A group of people set fire to the residence of the head of Pegunungan Bintang regency in a riot in Indonesia's Papua province yesterday.
The crowd involved in the riot in Oksibil town also blockaded the local airport in the remote regency abutting the border with Papua New Guinea.
According to the Jakarta Post, the unrest was triggered by disappointment over the regent's failure to give prizes to participants of a fun walk event held to celebrate his district's 15th anniversary.
Locals reported that police were unable to quell the riot, and many local residents who feared for their safety sought refuge in local churches and mosques. Authorities temporarily closed the airport.
Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura, Papua Hundreds of female vendors at the Mama-mama Market in Jayapura, Papua, shouted hysterically when President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and First Lady Iriana entered the market at 6:15 p.m. local time on Wednesday.
Responding to their enthusiasm, the President approached the female vendors who waited for his arrival at their kiosks, shaking their hands one by one. "Thank you Pak," said a mama, a nickname for a Papuan woman, to Jokowi.
Jokowi later bought herbs and vegetables, such as red chilies, galangale and tomatoes, from a vendor. He paid her Rp 100,000 (US$7.26) although they only cost Rp 10,000.
"How much does it cost, mama? Where do you get these tomatoes?" he asked.
"It's Rp 10,000 per pile. I harvested these tomatoes from my own estate," said Mama Lin Pakage. Jokowi and his entourage spent about 20 minutes at the market.
Some of the female vendors wore traditional Papuan costumes they specially designed for Jokowi's visit.
"Pak Jokowi, we are happy and feel proud to have such a nice market. We, the vendors at Mama-mama Market, hope that Bapak will be re-elected as our leader again. All mamas here in the market are supporting Bapak," said Mama Noni Togotli.
Noni, who sells fruit at the market, said she earned around Rp 500,000 to Rp 600,000 per day.
"This market is still new. Few people come to shop here. But all mamas here believe that with Pak Jokowi's visit, blessings will come to us. More people will hopefully come to shop here," she added. (ebf)
Happy shopping: Jokowi and First Lady Iriana shop for herbs and vegetables during their visit to the market.Happy shopping: Jokowi and First Lady Iriana shop for herbs and vegetables during their visit to the market. (JP/Nethy Dharma Somba)
Friski Riana, Jakarta President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) told the people of Papua to maintain the peace and unity in the region, especially heading towards the regional head elections (Pilkada).
"Don't let any rifts spark between us all during the democratic process (Pilkada)," he said Wednesday, April 11.
The president's message of peace was delivered on the sidelines of the land certificate handover to 3,331 local residents spread in several regions in Papua Province.
This visit marks Jokowi's eighth visit to Papua and he plans to stay there until April 13. As soon as he arrived in Jayapura, the president handed out the land certificates and monitored the Mama Mama Market in Jayapura City.
The presidential entourage is also scheduled to visit the Asmat District, Papua to check on the malnutrition epidemic that hit the region a couple of months ago.
President Jokowi and First lady Iriana were also accompanied by Minister of Agriculture and Land Spatial Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil, State Secretary Pratikno, General Works and Housing Minister Pratikno Basuki Hadimuljono, and Health Ministry Nila Moeloek.
A West Papuan group says it wants the money it collected for a public donation to Papua New Guinea earthquake victims returned by Indonesian police.
West Papua Solidarity for Earthquake Disaster in Papua New Guinea said 16 of its group were arrested over two days last week in Jayapura.
Jayapura's municipal police chief Gustav Robby Urbinas said a group of Papuans were detained after being found to have not gained a permit for their public collection.
But the head of the Solidarity group, Kris Dogopia, said they had already submitted to police written notification they would be collecting in March and April.
According to him, some of the group's cash collection had been confiscated and not returned.
"They take our money. Mainly for Solidarity, we call it, for PNG. But the policemen take it. Today I and my friend, we will go to the policemen's office to ask them our money, where they take it." Kris Dogopia said the amount of collection money which was confiscated was small. He explained that the collection actions were aimed at assisting quake victims, and had no link with politics.
Indonesian police have denied claims that they arrested a group of people in Papua province for a public action to collect funds for victims of Papua New Guinea's recent earthquake.
A Papuan group was taken in by Indonesian police on 7 April 2018 after holding a public collection for donations to a relief fund for earthquake victims in neighbouring Papua New Guinea.
Jayapura municipal police chief Gustav Robby Urbinas said that five Papuans were secured and taken to the police station after being found to have not gained a permit for their public collection.
Suara Papua reports that the group were detained by police last Thursday after collecting relief donations at a main street junction in Abepura for victims of February's 7.5 magnitude quake in PNG.
Police Superintendent Urbinas said the men were not arrested, and suggested they were intoxicated and posed a threat to public disorder.
However, on Saturday, eleven more people were arrested and held briefly for public collecting of funds for the PNG relief cause.
The group, West Papua Solidarity for Earthquake Disaster, told RNZ Pacific it had already submitted to both municipal and regional police written notification they would be collecting in March and April.
According to the group's chief, Kris Dogopia, the collection was purely aimed at assisting quake victims in a neighbouring country with fellow Melanesian people.
He said the collection had no link with politics, and nor did it pose a security threat as police suggested.
"They thought that we had disturbed the security in Indonesia, they talked like that to us," Mr Dogopia said. "And we said we not disturb your security in Indonesia, but we do a solidarity for our brothers and sisters in PNG."
He explained that some of the group's cash collection had been confiscated and not returned.
"They take our money... the policemen take it. Today I and my friend, we will go to the policemen's office to ask them our money, where they take it."
Kris Dogopia said the amount of collection money which was confiscated was small, but added that his group wanted to help PNG people in a time of need.
Banda Aceh, Indonesia Indonesia's conservative Aceh province will no longer allow canings for violations of Shariah law to be carried out in public, its governor said Thursday, apparently in response to international condemnation of the caning last year of two men for gay sex that damaged Indonesia's moderate image.
A memorandum of understanding signed by Aceh Gov. Irwandi Yusuf and Yuspahruddin, head of the provincial Law and Human Rights office, stipulates that caning can only take place inside prisons or other places of detention.
It says adults can still witness the punishment but recording won't be allowed. The numbers of people will be much smaller than the hundreds who regularly cheered the outdoor proceedings.
"The aim of holding the caning inside prison is to prevent it from being watched by children, without cameras and hand phones," Yusuf said after signing the memorandum, witnessed by Indonesian Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly.
Aceh is the only province in Muslim-majority Indonesia that practices Shariah law, a concession made by the central government in 2001 as part of efforts to end a decades-long war for independence.
Human Rights Watch dismissed the change to indoor whipping as cosmetic and called for Aceh to abolish caning and the laws that allow it. It said caning remains a form of torture whether it is carried out in public or not.
"Torture is torture whether you do it in public, outside a mosque after Friday prayers, or inside a room, banning anyone from taking a picture," said the group's Indonesia researcher, Andreas Harsono. "It's still torture, it's still traumatizing."
Human Rights Watch also appealed for Aceh to release four people arrested in March for same-sex conduct, who each face up to 100 lashes under the province's Islamic criminal code.
Hundreds of people have been publicly caned since the punishment was introduced in Aceh in 2005.
The province's implementation of Shariah law has become increasingly harsh and now also applies to non-Muslims. Last May, the province for the first time caned two men for gay sex after vigilantes broke into their home and handed them over to religious police.
Footage of the men, both in their 20s, being caned dozens of times in front of a baying crowd galvanized international criticism of Shariah law in the province and was another blow to Indonesia's reputation for moderation following the imprisonment of the capital Jakarta's minority Christian governor for blaspheming Islam.
Making the canings private was proposed in July last year after Yusuf met with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo amid concerns that tourism and investment could be affected.
The last canings were on Feb. 27, when five people including two Christians convicted of gambling were punished in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh.
Hotli Simanjuntak, Banda Aceh The sharia-based provincial government of Aceh has issued a gubernatorial regulation ending the practice of caning convicts in public.
Under the new regulation, issued on Feb. 28, the punishment can only be administered behind closed doors to prevent them from being witnessed by children or recorded and spread online, according to Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf.
The Aceh administration and the Law and Human Rights Ministry signed on Thursday a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to implement the new regulation. Under the MoU, caning will now be conducted in prisons.
"For a long time, canings have been witnessed by children because they are conducted in public," Irwandi said.
Public canings are administered as punishment for people found guilty of violating the province's sharia bylaws, including adultery, gambling and homosexuality.
News of such lashings often makes global headlines, prompting concerns that the practice would only foster Islamophobia and deter investors from coming to the province.
As the only Indonesian province to implement Islamic Law, Aceh, whose official name is Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, has its own version of the Criminal Code (KUHP) called Qanun Jinayat, which regulates public canings.
According to Qanun Jinayat, canings must be conducted in public so that they can be witnessed by residents, with the aim of creating a deterrent effect and prevent people from committing crimes punishable by lashings.
Under the new regulation, Irwandi said, only adults would be allowed to witness the punishment. Viewers are prohibited from bringing cameras or any kind of recording device to the venue, he added.
"This also serves as legal protection for the convict. Imagine if a caning is uploaded onto YouTube or other social media platforms, the convict would carry that shame for the rest of his or her life," said Irwandi. (mos/ahw)
Indonesia's Aceh province will stop caning criminals in public after a wave of international condemnation of the practice, local officials said Thursday.
The conservative region of Sumatra the only place in Muslim-majority Indonesia allowed to enforce explicitly sharia based laws passed a regulation Thursday that will see criminals flogged only behind prison walls. It is not clear when the new rule will come into effect.
Public whippings outside Aceh's mosques is common punishment for a slew of offenses, ranging from gambling and drinking alcohol to gay sex. Rights groups have derided it as cruel and last year President Joko Widodo called for an end to public canings in Aceh.
"This (law) is to muffle protest... to muffle Islamophobia," Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf said. "We don't want Islamophobia to interfere with (Indonesia's) foreign affairs."
Around 98 percent of Aceh's five million residents are Muslims, subject to religious law, including the public whippings which came into practice around 2005.
Non-Muslims can usually choose whether or not to be punished under religious law and sometimes choose a painful flogging to avoid a lengthy court process and jail term.
Two Indonesian Christians were flogged in February for playing an arcade game seen as violating Islamic law.
Under the new rules, caning with a rattan stick cannot be recorded anymore crowds often filmed the spectacle on smartphones and only journalists and adults can witness the punishment inside prisons. Some locals, however, were not sold on outlawing public whippings.
"If caning is done in prison... we're sure there will be more sharia violations in Aceh," demonstrator Tuwanku Muhammad said at a small protest against the new legislation in the provincial capital Banda Aceh. "Even now, there are... violations."
Jakarta Ahead of this year's local and general elections, the police have started deploying officers to community units (RW) in Jakarta and Bekasi.
South Jakarta Police have stationed dozens of personnel in every community unit in Pesanggrahan and Cilandak while Bekasi Police are preparing 1,700 personnel for the program, known as community police.
South Jakarta Police chief Sr. Comr. Indra Jafar inaugurated the officials and instructed them on Saturday to provide accurate information to residents to prevent the spread of fake news and rumors provoking people.
"Cyber crime is on the rise. Fake news can spread quickly and threaten security," Indra said as reported by wartakota.tribunnews.com.
In an effort to counter radicalism and terrorism, the National Police initiated the community police program in 2015 and modeled it after Japan's neighborhood police, Koban, and the United Kingdom's Neighborhood Watch.
Bekasi Police chief Sr. Comr. Indarto said the officials would work with residents to solve local problems.
"For example, if there has been a surge in street buskers entering an area, the community police will discuss with residents on how to settle the problem," he said. The officials will also be stationed in areas nearby their own homes.
The concurrent local elections will be held in 171 regions on June 27 while the legislative and presidential elections will be held next year. (ami/wit)
Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party Deputy Chairman Fadli Zon denied news that suggests Prabowo Subianto is in the process of lobbying President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to run as Jokowi's vice presidential candidate.
Prabowo's alleged attempt at lobbying Jokowi was first brought up by the United Development Party (PPP) Chairman Romahurmuziy, who claimed that a representative of the Gerindra Chairman had visited Jokowi to talk about the vice presidential candidacy. "It's not true, fictitious," Fadli Zon tweeted.
Furthermore, Romahurmuziy was told off by another tweet published by Fadli Zon that suggested him to focus on his own political party and presidential candidate.
Following the Gerindra national coordination meeting on April 11, 2018, Prabowo Subianto has been officially named as the party's presidential candidate.
In an event held in Semarang, Romahurmuziy claimed that Jokowi plans to reach out to Prabowo to prevent future potential public discord and to maintain the unity of the country. He even said that there was a representative of Prabowo that met Jokowi to further talk about the coalition.
John McBeth, Jakarta With opposition leader Prabowo Subianto declaring his candidacy in a horseback appearance before the uniformed ranks of his Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), Indonesia's 2019 presidential race is shaping up into a rerun of 2014's hotly contested campaign.
But questions remain over why the party's April 11 national convention was held behind closed doors, without the normal media coverage, and why the former special forces general suggested his candidacy still depends on who he can gather around him.
For many analysts President Joko Widodo is already halfway home, soaring in opinion polls and already guaranteed support from most of his ruling coalition, including the second-ranked Golkar Party under new leader Airlangga Hartarto, the current industry minister.
The only holdouts are the National Mandate Party (PAN), which ran with Prabowo in 2014 and then deserted him for a single Cabinet seat in mid-2016, and the National Awakening Party (PKB), whose support may rest on whether Widodo chooses party leader Muhaimin Iskander as his running mate.
Former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's fourth-ranked Democrat Party (PD) remains in the centrist position it adopted following the 2014 elections, with its 61 seats in the 560-seat Parliament effectively undermining Prabowo's majority opposition coalition at the time.
Widodo's political team has already told Yudhoyono that his son, defeated Jakarta gubernatorial candidate Agus Harimurti, is too young and inexperienced to be considered for the vice-presidency, which leaves the ex-president's family to consider its options.
Gerindra's sole partner in the opposition, the Sharia-based Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS), has yet to declare its support for Prabowo, but so long as matriarch Megawati Sukarnoputri remains head of Widodo's ruling Indonesia Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI-P) it has little other alternative.
With legislative and presidential elections being held on the same day for the first time ever next April, fielding a presidential candidate will depend on a party or coalition of parties securing 20% of parliament's seats or 20% of the popular vote, based on the 2014 legislative results.
Gerindra and PKS together barely get across the line with a combined 113 seats, but fall short on the vote threshold with only 18.6%. PAN's 49 seats and 7.5% of the vote would make it safe on both counts, probably at the price of Prabowo choosing party leader Zulkifli Hasan as his running mate.
All this explains the language in Prabowo's videotaped acceptance speech, where he said he was ready to run if the party ordered him to. Then he added: "I said 'if.' There is one condition. Even if the party orders me, I need the support of friendly parties."
Massed ranks of cheering Gerindra followers in uniforms and red berets greeted Prabowo as he spurred his chestnut mount onto a tree-ringed field adjoining his hilltop mansion near Bogor in scenes similar to that at Jakarta's national stadium five years ago.
But this time was more private. "We were prepared for that," says one senior government official. "It wasn't the same as four years ago when he [Prabowo] was full of energy. Now he seems more reluctant."
In the months prior to the party's national convention, there were persistent reports, supported by this reporter's conversations with insiders, that Prabowo was of two minds whether to contest the election, mostly because he lacks funds.
Maritime Coordinating Minister Luhut Panjaitan, the president's chief political adviser and a long retired special forces general himself, has met his once-bitter rival three times in the past few weeks to discuss his political plans.
That has given rise to widespread speculation that Prabowo and Widodo might join forces. Sources familiar with the conversation say at the first two meetings Panjaitan urged Prabowo to run, in the belief that it is better to compete against the rival you know than the one you don't.
At the third meeting over a Japanese lunch on April 6, Panjaitan raised the possibility of a joint Widodo-Prabowo ticket, but reportedly lost his appetite after Prabowo said he would consider it if he was put in charge of the military and was given seven seats in any new Cabinet.
Under Indonesia's current chain-of-command arrangement, the national police is directly under the president, given its role in internal security and related counterterrorism issues, while the armed forces reports to the defense minister.
It is not clear whether Prabowo wanted to be both vice president and defense minister himself, or whether defense would have part of Gerindra's proposed share of portfolios.
Insiders say Widodo continues to mull over a suitable running mate, with his first criteria being someone who will be fully accepted by the Muslim community, a key consideration given the rise of a conservative Islamic coalition in regional and perhaps national politics.
Widodo's other two lesser preferences are for a candidate with macroeconomic credentials, like incumbent Vice President Jusuf Kalla, and those who could be expected to make a credible run for the presidency in 2024 to continue his policies.
By most accounts, Widodo is not giving any thought to choosing new Golkar leader Hartarto or members of other parties in his prospective ruling coalition due to the potential for internal bickering.
The president still has until the August 10 nomination deadline to make his choice, but in the meantime he already appears to be on the campaign trail while pushing hard to complete the infrastructure program that already defines his presidency.
In recent weeks, Widodo has made several forays into West Java, the country's most populous province and the scene of his third heaviest defeat in 2014. He is clearly intent on reversing that trend in 2019.
More recently he has traveled Papua, marking his sixth visit to the remote area since becoming president. There, he has been pictured with young girls in native costumes that to some have underlined his fatherly, everyman image.
Unlike in 2014, when Megawati and the PDI-P tarried in announcing his candidacy, the national leader clearly wants a head start out of the blocks and a solid lead in opinion polls no matter who his presidential opponent, or even opponents, turn out to be.
Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had offered Gerindra Party leader Prabowo Subianto the chance to be his running mate in the 2019 presidential election, but the latter turned down the offer, a Gerindra official has claimed.
"Prabowo immediately declined the offer," the party's deputy secretary general, Andre Rosiade, said as quoted by kompas.com.
Prabowo, who lost to Jokowi in 2014 and is now the de facto leader of the opposition camp, was officially nominated Gerindra's presidential candidate on April 11.
The party, which does not have enough votes to field a candidate in the presidential election alone, is currently seeking to create a coalition to back Prabowo's candidacy. Andre said Prabowo had chosen to follow the demand of the people.
"It is the Indonesian people who want him to be the president," Andre said, adding that people's quality of life was declining. "Prabowo wants to improve the quality of life of Indonesians."
Separately, United Development Party (PPP) chairman Romahurmuziy, a Jokowi ally, told the press that Prabowo had once sent a representative to the State Palace to ask if the offer was still open.
"Prabowo felt honored by the offer," he said during a PPP meeting in Semarang, Central Java, on Friday.
Andre denied Romahurmuziy's claim, saying Gerindra's decision to nominate Prabowo as its presidential candidate was final. (gis/ahw)
Fitria Rahmawati, Jakarta Chairman of the United Development Party (PPP) Romahurmuzy, also known as Romy, said that Prabowo Subianto has expressed his interest to be a vice presidential candidate for Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
Romy asserted that Prabowo was sincere because he sent his messenger to Jokowi on Tuesday, April 9, 2018. "If there were no positive [intentions], [Prabowo] would not send a messenger to ask about the possibility of becoming Jokowi's deputy," Romy said in Semarang on Friday, April 13, 2018.
Romy explained about the chronology of Prabowo's wish that has been around since November 2017. Romy revealed that the meeting between Prabowo and Jokowi happened twice in November, though it is unknown who made the first invitation.
"And at that time Pak Prabowo said, 'In the last meeting in November, I felt very honored, at the end of my struggle, to be nominated as vice president.' If you see the sentence, it is possible Jokowi took the initiative," Romy said.
Romy said that he knew about the rumor because at that time, Jokowi had also asked his opinion about the possibility of a coalition with Prabowo in the 2019 presidential election. Romy added that he immediately said yes.
"Why do I know? Because at that time Pak Jokowi also asked me, 'what do you think Romy, is it good or bad if I asked Prabowo to be the vice president candidate', I did not consult with anyone, I directly said agree," said Romy.
Arya Dipa, Bandung, West Java West Java gubernatorial candidate Deddy Mizwar said he hoped a soap opera entitled Cuma di Sini (Only Here), which he plays in, could be broadcast during Ramadhan, which coincides with the gubernatorial election campaign period.
Deddy and other contenders are subject to campaign regulations, including Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) Circular No. 68/2018, which prohibit TV stations from airing soap operas, movies and the like starring electoral candidates.
Deddy said he hoped all stakeholders, especially the KPI, the General Elections Commission and the Elections Supervisory Body, could discuss the regulation. "No party should suffer losses because of the regulation," said the West Java deputy governor on Friday.
Deddy questioned the restrictions imposed by the circular. "If a regional head candidate who is widely known not to be an actor suddenly stars in a soap opera, clearly he or she wants to take advantage of the soap opera to boost his or her popularity," said Deddy.
"But you all know that I'm an actor and I'm already popular. I star in soap operas and movies to earn money for my family. How can they prohibit me from doing my job?" said the actor.
Deddy said Cuma di Sini was a soap opera full of religious and moral messages that were beneficial for the people. "Banning this soap opera will cause losses not only to West Java residents but to all Indonesian people."
KIP West Java chairperson Dedeh Fardiah said the implementation of the circular would always be conducted carefully and upon thorough analysis. (ebf)
Apriadi Gunawan, Medan A flower board that drew the attention of wedding guests at a reception on Wednesday in Binjai, North Sumatra, with its unusual message "Gina & Heru Ganti Status/#2019GantiPresiden", or "Gina & Heru Change Their Status/#2019ChangePresident", has gone viral on social media.
Several guests took pictures with the board in the background, including Ahmadi from Medan. Ahmadi said the flower board's political hashtag prompted him to take a selfie with it and upload the picture to his social media account.
"I've gotten positive responses," said Ahmadi, who added that he did not know who had sent the board.
#2019GantiPresiden has appeared in memes circulating on various social media like Instagram and Facebook. Several T-shirt printing businesses are now offering T-shirts printed with the hashtag. One online shop is selling #2019GantiPresiden T-shirts for Rp 95,000 (US$6.90) each, and is also offering mugs and cell phone cases bearing the political hashtag.
On Apr. 3, Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician Mardani Ali Sera was spotted on a TV show wearing a rubber bracelet with the hashtag on it. "The #2019 GantiPresiden movement will provide data, analysis, to put forth a better candidate for the 2019 presidential election," he said on Apr. 4 as quoted by tempo.co.
The hashtag has revved up the upcoming race between President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and his archrival Prabowo Subianto, the Gerindra Party's general chairman and patron who declared his presidential candidacy on Wednesday evening albeit on the condition of support from "friendly parties".
The PKS has traditionally been a close Gerindra ally, but it had yet to make an official decision on endorsing Prabowo by noon on Thursday, although its politicians have expressed their support for Prabowo in the media.
President Jokowi delivered a fiery response over the weekend on the campaign to unseat him in 2019, saying, "T-shirts cannot replace a president."
Crescent Star Party (PBB) politician Yusril Ihza Mahendra responded in kind, quipping, "I would say checkered shirts do not make a president, either." Yusril was referring to the checkered shirts Jokowi supporters wore during the incumbent's 2014 presidential campaign.
For the 2019 presidential race, Jokowi supporters have their own hashtag: #Jokowi2Periode (second term for Jokowi).
Senior politician Akbar Tandjung of the Golkar Party, a member of the government coalition, commented that the #2019GantiPresident campaign was part of democracy. He pointed out, however, that a mere hashtag would not succeed in replacing Jokowi "who still has huge support". "They need to put forth a figure who has high electability," he said in Malang, East Java, as kompas.com reported on Wednesday.
In February 2018, pollster Populi Center reported the results their electability survey, which showed 52.8 percent of respondents favoring Jokowi and 15.4 percent for Prabowo.
The General Elections Commission (KPU) has set Aug. 4-10 as the registration period for presidential candidates. Besides Jokowi and Prabowo, other possible candidates touted for the presidency include former Indonesian Military commander Gen. (ret) Gatot Nurmantyo and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan.
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta The Gerindra Party is intensifying its lobbying of other political parties to create what it has dubbed "the elephant coalition" to back the presidential bid of its chairman and chief patron, Prabowo Subianto.
The party has so far secured only the support of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS). Meanwhile, five major parties and two minor parties are backing President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo for reelection in 2019.
Gerindra is hoping that the National Mandate Party (PAN), National Awakening Party (PKB) and the Democratic Party, which have yet to enter into any formal agreements, will join its coalition.
"We are maintaining intensive communication with PAN. We hope that it will eventually join us, like the PKS," said Gerindra deputy secretary-general Andre Rosiade late Wednesday.
"We are also building our communication with PKB and Democrats. We predict that [we will see] a big 2014 rematch," he added, referring to the 2014 presidential election when Prabowo and Jokowi ran head-to-head.
Prabowo accepted his party's mandate to run for the presidency in next year's election during Gerindra's national coordination meeting on Wednesday in Hambalang, Bogor, West Java.
Gerindra executive Ahmad Riza Patria cited Prabowo as saying that he would only contest the election if he was supported by an "elephant-sized" coalition.
PKS chairman Sohibul Iman, PAN chairman Zulkifli Hasan and PAN patron Amien Rais attended the meeting, with several reports saying that PKB chairman Muhaimin Iskandar had also been invited, but did not show up at the event. (ahw)
So if you follow Indonesian political news at all you're already well aware of yesterday's surprise declaration by Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto at his party's national convention that he had accepted his party's nomination and was ready to challenge President Joko Widodo once again in the 2019 election.
It was surprising due in part to mounting signs that the former general might not run after all, but mainly because he himself had said that he would not declare his candidacy at the convention just a few days prior.
However, despite this setting up a likely round two rematch between incumbent and the Gerindra chairman, it would be a mistake to say that Jokowi vs Prabowo round 2 is now a certainty.
That's because Indonesia's 2017 Elections Law requires any presidential candidate to meet a threshold requirement of being backed by a political party or coalition of political parties that have at least 20% of the seats in the House of Representative or 25% of the popular vote in the previous election.
That's a major problem for Prabowo, because Gerindra currently only holds 13% of the seats in Parliament and only received 11.81% of the popular vote in the last national election. Which means Gerindra and any possible Prabowo ticket would need the support of one or more coalition parties.
The most likely coalition candidates are the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the National Mandate Party (PAN). Leaders from both parties were in attendance at Gerindra's national convention yesterday to witness Prabowo's declaration.
PKS has tentatively agreed to team up with Gerindra, which would already put Prabowo above the threshold. However, as recently as today, PKS President Sohibul Iman made clear that their support for any possible Prabowo ticket would be contingent on him picking one of their cadres as his vice presidential candidate.
National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman Zulkifli Hasan was even cooler, denying that his presence at Gerindra's convention was necessarily a sign that his party was ready to form a coalition.
"Not yet. We're still far from the Netherlands," Zulkifli said yesterday as quoted by Detik, invoking an old Indonesian saying meaning it was still too early to discuss.
The two other most likely Prabowo coalition partners would be the National Awakening Party (PKB) and the Democratic Party (PD) of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, though the latter has already shown signs that they might potentially join the large coalition backing President Joko Widodo and his PDI-P party, especially if SBY's son Agus Yudhoyono were to be tapped as Jokowi's vice president.
But the seeming reluctance of PKS and PAN are most likely due to ongoing negotiations and political horse trading and observers seem to think that, in all likelihood, at least one will back Prabowo in the end.
Even if he does consolidate his coalition when the electoral registration opens in August, Prabowo then faces the challenge of beating the man who already defeated him once in 2014.
Recent poll numbers show the former general trailing Jokowi by 20-25 points among likely voters, but he managed to overcome similarly stark numbers in his last matchup against Jokowi to make his defeat a close one. And a lot can happen between now and 2019...
Margareth S. Aritonang and Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta Gerindra Party chairman and chief patron Prabowo Subianto accepted his party's mandate to run for the presidency at its national coordination meeting in Hambalang, West Java, on Wednesday.
His decision ended speculation over whether he was considering sitting the election out to endorse another candidate in the 2019 race. It also increased the likelihood that the upcoming election sees a rematch between the former commander of the Army's Special Forces and President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
"As the party's mandatary, as the holder of your mandate [...] I declare that I have submitted and complied with your decision," Prabowo said in a video of the closed-door meeting provided by a Gerindra politician.
Earlier in the day, the opposition leader made it clear that he would only contest the election if the party built a strong alliance with other parties.
Arriving to the meeting's main stage on horseback, to the strains of a brassy rendition of traditional marching song "The British Grenadiers", Prabowo cut an imposing figure in Gerindra's trademark white shirt, khaki pants, and black peci fez.
"With all my energy, body and soul, if Gerindra orders me to run in the upcoming presidential election, I am ready to carry out that task," he said, according to a Gerindra politician that was present, to the applause of the party members in attendance, who broke out in chants of "Prabowo, president!"
Prabowo cut off the chanting, however, and asked for patience. "I said 'if', 'if the party orders me,'" he said. "There is one condition. Even if the party orders me [to run], I need the support of friendly parties."
Over the past few weeks, Prabowo has seemed hesitant over whether to run against President Jokowi again.
Maksimus Ramses Lalongkoe, the executive director of the Institute of Indonesian Political Analysis, said Prabowo's apparent hesitation rested mostly on the lack of a clear coalition backing his candidacy.
The 2017 Elections Law specifies that political parties seeking to nominate a presidential candidate are required to secure at least 20 percent of seats at the House of Representatives or 25 percent of the popular vote.
Gerindra currently holds only 13 percent of House seats and 11.81 percent of the popular vote, which means it needs to join forces with other parties to be able to nominate Prabowo or any other potential candidate.
Four parties with significant vote shares have yet to officially back a candidate: the National Mandate Party (PAN), the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the National Awakening Party (PKB) and the Democratic Party (PD).
PAN and the PKS have worked together with Gerindra in recent times, most notably during the contentious Jakarta gubernatorial election last year.
A Gerindra official has said that Prabowo might declare his candidacy in Banyumas, Central Java, should the party secure the support of PAN and the PKS.
However, PAN seems reluctant about unequivocally endorsing Prabowo, with its chairman Zulkifli Hasan, who attended the Gerindra meeting, saying that the party had yet to make a decision. "If the PDI-P [Jokowi's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle] invited us, we would also come and speak," he said as quoted by Antara.
Gerindra and the PKS have enough seats at the House to nominate Prabowo, but it is likely that Prabowo is seeking more support to match a much bigger political alliance behind Jokowi, who has the backing of five parties.
Maksimus said Indonesia's dynamic political landscape meant that parties were still looking to see what moves might give them the edge. "They're still doing a lot of maneuvering, trying to see if one of their own members has a chance at running," he said.
Prabowo has struggled to match Jokowi's electability, which is at 45 to 55 percent, but Maksimus said that such a challenge was unlikely to be the cause of his indecision. "Electability can change very quickly, Jokowi's electability can be high now, but who knows what it will be like on election day."
He added that Prabowo had no other choice but to run as other potential candidates, such as former Indonesian Military chief Gatot Nurmantyo and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, would not motivate the party machine in the same way that Prabowo would.
Nevertheless, he did not dismiss out of hand the possibility of Prabowo pairing up with erstwhile adversary Jokowi, once again citing the fast-moving nature of Indonesian politics. "If Prabowo is backed into a corner, then he might well decide to join forces with Jokowi, rather than leave empty-handed."
Jakarta (Antara) President Joko Widodo or Jokowi invited the Indonesian ulema to maintain the calm situation ahead of 2018 Regional Election.
"I ask all ulema to soothe and cool off the situation," said Jokowi, according to a press release by Deputy for Protocol, Press, and Media of Indonesia's Presidential Secretariat Bey Machmudin, Tuesday, April 10.
Accompanied by Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko and Special Staff of the Presidential Communication and Information Johan Budi, Jokowi delivered his concern in the meeting with ulema from several areas in West Java including Bekasi City, Bekasi Regency, Depok, Karawang, and Purwakarta.
In a meeting at Presidential Palace, Bogor, Jokowi informed that as many as 171 regional elections will be held in the near future, either gubernatorial, regents or mayoral election.
Jokowi asked ulema to help the government ease the election situation by preventing any improper information including false or hoax news, defamation, and hate speech circulated among the society.
Karina Maharani Tehusijarana, Jakarta As the Gerindra Party holds its closed-door national coordination meeting at party chairman Prabowo Subianto's residence in Hambalang, West Java on Wednesday, the question on everyone's mind is: will Prabowo run for president in 2019?
As leader of the opposition, Prabowo seemed almost certain to run again in 2019, in what would be his fourth bid for the presidency. But in recent weeks he has appeared to waver on the matter, and has gone so far as to cancel the planned official declaration of his candidacy.
Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting program director Sirajuddin Abbas said Prabowo's hesitancy was understandable given his inability to match President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's popularity.
Prabowo has also been dogged by an electability rating that continues to hover below 35 percent, against Jokowi's rating of 45 to 55 percent.
Gerindra itself seems split on the matter. One side, represented by House of Representatives deputy speaker and party deputy chairman Fadli Zon, remains adamant that Prabowo will be the party's presidential candidate.
"Prabowo is the most eligible candidate from Gerindra, in terms of his electability and other factors. As long as he has the support of the Gerindra cadres and the people, he is ready [to run]," he said on Monday.
The cost of not having Prabowo as Gerindra's candidate would not be insignificant for the party, which heavily relies on his popularity to win votes in legislative elections.
"If Prabowo doesn't run, as of now there is no other candidate that can give Gerindra a boost," he said on Tuesday as quoted by kompas.com.
On the other hand, several prominent Gerindra members seemed ready to consider other potential candidates, positioning Prabowo as a kingmaker who could handpick the eventual winner.
"If there is a different candidate [that the people want], then we will support the will of the people," Gerindra central executive board head Desmond Junaidi Mahesa said on Tuesday. "The important thing is that we replace Jokowi."
Prabowo's brother and Gerindra advisory council vice chairman Hashim Djojohadikusumo also seemed to suggest that Prabowo did not have enough resources to run again.
"There are many factors to consider, such as health, and whether or not the logistics are sufficient," he said last month as quoted by kompas.com.
Other names that have been put forward to replace Prabowo include former Indonesian Military chief Gatot Nurmantyo and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan.
Gatot met with the Gerindra leadership last month to discuss the possibility and party members confirmed that it was being considered.
"Gatot came to us several days ago to register himself as a presidential candidate. He said if it was possible, he was ready [to contest the election]," Gerindra executive Muhammad Syafi'i said at the time.
There has also long been speculation that Anies Baswedan has ambitions for the presidency, despite his pledge during last year's gubernatorial debates that he would serve his five-year term as governor.
He has so far refused to comment on the matter, most recently saying, "I am taking care of Jakarta right now," as quoted by tempo.co.
Another interesting, if improbable, possibility that has been sounded out in some quarters is the idea of Prabowo crossing the aisle and becoming Jokowi's running mate.
A survey conducted by SMRC at the end of 2017 found that 66.9 percent of respondents approved of a Jokowi-Prabowo partnership in 2019, with most preferring Jokowi at the top of the ticket.
Jokowi's own Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) seemed open to the possibility, though no decisions have been made yet.
"[A Jokowi-Prabowo] ticket is entirely possible," PDI-P central executive board head Puan Maharani said at the party's national convention in February.
If Prabowo does decide to sit out the election, it is possible that Jokowi may face a blank box in 2019, as none of the other possible candidates are seen as popular enough to unseat him, unless the Muslim-based parties the National Awakening Party, the National Mandate Party or the Democratic Party decide to endorse either Gatot or Anies.
The Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), Gerindra's closest ally, has said it will continue to support Gerindra whether or not Prabowo chooses to run.
"The choice of whether to be a kingmaker or a candidate is in the hands of Prabowo and the Gerindra Party. We are comfortable with Gerindra," PKS executive Mardani Ali Sera said on Tuesday as quoted by tribunnews.com. (ahw)
Jakarta The Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN Jakarta) granted the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party's (PKPI) petition to contest the 2019 legislative election on Wednesday.
"We declare KPU's (General Elections Commission) decision letter [...] on the determination of political parties participating in the 2019 legislative election void," presiding judge Nasrifal said as quoted by tribunnews.com.
The judge also ordered the KPU to issue a new letter naming the PKPI, which is led by former spy chief AM Hendropriyono, one of the political parties eligible to contest the 2019 election.
In February, the KPU declared the PKPI ineligible to contest the election because it had failed to meet the proscribed membership criteria.
The party appealed the KPU's decision with the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), and then petitioned the court when the appeal was rejected. The ruling makes the PKPI the 16th party eligible to contest the election. (kmt/ahw)
Francis Chan Indonesia's largest opposition party Gerindra on Wednesday (April 11) officially declared former army general Prabowo Subianto as its candidate for the 2019 presidential polls.
This was confirmed by party secretary-general Ahmad Muzani during a national coordination meeting being held in Hambalang, West Java.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the meeting, Mr Muzani said leaders of Gerindra, which is short for the Great Indonesia Movement, have made their decision to nominate Mr Prabowo for the upcoming polls, which opens for registration in August.
Breaking news reports also quoted Mr Prabowo, 66, saying he was "ready to carry out the mandate of the cadre".
"With all my energy, with all my soul and body, if the Gerindra Party ordered me to advance on the upcoming presidential election, I'm ready to carry out the task," Mr Prabowo said, according to local media reports.
For the first time, the nationwide vote on April 17 next year will see Indonesians heading to the polls to choose their president as well as their MPs on the same day.
Mr Prabowo's candidacy was widely anticipated although the former Indonesian special forces commander seems to be dragging his feet over the nomination, even saying there will be no such declaration at the April 11 meeting.
But headlines such as "Finally, Prabowo ready to be president", and "It's Official, Prabowo is Gerindra's candidate for the presidency", started to hog the headlines by Wednesday afternoon.
This latest decision by Gerindra means President Joko Widodo's bid for re-election next year would see a repeat of his 2014 battle with Mr Prabowo.
It should also end speculation that the opposition chief may not be running after the news of his nomination took longer than expected, while there were also questions on whether Mr Prabowo had the sufficient support for another long and expensive national campaign.
Mr Prabowo was the vice-presidential running mate to former president Ms Megawati in 2009. He has built up a base among voters who see him as a firm, decisive leader, his human rights record notwithstanding.
Mr Prabowo has also been touted as a kingmaker in Indonesian politics, having backed the winning pairing of Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno, who beat the popular Basuki Tjahaja Purnama at last year's gubernatorial elections in Jakarta.
James Massola, Jakarta Thousands of members of Prabowo Subianto's Gerindra party will demand that he run in the 2019 Indonesian presidential elections at a national conference on Wednesday.
But the former military strongman, who lost the 2014 Presidential election to Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, is hedging his bets about standing and will likely resist those calls at least for now.
Prabowo's nephew, Aryo Djojohadikusumo told Fairfax Media Prabowo's final decision would likely be by August 10, when nominations close. Aryo, who is himself a Gerindra MP, said the party was also still working through a long list of vice presidential running mates.
"Gerindra wants to push Pak [Mr] Prabowo to run as presidential candidate. But the most important question is will he run? It depends on coalition [partners, the Prosperous Justice or PKS party]," he said.
Just weeks ago, senior officials in Gerindra had insisted Prabowo would formally confirm a re-run of the bitterly-contested 2014 election on April 11.
Joko has secured support from a broader coalition of parties than he had in 2014 and looks, at this early stage, to be in a strong position.
That Prabowo is now expected at Wednesday's party conference to resist the calls of 4500 party cadres, including 1800 MPs from national and local parliaments, to immediately confirm his candidacy, underscores the concern that Joko is the unbeatable favourite.
Many believe Prabowo's brother, the billionaire businessman and Aryo's father, Hashim Djojohadikusumo, is reluctant to again spend the huge sums of money required if a loss is likely.
Further complicating matters, Gerindra's coalition partner, PKS, have indicated they either want to choose the vice presidential candidate, or at the very least have a large say in the selection.
Former general Gatot Nurmantyo, and current Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan are two of the names most often floated as candidates to be Prabowo's deputy, or even to step up and run for president if Prabowo pulls out.
Helpfully, Gatot declared himself ready to run without nominating for which party in a magazine interview last week.
In 2014, Joko began with a huge lead over Prabowo in the polls but the final result was close, at least in part because of a so-called "black campaign" that suggested the now-President was a secret Christian, or ethnically Chinese, or both.
Political analyst Arya Fernandes, from Indonesia's Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said many Gerindra MPs wanted Prabowo to run as it would increase their chances of re-election to the national Parliament. Presidential and parliamentary elections will be held simultaneously for the first time in April 2019.
"If Prabowo doesn't run for president, Gerindra will not get significant support in the legislative elections. That's why they push him to declare [his candidacy]," Fernandes said.
But in recent polling, Jokowi had 50.8 per cent support and Prabowo 23 or 25 per cent in a field of several candidates. "This is the dilemma of Prabowo," he said.
Djayadi Hanan, the executive Director at Political Saiful Mujani Research & Consulting, agreed that Gerindra's parliamentary numbers would fall if the former general did not run.
"Prabowo and his team are making a rational calculation. Prabowo has run twice, first in 2009 as Megawati's running mate, secondly in 2014 challenging Jokowi. So, if he runs, he must have... a big opportunity to win. If the opportunity is small, it is difficult for him to decide to run again."
Just a month ago, Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto was widely considered the inevitable challenger to Indonesian President Joko Widodo in the 2019 election.
But poor poll numbers, a pessimistic speech based on a sci-fi novel (i.e. the #GhostFleet fiasco), delayed announcements and even his own brother talking about all the factors that still need to be considered have made Prabowo's presumptive candidacy seem less than certain recently.
Today we got what might be the strongest signal yet from a senior Gerindra official that their party chief may be taking a backseat in next year's election, along with a strong suggestion about what the alternative to a Prabowo presidential ticket might be.
Speaking on the eve of his party's national coordinating meeting on April 11 (where Prabowo had been expected to officially announce his candidacy, until he said he wouldn't), Gerindra executive board chairman Desmond J Mahesa said Prabowo was still weighing the aspirations of the people including the possibility of focusing on his role as a "king maker" a possibility that would, of course, preclude his own candidacy.
"There is no confusion for Pak Prabowo. In regards to challenging or not, we must see if Pak Prabowo will advance or position himself as a king maker," Desmond said at the parliament building as quoted by Detik today.
"We are talking about political strategy and political calculations. We want to win, the principle is that we hope this time we are not defeated, considering there are now shirt everywhere saying 'replace the president'," Desmond added, referring to the reported proliferation of #GantiPresiden2019 t-shirts.
When asked who might take Prabowo's place as Gerindra's candidate, Desmond did not beat around the bush, saying the other figures being strongly considered were former Indonesian military commander Gatot Nurmantyo and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan.
One Gerindra official previously claimed that Gatot had joined their party as a possible presidential candidate but Gatot quickly responded by saying that he had actually only been invited to join the party by Prabowo during a private meeting but that he had not yet made a decision. He has not yet committed to any party.
Anies Baswedan, currently an independent, has also been rumored to be a potential candidate though generally as a possible VP pick for Prabowo. He was formerly education minister under President Joko Widodo until being dismissed during a cabinet reshuffle. He later ran against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial race in which he received the backing of Gerindra and PKS, although most analysts credit the massive 212 anti-Ahok protests, organized by Islamic hardliners like the Islamic Defenders Front and their leader Rizieq Shihab, with assuring Anies' election victory.
In recent surveys of potential 2019 presidential candidates, Prabowo has generally lagged behind Jokowi's numbers by around 20-25% points, but other candidates, including Gatot and Anies, fair far worse, with numbers below 10%.
Of course, much can change before next year's elections, but it seems difficult to imagine Gatot, Anies, or any combination of them with somebody besides Prabowo, being able to offer much of a challenge to the incumbent, who still enjoys generally high levels of voter satisfaction.
At any rate, presidential candidates are not required to officially declare their candidacies until August, so we may not be certain about the shape of the 2019 elections for quite some time yet.
Karina Tehusijarana, Jakarta Lawmakers and officials from both pro-government and opposition coalitions have responded variously to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's fiery speech on Saturday.
In front of thousands of his volunteers, Jokowi hit back several criticisms recently fired against him and his administration. They include #2019changepresident and the opposition leader Prabowo Subianto's claim that Indonesia could break up by 2030.
"A leader should convey optimism and encourage his or her people, even though there are many difficult challenges," Jokowi shouted. "He [Prabowo] should not be pessimistic and talk about a potential for Indonesia to break up in 2030."
Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko denied that the speech was a sign of Jokowi's anger.
"He was not angry. He was just a little bit stern," said the former Indonesian Military (TNI) commander as quoted by Kompas.com. "The President can get irritated too, especially with all the false and misleading news."
Oesman Sapta Odang, chairman of the Jokowi-backing Hanura Party, said President Jokowi's speech was an understandable response to attacks he had faced.
"Now that he is officially running [for president in the 2019 election], it's natural that he will counter all rumors that are detrimental to him," he said.
House of Representatives deputy speaker and Gerindra vice chairman Fadli Zon suggested that Jokowi might have been trying to emulate the Gerindra chairman. "Maybe he [Jokowi] was trying to imitate Prabowo.".
Fadli had previously tweeted a veiled statement on his official Twitter account @fadlizon, saying: "[He] wants to be an orator like Prabowo, but ends up being like stand up comedy." (ebf)
Karina Tehusijarana, Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo will have an easier time in the 2019 presidential election if Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto decides not to run in the election, Indonesia Solidarity Party (PSI) secretary-general Raja Juli Antoni said on Monday.
"Frankly, if the [presidential] candidate pushed forward in the next year's election is a new figure, our job as part of Jokowi's team would be easier compared to what we'd have to handle if Prabowo ran in the election," Antoni said as quoted by kompas.com in Jakarta on Monday.
He said that based on several surveys and the PSI's own internal research, Prabowo was still Jokowi's biggest challenger.
"If this was a boxing match, then we'd be preparing for a heavyweight match between Jokowi and Prabowo," Antoni said. "If Prabowo doesn't run in 2019, then it will just be a middleweight or even featherweight match."
Antoni further said that except for Prabowo, no other public figure had a popularity rate of over 5 percent, and it would be difficult for a new face to boost their popularity within a short period of time.
"If Prabowo does not announce his candidacy by the end of April, we will prepare for a different scenario," he said. "Insya Allah (God willing), our job will be easier."
Prabowo was previously scheduled to announce his presidential bid at the party's national coordination meeting on April 11, but he said last week that there would be no such announcement. (ebf)
Karina Tehusijarana, Jakarta The rising number of candidates competing against blank boxes in the regional elections is an indicator of ineffectiveness of political parties in breeding political cadres, a researcher from the Indonesian Institute said on Monday.
Data shows that the number of sole candidates in the regional elections has increased to 15 in 2018, from three in 2015 and nine in 2017.
"Sole candidacies are legally allowed, but they are detrimental to the public," Fadel Basrianto of the Indonesian Institute public policy research centre said in a written statement on Monday.
Sole candidates have only been allowed since 2015, after the Constitutional Court (MK) struck down a clause in the Regional Elections Law requiring the General Elections Commission (KPU) to confirm at least two candidate pairs in every provincial, regency or municipal election.
Fadel said that the parties had been ineffectual in two ways. "Firstly, political parties have not conducted serious leadership recruitment," he said. "The lack of candidates is a result of the parties' lack of leadership 'stock'."
Secondly, Fadel said, the fact that the parties had banded together to back a single candidate pair in many regions showed that they had lost their identities as "competing agents".
"Parties should play their role as a vessel for contesting ideas," he said. "Instead, they have chosen to be more pragmatic rather than fighting for their own ideals."
Fadel added that if the trend of sole candidacies continued, the public would lose out because of the limited leadership options and a weakening system of checks and balances.
"Going forward, political parties should be more serious in their internal recruitment processes," he said. (ebf)
Jakarta Democratic Party secretary-general Hinca Panjaitan has said the party is preparing its executive, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, to run for either president or vice president in the 2019 election.
"Political parties want their own cadres as [presidential] candidates. Hence, the Democratic Party is preparing Mas AHY," Hinca said on Sunday as quoted by Antara, referring to Agus by his initials.
Pollsters have placed Agus, the son of former president and Democratic patron Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, among the top candidates in their latest surveys on the 2019 presidential election.
Hinca said Agus had travelled to a number of regions to promote his concepts and ideas in order to boost his electability.
The Democratic Party has not yet announced their official support for either a presidential or vice presidential candidate. It has also not hinted at which coalition it might join in next year's elections. "We know we can't stand alone, but we will announce it at the right time," said Hinca.
Last month following his meeting with the President, Agus said there was a possibility that the Democratic Party would endorse President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo as a presidential candidate in the 2019 election.
On the other hand, the party claimed it was giving serious consideration to approaching other political parties to form a third alliance to back a candidate other than the current contenders, President Jokowi and Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto. (kuk/ebf)
Karina Tehusijarana, Jakarta The Gerindra Party's central executive board chairman Desmond Junaidi Mahesa said his party is open to the possibility of backing former Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. (ret) Gatot Nurmantyo as a presidential candidate in the upcoming 2019 elections.
"Anything is possible before August, or near the end of the registration period," he said on Sunday as quoted by Tempo.co.
Desmond said Gerindra had held internal discussions on Gatot's possible candidacy but refrained from saying how likely it was for the party to take such a course. "Anything is possible," he reiterated
Previously, Gatot met with Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto to talk about the possibility of registering as the party's presidential candidate.
Speculation has intensified since Gerindra has not yet officially declared a presidential candidate. Prabowo was previously scheduled to announce his presidential bid at the party's national coordination meeting on April 11, but said last week that there would be no such announcement.
Gerindra deputy chairman Sufmi Dasco Ahmad denied that Prabowo had doubts about running for president, saying that Prabowo was only looking to consolidate his coalition first as it would affect the vice presidential ticket.
"Other parties are also exploring other possibilities, it's not only us," he said. (ebf)
Fajar Pebrianto, Jakarta Cyber Indonesia has filed an official police report against the National Mandate Party (PAN) senior politician Amien Rais for his statement on 'God's Party' and 'Satan's Party'.
Cyber Indonesia's Chairman Muannas Alaidid argued that Amien's statement is considered to be a form of hate speech related to ethnic, religious, racial or social group affiliation (SARA) issues.
"Yes, we will file an official police report," said Muannas on Sunday, April 15, 2018.
Amien Rais' statement that is considered to be a form of hate speech was; "The people that are anti-God automatically join a major party, which is Satan's Party. But in other places, people with faith joining a major Party is Hizbullah, Allah's Party that favors struggle and glory," said Amien in his sermon at a mosque.
Cyber Indonesia leader Aulia Fahmi said that the statement is considered to be harmful and can potentially spark a public discord. "Especially since it is delivered by a public figure," Aulia said.
Aulia added that Amien's statement has violated Article 28 (2) on Information and Electronic Transactions Law (UU ITE).
Suherdjoko, Semarang, Central Java Underscoring its support for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's re-election bid in the 2019 election, the United Development Party (PPP) has said it is ready to counter any hate speech based on ethnic, religious, racial or social group affiliation (collectively referred to in Indonesia by the acronym SARA) that may be directed at the President by political opponents.
PPP chairman Romahurmuziy expressed as much at the second Ulema National Working Meeting (Munas) in Semarang on Friday.
"Pak Jokowi is still often portrayed as a leader who is pro-China and communist and anti-Islam. Ulemas [attending the Munas] have their own perspectives about labels attached to Pak Jokowi. They all agree most of those labels are libellous. What matters now is how we can counter such hate speech and give support [to Jokowi]," said Romarhurmuziy.
Romahurmuziy said the 2019 presidential election would be a re-match between Jokowi and his strongest contender, Prabowo Subianto.
"Therefore, we, from PPP, call on all political parties and societal elements to hold a presidential election that is civilized, dignified and free from SARA-related hate speech," said Romahurmuziy.
When asked whether he would nominate himself as Jokowi's running mate, Romahurmuziy refused to answer. "It is up to the party's ulemas to make a decision on that matter," he said.
The Munas in Semarang discussed the requirements of figures deemed suitable to run alongside Jokowi as vice-presidential candidates.
"This will also depend on Pak Jokowi as to whom he deems appropriate to join him," said Romahurmuziy. On Saturday, President Jokowi is scheduled to attend the PPP's 25th anniversary. (ebf)
Indonesia may have yet another huge blasphemy scandal in the making following last week's controversy surrounding Sukmawati Soekarnoputri's poem. This time it involves Rocky Gerung, a lecturer of philosophy at the prestigious Universitas Indonesia (UI).
Recently, government and opposition lawmakers alike have been butting heads publicly on social media, showing what rap battles might look like if they involved middle-aged politicians using rhymes to promote their respective candidates for the 2019 presidential election.
Cut to Tuesday's edition of tvOne's popular debate show Indonesia Lawyers Club, in which Gerung defended the politicians' use of limericks to big up either President Joko Widodo or his likely 2019 competitor Prabowo Subianto, even if the politicians don't necessarily use facts in their arguments.
He argued that fiction is important for stimulating the imagination in political discourse, before going on to illustrate his point with an example that offended many in Indonesia.
"If I use the definition, 'fiction activates the imagination,' then holy books are fiction, because they are not yet conclusive. [Some events foretold in the books] have not yet happened," Gerung said.
Gerung went on to make the distinction between the noun fiksi (fiction) with the adjective fiktif (fictive), which, according to him, hold different meanings, with the former being an imagination stimulant while the latter is associated with lies and deceit.
"If I say, 'holy books are fictive,' then tomorrow I'll be sent to jail. But if I say, 'holy books are fiction,' then I have an argument, because I am counting on the eschatology in the holy books," he said.
Not seeing a difference in the definitions of fiksi and fiktif, Abu Janda, chairman of the social media activism group Cyber Indonesia, on Wednesday evening reported Gerung to the Jakarta Metro Police for suspicion of blasphemy.
"Tonight there are [followers of] three religions, Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism, who were hurt by Rocky Gerung's statement that holy books are fictional," Janda said, as quoted by Detik.
Under Indonesian law, blasphemy is punishable by up to five years in prison. Rocky said he is willing to clarify his statement to the police if summoned for questioning.
Janda's official complaint about Gerung to the police remains the only one so far. Other religious groups, including the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and Persaudaraan Alumni 212 have yet to publicly condemn Gerung for his statement, both choosing to analyze it first and wait for clarification before acting.
This comes in stark contrast to how the MUI immediately issued a fatwa (religious edict) against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama after accusing him of blasphemy when he warned people not to be fooled by politicians who use the Quran as a political tool. That accusation was quickly followed by Islamic hardline groups publicly denouncing Ahok and held mass protests against him.
For its part, the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) has already taken a clear stance on the issue, saying that they don't believe Gerung committed blasphemy by uttering the controversial statement.
Jakarta A lecturer at the University of Indonesia's School of Philosophy has been reported to the police for alleged hate speech after stating on a TV show on Tuesday that holy books are "fiction".
The report was made to the Jakarta Police by Cyber Indonesia chairman Permadi Arya, also known as Abu Janda, on Wednesday.
While appearing on the Indonesia Lawyers Club talk show on TVOne, the philosophy lecturer, Rocky Gerung, argued about the importance of fiction or literature. He said the word fiksi (fiction), particularly in political parlance, is now considered as pejorative in Indonesia, while it is in fact an important tool for stimulating the imagination.
"If I use the notion that 'fiction activates the imagination', then holy books are [works of] fiction because they are not yet conclusive [...] The function of fiction is to activate the imagination, to encourage us to be more imaginative. And now that word is being slain by politicians," he said.
His statement has provoked some netizens. In colloquial Indonesian, the word "fiksi" rarely refers to literature or the power of storytelling, and is often associated with lies and deceit.
"According to the Indonesian dictionary, holy books refer to the Quran, the Gospels and others. So he cannot make the excuse that he did not specifically say what religion he was referring to. The dictionary definition is clear," Permadi said as quoted by kompas.com.
The official Indonesian dictionary defines a holy book as a canonized revelation from God, such as the Quran, the Gospel, the Torah and the Psalm.
Permadi said Rocky had offended all religious believers, adding that the representatives of the major religions in the country Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism and Buddhism had supported his legal move.
Rocky could be charged with hate speech as stipulated under Article 28 of the nation's draconian Electronic Information and Transaction Law, which carries a maximum punishment of six years' imprisonment. (ahw)
M Julnis Firmansyah, Jakarta The Indonesian Muslim Advocate Association [IKAMI] planned to file a report of religious blasphemy conducted by Ganjar Pranowo through a poem 'Kau Ini Bagaimana atau Aku Harus Bagaimana'.
"We will prepare the evidence to report Ganjar," the IKAMI's secretary Djuju Purwantoro told Tempo on Tuesday, April 10.
The Central Java governor candidate Ganjar Pranowo was said to insult Islam by reciting the poetry written by KH Mustofa Bisri in a private television station last March and spread the video in the social media on March 10, despite the work is not belong to him.
Based on Law No. 19/2016 Article 28 (2) in conjunction with Article 45A (2), IKAMI deemed some verse of the poetry contained religious blasphemy, including adhan which used as prayer call said to be a tool for calling the God. "Many netizens negatively responded the video," said Djuju.
Djuju stated as a public figure and state official, Ganjar Pranowo should be more aware and able to assess and review every verse of the poem he cited.
M Yusuf Manurung, Jakarta Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan gave his opinion on President Jokowi's speech that mainly dismissed the many rumors and allegations made against him.
"President Jokowi once explained to me upon being irritated by people accusing him of being a communist party (PKI) sympathizer, a non-devout Muslim, or preferring to side with foreigners (aseng)," said Luhut at his office on Wednesday, April 11.
President Jokowi gave the speech during a National Convention at the Puri Begawan Ballroom in West Java on Saturday, April 7. In his speech, the president vehemently denied the attacks based on false rumors.
Luhut asserted that Jokowi is a president that is backed by achievements, apart from several of his promises that have yet been realized. He said that the criticism addressed to Jokowi would be brought in a more balanced fashion by mentioning Jokowi's successes when bringing up the president's unrealized promises.
Furthermore, Luhut said that President Jokowi is a man that is focused on fulfilling his past promises.
Ahmad Fikri, Jakarta Indonesian Press Council Chairman Yosep Adi Prasetyo reminded news agencies to take further cautious steps in reporting the simultaneous regional elections (Pilkada) in West Java.
"Through this declaration, we can at least remind them to be careful in conducting their reports and should accentuate the public's interest," said Yosep following the declaration in Bandung yesterday, April 10.
According to Yosep, the Press Council discovered several unverified news agencies active in reporting the regional elections in some parts of West Java such as in Cirebon, Kuningan, and Bekasi.
"Practices conducted by fake and unverified news agencies violating ethical codes, and blatantly being a part of a candidate's campaign team. This has taken place," said Yosep.
He asserted that such unethical practices affecting legit news agencies was found during the Jakarta Gubernatorial Election, which became a source to spread hoax.
"Many hoaxes were packaged as unverified and unconfirmed news. This bogus news agency has become parts of the machine spreading hatred. That has happened," Yosep asserted.
Furthermore, Yosep said that the Press Council is still collecting data on the number of news agencies in Indonesia, which is predicted to be 47,000 in total. Specifically, 2,000 of them are printed news media, 600 television-based news agencies, 600 radio broadcast news, and 43,300 online news agencies.
However, the verified online news agencies acknowledged by the Press Council were only 168 from the total of 43,300. "We don't know what the rest are," said Yosep.
Jakarta Beaches along Balikpapan Bay in East Kalimantan are heavily polluted with oil spilled from a burst undersea pipeline of state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina, the Environment and Forestry Ministry concluded in its assessment of the incident.
Citing results of a survey conducted on 12.6 kilometers of coastline along Balikpapan Bay from Lamuru Beach to Banua Patra Beach Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said her team concluded that hazardous and toxic waste (categorized as B3 waste) had contaminated 29,734 square meters of the 12.6 square kilometers of beach areas.
"We estimate that the soil volume contaminated with B3 waste amounts to 12,145 cubic meters," said Sitti in a written statement Thursday.
The minister added that the team would collect samples in all of the affected locations on Thursday to assess the volume of contaminants that had polluted the area.
"In those locations, we need to carry out detailed assessments to devise a recovery action plan," said Siti.
She further said that, in the western part of Balikpapan Bay, the areas affected by the oil spill were those from Melawai to Balang Island. Delineation would be conducted in those locations on Thursday.
On March 31, a pipeline used to transfer crude oil from the Law-Lawe Terminal in North Penajam Paser regency burst and caused the oil to spill and pollute Balikpapan Bay, which also led to a fire that broke out near Panama-flagged coal cargo vessel MV Ever Judger 2. The incident injured a crew member of the vessel and killed 5 fishermen who were caught up in the fire. (dpk/ebf)
Meghna Bali Indigenous elders on the Mid North Coast are sharing their knowledge about environmental sustainability with Indonesian marine and fisheries leaders.
The group, from the Indonesian provinces of Maluku and North Maluku, are on a four-week tour of Australia's eastern seaboard, through Southern Cross University (SCU).
Indigenous land manager Chels Marshall said there were similarities between the cultures, particularly in kinship, family structures and responsibilities.
"Indigenous people can manage country, landscape, species and marine space," Ms Marshall said. "It's been managed for thousands of years and it's only with the incursion of western concepts that a lot of this country has been mismanaged."
Around 30 per cent of Indonesia's fish is sourced from Maluku, making the eastern provinces integral to the country's economy. But according to customary law, non-custodians are not allowed to fish in traditional waters.
Visiting expert Eugenius Renjaan from Tual Polytechnic said the emergence of industrial fisheries was threatening Indigenous rights and could impact the livelihoods of local communities. He called for stronger government regulation to protect those rights.
"The way that the Australian Government respects traditional rights, we hope we can talk to our government to make the same things happen," he said.
The tour included the Gumma Reserve, an Indigenous protected area, solely owned and managed by Aboriginal people.
Traditional owners work with Nambucca Land Council and engage with federal ministers to preserve the land as a cultural area rather than an economic development.
Chels Marshall saw similarities between Indonesian and Aboriginal cultures, and her advice for the visitors was to lobby the government for policy reform.
"In my experience, the change comes from grassroots," she said. "There needs to be a whole paradigm shift in different ways of knowing and thinking around the management of these natural spaces."
The National Marine Science Centre is capitalising on the similarities. Professor Stephen Smith said there could be a way to help traditional owners return to subsistence fishing.
"In Eastern Indonesia there's a customary ownership of resources and increasingly that's being put under threat by big fisheries," he said. "[The traditional owners] are trying to find a way back."
Professor Smith hoped SCU's research program could lead to a network of experts across both countries who could identify problems, determine the scale of impact and gradually implement programs to mitigate the impact on marine environments through engagement with local and national government.
"I think in Australia we've made some significant advances in recognising Indigenous management and ownership of land and resources and I think those are certainly transferable," he said.
Professor Smith said representatives from Australia would visit Indonesia to address specific questions the visitors had over the four weeks.
"I'm hoping we can take some of our Indigenous elders from this area over to Maluku to share that knowledge," he said.
Basten Gokkon Environmental advocates have warned that proposed revisions to Indonesia's conservation act could provide new loopholes for wildlife traffickers, who already enjoy a thriving trade in one of the world's most biodiverse countries.
The revision of the conservation act, formally the Natural Resources Conservation Law of 1990, was widely anticipated to help authorities crack down harder on the illegal wildlife trade. And the latest draft submitted by parliament to the government for review does make some moves toward that goal: it would ban the trade in species not mentioned on Indonesia's list of protected species but that are regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the main international treaty on endangered animals and plants. For instance, it could help close a loophole that allows traffickers to move items such as African elephant ivory through the Southeast Asian country with impunity.
But critics point to a longer list of problems with the bill. It makes no mention of online trafficking, a growing problem as traders move to platforms such as Facebook and Kaskus, Indonesia's largest Internet forum. It doesn't seem to address the issue of giving endangered animal parts as gifts a practice still carried out in places like Papua province, where officials have been known to distribute souvenirs made from rare birds-of-paradise.
And it doesn't upgrade sentencing guidelines for wildlife crimes that conservationists say are in dire need of change. Under the current legislation, traffickers can receive a maximum sentence of five years in prison. But, in reality, offenders are rarely prosecuted; on the few occasions they are, they typically receive token sentences far below the maximum. Conservationists have called for the introduction of minimum sentences to combat the problem.
"This bill falls short of our expectations," Samedi, the program director at the Indonesia Biodiversity Foundation, said at a recent press conference in Jakarta, convened by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to air their concerns about the bill. "It weakens the current law, which is already pretty weak."
Conservationists have long pushed for new legislation on wildlife crimes. Not long after a smuggler was arrested in 2015 with a suitcase full of rare cockatoos stuffed in plastic water bottles, prompting dozens of people to turn over their illegal pet birds to the authorities, the government announced plans to revise the 1990 law.
Since then, myriad versions of the new conservation bill have been proposed by NGOs, the government, and lawmakers. On December 5th last year, the parliament officially submitted a bill to the government for review. Once the government signs off, the bill will go back to parliament for final passage at a plenary session.
However, Justice Minister Yasonna Laoly told reporters on April 4th that the government would "hold off for the moment" on advancing the bill, as quoted by Kompas. Speaking after a cabinet meeting chaired by the president, he suggested the current law was adequate for addressing Indonesia's conservation needs. It's unclear what will happen with the bill now, but sources in the government told Mongabay the administration was unhappy with the draft submitted by parliament.
One of the biggest differences between the existing legislation and the proposed bill is in the language around wildlife crime. The 1990 law clearly states that anyone who "trades, keeps, distributes or kills" a protected species has committed a crime, punishable with imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to 100 million rupiah ($7,000).
But the new bill omits that key point. Instead, it employs the umbrella term "utilization of natural and biological resources," and says this may be carried out with a permit. (Failure to secure a permit to "utilize natural and biological resources" carries the same maximum sentence as before and a much heftier fine of five billion rupiah, or about $363,000.)
Critics say the new language muddies the definition of what constitutes a wildlife crime, and would make it harder for authorities to crack down on the illegal trade in animals and plants.
For a law to work well, "every prohibition must be clearly stated," said Henri Subagiyo, executive director of the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law. He suggested the new bill could effectively "legalize" wildlife trafficking if it was passed in its current state.
Firman Subagyo, a lawmaker on the parliamentary committee that came up with the current draft, rebuffed those concerns, suggesting that penalties for wildlife trafficking were best addressed by the Criminal Code. "Laws should not include rigid provisions," he told Mongabay by phone. "It's impossible that the bill degrades the previous law," he added. "What we want is to strengthen the existing law."
In 2015, authorities in the port city of Surabaya arrested a man selling rare eagles on Facebook. The bust came amid a growing outcry over people showing off dead or abused animals on social media. Lawmaker Viva Yoga Mauladi said at the time that the revised bill would address online trafficking.
Last year, the Wildlife Conservation Society, an international NGO that helps the Indonesian police catch traffickers, said that at least 40 percent of illegal wildlife traders in the country used online platforms such as WhatsApp to carry out their transactions since 2011. It also estimated the value of this illicit animal trade at 13 trillion rupiah ($910 million) a year.
While existing legislation on electronic transactions does address the online wildlife trade, it is far from adequate to stem the actual practice, said Sofi Mardiah, wildlife police program manager at WCS-Indonesia. Any revised conservation law, she said, must lay the foundation for a monitoring scheme that filters out wildlife or products made using animal parts from online platforms, including social media and e-commerce sites, where the trade is prevalent.
"Wildlife traffickers are looking for stealthy ways and means to trade the animals," she said.
Other provisions in the revised conservation bill could create loopholes for traffickers, critics say.
ICEL's Henri pointed to Article 152, which states that no law enforcement action will be taken against perpetrators "who have good intentions and are compelled to commit [wildlife crimes] in order to make their daily living."
The same article could conceivably be used to waive charges against people who kill protected animals, such as orangutans, on the basis of self-defense, Henri said.
"This provision is very dangerous because the indicator is vague," he said. "How are you going to decide whether someone has good intentions or not, or whether they are forced to do it or not?"
A number of wildlife killings by locals who claimed they were attacked by the animals have been reported in recent months.
Two rubber farmers in Central Kalimantan province beheaded and shot an orangutan multiple times in late December for allegedly charging at one of them when they tried to scare the ape away from their plantation. In January, four farmers in East Kalimantan also cited self-defense for the killing of an orangutan they shot at least 130 times. In March, villagers in northern Sumatra stabbed a Sumatran tiger to death after it attacked and injured two men from a hunting party that had been trying to get the animal away from their village.
Another major change in the conservation bill is that it would open up conservation areas, except nature reserves and the core zone of national parks, to so-called strategic development projects. The move is seen as a nod to the energy industry, which has long sought access to Indonesia's world-leading geothermal reserves but been thwarted by existing protections under the current conservation act. Much of Indonesia's geothermal potential is believed to be locked deep under existing conservation areas, for which exploration permits currently cannot be issued.
The proposed revision has drawn criticism from conservationists, who say it provides a loophole to allow operators in the extractive industries to exploit more protected areas.
The government convened a cabinet meeting on April 4th to discuss the draft bill submitted by parliament, but looks to be in no rush to send it back for passage.
The meeting, meant to generate feedback and concerns over the content of the bill, concluded with President Joko Widodo ordering his ministers to ensure the bill was aligned with the constitution and would benefit Indonesia in the long run.
Environment and Forestry Ministry Siti Nurbaya Bakar told Mongabay her office would discuss the cabinet's feedback with parliament to perfect the bill, but Justice Minister Yasonna suggested there was no need for the bill at all.
"We think that what we have now [the 1990 conservation act] is enough to protect our conservation [areas] and natural resources," he said, according to Kompas. "We just need to improve the synchronization between stakeholders."
He also noted that the bill as it stands would require at least 30 supporting regulations to clarify some of the new provisions.
ICEL's Henri called for the discussion to continue, citing a pressing need to revise the current law. He said he hoped the review would be transparent so that civil society groups could weigh in on the process.
"The longer we wait to discuss the bill, the more time we give companies to continue manipulating the current conservation law," he said.
Kate Walton "We believe this is the worst oil spill to catch fire since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster," said Fathur Roziqin Fen, Director of WALHI East Kalimantan.
WALHI is Indonesia's largest environmental organisation and is closely monitoring the consequences of last week's large oil spill in Balikpapan Bay, Borneo. "Over 130 square kilometres of sea are covered in oil," Fen told me.
Five fishermen have been killed, Irrawaddy dolphins are dying, at least 162 fishermen have lost their livelihoods, 17,000 hectares of mangroves are at risk, and crab farms worth billions of Rupiah have been destroyed.
The Indonesian Government has distributed masks around the city and asked residents not to light cigarettes near the bay. Pertamina, the state-owned gas and oil enterprise that owns a pipeline in the bay, initially denied that the oil was theirs and claimed test results indicated it was motor oil. Ten tests later, the company finally admitted responsibility. It turned out that part of the pipe, located only 25 metres under the sea, had somehow moved 120 metres from its original location.
"The sea pollution is so bad and we've lost our livelihood," a fisherman told the ABC. "I'm standing on the coast and the smell is so strong it's giving me a headache." WALHI says more than 70% of Balikpapan Bay has been covered in oil.
Stretching some 54,716 kilometres, Indonesia's coastline is the world's second longest, after Canada's. Coastal communities not only have to deal with sinking shorelines, salinisation of rice fields and vegetable plots, and natural disasters such as tsunamis, but also with poverty, health, food shortages, and unemployment. A large oil spill can severely compound these challenges.
In 2011, almost 15 million coastal dwellers approximately 6% of Indonesia's total population were deemed poor or very poor. Many of them live alongside major shipping routes, such as the Makassar Strait where Balikpapan is located, and must contend with contaminants from cargo ships as well as gas and oil rigs.
Pertamina's oil pipeline is not the only extractive project in the Makassar Strait. In mid-2017 a gas rig opened that pipes its product 80 kilometres to Bontang, north of Balikpapan.
In Indonesia, living beside the sea is not a sign of wealth like it is in countries such as Australia. Marine pollution and its impact on ocean life represents a major threat to coastal communities.
In coastal Indonesia, a meal often consists of a heaped plate of plain rice and a fried fish. For most, seafood is the only animal protein they eat because chicken, beef, and goat is too expensive. Without access to fish, shellfish, and crustaceans, many coastal people's diets would likely consist entirely of carbohydrates.
Indonesian companies don't exactly have a great record of managing the environmental impact of extractive industries such as oil, gas, and mining. The Freeport gold mine in Timika, Papua, reportedly dumps as much as 200,000 tonnes of waste into the local rivers every day. Locals claim the waste has raised the height of the riverbed and caused fish, oysters, and prawns to all but disappear, despite Freeport-McMoRan spending US$15.5 million annually to reduce the mine's impact.
On the other side of the country, in Sidoarjo, East Java, the drilling of a gas exploration well has sent boiling mud flowing across villages since 2006, killing 13 people and displacing as many as 60,000 residents.
While the 2009 Environmental Law states that polluters must be responsible and pay for any environmental damages caused, in practice this has been hard to prove in court and harder to implement.
The Sidoarjo mud flow, for example, not only displaced tens of thousands of people, but also contaminated rivers with cadmium and lead. While cadmium causes renal failure, lead damages the brain and nervous system, meaning its long-term impact on residents is unclear. The government ordered the mining company, PT Lapindo Brantas, to compensate victims in 2007, but 11 years later many are still waiting. Others only received payouts because the central government loaned Lapindo the money.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said in 2016 that "it is our responsibility as citizens of the world to preserve the oceans"; however, WALHI claims that this is not the first oil spill to occur in Balikpapan Bay an earlier spill in May 2017 received little attention. As with many environmental issues, it appears there is a disconnect between the government's words and its actions.
Indonesia recently vowed to reduce plastic waste, but this will only solve one element of marine pollution; the country is simply too focused on achieving food and energy security and becoming one of the world's 10 largest economies by 2030. Indonesia must realise that economic success comes at an environmental price that might be too high.
Katharina R. Lestari Abdul Gafar, a 31-year-old Indonesian fisherman, says he now has to wear a face mask each day after an oil spill at a port in Balikpapan, in East Kalimantan province.
A fire near the port as a result of the spill later killed at least five people all fishermen.
The spill, caused by a fractured underwater pipeline, has reached Kampung Baru a floating village located about four kilometers from the port, where he, his wife and two children live.
"We've had to wear face masks since the incident on March 31. We can't stand the smell. It's very strong and smells like diesel fuel," he told ucanews.com. "We often get headaches," he said.
Worse, the fuel from the spill has coated the pillars of his wooden home raising fears his house could go up in flames.
"We have to be very careful which means cooking in a neighbor's kitchen. His home has not been touched by the spill yet as rocks have prevented the fuel reaching his house," he said.
Most houses in the floating village, home to about 7,000 fishermen and their families, are covered by the spill. Only a few remain clean as rocks surround them.
"We can't go fishing, either," he said, adding that he could earn about 200,000 rupiah (about US$15) per day from fishing or collecting crabs.
The spill also resulted in a personal loss for Gafar. His cousin, Agus Salim, 40, was one of the fishermen killed in the fire.
According to Suseno, who heads the Balikpapan Disaster Mitigation Agency, the fire was probably set off by a spark close to where a vessel was docked at the port and was quickly put out.
Of the five men who died, "the last body was found by a search and rescue team on April 3," he said.
Efforts were still ongoing to mend the fractured pipeline belonging to the state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina.
In the meantime, the spill has spread over an area of around 12 square kilometers badly affecting several communities along the coast.
Lucia Dian Wulandari, who lives in Margo Mulyo village, can also smell the fuel. "The smell is very strong particularly after rain," said the 44-year-old parishioner at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Dahor.
Authorities in the city a major mining and energy hub and home to one of the few oil refineries run by Pertamina had declared a state of emergency.
Environmental groups have called on the government to take responsibility for what they call an ecological disaster, conduct an investigation and prosecute those found to be at fault.
"We want the administration of Balikpapan city to sue the company which caused the spill," said Topan Wamustofa Hamzah, an advocacy manager from the Indonesian Forum for the Environment.
"We also want police to enforce the law and immediately name a suspect," Hamzah said, during a protest on April 4 in front of the mayor's office to demand immediate action to stop and clean up the spill.
A similar demand came from Father Fransiskus de Sales Sani Lake, coordinator of the Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation of the Society of the Divine Word in Kalimantan.
"Also make sure that those affected by the spill are safe and can return to their normal lives as soon as possible," he said.
For Gafar, that cannot come soon enough. "We just want to fish. If it takes too long, where can we go fish?" he said.
Jakarta International environmental group Greenpeace has demanded that state oil and gas company Pertamina take full responsibility and come up with a transparent and comprehensive plan to address a recent oil spill in Balikpapan Bay, which has killed five people and posed health and environmental hazards in the area.
The government reported that the spill had spread across around 12,900 hectares of fishing waters, larger than the size of Bogor city in West Java.
On April 4, Pertamina admitted that the spill came from its leaked undersea pipelines, connecting the Lawe-Lawe Terminal to their refinery unit in Balikpapan.
"The statement alone is not enough. As a priority, Greenpeace urges Pertamina to take full responsibility and be held accountable for the oil spill and all its impacts. The Indonesian government must now prioritize recovery efforts, as well as implement long-term measures to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future," Greenpeace Southeast Asia oceans campaigner Arifsyah Nasution said in a release made available over the weekend.
Yudi Tobs from Coalition Against Oil Spills (KMPTM) said his group regretted the "poor action" taken by Pertamina. "The company failed to warn authorities and communities when the incident happened," he said in the same release.
The coalition planned to take legal action, he added. "According to Indonesian Law No. 32 on environmental protection and management, Pertamina should take full responsibility. Polluters should pay!" Yudi said.
The government has come to Pertamina's defense, saying that there was no human error on the part of Pertamina, as the event was triggered by the action of a foreign coal vessel that illegally passed through and dropped anchor in the bay.
Pertamina has been cleaning the bay and the Makassar Strait since last week. On April 8, Balikpapan environmental agency official Suryanto said the cleaning process had reached 90 percent toward completion. (evi)
Adam Harvey On a clear Jakarta morning near the city's airport, a group of VIPs stand solemnly in front of thousands of bottles of beer and spirits laid out on the roadway in front of south Tangerang police station.
The officials each slip on a pair of blue latex gloves, grab a bottle of beer... and go to work. That's the delicate part of the operation over.
A police officer, also wearing latex gloves, climbs into a yellow steamroller and drives it across the bottles of booze.
The men accused of making and selling this bootleg alcohol are here too, wearing orange t-shirts and black balaclavas, forced to watch the destruction of their work.
This strange ritual of destroying illegal alcohol occurs fairly regularly in Indonesia, but there's been a new urgency this week after more than 100 Indonesians died in two cities after drinking a toxic batch of home-made spirits.
Legal spirits are expensive in Indonesia: the cheapest bottles of imported hard liquor cost around $50, or approximately half a week's wages for an ordinary Indonesian worker.
Wine is equally unaffordable: $50 a bottle and upwards for brands that sell for $12 in Australia.
Beer's not so expensive, with single cans of local brands like Bintang or Probst costing the equivalent of $2 or $3, but they are getting harder to buy.
Convenience stores outside tourist areas haven't been allowed to sell beer since 2015, thanks to legislation supported by conservative religious groups.
All this fuels a thriving black market. At the top end there's alcohol dealers that operate on the fringes of the law selling to expats and wealthy locals they sell duty-free booze for about 50 per cent more than you'd expect to pay in an Australian bottle shop.
Then there's cheap bottled spirits that's what's being destroyed today with names like Mansion House Whisky and Intisari Ginseng wine.
But on the street, the biggest demand is for black-market alcohol blends called oplosan. They're cheap and available from roadside stands, often sold in plastic bags with a drinking straw already inserted.
Oplosan is a potent cocktail that can contain almost anything: energy drinks, beer, industrial alcohol containing methanol, or spirits brewed by amateurs from fermented casava.
Police think the latter is what's killed drinkers in Bandung and Jakarta this week: an inexpertly brewed batch that contained fatal quantities of methanol.
Some of the drinkers keeled over on their motorcycles. Some made it to hospital: vomiting, staggering, partially blind and totally overwhelming medical staff.
At one small regional hospital in Bandung 70 oplosan drinkers were admitted. Thirty-one of them died.
Recent research by the Centre for Indonesian Policy Studies says one third of university students in Bandung had drunk oplosan and the trend is rising.
The Centre's Sugianto Tandra says the high price of legal alcohol in Indonesia fuels the demand for dangerous cheap blend.
"The taxation leads to more expensive legal alcohol, and consumers who cannot afford it look for another alternative," Mr Tandra says.
"What we've seen recently is consumption of unrecorded (illegal) alcohol: a concoction of non-food alcohol beverages. That's alcohol that basically must not be consumed. "This clearly calls for lower alcohol taxes in Indonesia."
Jakarta Police have raided bootleg liquor production sites in Cipondoh and Pondok Aren and destroyed more than 5,500 bottles, after two more people in South Tangerang died after consuming tainted beverages.
A. Rohman and Ade Firmansyah died after drinking liquor last Saturday and Sunday. "They were security guards in Ciputat," Ciputat Police chief Comr. Donni Bagus Wibisono said in a written statement on Friday.
Police arrested a man identified as Rony Mulia Rajagukguk, who allegedly sold the bootleg liquor to the two victims. Their deaths bring the total number of fatalities in the bootleg liquor crisis to 33 in Greater Jakarta.
The South Tangerang Police also said that they arrested on Wednesday the alleged owner of bootleg liquor brewery Limanto, his employees Kuswoyo and Hermanto as well as his distributor, Iwan. They are charged under Article 197 of Law No. 36/2009 on health, Article 136 of Law No. 18/2012 on food and Article 204 of the Criminal Code (KUHP), which carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
A total of 5,569 bottles of bootleg liquor readied for distribution were destroyed on Friday.
Earlier, National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Mohammad Iqbal revealed the possibility of charging suspects related to bootleg liquor distribution with premeditated murder, which carries a maximum penalty of death. (ami)
Thousands of booze bottles were destroyed by Indonesian police on Friday in a dramatic show as they crack down on bootleg alcohol blamed for killing close to 100 people in recent weeks.
Authorities in Tangerang, on the outskirts of the capital Jakarta, drove a yellow steamroller over a carpet of some 6,000 bottles, while others raided vendors in a bid to stop the worst string of homebrew deaths in years.
The world's most populous Muslim majority country banned the sale of alcohol in most convenience stores and small shops outside holiday hotspot Bali in 2015, although it is still widely available in supermarkets, bars and hotels.
High taxes make alcohol expensive, however, so low-paid workers often turn to cheap and sometimes deadly homemade booze instead.
As of Friday, authorities said at least 97 people have died nationwide since late March from drinking illegal spirits. Some 160 others are in hospital with many still in critical condition.
At least 17 people have been arrested or named as suspects for selling and distributing bootleg alcohol, police said.
"One of the suspects himself died in hospital because he also consumed bootleg alcohol," local police spokesman Trunoyudo Wisnu Andiko told AFP.
Lab tests have turned up toxic levels of methanol a form of alcohol used in antifreeze and solvents in victims' systems. Some of the suspects confessed to mixing pure alcohol with Coca-Cola, energy drinks, cough syrup and even mosquito repellent.
The string of deaths prompted Bandung, a major city east of Jakarta, and its surrounding area to declare a state of emergency Tuesday.
Bootleg booze is usually sold under the table by street vendors, who sometimes make the toxic concoction themselves. But police said they believe there are big distributors behind the sale of toxic alcohol implicated in the recent deaths.
Those found guilty of supplying beverages they knew to be dangerous could face a maximum life sentence, national police spokesman Setyo Wasisto said.
In 2016, 36 people died in Central Java after drinking locally bought homebrew.
Deaths from drinking toxic bootleg alcohol in Indonesia have exceeded 100 this month, police say, vowing a "scorched earth" crackdown on the makers and distributors of black-market liquor.
Deputy national police chief Muhammad Syafruddin said deaths have been concentrated in populous West Java and Jakarta, the capital, but there were also cases in South Kalimantan and other regions that have brought fatalities to more than 100.
Indonesian TV has broadcast images of distraught relatives in several cities and lines of trolleys bearing dead bodies in hospital hallways as the death toll climbed since late last week. There were 31 deaths in Jakarta and satellite cities at the beginning of the month followed by a dramatic surge in West Java.
"This is a crazy phenomenon," Syafruddin said. "If we let it continue, it will harm the nation. "I have ordered all the police chiefs in Indonesia to make these cases stop, zero victims, meaning to reveal the roots ranging from the producers, distributors, sellers to those who have the idea of mixing alcohol with fatal chemicals," he told reporters.
Police displayed huge quantities of suspect confiscated alcohol at their news conference, some of it in small clear plastic bags as well as professionally labelled bottles purporting to be whiskey or wine.
Syafruddin said production of illegal alcohol must be eradicated completely with a "scorched earth" campaign and called for the co-operation of cabinet and government agencies.
It is unclear how effective the crackdown will be. Curbs on sales of legal alcohol in Muslim-majority Indonesia, including a ban on sales from tens of thousands of convenience stores, have created a significant black market among the country's poor.
Potentially lethal methanol can be a by-product of bootleg distilling and the tainted alcohol is also sometimes mixed with soft drinks. In the recent spate of deaths, police said pure alcohol was sometimes combined with ingredients such as cough mixture and insect repellent.
Syafruddin said laboratory testing of black-market alcohol sized by police in several raids in Jakarta showed it contained methanol.
Deaths from toxic alcohol are common in Indonesia and foreigners are occasionally among the victims. Some governments warn travellers to the Indonesian islands of Bali and Lombok to be cautious about consuming local spirits and alcoholic beverages.
But the latest cluster of fatalities is extreme, leading to speculation that a single large distributor was responsible.
West Java police, who have arrested seven people suspected of mixing or selling tainted alcohol, said they have not found evidence to support that. The Kompas newspaper said there were 32 deaths last year from drinking bootleg liquor.
Gemma Holliani Cahya, Jakarta Police have declared war on bootleg liquor after 51 people in West Java and another 31 in Greater Jakarta died from consuming unlicensed alcoholic beverages in the past two weeks.
National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Syafruddin said the force would conduct operations against bootleg liquor across the country and stressed that the distribution of the harmful product had to be ended immediately.
"If you count the number of victims from all over Indonesia, I believe it could be 100 people. (...). This is serious. Too many have died," Syarifuddin said.
He said that to solve the problem, authorities had to eliminate the production of bootleg liquor. Police had to get to the roots of the rampant use and distribution of the liquor, and perpetrators should face maximum punishment.
"I have given them a target to finish this problem this month. There will be zero bootleg liquor in Indonesia. There will be no more bootleg liquor this Ramadhan," Syafruddin told journalists on Wednesday, adding that he had coordinated the policy with regional police offices.
Police found that 95 to 97 percent of the bootleg liquor they had seized during the operations contained pure alcohol mixed with other substances, like energy drinks, syrup or carbonated drinks.
Police have arrested seven people for allegedly producing and distributing bootleg liquor in West Java and Greater Jakart. Two other suspects are still on the run. (ebf)
Adam Harvey In what is suspected to be the worst-ever mass fatality caused by alcohol poisoning in a country where drinkers regularly die from consuming homemade bootleg, 82 people die and 100 are critical after drinking moonshine.
Eighty-two people have died in two Indonesian provinces after they were poisoned by a batch of bootleg alcohol.
The death toll will certainly rise, with more than 100 people in a critical condition in hospitals around Jakarta and West Java province capital Bandung.
It is suspected to be the worst-ever mass fatality caused by alcohol poisoning in a country where drinkers regularly die from consuming homemade bootleg.
Legal alcohol is heavily taxed and too expensive for most Indonesians. The high price of spirits has contributed to the popularity of illegal bootleg liquor, including a variety known in Java as "oplosan".
The drink is sold in plastic bags on the street and can contain almost anything from traditional herbal drinks to cheap wine, energy drinks and sometimes home-brewed liquor that contains fatal amounts of methanol.
Methanol or methyl alcohol is a poison that is produced in the brewing process. Commercial alcohol producers take care to separate methanol from their products as it can be fatal in tiny amounts.
Bootleggers are not so careful, and it regularly kills drinkers in poorly-regulated markets like Indonesia and Thailand.
The illegal spirits were sold in different roadside stalls and stores around Jakarta and Bandung but police suspect the deadly alcohol all came from the same original batch.
Police have raided four outlets selling spirits and confiscated bottled alcohol as well as spirits stored in large plastic drums.
So far six people have been arrested for selling the deadly oplosan and police are searching for at least two more suspects.
In Bandung, patients have been arriving at the city's hospitals since the weekend. Some of the victims were already unconscious and some had been partially-blinded by the moonshine.
More than 100 victims have come to the city's Cicalengka Public Hospital, its director Yani Sumpena Muchtar said.
"The conditions of which these patients arrived in are varied from headaches, stomach ache, throwing up, blurred vision to unconsciousness," the doctor said.
"At the moment, 29 people are in critical condition, 11 are being treated in regular wards, and 31 people have died here."
Arya Dipa, Bandung A limitation and ban on the sale of beverages containing between 1 and 5 percent alcohol have indirectly increased the production and consumption of bootleg liquor, a researcher said on Monday.
"A rise in the number of people who have died after drinking bootleg liquor is related to the prohibition of alcoholic beverage distribution and sales in areas across Indonesia as well as liquor sale restrictions stipulated in a trade ministerial regulation," said Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) researcher Sugianto Tandra on Monday.
He was referring to a 2015 trade ministerial regulation that banned the sale of alcoholic beverages at minimarkets and kiosks. Regulations imposing a high excise on liquor and sales limit have made it more difficult for people to purchase the products.
Sugianto said the government would not succeed in placing a total ban on liquor sales because there was demand from the market. "Therefore, we are asking about the effectiveness of such a regulation. I think the perspective of public health should be included in the study for such a regulation."
Concerns on bootleg liquor resurfaced recently when authorities discovered dozens of people had died after consuming illegal alcoholic beverages.
According to CIPS, around 80 people across Indonesia died this year after consuming bootleg liquor. Thirty-four people died in Greater Jakarta alone. (kuk/ebf)
Thomas Ora and Jose Belo, Dili Party leaders in Timor-Leste have agreed to maintain peace and national stability during an electoral campaign set to begin officially April 10 ahead of the election in May, which is already seeing signs of tension.
At the signing of a "pact of national unity" on April 7 at the Election Commission of Timor-Leste the eight parties and alliances competing in the poll also pledged "not to insult other parties during the campaign."
President Francisco Guterres 'Lu-Olo', in a speech, called on the country's elites to show maturity in politics and democracy and reminded them that leadership is not about power but serving the people.
He encouraged them to show the world that Timor-Leste, despite being a new democracy in Southeast Asia and the Asia Pacific, has something to offer the world through a fair election.
"The most important thing is to show people your programs, how to liberate people from poverty, not insult other parties," Lu-Olo said.
Timor-Leste's 1.2 million people are facing their second election in just 10 months after the minority government of Mari Alkatiri's Fretilin (Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor) Party, which narrowly scored the most votes, but not an outright majority on July 23, 2017, failed to secure enough support over eight months to pass any legislation including a budget.
But already Fretilin's competitor, a coalition led by the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CRNT) Party of former president and prime minister Xanana Gusmao, claims Fretilin is using its muscle in rural regions, where it is popular, to block their campaign.
In early March community leaders from six villages in Watulari sub district told local authorities they were rejecting efforts to conduct any flag raising in the villages.
On March 23, Taur Matan Ruak, another former president and head of the People's Liberation Party, a member of the coalition, tried to conduct a pre-campaign event in the sub district.
"Today some people told me that some Watulari people tried blocking my journey. I say to you nobody in East Timor even Fretilin will be able to stop me and Xanana Gusmao moving around," Taur Matan Ruak said at the time.
Mari Alkatiri, caretaker prime minister and secretary-general of Fretilin, on March 31 accused Gusmao and Taur Matan Ruak of trying bring down his government. "Over the last seven months, the opposition's secret arm [Gusmao] was hiding abroad. Now he has returned he is trying to regain power we should not allow him to," Alkatiri said to his followers during a pre-campaign rally in the capital Dili. "I promise to you all my comrades, I will be deaf to their provocations."
On April 6, in the mountain district of Lete Foho Ermera, a group of people ambushed and stoned the vehicle of Jacinto Rigoberto, a member of parliament and vice secretary-general of CNRT. "They targeted me. They stoned my car," Jacinto Rigoberto told ucanews.com after lodging a complaint with the police.
The president said he also hoped that parties will speak about the maritime agreement between Timor-Leste and Australia signed on March 6 in New York.
"The maritime border is national affair, not of any single party," he said, and believed that Xanana Gusmao, who successfully led the negotiations, will not exploit this success during the campaign.
Gusmao has held several public meetings explaining the new deal with Australia. Still, the crucial issues of where the gas will be processed in the northern Australian city of Darwin or on Timor-Leste's south coast, has not been settled and until then, no fresh revenue can flow.
Deputy Fretilin chairman, Francisco Miranda Branco, said his party would ensure all its members maintain peace and stability, adding the party was optimistic it would win the election on May 12.
"Our goal for the next five years is to build from the peripheries, to address the lack of clean water, agriculture, education, electricity, and roads," he said.
Fidelis Magalhaes, who represents the People's Liberation Party said the three-party opposition coalition will follow the unity pact during the campaign and when the election results are revealed. "The pact is a symbol of a democratic state, to strengthen bonds among parties," he said.
In last year's election Fretilin won 23 seats in the national parliament, followed by the CNRT with 22, PLP eight seats, Democrats with seven and Khunto with five seats.
For the May 12 election, there will be two other coalitions competing, namely the Front of Democratic Development, consisting of four parties and the Coalition of National Movement, also with four parties.
Indonesia's deadliest bootleg liquor crisis in years has killed at least 90 people, authorities said Tuesday, prompting one region to declare a state of emergency.
Police are warning the toll could rise again as they conducted raids in cities across the world's biggest Muslim-majority country to arrest vendors selling toxic homebrew.
Most Indonesians practise a moderate form of Islam and alcohol is available in big cities, but high taxes make it expensive and poorly paid workers sometimes turn to cheap but potentially dangerous homemade alcohol. In 2016, 36 people died in Central Java after drinking locally bought homebrew.
On Tuesday, authorities said at least 90 people have died over the past two weeks in Jakarta, West Java province and easternmost Papua, while dozens more are in critical condition in hospital from drinking tainted booze.
At least nine people have been arrested as of Tuesday, but authorities are still looking for major distributors of the bootleg booze which is usually sold under the table by street vendors, who sometimes make the toxic concoction themselves.
One suspect admitted having mixed mosquito repellent, pure alcohol and cough medicine into his homemade brew, police said. In another case, an arrested vendor said he had mixed pure alcohol with Coca-Cola and an energy drink, police said.
The string of deaths prompted Bandung, a major city east of Jakarta, and its surrounding area to declare a state of emergency Tuesday. "This is a wake up call... for all of us," said National Police spokesman Setyo Wasisto.
In 2015, Indonesia banned the sale of alcohol in most convenience stores and small shops outside holiday hotspot Bali, although it is still available in supermarkets, bars and hotels throughout most of the country.
"When alcohol sales were banned (in convenience stores), underground sellers seized the opportunity to meet demand," University of Indonesia lecturer Devie Rahmawati told AFP. "Those with strong purchasing power won't be affected but low-income people seek out alternatives."
Jakarta Nearly 50 people have died after drinking bootleg liquor in western Indonesia including the capital Jakarta in little more than a week.
In the latest incident, 17 people died between Thursday and early Monday in Cicalengka subdistrict near the West Java capital of Bandung.
Head of the state-run hospital in Cicalengka, Yani Sumpena, said Monday that 16 died at the hospital and one was dead on arrival.
Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono said another 31 people have died in Jakarta and its satellite cities of Depok and Bekasi in separate incidents since the beginning of the month.
High taxes have spawned a black market for illegal booze among the poor in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation. Potentially lethal ingredients including methanol are sometimes used in bootleg recipes.
Jon Afrizal, Jambi A 30-year-old man in Merangin, Jambi, will reportedly marry an elementary school student, identified only as AY, in Nalo district, Merangin regency, Jambi.
AY's teacher, Ermai, said the girl's parents wanted their daughter to get married that young.
"The school has summoned them and asked them why they are letting their daughter get married at such a young age. But they said AY has agreed [to get married]," Ermai added recently. "AY's parents and siblings were also married at a young age."
AY has not been attending school for a month, which according to Ermai, happened after she realized that her friends knew about her upcoming wedding.
"We're trying to persuade AY's parents so that she can go to school again. We'll keep trying until the wedding takes place," she said, noting that previously there was another student at the school who got married soon after her graduation.
The Indonesia Health Demographic Survey recorded an increasing percentage of child marriages in Jambi. The figure rose from 20.1 percent in 2012 of all marriages to 21.6 percent last year.
Jambi National Population and Family Planning Board head Mukhtar Bhakti said most of the minors involved in child marriages in the province were under the age of 19.
"We're hoping that we can push it down to 21 percent this year," he said, adding that he had implemented a special program to prevent youngsters from getting married too soon. (vla/evi)
Kate Lamb and Ben Doherty It has been 58 days. That's how long Farid Attaie has been sleeping on the footpath outside an immigration detention centre in Kalideres, West Jakarta, with his parents, five siblings, and another Hazara family of three.
Less than 20 metres from where they sleep the gates of the full-to-the-brim detention facility are topped with spirals of barbed wire designed to stop people from getting out.
But Farid and more than 300 homeless asylum seekers and refugees camped out on the street in makeshift tents of tarpaulin and bamboo are trying to do the opposite. They want to get in.
After years in limbo in Indonesia this is the end of the line their money has run out and they have nowhere to go.
In the past asylum seekers would arrive in Indonesia from countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Iraq, hoping to board a boat to Australia.
But only a handful of boats have made it to Australian shores in the past three and a half years, and the few asylum seekers who have reached Australia have found themselves exiled again to languish indefinitely in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
Refugees here are now hoping to be approved for third-country resettlement. But globally each year, less than 1% of refugees get that chance.
For the 13,885 asylum seekers and refugees in Indonesia, the walls have been steadily closing in. In recent months the United Nations high commissioner for refugees has told them they are unlikely to ever be resettled.
"We don't know for how many years we will be here," says Farid, 20, as motorbikes and cars spray dust and fumes into his roadside shelter, "Last month UNHCR said never will you move to another country. And maybe you will be here for always."
Farid's family, apple farmers from Afghanistan's Wardak province, fled their homeland after his eldest brother was shot dead by insurgents last year. After 10 months in Indonesia their money has gone.
"Never, or for 20 to 25 years, you will be here," he continues, recalling the devastating news. "All people worry about this. They came here and told everyone."
Exceptional cases single mothers, single-parent families, unaccompanied minors or the physically and mentally impaired will be given priority. For the rest, life in abeyance is taking its toll.
In detention centres in Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan there have been regular protests this year, while reports of depression and requests for psychological assistance are on the rise. A young Afghan asylum seeker committed suicide here last month, reportedly after hearing the news that resettlement would likely never come.
In Kalideres the desperation is palpable. The street is a string of horror stories. "In the morning they come with guns my family killed," 17-old-year-old Muhammad Al Amien from Darfur, in Sudan, says, mimicking the sound of gunfire. "I hid in the school."
Living on the street that lines the detention centre, more than 300 asylum seekers and refugees are reliant on charity for water and food. To go to the bathroom and wash, they pay to use facilities at the local bus station.
Getting inside the centre would mean a roof over their heads and regular meals. Outside, battling poor sanitation, crippling heat and monsoonal rain, people are getting sick.
Nursing his one-and-a-half-year-old son, a Hazara father, Salim Hussini, points to a fresh spray of scabies on the boy's leg.
"My wife is sick and now my son is sick, he is hot and cold and now the rash," he says, "But I finished my money everything so I have to come here."
Hussain Badavi, a 22-year-old Iranian refugee who has been in Indonesia for five years 20 months of which was spent in detention in Kalideres before he was moved into community housing visits the area every few days to check on the asylum seekers' health.
With the support of an Indonesian philanthropist, Badavi assists those needing medical treatment.
This past month he has helped asylum seekers suffering appendicitis, diabetes, tuberculosis and influenza, and intervened in the extreme case of Abdul Fatah, a young Yemeni man with a rare genetic skin disease called epidermolysis bullosa. The emaciated 21-year-old was found on the streets with blisters, scabs and lesions covering his body.
"I was shocked that with his condition he was staying outside on the street," Hussain says. "That same day we took him to the hospital because it really was an emergency."
In recent weeks things have gone from bad to worse. The Australian Department for Immigration and Border Protection, part of the new home affairs department, has pulled funding to the International Organisation for Migration to support any new arrivals in Indonesia.
The DIBP is the IOM's principal funder in Indonesia on 2016 figures US$40m of the organisation US$49m in costs in the country were funded by Australia so Canberra's diktat means the organisation can no longer support any new asylum seekers, despite their continuing arrival.
"In an attempt to stem the flow of these new irregular migrants to Indonesia, IOM's Australian Government donor (DIBP) has decided, as of 15 March 2018, to cease the previous automatic funding to support any new migrants who were not part of the organisation's caseload effective that date," IOM confirmed in a statement.
The number of new arrivals is declining but it hasn't stopped. Last week five ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar who were stranded at sea for almost three weeks were rescued by fishermen in Banda Aceh.
The Guardian understands that at least 288 asylum seekers and refugees now camped outside the Kalideres detention centre will at some point be eligible for IOM assistance. But any new cases will not.
For this financial year the Australian government has earmarked A$52.6m to "support regional partners to manage asylum seeker populations in their countries".
The bulk of this money goes to the IOM, which Australia funds to run programs including in Indonesian government immigration detention centres across the archipelago.
Between 2001 and 2016 Australia provided it with US$238m for Indonesian projects. And 95% of Australia's total operation funding of IOM Indonesia was allocated to border control and irregular migration projects.
"In an attempt to stop refugees leaving Indonesia for Australia, Australia has outsourced a range of border control policies to IOM and the Indonesian government," Asher Hirsch, senior policy officer with the Refugee Council of Australia, told the Guardian.
"Australia knows that once refugees reach its territory it has an obligation under international law to protect them. To avoid its legal obligations, Australia has spent significant resources to keep refugees remaining in countries of first asylum, where they have few rights, no secure future and, ultimately, no other option but to return home or seek safety elsewhere."
A significant proportion of Australian money is spent encouraging people to abandon their claims to protection and return home. The IOM offers financial inducements paid for by Australia of A$2,000 for people to return to their home countries.
Between 2000 and 2016, 5,200 people were returned, according to the Australian embassy in Jakarta. The majority of those went to Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan, countries riven by conflict and political repression and that continue to produce significant refugee populations.
But the relationship between Australia and the IOM is opaque. A freedom of information request to reveal details of a government agreement signed with the IOM in 2000 was rejected by the Australian government, which argued: "The release of these documents would, or could reasonably be expected to cause damaged and significant harm to the bilateral relationship between Australia and Indonesia.
"The release of the information contained within the documents could diminish the trust placed in the department's officials by the Indonesian government."
Hirsch argues that knowing the details of Australia's cooperation with Indonesia and the IOM is manifestly in the public interest. "We know that where there is government secrecy, human rights abuses too often take place."
A spokesman for Australia's home affairs department offered few details about Australia's program, confirming only that it funded the IOM to provide food, accommodation, medical assistance, interpreting services, counselling and assistance with voluntary returns. "The caseload now manages approximately 8,800 people."
Even before Australia shut its borders, and the US president, Donald Trump, introduced tighter immigration policies, resettlement for refugees in Indonesia could take up to a decade. Now it looks like most could be stuck in Indonesia forever.
Alldo Fellix Januardy, a human rights lawyer at Suaka, an non-governmental organisation focused on refugee rights and protection, says it's time the Indonesian government faced that new reality.
"The government should change its perspective on the refugee crisis, from temporary approaches and charity-based ones to more pragmatic ones," he says.
Rather than spending money on detention centres to house refugees, Janurady argues, the government should consider the benefits they could bring to Indonesian society.
"Giving the right to education and to work for refugees in Indonesia is still sensitive due to xenophobia but if the government can think the other way, the government itself can gain economic benefit from that."
Asylum seekers and refugees cannot legally work or study in Indonesia, although in some cases the IOM has negotiated for refugee children to attend local schools and for adults to attend vocational skills training.
A 2016 presidential decree gave refugees in Indonesia fundamental rights to shelter, food, clean water and healthcare. But in many places, local governments are unaware the decree exists or they have resisted it. For many, those protections are non-existent.
Things aren't good in Indonesia but those sleeping on the street in Kalideres still say it is better than the conditions they fled.
After two months on the streets outside the detention centre, Farid's mother, Sakina, is worries what will become of her family but does not regret leaving Afghanistan.
"We made the best decision we could," she says. "If we didn't leave we would have been killed. There is no other way."
Jakarta Police officers have been abusing their power to supplement their income when serving citizens at the Police Integrated Service Centers (SPKT), according to the Ombudsman.
Ombudsman commissioner Adrianus Meliala said on Friday that some officers did not make it clear that services at the SPKT were free of charge, while the way they handled the services tended to make citizens feel pressured to give the officers some money.
"There can be maladministration there. For example, when applicants at the center asked the officers whether there were any charges when reporting stolen goods, some officers responded, 'as much as you are willing [to pay],'" Adrianus said during a press conference on the Ombudsman's investigation into SPKT services in Jakarta.
The Ombudsman investigated SPKT services at 11 police district and subdistrict offices in Jakarta between April 2017 and April 2018.
Adrianus said the Ombudsman also found that the services at the centers were not uniform across police offices, as they should be according to Law No. 25/2009 on public services.
He said the police had also failed to properly inform the public about the integrated service centers.
Jakarta Police regional monitoring inspector Sr. Comr. Komarul Zaman said the police would look into the Ombudsman's findings and reprimand any officers caught charging people illegally.
"We will also keep informing the public not to give any money to our officers," Komarul said. (ami)
Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta Senior investigator of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), Novel Baswedan, was reluctant to accept the challenge from the National Police to mention the Police General who was involved in the attack towards him.
"I don't think I am in a position to deliver the name to the public," Novel said on Wednesday, April 11, 2018.
Within a year of the attack, the police challenged Novel Baswedan to mention the name of the general who was suspected to be behind the attack.
"Take note, say which general, reveal it, it is worth it, any information from the public or informer, from anywhere to the investigator, reveal it, we will thank you," said Head of Public Information Bureau of Public Relations Division of the National Police Brigadier General Mohammad Iqbal.
According to Novel, there is a better place to convey the identity of the general. Novel claimed to have reported it to the investigator, but Novel is reluctant to confirm whether in the report he has mentioned the name of the general.
Novel also claimed that he did not know whether the police have known the name of the general or not.
Novel added that he has filed a report to the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) that has set up a monitoring team for the attack case. "I do not want to convey it [general identity]," Novel said.
In an interview with Tempo on June 2017, Novel said that many people were involved in the attack. The involvement was not separated from the orders of police generals to obscure the facts and evidence of the attack with liquid acid on April 11, 2017.
Andita Rahma, Jakarta The Indonesian National Police challenged the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) senior investigator Novel Baswedan to reveal the identity of the police general claimed to be the mastermind behind the acid attack carried out against him.
"Take note of this, tell us who the general is and reveal it. That is valuable information. Police investigators are open to this and we will thank you for revealing it," said Indonesian National Police Spokesman Brigadier General Mohammad Iqbal at the South Jakarta Metro Police headquarters on Tuesday, April 11, 2018.
Today marks a full year of the day Novel Baswedan was attacked by two unknown men when the KPK investigator was walking home from a Mosque near his house in North Jakarta. Novel was sprayed with H2SO4 liquid acid on April 11, 2017, which damaged both of his eyes.
Furthermore, Iqbal reminded anyone, including Novel, who has information regarding the case to immediately report to the police. Iqbal guaranteed that police investigator will act assertively against anyone that is proven guilty, even if it was a police general.
"We hold close the principle of equality before the law, [against] anyone, we will not cover-up anything," said Iqbal.
Police have yet to solve the case because of their inability to identify the two suspects that carried out the attack against Novel Baswedan. The Jakarta Metro Police have questioned 68 witnesses and studied 38 CCTV recordings and also probed 109 chemical stores that are located in Jakarta.
Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta The South Jakarta District Court has ordered the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to continue its investigation into the 2008 Bank Century bailout, which reportedly caused more than Rp 7 trillion (US$508 million) in state losses.
On Monday, sole judge Efendi Muhtar ruled in favor of antigraft activists grouped under the Indonesian Anti-Corruption Community (MAKI), who had filed a pretrial motion against the antigraft body accused of being 'slow' in handling the case.
"[We are] ordering [the KPK] to move on with the investigation [...] of alleged corruption related to the Bank Century [bailout]," said Efendi when he read out the ruling on Monday.
The judge said the KPK had to name several figures implicated in the case including former vice president and then-Bank Indonesia governor Boediono and former Financial Services Authority chairman and then-BI deputy governor Muliaman D. Hadad as suspects in the case.
"With the ruling, there's no reason for the KPK not to name new suspects in the Bank Century bailout case," MAKI coordinator Boyaman Saiman said.
He said MAKI would ask for the official copy of the ruling before handing it out to the KPK and the House of Representatives to monitor its implementation by the antigraft body.
The KPK's investigation into the case has been in limbo since the Jakarta Corruption Court sentenced the first suspect in the case, former BI deputy governor Budi Mulya, to 10 years of imprisonment in July 2014.
Previously, prosecutors' indictment against Budi mentioned Boediono and Muliaman's names, as well as other then-BI board of director members, of playing a role in the case. (ebf)
Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja, Jakarta A Muslim preacher was on Monday (April 9) sentenced to nine years in jail by an Indonesian court for inciting the suicide bombing in East Jakarta in May last year that killed three policemen.
Kiki Muhammad Iqbal, 38, had been charged with inciting others to commit an act of terrorism by delivering a sermon in a Bandung mosque on May 19, 2017, on how "mati syahid" meaning "to die as a martyr" is the ultimate goal of every good Muslim.
The message from former terrorist bomb-maker Kiki was allegedly directed at Ahmad Sukri and Ikhwan Nur Salam, the two men who died while mounting a suicide bomb attack near a bus station in Jakarta on May 24, 2017.
"The defendant has validly and convincingly been proven guilty of planning and inciting others to commit an act of terror," presiding judge Purwanto told the courtroom in North Jakarta District Court on Monday.
After the verdict was read out, Kiki told reporters outside the courtroom: "It's an unfair and tyrannical verdict." Kiki's lawyer Kamsi said he will notify the court in a week's time whether his client intends to appeal against the verdict.
Inciting others to commit an act of terrorism is a crime in Indonesia punishable by death or life imprisonment.
Besides killing three policemen, the attack by the two men at the Transjakarta bus shelter in Kampung Melayu left 11 others injured, including a 17-year-old driver and 19-year-old student.
Kiki was arrested on June 5 in Sumedang, a regency located about two hours from Bandung by car, after police established a link between him and the two attackers.
He was a student of radical cleric Aman Abdurrahman, the leader of the Jemaah Ansharut Daulah, an alliance of Indonesian militants who have pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group.
Aman, in an ongoing separate trial, has been accused of inciting others to commit various terror attacks in Indonesia including the attack in Jakarta in January 2016, which left four bystanders dead, in what was the first incident claimed by ISIS in South-east Asia.
In 2010, Kiki was arrested for being a member of a terrorist cell in West Java known as "the Cibiru bomb group" and sentenced to six years in jail for terrorism-related offences a year later. After his recent release, Kiki refused to undergo a deradicalisation programme conducted by the National Counter-terrorism Agency.
JOE Cochrane, Jakarta, Indonesia Growing up on the Indonesian island of Java in the 1970s, Dewi Kanti practiced an ancient form of indigenous traditional beliefs whose origins predate the arrivals of Christianity, Buddhism and Islam here by centuries.
Ironically, Ms. Dewi notes bitterly, those traditional beliefs make her a religious outcast in her own country today, where the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion but the government recognizes only six: Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Protestantism, Catholicism and Confucianism.
"The point here is how there is no justice," she said. "Why can these big global religions spread and be recognized, but the original religion of Indonesia cannot?"
It is a question she and others are still waiting to see answered, despite a landmark ruling in November by the Constitutional Court that affirmed the rights of followers of traditional beliefs outside of the six recognized religions.
The ruling came amid signs of growing intolerance of religious minorities in Indonesia, which is the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, and objections from some Islamic groups.
Five months later, the Indonesian government has yet to implement the Constitutional Court ruling, although officials say they are working on it.
In a country where religion plays a large part in public life, followers of traditional beliefs, known generally as aliran kepercayaan, hope the ruling will finally end decades of unofficial discrimination that makes it difficult for them to get permits to open gathering places, obtain marriage licenses and get access to public services like health care and education. It also complicates efforts by those believers to get military, police or civil service jobs, or even burial plots in cemeteries.
There are hundreds of different forms of aliran kepercayaan spread across the vast Indonesian archipelago. In Java, the most populous island, it is often a mix of animist, Hindu-Buddhist and Islamic beliefs.
Forms of kepercayaan can include certain periodic religious observances, such as communal meals or acts that could be compared to Muslim men praying together on Fridays or Sunday Christian services. These may include ritual offerings to appease spirits, even though the practitioners could also be registered as Muslims, Catholics, Buddhists or one of the other recognized religions.
It is estimated that at least 20 million of Indonesia's 260 million people practice local traditional beliefs, but the numbers could be much higher, according to analysts, as some are also followers of Islam, Christianity and other major religions.
Religion is so omnipresent in Indonesia that citizens are required to declare on their national ID cards which of the six approved religions they adhere to, though in some regions they are allowed to leave that section blank. However, doing so can invite discrimination and bureaucratic hassles, so many traditional believers simply state on their ID cards the religion that is dominant in the area where they live. In Java, it is likely to be Muslim, but in parts of the islands of Sumatra or Sulawesi, it could be Catholic or Protestant, while on Bali it would be Hindu.
But such workarounds should be unnecessary, some legal experts say. "The court decision underlines that freedom of belief is a constitutional right, not a right that is given by the government," said Bivitri Susanti, head of the Jakarta chapter of the Indonesian Association of Constitutional Law Lecturers.
"Second, it states that the right to belief in aliran kepercayaan, or faiths other than the six government-recognized religions, is inherent with the rights to religion as stated in Article 29 of the Indonesian Constitution," she added.
But clouding that point of view is the fact that about 90 percent of Indonesians are Muslim, giving Islamic religious leaders outsize political clout. The Indonesia Ulema Council, the country's top body of clerics, has been adamant, for example, that traditional beliefs should not be seen as on par with Islam.
"The Constitutional Court ruling was not considered carefully and hurt the feelings of the faithful, especially Indonesian Muslims, because the ruling has placed aliran kepercayaan as equals," said Zainut Tauhid Sa'adi, the council's vice chairman. "The decision has legal consequences and an impact on our society," he said.
Some hard-line Islamic groups want to go even further and change the Constitution to make Islam the official state religion. However, key leaders within Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's largest Islamic organization, support the court ruling.
Religion has always been a hot-button issue in Indonesia, which despite its Muslim majority has small but influential Christian, Hindu and Buddhist minorities. There have been hundreds of religiously motivated attacks on religious minorities in recent years, some resulting in death, as well as the forced closures of houses of worship and the passage of local bylaws viewed as discriminatory against religious minorities.
That tension has also reached the political realm: In May last year, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the Christian governor of Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, was sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy against Islam in a highly controversial case that his supporters say was concocted by radical Islamic groups bent on destroying his career.
As such, Indonesia's Ministry of Home Affairs appears to be erring on the side of caution with the Constitutional Court's November ruling.
Arief M. Edie, a ministry spokesman, said that the government respects and is implementing the ruling but only by redesigning the national ID to accommodate the aliran kepercayaan as a choice in the section on religious status. It will not be recognized as the state's seventh official religion. "It's acknowledged only as a culture, not a religion," Mr. Arief said.
That narrow interpretation is not going over well with aliran kepercayaan followers, who say that local governments in Indonesia's far-flung regions will continue to discriminate in the delivery of public services.
"The problem with any controversial ruling or policy lies in implementation down to the lowest level of government," said Johannes Nugroho, an Indonesian political analyst and writer.
Mr. Nugroho, a former follower of both Christianity and kejawen, a traditional belief system, said he tried in vain to have Christianity removed from the religion section on his national identity card, preferring to have it left blank or, in an attempt to make a statement, changed to Hindu.
He said a clerk at his local government office flatly refused, then slyly suggested that if Mr. Nugroho would recite an Islamic creed to convert to Islam, he would put down Muslim on his identity card. Today it still identifies him as a Christian.
Still, traditional belief organizations say they are emboldened by the Constitutional Court ruling and see an opening to push for official acceptance.
"We'll keep fighting for equality; we have equality, legally speaking, but in reality we don't," said Endang Retno Lastani, an elder with one Java-based group, whose national identity card is blank in the religious affiliation section.
"Our belief is the unity of God and people, just like other religions," he said. "So what's wrong with that?" Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/14/world/asia/indonesia-religious-freedom-.html
Moral vigilantes who publicly shame those they accuse of adultery, premarital sex, or other "immoral acts" (even if such acts were carried out with consent) in Indonesia often go unpunished, so the conviction of a perpetrator in one especially disturbing recent case comes as a welcome exception to the rule even if the sentence might be lighter than many expected.
Yesterday, the Tangerang District Court sentenced Komarudin, a former chief of a neighborhood (RT) in Cikupa, Tangerang, to five years in prison for his role in a heinous crime. Komarudin, along with five other co-defendants, was found guilty of assault and violating anti-pornography laws for beating and stripping a young unmarried couple then parading them through the streets of his neighborhood because they thought the two were engaging in premarital sex.
The horrifying act of "moral vigilantism," which took place on Nov. 11, was filmed by some of the perpetrators and guilty bystanders and the videos quickly went viral online, eventually leading police to arrest the suspects. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the clips are the young woman's terrified pleas for mercy that Komarudin and his co-defendants gleefully ignored as they ripped off her clothes.
During a hearing last week, Komarudin burst into tears as he begged the judges to show leniency, saying that he has to provide for his family. That seems to have swayed the judges to give him a lighter five-year sentence than the seven years demanded by prosecutors in yesterday's sentence hearing.
"Factors that supported the defendant is his having a family and small children," said head judge Muhammad Irfan as he read out Komarudin's sentence in court yesterday, as quoted by Kompas.
Four of the co-defendants were sentenced to three years each for the same crime, while one was sentenced to one year and six months. Komarudin and the co-defendants have one week to appeal the court's decision.
The incident on Nov. 11 began in the evening, when people in Komarudin's neighborhood saw the male victim entering the female victim's house. According to the police, he was only bringing food over to his fiance's house when it was raided by the group of men and they were forced to say they had been intimate out of wedlock after being assaulted by the vigilantes.
As shown in the videos, the visibly distressed couple were then forced outside onto the street by the men, who continued to berate them for being indecent. While the woman had a T-shirt on at the beginning of the video, the men soon forcefully stripped her completely naked, despite her ear-piercing screams for mercy. The couple were also beaten on several occasions as they were paraded 400 meters an ordeal which lasted for about an hour.
Police said that the vigilantes also deliberately took photos and recorded the public humiliation so that they could post them online, in violation of Indonesia's pornography laws.
Authorities told the media that the couple were given psychological counseling for their trauma. They also got married less than two weeks after the incident they had already been engaged before but had not set a wedding date which police said would hopefully help "alleviate" their trauma (its not clear if the couple chose to got married so soon after or if they were pressured into it).
Parades of shame for adulterers or anyone found getting intimate outside of wedlock are sadly common in parts of Indonesia, especially in rural areas, and the abusers often escape any criminal charges. In August, a couple who had allegedly committed adultery were paraded through the streets of a village in East Java, only for the police to charge the man for adultery but not the neighborhood busybodies who abused the couple.
Chandni Vatvani, Majalaya, Indonesia It's been called the world's most polluted river by the World Bank. Murky, dense and dirty-brown the water that runs through Citarum River in Indonesia's West Java is toxic.
Yet, the river supports around 28 million people who rely on it for daily activities such as cooking, bathing and laundry.
Spanning nearly 300km, it is the longest river in Indonesia's most populous province. It also supplies the provincial capital of Bandung as well as the country's capital Jakarta with piped water.
The water is used to sustain fish farms, irrigate 400,000 hectares of paddy fields and fill reservoirs that generate about two gigawatts of hydropower, making it one of Indonesia's most strategic river basins.
But for the people who live along the polluted river, it is not just the environmental impact that worries them, health problems have affected children and families.
The riverside town of Majalaya is located about 170km from Jakarta, and less than 50km away from the source of Citarum River in the sub-district of Kertasari.
Called "dollar city" in its heyday, Majalaya was able to supply up to 40 per cent of Indonesia's textile needs, making it a major centre for Indonesia's textile industry. And it is those textile factories which are among the worst polluters of the Citarum.
Elements of the Environment (ELINGAN), a local NGO, estimates that around 1,500 factories dump about 280 tonnes of toxic waste per day into Citarium River. It is not uncommon to see the water turn from murky brown to black, sometimes even red and blue from chemical colouring, before returning to brown again further downstream.
"Why are these industries dumping toxic waste?" said Deni Riswandani, an activist from ELINGAN.
"According to the regulations for operating industries, it is mandatory for every industry to run a wastewater treatment plant. But the fact is, many industries bypass this and do not dispose of their waste through a wastewater treatment plant but instead, they dump it straight into the river."
Channel News Asia took a rubber raft down Citarum River, starting at the 20km mark. There was a sign which had been put up by Greenpeace, warning members of the public to beware of a toxic waste dumping hole.
The team witnessed an inky, foul-smelling, black liquid being released into the river's muddy waters the liquid never diluting.
Floating through the river's course, we saw trash interspersed with shrubbery and twigs in a few locations, accompanied by debris, foam and smelly dumping sites.
We also saw tens of people who live on the banks of the Citarum, using its water for their daily activities.
People were using water from the river to wash their clothes. Others were fishing, despite knowing that the fish they eat will likely have been exposed to toxic waste.
"The fish doesn't taste good anymore," 64-year-old Adang told Channel News Asia. "We eat it because we have to fill our stomachs with food." Adang, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, lives by the river bank with his family, including four grandchildren.
Construction worker Irwansyah, 37, has a modest cottage in a residential compound less than 10m away from a dumping hole. His family uses water from the river to cook, clean and bathe with severe consequences.
Besides having to contend with the terrible smell which emanates from the site, the toxic water has also caused his daughters to develop skin ailments such as rashes, hair fall, and scabies.
"We can't breathe sometimes, and my daughter's scalp began to itch and her hair started to fall out," he said while moving his daughter's hair back to show the rash and bald spot.
"Her skin is itchy. We've been putting medicine on it for a month but it hasn't gone away until now. My younger child previously had spots on her arm but I brought her to a local clinic and once it was treated with an ointment she was cured."
Their neighbour, 14-year-old Asep has scabies, a skin infestation regularly seen on those who live near the Citarum.
"Sometimes around 12 in the afternoon, or four in the evening, the water here is already black in colour. Even just now, the water turned black, frothy and smelly, until all the children playing outside (in the fields) ran into their homes," Mr Irwansyah told Channel News Asia.
He has brought the matter to the attention of authorities, who came by his home to conduct a check. However, Mr Irwansyah said he has not seen any improvement after the inspection.
According to ELINGAN's Mr Deni, data from local clinics in the area showed that skin conditions are the top two of 10 most common ailments in the community.
There are reports of previous research carried out by the Blacksmith Institute in 2013, which found that lead levels in the river were more than 1,000 times the US standards for drinking water, while aluminum, manganese and iron were significantly higher than recommended levels.
Using water from the Citarum for irrigation has also contaminated paddy fields, hindering the healthy growth of crops evident from their discolouration.
Fifty-six-year-old Yusup, who comes from a family of farmers, said waste from factories began affecting their harvests since 1995.
"In a year we usually harvest our crops three times, but now with the contamination it gets delayed, sometimes it can be twice a year, sometimes three. If there are floods then the crops become rotten," he explained.
Even toiling away in the fields is a challenge Mr Yusup said he coated his body in a mixture of salt and soap, to prevent any direct contact with the toxic water used.
"There is an agricultural area nearby, which under normal circumstances would yield nine tonnes of crops in one hectare of land. But after being contaminated by toxic waste from these industries, the harvest only yields 4 tonnes of crops," ELINGAN's Mr Deni said, as he further explained the damaging and long-lasting impact of the industrial waste.
Mr Yusup said he feels the government appears to be paying less attention to the plight of farmers, seemingly protecting business interests instead.
After years of failed clean-up plans, President Joko Widodo earlier this year announced an ambitious goal to revitalise Citarum River and make its water safe to drink by 2025.
"Citarum River that was once clear is now the most polluted. Let us unite to clean the Citarum. We will try as soon as possible to clean it and hopefully in the next seven years it can be a source of drinking water," the president said on his Twitter account.
Mr Widodo requested that all levels of government both central and regional work together, starting from the preparation of concepts to their implementation and supervision in the field. This included efforts in river management as well.
In March, the president signed off on a regulation to set up a special taskforce dedicated to the river's clean-up, consisting of various ministries, officials, police and military personnel.
"Actually, a road-map to handle the Citarum had already been signed in 2013, but each institution worked independently. What we need is for them to work together in order to reach a common goal," Safri Burhanuddin, a Deputy Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister, told Channel News Asia in an interview at his office.
The Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs is overseeing the revitalisation project.
Under the current efforts of the government, Mr Safri said there were three key points that authorities were focused on handling domestic waste, industrial waste and natural waste.
In January, military personnel began clean-up efforts, picking up domestic trash that were thrown into the river.
They regularly conduct patrols and organise clean-ups. Local authorities have also been instructed to handle domestic waste appropriately, while Mr Safri said authorities will work to educate members of the community on properly disposing of trash.
The Environment and Forestry Ministry will oversee the replanting of trees in the upstream region to prevent erosion and sedimentation.
The hardest challenge for authorities is tackling industrial waste. "Only 10 per cent of factories along the river put their waste through a wastewater management plant," said Mr Safri.
Offending factories were issued a warning last year. "Your time is finished. Now all that's left is enforcing the law. We've given them ample time for warnings, so they can't blame us," he added.
Factories proven to have broken the rules could have their permits revoked.
Despite these efforts, activists remain sceptical that the clean-up goal will be achieved. They feel that authorities should go straight to the source to seal-off dumping holes instead.
"We, Elements of the Environment, have been sealing dumping-hole sources a direct source of disposal from industry to water sources. We have sealed around 213 of them with concrete so far, after which there has been a reduction in terms of the quantity of toxic waste disposed," Mr Deni told Channel News Asia.
He also said he hoped that the provincial and central governments would follow suit, as even with evidence, enforcing the law on environmental offenders was a long and expensive process.
Authorities meantime remain optimistic, saying they are also planning to build more water treatment and sanitation facilities.
"One of the investments is the construction of a joint wastewater treatment plant. If a wastewater treatment plant needs 10 or 20 industries behind it, we need hundreds of plants. Now, it's a matter of finding the right location to put it," Mr Safri said.
He added: "The construction of this infrastructure for sanitary purposes should be well-planned and done properly, so that waste does not go directly into the river, but is processed."
Jakarta Vendors from the so-called Tasik Market in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta, have occupied several streets along the crowded business district following the closure of the market in March for a transit-oriented development (TOD) project.
State-owned railway operator Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) region I senior asset manager, Tanang, said that KAI had to implement the TOD development in the market area, "Hence, before it begins, the area should be cleared first."
Tasik market, named after Tasikmalaya in West Java, the hometown of the traders who specialize in selling embroidery textiles on Mondays and Thursdays, is on a plot of land belonging to KAI.
Tanang said KAI had disseminated the information via letters to all parties occupying the site. The market was cleared of traders at the end of March. Access to the land has also been closed, reported tempo.co.
Earlier, Deputy Jakarta Governor Sandiaga Uno said traders from the market would be included in the Tanah Abang spatial planning concept, promising to find a location for those affected by the development.
For now, he plans to ask the Jakarta Police to allow traders to occupy the land on at least Thursday this week and Monday next week.
Besides the TOD, the land is currently under Jakarta Police investigation in relation to a case involving PT Padi Mas Realty, which rented the land but which was considered to be in breach of its contract with KAI. KAI decided to demolish illegal buildings on the land and subsequently Padi Mas Realty is suing KAI. (wnd)
Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has given assurances that development of reclaimed islands in Jakarta Bay will not continue as the multibillion-dollar project is not included in the 2018-2022 mid-term regional development plan (RPJMD).
"You can see clearly that the reclamation project is not included in the RPJMD. It means that [continuing the project] is not a part of our plan," Anies said after the City Council passed a bylaw on the 2018-2022 RPJMD on Tuesday.
The governor added that islets that had already been established would be used for the benefit of Jakartans. He did not elaborate.
Anies and his deputy Sandiaga Uno pledged during their gubernatorial election campaign last year to stop the development of the controversial project, claiming that it would cause environmental damage.
Previously, Anies scrapped from the City Council's priority list the deliberations of two draft bylaws on the reclamation, namely those on the Jakarta north coast strategic area spatial plan and the zoning plan on coastal areas and small islands.
M Julnis Firmansyah, Jakarta The Indonesian National Army (TNI) and the Attorney General's Office (AGO) signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the two institutions, Tuesday, April 9.
It was signed by the TNI Commander Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto and Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo.
The cooperation discusses the development of human resources and the improvement of professionalism of each institution in law enforcement. "This cooperation strengthens the Attorney General's Office in law enforcement," said Attorney General H. Muhammad Prasetyo on Tuesday, April 10.
The points discussed in the agreement include training and education in law enforcement, training and exchange of intelligence information, support and assistance of TNI personnel in the implementation of domestic or foreign assignments, technical coordination in the implementation of tasks and functions of law enforcement, as well as assignment of prosecutor at the Attorney General's Office and the prosecutors as supervisors in the TNI Oditurates General.
The deal signing was also broadcasted live throughout Indonesia so that it can be witnessed by the attorneys and Regional Commanders throughout the country.
Hadi explained that the agreement was related to the vision and mission of TNI. He hopes that TNI's aspirations will be further implemented through the cooperation. Hadi said that TNI will provide its best personnel in carrying out the tasks assigned to the institution.
Muhammad Hendartyo, Jakarta The Indonesian Air Force will establish its third Operations Command [Koops 3] in East Indonesia. Air Force chief of staff Air Marshal Yuyu Sutisna said the eastern parts of the country were quite vast, thus the presence of another Koops was necessary.
"For now the command headquarters is set in Biak, where the infrastructure was quite adequate," he said in Jakarta, Monday, April 9.
Yuyu said the new Koops was aimed at stepping up the Air Force's abilities in securing the country's air sovereignty and boosting its counter-attack power. Yuyu said the presence of the new Koops would lead to better unity of command with the Navy and the Army during joint operations.
Yuyu said the planned establishment of the new Koops had been conveyed to Indonesian Military commander Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto. "The commander is looking into the plans, so the orders and decisions will come from the upper command," Yuyu said.
Yuyu added the Koops would be completed with one squadron of fighter jets and another for transport aircraft as laid out in the Air Force's strategic plans.
Arya Dipa, Bandung, West Java Prisons in Indonesia are holding too many inmates, while at the same time having too few prison guards, leading to various disciplinary problems.
Law and Human Rights Ministry West Java office head Indro Purwoko said the ratio of prison guards to prisoners was far from ideal.
The ideal ratio should be one guard for every 25 inmates, he said. "Currently, we have 1,800 guards for 22,000 prisoners in West Java," Indro told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
According to the ministry's data, the number of prisoners and detainees in Jelekong Penitentiary in Bandung, West Java, exceeded 1,300 in April 2018. The penitentiary was designed to hold 793 inmates, which means the facility is 64 percent overcrowded. "In Jelekong, each guard [needs to] watch 50 prisoners," Indro said.
Indro cited a recent case in which three inmates of Jelekong Penitentiary obtained access to cellphones and managed to commit fraud and extortion involving an online romance scam.
Bandung Police chief Sr. Comr. Hendro Pandowo said the three prisoners managed to extort around Rp 500 million (US$36,343) from their victims. "We are now investigating whether the officers in the penitentiary protected the syndicate," he said. (gis/ebf)
Muhammad Hendartyo, Jakarta Executive Director of Amnesty International Indonesia Usman Hamid called on the government to implement the moratorium on the death penalty this year.
"It is time for Indonesia to impose a moratorium on all executions in 2018, as Indonesia's first step in eliminating the death penalty permanently," said Usman Hamid during a discussion of death sentence moratorium at his office in Menteng on Thursday, April 12.
According to Usman, Indonesia has the capacity to do it. In 2017, other countries have shown and taken bold steps to eliminate the death penalty.
Based on the Amnesty International's report entitled 'Death Penalty and Execution 2017', the dead executions decreased globally. In 2016, it was 1,032 people and decrease to 997 people in 2017.
According to Usman, the moratorium could facilitate international diplomacy to save Indonesian citizens, considering there are 188 citizens who are currently imposed with the death sentence abroad. "How can Indonesia convince other countries to forgive its citizens facing the death penalty, if Indonesia itself is still doing the domestic inhuman punishment?" he said.
Usman noted that death penalties were imposed for 47 convicts in 2017 and the ten of it were imposed on foreign nationals. The number is decreased compared to 2016 with 60 cases. In 2017, 33 death penalties were implemented to drug cases and 14 for murder cases. Until 2017, a total of 262 convicts are waiting for the execution time.
Jakarta Indonesia climbed to second place in the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2018, from third place in the previous year.
Tourism Ministry halal tourism acceleration and development team head Riyanto Sofyan said Indonesia was serious in developing halal tourist destinations, among others, though the organizations of halal tourism competitors involved a number of regions.
"With such competition, Indonesia has won several international awards," said Riyanto in a statement received by The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Among the awards are the World's Best Halal Tourism Destination and the World's Best Halal Honeymoon Destination for Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara; the World's Best Halal Destination for West Sumatra; the World's Best Halal Culinary Destination for Padang in West Sumatra; and the World's Best Halal Cultural Destination for Aceh.
The GMTI, which was introduced by CrescentRating in cooperation with MasterCard, evaluates and ranks countries based on how well they cater to Muslim travelers.
This year, Indonesia has the same rank as the United Arab Emirates in second place, while Malaysia is on the top list and Turkey achieved third place.
Riyanto said Indonesia aimed at attracting 3.8 million Muslim visitors in 2018 and 5 million in 2019. "Our team will hold a series of sales missions to top targeted cities such as Jeddah, London, Mumbai, Singapore and Sydney," Riyanto added.
Muslims are estimated to spend US$169 billion on traveling in 2016, representing 11.8 percent of global travel expenditure, according to the 2017-2018 State of the Islamic Economy Report. (bbn)
Amal Ganesha, Jakarta Indonesia's infrastructural development has been marred by poor adherence to standard operating procedures and other human errors. In the past two years, 14 accidents were recorded, some of them deadly.
Most of the government's construction projects are developed by state-owned builder Waskita Karya, the biggest constructor in the country. Beside 18 toll-road sections across Java, it is involved in projects ranging from low-cost apartments to elevated roads.
Many admit the company has been overwhelmed by the workload. In the most recent construction-site accident, a steel rod killed a passerby at Waskita's housing development in Pasar Rumput, South Jakarta, on March 18.
In early February, an underpass built by Waskita near Soekarno-Hatta International Airport collapsed killing one person. A few weeks later, a concrete mold at the company's Bekasi-Cawang-Kampung Melayu (Becakayu) Toll Road project in Jakarta fell, seriously injuring seven workers.
The company's stock price has been declining since. "Waskita is the biggest construction firm, with the biggest workload, and that could be the problem. Other state-owned builders such as Nindya Karya or Brantas Abipraya can't be compared to Waskita in terms of assets and amount of work," Public Works Ministry's spokesman Endra Atmawidjaja told the Jakarta Globe in late March.
Right after the Becakayu accident, Public Works Minister Basuki Hadimuljono suspended 36 high-profile infrastructure projects for safety audit. Construction works at most of them resumed after eight days.
Companies on average spend around 1.5 percent of their budget on ensuring workplace safety. This is not enough, the ministry's National Construction Safety Committee chairman Syarif Burhanuddin said in late February.
After the Pasar Rumput incident, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno ordered dismissals in the company's board of directors. During a shareholders' meeting on April 6, Waskita's president director and two operations directors were removed from their positions. The company also created a new post of health, safety and environment director. As such roles usually are not often held by top executives, there seems to be serious attempt to reform and improve in the company's ranks.
"Most of the recent accidents were due to human error, not construction failure," the ministry's spokesman said, pointing to unskilled labor as one of the problems. But there is also another big issue.
Noncompliance with standard operating procedures always stands out when accidents occur at construction sites, said a private consultant who requested anonymity.
"I've learned that contractors deliberately omit several SOPs to lower the costs, because infrastructure projects are normally very expensive... For example in Waskita's Becakayu accident, I'm sure the company didn't hire a qualified supervisor, which was a fatal error," said the consultant who is currently working with the Ministry of Public Works on several projects.
However, both he and the ministry's spokesman confirmed that construction companies did not cheat on the quality of the materials they used.
"Contractors like Waskita must conduct quality assessment. They must be strict about it," the consultant said. "There have been no construction failures, so I think it proves that our constructors don't save on materials," Endra said.
Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is set to cancel some of his 245 National Strategic Projects, mostly in infrastructure and particularly those that would not to be completed in 2019, the last year of his five-year term.
The projects and two programs were stipulated in Presidential Regulation No. 3/2016 and amended to become Presidential Regulation No. 58/2017 on the acceleration of the implementation of infrastructure projects.
Investment for the projects is estimated to reach Rp 4.43 quadrillion (US$322 billion).
Head of the Prioritized Infrastructure Acceleration Committee Wahyu Utomo declined to elaborate on the exact number of projects that would be canceled.
On the progress of the projects, he previously revealed that the government had managed to complete 26 projects by the end of 2017 comprising 20 projects in 2016 and six projects in 2017.
Wahyu said his team had evaluated the projects and the findings would soon be reported to Jokowi. "Hopefully, we will report to the President next week," said Wahyu in Jakarta on Sunday as quoted by kontan.co.id.
He said many projects could be canceled because of various reasons, including resistance by local people, failure to get approval from local governments, failure in land acquisition and based on research recommendations. (bbn)
Gayatri Suroyo, Jakarta Moody's Investors Services on Friday (13/04) upgraded Indonesia's sovereign credit ratings a notch above its lowest investment grade, citing effective policies to support broad economic stability.
Moody's said it now rates debts of Southeast Asia's largest economy at Baa2, up from the previous Baa3 with a stable outlook.
The move followed Fitch Ratings' upgrade in January to also one notch above the lowest investment grade. Indonesia's debts are now rated the same by the two rating agencies, while S&P still rates Indonesia at the bottom of its investment grade scale.
The Moody's decision bolsters President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's ambitious multi-billion dollar effort to spruce up Indonesia creaking infrastructure part of a broader goal to foster faster economic growth.
The nation could count on foreign investors to provide some of the financing, given a ratings upgrade generally means more capital inflows for a country as its default risk is considered lower.
"Together with a build-up of financial buffers, prudent fiscal and monetary policy strengthens Moody's confidence that the sovereign's resilience and capacity to respond to shocks has improved," the ratings agency said in a statement.
Moody's said Indonesia has maintained strict adherence to its fiscal deficit legal limit and that government debt has been low. It forecast the government's debt to hover around 30 percent of GDP in the next few years, below the median of 39 percent for all investment grade sovereigns.
It also praised the central bank for getting inflation inside its target range for three years in a row and noted that the country's foreign exchange reserves were adequate.
The reserves were at record high of $132 billion at the end of January, but has since declined partly due to Bank Indonesia's intervention to stabilise the rupiah currency.
However, Moody's said its stable outlook "incorporates downside risks from political challenges to the implementation of further broad economic, fiscal and regulatory reforms."
It said delays or reversals in reforms could happen, especially ahead of next year's elections.
Daniel Peterson On 30 March, Sukmawati Soekarnoputri, the third daughter of Soekarno, delivered a poem at Indonesian Fashion Week. The poem, entitled Ibu Indonesia (Mother Indonesia), contained the following:
"I don't know Islamic shari'a. What I do know is that the sari konde (a wig in the shape of a traditional Javanese women's hairstyle) of Mother Indonesia is beautiful. More beautiful than your niqab.... I don't know Islamic shari'a. What I do know is that the sound of Mother Indonesia's ballad is beautiful. More dulcet than your adzan (call to prayer)."
In response, Sukmawati was criticised by Islamist figures including Felix Siauw and former secretary-general of the Jakarta branch of the Islamic Defenders' Front (FPI), Novel Bamukmin. More significantly, police received eight formal complaints claiming that Sukmawati's poetry recitation had blasphemed Islam.
Those complaints came from the likes of Amron Asyhari, chairman of the Hanura party, lawyer Denny Andrian Kusdayat, the East Java branch of Nahdlatul Ulama, the Anti-Defamation of Religion Forum (FAPA), and the 212 Alumni Brotherhood. Both FAPA and the 212 Alumni Brotherhood were instrumental in the trial and conviction of the former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) for blasphemy.
Complaints filed with the police allege that Sukmawati's words were blasphemous in nature, contrary to article 156a of Indonesia's criminal code, and/or constituted hate speech, contrary to article 16 of Law 40 of 2008 on the Eradication of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination.
Speculation has mounted as to whether or not Sukmawati will suffer the same fate as the former Jakarta governor, Ahok, who has served almost half of a two year prison sentence.
While Ahok's conviction was the first blasphemy conviction of a public official, it was by no means an anomaly. Since the demise of President Soeharto in 1998, Indonesian courts have handed down 89 blasphemy convictions, prioritising the protection of religious sensibilities over freedom of speech and religion, notwithstanding that the latter is ostensibly guaranteed by Indonesia's 1945 Constitution.
The fact that Sukmawati's case already appears to be bucking the trend, which Ahok's case, conversely, reinforced, makes it a significant point of inquiry.
Sukmawati is also the sister of Megawati Soekarnoputri, chair of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the party aligned with the current Indonesian president, Jokowi. Targeting Sukmawati therefore provides an entry point for Islamists intent on undermining the pluralist and secular-oriented Jokowi. Indeed, as Tim Lindsey recently noted, with the 2019 presidential election tipped to be fuelled by nationalism and the role of Islam and race, attempts to have Sukmawati charged with either blasphemy and/or hate speech are "implicitly a move aginst Megawati, [her party] the PDI-P and Jokowi."
Lindsey's point recalls similar tactics employed by those Islamists who sought Ahok's demise a little over a year ago. Throughout the Ahok controversy, both Lindsey and Azyumardi Azra recognised the national political dimension of Ahok's case, noting that Ahok, as an ally of Jokowi, provided conservative and radical Islamists with a similar entry-point to undermine the president.
Contrasting Sukmawati's case with that of Ahok, however, reveals that Soekarno's daughter may not face trial, as the former Jakarta governor did. Moreover, such a comparison reveals further insight into the tension between race, religion, and politics in contemporary Indonesia.
On 4 April, five days after reciting her poem, Sukmawati called a press conference. There she stated that she had no intention of offending the Muslim population with her poem. She expressed her pride and gratitude both as a Muslim and as the daughter of Soekarno, who, she reminded the media, was himself a respected figure of Muhammadiyah, and the recipient of an honorary degree from Nahdlatul Ulama.
Sukmawati also explained that her poem was published in 2006 as part of a compilation of poems, also entitled Ibu Indonesia. Sukmawati clarified that the poem reflected "[her] view as an artist and culturalist and purely constituted a work of Indonesian literature." Sukmawati stressed that she had not intended to insult Indonesia's Muslim population. While fighting back tears, she apologised to all Indonesian Muslims, "from the bottom of [her] heart", for any offence she may have caused.
Courts have not, however, deemed either the fact that the blasphemous remarks in question have been previously published or that they constitute a literary work as sufficient legal defences.
In Ahok's case, the fact that his remarks had merely paraphrased a section from his 2008 autobiography, which had never caused any apparent offence at the time or subsequent to its publication, was deemed immaterial by the court.
Similarly, in 1968, a court was unmoved by the fact that an apparently blasphemous short story was a piece of literature. Entitled Langit Makin Mendung (Thunder Clouds Darken the Sky) and published in the literary magazine Sastra, the story depicted God as wearing glasses, the Prophet Muhammad bored with life in heaven, and the Archangel Gabriel aging with grey hair, all the while amidst the moral corruption of the Muslim population under Soekarno's presidential rule.
In that case, H.B. Jassin, editor of Sastra, was sentenced to a year's jail after refusing to disclose the name of the author, who went by the nom de plume Ki Panjikusmin.
While previous courts have been unmoved by these defences, it may be that Sukmawati's unreserved apology was one of several reasons her case will not be escalated to the trial stage.
Ahok, conversely to Sukmawati, defended his own remarks vehemently. Rather than articulating a sentiment similar to Soekarno's daughter, Ahok insisted that his remarks were not blasphemous, but had rather been made in opposition to "cowardly racists" he had encountered throughout his political career who had misappropriated the Qur'anic verse Surah Al-Ma'ida 51 to encourage Muslims not to vote for him because of his Christian faith. It was these "cowardly racists", Ahok maintained, who were the true blasphemers.
Ahok only apologised on 10 October 2016, a day after the Jakarta branch of Indonesia's peak Islamic body, the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI), issued him with a reprimand (surat teguran). While Ahok clarified that he had never intended to cause offence, a day later MUI Central issued a religious opinion and stance (Pendapat dan Sikap Keagamaan) declaring Ahok's remarks haram (forbidden). Three days later, the first of four massive 'Action to Defend Islam' (Aksi Bela Islam) demonstrations took place in Jakarta.
The fact that in Sukmawati's case MUI has not issued a fatwa is, I believe, telling of how this case will be resolved.
A day after Sukmawati's press conference, MUI held a press conference of its own. There, MUI chairman Ma'ruf Amin stated that to perpetuate the controversy surrounding Sukmawati's comments would only give rise to societal unrest. As Sukmawati had already apologised and seemingly realised the error of her ways, Amin both implored the police to cease their investigation and for those planning to protest Sukmawati's remarks to refrain from doing so.
While seemingly sound in logic, Ma'ruf offered a rather different logic at Ahok's trial. There, Ma'ruf told the court that MUI had issued a fatwa in response to Ahok's remarks because society had demanded it. He also told the court that MUI fatwas are generally directed at law enforcers in order to prevent societal discord and vigilantism.
MUI knows full well, however, that its edicts have the opposite effect. Indeed, if an MUI fatwa were intended to instill calm among Indonesia's Muslim population, why in 2016 did the issuance of its religious opinion and stance precede mass demonstrations the likes of which Indonesia had never seen? Similarly, if its edicts are designed to maintain public order, why were Ma'ruf and MUI content to address the controversy surrounding Sukmawati with a simple press conference rather than with a fatwa?
The lesson from Ahok's case and countless other blasphemy cases before it is that without an MUI fatwa supporting their cause, efforts by Islamists to undermine PDI-P and Jokowi's re-election campaign will lack the necessary religious authority and legitimacy, and will therefore most likely fall short. Indeed, such is the persuasive and legitimising nature of an MUI edict in contemporary Indonesia that both Ahok's indictment and convicting judgment cited that religious opinion and stance issued by MUI Central as a supporting authority notwithstanding the fact that an MUI edict is not a source of positive law in Indonesia.
It is feasible to argue, therefore, that its decision not to issue a fatwa condemning Sukmawati's remarks, literary or otherwise, reflects how this case will conclude. But why does MUI not want Sukmawati to share the same fate as Ahok?
The apparent magnanimity shown by MUI towards Sukmawati compared to its treatment of Ahok has moved some of her accusers to question MUI's motives, with FPI Jakarta's Bamukmin suggesting that MUI is collaborating with the government and protecting Sukmawati from scrutiny because of who her father was. But while a presidential regulation issued by President Yudhoyono in 2014 declared MUI the government's partner in all matters pertaining to Islamic life, this obviously did not preclude it from playing an instrumental role in Ahok's demise.
A key analytical question that the protests of 2016-17 gave rise to was whether the Ahok case was a one-off: did it owe more to the unique combination of political circumstances surrounding his persecution, or did the mobilisations portend a more profound and lasting growth in the political power of Islamic populism? Writing at New Mandala in October 2017, Vedi Hadiz has speculated that:
"What we may be witnessing in Indonesia is a newer phase within which political conflict increasingly relies on the employment of different variations (and combinations) of religious and nationalist forms of populism, and where political liberalism and Leftist critiques are effectively as side-lined as they had been in the authoritarian New Order."
While Hadiz might be correct and I suspect he is Sukmawati's case may be evidence for the thesis that the persecution of Ahok was sui generis, at least insofar as the scale of that persecution was unprecedented. In this case, displays of humility, coupled with nationalist pedigree and a traceable lineage to Indonesia's establishment, appear to have provided Sukmawati sufficient protection from the demands of religious populism. Ahok may have remained similarly and outspokenly faithful to pluralist nationalism, but his lack of familial connection to Indonesia's oligarchs arguably meant his double minority status ethnic Chinese and Christian made his situation insurmountable.
Santi Kusumaningrum Indonesia plans to renew its criminal code to update the 100-year-old law. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration has drafted the current version of the criminal code bill, which follows more than 50 years of attempts to revise it.
Both the government and the parliament have conveyed to the public the urgency of passing the bill this year before the 2019 election. This is because the new administration might not share the same priority of enacting a new penal code.
The lawmakers have urged the passing of the criminal code to reflect the country's long-awaited desire to have its own penal code, replacing the current one, which Indonesians inherited from the Dutch.
However, the deliberation on the bill has raised concerns among legal experts, practitioners and civil society organisations. These are due to some formulations that might have negative implications for the society. We have called for more public consultations and discussions with experts not only from the legal sector but also from other sectors, including health, education and social affairs.
Laws affect everyone. What's set as crimes affects all of us regardless of age, gender, ability, religion, ethnicity and social-cultural identities. Thus, to pass any law, including the criminal code, we need to consider all evidence available to calculate the potential risks and implications, not just legal theories.
The lack of use of evidence in the deliberation on any law will result in a poor legal product that may do more harm than good. In the case of Indonesia's criminal code, worries abound on several issues, including the following.
The criminalisation of couples with no legal marriage
There are around 40 to 50 million individuals belonging to indigenous communities, including those whose faiths are not recognised by the state. The absence of legal recognition creates barriers to obtaining marriage certificates for these millions.
Poor people also face the same problem due to economic constraints. Research finds that over half of couples in poorer households do not have a marriage certificate. Thus, the new code will put millions of vulnerable and marginalised groups at risk of being criminalised due to cohabitation outside of wedlock.
Basically, criminalisation of people with no certificates
The bill carries a fine of Rp10 million for people who fail to report and register their birth, death, marriage and divorce. This means the bill will criminalise at least 38% of Indonesian children who do not have a birth certificate, or around 30 million children.
Death registration is almost absent in Indonesia. A study in three districts in Indonesia found that 84% of deaths happen outside of health facilities, which makes proper registration difficult. The same study also discovered that only 2% of divorced individuals had a divorce certificate.
This bill clearly disregards the facts that many Indonesians do not have access to civil registrations due to limited financial resources and poor infrastructure. The bill will be ineffective as imposing harsh fines will only demotivate people from getting certificates.
Not only the parents but also their children will be at risk when their parents are unable to corroborate their cohabitation. Should the current draft bill be passed, the law will potentially separate millions of children from parents who have been criminalised, breaking family ties and producing a new cycle of poverty.
Another unwanted consequence of the criminalisation of extramarital sexual behaviours will be a rise in the number of early marriages as marriages will be deemed a rational option to avoid jail. Under the system, parents will have more incentive to marry off their teenagers.
Early marriages will put girls at greater risk than boys. They also harm the government's programs and targets.
Today, 25% of Indonesian girls are married before the age of 18. These girls are very likely to leave education, as 85% of married girls drop out of school, harming the national compulsory education program. Girls who married before turning 18 are six times less likely to complete secondary education.
The national target to reduce maternal and infant mortality will also be stifled as girls marry and get pregnant early. The evidence indicates that pregnancy at a young age is one of the risk factors contributing to stunting.
In addition, criminalising extramarital sex will lead to a reluctance by girls with unintended pregnancy to seek medical help, putting their lives in jeopardy.
Children who start experiencing sexual curiosity will have criminal sanctions as another barrier to getting a proper sex education and reproductive health service. As this bill limits the methods and category of people who can legally disseminate information on contraception, for example, it will also prevent the government from effectively preventing and responding to risky sexual activities, including among young people.
In this bill, local administrations are allowed to legislate their own criminal regulations based on the living law in their localities. This begs for more clarification regarding legal standards, monitoring and enforcement systems. Without proper checks on local laws, young people once again will be an at-risk group as described above.
The current bill, therefore, still reflects the crudest form of exclusion through criminalisation. As described above, it discriminates against children, women, the poor and marginalised groups. Rushing for enactment this year represents a total disregard for evidence and facts and, furthermore, for a sense of justice for all.
The ambition to pass the bill this year may also overestimate the government's capacity to issue regulations for the law's full implementation in two to three years. As an example, the government hasn't completed all implementing regulations mandated by the 2012 Juvenile Justice Law, almost six after its issuance.
Once the bill is passed, we will have only a couple of years to fully implement the law. Studying the bill's clauses, we suspect the cost of law enforcement will possibly double, if not more.
Indonesia's law enforcement already lacks human and financial resources. Our prisons and detention centres are overcrowded. Therefore, passing the bill will require the government to allocate more resources to implement the criminal code, taking it away from other sectors. That's why it's also important that a budgetary estimate for the new law's implementation be presented to the public and discussed with related ministries.
If this administration wants to leave a legacy in the form of an Indonesian-flavoured criminal code, it will be unfortunate if the legacy is flawed by enacting a law that could do more harm than good by disregarding facts and evidence in the deliberation process.