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Indonesia News Digest 15 – April 16-22, 2018

West Papua Aceh Women's rights & gender Sexual & domestic violence Labour & migrant workers Political parties & elections Surveys & opinion polls Internet & social media Environment & natural disasters Health & education Disability rights LGBT & same-sex marriage Sex workers & prostitution Marriage & the family Corruption & abuse of power Terrorism & religious extremism Religion & politics Pornography & sexual morality Poverty & social inequity Farming & agriculture Indigenous culture & rights Jakarta & urban life Retail & service industry Armed forces & defense Criminal justice & legal system Police & law enforcement Mining & energy Infrastructure & development Economy & investment Analysis & opinion

West Papua

Papuan students in Australia ask military to release Waa villagers

Tabloid JUBI - April 20, 2018

Abeth You, Paniai, Jubi – Students from Kampung Waa, Tembagapura Sub-district, who are currently studying in Australia request the Indonesian Military and Police officers to release the arrested villagers. They argued that those people are civilians and have no connection with the separatist movement.

"The Waa villagers who have been captured by the Indonesian Military since April 1st are ordinary people," Felix Degei, a student studying in Australia, told Jubi on Thursday (14/3/2018).

Degei, who is also an alumnus of the University of Cenderewasih, stated that the military must also declare that a 45-year-old civil servant, the late Timothy Ombak; a 10-year-old Heri Banal; and a 9-year-old Iron Omabak are innocent civilians who are victims of military operations.

Another student Araminus Omaleng said the military should make both oral and written announcement stating that Waa villagers can do their daily activities without any suspicion.

"Kampung Waa is the ancestral land of the Amungme people. Therefore, the military has to stop threatening the local community," he said.

Moreover, he asked PT. Freeport Indonesia and Indonesian Military to be responsible for providing compensation to all facilities that have been damaged and burned in the military operations.

Kampung Waa comprises four villages located near the mining area of PT. Freeport Indonesia in Tembagapura Sub-district, Papua. (*)

Source: http://tabloidjubi.com/eng/papuan-students-in-australia-ask-military-to-release-waa-villagers/

Mob burns down election offices after lawsuit over election dispute

Jakarta Post - April 18, 2018

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura, Papua – Supporters of regent and deputy regent candidates in Central Mamberamo regency have allegedly protested violently over a Constitutional Court (MK) ruling that an independent pair is not eligible to participate in the upcoming regional elections.

The mob allegedly burned down the Central Mamberamo Elections Commission (KPU Central Mamberamo) and Elections Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu) offices in Kobakman on Wednesday morning.

"The MK rejected an election dispute [lawsuit] filed by independent candidate pair Itaman Thago and Onny Pagawak, making their supporters angry and [resulting in] the launch of an arson attack," KPU Papua member Tarwinto told The Jakarta Post in Jayapura on Wednesday.

Thago-Pagawak filed a lawsuit with the Makassar State Administrative Court (PTUN) against KPU Central Mamberamo's decision to declare the pair ineligible to run in the simultaneous regional elections on June 27. KPU Central Mamberamo said there was not enough voter support for the two candidates.

"The MK decision was signed on Monday," said Tarwinto. With the ruling, only one candidate pair, Ham Pagawak-Yonas Kenelak, will participate in the Central Mamberamo election. The Pagawak-Kenelak ticket was supported by all political parties, which have seats at the Central Mamberamo Legislative Council.

Tarwinto asserted that it would not be acceptable for KPU Central Mamberamo to delay the June 27 election despite the incident. "The regional election will continue to run as scheduled. We will hand over the arson attack incident to law enforcers," he said.

Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said the situation in Kobakman had been dealt with as security officers immediately took measures to disperse the mob soon after they launched the attack. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/18/mob-burns-down-election-offices-after-lawsuit-over-election-dispute-rejected.html


Indonesia's Aceh canes couples for public shows of affection

Associated Press - April 20, 2018

Heri Juanda, Banda Aceh, Indonesia – Indonesia's deeply conservative Aceh province on Friday caned several unmarried couples for showing affection in public and two women for prostitution before an enthusiastic audience of hundreds.

The canings were possibly the last to be done before large crowds in Aceh after the province's governor announced earlier this month that the punishments would be moved indoors.

The caning last year of two men for gay sex before a baying mob drew international attention to Aceh's increasingly harsh implementation of Shariah law and a wave of condemnation.

The women accused of prostitution were caned 11 times each. One of the women held up her hand after the fifth lash, signaling the pain was too intense. She was given a drink and the strokes resumed despite her discomfort.

The crowd, which included tourists from Malaysia, cheered at each blow and many people held smartphones aloft to record the punishment.

The six young people accused of flirtatious behavior received between 11 and 22 strokes. Shariah police wanted to convict them of "zina," unlawful sexual intercourse that includes sex outside marriage and adultery. That would have resulted in a greater number of lashes, but police lacked enough witnesses.

Some residents of Aceh, the only province in Muslim-majority Indonesia to impose Shariah law, are opposed to having the canings performed inside prisons. About a thousand people protested outside the Banda Aceh mayor's office on Thursday. They say hiding the canings will reduce the deterrent effect.

Historically, Aceh, located at the tip of the island of Sumatra, was the first region in the Indonesian archipelago to adopt Islam after contacts with Arab traders from as early as the 8th century. Its implementation of Shariah law was a concession made by the central government in 2001 as part of efforts to end a decades-long war for independence.

Human Rights Watch has dismissed the change to indoor whipping as cosmetic and called for Aceh to abolish caning and the laws that allow it. It says caning remains a form of torture whether it is done in public or not.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/indonesias-aceh-canes-couples-for-public-shows-of-affection/2018/04/20/5fd1618a-445a-11e8-b2dc-b0a403e4720a_story.html?noredirect=on

Amorous couples, sex workers whipped in Indonesia's Aceh

Agence France Presse - April 20, 2018

A group of amorous couples and alleged sex workers were publicly whipped for breaking Islamic law in Indonesia's Aceh Friday, just a week after the province pledged to move the widely condemned practice indoors.

More than a thousand people, including dozens of tourists from neighbouring Malaysia, jeered and screamed abuse at the group as they were flogged outside a mosque in the capital Banda Aceh.

The three men and five women – who included several college students – were found guilty of violating religious law by either showing affection in public or for offering sexual services online, officials said.

Aceh is the only province in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country that imposes Islamic law and flogging is a common punishment for a range of offences – from gambling, to drinking alcohol to having gay sex or relations outside of marriage.

The conservative region on the northern tip of Sumatra island passed a regulation a week ago that would see criminals whipped only behind prison walls. It was not clear when the new rule would come into effect.

The move was in response to a wave of international criticism over the practice, which has included flogging members of the region's LGBT community and, in some cases, non-Muslims.

Rights groups have derided it as cruel and last year President Joko Widodo called for an end to public whippings in Aceh.

Around 98 percent of the province's five million residents are Muslims, subject to religious law, including the public whippings which came into practice around 2005.

The new rule has generated protests from conservative groups who see public whippings as having a strong deterrent effect on crime. Banda Aceh's deputy mayor Zainal Arifin said Friday's flogging was not an act of defiance against the new rules.

"We understand that the regulation has not yet come into effect and the prison is not yet ready to (host floggings) so that is why we are still doing it" in public, he said. "Until the new regulation is officially in place we will carry on as usual."

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/amorous-couples-sex-workers-whipped-indonesias-aceh/

Women's rights & gender

Indonesian women should stop limiting themselves: Minister Susi

Tempo - April 22, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Susi Pudjiastuti, stated that Indonesian women must be able to stop limiting themselves in order to realize their dreams in the framework of celebrating Kartini Day.

I think Indonesian women should start liberating themselves from limiting their thoughts, she noted in a statement on Saturday.

Susi stated that women should have a mindset that they can do beneficial things for many people. In addition, she remarked that Kartini Day commemorated the inspiring woman, RA Kartini, who had a wide and extraordinary mindset.

Separately, Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture Puan Maharani revealed that Kartini Day celebration is a moment to emphasize the role of women and their contribution to the advancement of the Indonesian nation.

"Now, Indonesian women are free to pursue their careers and can perform well in various fields, including education, sports, politics, government, economics, and social affairs," she noted in a statement.

She added that the role of women starts from the smallest scale, such as family, as women also determine the progress of their family, environment, and state.

Meanwhile, First Lady Iriana and members of the Organization of Solidarity Action of Working Cabinet Era has held Kartini Day commemoration at the Presidential Palace of Bogor on Saturday.

The event took place at 08.30 a.m. local time at the backyard of the palace. The activity was also attended by Mufidah, the wife of Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/04/22/055917800/Indonesian-Women-Should-Stop-Limiting-Themselves-Minister-Susi

Kartini and 'Kartini'

New Mandala - April 21, 2018

Kathryn Robinson – 21 April – Hari Kartini, or Kartini Day – is a day of civic celebration in Indonesia when the nation commemorates the birth of a young Javanese woman who lived and wrote at a critical time of change in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI). This commemorative day has come to be focused, in often contradictory ways, on the place of women in modern Indonesia. The day is marked with civic ceremonies, especially in schools and government institutions; and media reflections on the state of women's social participation, challenges and achievements.

We know Kartini primarily through her correspondence, which has been published in a broad range of selections and translations. Only recently (2014), though, was a full edition of the letters available In English, through decades of effort by Monash University scholar Joost Cote. This literary corpus, and perhaps the poignancy of her short life, have become fodder for varied and ever-changing interpretations of the figure "Kartini". Especially since independence, this cultural icon has been represented in a range of ways that suit the power struggles of the times.

Kartini, born in 1879, was a young high-born woman, the daughter of a priyayi (Javanese noble) colonial official. In that pre-nationalist era, forward-looking men of his class began to learn – and ensure their children learned – Dutch, so they could seek advancement and achieve influence in the NEI civil service. She attended the local primary school to be educated alongside Dutch and Eurasian children. In one of the many ironies of her story, at age 12 she was withdrawn from school to begin the customary period of seclusion (pingitan) prior to an arranged marriage (a life course appropriate to a girl of her high social standing).

Despite Kartini's withdrawing from formal education, this scholarly and gifted young woman used her time within the walled gardens of her home to read widely in Dutch: novels, magazines, newspapers, as well as the more customary pursuit of handicrafts.

Her father's official position brought Dutch visitors to the home. In the years 1899 to 1903 she had several long and intense correspondences principally with one of these visitors, Nyonya Abendanon, the feminist-leaning wife of the colonial official J.H. Abendanon; and also a pen pal, a Dutch feminist named Stella Zeerhandelaar. Through her reading and correspondence, Kartini and her sisters were exposed to the currents of late 19th and early 20th century European thought, and were caught up in the radical social transformations of the age.

We can get to know Kartini essentially as a literary figure, her "epistolary self" that she presented in her correspondence. She is a gifted and compelling writer, who cares about the situation of women and their rights in marriage and the poverty of her fellow colonial subjects. As the daughter of a minor wife in a polygamous household, she was critical of the custom of polygamy as she contemplated her own probable fate. In another irony, she agreed to her father's choice of spouse, the widowed Bupati (Regent) of Rembang. Kartini replaced his deceased principal wife but still found herself in a polygynous household with several minor wives. She died soon after giving birth to a son in 1904.

As evidenced in her letters, Kartini was passionate about education and secured her husband's approval to establish a small school in his home. She expressed a strong desire for further education, and through her pen pal's efforts, was offered the possibility of study in Holland. In another twist, the man who dissuaded her from this plan, the colonial official J.H Abendanon, published an edited selection of her letters in 1911. His selection emphasised her passion for education, which fitted his own policy ideals for the NEI. The title, as rendered in the later English translation, From Darkness into Light, is paraphrased from one of the letters, and expresses a modernist trope of progress.

While Kartini wittily mocked the pretensions of some NEI officials in her letters, she lived in an era prior to the nationalist "awakening" in the early 20th century. She expressed views about improving the governance of the NEI, not dissolving it, in part to be achieved through higher participation of "native" officials and – echoing the sentiments of critics arguing for reform, and the so-called Ethical Policy – attention to native welfare.

But Kartini's commitment to social justice through education and her articulate championing of education for women struck a chord with the emerging nationalist movement. The song that is performed on Hari Kartini, "Ibu Kita Kartini" (Our Mother Kartini) was written in 1931 by Wage Rudolf Supratman, who also penned the Indonesian national anthem, "Indonesia Raya". Following her death, her sisters founded schools that developed into the Kartini school movement, providing education for "native" children. Education was a key theme of the struggle for independence.

The resonance of her writing with nationalist causes culminated in founding President Sukarno naming her a national hero (Pahlawan Nasional) in 1964, along with two other heroines of the armed struggle, Cut Nya Dien and Ceut Meutia, both armed fighters from Aceh. However, only Kartini – who it is often noted struggled with the pen, not the sword – has an eponymous day.

For Suharto's New Order regime, gender ideology was critical to the exercise of authoritarian power. State support for the exercise of male authority in the family legitimated the figure of Father-President who presided over the nation. "Kartini" was called into service in this ideological framing of the nation. She was remembered as a mother and a model for citizen mothers' dutiful contributions to the nation.

The corporatist women's organisations (like Dharma Wanita and the PKK/Family Welfare Movement), had responsibilities in the implementation of state programs like family planning and child health, as well as inculcating the state ideology and the primacy of women's citizenship in wifely duties and mothering.

These organisations took a key role in the civic ceremonies of Hari Kartini, promoting the adoption of a costume of batik wrapped skirt and long-sleeved blouse (kain kebaya), the garb that Kartini is wearing in the significant photographic record of her life. This "offical" dress was accompanied by high-heeled shoes and a false bun (konde) affixed near the nape of the neck.

The remembered "Kartini" was a wife and mother who was responsible in the exercise of her duties and who tragically died in childbirth. Apart from promoting costumed look-alike competitions, Hari Kartini celebrated patriotic womanhood as wifeliness and motherhood in "healthy baby" competitions and cooking demonstrations. In Hari Kartini speeches of the New Order era, her memory was also invoked in support of the state-sponsored family planning program. However, the government also invoked her aspirations for education and social recognition of women to assert that they had achieved these goals for women.

But "Kartini" has always provided a flash point for contestations around gender roles. In the late New Order, from the mid-1990s, issues that galvanised opposition to the regime included reports of the fate of Indonesian women migrants working as domestic servants in the Middle East and East Asia, and the poor treatment of women working in Indonesian world market factories.

In 1995, women's rights activists chose Hari Kartini to stage a day-long protest beginning with a "pilgrimage" to her grave near Rembang, where they gave speeches and (in the manner of protests of the day) staged a "happening", a street performance of men enslaving women. They moved on to the Kartini museum at the site of her former home: because the official ceremony was being conducted inside, they occupied the yard for their protest. They also demanded the dissolution of the official women's ministry on the grounds it did nothing to promote women's real interests.

This event prefigured what would happen in the reformasi period. On Hari Kartini in 1998, just one month before Suharto resigned, the celebration again became a day to protest the contemporary issues of economic exploitation as well as the social position of women, and to demand change. Hari Kartini continues to be a day that focuses national attention on women's issue, though not in the radical style that we saw in the euphoric atmosphere of the reform period.

In contemporary Indonesia, primary schools remain an important site for celebration of Hari Kartini, as an aspect of civic education. Whereas under the New Order, the emphasis was on dressing up in kain kebaya, today the prescribed dress is pakaian adat, or customary local costume, perhaps reflecting the spirit of decentralisation and public criticism of Javanese domination of the nation. So today's celebrations go back to the roots of her nomination as a pahlawan nasional, commemorating the nation as well as focusing on women's social position.

What does Kartini mean to the today's youth, the millennial generation referred to as zaman now?

Over the decades, "Kartini" has become a free-floating signifier that is used for commercial, political, and cultural ends. This year, for example, a smart Jakarta hotel is offering 25% off cocktails for women on 21 April and suggesting they post at #KartiniNowadays. Garuda Indonesia adverts have targeted female passengers as "new Kartinis", represented as smart young women in western dress and with stylish short hairstyles. There are new cultural products relating to Kartini, such as a recent feature film and the several new books that have just hit the shelves in time for Hari Kartini.

In late 2017 I interviewed young people in three Indonesian cities (Kupang, Makassar and Surabaya) asking about their engagement with Kartini. Overall, the young people did not did not read Kartini's work, nor any of the many books about her. None had seen the 2017 film. They reported that their knowledge came from the civic ceremonies and speeches in primary school.

Nevertheless, Kartini remains a cultural icon for them. Young men and women (approvingly) expressed her historical significance as relating to "emansipasi" of women and women's education. Picking up on the shift from Kartini day celebratory kain kebaya-wearing to the emphasis on wearing locally-specific traditional garb, in some of the conversations the young people questioned why there was not also celebration of heroic women from outside Java.

In the period around 21 April, when Kartini is "booming", the zaman now generation post commemorative pictures of themselves on social media such as Instagram, using tags such as #Kartini or #HariKartini. The "grammar" of these postings involves wearing kain kebaya or other "traditional costume", and posing with friends and, frequently, their mothers. I was told of a most engaging commemoration of "Kartini" as a trope signifying emancipation: a group of young women nature lovers climbed a mountain on Hari Kartini and donned kebaya at the summit before taking photographs. The invocation of Kartini signified that they were the first women to achieve this, and also that women can do anything (or everything!)

The shifting representations of Kartini as a touchstone for women's rights issues has not escaped the current trend to increased pubic piety and concern to express civic values in Islamic terms. The 2017 Women Ulama Congress (KUPI) was held on 25 April – in the Kartini "season" – invoking the idea that late April is the time of year for "taking stock" of women in Indonesia and addressing agendas for change. The congress materials referred to Kartini and her Islamic education and values in developing their recovered history of women's religious authority. A more thoroughgoing "greening" of Kartini has come from some religious scholars who have mounted the revisionist argument that her critique of women's position and her calls for change were rooted in the Islamic texts she studied, not in western literature and political theory.

Ultimatley, Kartini was a young woman of her time and place, in an ambivalent place between 19th century modernist ideals and her deep love of Javanese cultural traditions. Kartini – or rather the day that celebrates her life – occupies a unique position in Indonesian political and cultural life where each year the nation celebrates womanhood, albeit in shifting guises, but also pauses to reflect on what the nation is doing, and should do, for female citizens.

[This post is adapted from a chapter of a forthcoming volume on Kartini edited by Paul Bijl and Grace Schirripa.]

Source: http://www.newmandala.org/kartini-and-kartini/

Women traffic police wear 'kebaya' while on duty

Jakarta Post - April 20, 2018

Jakarta – A number of women traffic police commemorated Kartini Day by wearing kebaya while on duty in East Jakarta on Friday.

Kartini Day, which is celebrated annually on April 21, honors Javanese aristocrat Raden Ajeng Kartini, who survived feudalism and struggled for women's emancipation in Jepara in Central Java. She was declared a national heroine by then-president Sukarno in 1964.

East Jakarta Police chief Sr. Comr. Toni Surya Putra said he had deployed dozens of women police officers to manage traffic along Jl. Otto Iskandardinata to the Matraman intersection in the municipality.

"This is a form of appreciation toward RA Kartini as the pioneer of women's emancipation," Toni said as quoted by tribunnews.com. "And this also shows that women police officers have the same duties as male officers," he added.

Critics have voiced their criticism that Kartini's spirit of emancipation is more than just wearing kebaya, replicating the image of the heroine. (vny)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/20/women-traffic-police-wear-kebaya-while-on-duty.html

Sexual & domestic violence

Commuters must combat sexual harassment: Train operator

Jakarta Post - April 22, 2018

Jakarta – Amid reports of sexual harassment in public transportation, including the commuter line, PT Kereta Commuter Indonesia (KCI) says commuters must report sexual harassment when they witness it on commuter trains.

KCI spokesperson Eva Chairunnisa said the company had received 11 reports of sexual harassment in 2017, and in 2018, three cases had been reported so far. However, victims often did not want to report the cases to the police for personal reasons.

"That is why we urge everyone in the commuter trains to be more alert. When you see sexual harassment in a commuter train, don't just record it, but report it to a local security guard and alert the victim," Eva told reporters on Saturday on the sidelines of the Ngopi Bareng Kartini event at Jakarta Kota Station in West Jakarta.

Eva expressed hope that, if the victims got support from other commuters, they would be brave enough to report to the police.

The company has run a campaign against sexual harassment at major stations, such as Tanah Abang, Manggarai, Jakarta Kota, Bogor and Bekasi, with banners and brochures to educate commuters about sexual harassment. (ami)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/22/commuters-must-combat-sexual-harassment-train-operator.html

Landlord and neighborhood chief angry at rape victim for going to police

Coconuts Jakarta - April 16, 2018

Blaming victims of sexual harassment and assault is unfortunately still commonplace in Indonesia, with a recent case in Jakarta highlighting how victims can sometimes be subjected to even more scorn and scrutiny rather than receiving sympathy from the people around them.

On Friday, a woman who lived in a kost (boarding home) in Kebon Jeruk, West Jakarta, asked her neighbor, a 23-year-old man identified by the initials DM, if he could help her carry a water gallon to her room. After not receiving help after her first request, the woman entered DM's room to ask for help again, only for DM to allegedly lock the door and rape her.

"The victim was raped and given a death threat if she told anyone," said Kebon Jeruk Police Chief Martson Marbun, as quoted by Detik yesterday.

Despite the threat, the victim told her husband about the rape and the pair reported it to the police. DM was soon arrested and though the police haven't publicly announced the charges against him, it's likely he could face up to 12 year in jail under the country's Criminal Code for committing rape.

It's probably a good thing that the victim and her husband went straight to the police, as the people in the neighborhood don't seem to be supportive of her.

"If anything happened, I at least should have been told about it first. [I shouldn't have to] hear it from other people," said the kost's landlord, as quoted by Detik yesterday.

"That's why if people want to live here they shouldn't be making trouble and making it difficult for other people [in the neighborhood]. Don't live here and 'do as I please'. This is not a neighborhood for whoring," said the neighborhood chief (RT), whose identity was not disclosed.

Obviously not all landlords and RTs are as repugnant as these two. But this RT, in particular, chose to vilify a resident of the neighborhood instead of protecting her.

Parallels could easily be drawn to a recent case in which an RT in Tangerang was sentenced to 5 years for stripping and shaming an unwed couple who locals wrongly accused of committing an "immoral" act.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/landlord-neighborhood-chief-angry-rape-victim-going-straight-police/

Labour & migrant workers

People's Movement Conference in Jakarta seeks to build political

Marsinah FM - April 21, 2018

The People's Movement Conference (Konferensi Gerakan Rakyat) which was held over two days on April 19-20 at the Hotel 678 Cawang in Jakarta, was a historical milestone in carving out a new hope for the emergence of a united movement comprising all elements of the people.

Initiated by the Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance (KASBI), the Confederation of United Indonesian Workers (KPBI), the National Trade Union Confederation (KSN), the Populist Democratic Trade Union (SEDAR) and the National Labour Movement Centre (SGBN), the conference brought together some 70 different cross-sector people's movement organisations including workers, students, youth, women, the urban poor, human rights defenders and environmental activists, to set out an ambitious agenda – to find ideas and initiatives to build a political alternative, namely a force that is born out of the people's movement itself.

The following are quotes from organisational leaders who initiated the conference:

Sarinah – SEDAR

"For us unity isn't just unity, unity must be based on democracy for strategic goals, to build a joint political vehicle, namely a political party, this is the only solution to the capitalist system and colonial exploitation in Indonesia. We must implement the results of this conference because if there are decisions but no implementation it can't be tested. This time we are committed to pursuing the mandate of this conference."

Yahya – SGBN

"[We are] pleased and happy to be involved in this conference, we are enthusiastic about finding a solution, committed and sincere in pursuing the outcomes of this conference. Thanks to the organising committee, and we hope there will be more conferences to follow".

Ilhamsyah – Labour activists

"The conference agenda represents a new energy, in the midst of a decline in the people's movements. We are still a very small force, but not easily demoralised, with unity and convincing our members, we will continue to gather our forces and build mutual assistance between trade unions. All of us have cases, dismissals, low wages, factories closing down, occupations and so on, but the desire for unity is a concrete task that is needed to advance the labour movement and bring victory to the people's struggle. Let us test out this commitment in unity, don't be quick to give up hope, become angry, the problems that exist can be resolved together. Let us complement and strengthen each other."

Nining Elitos – KASBI

"In representing KASBI I appreciate, that we are among comrades. In building our movement, our fortunes cannot depend upon the political elite, of course in the current situation, the problems facing the ordinary people, the theft of natural resources, our human resources simply exploited, in building a people's movement, we need a political block, to build openness, participation from the lowest to the national level, we cannot forget organisation. We can involve the masses in building this, to win the highest authority. In building the Indonesian people's movement, KASBI is involved, if the process is inexact, we will not give up easily or be embittered. The character of a fighter is that in the worst situation they do not give up. This is our project, forming, building and growing into a political block of the oppressed people".

Hermawan – KSN

"Let the future of the people's movement be bright, from the series of discussions, from joint declarations, the obligation to work and struggle together. There is no other word, this country and its people are in the grip of suffering. Rise up, let us win victory and prosperity, workers united cannot be defeated, power to the workers, prosperity to the people. Today is the start of a movement towards victory, to ensure the future is bright for all".

Jakarta, 21 April 2018

By Gadis Merah (Red Girl)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Berkonsolidasi dan Bergerak Membangun Kekuatan Alternatif".]

Source: http://www.marsinahfm.com/membangun-kekuatan-alternatif/

Opposition questions Jokowi's policy on foreign workers

Jakarta Post - April 20, 2018

Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta – An outspoken opposition politician has lambasted a recent move by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to relax the recruitment process for foreign workers.

Fadli Zon, a House of Representatives deputy speaker from the Gerindra Party, said his party was considering proposing the establishment of a special committee to seek an explanation from the administration about the policy.

In March, Jokowi issued a Presidential Regulation on the recruitment of foreign workers, which aims to ease the visa process for foreign workers, especially in the education sector.

The Manpower Ministry said the regulation also aimed to provide legal certainty for foreign workers in Indonesia. Under the new regulation, foreign workers must obtain a working visa from the outset, rather than a business visa as required in the previous system.

"This policy, I think, has gone in the wrong direction. Jokowi said on the campaign trail that he would create 10 million job opportunities for Indonesians," Fadli said in a statement. "But after three years in power, the administration is continuously relaxing the regulation for foreign workers."

On Friday, Taufik Kurniawan, another House deputy speaker, said the ministry had to explain the regulation to all Indonesians to prevent a misunderstanding.

"The policy is likely to cause losses. The screening process is rather easy for foreigners to pass. There is also no qualification of workers," said Taufik, a National Mandate Party (PAN) politician, as quoted by Antara.

PAN is officially a member of the ruling coalition, but it has broken ranks and sided with the opposition on a number of issues. Taufik said the plan to establish a special committee for the policy would be subject to a final decision by House Commission IX on manpower.

On Friday, the State Palace said there was no need to establish a special committee on the foreign workers policy. "Because they only seek clarification, there is no need for a special committee. The administration is ready to explain," said Presidential Chief Of Staff Moeldoko, as reported by kompas.com.

Moeldoko said the new regulation stipulated specific requirements for foreign workers, one being that they could only hold jobs above managerial level. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/20/opposition-questions-jokowis-policy-on-foreign-workers.html

1500 workers depart to Jakarta on May Day

Tempo - April 18, 2018

Andita Rahma, Jakarta – Karawang Police Chief Adjutant Senior Commissioner Hendy F. Kurniawan, said that around 1,500 workers from Karawang will depart to Jakarta to commemorate World Labor Day on May 1, 2018.

Ahead of the World Labor Day, Karawang Police intensively met with union labor representatives in the region. "Ahead of the May Day, Karawang Police communicate and do a gathering," said Hendy in Metro Jaya Police headquarter on Wednesday, April 18, 2018.

Hendy said that he is ready to escort the workers who will perform rally on May Day in Jakarta. From the initial information, around 5,000 t 6,000 workers were predicted to participate. However, only 1,500 workers are confirmed to depart to Jakarta.

In order to accommodate thousands of workers who leave for Jakarta, Hendy said that he will help to provide transportation. In addition, Henry said that the Karawang Police will deploy 800 personnel to escort the workers.

Meanwhile, the Metro Jaya Police will deploy 400 personnel to secure the rally. "Then there is also [officers] from the Public Order Police with a total of 1,200 personnel," Hendy said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/04/18/055917708/1500-Workers-Depart-to-Jakarta-on-May-Day

Political parties & elections

2 parties invite Abraham Samad to participate in 2019 election

Tempo - April 22, 2018

Parliza Hendrawan, Jakarta – Former Chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Abraham Samad said two political parties proposed to him as one of the candidates in the 2019 presidential election.

Despite the reluctance to name the party, he ensures that one party is a supporter of the Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla administration. "Another party is outside the administration," he said on Saturday in Palembang, April 21.

However, Abraham has not decided much less to declare himself as a presidential candidate and as a vice presidential candidate.

Abraham felt the need to look at the invitation by questioning the prospective voters. He also considered the cost of proposing to the upcoming presidential election. "I do not have a lot of money, nor a party person."

In Palembang, Abraham became a speaker in a motivational seminar to the civitas academy of Sriwijaya University and Raden Fatah State Islamic University. He wants to instill an attitude to youth with integrity, Pancasila, and character of real Indonesian people.

Palembang is the ninth city of the motivational seminar safari after previously held in Bandung, Makassar, Semarang, Bogor, Bali, Samarinda, Balikpapan, and Yogyakarta.

The safari was conducted in 150 cities themed "Rising Consolidation of Indonesia Youth Generation in Building the Nation."

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/04/22/055917802/2-Parties-Invite-Abraham-Samad-to-Participate-in-2019-Election

Mardani: Prabowo must have strategy to compete with Jokowi

Tempo - April 22, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician Mardani Ali Sera believes Gerindra Party Chairman Prabowo Subianto should prepare a strategic strategy if he wants to compete with Joko Widodo (Jokowi) electability. "Otherwise, Jokowi has a strong position," said Mardani in Cikini, Jakarta, on Saturday.

Mardani said Jokowi has more advantages that can boost his electability compared with Prabowo. Jokowi is not only able to sell promises when campaigning. "But he already has worked."

Jokowi's power is also obtained from a number of surveys that position his electability above Prabowo so the data can also affect the people's voice. "Right now, the most important is the figure," he said.

He suggested Prabowo choose a new vice presidential candidate. The new figure should really be able to compete with Jokowi's electability.

Mardani suggested Prabowo that in the near future to not only appoint a vice-presidential candidate who will accompany him in the 2019 presidential election.

Prabowo must also determine the ranks of the cabinet that will help him if he is elected as president. "So people do not buy a cat in a sack," he said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/04/22/055917794/Mardani-Prabowo-Must-Have-Strategy-to-Compete-with-Jokowi

PKS: Democrat offers third political axis

Tempo - April 21, 2018

Ahmad Faiz, Jakarta – President of the Prosperity and Justice Party (PKS) Sohibul Iman stated that his party has been offered to be the third political axis to run in the 2019 presidential election.

The option was conveyed by Democrat Party through its Deputy Chairman Sjarifuddin Hasan in a meeting that took place at PKS central executive board office at Jl. TB. Simatupang, Jakarta on Friday, April 20, 2018.

"Mr. Sjarif said that minutes of the meeting will be delivered to SBY and will be followed up. SBY also wants to meet me, I'll wait for it," said Sohibul.

Sohibul said that his party considered that forming the third axis would be a good choice because currently only two candidates have declared to participate in the 2019 presidential election which might spark social segregation among the community.

According to Sohibul, it is possible to present a third alternative for the presidential bid should five opposition parties to the incumbent candidate President Joko Widodo namely Gerindra, PKS, Democrat, National Mandate Party (PAN), and National Awakening Party (PKB) can come to an agreement.

Furthermore, Sohibul asserted that the meeting with Democrat party with regard to the third political axis was not a threat for Gerindra Party to choose PKS candidates as Prabowo's running mate in the election.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/04/21/055917779/PKS-Democrat-Offers-Third-Political-Axis

Prabowo: Gerindra cannot leave PKS

Tempo - April 21, 2018

Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta – Chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) Prabowo Subianto, said that the Prosperity and Justice Party (PKS) has a special relationship with Gerindra. According to Prabowo, PKS is Gerindra's best friend.

"During tough times, PKS did not want to leave me and Gerindra," Prabowo said at the Gerindra Central Executive Board office on Sunday, April 21, 2018. Therefore, it is difficult for Gerindra to leave PKS.

During PKS's 20th anniversary event, Prabowo hoped that the relationship between both parties can continue to save the future of Indonesia.

Prabowo admitted that he had learned so much from PKS in establishing Gerindra. "I'll tell you a secret, when I am leading Gerindra I often copied PKS's system, like its cadre system," Prabowo said.

PKS President Sohibul Iman said that the best friend title will mean even more if it can be proven through cooperation between PKS and Gerindra. "What's more important is we prove it in cooperation and together prove a contribution," Sohibul said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/04/21/055917791/Prabowo-Gerindra-Cannot-Leave-PKS

Gerindra upbeat Prabowo's electability rating will match Jokowi's

Tempo - April 20, 2018

Imam Hamdi, Jakarta – Gerindra sec-gen Andre Rosiade said the party's chair Prabowo Subianto would soon kick off campaigns to absorb people's aspirations in a bid to jack up the latter's electability rating. He added the party was upbeat Prabowo's electability rating would be able to match President Jokowi's.

Andre explained Jokowi's present electability rating hovered around 40-50 percent, while Prabowo's, whom he said had yet to make any apparent move on his presidential run, had already been in the neighborhood of 20-30 percent. "If Prabowo has begun his campaigns, [his electability rating] will certainly escalate."

Andre estimated the electability disparity between Jokowi and Prabowo, which is presently at 10 percent, was normal, and that Jokowi as the incumbent should have scored above 40-45 percent.

Andre also said Jokowi had kept on polishing his image. "His image-building is exceptional," he said, adding that the president was doing it in multiple ways. "Going to the movies, riding his chopper motorbike, [he tries to] hypnotize [the people] through varied pretentious acts," he said.

According to a recent poll by Cyrus Network, President Jokowi will prevail if the presidential election is held today, followed by Prabowo Subianto and Gatot Nurmantyo, respectively.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/04/20/055917774/Gerindra-Upbeat-Prabowos-Electability-Rating-Will-Match-Jokowis

Five provinces in 2018 regional elections prone to conflicts

Tempo - April 20, 2018

Muh Syaifullah, Yogyakarta – The National Police's chief of security maintenance division, Comr. Gen. Moechgiyarto, said five provinces in the country were prone to conflicts during the 2018 simultaneous regional elections.

The five provinces include West Kalimantan, North Sumatra, West Java, Papua, and Maluku. "There are five provinces that will hold the gubernatorial elections that are indicated to be conflict-prone from the eleven indicators that we consider," said Moechgiyarto today in Yogyakarta, Central Java.

According to police mapping, the regions in Papua alone that can potentially spark conflicts are Mimika, Paniai, Jayawijaya, and Central Mamberamo. Districts outside Papua with similar status are Kerinci District and Jambi Province.

Moechgiyarto added the conflicts that might arise in these regions stemmed from issues on ethnicity, religion, race and inter-group relations [SARA], internal conflicts within political parties, geographical condition, and the lack of professionalism by election committees.

"There are 13 regions with single candidates in the 2018 regional elections that are predicted to be prone to conflicts, such as in Pasuruan, Lebak, and Papua. These regions need special attention," he said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/04/20/055917776/Five-Provinces-in-2018-Regional-Elections-Prone-to-Conflicts

Gerindra, PKS team up to back Prabowo Subianto's presidential bid

Tempo - April 20, 2018

M Julnis Firmansyah, Jakarta – The deputy secretary general of the Great Indonesia Movement Party [Gerindra], Andre Rosiade, said his party was finalizing political ties and deals with the Prosperous Justice Party [PKS] to support Prabowo Subianto in the 2019 presidential race.

"God willing, PKS will be solid with Gerindra" Andre told Tempo on Friday, April 20, 2018.

Andre said PKS' move was a gesture of support towards Gerindra chief patron Prabowo Subianto's presidential bid in 2019. The declaration to support Prabowo took place on April 11 at Padepokan Garudayaksa, Bukit Hambalang, Bogor regency, West Java, during Gerindra's National Coordination Meeting.

Representatives of both parties met Tuesday at Meradelima restaurant in Jakarta for further talks on cementing the coalition. Attending the meeting were PKS sec-gen Mustafa Kamal, Gerindra sec-gen Ahmad Muzani, and deputy chairman of Gerindra consultative board-cum-Jakarta Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno.

Andre said Sandiaga was designated to spearhead a Gerindra team to wrap up the planned ties before the General Elections Commission [KPU]'s opened its registration.

Andre said both parties had set a deadline prior to the registration of presidential and vice presidential hopefuls at the KPU on August 4-10, 2018. "There will be a declaration of support before [we] go to the KPU."

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/04/20/055917767/Gerindra-PKS-Team-Up-to-Back-Prabowo-Subiantos-Presidential-Bid

Prabowo's presidential bid hangs in the balance

Jakarta Post - April 20, 2018

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – Opposition leader Prabowo Subianto is reportedly still weighing up several options for 2019: challenging President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's candidacy, nominating another figure to face him or becoming his running mate.

The United Development Party (PPP), which supports Jokowi, claimed that its leader, Muhammad "Romy" Romahurmuziy, had met with Jakarta Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno in Jakarta on Thursday night.

Romy is the youngest party leader in Jokowi's camp with whom the President often consults about his possible running mate, while Sandiaga has been tasked with taking the Gerindra Party, which has nominated Prabowo as it candidate, to victory in the upcoming presidential race.

Sandiaga shared with Romy the three options available to Prabowo, PPP secretary-general Arsul Sani said on Friday. One of the options, he confirmed, was for Gerindra to join Jokowi's camp with Prabowo as his vice presidential candidate.

"That's what I can say about last night's meeting. The three options are still possible for both Jokowi and Prabowo," Arsul said.

Sandiaga reportedly visited the private residence of Prabowo in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, after meeting Romy.

"Romahurmuziy is my best friend. And I am tasked to communicate will all [parties' elites]," Sandiaga said as quoted by kompas.com when asked about the meeting. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/20/prabowos-presidential-bid-hangs-in-the-balance.html

PPATK traces suspicious transactions of election candidates

Jakarta Post - April 19, 2018

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – The Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) says it has discovered many suspicious transactions, both cash and electronic, carried out by candidates, election organizers and members of political parties that will participate in the 2018 simultaneous regional elections.

The PPATK chairman Kiagus Ahmad Badaruddin said there were 52 suspicious non-cash transactions and 1,006 cash transactions, which were mostly carried out by incumbent candidates.

The center started tracking the transactions in late 2017. The non-cash transactions were considered suspicious as they involved more than Rp 500 billion (US$36.26 million) each.

"For example, the minimum fund is Rp 75 million, but then a person carried out a transaction involving Rp 200 million. That's suspicious," Kiagus revealed the center's finding during a hearing at the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

He said incumbents dominated the transactions because unlike the non-incumbent candidates, they would have the sources to carry them out. The PPATK would strengthen monitoring ahead of voting day, particularly when it came to regions that had a political dynasty.

Kiagus said the findings did not mean that those transactions were proven as crimes or corruption. "The PPATK is still analyzing the findings to be given to law enforcers," Kiagus said.

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker Arteria Dahlan said the PPATK should focus more on monitoring particular accounts over campaign funds.

"How can you indicate that certain transactions are suspicious? I'm afraid that you [PPATK analysts] will arbitrarily trace my transactions should you have personal problems with me," Arteria said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/19/ppatk-traces-suspicious-transactions-of-election-candidates.html

Former TNI Chief could be 3rd candidate as Islamic parties may break to

Coconuts Jakarta - April 19, 2018

The 2019 presidential election is widely expected to be a rematch of 2014's contest between President Joko Widodo and Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto, as the two rivals are the only ones who have declared their intent to run next year.

However, much is going on behind the scenes in the highly dynamic world of Indonesian politics, and it's still within the realm of mathematical possibility that we could see a third candidate in the form of former Indonesian Military (TNI) Chief Gatot Nurmantyo.

Gatot's nomination rests on two main factors. The first involves the parties potentially backing Prabowo. While the former general declared he's ready to run for president in 2019 last week, his candidacy is still far from assured as the mainstays of the opposition coalition, the Islamic-based National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), have yet to fully commit to Prabowo (so much for the "eternal coalition" pact between these parties – and Golkar, which has jumped ship to Jokowi's coalition – in 2014).

Prabowo's Gerindra, which holds 13% of the seats in the House of Parliament (DPR), needs either one of those parties to meet the 20% threshold requirement to nominate a presidential candidate.

PAN has particularly been non-committal to Prabowo lately, publicly announcing that they're eyeing alternative candidates. Yesterday, PAN Central Executive Board Chairman Ahmad Hanafi Rais, son of senior PAN politician Amien Rais (who is currently facing a blasphemy accusation), said that his party is strongly considering Gatot Nurmantyo for president, pending executive approval from his father.

PKS, meanwhile, recently said their support for Prabowo is contingent on him picking a running mate from the Islamic party.

The second main factor that could lead to a nomination for Gatot is potential turbulence within the current government coalition, led by President Joko Widodo's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

With five parties in the coalition totaling 53.3% of seats in the DPR, Jokowi's nomination is far more assured than Prabowo's. However, one party in the coalition, the National Awakening Party (PKB), has hinted that their allegiances may lie elsewhere if their chairman, Muhaimin Iskandar, isn't picked as Jokowi's running mate.

Should PKB break away from Jokowi's coalition, then the emergence of a coalition of Islamic parties is a real possibility. Together with the United Development Party (PPP) – whose allegiance to the government coalition also hinges on political promises made by Jokowi and PDI-P – PAN and PKS, these four parties combined represent 31.% of seats in the DPR.

Former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party, with 10.9% of seats in the DPR, is currently the only one of the ten parties without any affiliation to a coalition and could well lend their support to strengthen any of the three possible coalitions in 2019.

Of course, both the government and opposition coalitions could consolidate themselves before a possible third coalition emerges, in which case only two presidential candidates would be mathematically possible. Should that happen, Gatot could be a smart vice presidential pick for either Jokowi and Prabowo considering his rising popularity.

In a recent survey by Median, Gatot came in third behind Jokowi (36.2%) and Prabowo (20.4%) with 7% of votes for potential presidents. Gatot's score marked a steady increase from his scores in previous surveys.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/former-tni-chief-gatot-nurmantyo-3rd-presidential-candidate-islamic-parties-may-break-form-coalition/

Public protected by policy against ex-corruptors in legislation

Tempo - April 18, 2018

Muhammad Hendartyo, Jakarta – Chairman of the Muhammadiyah Youth Center Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak publically supported the ban against former corruption convicts to run as legislative candidates.

"I fully support the General elections regulation (PKPU) that bars political parties from letting former convicts of corruption run for legislation," said Dahnil yesterday, April 17.

Dahnil personally saw that the content of the law introduced by the General Elections Commission (KPU) as a daring step forward in protecting the public from the dangers of corruption.

The KPU has prepared two alternatives in implementing the rule that has the same substance, "It only has a different mechanism, but it's similar in substance," said Wahyu Setiawan at the KPU headquarters.

The first option, according to Wahyu, is the direct ban mentioned in the KPU draft regulation on former convicts running for legislation. The second option is aimed at targetting the political parties of the general elections.

Article 8 of the PKPU states that legislative candidates must not be former drug dealers, former sexual criminal towards a minor, and former corruptor. KPU's attempt is believed to be able to fix Indonesia's democracy's output quality by having legislative members that have never been involved in corruption.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/04/18/055917686/Public-Protected-by-Policy-Against-Ex-Corruptors-in-Legislation

Gerindra accepts PKS' coalition deal in facing 2019 election

Tempo - April 18, 2018

Jakarta (Bisnis.com) – Gerindra Deputy Chairman Fadli Zon stated that the party is prepared to accept any requirements asked by the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) in the 2019 presidential election coalition deal.

According to Fadli Zon, one of PKS' requirements is about the candidate for Prabowo Subianto's running mate. However, Fadli said that from the nine candidates offered by PKS, there has been no further discussion upon who the person will be despite their positive credibility.

Previously, according to House of Representatives (DPR) Deputy Chief Fahri Hamzah, out of the nine names offered by PKS, Anies Matta is considered to be the strongest and has the potential to mobilize voters in the following general elections.

Furthermore, Fadli suggested that the final decision will heavily depend on the political dynamics during the final moments of the presidential and vice presidential registration period. "We'll see. The candidate will depend on the person's electability and acceptability," said Fadli.

Earlier, PKS announced their readiness to open a coalition with Gerindra in supporting Prabowo Subianto as their presidential candidate. However, this deal requires Gerindra to choose one of the nine candidates offered by PKS as Prabowo's running mate.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/04/18/055917689/Gerindra-Accepts-PKS-Coalition-Deal-in-Facing-2019-Election

No consolidation between Jokowi, Prabowo: Agung Laksono

Tempo - April 18, 2018

Muhammad Hendartyo, Jakarta – Golkar politician Agung Laksono said that President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) will not consolidate with opposition party leader Prabowo Subianto for the 2019 Presidential Election.

"There is no possibility for both men to consolidate," said Agung following the Golkar plenary meeting on Tuesday, April 17.

Agung's statement was a direct reaction to the meeting took place between Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan – who is known to be Jokowi's trusted member in the president's working cabinet – and Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto.

Experts assume that the meeting between the two men was to discuss a possible consolidation for the upcoming election.

Luhut was previously saying that his meeting with Prabowo was a routine that can take place every other week; "We meet almost once every week," he said in an interview with Tempo at Incheon Airport, South Korea.

According to Luhut, they mainly talk about the general things that happened during their younger years. Despite both men having contrast minds and opposite political views, the minister maintained that it does not mean he and Prabowo end up in arguments.

"I know him well since we both have known each other since I was a Captain, and he was a Lieutenant. So please, don't interpret it as if we are adversatives towards each other," Minister Luhut reminded.

However, in the context of the 2019 presidential election, reports suggest that Prabowo has agreed to focus campaign efforts on programs and not on religious issues and defamation.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/04/18/055917680/No-Consolidation-between-Jokowi-Prabowo-Agung-Laksono

Pollster: Economic factor main reason for replacing Jokowi

Tempo - April 17, 2018

Caesar Akbar, Jakarta – Pollster National Survey Media (Median) research director Sudarto revealed that economics has become one of the factors that drove people to request for the replacement of president Jokowi in 2019.

"Starting from the expensive prices of staple foods, the job scarcity, and the difficult economy have become the main factors for the people that want President Jokowi to be replaced with another figure," Sudarto said yesterday, April 16.

However, Sudarto said that members of the public are satisfied with Jokowi's accomplishment in developing the country's infrastructure. But he argues that it is not enough to reduce the daily struggles that felt by the people. Sudarto said that Jokowi's electability might improve depending on the president's policies; "If Jokowi can introduce pro-people economic policies that can help reduce people's suffering then chances are Jokowi's electability might improve," said Sudarto.

A Median poll shows that 46.4 percent Indonesians want Jokowi to be replaced by another figure in the 2019 presidential election. That number is slightly larger than the respondents that want Jokowi to maintain his presidential seat at 45.22 percent. Meanwhile, 8.41 percent of respondents abstained.

The Median's poll involved 1,200 respondents from citizens that have the right to vote through a multistage random sampling process.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/04/17/055917664/Pollster-Economic-Factor-Main-Reason-for-Replacing-Jokowi

PKS casts doubt on Prabowo's presidential bid

Jakarta Post - April 17, 2018

Jakarta – The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), a traditional coalition partner of the Gerindra Party, has said that it was unlikely that Gerindra's presidential nominee, Prabowo Subianto, would run for president in 2019.

"I think it is impossible for Prabowo to run [in the 2019 presidential election]," PKS politician Nasir Djamil said as quoted by tempo.co on Monday, claiming that he had the results of an analysis that the candidacy would go to "another person".

He said that Prabowo might decide to sit out the election for logistical reasons.

Prabowo, who serves as both chairman and chief patron of Gerindra, accepted his nomination last week during a party meeting at his residence in Hambalang, West Java. The opposition leader, however, made it clear that his nomination would depend on the support of coalition partners.

Nasir said it was possible that Gen. (ret.) Gatot Nurmantyo, the former Indonesian Military commander (TNI), would replace Prabowo as the party's presidential candidate.

Hidayat Nur Wahid, a senior PKS politician, said it remained uncertain whether Prabowo would actually register in August as a presidential candidate. "Prabowo has yet to say, 'I will run for president'," said Hidayat, citing the Gerindra nominee's actual statement on his readiness to run, ""if I am given the mandate'". (afr/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/17/pks-casts-doubt-on-prabowos-presidential-bid.html

Rumors rife Prabowo discussed possibility of being Jokowi's VP, Gerindra

Coconuts Jakarta - April 17, 2018

Despite Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto's declaration at the party's national convention last week that he had accepted Gerindra's nomination to run as their presidential candidate.

As many observers have noted, it would be premature to say that a rematch between Prabowo and President Joko Widodo in 2019 is now a certainty (mainly due to the fact that the political party coalition Prabowo would need to make his candidacy official is far from consolidated).

In fact, the seemingly outlandish possibility of Prabowo choosing to instead run as Jokowi's vice presidential candidate actually seems to have been one that was seriously discussed recently, at least according to some political insiders.

The main source of the unconfirmed news comes from Muhammad Romahurmuziy, chairman of the United Development Party (PPP). He told the media on Friday that Jokowi had met with his rival from the bitterly contested 2014 election rival twice in November to discuss the possibility of forming a unified ticket in order to maintain the country's unity.

The PPP chairman said Jokowi had mentioned the meetings to him to get his input, and said that Prabowo had responded positively to the offer but that no final decisions were made.

There are also reports that Prabowo was still discussing the possibility of being Jokowi's VP as late as April 6 (just a few days before Gerindra's national convention last week), when he met with Coordinating Minister for the Ministry of Marine Affair Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan for a private dinner (the third such meeting he had reportedly had with Luhut in recent weeks).

According to an unnamed source cited by veteran journalist John McBeth in a piece published by Asia Times on Sunday:

"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."

Luhut did not deny that the April 6 meeting took place when asked about it by journalists yesterday, but was reluctant to comment on the specific topics discussed. He said that it was a private meeting, not "as Jokowi's envoy", but he did not explicitly deny that the VP offer might have been discussed, noting only that Prabowo was still carefully considering all his options.

The rumors, however, were explicitly denied by Gerindra vice chairman Fadli Zon, who said the source cited by McBeth was incorrect and that Prabowo's meeting with Luhut was mainly to discuss the issue of palm oil.

Fadli said that it was possible to two might have discussed the 2019 presidential election but dismissed any chance they discussed the possible terms of Prabowo taking the vice presidential spot on Jokowi's ticket. Gerindra deputy secretary general Andre Rosiade called it a "hoax" and said it was just an ordinary meeting between friends.

But the possibility that Prabowo could still choose to run with Jokowi as opposed to against him seems like a real one. The most recent poll from the Median Survey Institute show Jokowi's electoral numbers up and Prabowo's down.

PKS, one of the parties most likely to form a coalition to back Prabowo's candidacy and get him across the required electoral threshold, recently reiterated that their support was contingent on one of their members being picked as Prabowo's VP (any of which would likely drag down the former general's electability).

On the other hand, the voting public does not seem to be big fans of the theoretical Jokowi-Prabowo partnership, with that same Median poll showing that 66.7% of respondents said they would not vote for the pairing.

But then, if Jokowi and Prabowo choose to run together in 2019, there may not be anybody else for them to vote for.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/rumors-rife-prabowo-seriously-discussed-possibility-jokowis-vp-gerindra-denies/

Komnas HAM asks ministry to speed up e-ID registration ahead of

Jakarta Post - April 16, 2018

Jakarta – National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) vice chairman Hairansyah has called on the Home Ministry to expedite the e-ID registration process ahead of June's simultaneous local elections, emphasizing the potential violation of people's right to vote.

"We urge the Home Ministry to speed up the process for the e-ID registry, or provide an alternative solution for those who are not able to register for an e-ID yet," he said during a press conference at Komnas HAM's headquarter in Central Jakarta on Monday.

He added that the delay was a serious matter because it stripped Indonesians of their right to vote. Millions of Indonesians are at risk of not being allowed to vote due to a lack of e-IDs.

The elections, which will take place on June 27, require voters to own an e-ID or a statement letter for those who have not received their IDs yet.

As of today, the General Elections Commission (KPU) recorded 152.9 million voters listed on the temporary voters list. However, 6.7 million have yet to register their identities or exchange their current IDs for the electronic one, which may cause them to be removed from the list once the KPU finalizes the final voter list. (dpk/swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/16/komnas-ham-asks-ministry-to-speed-up-e-id-registration-ahead-of-elections.html

Prabowo enters Indonesia's 2019 election race after months of indecision

Asia Correspondent - April 16, 2018

Mason Littlejohn – For followers of Indonesian national politics it will feel like deja vu, as Prabowo Subianto and the incumbent President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo look to re-face each other for the top job next year in a presidential rematch.

The former general has been a contentious figure, but nonetheless remains widely popular across the Indonesian electorate. He thus represents the biggest potential threat to Jokowi's election platform.

Prabowo is an enduring fixture of Indonesian political life. After having married former President Suharto's daughter and overseen a controversial tenure as commander of the Army's special forces, he has made the transition into career in business and politics, eventually on the national stage.

As party chairman and chief patron, Prabowo has long been tipped to lead Gerindra (Great Indonesian Movement Party) into the 2019 election race, but it was only last Wednesday at the national coordination meeting that this was officially declared.

Arriving to the closed-door meeting in typically paleaceous style – in this case on horseback to a marching band – Prabowo expressed his enthusiasm for candidature on the condition of Gerindra's favour with associated parties.

This is a reference to the presidential nomination threshold. According to the 2017 Elections Law, parties or coalitions intending to nominate a presidential candidate must have at least 20 percent of seats in the legislature or 25 percent of the popular vote as of the previous election.

As Gerindra maintains only 13 percent of seats and 11.81 percent of the popular vote, the party must enter into a coalition with one or more allies.

Indeed, this appears to have been delivered last week, with the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and National Mandate Party (PAN) in attendance. However, third-party support for Gerindra has not yet been confirmed at this stage and in Indonesia where political 'horse trading' is commonplace, this could easily shift again. Nonetheless, the acceptance of his party's mandate for leadership saw a shirtless Prabowo paraded by a crowd of adoring supporters.

As 2014 election standoff was lost and won by only a small margin of 53.15 to 46.85 percent, these developments are important. Furthermore, given Gerindra's defeat of Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama in the 2017 Jakarta Gubernatorial elections, Prabowo's ability to manoeuvre effectively in national politics has not waned. Yet it remains to be seen how the potential alliance with PKS or others will affect Prabowo's chances.

Prabowo first appeared on the national political scene when he failed to received candidature for the Golkar party, before establishing Gerindra in 2008.

When in the 2009 legislative election Gerindra won only 4.46 percent of seats within the People's Representative Council, the party opted to align itself with the PDI-P (Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle), founded and chaired by Megawati Sukarnoputri, President between 2001-2004 and daughter of first President Sukarno.

Despite sitting ideologically apart, Prabowo and Megawati were paired as running mates for the Presidential Election in July 2009. Following their loss, the PDI-P reshuffled to support Jokowi as candidate for the 2014 election, now pitted against Prabowo and the Gerindra coalition.

The cyclical nature of Indonesian politics can be baffling, and Prabowo's journey is testament to the elite capture and nepotism that still seems core to national leadership. Within the world's third largest democracy, personality and politics blend in potent and often repetitive forms.

[Mason Littlejohn is a Hamer Scholar in Indonesia and a Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne.]

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2018/04/prabowo-enters-indonesias-2019-election-race-after-months-of-indecision/

West Java voters refuse polygamous gubernatorial candidate, survey shows

Jakarta Post - April 16, 2018

Jakarta – A majority of residents in religiously conservative West Java, home to approximately 47 million people, are unlikely to cast their ballots on candidates practicing polygamy, a new study shows ahead of the gubernatorial election scheduled for June.

The survey, commissioned by Jakarta-based pollster Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI), reveals that 81.4 percent of 440 respondents surveyed in West Java, the most populated province in the country, reject gubernatorial and vice-gubernatorial candidates who are polygamous.

"Candidates must take this concern seriously, since [more than 80 percent] of the public in the region say they object to gubernatorial candidates who have more than one wife leading West Java," LSI Citra Komunikasi executive director Toto Izul Fatah said, as quoted by tribunnews.com on Sunday.

Four candidate pairs – Ridwan Kamil and Uu Ruzhanul Ulum, Sudrajat and Ahmad Syaikhu, Deddy Mizwar and Dedi Mulyadi, and Tubagus Hasanuddin and Anton Charliyan – are set to contest the June election.

Although regarded as the home of many conservative Muslim groups that often claim that polygamy is allowed in Islam, the people of West Java appear to take a different stance on the subject, as seen in the case of Islamic preacher Abdullah Gymnastiar, or Aa Gym.

Aa Gym, who was once the country's most popular preacher, saw his popularity plummet following an announcement that he had taken a second wife in 2006, which immediately sparked a national debate on polygamy. (afr/swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/16/west-java-voters-refuse-polygamous-gubernatorial-candidate-survey-shows.html

Surveys & opinion polls

Perindo seen as richest party of all: Survey

Jakarta Post - April 20, 2018

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – The United Indonesia Party (Perindo), founded and led by media mogul-cum-politician Hary Tanoesoedibjo, is seen as the richest among the political parties that will participate in the 2019 general election, according to a recent survey.

The survey, released by Jakarta-based pollster Cyrus Network on Thursday, reveals that 21.1 percent of 1,230 respondents surveyed in 34 provinces across Indonesia ranks Perindo at the top of the list in terms of capital.

Behind Perindo as the richest party in the public's eyes is the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) with 17.8 percent and the Golkar Party with 12.6 percent. Meanwhile, 32.1 percent of respondents said they did not know the answer.

Perindo has declared support for the reelection of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, whose nomination has been endorsed by five major political parties, including the P-DIP and Golkar, in the election next year.

Perindo, as a newcomer set to take part in a legislative election for the first time, also has an electability rating of 4.3 percent, higher than four parties at the House of Representatives.

The four are the Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) with 3.5 percent, NasDem Party with 3.3 percent, National Mandate Party (PAN) with 1.5 percent and Hanura Party with 1 percent. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/20/perindo-seen-as-richest-party-of-all-survey.html

Survey: Jokowi tops electability, followed by Prabowo and Gatot

Tempo - April 19, 2018

Muhammad Hendartyo, Jakarta – Results of a survey conducted by Cyrus Network revealed that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo would win if the presidential election is held today.

Prabowo Subianto and Gatot Nurmatyo followed in the second and third place. "Our survey sampled 1,230 respondents in 123 villages in 34 provinces," said Managing Director of Cyrus Network Eko Dafid Afianto on Thursday, April 19, 2018.

The survey was conducted on March 27 to April 3, 2018. The results showed that Jokowi's electability was on top of mind of 58.5 percent respondents. While Prabowo earned 21.8 percent, followed by Gatot Nurmantyo with 2.0 percent.

In the survey, MNC Group Chairman Hary Tanoesudibjo had only earned 1.1 percent. Following under Hary Tanoesoedibjo was Tuan Guru Bajang with 0.7 percent electability, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Agus Harimutri Yudhoyono (AHY) both get 0.4 percent.

In a simulation involving 15 names as presidential candidates, Jokowi remains superior in the top position with 57.3 percent of respondents. Prabowo earned 21.3 percent, while Gatot Nurmantyo earned 3.8 percent, followed by Hary Tanoe and AHY with 2.4 percent, and Anies Baswedan with 2.0 percent.

Jusuf Kalla earned 1.9 percent and Soekarwo earned 1.3 percent. Other names that scored below one percent are Muhaimin Iskandar, Puan Maharani, Zulkifli Hasan, Chairul Tanjung, Budi Gunawan, Ahmad Heryawan and Moeldoko.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/04/19/055917751/Survey-Jokowi-Tops-Electability-Followed-by-Prabowo-and-Gatot

Survey: Jokowi, Gatot's electability rate rise, Prabowo's falls

Tempo - April 17, 2018

Caesar Akbar, Jakarta – The latest survey conducted by National Survey Media Institute (Median) on March 24 until April 6, 2018, shows the increase of electability rate of six national figures in the period of February-April, 2018.

"The highest increase stands for Jusuf Kalla at 4.3 percent from 2.2 percent," said Median research director Sudarto, in Cikini, Central Jakarta, April 16.

The second is placed by National Awakening Party (PKB) Chairman Muhaimin Iskandar with the electability rate increased by 0.2 percent to 1.9 percent, followed by the former National Military (TNI) Commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo at 7 percent from previously at 5.5 percent.

Furthermore, Joko Widodo's electability rate is recorded at 36.2 percent compared to the previous rate at 35 percent. As for NTB Governor Muhammad Zainul Majdi alias Tuan Guru Bajang, the rate increased by 0.8 percent which now stands at 1.5 percent and the former president of Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) Anis Matta increased by 1.5 percent to 1.7 percent.

Meanwhile, there are four figures facing the decrease of electability rate, namely Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan from 4.5 percent to 2 percent; Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono or AHY from 3.3 percent to 1.8 percent.

The others are Prabowo Subianto's electability rate decreased to 20.4 percent from 21.2 percent and the chairman of Perindo Hary Tanoesoedibjo at 1.6 percent from 1.7 percent.

Sudarto explained that the survey was conducted before Prabowo's declaration on presidential candidacy. "It means we didn't examine the declaration impact of the survey," he said. He went on to say that the figure's electability rate might increase after the declaration in general because the candidacy status has cleared.

Sudarto predicted that the declaration of Prabowo Subianto on his presidential candidacy might affect the electability rate of Jokowi and other candidates. "Every additional candidate will eventually renew the constellation," he said.

Median conducted the poll involving 1,200 respondents who have the rights to cast a vote. It had around 2.9 percent margin of error with the level of confidence at 95 percent.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/04/17/055917648/Survey-Jokowi-Gatots-Electability-Rate-Rise-Prabowos-Falls

Internet & social media

Facebook grilled by Indonesian Parliament over user data breach

Sydney Morning Herald - April 17, 2018

James Massola & Karuni Rompies, Jakarta – Facebook executives have endured a hostile grilling from Indonesian MPs, as the company faced threats of an audit or a shut down over the Cambridge Analytica data breach.

For hours on Tuesday, senior executives from the social media giant were also hit with questions about the company's role in spreading hate speech, its impact on democracy in Indonesia, and the viability of its business model.

Facebook executives delivered a grovelling apology to the nearly 1.1 million Indonesians caught up in the breach, while attempting to shift the blame for the breach onto Aleksandr Kogan, the man who invented the "This is your Digital Life" app.

Once downloaded by a Facecbook user, the app accessed the information of users' friends and – according to Facebook – he later passed the information on to Cambridge Analytica, without the permission of the social network.

In a lengthy appearance before an Indonesian parliamentary committee – the latest example of a national government carpeting Facebook – the company was quizzed about the breach.

Facebook Indonesia Public Policy chief Ruben Hattari attempted to reassure MPs and users about the security of the platform and tried to draw a line under the scandal.

"It was however a breach of trust and failure on our part to adequately protect people's data, and we are sorry that this happened," he said.

But Hattari's opening statement was heavy on spin and assertions about how the company wants to "build community" and "bring the world closer together" and contained little new of substance.

Attempts by Hattari and his Vice President of Public Police for Asia Pacific Simon Milner to shift blame onto Kogan drew an angry response from across the political spectrum.

PDI-P MP Evita Nursanty, a member of the government, demanded to know if Facebook could guarantee user data had not been misused and added "if you can't we will recommend to carry out audit investigation".

"This year we will have local elections and next year presidential election, how can you ensure the data won't be used by third parties?"

Gerindra MP Elnino Husein Mohi, a member of the opposition, said "we should shut Facebook down temporarily".

Golkar MP Satya Widya Yudha, another government MP, demanded to know how Kogan was not in jail and "if he is the root cause of the problem... what has Facebook done?"

Earlier, Hattari said the exact number of people affected may be significantly lower than the 1.1 million estimate because Kogan has said he only shared data about US users with Cambrdige Analytica.

Between November 2013 and December 2015, when the app was shut down, Hattari said 748 Indonesians had downloaded the app. But because of the way the app worked as many as 1,096,666 had potentially been affected, he said. Milner stressed to the assembled MPs that Facebook and Cambridge Analytica had never had a relationship and that Kogan was responsible for the data breach.

But committee deputy chair Hanafi Rais shot back that Milner should stop simply blaming Kogan.

Facebook's reputation and share price has taken a battering over the alleged improper use of Facebook user data by Cambridge Analytica to influence elections.

An estimated 115 million people use Facebook every month in Indonesia, a country of about 260 million people.

Of the estimated 87 million people hit worldwide, about 70 million were from the United States. 311,127 people in Australia may have been affected.

Indonesian Communications Minister Rudiantara warned two weeks ago that he was prepared to shut down Facebook.

The hearing was due to continue on Tuesday evening, Australian time, with the company due to respond to the MPs' questions.

Despite the tough talk and threats, experts such as the Australian National University's Ross Tapsell have suggested it is highly unlikely the platform would be shut down in Indonesia.

When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg visited Jakarta, for example, he met President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who is a prolific social media user himself and the pair were mobbed by crowds. Depriving the huge number of Indonesians who use the platform would be very unpopular, and risk significant blow back in an election year.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/facebook-grilled-by-indonesian-parliament-over-user-data-breach-20180417-p4za15.html

Environment & natural disasters

Say no to plastic straws, urges antiplastic campaign

Jakarta Post - April 22, 2018

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Hundreds of people wearing blue T-shirts walked around the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta during Car Free Day on Sunday to campaign against the use of plastic straws.

Organized by cosmetics company Body Shop Indonesia, the environmentalists in blue T-shirts were volunteers who collected plastic straws and offered passersby an ecofriendly alternative made from paper.

"We successfully collected more than 2,000 plastic straws in less than an hour," said Body Shop Indonesia CEO Aryo Widiwardhono.

"The Body Shop Indonesia has been campaigning the antiplastic movement since 2013. It takes 500 to 1,000 years for plastic waste to decompose and it is one of the biggest pollutants in the world," he added.

Activists collected a total of 2,458 straws, each measuring 22 centimeters, by the end of Car Free Day. If strung together, the straws would stretch a length of 539 meters.

The plastic straws were then brought to the Bank Sampah Kreasi waste bank in Rawasari, Central Jakarta.

Local celebrity, environmentalist and avid diver Nadine Chandrawinata supported the movement to reduce plastic waste in the ocean.

"Whenever we're at a cafe and about to order a drink, tell the waiter that we won't need a straw. We should start bringing our own reusable straw from home," she said, noting that stainless straws were sold at numerous stores. (vla/evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/22/say-no-to-plastic-straws-urges-antiplastic-campaign.html

Sinabung eruption victims up in arms

Jakarta Post - April 19, 2018

Apriadi Gunawan, Karo, North Sumatra – Thousands of villagers affected by the eruption of Mount Sinabung in Karo, North Sumatra, staged a rally on Thursday to urge the government to help them.

Amid tears, the protesters, who came from Payung district, said their livelihoods were in jeopardy after their farms were destroyed by the eruption.

Dedi Hasanov, the leader of Karang Taruna (youth group) in Batu Karang village, said they were suffering because they lived in one of the areas repeatedly impacted by Sinabung's eruptions.

Dedi added that they had submitted assistance proposals to the Karo administration. As of today, their complaints had not been responded to by the government, he said.

"The villagers have been suffering for a long time. Agricultural activities have completely stopped since Sinabung erupted. The villagers depend on agriculture to make a living. What is quite strange to us is that the Karo administration hasn't developed a program to help us."

He said 11 demands, which include education subsidies, agriculture assistance, health aid, routine irrigation normalization, corrugated roof repairs for residents' houses, routine disaster mitigation training, clean water supplies, assistance with daily needs, nutritional improvements for children and the elderly, infrastructure improvement and a public facility clean up, had been handed to the government during the rally

Karo Regent Terkelin Brahmana met the protesters at 1:30 p.m. and accepted their demands. "I will come to Batu Karang tomorrow [Friday]. We will discuss existing problems at our meeting there." (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/19/sinabung-eruption-victims-up-in-arms.html

Pertamina sanctioned for Balikpapan oil spill

Jakarta Post - April 17, 2018

Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta – The Environment and Forestry Ministry has told state-owned oil and gas company PT Pertamina to take responsibility for the restoration of polluted Balikpapan Bay in East Kalimantan, given its role in the recent oil spill that has devastated the local environment.

Responsibility for cleaning up the bay and its surroundings is one of the sanctions imposed by the ministry on the firm, Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said on Monday.

The ministry found that Pertamina's refinery in Balikpapan lacked an early-warning system and had no automated monitoring. Siti said the sanctions would also compel the company to improve its pipeline inspection and prevention systems, which the ministry found to be sub-par. "We've imposed administrative sanctions on Pertamina's RU V [Refinery Unit V], including the restoration of the environment from the pipeline leak," she told lawmakers at the House of Representatives Commission VII overseeing energy and mineral resources and environmental affairs on Monday.

"[Pertamina] is the permit holder in the area and that is where we see [the responsibility]," Siti added.

The ministry had previously determined that the spill was caused by a burst undersea pipeline connecting Pertamina's Lawe-Lawe terminal to its refinery in Balikpapan city. The leak on March 31 led to a fire that claimed five lives as well as causing ecological damage regarded as the largest environmental disaster in Indonesia in the past 10 years.

Around 40,000 barrels of crude oil affected 7,000 hectares of the bay. The oil slick also affected about 240 ha of mangrove forests and resulted in the deaths of protected species living in the bay.

Pertamina president director Elia Massa Manik said the company was prepared to improve its monitoring systems and had already taken part in a cleanup and environmental-restoration activities in the immediate aftermath of the spill.

Besides opening medical posts at eight locations around the area and a public kitchen, the company had allocated Rp 785 billion (US$57.3 million) for a labor-intensive environmental cleanup program involving 5,239 community members, he added.

Pertamina refinery director Toharso added that, regardless of who was at fault, the company was ready to pay out compensation for the families of those who died in the fire and for all those who had suffered losses because of the spill.

"We will ignore for the moment who was wrong and who was right," he said. "Based on our sense of social responsibility, we have immediately started the cleanup up process and paid damages."

Siti added that the ministry was still conducting its evaluation of the monetary value of the environmental damage from the spill, which would be used in civil proceedings against the responsible parties.

"If we take Balongan as a benchmark, this is many times that," she said, citing a 2008 oil spill in Balongan district in Indramayu, West Java, which she said resulted in about Rp 100 billion in damages.

House Commission VII invited all related parties to the first meeting to discuss the oil spill disaster in Balikpapan on Monday.

Meanwhile, East Kalimantan Police special crimes director Sr. Comr. Yustan Alpiani said the investigation was ongoing and awaiting results from comparative analysis of material found on Panama-flagged collier MV Ever Judger's anchor with that from the broken pipeline.

"We just need those results and testimony from expert witnesses to conclude the investigation and determine a suspect," Yustan said in the meeting.

Balikpapan Port master Sanggam Marihot told lawmakers that there was an indication that the Panamanian vessel passing through the area had accidently dropped anchor in a restricted area, dragging the pipeline and causing it to burst.

Members of House Commission VII urged the relevant ministries, particularly the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, to improve its oversight of Pertamina's other undersea pipelines to avoid such an incident from happening again.

"Commission VII calls on the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry to conduct a comprehensive review of all of Pertamina's vital facilities and to carry out periodic monitoring and oversight to ensure that regulations are enforced stringently and correctly," commission chairman Gus Irawan Pasaribu said, reading out the commission's conclusion at the end of the meeting.

Deputy Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Arcandra Tahar, who was also present, said the ministry had already acted according to its responsibilities saying that it had sent its oil and gas inspector to the field to conduct an intensive investigation in the area to determine any violations.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/17/pertamina-sanctioned-for-balikpapan-oil-spill.html

Indonesia-Malaysia palm council says UK supermarket misleads consumers

Reuters - April 16, 2018

Bernadette Christina Munthe, Jakarta – The Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries, or CPOPC, a palm oil board led by Indonesia and Malaysia, said British supermarket chain Iceland's decision to remove palm oil from its own-brand food products misleads consumers.

Iceland said last week that due to concerns over rainforest destruction it would remove palm oil from all of its own-brand products by end-2018, reducing demand for the vegetable oil by more than 500 tons per year.

The claims being made against palm oil are "misleading the consumers on the environmental benefits of other vegetable oil," CPOPC executive director Mahendra Siregar said in a letter addressed to Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland. Siregar confirmed the content of the letter, dated April 13, late on Sunday (15/04).

CPOPC said demand for vegetable oil continues to grow and that replacing palm oil with other vegetable oils, such as from rapeseed, soybeans and sunflower seeds, would lead to 10 to 20 times greater land use to produce the same amount of oil.

Iceland, which specializes in frozen food and operates around 900 stores, said it has already removed palm oil from half of its own-brand products.

A demand boom for widely-used palm oil has led to palm plantations spread across 18 million hectares in Indonesia and Malaysia, according to data from Indonesian government and Malaysia Palm Oil Board. Indonesia and Malaysia are the world's largest and second-largest producers of palm oil.

Critics say the expansion has resulted in an increase in the greenhouse gases that warm the planet.

Palm plantation are also often blamed for forest fires that regularly take place on Sumatra and Kalimantan in Indonesia, blanketing large areas of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore in a choking haze that can hang in the air for weeks.

The European Parliament last year voted to phase out use of unsustainable palm oil in biodiesel by 2020. The resolution endorsed a single Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) plan for Europe-bound palm and other vegetable oils to ensure they are produced in an environmentally sustainable way.

Europe is the second-largest market for both Indonesia and Malaysia. India is the largest.

Indonesia has been promoting palm oil in new markets to mitigate the risk of dropping European demand, while promoting wider use of biodiesel locally to soak up supply.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/indonesia-malaysia-palm-council-says-uk-supermarket-misleads-consumers/

Health & education

Indonesia's health scheme dwarfs Obamacare. But there is a problem

South China Morning Post - April 22, 2018

Jeffrey Hutton – When Dr Selvy Anggeraini took over as the head of one of Jakarta's busier government health clinics, she had a budget of 1 billion rupiah (US$72,500) to treat the 350 or so patients that came daily to seek care from one of her 14 doctors. Four years later, after the introduction of a generous universal health insurance programme, her caseload has doubled, even though her budget has barely moved.

"The care is mostly free so now more people come," says Anggeraini, whose district – home to 350,000 – spans some of the wealthier suburbs in the south to the working class districts in the north. And while Anggeraini is adamant the clinic cuts no corners to make ends meet, she allows that the clinic is stretched thin. "We have to make the same budget go further. It's not enough."

Indonesia is one year away from completing a five-year roll out of what is already the world's biggest universal health insurance programme – one that makes Obamacare look practically third world in its ambitions. So far 185 million – about three quarters of the population – have signed up, availing themselves of generous benefits that until recently were unthinkable for most here.

Now Indonesians have access to services that are generous even by rich world standards: Free dental care, medicine, physiotherapy, as well as the full menu of emergency and chronic care up to and including organ transplants.

It's a far cry from what was available before the insurance. The poor then either stayed sick or went into debt to pay for treatment, Anggeraini says. Most of her patients then would refuse referrals to specialists because they couldn't pay.

"It was heart breaking," Anggeraini recalls. "We didn't feel like we were making people better."

Trouble is, the government is having a hard time paying for its new benefit. Analysts say the government doesn't cover nearly enough of what it costs to treat the poor, while the wealthy are not paying their fair share.

Deficits are soaring, hospitals are having trouble getting paid and waiting times are lengthening. Unless the government raises premiums, or its subsidies or both the health care programme risks imploding.

"This insurance programme is unsustainable," says Dr Ascobat Gani, a health economist at the University of Indonesia, who until last year was the scheme's cost control manager. "We already have large enrolment but you have to secure the availability of services."

Gani says hospital waits of a day or more for non life-threatening emergency cases are not uncommon. Patients complain of needing to make multiple visits over a period of days to see specialists.

Given rock-bottom premiums, there is little chance those bottlenecks will ease soon. The government covers the 25,000 rupiah (US$2) a month charged to the 100 million or so considered poor. Salaried workers and civil servants pay 5 per cent of their salary up to a maximum of 8 million rupiah.

Few pay that amount though, says Dr Hasbullah Thabrany, chairman of health economics and policy studies at the University of Indonesia, who helped draft the 2005 law that forms the basis of the universal benefit.

The subsidy paid for the poor ought to be hiked by at least a third. Meanwhile salaried workers often don't declare their full pay to cushion their levies or contribute only sporadically. Thabrany reckons contributions from salaried workers average little more than 68,000 rupiah per person per month.

With President Joko Widodo facing elections next year, and regional votes slated for June, there is little incentive for policymakers to hike premiums or catch fraudsters. "The problem is politics," Thabrany says. "Cheap health care is popular."

Just how much the Indonesian government pays into the programme isn't immediately clear. The insurance provider Badan Penyelenggara Janinan Sosial – or BPJS as it's better known, doesn't detail the full extent of government support.

According to its annual statements, income from premiums, payments made by customers to BPJS, and what it pays out in claims was roughly balanced at 67 trillion rupiah in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available.

But even though a big chunk of the insurance body's income is in the form of that government subsidy for the poor – about two-fifths by Gani's measure – the scheme is still in deficit. Last year the shortfall was 6.8 trillion rupiah. This year Gani reckons it will be 9 trillion rupiah – an amount by law the government must cover.

To be sure, an injection of funds into health spending was needed as Indonesia had lagged its peers. In the decade before the insurance was introduced a little over 60 per cent of the population had access to family planning, more than 40 per cent smoked, and nearly a fifth of women gave birth without a doctor or a midwife. There are 0.5 doctors per 1,000 people and most of those are in cities on Java. In Malaysia there are just over 1.5.

In remote areas the programme has done little to improve a wretched situation. In February, more than 70 people died in Papua from measles and malnutrition.

Laksono Trisnatoro, a professor of health policy and administration at Gadja Mada University in Yogyakarta, says universal health care benefits wealthy urbanites more than their rural countrymen. Doctors gravitate to cities, and without doctors providers can't file claims.

"Universal health insurance is a good idea but it's the big cities that benefit," says Trisnatoro. "How can you bill if you don't have doctors or hospitals in the first place?"

But for one woman at Anggeraini's health clinic those worries are a world away. Warsini, 42, has come to treat the fever of her five-year-old grandson. Other than a small registration fee that costs the equivalent of a small bottle of water, her visit will be free. And while she has waited for an hour, it is worth it.

"I'm very happy to be able to see a doctor now. It's a big relief knowing that if something happens we don't have to pay."

Source: http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2142640/indonesias-health-scheme-dwarfs-obamacare-there-problem

Police call for large-scale bootleg liquor operations, raids

Jakarta Post - April 19, 2018

Arya Dipa, Bandung, West Java – National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Syafruddin ordered police personnel in the regions to carry out large-scale operations and raids to stop the distribution of oplosan (bootleg liquor).

"For any police chiefs who do not act seriously in implementing this order, we will find out who they are and replace them immediately," said Syafruddin in Cicalengka, Bandung regency, on Thursday.

He said the police will be taking serious measures because the deaths of a number of people after drinking unsafe bootleg liquor had brought tremendous losses to society. Moreover, Muslims will soon observe Ramadhan.

Syafruddin asserted that the National Police would take tough measures against police officers who did not tackle the production and sale of bootleg liquor. "We will take action against any police officer who keeps silent about oplosan vendors, let alone not investigating cases," said Syafruddin.

As of the middle of April, 102 people in areas across Indonesia have died after consuming bootleg liquor. "The biggest number of victims were in West Java," said Syafruddin.

In West Java, 61 people were reported to have died after consuming oplosan. Of the total, 34 died at Cicalengka Regional General Hospital, while six died at Majalaya Hospital and four others at AMC Cileunyi Hospital. Meanwhile, Bandung city reported seven deaths, with another seven in Sukabumi regency, two in Cianjur regency and another one in Ciamis regency.

The police have named four people, including the oplosan factory owner in Cicalengka, suspects in the case. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/19/police-call-for-large-scale-bootleg-liquor-operations-raids.html

Textbook procurement in Depok schools corrupted, alleges NGO

Jakarta Post - April 17, 2018

Jakarta – A corruption watchdog said it had unearthed alleged corruption in the procurement of textbooks at some elementary schools in Depok, West Java, since 2015.

Corruption Watch Independent (CWI), an NGO based in Depok, added that the alleged corruption had caused state losses of Rp 4 billion (US$290,000) a year, bringing the total to Rp 12 billion as of last year.

CWI's head, Elfatir Lintang, said it had found evidence and reported their findings to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on April 12. "The KPK assured us that it will investigate our evidence because it is valid," Elfatir said on Tuesday, as quoted by wartakota.tribunnews.com.

He added that the procurement of textbooks at 267 state elementary schools in the city was free because it was procured through the school operational aid fund.

Elfatir said most of the schools allegedly asked the students to buy their textbooks at bookstores. "From around 128,000 students, we found that at least 20 percent were asked to buy the textbooks," he alleged.

The students' parents, he added, paid up to Rp 300,000 for the textbooks. CWI also allegedly found that some schools gave students copies, which they had to pay for as well.

Elfatir said it had questioned several schools about the findings and they had blamed the publishers who were late in distributing the textbooks that were also found to have been sold at some bookstores. (wnd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/17/textbook-procurement-in-depok-schools-corrupted-alleges-ngo.html

Indonesian state universities welcome foreigners as permanent lecturers

Jakarta Post - April 16, 2018

Moses Ompusunggu, Bambang Muryanto and Apriadi Gunawan, Jakarta/Yogyakarta/Medan – Indonesian state universities are welcoming the latest policy of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration allowing foreign academics to serve as permanent lecturers in the country's universities.

The administration announced last week that it was opening opportunities for foreign academics to become permanent lecturers at Indonesian universities in an attempt to increase the country's quality of higher education and meet international standards.

The move followed a recent presidential regulation (Perpres) signed by Jokowi on the recruitment of foreign workers, which aims to ease the visa process of foreign workers the country needs most, including those who work in the education sector.

Based on the Perpres, the Research, Technology and Higher Education Ministry is preparing a supporting regulation to ease the bureaucracy for foreign lecturers to live and work in Indonesia, including the possibility of issuing a new type of visa for them.

The new policy is the latest move by Jokowi to implement a sturdy foreign academic culture in Indonesia's higher education system, after announcing in February that foreign universities would be allowed to operate in Indonesia.

The country is home to more than 4,500 universities and other higher education institutions like polytechnics, but around 77 percent are still of substandard quality, according to the latest government survey.

The presence of foreign academics as lecturers could be a catalyst in boosting the country's academic achievements, said Panut Mulyono, the rector of Yogyakarta-based Gadjah Mada University (UGM), ranked Indonesia's best university, according to a 2017 government survey.

Indonesian universities could also have bigger opportunities to augment their network by, for instance, teaming up with foreign academics to conduct research projects "funded by international network of the foreign academics," Panut said on Monday.

"The results could then be published in international scientific journals."

Joni Hermana, rector of the state-run Surabaya Institute of Technology (ITS), said the university had long awaited such a policy.

"This will encourage our lecturers to improve their qualifications," Joni said last week, adding that ITS currently employed around 30 foreign lecturers on a temporary basis.

Foreign academics who will be prioritized in the policy are those qualified in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as these majors are considered the most relevant in Indonesia's goal of "inspiring industrial innovation for the wider purpose of development," the ministry said last week.

"We actually do have an adequate numbers of lecturers in the prioritized majors," said the ministry's human resources qualifications director, Mukhlas Ansori. "But we intend to attract lecturers whose qualifications exceed current benchmarks in our universities."

However, Panut said that UGM had requested the administration to allocate foreign academics to the university's social science departments, where more research needed to be conducted.

Several social science department heads agreed with Panut, asserting that the presence of permanent foreign lecturers may boost Indonesian universities' global rankings.

Only three Indonesian universities were included in the 2017 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Best 500 Universities of the World list, namely the University of Indonesia (UI), ranked 277th; the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), in 331rd place; and UGM at 401st position.

"If foreign academics joined Indonesian universities, it would boost the quality of our campuses," said Budi Agustono, head of North Sumatra University's (USU) cultural studies department in Medan, the province's capital.

However, some observers raised concerns over the policy, pointing out that employing foreign lecturers was not a guarantee in improving the quality of higher education in Indonesia.

"Employing foreign lecturers, whether temporarily or permanently, will not improve the quality [of education] as long as local lecturers are not treated equally," said Hamid Hasan, a higher education expert at the Indonesia University of Education (UPI).

He said the underlying problem in Indonesia's higher education system was that lecturers did not enjoy the same facilities and level of support foreign governments give their teachers.

The new policy also demonstrates how the state has fallen short in harnessing local resources, some private university lecturers have said.

"We still have plenty of quality local lecturers. Why do we have to import foreign lecturers?" asked Arifin Saleh, a lecturer of social science and politics at the privately run Muhammadiyah North Sumatra University (UMSU).

[Wahyoe Boediwardhana contributed to this report from Surabaya.]

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/16/state-universities-welcome-foreigners-as-permanent-lecturers.html

Ethanol needed to treat 'oplosan' poisoning: Expert

Jakarta Post - April 16, 2018

Elly Burhaini Faizal, Jakarta – Administering the proper course of treatment for victims of methanol poisoning, such as those who fell ill or died after drinking oplosan (bootleg liquor), can prevent further deaths, an expert has said.

According to Knut Erik Hovda, a medical expert from Norway's Oslo University Hospital, methanol is not toxic before it is transformed into formic acid in the liver. Only by giving the patient ethanol can the process be stopped, he added.

"We often get confused to see that people who consume bootleg liquor do not get sick or [fall into a] coma until at least 24 hours after they drink it. This is because ethanol in liquor will stop the metabolism of methanol into formic acid. As long as there is still ethanol in the blood of the patient, this toxic metabolism will not start," Hovda told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

He further explained that methanol would transform into formic acid only after ethanol has left the body, which is why it takes 12-24 hours before a person consuming bootleg liquor shows symptoms of methanol poisoning.

"This is why the most important part of the treatment is to give the patients more ethanol. They need alcohol. This is the life-saving concept needed here," Hovda said.

The death toll from a spate of recent cases of people drinking unlicensed liquor has risen to 60 in West Java. The West Java Health Agency said the victims had likely died of methanol poisoning.

"Ethanol is what we drink for recreational purposes, while methanol is the industrial alcohol mixed into ethanol. The only reason for mixing methanol with ethanol is to make more money," Hovda said. "With methanol, you can sell more at higher price to make more money with less amount of ethanol."

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) country director Daniel von Rege said methanol poisoning was not unique to Indonesia; it was happening globally.

"This case has always followed the same pattern and the pattern is that you will have one manufacturing site, usually, where additional substances, like methanol, get added on," he said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/16/ethanol-needed-to-treat-oplosan-poisoning-expert.html

Disability rights

'It's hard being white': Indonesia's albino village

ABC News - April 22, 2018

Anne Barker – The isolated western Java village of Ciburuy has possibly one of the highest rates of albinism in Indonesia, and nobody seems to know why.

Nana Suryana always knew he had albino ancestors. His great-grandfather was a "white man" and his family has lived in the same village of Ciburuy, in western Java, for centuries.

"We've been here for 149 generations. My family is famous for having the white gene," he says. What he did not know when he married Siti Rohma was that she too carried a gene for albinism.

When their daughter Dewi Rasmana was born – with white hair and skin, and pale blue eyes – both parents assumed her albinism came from her father's side of the family.

But in fact, for a child to be albino, both parents must carry a gene – and any child born to such parents will have a one-in-four chance of albinism even when both parents have normal pigmentation.

Sure enough, Nana Suryana and Siti Rohma's youngest child, two-year-old Jajang Gunawan, is also albino. A third child who died at birth was not.

But what makes the village of Ciburuy so remarkable is that it is not just one or two families that carry an albino gene. There are clearly many more "carriers" in this small village than for the average population.

Nana Suryana's brother Amas Masadi – who like him has normal pigmentation – also has two albino children, Rosanah and Usman Lukman Nulhakim, which means that both brothers have married women from separate families who also carry a gene.

'Sometimes it's hard being white'

Ciburuy has possibly one of the highest rates of albinism in Indonesia, and nobody seems to know why.

Although, as a relatively isolated village, it is likely the population at Ciburuy has remained more "genetically intact" than other villages or towns that have seen more migration and assimilation into the broader population.

Nana Suryana says when he was a child his father told him that centuries ago a foreign man with white skin came to Ciburuy and touched a pregnant woman on the belly.

When she gave birth, the child was white-haired and white-skinned. Since then, every few generations, more white-skinned children have followed. Today albinos at Ciburuy are known as Walanda Sunda, or Sundanese white people.

Like those with albinism anywhere, the Walanda Sunda at Ciburuy have extreme sensitivity to the sun because of the lack of melanin in their skin, and a correspondingly high risk of skin cancer. They also have poor eyesight, verging on blindness for some.

The social stigma of being and looking different, particularly in a culture where skin tone is universally darker, has also exposed many to teasing or bullying.

Nana Suryana's niece Rosanah, now 20, says she had to leave school early because she was bullied by classmates over her white skin.

She can't find work because she didn't finish school, and works mostly at home. She now doesn't know if she wants to get married and have children of her own, because of the fear that they too may have the condition.

"Sometimes it's hard being white. I was often teased at school. I was often upset because of it," she says.

'I'm proud of my dad because he's unique'

Nana Suryana's 14-year-old daughter Dewi Rasmana has had an easier time. She is still at school and says she has had little experience of being teased for being different – though she regularly has to cover up against the sun, and her eyesight is worsening as she gets older.

A couple of streets away, 40-year-old Suryana works outdoors on a building site. He wears long sleeves, sunglasses and a cap to cover his skin against the sun.

He too was born and raised at Ciburuy, and says he is a distant relative of Nana Suryana. Neither his wife nor his two daughters are albino.

His wife is five months pregnant, and doctors say the unborn baby has normal pigmentation. In fact Suryana says he is unique in his family and is accepted by those around him. "I'm proud of my dad because he's unique," said his 14-year-old daughter Ai Rosmiati.

Barely 200 metres away, Entar Mariyati is in her 60s. She too has albinism, but says she knows nobody else in her family with the condition. Her son and daughter have normal pigmentation.

Around the corner Nur Hayati has a three-year-old albino girl, Winda, and two older children who are not. She says it is her husband who carries the gene, and clearly does not realise that she too is a carrier.

Incidence of albinism is much higher in parts of Africa

In fact, many parents have no idea they are carrying a gene at all until a child is born, says Dr Shari Parker, from the Albinism Fellowship of Australia. She and her sister both have the condition.

"The vast majority of our family in Australia have had no prior history of albinism anywhere in the genes, because it's hidden until two people who happen to be carriers come together," she said.

In Australia, roughly one in every 17,000 people is born albino, meaning there are about 1,400 Australians today with the condition. But the number of carriers is 240 times higher: one in 70 people carry a gene, of which there are about a dozen different kinds.

The incidence of albinism is much higher in parts of Africa, where as many as one in 3,000 – 5,000 people have the condition.

In pockets of the South Pacific, the incidence is higher again – as many as one in 500. And at Ciburuy, the rate appears to be even higher, though villagers say they are unaware of any formal study.

Today there are 10 people in the village with albinism – and others who have moved away – from a population of just a few hundred people.

Still much to learn about albinism

The number of people who carry an albinism gene at Ciburuy is clearly far higher than in Australia.

Dr Parker says there is no question it is much harder to live with albinism in Asia or Africa than Australia, because of the sun and high risk of skin cancer, as well as the social stigma in a country where there is less ethnic diversity.

Poor schooling and poverty in a village like Ciburuy can also limit the education of a child with albinism.

"Having low vision you may struggle to see the blackboard, and you don't have all the vision aids that kids in Australia have. So they're not likely to get even a basic primary education," she says.

"And as a non-educated person, where are you going to work? You're going to work out in the field and you're going to get skin cancer and sunburn and likely die at a young age."

Nur Hayati's three-year-old daughter Winda is albino, but her two older children are not. Even the cost of sunscreen in a village like Ciburuy is prohibitive.

But Dr Parker says persecution of albinos is worst in many African countries, where they are considered non-human, even ghosts.

Superstition in Tanzania for example has seen many albino people murdered so their body parts can be used in witchcraft. The average life expectancy for someone with albinism in Tanzania is about 30, because of the combined risks of skin cancer and attacks.

Dr Parker says there is still much to learn about albinism, and why its incidence is so different between Australia and countries in Africa or the South Pacific.

The Albinism Fellowship of Australia is planning new research using social media to identify the true number of people with albinism in Australia.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-22/ciburuy-indonesian-village-with-unusually-high-rate-of-albinism/9624098

Guiding path for the blind on sidewalk leads into trees again, and

Coconuts Jakarta - April 20, 2018

Some sidewalks in Indonesia feature tactile paving strips designed to guide blind pedestrians, which is great, but it's clear that some designers are painfully oblivious as to their actual function (remember the guiding path that led directly into a sewage canal in Mojokerto?).

You'd think sidewalk designers would have learned from the embarrassing mistake above, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Today, Facebook page and meme aggregator Kementrian Humor Indonesia (Indonesia Humor Ministry) shared this viral photo showing the country's latest guiding path fail.

Jadi saudara kita yang Tuna netra harus nabrak pohon dan tiang listrik tiap beberapa meter sekaliKeras sekali kehidupan di negara kita tercinta ini – Posted by Kementrian Humor Indonesia on Thursday, April 19, 2018

The caption reads: "So our blind brothers and sisters have to walk into trees and electric posts every few meters. Life is tough in our beloved country."

It's hard to argue with that assessment. Life is indeed especially tough for pedestrians in Indonesia, especially for those with disabilities.

The exact location where the above photo was taken is not clear. But, incredibly, this exact same design fail has happened at least twice in Indonesia this year alone – once in Trenggalek Regency, East Java, and once in Cirebon, West Java. In the case of the former, at least local officials had the sense to remove the trees (as shown in the before and after photos below), albeit after facing criticism and ridicule.

Masih Ingat Guiding Block Tabrak Pohon di Trenggalek, Ini Kondisinya https://t.co/TASnSGFWwA pic.twitter.com/pM2rDcUsCx – detikSurabaya (@detikSBY) February 8, 2018

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/design-fail-guiding-path-blind-indonesian-sidewalk-leads-trees/

LGBT & same-sex marriage

'I Stopped Being Gay': how one man saved himself from Indonesia's

Gay Star News - April 19, 2018

Shannon Power – A man who gave up a lucrative career to seek asylum in Canada, said moving away from Indonesia stopped him 'being gay'.

Zulfikar Fahd, 30, worked for years in public relations and his career was going great. But as a gay Indonesian man he felt increasingly oppressed as the country's persecution of the LGBTI community escalated.

'Indonesia is a civilization that's going backwards. We used to be okay with transgender comedians on TV (some of them were very famous), now the government banned every LGBT-related show,' Fahd told Gay Star News.

'Aceh became a Islamic province, practicing barbaric and primitive law, and no one dares speak up about it because the whole country is run by Muslim supremacist.'

His story of escaping to Canada went viral and he suddenly had hundreds of LGBTI Indonesians reaching out to him. For the first time in his live Fahd, 'stopped being gay'.

'By fleeing to Canada earlier this year, I decided to "stop" being gay and start being a "normal" person... who lives amongst those who give no second thought to sexual orientation,' he said.

'I decided to give up my family and friends whom I love dearly, and a bright promising career I'd built for years. I'd given up on my country too, simply because I didn't want to give up on myself.'

So I Stopped Being Gay

After he saw the impact of his story, Fahd decided he had to share even more about himself. He had to tell the world about the horrors facing LGBTI people in Indonesia.

So he's laying his story bare in a new book. He plans to call it, 'So I Stopped Being Gay (A Story of Giving Up by a Queer Muslim Indonesian)'.

In the book Fahd will share some very personal stories. They even include his first experiences with oral sex and going to a sex club.

Fahd plans to share the harrowing ordeal of being taken to a psychiatrist by his mom, and all the times his dad called him a faggot.

But his intention is not to be lewd or sensational. Fahd will tie all of his stories back into the state of affairs for LGBTI people in Indonesia.

'The stories are very personal, yes, but they're actually just a hook to the star of the book: the suffering of LGBTQI+ community in Indonesia,' he said.

'When talking about how my parents reacted to my queerness, I'd link the story to how most Indonesian parents culturally & religiously worship masculinity; and that affects poorly to "feminine" boys like me.

'When telling the story about dating an engaged "straight" man, I'd link it to the trend in Indonesia that many "straight" married men actually have boyfriends behind their clueless (and usually naive) wives.'

Speaking for the voiceless

For Fahd writing this book will bring attention to what is happening in Indonesia and hopefully effect change. He also wants to speak up for the many LGBTI people who do not have the power to do so.

'The LGBT issue in Indonesia is a crucial subject to talk about. Why? Because it's not illegal to be queer in that country... however, the government, authorities and society in general have been treating us like criminals,' he said.

'That's totally unjust, and not many people speak up about it. It's hard to pass the mic for the voiceless when they still live under such agony, but I'm lucky to have the opportunity and platform to be their loudspeaker.'

So I Stopped Being Gay is a not for profit driven agenda for Fahd. Any money the book makes will go directly to 'an underground LGBTQI+ organization in an Indonesia city'.

'The non-profit organization (managed by six people) has been providing a free shelter for 28 queer teenagers (perhaps more in the future) who were kicked out of the house by their families,' he said.

'They need money to keep the shelter safe and feed their guests. They request a full confidentiality due to security reasons, obviously.'

Fahd is relying on public support to fund the publishing of his book. He hopes people will get behind it because they want to help Indonesia's LGBTI community.

'I'd love to encourage people who share the same concern on LGBT rights to pre-order my book, so together we can show the world the real face of queer people's struggles in Indonesia,' he said.

Source: https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/i-stopped-being-gay-how-one-man-saved-himself-from-indonesias-homophobia/

Man murdered for adding another man to a LGBTI WhatsApp group

Gay Star News - April 18, 2018

Shannon Power – An Indonesian man has allegedly killed another man for adding him to a LGBTI group on WhatsApp.

Police in the east of capital, Jakarta, arrested a man for the murder of a man, Ali, 33. Jakarta Police spokesman Argo Yuwono said police arrested 21-year-old, Petrus Paulus Ualubun, in West Java on Tuesday morning.

'The suspect was mad at the victim when the latter added him to an LGBT WhatsApp group, as the suspect [claimed not to be a part of that community],' Argo told media in Jakarta. 'The suspect invited the victim to meet, then assaulted and killed him.'

Passersby discovered Ali's body with multiple stab wounds in a Jakarta alleyway. Police reported Ali had stab wounds in the left wrist, left temple, left eye, right chest, right back, right thigh.

Indonesia's hostility to LGBTI people

Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, but a severe clamping down on the community in the past two years has seen an increase in arrests of gay men.

Police have raided gay clubs and private residences where they have arrested and charged men under the country's strict anti-pornography laws. The conservative Islamic province of Aceh, caned two young men 82 times after for homosexuality last year.

The clampdown has caused a rise in vigilante groups targeting people they believe are LGBTI. In many cases they have forced them out of their homes or into police custody.

It's not the first time instant messaging service, WhatsApp, got dragged into Indonesia's growing hostility towards the LGBTI community. In November last year, Indonesian authorities banned the use of GIFs (animated graphic image) on WhatsApp.

Authorities said they could not monitor GIFs because of WhatsApp's encryption. They argued young people might see pornography or other 'immoral' content if left unchecked.

Source: https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/man-allegedly-murders-man-for-adding-him-to-a-lgbti-whatsapp-group/

Sex workers & prostitution

Indonesia targeting zero 'localized' prostitution by 2019: Social

Coconuts Jakarta - April 20, 2018

Even though prostitution is illegal in Indonesia, there are many "localized" ("lokalisasi" in Indonesian) sites, akin to red light districts, where authorities turn a blind eye to the blatant sex trade going on in the area, with Surabaya's infamous Dolly and Jakarta's Kalijodo district (both now closed) being prime examples.

According to Social Minister Idrus Marham, the government has been shuttering localized prostitution sites throughout the country, having closed 122 out of 136 locations since 2014 and returning some 20,000 sex workers to their families.

But Idrus says the job is not yet done, as the ministry is adamant that getting rid of all of the remaining lokalisasi sites is a government priority for the near future.

"The Social Ministry will continue its crackdown program of localized sites. The target is, by 2019, Indonesia will be free of localized prostitution," Idrus said yesterday, as quoted by MetroTV.

It's important to note that the ministry isn't trying to abolish prostitution as a whole (good luck to anyone trying to accomplish that). But shutting down localized sites can have numerous adverse effects on sex workers, such as the loss of personal and medical security and being driven into the even more dangerous underground sex trade.

Idrus went on to say that the government will ensure that former sex workers be looked after, taking a cue out of Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini's closure of Dolly – once Southeast Asia's largest red light district.

"Bu Risma provided facilities and training for former sex workers so they could be independent. She transformed localized sites and brothels into craft factories, leading to a source of income [for the former sex workers]. This is so they can regain their dignity," he said.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/indonesia-targeting-zero-localized-prostitution-2019-social-minister/

Marriage & the family

Teens gain court approval to marry

Jakarta Post - April 17, 2018

Jakarta – A 15-year-old boy and 14-year-old girl in Bantaeng, South Sulawesi, have received permission to attend premarital counseling by the regency's Religious Court after they insisted on getting married.

The young pair tried to register their marriage at the local Religious Affairs Office (KUA) last week, but were turned down. The legal marriageable age for girls in Indonesia is 16 and 19 for boys.

"It was the first time I received a marriage application from such a young couple," KUA official Syarif Hidayat said over the weekend as quoted by kompas.com.

The teens then appealed to the Religious Court, which exempted them from having to meet the standard marriage requirements. They returned to the KUA with the court's decision and the office could not refuse them this time, Syarif said.

He added that he had investigated the teenagers' motives for wanting to get married and found they had received no outside influence on the matter.

The young couple is now registered to marry and are participating in premarital counseling sessions. "No one set them up and she is not pregnant either," Syarif said.

The girl said her mother had died a year ago and her father was often away from home for work. She did not want to sleep alone and both were in love, Syarif said. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/16/teens-gain-court-approval-to-marry.html

Gov't considers raising minimum marriage age as engagement between teens

Coconuts Jakarta - April 16, 2018

An engagement between a 14-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy in South Sulawesi province has once again sparked discussion about child marriage in Indonesia, prompting the government to consider taking new legal steps to prevent the practice.

Recently, two middle-schoolers in the province successfully challenged the local Regional Affairs Office's (KUA) decision not to grant their request for marriage, as the minimum legal age for marriage in Indonesia is 16 for women and 19 for men. After earning dispensation from the Bantaeng District Religious Court, the couple on Thursday officially registered their engagement with the KUA and are now taking part in a pre-marital counseling program.

"We initially rejected them because they are underage. But it turned out they filed for dispensation which was approved by the Religious Court," said Bantaeng District KUA official Syarif Hidayat, as quoted by Tribun.

Syarif added that he was informed that one of the main reasons for their engagement is so that the soon-to-be bride won't be lonely, as mother recently passed away while her father is often away on work trips. "According to her aunt, the girl is scared of sleeping alone," he said.

News about the couple's engagement reached Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Yohana Yembise, who is sending a team of officials to try to prevent the marriage between the two children.

"We will remain stern in protecting children's rights, we will not let children marry at that age," she said, as quoted by Kumparan today. Minister Yohana added that the government is considering raising the minimum legal age for marriage.

"We are drawing up plans between two ministries, the Religious Affairs Ministry and us, as well as NGOs who are pressing for the raising of the minimum age for marriage. We'll talk about it and will likely raise it to 20 and up," she said.

In April of last year, Indonesian female Muslim clerics issued an unprecedented fatwa (edict) declaring child marriage to be harmful as it is a large contributor to Indonesia's high maternal mortality rate.

Furthermore, they cited studies that many Indonesian child brides could not continue their studies once wed and half their marriages ended in divorce in addition to child marriage increasing the risks of exploitation, sexual violence, and domestic abuse.

Even so, stories about children (some as young as 14) getting married continued to take place and go viral on social media since then.

Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Deputy Minister Lenny Rosalin said that child marriage in Indonesia is at "emergency levels" as, based on UNICEF data, Indonesia ranks seventh in the world and the second highest in Southeast Asia in terms of the overall percentage of marriages in which at least one of the spouses is under 18 years old. According to government census data, 17% of all Indonesian girls married in 2016 were under 18.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/govt-considering-raising-minimum-legal-age-marriage-20-engagement-15-14-y-o-goes-viral/

Minister urges House to end child marriage

Jakarta Post - April 16, 2018

Jakarta – Amid campaigns to eradicate rampant child marriages in the country, a minister has called on the House of Representatives to prioritize a revision of the 1974 Marriage Law, seeking to raise the minimum age at which women can marry.

During a meeting with House Commission VIII overseeing religious and social affairs, Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Yohana Yembise emphasized the importance of the revision, which was expected to end cases of child marriages in the country.

"A proposal to revise the Marriage Law has been listed in the 2015-2019 national legislation program, but it is not included in the 2018 priority," Yohana told lawmakers as quoted by kompas.com on Monday.

The 1974 Marriage Law sets a minimum legal marriage age of 16 years for women and 19 years for men. However, in some parts of Indonesia, girls as young as 13 years old can marry legally with parental consent and judicial approval.

According to UNICEF, one in nine Indonesian girls are married before their 18th birthday every year.

Women and children rights activists have repeatedly called on the government to seriously address child marriage, arguing that the practice perpetuates the cycle of poverty, and threatens the chances for girls to obtain a higher education and gain access to decent jobs.

In 2015, however, the Constitutional Court (MK) rejected a request filed by a coalition of civil society groups to raise the minimum age for girls to marry from 16 to 18, on the grounds that it would not be a guaranteed solution to health and social problems. (afr/swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/16/minister-urges-house-to-end-child-marriage.html

Corruption & abuse of power

One year later, acid attack on antigraft investigator still unsolved and

Jakarta Globe - April 16, 2018

Jakarta – More than a year ago, senior antigraft investigator Novel Baswedan became a victim of a brutal acid attack, in which he became partly blind. Despite an ongoing police probe, the case remains unsolved.

Activists have described the attack as an act of terror against the independent Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). Many also see the case as a litmus test for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's determination to fight high-profile graft scandals.

"I have said earlier that this involves some powerful people. I also suspect police involvement," Novel told reporters on Wednesday (11/04), as quoted by Suara Pembaruan.

On April 11, 2017, two men on a motorcycle threw acid on Novel's face, as he was walking home after morning prayers at a nearby mosque in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta.

Seriously injured, the investigator was brought to Singapore for eye surgery. He returned to Indonesia on Feb. 22, after 10 months of intensive treatment.

When the attack took place, Novel was leading an investigation into a multimillion-dollar corruption case surrounding the procurement of electronic identity cards, known as e-KTP, in which many prominent politicians have been implicated.

Former House of Representatives Speaker Setya Novanto, who until December was chairing the Golkar Party, is currently on trial for his involvement in the graft scandal.

Snail pace

Novel has repeatedly criticized police investigators handling the acid attack probe. No suspects have been identified, only their composite drawings were produced by forensic experts. One man, Ahmad Lestaluhu, was released after several days of detention in May.

The probe reportedly involves more than 160 investigators, who have questioned nearly 70 witnesses and examined dozens of CCTV footage. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) are helping in the investigation.

"We are investigating the case to the best of our abilities. We're not playing around. I'm optimistic it will be solved, it's only a matter of time," National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto said, as quoted by state news agency Antara.

A seven-member team comprising members of the National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and other renowned figures was set up on March 9 to oversee the prolonged probe.

The team, which is headed by Komnas HAM vice chairwoman Sandrayati Moniaga, will look into the factors impeding the investigation and monitor the ongoing judicial process. The KPK said it will assist Komnas HAM in these efforts.

Antigraft and human rights activists have been calling for the establishment of a fact-finding team under the president. In an interview for BeritaSatu TV, Novel said it should help solve the case.

"But now it's all up to the president. If he thinks this case should be solved in the open, then forming the joint fact-finding team would be significant," Novel said.

In February, Jokowi said he had personally ordered National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian to solve the case.

"I have told the National Police chief to solve this case. Whoever is behind it, we will pursue them," Jokowi said, as quoted by Investor Daily.

Novel, however, said he doubts the police are taking the case seriously and is conducting an investigation with his legal team and neighbors to see how much information they will be able to collect within a month, compared with police investigators whose probe started more than a year ago.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/one-year-later-acid-attack-antigraft-investigator-still-unsolved-unsettling/

Terrorism & religious extremism

Police apologize for closing Jl Thamrin for anti-terrorism movie

Jakarta Post - April 22, 2018

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Following complaints from road users over unusual traffic congestion in Jl. Sudirman-Jl. M.H. Thamrin area during weekend, National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto has issued an apology.

The police have spearheaded the production of a counterterrorism film, 22 Minutes, which is reportedly inspired by the Thamrin attack two years ago.

The production team has been shooting scenes involving critical explosions and a shoot-out at the intersection in front of Sarinah department store, prompting the closure of Jl. M.H. Thamrin during Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"We wanted to show the real conditions of the scene [during the actual attack]. On behalf of the movie producer, I want to apologize [for the traffic jam]," Setyo said on Sunday.

He confirmed that the movie, which is directed by Eugene Panji and Myrna Paramita, is part of the police's counterterrorism campaign.

The movie features actor Ario Bayu and is being financed by the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program of a company, Setyo said, without revealing its name.

On Jan. 14, 2016, Jakarta was rocked by multiple explosions, including one at a police post, and a subsequent gunfight in front of Sarinah between police and multiple assailants.

At least eight people, including four terrorists, were killed. Twenty-six others, including police officers, were injured.

National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian, who led the Jakarta Police at the time, was lauded for the force's swift actions. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/22/police-apologize-for-closing-jlmhthamrin-for-anti-terrorism-movie-production.html

Religion & politics

Understanding the 212 Movement

Jakarta Globe - April 17, 2018

Sheany, Jakarta – The religiously charged rally that drew hundreds of thousands to central Jakarta in December 2016, has shown the great impact of religion upon politics and arguably marked a shift on the national landscape of power.

On Dec. 2 – from which the mass demonstration took its numerical "212" tag – Muslim groups came to the streets demanding the arrest of then Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama on blasphemy charges. It was the third anti-Ahok rally since October and the largest demonstration in the country's history.

The rally and its participants became known as "the 212 movement" formed to defend Islam. They proved successful and managed to bring down Ahok, who was found guilty in a controversial trial and sentenced to two years in jail in May last year.

Some of those involved in the rally – who usually refer to themselves as "212 alumni" – remain vigilant, ready to spot all activities they perceive as an attack on Islam and publicly protest them.

How did this movement emerge and who are its members? "After Ahok: The Islamist Agenda in Indonesia," a report published by the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) on April 6, examines the movement and its components. Here are some highlights from the study.

Birth of 212 movement

The movement emerged from the Islamist opposition to Ahok, an ethnic Chinese Christian, who was running for governor of the Muslim-majority capital city.

When former Jakarta Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was elected president in 2014, his deputy, Ahok, automatically became governor for the remaining three years.

"But Islamist organizations were deeply unhappy, arguing that only a Muslim could govern other Muslims," the report said.

The 212 movement gained momentum when a doctored version of Ahok's speech from September 2016 – in which he made a reference to a Koranic verse – went viral and resulted in charges against him.

After the incident, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued a fatwa, which said that Ahok's words were blasphemous. This led to the formation of the National Movement to Defend the MUI Fatwa (GNPF-MUI), which in October started to organize demonstrations against the governor.

Who are the organizers?

IPAC identifies several groups that make up the 212 movement: The Salafi-modernist network led by Islamist preacher Bachtiar Nasir, conservative traditionalists, represented by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) led by Rizieq Shihab, Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), Wahdah Islamiyah led by Zaitun Rasmin, the Indonesian Muslims Forum (FUI) led by Muhammad al-Khaththath and religious chanting (zikir) groups.

Referring to the movement as a "tactical alliance," IPAC observes that the Salafi network and FPI are the most important components of it, even though they have little in common both theologically and strategically.

Salafi Groups

Salafism is a form of Muslim fundamentalism, a revivalist movement harking back to the purity of the earliest practitioners of Islam (the "ancestors," or "salaf" in Arabic).

There are two Salafi groups singled out in IPAC's report, the one led by Bachtiar Nasir and the other by Zaitun Rasmin of Makassar-based Wahdah Islamiyah.

They are both rooted in the educated middle class and rely on grassroots activism. Both call for further Islamization of Indonesia. Neither of them, however, seeks to introduce Islamic law or transform the country into an Islamic state.

"He is more tolerant of practical politics than many Salafis, seeing democratic political participation as a necessary evil to achieve Islamist goals," the report said, referring to Bachtiar.

Bachtiar's network and Wahdah Islamiyah "believe in non-violent social transformation from below, through education and dakwah [proselytism]."

According to IPAC, Bachtiar's influence has significantly increased through his role in the 212 movement.


FPI boasts a mass following and high capacity to mobilize – its leaders claim millions in members across the archipelago.

The organization advocates the formal application of Islamic law and is committed to restoring the so-called Jakarta Charter, which during the constitutional talks in the 1940s was eventually dismissed to prevent the country from becoming a religious state. The charter obliged Indonesian Muslims to live in accordance with Islamic law.

FPI is also known for forming various kinds of alliances with political parties and candidates.

Many of its members derive from Indonesia's largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), which makes them more traditionalist than members of Bachtiar's group.

"Many traditional practices that are rejected by Salafi-modernists, such as the celebration of the Prophet's Birthday [Maulid], are enthusiastically carried out by FPI," IPAC said.

While FPI is known for thuggery and vandalism in religious garb, it has also been engaged in humanitarian work, including relief aid for victims of the 2004 tsunami in Aceh.

Fracture in the movement

A number of factors led to the collapse of the 212 unity, including fights over religious and theological practices, personal rivalry and pragmatic choices in nominating political candidates.

In April last year, Rizieq moved to Saudi Arabia amid a police investigation into allegations of his pornographic exchange with a female supporter. These charges also weakened the FPI's position and strengthened Bachtiar instead.

According to the IPAC report, bitter competition between their leaders also deepened the already big differences between the traditionalists and Salafis.

IPAC argues that both Bachtiar and Zaitun may become increasingly powerful, because their work is focused on changing norms and values through religious education.

"They have a very clear agenda to Islamize Indonesian state and society from the grassroots," IPAC said, adding that the group's efforts could lead to greater state involvement in the sphere of morality and citizens' privacy, as well as increased importance of religion in policymaking.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/understanding-212-movement/

Jokowi listed among world's most influential Muslims

Jakarta Post - April 16, 2018

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has been ranked in the top 20 on this year's list of the world's most influential Muslim figures in the annual publication, the Muslim 500.

The 2018 edition, published by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center based in Jordan, ranked Jokowi 16th on its list, slightly below his rank of 13th last year and 11th in both the 2016 and 2015/2014 edition.

Presidential Chief of Staff Gen. (Ret.) Moeldoko was quick to use the moment to lambast critics who challenged Jokowi's Islamic credentials.

He said the President's ranking reflected his efforts to accommodate the interests of Muslims, ranging from officially designating Oct. 22 as National Santri (Islamic students) Day, to introducing mikro waqf banks, which aim to improve the economy of pesantren (Islamic boarding schools).

"It is an indication that [Jokowi] is well accepted by the Muslim community, thus I think anyone who makes [contradictory] statements about the President should stop," Moeldoko said on Monday.

The Muslim 500 ranks individuals based on the significance of their influence or power, be it political, financial or ideological, in making contributions to the Muslim world.

According to the Muslim 500, Jokowi is a political leader with influence over "252 million citizens and residents of Indonesia", the world's largest Muslim-majority country, which is comprised of citizens from various religions and ethnicities. (swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/16/jokowi-listed-among-worlds-most-influential-muslims.html

Pornography & sexual morality

Swinger group raided by police, leader charged with law usually used

Coconuts Jakarta - April 17, 2018

The East Java Provincial Police arrested three married couples for alleged swinging in the city of Malang yesterday in yet another case of consensual sex in a private setting being criminalized by authorities in Indonesia due to being deemed morally deviant.

The couples were part of a closed Facebook group for swingers called Sparkling, which reportedly consists of 28 couples. Three of the couples booked a hotel in Malang before they were arrested by the police, who were tipped off about their activity by locals.

One of those arrested is a 53-year-old man, identified by his initials THD, who is believed to be the founder of the group. The police have charged him with violation of Article 296 of the KUHP (Criminal Code), which is commonly used against sexual trafficking facilitators and is punishable by up to 1 year and 4 months' imprisonment.

Article 296 criminalizes those who deliberately facilitate or ease obscene acts (what qualifies as "obscene" in this statue is open to interpretation), hence why it's often used against pimps. However, the article states that people who receive financial gain from such obscene acts aren't the only ones guilty of violating it – those who "normalize" obscene behavior by allowing it can also be punished.

The police conceded that there was no financial transaction among the swingers, but are pressing charges against THD based on Article 296 anyway.

"There were no transactions, whatsoever. This [group] is just for fantasy fulfillment," said Yudhistira Midyahwan, head of the General Crimes Investigation Directorate at the East Java Provincial Police, as quoted by Suara yesterday.

No charges have been announced against the other five people who were arrested at the hotel.

Aside from Article 296, police in Indonesia have used the country's ambiguously-worded anti-pornography laws to criminalize sexual "deviance" that technically aren't illegal, such as homosexual sex between consenting adults. In December of last year, 10 men were sentenced to 2 years in prison for taking part in a consensual "gay sex party" in a private sauna in Jakarta.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/swinger-group-raided-police-e-java-leader-charged-law-usually-used-pimps/

2 organizers arrested for pornography over dancing girls in bikinis at

Coconuts Jakarta - April 16, 2018

Police in the town of Jepara, Central Java, arrested two event organizers for a motorcycle community party in which at least three girls in bikinis were dancing amidst a raucous crowd on Kartini Beach, footage of which has gone viral recently.

The footage, taken on Saturday, was deemed inappropriate enough for the local police to charge the event organizers for violating Indonesia's ambiguously worded pornography laws, a crime which carries a maximum 15-year sentence.

In the footage that has been circulating online, the dancers, though sensually suggestive in their movements, did not show any nudity at any point.

"The organizers violated rules. In their permit [for the event] they only registered one synthesizer keyboard," said Jepara Police Chief Yudianto Adhi Nugroho, as quoted by Detik yesterday.

The police say they are also hunting down three dancers, whose identities are not yet known but are believed to be from the Central Java capital of Semarang.

The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) is urging the police not to immediately treat the dancers as pornography suspects.

"Maybe the entertainment industry needs to be looked into. Is there potential for exploitation and trafficking of the women? So don't go into porn or immorality first," said Komnas Perempuan Commissioner Mariana Amiruddin, as quoted by Detik.

"Isn't this kind of entertainment industry legal in many places? Dancers are usually just workers who need jobs."

Indonesia has strict laws against prostitution, though it is often the case that facilitators and purveyors get criminally charged if caught while sex workers are treated as victims of exploitation and trafficking.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/2-organizers-arrested-pornography-dancing-girls-bikinis-motorcycle-community-event/

Poverty & social inequity

Eggi Sudjana's statement illogical: Moeldoko

Tempo - April 16, 2018

Ahmad Faiz, Ibnu Sani, Jakarta – Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko has shrugged off the recent statement of the national coordinator for the Indonesian Dawn Prayers [GIS], Eggi Sudjana, that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had impoverished the people.

Eggi claimed this was because many of the country's natural resources were controlled by foreigners.

Moeldoko said the statement was a complete falsehood. He enthused that foreign parties had been controlling many Indonesian natural resources since before the Jokowi-Kalla administration, thus the fact could not be used as an indicator.

"What he said is illogical," Moeldoko said at the State Palace in Jakarta, Monday, April 16, 2018.

Moeldoko added the Jokowi-Kalla administration had successfully slashed the country's inequality rate as measured by the Gini ratio from 0.41 to 0.39.

Moeldoko also expressed regrets that Eggi made the statement in an Islamic forum at a mosque. The former Indonesian military commander said mosques were places for religious teachings and spreading peace. "Not for those kinds of things. The people will be baffled," he said.

Earlier, during a dawn lecture at a mosque in South Tangerang, Eggi Sudjana delivered a speech on poverty and claimed President Jokowi had impoverished the people.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/04/16/055917639/Eggi-Sudjanas-Statement-Illogical-Moeldoko

Farming & agriculture

Indonesian farmers' incomes going up in smoke to buy cigarettes

Asian Correspondent - April 16, 2018

Dadang J Mutaqin – The fact that most Indonesian farmers smoke is perhaps unsurprising. What is surprising, however, is the high proportion of household expenditure farmers allocate for cigarette consumption.

A survey was conducted from August to October 2017 in the Garut District of West Java Province, Indonesia, as part of research into risk-coping mechanisms implemented by Indonesian farmers to minimise the impacts of climate change. Using stratified random sampling, 180 farmers were chosen as respondents; of these approximately 78 percent were found to consume cigarettes. It revealed some troubling findings about the consumption pattern of rural households.

The study found that cigarettes take up a staggering 13.7 percent of total household budgets.

It should be noted that in this sample, the vast majority of farmers were male, the head of the household, and came from low-income smallholder families. This means that cigarette consumption reflects an unequal distribution of income among household members because they are overwhelmingly consumed and enjoyed by the husband.

Interestingly, the survey found no relationship between the smoking habits and length of formal education of farmers. Smoking behaviour was distributed evenly among less educated and better educated respondents.

The very high proportion of income spent on smoking makes it difficult for farmers to accumulate the assets that could be used for investment to improve household income. This is not limited to capital investment but also investment in human resources, such as the education of children.

Reducing cigarette consumption is thus crucial for two reasons. Firstly, it's important to reduce farmers' smoking behaviour in order to avoid the high economic costs generated by smoking and to reduce poverty.

Most farmers have low incomes. When a financial shock occurs associated with a health problem, they cannot overcome it properly due to the high cost of recovering from diseases associated with smoking.

Moreover, the income flow of the household will be hampered if it is the husband, as head of household, who suffers from the health problem. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the participation rate of farmers in health insurance is also very low. Only 25 percent of farmers purchase national health insurance. Low incomes and lack of health insurance make households poorer when they experience health problems because they cannot maintain their level of farm production.

Second, reducing farmers' smoking habits might increase national food security. Farmers who produce rice and other agricultural products are important stakeholders and development actors in Indonesia. The country's food security will be threatened if farmers cannot produce rice and food in sufficient quantities.

Furthermore, the total number of farmers is decreasing, as few of the current young generation want to remain involved in the agricultural sector. According to the Census of Agriculture, the number of farmers fell by more than 16 percent in the decade to 2013. The average age of the farmers in this field survey was 51. Improving farmers' living standards, including health quality, would contribute to the sustainability of agricultural production in a situation where there is a decreasing number of farmers.

So how can we minimise the smoking behaviour of Indonesia's farmers?

The government has already implemented some strategies to reduce the smoking behaviour of its citizens, including increasing the price of cigarettes through higher taxes. It has also initiated public education campaigns, such as by placing graphic pictures showing the effects of smoking on cigarette packets.

However, the high prices and confronting pictures have not been effective in reducing farmers' smoking behaviour. The prevalence of smoking among Indonesian male adults rose from 27 percent in 1995 to 36.3 percent in 2013. These strategies have not succeeded in part because farmers can get around high prices by using tobacco that is available and commonly sold in villages.

An alternative approach to the issue is to provide education to children at the household level to prevent the habits of smoking developing in the first place. For many people, bad habits begin at home – a father who smokes often fails to prevent his children from becoming smokers themselves.

The government could utilise the integrated health service centre (Posyando) to deliver programs to support household members, especially mothers, to educate their children not to smoke. These Posyandu were established by the Suharto Government, and are an important element in maintaining population health through a family planning program (Keluarga Berencana); they still exist in villages in every district. Another possible strategy is to use formal education institutions such as schools to strengthen the government campaign.

Even though Indonesian farmer households have low incomes, the proportion of their income allocated to smoking is alarmingly high. Reducing farmers' smoking habits is important for improving their living standards, ensuring food security for the country, and contributing to national economic development.

[Dadang J Mutaqin is an Asia and the Pacific Policy Society member and a graduate of Crawford School of Public Policy's Environmental Management and Development Program, ANU. Originally published on PolicyForum.net.]

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2018/04/indonesian-farmers-incomes-going-up-in-smoke-to-buy-cigarettes/

Indigenous culture & rights

Bid to protect indigenous Indonesians hit by ministry's doubts over

Mongabay - April 20, 2018

Hans Nicholas Jong, Jakarta – The Indonesian government looks poised to derail a long-awaited bill on the rights of the country's indigenous groups, calling it "not a necessity" and saying it will only trigger new problems.

The bill, a perennial priority for legislation for several years, is meant to be the follow-up to a landmark constitutional ruling in 2013 that rescinded state control over indigenous lands and gave it back to Indonesia's indigenous peoples. Since then, various laws and regulations have been issued that touch on the issue of indigenous rights to some degree, but the central bill that would tie them all together remains locked in legislative limbo.

And that state of uncertainty looks set to prevail, as a letter from the Home Affairs Ministry, dated April 11 and seen by Mongabay, sets out the ministry's objections to the current draft of the indigenous rights bill.

It argues, among other points, that the bill is not needed, citing the 16 other laws and regulations that address indigenous issues, such as the 2014 Villages Law.

The ministry also says the bill will create problems in the future, such as putting unnecessary pressure on the state budget, triggering new conflicts, and reviving indigenous beliefs that are not regulated by the state. (Indonesia, though nominally secular, grants official recognition to just six faiths, not including the myriad indigenous or animist faiths practiced by groups across the country.)

"Therefore, the passing of the bill on indigenous peoples is not yet a concrete necessity, and there are concerns that it will create new problems related to indigenous people," reads the letter signed by Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo.

The ministry indicated in the letter that it had drawn up the "problem inventory" in collaboration with six other ministries and government agencies.

The letter was sent in response to the government's solicitation for feedback on the indigenous rights bill, and thus represents the views of just one set of several stakeholders. However, it paints a bleak outlook for the bill's progress, given that the objecting party – the Home Affairs Ministry – is the principal government liaison to the parliamentary commission in charge of legislating the bill.

Urgency of the bill

While indigenous rights are guaranteed under Indonesia's constitution, the country has never passed legislation that addresses the issue directly, leaving indigenous communities with little to no legal protections.

Proponents of the bill say it's important to have these protections enshrined in law for communities that have existed since long before the Indonesian republic was conceived. That's why when Joko "Jokowi" Widodo ran for president in 2014 as a man of the people not beholden to the long-ruling Jakarta elite, many indigenous communities pinned their hopes on him. The Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), the main advocacy group for these communities, made Jokowi the first presidential candidate it had ever endorsed by backing his bid that year.

Since then, however, progress on the bill has been slow. In 2016, a draft found its way into parliament's docket of priority legislation, known as Prolegnas, but never made it to passage. The entire process to get it prioritized had to be repeated in 2017, because bills are not carried over from one year to the next. During a meeting with AMAN in March of that year, Jokowi stated his support for the bill.

AMAN and the groups it represents hope the passage of the bill (it's in the priority docket again this year) will give indigenous communities the legal standing to address the major issues facing them, including the confirmation of basic land rights and a voice in local government.

"The point [of the bill] is to first acknowledge, and then to respect, to protect and to empower indigenous people," Arif Wibowo, the deputy chairman of parliament's legislative committee, said late last year.

One of the most pressing demands from indigenous groups is for recognition of their land rights, something which has been denied them for decades by the government in favor of large plantation and mining companies. The government is obligated to relinquish control over state forest areas that fall within indigenous lands, per the 2013 Constitutional Court ruling. But to date, the government has recognized just 18 communities' rights to their ancestral forests, covering a combined area of 164 square kilometers (63 square miles).

This is far short of the 19,000 square kilometers (7,340 square miles) of land, home to 607 indigenous communities, that AMAN calculates must be rezoned as ancestral forests.

Activists blame red tape for the glacial pace of progress, noting that only local governments can grant recognition of customary forests to indigenous communities through local bylaws. For a local administration to issue such a bylaw, it has to ensure that the indigenous people have been living in the area for a long time and that the customary land truly exists, among other things.

Activists say they hope that the national bill, once passed, can address these bureaucratic hurdles hindering the recognition of customary land rights.

'Misguided' assessment

Given parliament and the president's statements of support for the indigenous rights bill, the letter from the Home Affairs Ministry has come as a disappointment to activists.

"[We're] surprised because the minister previously conveyed his commitment to indigenous peoples during AMAN's national meeting in Sorong [in 2015]," Rukka Sombilinggi, secretary-general of AMAN, told Mongabay.

She called the Home Affairs Ministry's stance misguided and a clear violation of Jokowi's commitment.

"The existing regulations on indigenous peoples overlap with each other and haven't been able to answer the needs of indigenous peoples," Rukka said. "Therefore, a law on indigenous people is the answer to the core problems that the government is facing in managing indigenous people. And more importantly, it will provide legal certainty for indigenous peoples, the government and businesses."

Muhammad Arman, AMAN's policy advocacy, legal and human rights director, said government data showed clearly that land conflicts arising from a lack of legal recognition of indigenous communities and their lands were rampant across the country.

He cited data from the Supreme Court, which showed that more than half of the 16,000 unresolved land disputes recorded since Indonesia declared independence in 1945 were related to customary land conflicts. Similarly, the National Commission on Human Rights has found massive human rights violations due to the lack of strong laws to protect indigenous people.

"These findings should have been a reason for the government to speed up the passage of the bill," Arman said in a press statement. President Joko Widodo on Oct. 25 handed over land certificate to a representative of an Indonesian indigenous group. That day, a total nine communities secured rights to their forests. Photo courtesy of Indonesia's Cabinet Secretary.

Still in the early stages

For its part, the Home Affairs Ministry says its assessment of the need for the indigenous rights bill should be seen as just one facet of the overall debate, and not as the government's final decision on the issue.

"The minister and his personnel will still continue to support discussions related to indigenous peoples," the ministry's secretary-general, Hadi Prabowo, said at a press conference in Jakarta.

Asked why the ministry deemed there was no urgency to pass the bill, officials declined to answer, saying instead that discussions around the bill – begun in 2016 – were still in the early stages.

Nata Irawan, the ministry's director-general for village administration, said key aspects of indigenous rights were already covered under the 2014 Villages Law.

"And [the law] has even been followed up with a ministerial regulation in 2014," he said at the press conference. "But if it's still deemed to be lacking, then we're ready to accept advice and opinions to further [discuss the bill]. What's clear and what we have to understand together is that the Home Affairs Ministry supports President Jokowi's policies."

Nata said there was the possibility of the government officially endorsing the bill despite the ministry's current stance – if other ministries and government agencies deemed the bill to be important. This is because the Home Affairs Ministry is looking at the issue from an administrative point of view, while others like the Ministry of Environment and Forestry might look at the importance of the bill from the perspective of conserving ancestral forests, Nata said.

He said further discussions on the bill were planned with the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. "If we're talking about whether the bill is needed or not, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights will be the one to decide," he said.

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry, meanwhile, said that if there was no consensus among government agencies on the importance of the bill, the matter would be discussed with the State Secretariat, which effectively serves as the president's office for all matters related to ongoing legislation.

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said her office was looking at the bill from the perspective of ancestral land rights, as it was tasked with overseeing the government's program to recognize customary forests. She acknowledged the difficulties faced by indigenous peoples in getting their land rights recognized, despite the government's pledges of support.

"In practice, the program has been going on with existing regulations. But our indigenous friends feel that it's difficult because the process [at the level of] local governments and local regulations is slow," Siti told reporters in Jakarta.

Source: https://news.mongabay.com/2018/04/bid-to-protect-indigenous-indonesians-hit-by-ministrys-doubts-over-rights-bill/

Jakarta & urban life

Police continue questioning ministers over Jakarta Bay project

Jakarta Post - April 19, 2018

Jakarta – The Jakarta Police has questioned the Environment and Forestry Minister in the latest development in their investigation of the controversial Jakarta Bay reclamation project, following their earlier questioning of two other Cabinet ministers.

Jakarta Police special crimes chief Sr. Comr. Adi Deriyan said on Wednesday that the police had questioned Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya recently.

"We have questioned [Siti Nurbaya]," Adi said as reported by Antara news agency, but he did not provide further details.

Last month, the police questioned Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, along with other high-ranking officials.

While interrogating Luhut, the police asked the coordinating minister to clarify his decision to lift the moratorium on the project.

The multi-trillion rupiah project has sparked controversy among the public as well as state officials, with the police investigating alleged corruption in the project after discovering "irregularities" in the sale of the reclaimed islets.

Antara reported that the taxable property value (NJOP) for Islet C and Islet D was set at Rp 3.1 million (US$230) per square meter, while the land was being sold for more than Rp 25 million per square meter.

The NJOP was calculated on the independent assessment of public auditors (KJPP) as mandated by Law No. 28/2009 on regional taxation and levies and Bylaw No.16/2011 on land and building tax in rural and urban areas.

Adi said that the special crimes division planned to question more government officials.

Separately, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan recently reiterated his campaign promise to stop the project, arguing that it would only benefit certain groups. (fac)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/19/police-continue-questioning-ministers-over-jakarta-bay-project.html

Exotic nightclub summarily shuttered by Jakarta gov't despite incomplete

Coconuts Jakarta - April 18, 2018

Last month, Governor Anies Baswedan passed a new Gubernatorial Decree (Pergub) that gives his administration the power to summarily revoke the business license of any nightlife venue in which narcotics or prostitution have been reported (by any party, including the police, media or even public) without the need for further investigation.

The Pergub's first target was the infamous Alexis Hotel, allegedly a hotbed of high-class prostitution that Anies had been trying to shut down completely for months. Today, two more Jakarta nightlife venues will see their doors closed after falling afoul of the new decree as well.

The Jakarta administration pulled the business licenses for both Sense Karaoke and Exotic Discotheque last week and gave both nightlife businesses until today to completely shut down and vacate their venues.

Sense Karaoke, located in Mangga Dua Square Mall in North Jakarta, has been closed following a raid by the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) in which they said they found evidence that employees of the nightlife venue had been providing customers with crystal meth.

Exotic had its business license revoked following the death of a 47-year-old man, identified as Sudirman, at the Mangga Besar nightclub on April 1. Although it was suspected that he died of a drug overdose, police were never able to confirm that as the family refused an autopsy.

Despite the cause of death being unknown, Governor Anies Baswedan still chose to pull Exotic's business license. The nightclub's management said they were disappointed he chose not to wait until a full investigation had been completed as they claimed that Sudirman's medical records showed that he likely died of a heart attack and there was no evidence that he had purchased drugs inside the club.

Responding to that, Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno said that the government actually had more evidence to indicate that narcotics were being sold at Exotic, including BNN data, but did not disclose what actual hard evidence, if any, they had to justify shutting down the business.

"We are here to enforce the rules. For us, there should be no compromise anymore when it comes to drugs. This is something we have to execute and we will follow the regulations, including the revised gubernatorial decree of 2018," Sandiaga said as quoted by Kompas.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/exotic-nightclub-summarily-shuttered-jakarta-govt-despite-incomplete-investigation-alleged-overdose-death/

Anies lets PKS celebrates anniversary at City Hall

Jakarta Post - April 17, 2018

Jakarta – Jakarta administration general affairs head Firmansyah said the Islamic-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) had gained permission from Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan to use the City Hall yard to celebrate its anniversary.

"The PKS asked the governor directly for permission [to use the City Hall yard]," Firmansyah said. "The usual mechanism to use the [yard] is first to ask general affairs for permission. I don't really know whether the event was so sudden [that the PKS needed to ask the governor directly for permission]," Firmansyah said on Tuesday, as quoted by tempo.co.

On April 15, the PKS held a leisurely road race event centered at City Hall as part of the party's 20th anniversary celebration, attended by PKS president Sohibul Iman. The peak event will be held on May 13. Firmansyah added that the governor could even give verbal permission to parties that wanted to use City Hall.

Earlier, public policy expert Trubus Rahadiansyah questioned the use of City Hall for PKS anniversary events.

Meanwhile, PKS Jakarta chapter chairman Syakir Purnomo claimed the party had followed correct procedures in using City Hall. The party chose City Hall as the celebration venue as a form of the party's support for Anies and his deputy, Sandiaga Uno, he said. (wnd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/17/anies-lets-pks-celebrates-anniversary-at-city-hall.html

Cars with red license plates exempt from odd-even policy: Traffic Corps

Jakarta Post - April 17, 2018

Jakarta – Cars with red license plates, which denote government-owned vehicles, are exempt from the odd-even traffic policy currently on trial at three toll gates in Greater Jakarta, according to National Police Traffic Corps chief Insp. Gen. Royke Lumowa.

The Transportation Ministry has been conducting a trial run of the odd-even policy at Tangerang 2, Kunciran, and Cibubur 2 since Monday. The rule is in effect from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on weekdays.

Under the odd-even policy, cars with even-numbered license plates are allowed to pass through the tollgates on even-numbered dates. The same holds for cars with odd-numbered license plates on odd-numbered dates.

"If the license plate of a car is red, it could bypass the odd-even policy. If it is still a regular license plate, even with an RF code, then they must follow the policy," Royke said on Tuesday as reported by Tempo, referring to the special license plate code offered to government officials.

Royke said this showed that the policy was selective in its implementation. "If someone owns a car with a black license plate with an RF code, that means the car is a private vehicle and must follow the rules for private vehicles," he said.

On Monday, Greater Jakarta Transportation Body (BPTJ) chief Bambang Prihartono claimed that cars with RF black license plate were exempt from the odd-even policy. However, the next day he announced that the agency agreed with the Traffic Corps' decision. (ami)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/17/cars-with-red-license-plates-exempt-from-odd-even-policy-traffic-corps.html

Retail & service industry

Beef grief as Indonesia fails at self-sufficiency

Asian Correspondent - April 20, 2018

John McBeth, Jakarta – Its ambitious quest for beef self-sufficiency apparently stalled, Indonesia's government is now importing substantial quantities of low-quality Indian buffalo meat to make up for an ongoing shortfall and reduce the country's reliance on costlier Australian beef imports.

The State Logistics Agency (Bulog) has approval to import an additional 100,000 tons of buffalo meat this year, with the first shipment due to arrive shortly before the Ramadan and Idul Fitri Muslim holidays in May-June when beef consumption annually peaks. Whether that import substitution is having the desired impact on prices, however, is another story.

President Joko Widodo has said he wants the price of buffalo meat imports set at 80,000 rupiah per kilogram. In many wet markets, however, it is now selling for up to 110,000 rupiah – only 5,000-10,000 rupiah less than locally slaughtered beef.

That, industry sources say, is due to supply chain irregularities in which there is a 50-60,000 rupiah mark-up between import and local retail prices, as well as the influence of criminal gangs whose control over the markets is seemingly condoned by local authorities for mutual benefit.

Still, buffalo meat is a cheaper substitute in many Indonesian dishes, such as rendang and semur daging.

According to Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), a public authority that provides research on the red meat and poultry industries, that makes buffalo meat popular among small manufacturers and food service operators who often blend it with fresh beef.

Rejected in the past because of the threat of foot and mouth disease (FMD), buffalo meat, so-called daging kerbau, was first allowed into Indonesia in mid-2016 with 85,000 tons imported up until last December. That's much higher than the 2016 volume of Australian imports to Indonesia

The government was forced to suspend buffalo imports briefly early last year after the Constitutional Court ruled that meat from FMD-prone countries could only be imported under emergency circumstances and with "maximum security standards."

FMD is a highly infectious and sometimes fatal virus which causes fever, followed by blisters inside the mouth and on the feet of cattle and other cloven-hoofed animals. It can spread rapidly among herds and is widely feared in countries that rely on agriculture and primary produce as a main source of export revenues.

It is not clear what precautions are being taken by the main importer, PT Sumber Agro Semesta, a unit of influential tycoon Tomy Winata's diversified Artha Graha Group. The company started in rice seed and has since expanded into other agri-business sectors.

But the ban only lasted seven months in the face of Widodo's determination to ensure that Indonesia's growing middle class and even poorer segments of its 266 million-strong population have access to cheaper meat, with locally produced beef prices nearly double those on international markets.

Although FMD is considered endemic, India long ago overtook the United States, Australia and Brazil as the world's largest exporter of beef and buffalo meat, known as carabeef – all of it supposedly subject to microbiological and other testing.

Most of India's 1.95 million tons of carabeef was exported last year to price-sensitive customers in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, but Indian traders have adopted voluntary vaccination programs in an effort to penetrate higher-value markets.

Animal health experts say there is a low risk of the virus being transmitted through frozen meat when millions of tons have already been shipped to Vietnam, Malaysia and other destinations across Southeast Asia without serious incident.

It is already having a significant impact on Australia's US$1.2 billion-a-year beef trade, with live-cattle exports, mostly from the Northern Territory, falling by 15% to 493,000 head last year and boxed beef exports dropping by 19% over the same period.

That slump is having ripple-on effects. Australian agribusiness firm Elders is selling its 8,400-head South Sumatra feedlot and an abattoir in Bogor, Indonesia, saying both have been underperforming in a local market made increasingly chaotic by policy uncertainty and quota difficulties.

Another Indonesian-owned company, which requested anonymity, has closed its Australia-based live-cattle operation and also downsized its feedlot by 70%, with one executive complaining that the business climate "doesn't make sense."

"The president's policies are confusing," he says. "He wants food prices low, yet sometimes he favors the consumer and other times the farmer. There are too many interventions. We are asking now whether this is becoming a planned economy."

According to the executive, government officials falsely suspect the companies running the 23 feedlots taking Australian cattle have formed a monopoly, instead of seeing the higher prices as a result of a long supply chain that goes through up to nine different stages.

In fact, the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies estimates that locally-slaughtered beef is 37.4% more expensive than imported beef, which has a shorter supply chain but is subject to trade restrictions and cannot be sold in traditional markets.

With pork not an option due to religious restrictions, beef consumption in Indonesia – officially at 2.9 kilograms per capita a year – is still among the lowest in the region, trailing Malaysia (8.7 kgs), Singapore (6.2kgs), the Philippines (5.6 kgs), Vietnam (4.4kgs) and Thailand (3.6 kgs).

Australia, which relies on Indonesia to take half of its live-cattle exports, infuriated the Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono government in 2011 by abruptly stopping shipments due to animal welfare concerns highlighted in an Australian television program.

Indonesia retaliated by slapping on a temporary live-cattle ban of its own and in the years since the trade has seen ups and downs, now marked by a new system that abolished quotas but stipulates that every five imported feeder cattle should be accompanied by one breeder.

Although that rule was introduced 18 months ago, the 15,000 breeders brought in last year have yet to be moved to government breeding stations and on to farmers, leaving the feedlots to bear the cost of sustaining them and seeing their profits slowly erode in the process.

Widodo had earlier declared beef self-sufficiency as a national goal, along with a basket of other commodities, but imports surged by 40% in 2016 and by a similar percentage last year while the domestic cattle population continued to shrink.

"Nobody knows what is going on," says one veteran cattleman, who is strongly critical of Australia for taking the Indonesian market for granted and not doing enough to understand it. "It's so perverse because everything we talk about is purely supposition."

In an effort to reduce logistics costs, the government has built five specialized vessels to bring livestock from outlying islands to Java, including 55,000 head a year from West Timor in East Nusa Tenggara where there is larger-scale cattle ranching than elsewhere in the archipelago.

But the operation still has to be subsidized, and at 30,000 rupiah a kilogram farmers are hardly benefiting from the trade. Nor are traders plagued by poor handling and inspection delays that result in massive weight losses among cattle on the week-long voyage from outer islands to Jakarta.

Source: http://www.atimes.com/article/beef-grief-indonesia-fails-self-sufficiency/

Armed forces & defense

Suspicious transfers to Singapore, UK linked to helicopter deal

Jakarta Post - April 19, 2018

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – The Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) has identified suspicious transfers of funds from Indonesia to Singapore and the UK in connection with the graft-ridden purchase of a VVIP helicopter from Italian-British manufacturer AgustaWestland.

PPATK chairman Kiagus Ahmad Badaruddin revealed on Wednesday that the dubious transaction, worth Rp 340 billion (US$24.6 million), was conducted by military equipment supplier Diratama Jaya Mandiri.

"The transfer [of funds] to Singapore was [related] to a company affiliated with the supplier," Kiagus said in a hearing with House of Representatives Commission III, which oversees human rights, security and legal affairs.

The director of Diratama Jaya Mandiri and three Air Force personnel were named graft suspects in a criminal investigation into the procurement last year. The value of the procurement project was allegedly inflated from Rp 524 billion to Rp 738 billion.

The PPATK has reported its findings to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the Indonesian Military (TNI).

Kiagus said he could not reveal details about the specific parties in Singapore and the UK that received the money.

"That should be checked first by our authorities. We have told [the KPK] about the transaction to those countries. Let them check and investigate," Kiagus said. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/19/suspicious-transfers-to-singapore-uk-linked-to-helicopter-deal.html

Criminal justice & legal system

Counseling, not crocodiles: Indonesia anti-drugs tsar flags new strategy

Reuters - April 19, 2018

Tom Allard and Agustinus Beo Da Costa, Jakarta – Indonesia's new antinarcotics chief Heru Winarko called for an expansion of rehabilitation centers across the country on Wednesday (18/04), flagging a new approach in contrast to the blood-soaked war on drugs underway in its neighbor, the Philippines.

More users, addicts and even minor dealers would be diverted into centers run by medical professionals and counselors rather than heading straight into an over-crowded prison system, Heru told Reuters in an interview.

"With the rehabilitation approach, we cut the demand," he said. "If there is no demand, the supply will not come or reduce."

Heru took over as head of Indonesia's anti-narcotics agency in March, replacing Budi Waseso, a former top police officer who advocated surrounding prisons with moats filled with crocodiles and piranhas to stop drug convicts escaping.

Rather than wildlife, Heru said he planned to set up rehabilitation facilities near prisons.

"It is better if there is a rehabilitation center located close to a prison," he said, noting that a former mental hospital near a correctional facility in Bali was being converted into a center for offenders to tackle addiction.

"When we do it like this, it will be amazing. The prison becomes a place for guiding people."

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, has long warned that the country was gripped by a "drugs emergency" amid assertions by officials – challenged by some experts – that there were more than 6 million users.

Jokowi has said drugs posed a bigger danger than Islamist militancy and he intensified a drugs war that has included the execution of drug traffickers, including some foreigners.

Heru said there needed to be rapid growth in assessment centers which determine if drug convicts would benefit from therapy rather than incarceration.

The country's 127 rehabilitation centers were inadequate for a population of 250 million, and more should be built and existing facilities better integrated, he said.

David McRea, a researcher from the University of Melbourne, said Heru's enthusiasm for rehabilitation needed to be treated cautiously. Indonesia's criminal justice system already allowed for some offenders to be rehabilitated but the option was rarely used.

"For years, there's been talk in Indonesia of a shift to rehabilitate people but people are still being sentenced to prison for petty drug crimes," he said.

Killings rise

Methamphetamine, known as shabu, is the most popular drug, according to Heru. More than two tonnes of methamphetamine was seized off the coast of Sumatra island in February in two separate, record busts.

Law enforcement officials would maintain their "stern" approach to traffickers and their "shoot to kill" policy if suspects were armed and resisted arrest, said Heru.

But he added Indonesia would not mimic the violent policies of President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who was praised by his predecessor, Budi. "We have our own standard operating procedures," he said.

More than 4,100 people have died during police anti-narcotics operations in the Philippines since July 2016. Another 2,300 have been killed by unidentified gunmen.

Philippines authorities say their actions are lawful and the deaths occur when suspects threaten police. However, human rights groups and UN officials have accused Philippine anti-drugs agents of extrajudicial killings. Police deny that.

According to Amnesty International, Indonesian police killed 98 drug suspects in 2017, up from 18 the previous year. It said the deaths were rarely investigated.

McRea said the trend of rising drug-related slayings continued in Indonesia this year and was "disturbing."

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/counselling-not-crocodiles-indonesia-anti-drugs-tsar-flags-new-strategy/

Police & law enforcement

Small boys stripped, beaten and paraded in public for alleged theft

Coconuts Jakarta - April 17, 2018

Vigilante justice in the form of humiliating public shaming parades are disturbingly common in Indonesia.

It's also common for the vigilantes behind these criminal acts to go unpunished, since many such incidents aren't reported to the authorities – either because the victim is financially compensated (colloquially referred to as damai, meaning "peace") or they are threatened further by the culprits, who usually have strong backing in their respective neighborhoods.

But following one especially disturbing case that took place in the Jakarta satellite city of Bekasi involving two very young boys, the parents of the victims are refusing to accept damai from the culprits.

Hopefully it is a sign that parades of shame are becoming less acceptable in Indonesia (especially in the wake of the 5-year sentence a neighborhood chief received recently involving a highly publicized public shaming case).

On April 8, a 12-year-old boy identified by his initials AJ, along with his friend H, were accused of stealing a jacket belonging to a 40-year-old man identified as Nur. With the help of several other locals, Nur caught the boys, stripped them, paraded them in the neighborhood while beating them.

Sudirman, AJ's father, eventually reported the incident to the police on April 12. The Bekasi Metro Police arrested Nur soon after and he was charged with assault. He could now face up to five years' imprisonment. The police are still searching for at least two others involved in the case.

After the arrest, Sudirman said Nur's parents and respected figures in the neighborhood went to see him on Nur's behalf to apologize and ask that the charges against him be dropped.

"I gave them five days [from the incident to apologize]. So from there we can see there was no good intention on their part to come to me," Sudirman said, as quoted by Kompas yesterday.

Shortly after the parade of shame, Sudirman said AJ showed signs of mental trauma as he locked himself in his room for days and even asked to move schools since his friends heard about the incident. Meanwhile, H and his parents moved to the nearby town of Cikarang.

Parades of shame are especially common for adulterers or anyone found getting intimate outside of wedlock, especially in rural areas, and the abusers often escape any criminal charges.

In August last year, 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.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/small-boys-stripped-beaten-parents-refuse-drop-charges-despite-pleas-suspect/

Mining & energy

Miners warned over sluggish progress in smelter construction

Jakarta Post - April 19, 2018

Jakarta – The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has warned mining companies over the sluggish progress on the construction of smelters, which is a requirement under the stipulations of their export permits.

The ministry's mineral and coal Director General Bambang Gatot Ariyono said on Thursday as reported by kontan.co.id that the ministry would revoke the export recommendations for companies whose construction progress had not reached 90 percent within six months of independent verification of export recommendations.

The requirement to construct smelters is stipulated in Ministerial Decree No. 6/2017 on the procedure for the issuance of export recommendations for processed minerals issued in April 2017.

Based on recent audit's by the ministry, the smelter's construction progress of three out of 16 nickel mining companies that obtained export recommendations from the ministry had reached less than 1 percent progress.

For example, the progress of PT Ceria Nugraha Indotama smelter's construction reached only 0.53 percent in March from 0.03 percent in December. Yet, the company had exported 1.5 million tons out of its 2.3 million ton quota.

PT Fajar Bakti Lintas Nusantara, which had obtained the export recommendations of 4 million tons, had not started construction, while PT Genba Multi Mineral, which obtained the export recommendation of 1.89 million tons in January, had not shown any progress in smelter construction.

Meanwhile, from the seven bauxite mining companies, the smelter's construction progress of three companies was less than 1 percent. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/19/miners-warned-over-sluggish-progress-in-smelter-construction.html

Infrastructure & development

Indonesia scales down investment target in energy, mining sectors

Jakarta Post - April 20, 2018

Jakarta – The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has revised its investment target this year by 27 percent to only US$37.2 billion, with the biggest cut of more than 50 percent coming from the electricity sector.

The ministry initially aimed to realize investments worth $50.96 billion this year, of which $24.88 billion was expected to be in the electricity sector, $16.76 billion in the oil and gas sector, $7.31 billion in the mining sector and $2.01 billion in the renewable energy sector.

However, the latest data from the ministry show the targeted investment currently stands at $37.2 billion.

Of the figure, the electricity and mining sectors are projected to get $12.2 billion and $6.2 billion, respectively. Meanwhile, the targets for the oil and gas and renewable energy sectors remain unchanged.

"The target has been corrected from around $50 billion to $37.2 billion. But it's still higher compared to the realized investment [of $26.7 billion] last year," Deputy Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Arcandra Tahar said on Thursday.

The target for the electricity sector was slashed following state electricity firm PLN's decision to scrap the allocation for new power plant projects of 22,300 megawatts and to postpone the commercial operational dates of various other projects in its electricity procurement business plan for the 2018 to 2027 period, which was launched on March 13.

In its previous business plan for the 2017 to 2026 period, the PLN projected that its electricity sales would grow 8.3 percent annually. In fact, the sales figure only climbed by 3.57 percent last year, raising concerns about the possibility of an oversupply. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/20/indonesia-scales-down-investment-target-in-energy-mining-sectors.html

Government slashes number of strategic projects

Jakarta Post - April 17, 2018

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – The government has announced that it will slash the number of National Strategic Projects (PSN), mostly related to infrastructure, from 245 to 222.

Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution said in Jakarta on Monday that certain projects could be maintained in the list of strategic projects because their construction could start in the third quarter of 2019.

"We have invited related ministers to [check their] progress. If the ministers say the projects could not be implemented by Q3, 2019, it is the job of the next government to carry out evaluations," Darmin said after a meeting on project evaluations at the State Palace.

Darmin did not list all the projects that were dropped but mentioned several examples, including the railway track from Jambi to Palembang in South Sumatra, railway tracks in East Kalimantan, clean water facilities in North Sumatra, a dam in Pelosika in Central Sulawesi and a special economic zone (KEK) in Merauke, Papua.

The 222 projects that will be maintained are 69 roads, 51 dams, 29 industrial and tourist zones, 16 railways, 11 energy projects, 10 seaports, eight clean water and sanitation facilities, six airports, six irrigation systems, six smelters, four technological projects, three housing projects, one agriculture-fishery project, one sea dike and one educational project.

Meanwhile, the three programs to continue are the electricity program, airplane program and the agrarian economic equality program. "The estimated investment value reaches more than Rp 4.1 quadrillion [US$297.78 trillion]," Darmin said.

The National Strategic Projects is based on Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No 3/2016 that was amended with Perpres No 58/2017. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/17/government-slashes-number-of-strategic-projects.html

Economy & investment

Employers call for shorter Idul Fitri holiday

Jakarta Post - April 20, 2018

Jakarta – The Indonesian Association of Synthetic Fiber Producers (APSYFI) has called on the government to revise its plan for a 10-day Idul Fitri holiday, arguing that the extended holiday would negatively affect industry production and exports.

"We hope the government changes its plan. Learning from last year's implementation, it will spark confusion on the field," said APSYFI executive member Prama Yudha in Jakarta on Thursday as reported by tempo.co.

The government has decided to extend the Idul Fitri holiday from June 11 to 19 from the previously scheduled June 14 to 15. It would be the longest Idul Fitri holiday ever.

He said an extended holiday should have been decided three months before Idul Fitri to allow the industry to adjust import and export volume, the shutdown process, production cuts and other schedules.

Prama suggested that the government only issue a guideline on the extended holiday so that the industry and workers association could discuss the implementation.

He also said freight operation restrictions would hamper exports because while the industry was ready to export, freight-forwarders would not be ready to transport their products. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/20/employers-calls-for-shorter-idul-fitri-holiday.html

Indonesia's economy shows real signs of acceleration

Jakarta Globe - April 18, 2018

Jakarta – Economic data released so far this year shows a pick-up in the growth of Indonesia's economy.

The government collected more taxes in the first quarter this year than it did in the same period last year, while the growing number of capital goods and raw materials suggest bustling investment and manufacturing activities. Motorcycle sales expanded at their quickest rate in four years in the last quarter of 2017, as purchasing power recovered across the country, in line with rising prices of the country's main commodities like coal and palm oil.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said she estimates gross domestic product (GDP) to expand by 5.2 percent in the first quarter this year from the same period a year ago, which would be the country's fastest expansion in the last four years.

The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank both expect the largest economy in Southeast Asia to expand by 5.3 percent this year, picking up from a near 5 percent pace in the past four years.

Taxes and excises revenue jumped 10 percent to Rp 262.4 trillion ($19 billion) in the first quarter from Rp 237.9 trillion in the same quarter last year.

"The revenue shows encouraging growth as it also shows that our economic pulse is beginning to increase," Sri Mulyani said at a press conference in Jakarta. "The government will continue to maintain this momentum, which I would say is on the right track."

The main source of the increase in tax revenue was attributed to Indonesia's commodities sector, which experienced price rebounds in the past year.

The Indonesian Coal Benchmark Price (HBA) was set at $101.86 per ton for the month of March, its highest since May 2012.

Those commodities and robust shipments of manufacturing goods helped increase non-oil and gas exports to $44.3 billion from January to March, up 8.8 percent from the same period last year.

Households, businesses ramp up spending

Sales of cars in the first quarter this year was recorded at 291,920 units, up 2.8 percent from 283,760 units in the same period last year, data from the Indonesian Automotive Industry Association (Gaikindo) shows.

Motorcycles sold from January to March also increased to a total of 1.46 million units, up 3.8 percent from 1.4 million units within the same period last year, reversing a downward trend, according to data from the Indonesia's Motor Association (AISI).

A survey by Indonesia's central bank, Bank Indonesia, showed that the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) in March was 121.6, still above the minimum confidence level of 100.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who is up for re-election next year, went as far as reversing his policy in fuel subsidies to ensure cheap fuel and electricity until the end of 2019 and to support consumer purchasing power.

"Household consumption is expected to grow faster this year, as there will be momentum to boost it, such as regional elections and the Asian Games," said Mohammad Faisal, an economist at Jakarta-based research firm Center of Reform on Economics Indonesia.

Several indicators in investment increases, such as imports of capital goods and raw materials, have also risen.

Within the period from January to March, imports totaled $44 billion, with raw materials accounting for $32 billion, followed by capital goods and consumer goods.

This year, the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) targets to attract Rp 795 trillion from both foreign and domestic investments, a 10.4 percent increase compared to last year's figures.

State splurging

This year, the government will not hold back in spending on social assistance and on civil servants, who have not seen pay raises since 2016. The government hopes that it can help boost consumption ahead of Lebaran and the beginning of the school year in July.

"There will be a multiplier effect on household consumption. It is expected to move real sectors as well as to accelerate the disbursement of employee expenditures," Faisal said.

Government expenditures in social assistance almost doubled to Rp 17.9 trillion from Rp 9.5 trillion in the same period last year. "We hope there will be no [further external] shocks to help us maintain the momentum of the growing economy," Sri Mulyani said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/indonesia-economy-shows-signs-of-acceleration/

Indonesian foreign debt reaches $356.2b in February: BI

Jakarta Post - April 17, 2018

Jakarta – Bank Indonesia has announced that Indonesia's foreign debt reached US$356.2 billion in February, up 9.5 percent growth from the preceding month.

The headline figure includes $181.4 billion of government and BI debt as well as $174.8 billion of private company debt.

"The foreign debt management is in line with the fiscal policy to accelerate economic growth through productive activities and investment," BI said in a statement issued on Monday.

Government debt alone amounted to $177.9 billion at the end of February, consisting of government debt papers held by foreigners ($121.5 billion) and the debt from foreign creditors ($56.3 billion).

Without mentioning figures, BI said the government's foreign debt costs were now lower than in the past, in line with investors' greater trust in Indonesia due to the country's improved economic fundamentals and upgraded credit ratings.

BI explained that the private sector debt was concentrated in the manufacturing sector, in mining and in the development of electricity, gas and water projects.

BI said the amount of foreign debt was under control, as reflected in the debt-to-GDP ratio of 34 percent, much lower than in neighboring countries.

"Bank Indonesia, in cooperation with the government, will continuously monitor the foreign debt to ensure the funds are used optimally to finance development, without ignoring the risks and economic stability," the central bank added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/17/indonesian-foreign-debt-reaches-356-2b-in-february-bi.html

Analysis & opinion

A new take on violence in Indonesian Papua

The interpreter - April 19, 2018

Bobby Anderson and Adrian Morel – Last year's "hostage stand-off" in Indonesian Papua had hardly ended before more armed clashes began. Most violence in Papua is assumed to be an issue of indigenous people threatened by the state. But this assumption is anecdotal.

Despite the wealth Indonesia earns through Papua's abundant natural resources, a dearth of government services results in ordinary Papuans having the lowest incomes, the lowest educational levels, and the highest mortality rates in the country. Support for independence is certainly widespread. But in an effort to quantitatively analyse violence in Papua and Papua Barat, we examined the 2008-15 National Violence Monitoring System (NVMS), a database of Indonesian district- and provincial-level newspapers.

NVMS was essentially an exercise in collective newspaper reading, where dozens of analysts captured and coded every violent incident reported across Indonesia, digging through provincial archives dating back to 1998.

Most violence and not all killings make the news, especially in Indonesia where large parts of the country lack journalists and police. But NVMS remains the most comprehensive and methodologically sound dataset available. (NVMS regrettably ended in 2015 when the funding expired.)

We studied 2014 data – the final year of NVMS, when it captured 200,000 violent incidents nationwide – and earlier. We honed in on homicide, assuming that this measure would be illustrative of the frequency of other types of violence (assaults, riots, arson) as well.

While our analysis is not yet complete, what we have discovered thus far is revealing: crime kills more Papuans than the state; both crime and insurgency are extremely localised; and security actors tend to ignore violence unless they are targeted. A threadbare state is more apparent than a police state in 2018, as well as 2014. (A draft version of the longer analysis is available for download here.)

Geographic parameters of homicide

Papua province contains 1.2% of Indonesia's population, and in 2014 was home to 5% of its homicides. Killings were highly localised, with 54% occurring in Mimika Regency and Jayapura city.

Mimika's homicide rate was 29.2 per 100,000 people – 30 times the national average – matching homicide rates in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Colombia. Jayapura city came in a distant second, with 10 homicides per 100,000, equivalent to Haiti and Liberia, and matching the "violence epidemic" standard set by the World Health Organisation.

Crime, separatism, and homicide

In Papua province the leading cause of homicide was crime, which constituted 43.5% of murders. Deaths related to separatism came second, constituting 18% of all homicides from 2010-14. Police and military casualties were counted in this category.

All but one 2014 separatist-related death occurred in Papua province. Papua Barat was, and is, nearly free of such killings.

71% of separatist-related killings in Papua province occurred in four districts, mostly in Puncak Jaya. That district's 48 deaths also occurred in discrete areas, namely Tingginambut and Mulia. Puncak Jaya was followed by Jayapura city (22), Lanny Jaya (17), Paniai (17), and Puncak (14). The vast majority of Papua hosted no separatist-linked homicides.

Separatists kill more and better than security actors

Separatist violence killed more than security actor violence. Between 2010 and 2014, separatist attacks led to 122 deaths; security actor attacks, 43.

Security actor attacks were more frequent and more injurious, wounding 368, in comparison to 194 injured in separatist actions.

Separatist violence was also more targeted. 75% of deaths were security actors, followed by government staff. Civilians constituted only 20% of deaths and 16% of injuries. This compared starkly with security actor violence, where 65% of killings and 72% of injuries were civilians.

If we merge killings by police and military into a sole "state killing" category, across all categories only 5% of 2014 homicides were perpetrated by state actors, which is a small amount given prevailing views of the situation.

Other causes of homicide

In Papua province, crime and separatism as causes of homicides were followed by resource disputes (14.5%, one out of every six resource-linked deaths in Indonesia); mob justice (8.5%); "identity-based" or clan/ethnic violence (8%); domestic violence (5%); and election violence (2%).

The remarkably few election-linked homicides, in a significant reduction on previous years, still represent a quarter of Indonesia's 2014 elections-related deaths.

2014 and contemporary Papua

Patterns of violence seen in 2014 form a prism through which to view 2018. Papua Barat hosts hardly any separatist activity; separatist violence in Papua remains contained primarily in Puncak Jaya and Mimika.

In the former, since 2015 at least nine civilians, three separatists, and 11 security actors have been murdered, including the TNI Kodim adjunct commander, with numerous people wounded. In the latter, intoxicated soldiers murdered two civilians in 2015 and were jailed.

A long arc of violence in Mimika began in August 2017 and continues. State and separatist violence was not totally confined, with other incidents in Yahukimo and Tolikara. While insurgent violence remains targeted, state violence seems to have become less indiscriminate, a likely legacy of President Joko Widodo's 2014 election.

And violence outside the spectacle of insurgency continues, as mundane as it is pervasive. Papuan friends may support independence, and they have reason to do so, but they are more concerned about crime, alcohol, and services than state abuses.

The real structural violence found within Papua, and other areas of Indonesia for that matter, is better discerned in a recent measles outbreak, compounded by malnutrition, that killed dozens in Asmat in February this year. This illustrates the absence of services in indigenous areas, and a corruption that kills.

A picture emerges from these figures: the Indonesian state in Papua is regarded as pervasive, but its absence is glaring. Symptoms of this are found not only in crime and vigilantism, but also in deaths from easily preventable diseases and in illiteracy, among other things.

Papua's deaths, both spectacular and mundane, hint that, while Indonesia has coherent policies toward Papua's natural resources, it has no coherent policy toward Papuans.

Source: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/new-take-violence-indonesian-papua

Caught in a pincer

The interpreter - April 18, 2018

Ben Bohane – China, China, China. All the talk is of increasing Chinese influence in our region. But this is to wilfully ignore the elephant in the room.

Contrary to most commentary, the biggest destabilising player in Melanesia over the past five years has not been China, but Indonesia. Through its "look east" policy, Jakarta has deliberately paralysed the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) while seeking to influence local MPs and political parties across the Pacific to try and stop snowballing regional support for West Papuan independence.

Indonesia already has Peter O'Neill onside in PNG, and Frank Bainimarama in Fiji, and is busy trying to neutralise Vanuatu, Solomons Islands, and Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) leaders in New Caledonia, who are resisting Jakarta's influence.

The reason Vanuatu and other Melanesian nations are turning to China is because they worry more about Indonesia, which has directly threatened Vanuatu over its strong diplomatic support for the West Papuans.

Vanuatu may be pulling some "muscle" into its corner, feeling it cannot rely on Australia because Canberra continues its supine support of Indonesia, even as Jakarta directly undermines Australian and Pacific island interests.

The accumulative "strategic failure" is not a result of Australia failing to check Chinese influence in Melanesia, but of failing to check Indonesian interference in these nations that are supposed to be on "our patch".

For decades, islanders thought their "big brothers" Australia and America would defend Pacific peoples, as occurred in the Second World War. Instead, it appears Australia has outsourced security of Melanesia to Indonesia, giving it free rein.

There was a time when the Australian Defence Force worked with the Papua New Guinea Defence Force to actively secure PNG's 800-kilometre border with Indonesia. Today the border is wide open, and my contacts within PNGDF intelligence continue to complain that the Indonesian National Armed Forces routinely violate PNG sovereignty with their patrols, up to a dozen times per year, sometimes even moving the border marking pegs.

How can Australia be perceived as PNG's security guarantor when it doesn't even help its neighbour secure its primary border, especially given the growing threat of jihadi infiltration? Why has the Australian Federal Police been given priority over the ADF in terms of security across Melanesia?

With no more engineering battalions or ADF advisers present, China has walked straight in.

From a Melanesian perspective, the two biggest security issues are climate change and Indonesia's increasing political interference across the Melanesian archipelago. Despite the mantra from Foreign Minister Julie Bishop that Australia remains the "strategic partner of choice" for Vanuatu and the region, the fact is that Canberra is not listening to Melanesia's security concerns, but is telling them what they should be concerned about (China).

This is not going down well, and Melanesian nations are forging their own security arrangements with or without Australia, who they see as compromised when it comes to Indonesia and climate change.

In the past few months we have witnessed something of a pincer movement. In December, RAAF jets scrambled in Darwin after a number of nuclear-capable Russian Tupolev Tu 95 "Bear" bombers flew from Biak between Australia and Papua.

It's the first time Russian bombers have operated like this in the South Pacific, and suggests Jakarta wanted to warn Australia and the US forces parked in Darwin that it too could bring some "muscle" into the neighbourhood. That message was likely aimed at China as much as Australia and the US.

Then, at the other end of Melanesia, we have revelations about a potential Chinese military base in Vanuatu. It's highly unlikely China would have asked for a military base – Beijing is far too subtle to do that.

The more likely angle is something dressed up as a civilian project but with military applications, such as the "space station" speculated about in the South China Morning Post last week.

Already there is dual-use infrastructure in Vanuatu, such as the big Santo wharf. Step by step, like the "salami-slicing" strategy in the South China Sea, China will move in incrementally.

The consequences of this pincer only serve to demonstrate Australia's diminishing standing in the region over decades, and the strategic consequences of turning a blind eye to Indonesia's brutal hold over West Papua, the territory at the root of both Russian and Chinese moves in the region.

Australia must now find a strategic balance among its "frenemies" Indonesia and China. This must begin with deeper engagement of the islands, acknowledgement of climate change, and a robust defence of the Melanesian archipelago, from Timor to Fiji, if it expects to be Melanesia's "security partner of choice".

Source: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/caught-pincer

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