, initially to put a dent in the ambitions of Widodo's presidential rival, Prabowo Subianto, with whom he had engaged in a bitter power struggle in the aftermath of president Suharto's downfall in 1998.
Earlier in his military career, Moeldoko was an adjutant to intelligence guru Abdullah Mahmud Hendropriyono, 72, a long-time ally of ruling Indonesian Democrat Party for Struggle (PDI-P) leader Megawati Sukarnoputri, even during her struggles with President Suharto in the 1990s.
Hendropriyono's son, Diaz, is part of Widodo's special staff and his son-in-law, former presidential security force commander Lieutenant General Andika Perkasa, was recently promoted from West Kalimantan regional chief to head the military's training command, which puts him in line for the top army post when General Mulyono retires in January 2019.
Political analysts believe Moeldoko's appointment in such a strategic position in the president's office may reduce the powerful influence of Panjaitan, who played a key role in Widodo's 2014 election and in bringing the Golkar party into the ruling coalition.
The only actual change in Widodo's Cabinet line-up is outgoing Golkar party Secretary General Idrus Marham, 55, who becomes social affairs minister in place of Kofifah Parawansa, one of three candidates vying for the governorship of East Java.
Critics have questioned why Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto is being allowed to retain his portfolio after he was appointed the new chairman of Golkar, with the Koran Tempo newspaper saying in a hard-hitting editorial that it breaches a promise Widodo made at the start of his presidency.
Wiranto was compelled to step down from the Hanura leadership when he became chief political minister in July 2016 and National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman Muhaimin Iskander was denied a Cabinet position in 2014 because he refused to leave his party post.
Apart from giving Golkar a fourth slot in Cabinet as a reward for its declaration of support in 2019, Marham's singular appointment suggests that despite frequent rumors of a more extensive reshuffle, Widodo has no intention of changing his Cabinet again before next year's elections.
The heavy presence of retired and serving officers around the president has unnerved political activists, many of them habitual critics of generals who have a life after they quit the service and look to use their residual influence by embarking on new careers in politics.
But Widodo is clearly mindful of some of the security challenges that could arise with regional elections on the horizon in June and his political rivals apparently gearing up to play the Islamic card they used so effectively during last year's Jakarta gubernatorial election.
Deasy Simandjuntak, Singapore As Indonesia faces its election years of 2018 and 2019, experts have begun speculating whether the rift between the government and the forces riding on conservative Islam would widen.
It seems certain that hardline groups will continue to whip up votes by mobilising conservative religious sentiments, as the political battleground for Indonesia heats up.
In June this year, 171 administrative regions of the archipelago will simultaneously hold gubernatorial and mayoral elections. Next year, Indonesians will go to the polls to select members of parliamentary and its next president.
The local elections this year will no doubt serve as a political barometer for the latter. In turn, the latter will set the course for Indonesia's democracy going forward.
Importantly, it will test whether President Joko Widodo's reforms and economic achievements can outweigh any strategy of mobilising sectarian sentiments his political rivals may resort to.
Unfortunately for Jokowi, such a strategy was successfully employed in the last Jakarta gubernatorial election.
A bitter sectarian campaign launched by Islamic hardline groups lost the election for then-incumbent Chinese-Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok), who was also the president's closest ally, and led to his subsequent imprisonment for blasphemy.
Worse, it also unleashed new dynamics in the form of two massive anti-Ahok street demonstrations in November and December 2016, spearheaded by groups such as the notorious Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).
These mass rallies and the rampant spread of Islamist-inspired social media messages secured victory for Anies Baswedan, a candidate backed by many hardliners and the coalition of opposition parties consisting of Prabowo Subianto's Gerindra and the Islamic Justice and Prosperous Party (PKS).
It is worrying that hardline groups have gained entry into mainstream politics. Hardline groups are no longer fringe elements going against President Jokowi's government by using hate spin and fiery messages of religious radicalism.
They now find an ally in Mr Subianto, a man observers say represents powerful interests of old oligarchs who benefit from a wave of religious conservatism, being a former general of the New Order regime.
Having been the fiercest and most credible contender to Jokowi during the 2014 presidential election, Mr Subianto is widely seen as a possible contender for the 2019 presidential election.
But the president has shown he will not back down. Shortly after Ahok's sentence in May, Jokowi issued an amended regulation on mass organisations, making it easier for the government to ban groups deemed to be going against the state ideology of Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution which protects ethno-religious diversity.
The government also banned Hizbut-Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), an Islamist group aiming to establish a caliphate, whose banners were seen during anti-Ahok rallies.
Jokowi also effectively marshalled up friendly forces of his own, with the ban strongly supported by Indonesia's largest moderate Muslim organisations, Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah.
But some say Jokowi has overreached. Although the HTI ban was welcomed, there are concerns the new regulation could be used by the government to muffle civil society groups deemed unfriendly. Jokowi's plan to re-inculcate Pancasila in schools has also been seen by some as harkening back to the New Order regime.
Regardless, the pre-emptive moves to stem the rising tide of hardline sentiments and limit the ability of political forces to capitalise on these have strengthened Jokowi's position for the coming 2018 and 2019 elections.
Indeed, they may have been prescient policy moves when the future use of such strategy indeed looks likely. Anies Baswedan's use of the word pribumi in his maiden speech to stir up nativist elements is sowing seeds of acrimony within Indonesian society.
Even if he doesn't run for the 2019 presidential election, he has effectively drawn the battle lines for those who do.
Ironically, the rise of religious conservatism has only been made possible by Indonesia's democratisation since the toppling of the New Order regime in 1998. Twenty years after, hardline-inspired views are gaining centre stage in Indonesian politics while Jokowi's moves to blunt their influence at times has been met with worries of stifling free speech and civil society.
To be fair, Jokowi has cause for concern. A survey by Jakarta-based pollster Alvara Research Centre in October 2017 showed that 29 per cent of 4,200 Muslim high-school and university student respondents said that they would not support a non-Muslim leader even if he were democratically elected.
Around 22 per cent in the same survey say they support the establishment of Sharia-based bylaws, while nearly 20 per cent support the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in the country. These results are especially worrisome since young voters those under 35 will make up around 50 per cent or around 100 million voters in 2019.
In a similar survey done on 1,200 professionals, almost 30 per cent of respondents say they would not support non-Muslim leaders, while 28 per cent say they support the establishment of Sharia-based bylaws. These findings stand at odds when 85 per cent say they consider Pancasila the most suitable national ideology for Indonesia. Sectarian voting behaviour will be something to watch for as Indonesia approaches the 2018 local elections.
A few provinces will be key battle grounds. West Java, with the highest number of potential voters and its proximity to the capital city Jakarta make the province's gubernatorial election a useful gauge of the strength of various political parties.
The signs there so far are positive. There, Gerindra and PKS, like in Jakarta's election, have formed a coalition, with an addition of PAN, which endorsed the incumbent vice-governor.
But the most popular candidate is Ridwan Kamil, the mayor of Bandung, a man endorsed by the incumbent government's nationalist parties including Nasdem, Hanura and PKB, and Muslim party PPP, with a pro-reform agenda.
West Kalimantan, with its diverse population is another key province. Home to Dayak, Chinese, Malay and Javanese ethnic-groups as well as Christians, Catholics and Muslims, past elections were hotly contested. PDIP had announced its endorsement for the daughter of the incumbent Dayak-Catholic governor.
Meanwhile, a Muslim candidate has already called for Muslim constituents to only vote for Muslim candidates in the gubernatorial election. Surprisingly, he has been endorsed by Golkar, Nasdem, PKS, PKB and Hanura, four of which are government parties in the national level.
North Sumatra poses an interesting case, as PDIP has announced its endorsement for Djarot Saiful Hidayat, the former vice-governor in Jakarta who governed alongside Ahok.
This is a smart move, seeing Ahok's popularity in that heterogeneous province. He faces former army general Edy Rahmayadi who is endorsed by Gerindra, PKS and Golkar in a competition that mimics the showdown in Jakarta.
2017 has seen hardline groups gain a foothold in mainstream Indonesian politics and Jokowi's government fighting to preserve tolerance.
With growing political factionalism and sectarianism likely to play out in many heterogeneous provinces in the 2018 local elections, it seems the battle lines have been drawn for the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections.
So far, the rise of Islamist politics has not hurt his popularity. Despite disappointing third-quarter gross domestic product growth and slowing consumption in Indonesia over the past year, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo continues to enjoy strong approval, the latest survey from FT Confidential Research found.
The president's approval rating stood at 56,4% in December, nearly level with his highest result in September 2017 and more than double the level at the start of his presidential term. Jokowi's popularity has been growing steadily, suggesting he has won hearts and minds despite lingering challenges facing the economy and the rise of identity politics in Indonesia.
Indonesia saw its most divisive regional election last year when Jakarta's then-governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic-Chinese Christian, lost office after being accused of committing blasphemy against Islam.
For many, the events that led to Basuki's defeat, and later his two-year prison term, reaffirmed the notion that the identity politics that germinated during the presidential election in 2014 had not gone away. During that election, Jokowi's opponents portrayed him as anti-Islam and insinuated his family had links to communism, a banned ideology in Indonesia. Jokowi is a Muslim but is considered a secular nationalist in a country where voters are broadly divided into supporters of Islamic and nationalist parties.
Political tensions are expected to escalate again this year as Indonesia holds regional elections on June 27 in 171 provinces, districts and mayoralties. Our Political Sentiment Index, which gauges public perception of Indonesia's political outlook for the next six months, improved to 62.2 in the fourth quarter of 2017 from 61.4 previously. Historically, however, the PSI has generally been on a downward trajectory since the second quarter of 2016 and reached its lowest level at the end of that year, when the blasphemy accusation against Purnama flared up.
The regional elections matter for Jokowi's ruling coalition because they set the stage for the presidential and legislative elections in April 2019. Chief among their concerns is the vote for the next governor of West Java, a province with the largest population and economy in Indonesia. It is also among the few where Jokowi's opponent in the 2014 presidential election, Prabowo Subianto, won more votes than he did.
Local polls suggest Ridwan Kamil, the mayor of West Java's capital Bandung, is front-runner for the governorship. An award-winning architect who has 7.5 million Instagram followers, he is popular among millennials. Running as an independent, he has welcomed support from the NasDem party, a minor member of the governing coalition, but has so far remained reluctant to accept the endorsement of Jokowi's political party, the secular-nationalist Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). Sources familiar with the mayor's campaign told FTCR that Muslim clerics and heads of influential Islamic madrassas in West Java have advised Kamil not to partner with the PDI-P. To accept the party's endorsement and the formidable political machinery it provides would risk alienating his conservative Muslim backers, who are wary of the PDI-P's secular ideology.
Our survey highlights the increasing prominence of religious sentiment in Indonesian politics. Almost two-thirds of respondents think Indonesian Muslims are becoming more conservative, something parties and politically active clerics will attempt to capitalize on. Almost 60% also say Indonesia's judicial system should incorporate Sharia law.
There are, however, encouraging findings for secular Indonesians. About 90% of respondents believe Pancasila, the country's pluralistic, foundational ideology, is consistent with Islamic values. The ideology guarantees religious freedom and has "Unity in Diversity" as its motto. This finding negates fears that rising political Islam could gradually lead to Indonesia becoming an Islamic republic.
Additionally, although more than half of respondents welcome the adoption of Sharia, more than three quarters said it must be interpreted according to modern times. Our survey is consistent with findings from academic studies that show a large majority of Indonesian Muslims reject what they consider extreme punishments such as amputation and stoning.
Finally, our survey shows that a majority of Indonesians who are 88% Muslim, according to the 2010 census are unconvinced by accusations by Jokowi's opponents that he is anti-Islam. When asked whether his administration undermined Islamic values, 65% of our respondents disagreed.
However, that means there is a sizable minority Jokowi cannot ignore, underlining the need for him to counter campaigns that exploit religious sentiment. He faces his biggest challenge in the eight provinces where our survey showed his approval rating stood at about 50% or below, of which West Java is the most notable.
In 2014, Prabowo won in five of these provinces and he remains Jokowi's most likely challenger in 2019. In the other three, Lampung, East Kalimantan and South Sulawesi, Jokowi has lost support after animosity toward Purnama spread throughout the country. The president was accused at the time of blocking the prosecution of Purnama for his alleged blasphemy.
We think identity politics will continue to influence Indonesian elections beyond the presidential race in 2019. However, our survey showed most Indonesian Muslims will not easily be swayed by politicians or religious leaders who play the Islam card. Jokowi's re-election will be determined largely by voters' perception of his performance. As we highlighted in our previous report, the president scored highly on issues such as infrastructure development, health care, education and corruption. However, he must also find an effective strategy to counter the perception held by a significant minority that his administration undermines Islamic values.