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Indonesia News Digest 17 – May 1-7, 2018

Demos & protests West Papua May day Labour & migrant workers Freedom of speech & expression Freedom of assembly & association Political parties & elections Blasphemy & hate speech Fake news & black campaigns Environment & natural disasters Health & education Corruption & abuse of power Terrorism & religious extremism Hard-line & vigilante groups Freedom of religion & worship Religion & politics Cultural & Religious Events Pornography & sexual morality Land & agrarian conflicts Jakarta & urban life Mining & energy Economy & investment Banking & finance

Demos & protests

PMII accuses dark clothed infiltrators that sparked riot in Yogya

Tempo - May 3, 2018

Pribadi Wicaksono, Yogyakarta – The Indonesian Islamic Students Movement (PMII) said that the riot that broke out in front of the UIN Sunan Kalijaga yesterday which protested against the New Yogyakarta International Airport (NYIA) was due to infiltrators.

Following the riot, 69 people were arrested by police where 43 of them were PMII Yogyakarta members.

"A group of people wearing dark-colored clothing, jackets, and head covers suddenly entered the ranks when the general coordinator was just about to release a statement signaling an end to the protest," said Yogyakarta PMII Chairman Faizi Zain yesterday.

As it turned out, the unknown groups of people had brought Molotov explosives and suddenly commenced several forms of vandalism onto a police post at the location.

"The unknown people also started a riot with local residents and police members," he explained. This caused local residents to react firmly against the violence and chased the rioters into the UIN Sunan Kalijaga Yogya.

Furthermore, Faizi said that the demonstration was a cross-movement alliance with members that consists of several groups such as Gerakan Aksi Satu Mei or Geram, and student alliances from several universities such as Jana Badra University, Mercu Buana University, UIN SUnan Kalijaga Yogya, Cokroaminoto Yogya University, UNY Student's Alliance, Indonesian Student Press Association and many more.

The rally was initially meant to refuse the construction of the NYIA Airport in Kulon Progo; "We agreed to hold it as a peaceful rally without any anarchy since the beginning," he said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/05/03/055918126/PMII-Accuses-Dark-Clothed-Infiltrators-that-Sparked-Riot-in-Yogya

West Papua

PMC director condemns 'targeting' of journalists and silence on West Papua

Asia Pacific Report - May 4, 2018

Jean Bell, Auckland – An alarming number of "targeted" journalists being killed and West Papua media for independence were just some of the topics covered in a wide-ranging seminar by the director of the Pacific Media Centre last night.

Professor David Robie called for the media, universities and journalism schools to take their Pacific "backyard" more seriously and not just wait for crises to happen.

The seminar was in marking May 3 – World Press Freedom Day. This year's conference is in Accra, Ghana.

Dr Robie cited the number of journalists killed while working in 2017 and called journalism an increasingly "dangerous occupation".

"Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) [Reporters Without Borders] statistics showed 65 journalists were killed worldwide in 2017," Dr Robie said. Of the 65 journalists killed, 7 of these people were so-called citizen journalists.

This number of casualties varied between media freedom monitoring agencies depending on the definitions of journalists and media workers counted in the statistics, he said.

Although this statistic showed a drop from the previous year, the growth of "hatred" for media and targeting of journalists was a worsening problem. "This is a dire situation that is getting worse."

On top of the killings, the Paris-based statistics showed that 326 journalists were detained in prison and a further 54 were being held hostage.

Dr Robie said use of the term "citizen journalist" was problematic, as it gave an impression of untrained journalists working without an ethical basis.

In fact, many professional journalists were becoming "citizen" journalists tactically and using social media to defeat mainstream media "gags" such as relating to the Melanesian region West Papua inside Indonesia.

"There are more and more independent journalists that are disillusioned" and publishing untold stories on their own blogs.

One such journalist is Papua New Guinea's Scott Waide, with whom Pacific Media Centre is collaborating with, published many articles by independent journalists and civil society people on his blog My Land, My Country.

Dr Robie also talked about the latest RSF Press Freedom Index and its findings on the Asia-Pacific region.

A Filipino radio journalist, Edmond Sestoso, was shot last Monday – three days before Press Freedom Day – and died the next day. He was murdered in a drive-by scenario by a gunman on a motorcycle. According to Dr Robie, it is a "very common way of doing it" in the Philippines.

World Press Freedom Day 2017

In 2017, Dr Robie was invited to go to the week-long UNESCO World Press Freedom Day media conference in Jakarta, Indonesia.

He was one of just two New Zealanders at the conference out of the 1500 people attending the WPFD conference. He spoke at a journalist safety academic conference at WPFD but was also a guest keynote speaker at an alternative "Free Press in West Papua" conference organised by Indonesia's Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI).

Dr Robie said it was "astonishing" that there were not more people from New Zealand present at WPFD and said it showed how "appalling" New Zealand's interest in international affairs was with an information gap in coverage of Asia-Pacific issues. The other New Zealander present was Mary Major, executive director of the New Zealand Media Council.

Dr Robie described the week as "challenging" and "inspiring". "I was representing AUT university and also entering a fraught situation."

Independent Indonesian journalists were planning to protest against the treatment of West Papua and make a showcase stand before the world's press, said Dr Robie.

At the WPFD, there was a tight military and police security cordon which kept out West Papua protesters and prevented conference participants from joining the protests in solidarity.

While en route to Jakarta, Dr Robie was also invited to speak at a conference hosted by the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, the last investigative journalism unit at an Australian university. This was closing under protest after 25 years on the "frontline". He was able to address West Papua issues there too.

"I'm an educator and a journalist... I have a responsibility to share my knowledge with as many people as I can about issues," said Dr Robie, who is author of "Don't Spoil My Beautiful Face: Media, mayhem and human rights in the Pacific".

West Papua plight 'censored'

The Facebook "censored" Ben Bohane image after a "facelift" by the Vanuatu Daily Post.

Dr Robie discussed Facebook recently wrongly "censoring" a 1995 photo of an armed West Papuan OPM guerilla and fellow tribespeople in traditional nambas (penis sheaths), pointing to the Pacific Media Centre coverage that sparked an RNZ Mediawatch story on the issue.

Photojournalist Ben Bohane, who has extensively covered conflict issues in the Asia-Pacific region, wrote a two-page article in the Vanuatu Daily Post in response to a piece about China and Vanuatu by The Sydney Morning Herald that had speculated about a "naval base" plan for a wharf aid project at Luganville, Espiritu Santo. Dr Robie said the Australian article was "scaremongering."

"Ben Bohane's article argued China was not the real concern," he said. "The real threat in terms of stability and security is Indonesia, for which New Zealand media have a blind-spot."

When the PMC republished the Bohane article on its current affairs website Asia Pacific Report, Facebook links were removed. "I got a message saying the picture breached Facebook's community standards." While the Facebook "block" did not affect the actual article itself, Dr Robie said it limited the reach of an important article.

Dr Robie said he believed the photo censorship had more to do with "politics" rather than "nudity" and was undoubtedly an attempt by Indonesian sources to curb the debate regarding West Papua.

"It is not the picture that is the real issue," said Dr Robie. He quoted from Ben Bohane's latest message saying the censorship was ongoing in spite of Facebook saying it had lifted the block.

It is not the first time Facebook has censored an iconic photo that illustrates dire situations in the Asia-Pacific region. Dr Robie pointed to how Mediawatch raised the issue of how the social media platform in 2016 censored images of the "napalm girl" taken during the Vietnam War in 1973. This caused an international storm of protest.

WPFD in Indonesia – an irony

Dr Robie pointed out the irony over Jakarta hosting the WPFD 2017 conference in light of censorship and repressive activities by security forces in West Papua.

According to Dr Robie, Indonesia has a vibrant "plurality" of voices but forces were seeking to radicalise people, along with targeting journalists.

While President Joko Widodo had changed policy in 2015 to "allow foreign journalists into" West Papua after he was elected in 2014, not much had really changed. Arrests and deportations were continuing.

"It's very tightly controlled by the bureaucracy and security authorities," said Dr Robie.

He highlighted the message from critics and researchers of a "secret genocide" in West Papua.

"The state of mainstream international media is a big part of how West Papua is ignored. There is a big difference when you watch some news media that take a more independent stance, such as Al Jazeera."

He praised Al Jazeera's Dutch journalist in Jakarta, Step Vaessen, for her coverage.

The penalties for showing support for West Papuan independence is severe – a 15-year prison sentence if you raise the banned Morning Star independence flag – even wearing a t-shirt like I am wearing tonight with the flag on can get you into trouble," Dr Robie said.

"It is a very serious situation for West Papuans. They believe their independence was declared in 1962 and despite that, Indonesian forces invaded.

"Western countries have become persuaded that West Papua has become part of Indonesia, making the situation a wrong that has never been righted." The WPFD 2018 seminar last night. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

NZ media coverage

While the situation is still dire, there has been some sporadic New Zealand coverage of the West Papua situation, said Dr Robie.

New Zealander Karen Abplanalp, who researched journalist access into West Papua for her masters degree, assisted Maori Television in a reporting mission with Adrian Stevanon to West Papua in 2015. The crew had to "dress" up the assignment bid with the authorities by saying it was a cultural showcase and had a nice side report about a kumara aid project in the Highlands.

Johnny Blades and Koroi Hawkins from RNZ also visited West Papua that year and did a rare interview with Lukas Enembe, the governor of Papua.

Dr Robie said New Zealand media covered disasters, coups and cyclones, while ignoring many of the social justice and development stories that were "crying out to be covered" in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Universities have responsibilities to shed light through research," concluded Dr Robie.

He called for Indonesia to genuinely "open the door" to journalists and non-government agencies to visit West Papua, and for a "real" UN referendum on self-determination for the Papuans.

Peace and human rights activist Maire Leadbeater said the presentation was enlightening and covered many topics. "It was great, I really enjoyed it. Dr Robie covered a lot of bases," Leadbeater said.

Leadbeater is due to have a book published next month about the issue, "See No Evil: New Zealand's betrayal of the people of West Papua". "The book will be a probe into New Zealand's diplomacy that hasn't been done before."

Source: https://asiapacificreport.nz/2018/05/04/pmc-director-condemns-targeting-of-journalists-and-silence-on-west-papua/

Journalist turns tales of undercover reporting, love in Papua into novel

Jakarta Post - May 4, 2018

Bambang Muryanto – A Dutch freelance journalist, Rohan (a pen name), had been interested in the political turmoil in Papua for years. In 2015, his application for a journalistic visa was denied. The 32-year-old then decided to embark on an undercover reporting assignment in the country's easternmost province.

For 153 days, he observed the way local people lived, met with leaders of the secessionist group Free Papua Movement (OPM) in the jungle, enjoyed the beauty of Papua's nature and met Aprila Russiana Amelia Wayar, or Emil, a local journalist who later became his girlfriend.

It was Emil who wrote about Rohan's adventures in Papua and their love story in the novel Sentuh Papua, 1500 Miles, 153 Hari, Satu Cinta (Touch Papua, 1500 Miles, 153 Days, One Love).

In the novel, Rohan's character said foreign media agencies in Jakarta refused to publish his report on Papua, worrying that the government would revoke the visas of their Jakarta correspondents.

Emil recently launched her 374-page novel in a discussion forum organized by the Alliance of Independent Journalists' (AJI) Yogyakarta chapter and the Yogyakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH).

Emil has been in Yogyakarta since early this year to publish the book. She chose Yogyakarta because she had spent time there as a student at Duta Wacana Christian University (UKDW).

The 38-year-old said she initially intended to write a journalistic piece that was rich in data and interviews. She used the character of Rohan to describe the lack of press freedom in Papua, human rights violations in the province and challenges to OPM's quest for self-determination.

"I then chose [to write a] novel to make it easier for Papuans and Indonesians to understand the [province's] issues," she said.

Through the book, Emil, who used to work for independent media platform Tabloid Jubi, was determined to represent the other side of Papua's story vis-a-vis mainstream reporting on the province, which she deemed mostly biased.

She said many journalists covering cases of human rights abuses in Papua only interviewed security personnel and neglected the victims. "Journalists writing about Papua have to cover both sides," she said.

However, she realized both the challenge and risks that come with reporting Papua as a journalist, as she herself often received threats and harassment while doing her job.

In her book, the characters Rohan and Amelia, who is based on herself, are chased by a group of people armed with machetes.

According to Reporters Sans Frontier's (RSF) latest world press freedom index, Indonesia ranks 124th out of 180 countries, the same position as last year.

The Paris-based group highlighted the restriction of media access to Papua and West Papua as a factor that has kept Southeast Asia's largest democracy at the bottom of the list. The condition prevails despite President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's campaign promises to open access to Papua for foreign journalists.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Press Council categorized Papua and West Papua as "medium/relatively free" in its 2017 press freedom index.

Yogyakarta-based lawyer Emmanuel Gobay said Emil's book, despite being published as fiction, was a good reference for those who want to understand Papua from both the local and professional perspective. "This novel reflects the state of press freedom in Papua," he said.

The novel, which Emil wrote in eight months, is her third after Mawar Hitam Tanpa Akar (Black Rose Without Its Stem) and Dua Perempuan (Two Women), both of which told stories about social issues in Papua.

Emil was the first indigenous Papuan novelist invited to the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF) in Bali in 2012. She plans to write a fourth book in the Netherlands, where she is currently undergoing medical treatment for a heart condition.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2018/05/04/journalist-turns-tales-of-undercover-reporting-love-in-papua-into-novel.html

Solomons delegation to Indonesia sought balance

Radio New Zealand International - May 4, 2018

A Solomon Islands civil society worker says a delegation from his country which visited Indonesia sought a balanced view on West Papua human rights issues.

Wilfred Luiramo was one of several civil society people selected by the government to visit Indonesia, including West Papua and Papua provinces, last week.

Mr Luiramo said he wasn't travelling on behalf of the group Forum Solomon Islands International, which he is chairman of, but rather as an individual civil society worker.

Solomon Islanders have displayed strong support for West Papuans, including in this 2015 march through the streets of Honiara in support of a West Papuan bid to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group Photo: Supplied

He said the Solomons government of Rick Hou was seeking a balanced approach on human rights in Papua region.

"Our relationship with Indonesia must be built and the human rights issue in West Papua must not be forgotten. It has to be part of the document. And generally, looking through it, Solomon Islands as a Melanesian country, and the West Papuan issue is very sensitive to us, we still feel that more can be done," said Wilfred Luiramo.

Wilfred Luiramo said the approach on Papua being taken by Mr Hou's leadership was different to that of the previous leadership of Manasseh Sogavare.

Of the rights situation, he said Papuans had different views on the issue of human rights abuses. "Some propose that these things happen. Some say that these things happened previously, in the past," he explained.

"So we have been collecting different views from them. All of them are not having the same view, but the issue remains that we try to make a balanced document out of all the informations we get.

Mr Luiramo said delegation members were yet to finalise their reports on the information garnered from the visit.

"We met with even the military generals, the governors and the CSO (civil society organisation) people, and tried to ask them what is their view... we keep trying to get a balance on it."

He noted that some people saw the rights situation in Papua as having improved. "Because Indonesia as a country is just coming to democracy in 1998, full democracy. Previously it was military-controlled.

"So they said there are improvements over time, and even some of the leaders told us, one of the common sayings, that 'we are not a perfect country' which is true.

"They are changing over time, and even some of the indigenous say that there are improvements within the human rights issue," Mr Luiramo said, adding that some Papuans conveyed that they wanted independence from Indonesia.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/356613/solomons-delegation-to-indonesia-sought-balance

ULMWP calls for assistance to end Indonesia's 'Nazi-like' presence in West Papua

Vanuatu Daily Post - May 2, 2018

Once again West Papuan independence activists have been arrested and brutalized to prevent them meeting international delegates to Indonesia's Melanesian colony; this time a delegation from the Solomon Islands visiting Jayapura and Manokwari on 24-25 April 2018, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) reports.

Indonesia arrested eight leading political activists (Philipus Robaha, Marthen Manggarprow, Beny Hisage, Arnol Yarinap, Albert Yatipai, Gino Puade, Paul Kirihio and Chris Dogopia), humiliating them in front of their Melanesian kin and silencing their critique of the government's duplicitous Endeavour to halt the rising tide of international support for the independence movement.

According to a statement released by the ULMWP on Monday, instead of being taken to meet West Papuan socio-political leaders, the Solomon Islanders were taken on a tour of two 'development' sites, a sports-building project and the Haltecamp Bridge.

Mr. Soerdarmo, Caretaker Governor of Papua province, reportedly told the delegates that the ULMWP, the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) and other independent organizations purposely misrepresent and disrupt the Indonesian Government's development endeavors. He said his government is ready for dialogue with ULMWP in any street cafe.

The governor's views illustrates yet again that Indonesia has no intention of honoring its responsibility to uphold the human and political rights of its colonial subjects.

ULMWP Spokesperson Jacob Rumbiak, who has just returned to Melbourne from a very successful representation at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London, said "After fifty-five years of Indonesian colonialism, we West Papuans, like many international observers, believe it has distinct parallels with the Nazis in Germany.

"Our struggle is to uphold our dignity, our sovereignty, Melanesian identity and international law, and rid ourselves of these Indonesia Nazis. West Papua is our sovereign homeland. We want to look after our territory and take control of our natural resources.

"The place to negotiate that agenda is the United Nations headquarters in New York, not some sleazy cafe in Jakarta".

Source: http://dailypost.vu/news/ulmwp-calls-for-immediate-assistance-to-end-indonesia-s-nazi/article_2db7a7b2-301e-567e-88cc-57c7e753d706.html

DSE: we are not part of West Papua trip

Solomon Star News - May 2, 2018

The SI delegation that traveled to West Papua arriving into Sentani Airport in Indonesia's Papua province on 24 April 2018.

Development Service Exchange (DSE) has rejected claims that it is "officially represented" in a government delegation that visited West Papua last week.

The delegation, led by the Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, John Usuramo, included chairman of DSE Inia Barry and other civil society activists.

But DSE, the peak body for civil society in Solomon Islands, said it has not endorsed anyone to represent civil society on this visit.

"Participants are acting solely as individuals," DSE general secretary Jennifer Wate said. "They do not represent DSE or any other civil society organisation in Solomon Islands," she added.

Mrs Wate said DSE advocates for Human Rights, Justice and self-determination and has continued to show its strong support for the people of West Papua.

"DSE has continued to advocate for the Solomon Islands Government to uphold these values in our country's trade and foreign policy.

"DSE values the strong relationships between West Papua and Solomon Islands Civil society.

"We admonish all members of this group for failing to include, consult or even inform West Papuan civil society of their visit."

Mrs Wate said the DSE management was informally made aware of the trip only the evening before participants flew to Indonesia.

"The participants assured DSE management that they are attending in an individual capacity, and would not be representing DSE or any Civil Society organisation.

"DSE was not privy to details of the trip or its terms of reference. We call on the Government and in particular the Prime Minister's Office to formally approach DSE or its members on any matters that require CSO sector representation."

Source: http://www.solomonstarnews.com/index.php/news/national/item/20389-dse-we-are-not-part-of-west-papua-trip

May day

May Day rally in Jakarta demands honorary workers be promoted to state civil

Sindo News - May 1, 2018

Ari Sandita Murti, Jakarta – The Indonesian People's Labour Confederation (KPRI) is asking for honorary civil servants at all government agencies to be promoted to permanent state civil servants (PSN).

This request was conveyed by KPRI chairperson Rieke Diah Pitaloka in a speech at a May Day action held at the Horse Statue near the National Monument (Monas) in Gambir, Central Jakarta.

"One of our demands [on May Day] 2018 is honorary employees be promoted to PNS, revise the ASN [State Civil Apparatus] Law", said Pitaloka on Tuesday May 1.

Pitaloka said that she wants a representative from the Presidential Palace to meet with labour representatives to they can convey their demands.

"We on this day will ask President Joko Widodo to realise this as quickly as possible and hopefully a representative from the Palace will receive our representatives", she said.

Meanwhile workers who have been swarming into the area around the Horse Statue, Monas, Gambir and Central Jakarta since early morning have begun to move off towards the Presidential Palace carrying flags and wearing T-shirts or the uniforms of their respective trade unions. (whb)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Aksi May Day 2018, KPRI Minta Pegawai Honorer Dijadikan PNS".]

Source: https://metro.sindonews.com/read/1302179/170/aksi-may-day-2018-kpri-minta-pegawai-honorer-dijadikan-pns-1525162204

Workers in Padang commemorate May Day by donating blood, relaxation walk

Kumparan News - May 1, 2018

Langkan, Padang – Workers from the All Indonesia Trade Union Confederation (KSPSI) in Padang, West Sumatra (Sumbar), donated blood and held a relaxation walk during the commemoration of International Labour Day or May Day 2018.

"I think this May Day needs activities that are beneficial to the general public and workers. Because today is a day for workers, so this day is a day that belongs to workers and needs to be filled with entertainment", said Sumbar KSPSI chairperson Arsukman Edi on Tuesday May 1.

Edi said that the blood donations were made at the KSPSI offices while the relaxation walk was held along Padang beach.

Edi said that the wages currently being received by workers in Sumbar are not enough for them to save any money and he hopes that the government will soon evaluate a new wage increase.

"Despite wage increases, it is not yet enough to put a little aside for savings. This needs to be evaluated by the government", said Edi.

Edi added that the wages received by workers need to be set by companies in accordance with the minimum regional wage (UMP). The UMP should be paid to workers who have worked for between zero days and one year while those who have worked for several years should be paid more than the UMP.

"We have already conveyed this to the Sumbar Labour and Transmigration Office so it can then be communicated to companies", he said in conclusion. (Kanadi Warman).

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Buruh di Padang Peringati May Day dengan Donor Darah dan Jalan Santai".]

Source: https://kumparan.com/langkanid/buruh-di-padang-peringati-may-day-dengan-donor-darah-dan-jalan-santai

Bogor workers commemorate May Day with mass prayers instead of protests

Republika - May 1, 2018

Zahrotul Oktaviani, Bogor – Thousands of workers in Bogor, West Java, gathered at the Pakansari Sports Centre (GOR) for mass prayers (istighatsah) in the context of celebrating International Labour Day 2018.

"In total 4,000 of our workers came from the 21 DPC (branch offices) in Bogor regency", said organising committee chairperson Sumarno at the Pakansari GOR in Cibinong on Tuesday May 1.

The choice of holding a mass prayer was because they wanted something different from previous years because it was time for the celebration of May Day to be commemorated with other activities, which are just as important, instead of just demonstrating.

The chairperson of the Bogor branch of the Mining, Energy and Chemicals Trade Union (SPKEP) said that actions and demands need to be augmented with prayers so that their wishes can be granted by almighty God.

"The actions held by us and our colleagues also need to be augmented by prayers. This is so that our efforts will be better heard by God and granted", said the man who also holds the post of National Coordinating Commander (Pankornas).

The mass prayer was also attended by Bogor Regent Nurhayanti and Bogor police chief Assistant Superintendent Andy M Dicky. The sermon meanwhile was given by Ustaz Arifin Ilham.

During the event the workers also read out a petition which was then given to Nurhayanti and contained five points. These included asking the government to take an active role in determining workers' wages and asking that Presidential Regulation (Perpres) 20/2018 on Foreign Workers be revoked.

At the end of the event door prizes and souvenirs were given to the workers that attended including a ticket to attend a minor haj pilgrimage to Mecca and a motorcycle.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Ribuan Buruh Istighatsah Peringati Hari Buruh di Bogor".]

Source: http://nasional.republika.co.id/berita/nasional/jabodetabek-nasional/18/05/01/p8194g384-ribuan-buruh-istighatsah-peringati-hari-buruh-di-bogor

Instead of demonstrating, Solo workers commemorate May Day with health walk

Tribune Solo - May 1, 2018

Imam Saputro, Solo – Workers in the Central Java city of Solo (Surakarta) chose to commemorate International Labour Day on Tuesday morning with a health walk instead of a demonstration.

Around 300 workers participated in the walk which was attended by Solo Mayor FX Hadi Rudyatmo and Solo municipal police chief Senior Commissioner Ribut Hari Wibowo.

Also attending were 0735/Surakarta district military commander Infantry Lieutenant Colonel Ali Akhwan and Surakarta Labour and Industry Office chief Agus Sutrisno.

The health walk, titled the May Day Fun Day, started at the Sriwedari Park then passed through Jl. Slamet Riyadi to Jl. Kebangkitan Nasional then on to Jl. Bhayangkara and returned to Sriwedari Park.

Solo National Trade Union (SPN) branch chairperson Hudi Wasisto said that his trade union was trying something new for this year's commemoration of May Day.

"We want our voices to be better heard, so we conveyed our aspirations yesterday through dialogue with related parties", he said on Tuesday May 1.

The dialogue, he said, was attended by trade unions, employers and the government. According to Wasisto this was a more effective way to convey their wishes.

"So this time round we took to the streets but instead of a demonstrating with a health walk", he said.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Bukan Demonstrasi, Buruh Kota Solo Peringati May Day dengan Jalan Sehat".]

Source: http://solo.tribunnews.com/2018/05/01/bukan-demonstrasi-buruh-kota-solo-peringati-may-day-dengan-jalan-sehat

Lampung workers turn Adipura monument into sea of red on May Day

Tribune Lampung - May 1, 2018

Hanif Mustafa, Bandar Lampung – The Adipura Monument in the South Sumatra city of Lampung was suddenly packed with hundreds of protesting works all wearing red.

The workers, who came from the Lampung People's Struggle Centre (PPRL) were holding a peaceful action to commemorate International Labour Day (May Day) on May 1.

Before gathering at the Adipura Monument, the workers held a long-march from Jl. Raden Intan in front of the Ramayana department store to the Adipura Monument.

As they marched, the protesters shouted slogans such as "Viva Workers" and unfurled banners. The rally was tightly guarded by hundreds of police officers.

The demonstrators, calling themselves the PPRL, came from a number of different groups including the National Trade Union Confederation-Primary Industries Trade Union Federation (FSBKU-KSN), the Confederation of United Indonesian Workers-Indonesian Pulp and Paper Trade Union Federation (FSP2KI-KPBI), the Food and Beverage Trade Union Federation (FSBMM), the People's Struggle Committee (KPR), the National Student League for Democracy (LMND), the National Students Front (FMN), the Indonesian Women's Union (SERUNI), the SEBAY Trade Union, the Indonesian People's Union of Struggle (SPRI), the Indonesian Independent Trade Union (SBMI), the Bandar Lampung Legal Aid Foundation (LBH), the Youth Organisations Union of Struggle (KPOP), the Griya Village Market Community Union, the Indonesian Buskers Union (SPI), the Agrarian Reform Movement Alliance (AGRA) and the Lampung University Student Executive Council (BEM).

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Mendadak tugu Adipura dipenuhi oleh ratusan massa buruh yang menggunakan atribut serba merah.".]

Source: http://lampung.tribunnews.com/2018/05/01/may-day-2018-bundaran-tugu-adipura-memerah

Malang workers commemorate May Day with calls to restrict foreign workers

Okezone - May 1, 2018

Avirista Midaada, Malang City – Hundreds of workers in the East Java city of Malang commemorated International Labour Day on May 1.

The workers, who had been gathering at the Malang Kota Baru train station and Malang City Square since 8am, then held a long-march on foot to the Malang Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) in front of the Traffic Circle Monument.

The protesters came from several different trade unions including the Malang Indonesian Trade Union (SBI) and the United Indonesian Employees Union (KSPI).

The rally was tightly guarded over by police who deployed 450 officers to secure the roads used by the demonstrators to commemorate May Day.

"We are escorting and guarding the mass action so that it remains orderly", Malang City municipal police chief Assistant Superintendent Asfuri told Okezone.

During the action the workers demanded the abolition of contract labour and outsourcing systems used by companies, rejected arbitrary sackings and demanded decent wages.

The workers also highlighted the jump in the number of foreign workers (TKA) in Indonesia saying the growth of TKA is forcing Indonesians to compete with foreign workers.

"We are calling on the president and the Labour Ministry to restrict foreign workers", shouted one of the workers in a speech.

As a result of the demonstration, several lengths of road in front of the Malang City Hall were closed to traffic which was redirected by police.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Aksi May Day, Buruh di Malang Tuntut Pemerintah Batasi Pekerja Asing".]

Source: https://news.okezone.com/read/2018/05/01/519/1893284/aksi-may-day-buruh-di-malang-tuntut-pemerintah-batasi-pekerja-asing

Workers in Medan enjoy 'relaxed event' instead of protesting on May Day

Tirto.id - May 1, 2018

Agung DH – Commemorations of May Day or International Labour Day on Tuesday May 1 in the North Sumatran city of Medan were enlivened by entertainment centred at the Youth Arena on Jl. Sutomo Ujung Medan.

All of the workers who attended the activities received a packet of sembako (basic goods) made up of rice, sugar, cooking oil and instant noodles.

After speeches were given, the activities continued with joint singing attended by Medan City Mayor Dzulmi Eldin, Medan municipal police chief Senior Commissioner Dadang Hartanto, Dandim 0201 district military commander Infantry Colonel Bambang Herqutanto and Belawan municipal police chief Assistance Superintendent Ikhwan Lubis.

Medan City Labour Day organising committee chairperson Antoni Pasaribu said that up until now the commemoration of Labour Day has been realised by protest actions and marches through the city's major streets.

After holding discussions with relevant parties however, Pasaribu said that they would no longer commemorate May Day with protest actions but relaxed activities at which they could convey their wishes.

During the activity, labour representatives also presented a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) containing a number of hopes for improving workers' welfare.

These included the hope that local governments and related institutions would supervise contract labour systems that violate regulations and that the government would abolish outsourcing which fails to provide security for workers.

"Because outsourcing is a central [government] policy, so we are pushing for regional [governments] to abolish it", said Pasaribu.

Medan City deputy mayor Dzulmi Eldin said that that they support and want to play a role in the commemoration of May Day and would agree to the MoU as joint commitment to maintaining favourable labour relations in Medan.

He added that the Medan municipal government would endeavour to facilitate workers' wishes.

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski for the Indoleft news service. The original title of the report was "Hari Buruh 2018: Peserta Aksi di Medan Terima Paket Sembako".]

Source: https://tirto.id/hari-buruh-2018-peserta-aksi-di-medan-terima-paket-sembako-cJGg

Workers in Bandung reject election politics on May Day

Viva - May 1, 2018

Thousands of workers held a protest action on International Labour Day or May Day near the Gedung Sate building on Jl. Diponegoro in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung on Tuesday May 1.

The protesting workers, who came from a number of different trade unions, began arriving at the location at around 10am bringing a huge flag and banners with their demands.

West Java All Indonesian Workers Union-Metal and Electronic Machinery Trade Union Federation (FSP LEM-SPSI) regional leadership board chairperson, Muhammad Sidarta, said he hoped that this year's May Day will not just be a yearly ritual but would be an arena for good relations and reflection on improving industrial relations in Indonesia.

Sidarta also asked that no one raise political campaign issues at this year's action related to the upcoming election of the mayor, the election of regional heads or the presidential elections.

"For my trade union, I am warning them not [to raise issue related to the elections] because it's sensitive. Don't raise issues of presidential candidates and so on. We are genuine, whoever becomes mayor, governor or our president we will continue to support them so no one spreads hatred", said Sidarta.

Sidarta said that they are conveying two demands to the West Java governor. First, with regard to the regional (UMK) or municipal sectoral minimum wage (UMSK) and second, calling on the West Java government to issue a bylaw or gubernatorial decree on labour supervision.

"To this day the setting of the 2015 UMK is still the subject of a polemic because there are no standard guidelines for the regency and city in drafting regulations", he said.

"And labour supervision is still not running effectively. When asked, the government replies that it does not have sufficient staff", he said.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Buruh Bandung Tolak Kegiatan Politik di May Day 2018".]

Source: https://www.viva.co.id/berita/nasional/1032065-buruh-bandung-tolak-kegiatan-politik-di-may-day-2018

Acehnese workers commemorate May Day with demands for fair wages, foreign worker

Kumparan News - May 1, 2018

Protesters from the Aceh Labour Alliance (ABA) took part in an action commemorating International Labour Day or May Day during which they demanding that workers be paid the minimum wage and raised concerns about companies employing foreign workers (TKA).

Representatives of the different groups, who had gathered in front of the Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, took turns in giving speeches.

Those who took part in the action, whether they were journalists, companies or institutions, brought banners with protests against the Acehnese government.

In a speech ABA chairperson Syaiful Mar said that Acehnese workers still do not enjoy prosperity adding that workers are often forced to work overtime but many are still paid less than the regional minimum wage (UMP).

Syaiful said that even though the regional government has already set the UMP at 2.5 million rupiah a month, workers are still paid below this standard at between 500,000 and 1 million rupiah a month.

"Both companies as well as agencies pay their employees below the set rate. How can the Acehnese people be prosperous, meanwhile the performance demanded is more that what is given", he shouted.

Syaiful revealed that over the last 10 years wages have not kept up with the reasonable cost of living index (KHL). For workers, wages are only enough to cover their needs for three weeks. In addition to this liberalisation has been pursued in the workplace in the form of contract labour and outsourcing.

The politics of low wages has been perpetuated through Government Regulation 78/2015 on Wages, modern slavery, contract labour systems and outsourcing, which are not in accordance with the law.

"[Aceh] Qanun Number 7/2014 [bylaw] on Labour has yet to be implemented effectively because it is not supported by technical regulations in the form of a gubernatorial regulation", he said.

According to Syaiful, the politics of low wages being pursued by the current government has resulted in restrictions on the right to form trade unions and arbitrary sackings which disregard government regulations and weaken the protection afforded to Acehnese workers.

"Limited job opportunities must also be addressed by the government in order to guarantee the creation of employment opportunities for the unemployed work force. Not instead giving free reign and concessions to foreign workers, above all to those who do not have the skills to work in Indonesia through this presidential regulation [Number 20/2018 on Foreign Workers] which undermines the rights of local workers", he said.

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski for the Indoleft news service. The original title of the report was "Peringati May Day, Buruh di Aceh Tuntut Kenaikan UMP yang Adil".]

Source: https://kumparan.com/@kumparannews/peringati-may-day-buruh-di-aceh-tuntut-kenaikan-ump-yang-adil

May Day rally in Semarang calls on workers to close ranks, fight for their

Tribune Jateng - May 1, 2018

Yasmine Aulia, Semarang – Thousands of workers packed Jl. Pahlawan Semarang in the Central Java provincial capital of Semarang on Tuesday May 1 where they had gathered to protest in front of the governor's office.

By 9.30am, a line consisting of thousands of workers wearing red uniforms could be seen filling the streets. A speaker guided the protesters from on top of a truck complete with a banner and sound system.

"Today is International Labour Day, we will always voice our conscience, we will fight together, come on, close ranks", called the speaker.

The thousands of worker representatives came from of various trade unions across Central Java. As spirited shouts reverberated across the street, the workers' ranks continued to swell as other groups began to arrive and join the rally.

Student representatives, who also joined the rally, were warmly greeted by the workers.

"Working conditions at the moment are not yet prosperous, the people's representatives do not side with us, today we are closing ranks to commemorate May Day in order to continue to fight for workers' welfare", shouted a speaker.

The action meanwhile continued through the afternoon with workers only starting to leave the area at around 3pm.

The calls articulated by the demonstrators at the action included demands related to Government Regulation Number 78 on Wages, Presidential Regulation Number 20/2018 on Foreign Workers, the use of outsourcing and other policies which fail to said with workers.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Begini Aksi Ribuan Pekerja Peringati Hari Buruh Internasional".]

Source: http://jateng.tribunnews.com/2018/05/01/begini-aksi-ribuan-pekerja-peringati-hari-buruh-internasional

Thousands of workers from across East Java commemorate May Day in Surabaya

Kompas.com - May 1, 2018

Achmad Faizal, Surabaya – Thousands of workers from the East Java Ring I industrial zone entered the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya to commemorate Labour Day (May Day) on Tuesday May 1.

Entering Surabaya from different directions, the workers focused on several different rally points, namely the East Java governor's office on Jl. Pahlawan, the East Java Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) on Jl. Indrapura, the Negara Grahadi building on Jl Gubernur Suryo and the East Java labour office on Jl. Menanggal.

By Tuesday afternoon, the workers from various different trade unions had already started to enter central Surabaya. Workers from Sidoarjo entered via the Rungkut industrial zone, workers from Pasuruan via the Waru traffic circle, workers from Mojokerto via Driyorejo, and workers from Gresik via the Jl. Demak area.

In addition to riding thousands of motorcycles, the workers also brought a truck which was furnished with a sound system, loudspeaker and banners with the workers' demands. The march received a police escort.

Rallying in front of the Negara Grahadi building, a group of workers from the Indonesian Muslim Workers Association (Sarbumusi) took turns in reading out Islamic law passages rather than giving speeches.

Other workers meanwhile urged the government to immediately improve Social Security Management Agency (BPJS) healthcare insurance for workers, rejected Government Regulation Number 78/2015 on Wages, opposed the entry of foreign workers into Indonesia and called for an end to union bashing.

Based on the notification submitted to the Surabaya municipal police, around 9,850 workers from Surabaya, Sidoarjo, Pasuruan and Mojokerto took part in the May Day demonstrations.

Surabaya municipal police operational chief Assistant Superintendent Bambang Sukmo Wibowo said that police had already taken steps to anticipate the rallies and police security greeted all of the actions in Surabaya.

"In addition to deploying more than 1,000 personnel, we also rerouted traffic to reduce congestion", he explained.

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski for the Indoleft news service. The original title of the report was "May Day, Ribuan Buruh Ring I Jatim Masuk Surabaya".]

Source: https://regional.kompas.com/read/2018/05/01/16471961/may-day-ribuan-buruh-ring-i-jatim-masuk-surabaya

Workers in Bali call for end to sackings, higher wages on May Day

Tribune News - May 1, 2018

Putu Supartika, Denpasar – "Stop the sackings, increase workers' wages!" shouted protesters at a peaceful action commemorating Labour Day which began at the Renon Square eastern parking lot in the Balinese provincial capital of Denpasar on Tuesday morning May 1.

From there, hundreds of people marched to the Balinese governor's office carrying banners and leaflets on the workers' struggle.

"Consolidate the people's unity", "Rise up for your rights", "Fight policies that do not side with the people", "Give us freedom of association", "Stop criminalising workers" and "Form an independent monitoring team" read some of the banners.

Action coordinator Haerul Umam meanwhile continued to give a speech from the command vehicle. "Commemorating May Day is not just for the working class but also for students, journalists and famers to fight injustice", said Haerul.

Haerul also said that workers have children attending university and school, but after graduating they can only hope to become contract workers with low wages and organisations that are muzzled.

In addition to this he also said that there are many companies in Bali that fail to pay the minimum wage despite the fact that this is a criminal offence.

"There are still many companies which do not pay the minimum wage, yet this is a criminal act, but there are no companies that are prosecuted for not paying the minimum wage", he said.

In addition to this, in Bali there are only 23 labour supervision officers and Haerul asked if this is enough for the government to supervise the thousands of workers in Bali.

The action was further enlivened and energised by traditional Balinese gamelan music.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Aksi Buruh di Bali Dimulai dari Parkir Timur Lapangan Renon".]

Source: http://www.tribunnews.com/regional/2018/05/01/aksi-buruh-di-bali-dimulai-dari-parkir-timur-lapangan-renon

Workers made to pay Rp 15,000 for tickets to attend Prabowo May Day declaration

Kompas.com - May 1, 2018

Ihsanuddin, Jakarta – The Indonesian Trade Union Confederation (KSPI) has held an event declaring Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) chairperson Prabowo Subianto as their candidate for the 2019 presidential election.

The declaration was made at the Senayan Sports Arena (Istora) in Central Jakarta to coincide with Labour Day on Tuesday May 1.

Organising committee chairperson Riden Hatam Ajiz said that all the workers attending the event had to buy tickets costing 15,000 rupiah (around US$1.50) per person.

"Those who have already bought a 15,000 [rupiah] ticket can enter the Istora and take part in the declaration along with Prabowo", said Ajiz.

He said that tickets were not available at the door but had been pre-sold over the last week. Workers from the KSPI in their respective regions were organised to buy tickets for the Prabowo declaration.

"It was the regional coordinators that arranged the ticket sales, and now at the Istora they only have to show their tickets to go in", said the Indonesian Metal Workers Trade Union Federation (FSPMI) central leadership board general secretary.

Ajiz revealed that the profits from the ticket sales of 15,000 rupiah per person will be used as operational funds for the declaration of KSPI's support for Prabowo at the Istora today. "So we are working together for the event", he said.

If there are any leftover funds from the ticket sales, the money will go into the KSPI's organsational coffers.

The use of prepaid tickets was because the Istora Senayan's capacity is limited and can only accommodate 8,000 people. Meanwhile the number of workers that are part of KSPI are claimed to be more than that.

Despite requiring prepaid tickets, the Istora Senayan appeared to be full of workers.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Deklarasi Dukung Prabowo, Buruh KSPI Beli Tiket Rp 15.000 Per Orang".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2018/05/01/13460911/deklarasi-dukung-prabowo-buruh-kspi-beli-tiket-rp-15000-per-orang

May Day rally in Jakarta says outsourcing, contract labour haunt Indonesian

Kompas.com - May 1, 2018

Ihsanuddin, Jakarta – An alliance of workers that are part of the Indonesian Prosperity Trade Union Confederation (KSBSI) are continuing their action at the National Monument (Monas) in Central Jakarta on Tuesday May 1. During the action to commemorate International Labour Day (May Day), they called for Government Regulation Number 78/2015 on Wages (PP 78/2015) to be revoked.

"The enactment of PP 78/2015 on wages has in fact weakened the position of workers in their struggle for decent wages", said KSBSI Jakarta chairperson Dwi Harto from the command vehicle.

"Human outsourcing and contract workers are the ghost that still haunts workers, where workers do not have a clear future and wages are far from decent", she added accompanied by shouts of agreement from protesters.

Dwi said that government labour supervision has been ineffective in upholding labour norms or resolving complaints submitted by workers. This has become a stumbling block for workers in the struggle for their rights.

"It is this that make us from the KSBSI Jakarta continue to take to the streets until workers gain prosperity and have a decent wages, a decent life and decent jobs in accordance with the 1945 Constitution", she said.

With regard to Presidential Regulation Number 20/2018 on Foreign Workers (Perpres TKA), Dwi admitted that the KSBSI has yet to take a position. This is because the KSBSI is still studying the regulation which eases the administrative process for TKA entering Indonesia.

"We haven't taken a final decision on it. We have to see first what differences there are with the earlier Perpres during the era of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono", she said.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "KSBSI: Buruh Tak Punya Masa Depan yang Jelas".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2018/05/01/10222871/ksbsi-buruh-tak-punya-masa-depan-yang-jelas

May Day rally in Makassar says foreign worker regulation undermines workers'

Tribune Timor - May 1, 2018

Hasan Basri, Makassar – Workers in the South Sulawesi provincial capital of Makassar have criticised the new regulation on foreign workers which was recently issued by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

This criticism was evident in a protest action by thousands of workers in Makassar on the commemoration of May Day which fell on Tuesday May 1.

At the protest action, which was held under the Makassar flyover bridge, the protesters said that Presidential Regulation Number 20/2018 on Foreign Workers (Perpres TKA) fails to side with the interests of local workers.

"We reject the Perpres Number 20 because this PP does not side with local workers. We don't know where this nation is being taken", said South Sulawesi Indonesian Federated Trade Union of Struggle (FSPBI) chairperson Abdillah.

The presence of TKA in Indonesia they said, particularly in Sulawesi, undermines the rights of local workers, especially since TKA wages are higher than local labour.

In addition to the Perpres 20, they also rejected Government Regulation Number 78/2015 on Wages.

According to Tribune's observations, as of 11am the protesters were still gathered under the flyover taking turns in giving speeches. (San)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Hari Buruh 2018 – Buruh Makassar Tolak Pepres Nomor 20 Tentang Tenaga Kerja Asing".]

Source: http://makassar.tribunnews.com/2018/05/01/hari-buruh-2018-buruh-makassar-tolak-pepres-nomor-20-tentang-tenaga-kerja-asing

May Day protest at Yogyakarta university ends in chaos, 69 arrested

Kompas.com - May 1, 2018

Wijaya Kusuma, Yogyakarta – A demonstration by hundreds of protesters calling themselves the May 1 Movement (Gerakan 1 Mei) at the Sunan Kalijaga Islamic State University (UIN) intersection in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta has ended in chaos.

The action, which began peacefully ended in chaos with several people arrested by police. Yogyakarta regional police chief Brigadier General Ahmad Dofiri said that the demonstration started peacefully.

"Initially the demonstration proceeded peacefully and there weren't any problems", said Dofiri when speaking with Kompas.com at the UIN intersection on Jl. Jogja-Solo on Tuesday afternoon May 1.

Dofiri said that he regretted that the initially peaceful demonstration was marred by anarchy. In addition to this, the issues taken up at the protest were different from those usually aired on Labour Day.

"We regret [what happened], [we] don't know which group it was, the issues being articulated were not related labour issues", he explained.

A separate rally by Yogyakarta workers which was centred at the Abu Bakar Ali parking area and the zero kilometre point in the centre of the city meanwhile proceeded peacefully.

"The action here [UIN] happened without warning and there was no prior notification and the issues were not about Labour Day. The other action by workers was peaceful and orderly", he explained.

Dofiri said that the UIN protesters brought Molotov cocktails and several demonstrators hurled them at a police post. "They brought Molotov cocktails, meaning they had prepared themselves to act in an anarchic way", he explained.

Dofiri said a number of protesters were arrested and several Molotov cocktails were seized by police. "We arrested several people. We also seized several Molotov cocktails", he said.

The Yogyakarta regional police will conduct an investigation into the police post that was vandalised, which was burn down after a Molotov cocktail was thrown at it.

"Yes of course we will investigate. In fact earlier it was local people who drove them away because they felt upset about the road blockade, as well as throwing Molotov cocktails at the police post", he asserted.

Yogyakarta regional police public relations chief Assistant Superintendent Yuliyanto meanwhile said that as any as 69 people were arrested. "Currently there are as many as 60 people under arrest. Fifty-nine men and 10 women", he explained.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Aksi Demo Hari Buruh Ricuh di Yogyakarta, Polisi Amankan 69 Orang".]

Source: https://regional.kompas.com/read/2018/05/01/20253171/aksi-demo-hari-buruh-ricuh-di-yogyakarta-polisi-amankan-69-orang

Home workers take to Yogyakarta's streets to commemorate May Day

Detik News - May 1, 2018

Usman Hadi, Yogyakarta – Hundreds of home workers from the Yogyakarta Employees People's Alliance (ARPY) in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta held a commemoration of Labour Day or May Day at which they demanded welfare improvements for home workers.

The action, which began at the Abu Bakar Ali car park, then continued with a march through the Malioboro shopping district and ended at the zero kilometre point at the central post office.

According to Detik's observations, the demonstrates marched along Jl. Malioboro then stopped at the Yogyakarta Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) where they briefly give speeches, then continued on to the Yogyakarta governor's office.

At the DPRD and the governor's office, the demonstrators, who wore batik cloth around their waists and brought traditional gongs, read out their demands. At least 12 demands were made, one of which was demanding protection for informal workers.

"This year our action is taking up the theme of employees welfare = Special Yogyakarta. Scores of home worker unions have taken part in this action", said Yogyakarta Women Home Workers (PPR) Trade Union Federation chairperson Warisa on Tuesday May 1.

Warisa said that the working conditions facing informal workers such a home workers, street sellers and domestic workers in Yogyakarta are of concern. This is because they are not covered by government regulations and their salaries are below the regional minimum wage (UMK).

"Under such conditions, at this year's action we from the Yogyakarta Employees People's Alliance are urging the government, first to provide decent wages to home workers in accordance with the UMK, and second acknowledgement and protection for home workers", she said.

Furthermore, the group is calling on the government to enact the Domestic Worker Protection Law and acknowledge street sellers as workers. Also the government must protect and provide social security such as Social Security Management Agency (BPJS) healthcare and labour benefits without monthly fees.

"We are also demanding access to education and employment for workers with disabilities, welfare for women farmers, social security for media workers and a reduction in prices. Then work safety, equipment and work hour guarantees", she concluded. (bgs/bgs)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Peringati May Day, Pekerja Rumahan di Yogya Penuhi Malioboro".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita-jawa-tengah/d-3999103/peringati-may-day-pekerja-rumahan-di-yogya-penuhi-malioboro

Papuan students at May Day rally in Yogya call for independence

Java Post - May 1, 2018

Budi Warsito – The commemoration of Labour Day or May Day in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta was marked with a demonstration centred at the zero kilometre point in the centre of the city.

Among the hundreds of protesters at the action, there were also students from the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) who used the rally to call West Papuan independence.

In addition to giving speeches, the demonstrators also brought Papuan paraphernalia such the symbol of the Morning Star flag which they wore to articulate their demands.

"Between Indonesia and Papua there is a different history. Papua shouldn't have to beg from Indonesia. We students from Papua are demanding that Indonesia open up space for democratic dialogue", Papuan student Opik said during a break in the action on Tuesday May 1.

Opik said that after decades of being part of Indonesia, the Papuan people still feel that they do not have a decent level of prosperity. According to Opik, despite the government's infrastructure development program, it has still not brought prosperity to Papua.

"Just come and visit Papua, at the moment one person in Papua is slaughtered every day. Indonesia must give economic, political and cultural independence to Papua", he said.

In addition to using May Day to call for independence, the protesters also demanded better welfare security for workers. "We are demanding the abolition of outsourcing and contract labour systems", said action coordinator Lutfi Mubarok. (dho/JPC)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Ikut Peringati May Day di Jogja, Mahasiswa Papua Minta Merdeka".]

Source: https://www.jawapos.com/read/2018/05/01/208900/ikut-peringati-may-day-di-jogja-mahasiswa-papua-minta-merdeka

Bogor workers celebrate May Day with mass prayer

Jakarta Post - May 1, 2018

Theresia Sufa, Bogor, West Java – Around 4,000 workers in Bogor regency, West Java, attended an istighotsah (mass prayer) at Pakansari Stadium to celebrate International Workers' Day, or May Day, on Tuesday.

They prayed for West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan to immediately issue a decree on sectoral minimum wages for regencies and cities.

Sumarno, the head of the Chemical, Energy and Mining Workers Union (SPKEP) in the Bogor regency, said workers have struggled to push forward the issuance of the decree on sectoral minimum wages, but as of today no progress had been made.

"Therefore, we partnered with the Bogor Police to hold this istighotsah with the hope that sectoral minimum wages we have fought for could be immediately issued by the governor," he added.

The workers also called for the revocation of Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No. 20/2018 on foreign workers. They deemed the regulation was unfair because it opened a pathway for an influx of foreign workers into Indonesia.

"We reject any laws that aren't on the side of workers in the country. If the West Java governor decree is not issued after this celebration, we will declare a strike and close down factories in Bogor regency," said Sumarno.

Around 2,800 factories operate in Bogor, which is home to around 12,000 union members.

Bogor Regent Nurhayanti said she supported the struggle of the workers to push for the issuance of the sectoral minimum wage decree. She promised that she would convey their demand to the West Java governor. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/01/bogor-workers-celebrate-may-day-with-mass-prayer.html

May Day celebrated in Medan without incident

Jakarta Post - May 1, 2018

Apriadi Gunawan, Medan, North Sumatra – Thousands of workers from various organizations joined in the celebration of International Workers' Day, also known as May Day, in several areas across Medan, North Sumatra, on Tuesday.

Some workers celebrated May Day in cheerful events that were attended by government officials, while others celebrated it by staging orations in public spaces across the city. They include the Maimun Palace area, Merdeka Square and the Majestik traffic circle on Jl. Gatot Subroto, Medan.

In their speeches, they raised three demands. First, they called on the government to reduce the prices of rice, fuel and electricity and demanded certainty on food and energy availability.

Second, they rejected cheap wages and urged the government to revoke Government Regulation No.78/2015 on wages, which they deemed unfair. Third, they wanted the government to revoke Presidential Regulation No.20/2018 on foreign workers and to abolish outsourcing.

"These three demands are non-negotiable and must be implemented by the government," said North Sumatra Metal Worker Union head Willy Agus Utomo on the sidelines of the May Day celebrations in Merdeka Square in Medan on Tuesday.

A vibrant May Day celebration was seen in Percut Sei Tuan Square. North Sumatra Deputy Governor Nurhajizah Marpaung and North Sumatra Police chief Paulus Waterpauw attended the event. Meanwhile, Medan Mayor Dzulmi Eldin attended the May Day celebrations at the Youth Center.

"All societal elements, not only workers, must be happy today because this is a victory day for all of us," said Paulus. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/01/may-day-celebrated-in-medan-without-incident.html

Dancing domestic workers demand protection

Jakarta Post - May 1, 2018

Jakarta – About 350 domestic workers across the city gathered on Jl. Merdeka Selatan in Central Jakarta on Tuesday to commemorate International Workers' Day, also known as May Day.

The rally's coordinator, Lita Anggraeni, said the participants had several demands that included legal protection for domestic workers and to be protected from sexual harassment.

"We want the government to figure out how to keep domestic workers safe from discrimination," Lita said, as quoted by kompas.com, adding that they had yet to get social security. They are also prohibited from associating with their peers.

The domestic workers brought household utensils like dusters, brooms, spatulas and frying pans to enliven the rally. The protesters, the majority of whom were women, also held aloft banners that read: "Day off for domestic workers", "Decent wages for workers" and "Employers are not kings or queens". The workers also danced to pop music during the rally, with their dance moves mimicking household-cleaning activities like sweeping and washing. (vny)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/01/dancing-domestic-workers-demand-protection.html

May Day: PKS demands rule on foreign labor revoked

Tempo - May 1, 2018

Caesar Akbar, Jakarta – Ansary Siregar, member of the House of Representatives (DPR) labor commission from the PKS faction, was among protesters during the International Labor Day a.k.a. May Day in front of the State Palace on Tuesday, May 1.

Delivering his oration on top of a car belonging to the Indonesian Trade Unions Confederation (KSPI), Ansary highlighted the Presidential Regulation on Foreign Workers.

According to Ansary, the Presidential Regulation No. 20/2018 on Foreign Workers has created unrest. He believes the rule is a threat to job opportunities that local labors are eyeing.

Ansary asked the government to revoke the regulation. He said he has signed for the formation of a special committee to revoke the presidential regulation.

Meanwhile, the KSPI demanded three things in the May Day rally; rejection of expatriate workers of Chinese origin, revocation of Presidential Regulation No. 20/2018 on Foreign Workers, and the elimination of the outsourcing system.

"And for 2019, to select a president who is pro-labor," KSPI President Said Iqbal said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/05/01/055918068/May-Day-PKS-Demands-Rule-on-Foreign-Labor-Revoke

50,000 workers perform cultural carnival to celebrate 'May Day'

Jakarta Post - May 1, 2018

Jakarta – Around 50,000 workers have joined with the Indonesian Working People Confederation (KRPI) to take to the streets across Jakarta to celebrate International Workers' Day, known also as May Day, on Tuesday. The workers are also ready to perform a cultural carnival for the celebration.

"The rally participants, who are from various worker unions, will take part in the cultural carnival to celebrate May Day," said KRPI chairman Rieke Diah Pitaloka, as quoted by kompas.com.

The May Day rally participants gathered in areas around the Patung Kuda (Horse Statues) traffic circle on Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat, Central Jakarta, at 8 a.m. local time. They later marched to areas in front of the State Palace.

In the rally, KRPI will convey five demands called "Panca Maklumat Rakyat Pekerja (Five Mandates of the Working People)" to the government.

In one of the mandates, KRPI will call on President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to transform Indonesia into a national research-based industrial country that focuses on serving the interests of the people and the nation. KRPI is urging the government to immediately set up a national research body.

"So Indonesia will have a comprehensive industrial development blue print, which places workers as the subject of national industrial development from the upstream to the downstream," said Rieke.

In another demand, KRPI is also urging the government to realize "Tri Layak Rakyat Pekerja" (Three Decent Conditions for Indonesian Working People). They comprise decent wages, decent working conditions and decent living standards for all Indonesian workers. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/01/50000-workers-perform-cultural-carnival-to-celebrate-may-day.html

Media workers in Central Java underpaid: AJI

Jakarta Post - May 1, 2018

Suherdjoko, Semarang, Central Java – Many media workers in Semarang, Central Java, get a monthly salary well below the city's minimum wage of Rp 2.3 million (US$165.26) per month.

Some media companies even pay their workers a basic salary of only Rp 1 million per month. The workers include journalists, photographers, layout artists, marketing personnel, office boys and security officers.

"Many media owners and administrators in Semarang city and Central Java do not adhere to the 2003 Manpower Law," said Abdul Mughis of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) on Tuesday.

He added that the salaries were far below this year's basic cost of living (KHL) in Semarang that stood at Rp 2.7 million per month, according to a survey commissioned by the Confederation of Indonesian Worker Unions (KSPI).

"Half of the media companies don't even provide their workers with health and worker insurance schemes managed by the Health Care and Social Security Agency [BPJS] and state-owned social security company [Jamsostek] respectively, as well as retirement or pension insurance," said Abdul who also serves as the chairman of the Cross Media Workers Union (SPLM) in Central Java.

"Owners and administrators of print, electronic and online media outlets must pay decent wages based on the KHL and the province's minimum wage standard to their workers because they are professionals," he added.

"A media worker should ideally receive a monthly salary of Rp 3 million. This amounts to workers having decent living standards," KSPI Semarang head Heru Budi Utoyo said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/01/media-workers-in-central-java-underpaid-aji.html

Three demands made during May Day rally

Jakarta Post - May 1, 2018

Jakarta – Workers joining with the Confederation of Indonesian Workers Unions (KSPI) delivered three demands for the improved welfare of workers nationwide during a rally to commemorate International Workers' Day, also known as May Day, on Tuesday.

KSPI chairman Said Iqbal said around 150,000 workers from Greater Jakarta; Serang, Banten, and Karawang and Purwakarta in West Java conveyed their demands entitled Tritura Plus (Three Extra People's Demands) during a rally in front of the State Palace, Central Jakarta, on Tuesday.

In the first demand, the workers called on the government to reduce the prices of rice, electricity and fuel to maintain food and energy security.

They later conveyed their grievances about low wages and called for the revocation of Government Regulation (PP) No. 78/2015 on wages, which they deemed as unfair to workers.

With their last demand, the workers called on the government to revoke Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No. 20/2018 on foreign workers.

"We have also added a new demand here. We want the government to abolish outsourcing practices and we seek to elect a pro-worker president in the 2019 election," said Said in a written statement released on Tuesday.

In addition to delivering their demands, the KSPI members also used the May Day rally as a moment to voice their support for Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto's candidacy in the 2019 presidential election. (dpk/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/01/three-demands-made-during-may-day-rally.html

Jokowi spends May Day at Bogor Palace

Jakarta Post - May 1, 2018

Jakarta – Workers are set to stage rallies on Tuesday across Greater Jakarta, including at the Bogor Palace, to celebrate International Workers' Day, also known as May Day.

While thousands of workers will center their May Day protest rally at the State Palace, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is scheduled to carry out his activities at Bogor Palace.

As stated on the President's official schedule released by the Presidential Office, Jokowi welcomed an Iranian delegation led by Masoumeh Ebtekar, the Vice President of Iran for women and family affairs, at around 9:45 a.m.

The President then opened a high level consultation themed "World Moslem Scholars on Wasatiya Al-Islam" at Bogor Palace. Around 100 ulemas and Muslim scholars from across the world are attending the conference, which was initiated by Din Syamsuddin, the presidential special envoy for interfaith and inter-civilization dialogue and cooperation.

Presidential Secretariat deputy head of protocol, press and media Bey Triadi Machmudin said President Jokowi had not yet been scheduled to meet with the workers' representatives.

"The President's agenda today is still in line with his official schedule. There is not yet any information on whether he will meet with the representatives of the workers," said Bey as quoted by kompas.com. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/01/jokowi-spends-may-day-at-bogor-palace.html

Workers urge govt to hike wages, improve employment conditions

Jakarta Post - April 30, 2018

Arya Dipa, Bandung, West Java – Workers, activists and students are set to commemorate International Workers' Day, also known as May Day, on Tuesday by staging a rally to call for higher minimum wages and better working conditions.

The protesters will urge the government to revoke Government Regulation No. 78/2015 on wages.

Bandung Militant Labor Unions Federation (Sebumi) head Aan Aminah said the government had discussed the regulation, which regulated wages, without involving workers. Labor unions should be involved in discussions to determine wage increases, he demanded.

"The state must guarantee decent wages for all workers without any exception. Hence, we also reject worker recruitment based on contracts, outsourcing and internships," said Aminah on Sunday.

Labor unions claim the government regulation contradicts Law No. 13/2003 on manpower.

Aminah said determining wage increases based on inflation and economic growth violated the right of workers to be involved in processes to determine minimum wages. This method also contradicted Law No. 21/2000 on labor unions and ILO Convention No. 87 on the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize.

When calculating wage increases based on inflation and economic growth, workers would be unable to achieve decent living standards, said Aminah. "The government's instrument to calculate decent living standards that will be assessed once every five years will not change much for workers."

National Union Confederation secretary-general Hermawan Susanto said May Day was a day of resistance. "We are calling on all workers to take the streets and voice our resistance against repression." (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/30/workers-urge-govt-to-hike-wages-improve-employment-conditions.html

Labour & migrant workers

Teachers association disaffiliates from KSPI after declaration of support for

Akurat.co - May 5, 2018

Dedi Ermansyah – The Indonesian Teachers Association (PGRI) executive board has declared that it is leaving the Indonesian Trade Union Confederation (KSPI).

The declaration was made in a written statement of disaffiliation which was signed by PGRI general chairperson Unifah Rosyidi and secretary general Qudrat Nugraha.

The letter, numbered 289/Um/PB/XXI/2018 and dated May 4, 2018, contained four points of clarification. First, the PGRI's statues state that the PGRI is independent and non-partisan.

Second, a decision was taken at the PGRI's 5th National Working Conference, which was held in Batam on February 1-4, 2018, that the PGRI would leave or no longer be affiliated with the KSPI and a formal statement on this would be conveyed in writing by the PGRI's executive board.

Third, a decision was taken by a PGRI executive board plenary meeting on April 30 to follow up on the results of the conference.

The fourth point is on the international educational constitution which states that education must be independent from the government.

"It shall be self-governing and not subject control by any political party or ideological or religious grouping", reads the letter.

With this letter, the PGRI will no longer allow the KSPI to use the logo, symbol, uniform or website of the PGRI.

It is suspected that the PGRI's decision to leave the KSPI is because not long ago, on May Day, the KSPI declared its support for Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) chairperson Prabowo Subianto as a candidate for the 2019 presidential elections.

The union did not just support Prabowo, but KSPI president Said Iqbal signed a political contract with Prabowo.

Akurat.co has sought confirmation from Said Iqbal but has yet to receive a response.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "PGRI Keluar dari KSPI, Tolak Dukung Prabowo?".]

Source: https://news.akurat.co/id-216323-read-pgri-keluar-dari-kspi-tolak-dukung-prabowo

Workers must think beyond pay rises: Trade union leader

Jakarta Post - May 4, 2018

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – A trade unionist has said workers should voice demands beyond salary increases during street rallies, such as better training and skills formation that would improve their quality of life.

Confederation of Indonesian Prosperity Trade Unions chairman Andy William Sinaga said on Friday that it might demand employers to assist workers in finding housing.

He said workers could not force companies to give them higher salaries, as it could be detrimental to workers' interests if companies had to lay off staff or close down their businesses because of high operational costs.

"From my conversations with our members, some do not want to march for pay increases because they don't want to see the closure of their workplace," he said at a discussion in Jakarta.

However, he said workers who held different views from the majority feared to voice their opinion because they could be labeled as traitors.

He also highlighted other examples that workers should demand, such as housing that is closer to workplaces so that workers do not have to commute from far away.

Andy also criticized trade union leaders that used members for their own political interests. "The workers' struggle is about making changes at the grassroots. So the struggle should take its form in the factories, not through street rallies or the distribution of T-shirts that support particular politicians," he added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/04/workers-must-think-beyond-pay-rises-trade-union-leader.html

Ministry to bring back Indonesian language requirement for foreign workers

Jakarta Post - May 3, 2018

Jakarta – The Manpower Ministry is now preparing a regulation to bring back the requirement for foreign workers to speak Indonesian, an official has said.

"We will issue a ministerial regulation [on deliberation of the requirement]. It is being discussed and drafted," said Manpower Ministry legal bureau head Budiman in Jakarta on Wednesday as reported by kompas.com.

The requirement was previously removed from Manpower Ministerial Regulation No. 16/2015. Budiman said the requirement was previously removed because certain foreign workers, like technicians installing machinery in Indonesian factories, only traveled to the country for several days at a time.

"Such workers do not need to be able to speak Indonesian because they are in fact employed by owners of the machinery," the official said, adding that if such workers were required to speak Indonesian, it could discourage investment.

Budiman said that under the regulation, which is being drafted, the requirement to speak the Indonesian language would only be applied to foreign workers staying in the country for longer periods of time.

"Under the prepared regulation, only those who stay for six months or longer are required to be able to speak the Indonesian language," Budiman added.

Previously, Indonesian Workers Association (Aspek) president Mirah Sumirat criticized the government for removing such a requirement, saying it indiscriminately brought in a flood of foreign workers. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/03/ministry-to-bring-back-indonesian-language-requirement-for-foreign-workers.html

Elite trade union electoral support doesn't reflect membership vote

Tirto.id - May 2, 2018

Mohammad Bernie – The song "Hello Hello Bandung" was played and sung along to by thousands of workers who packed into the Senayan Sports Arena (Istora) in Central Jakarta as prospective presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto took to the stage alongside Indonesian Trade Union Confederation (KSPI) president Said Iqbal.

"In accordance [with the results] of the KSPI's national working meeting we support Prabowo in the 2019 [presidential election]", said Iqbal to the cheers of the workers present.

The KSPI used the opportunity to officially declare its support for the Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) chairperson and former Special Forces (Kopassus) commander.

Iqbal also conveyed this support during a mass action commemorating International Labour Day or May Day near the State Palace in Central Jakarta. Iqbal even boasted that he could deliver 5-10 million votes for Prabowo in the 2019 presidential election.

"[As many as] 98 percent of KSPI members will vote for Prabowo Subianto. [There are] 2.2 million KSPI members and with their families almost 5.7 million people. We will endeavor to contribute 5-10 million votes for Prabowo Subianto", said Iqbal on Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat on Tuesday May 1.

Not evenly spread

Despite this however, it appears that Iqbal's call is not evenly spread down to the grass roots. There are still a number of KSPI members who took part in commemorating May Day who do not wholeheartedly support Prabowo.

One of them is Edi Suhandi (51). Edi, who began working at PT Unitex Bogor 30 years ago, said that he has yet to decide who to vote for in the 2019 presidential election.

"I'll consider the situation and conditions first. How genuine is Pak Prabowo's commitment to workers. Later if there is a clear commitment, perhaps we will follow the leadership's line. Essentially I haven't taken a position yet", said Handi, as he is known to his friends, when speaking with Tirto near the Horse Monument in Central Jakarta.

Handi says that he's not very concerned about which figure or who will be elected in the 2019 presidential election. According to Handi, what's important is how much a presidential candidate sides with workers.

A similar view was expressed by another KSPI member, Edi Subandi (35). According to Edi, over the last four years of his leadership, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has done quite well at his job, especially with regard to labour affairs.

"Yeah, it's like, you know, I'm still thinking about it. The thing is at the moment Pak Jokowi's doing really good. In terms of his handling of of labour problems it's perhaps really good", Edi said when speaking to Tirto near the Horse Statue in Central Jakarta on Tuesday.


The inconsistency between the peek leadership of trade unions and their members is also happening in the Indonesian Working People's Confederation (KRPI).

In her call for the Five Declarations of Indonesian Working People (Panca Maklumat Rakyat Pekerja Indonesia), KRPI general chairperson Rieke Diah Pitaloka repeatedly called on workers to "give a mandate to President Joko Widodo".

However voices of discontent over Widodo's leadership can also be heard from KRPI members. One of them is Suharyono (45) who said that over the last four years of Widodo's leadership there has been no change in workers' lives.

"Yeah, that's been our fate up until now, there hasn't been any change", said Suharyono speaking on the sidewalk of Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat in Central Jakarta on Tuesday.

One of the things he is critical of is Government Regulation Number 78/2015 on Wages (PP 78/2015). According to Suharyono, the regulation has harmed and is squeezing the life out of workers. In addition to this, he also highlighted the government's policies on foreign labourers.

Similar issues were also raised by an employee of PT Kodja Bahari Shipping and Dockyards, Nana Suryana. According to Nina, Widodo has not implemented the promises he made to workers during the 2014 presidential election campaign.

"Essentially during Pak Jokowi's term there hasn't been any changes for workers. So what he promised in 2014, as if he cared about working people, it hasn't been demonstrated yet", said Nina.

Not of one voice

Aside from leadership trade union support which does not reflect the votes of their members, there are also a number of labour organisations which are explicitly not supporting either Prabowo or Widodo in the 2019 presidential election.

The reason being that Widodo is seen as having failed to create prosperity for workers, while Prabowo is considered as being no better that Widodo because of his dark past.

"Our political position is that workers would be better off building their own party as a third or alternative political force", said Populist Democratic Trade Union (SEDAR) spokesperson Sherin when contacted by Tirto on Monday April 30.

SEDAR believes that Widodo's failures can be seen from the enactment of the PP 78/2015. Through this regulation, she said, the setting of annual wage increase is calculated based on the inflation rate and economic growth.

According to Sherin, the PP 78/2015 ignores the annual reasonable living cost index (KHL) survey which used to be used by workers to demand wage increases.

She also cited the massive infrastructure development program under the Widodo administration which has not been enough to create new jobs. According to Sherin, the government should be carrying out a program of national industrialisation in order absorb large numbers of workers.

SEDAR also believes that Prabowo is no better than Widodo saying that the trade union will not support him because they want to safeguard the mandate of reformasi – the reform process that began with the overthrow of former president Suharto in 1998.

Sherin says that Prabowo through his party have frequently been proven to support anti-democratic discourse. One example of this was Gerindra's support for the abolition of the direct election of regional heads and his party's push to give voice to the "Return to the 1945 Constitution" movement.

"Supporting Prabowo is the same as betraying reformasi... Prabowo is clearly problematic because he has a track record of human rights violations. Moreover this has been exacerbated with reactionary and intolerant [religious] groups gathering support for him", said Sherin.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Dukungan Serikat Buruh di Pilpres Tak Cerminkan Suara Anggota".]

Source: https://tirto.id/dukungan-serikat-buruh-di-pilpres-tak-cerminkan-suara-anggota-cJJ7

Will trade union electoral support empower workers, or make them a political

BBC Indonesia - May 2, 2018

Abraham Utama – Prabowo Subianto has preempted President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in embracing labour groups in the lead up to the 2019 presidential elections.

At a declaration in Jakarta during the commemoration on International Labour Day on May 1, the candidate from the Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) obtained the support of the Indonesian Trade Union confederation (KPSI) for his presidential bid.

Gerindra central leadership board deputy chairperson Arief Puyouno says that the agreement between the KSPI will lock in at least 25 million votes for Prabowo or around 35 percent of the total vote target being touted by Prabowo to win the presidential election.

"Workers will campaign for Prabowo as a presidential candidate, even before he registers with the KPU [General Elections Commission]", said Puyouno by phone on Wednesday May 2.

KSPI president Said Iqbal meanwhile says that the members of his confederation number 2.2 million and if the members of workers' families are counted Iqbal calculates that his union can contribute 5.5 million votes to Prabowo.

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Masinton Pasaribu however believes that the projections of a Prabowo win on the back of the labour vote is exaggerated.

Based on what happened in 2014 presidential elections, Pasaribu is certain that the huge KSPI declaration of support for Prabowo will not guarantee a Prabowo victory. This is because it is uncertain if the political contract between the KSPI and Prabowo will filter down to the grass roots.

"The declaration of support was the leadership's initiative, it doesn't reflect workers' [wishes] as a whole", he said.

"Workers are voters who are politically literate, they know where they must channel their aspirations, even if the trade union leadership directs them [to vote for] a specific candidates", said Pasaribu.

Gerindra claimed that in the 2014 elections Prabowo beat Widodo in areas where there is a worker base. Puyouno noted that Prabowo garnered many votes in the plantation centres of North Sumatra, Riau and West Kalimantan as well as the industrial zones in Banten (West Java) and East Java.

In addition to the KSPI, in 2014 Prabowo also received the support of the All Indonesia Trade Union Confederation (KSPSI) Yorrys Raweyay leadership, a politician from the Golkar Party.

Widodo meanwhile was backed by the Andi Gani Nena Wea leadership of the KSPSI along with the Confederation of Prosperity Labour Unions (KSBSI), which was led by Mudhofir Khamid. Later on, after Widodo was elected, both were given positions in state-owned enterprises.

Wea was given the seat of president commissioner and independent commissioner at the state housing company PT Pembangunan Perumahan (Persero) while Khamid became the commissioner of the state postal company PT Pos Indonesia (Persero).

Double edged sward

Since the political reform era which began with Suharto's overthrow in 1998, labour parties have taken part in all of the elections except in 2014 when the phenomena of declaring trade union support for presidential candidates first emerged.

In the 1999 general elections, there was the Labour Party (Partai Buruh, PBI), the Indonesian Workers' Party (Partai Pekerja Indonesia, PPI), the Workers' Solidarity Party (Partai Solidaritas Pekerja, PSP) and the All Indonesia Workers Solidarity Party (Partai Solidaritas Pekerja Seluruh Indonesia, PSPSI).

Four years later the Social Democrat Labour Party (Partai Buruh Sosial Demokrat, PBSI) emerged and in the 2009 general elections there was the Indonesian Workers and Employers Party (Partai Pengusaha dan Pekerja Indonesia, PPPI) and the PBI.

Out of all these vehicles, there has not been a single representative from a labour based party which has succeeded in getting a seat in the House of Representatives (DPR).

According to University of Airlangga labour expert Hadi Subhan this represents a failure on the part of these parties as representatives of workers' interests.

"There is a great deal of disparity among workers. It's impossible for a political party to reflect workers' [interests]", said Subhan when contacted from Jakarta.

What is happening at the moment, said Subhan, is that the trade union and confederation leaderships are using the labour movement to move closer to political figures.

And this phenomena isn't just occurring in Jakarta but in almost all regions, so, asserted Subhan, "The public isn't sympathetic, workers are seen as partisan, political tools".

"Workers are a concrete group, they have a single interest so they're easily mobilised and used by certain groups", said Subhan.

Political party interests

Not wanting to be ground down by the tide of political party interests, the Populist Democratic Trade Union (SEDAR) has elected to remain independent and is not supporting Prabowo or Widodo in the great march towards the 2019 presidential elections.

"Our goal is to build an alternative political force, our members are not just workers but people from other groups", said SEDAR spokesperson Sarinah.

Quoting from the labour movement's philosophical basis, which applies all over the world, Sarinah says that trade unions stand above religious, ethnic and racial differences and other tendencies.

This value, added Sarinah, is in conflict with the political constellation in Indonesia, particularly following the divisive 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial elections, which are seen as ridden with primordial issues.

"The concept of a labour movement is internationalism, not seeing differences. This is why we don't support any of the candidates. It would destroy workers' consistency. We would be fighting with one another", she said.

The question is, is this discourse realistic?

Sarinah relates how the tradition of paying trade union dues among workers could provide a fixed capital for a labour party, money which up until now has been able to fund numerous demonstrations as well as trade union secretariat offices.

"A labour party must emerge out of the labour movement. Up until now [labour parties] have been artificial, emerging not from a mass movement, not from below", said Sarinah.

Nevertheless, Subhan believes that workers do not actually have to articulate their interests though a political party because the large number of workers in fact makes then venerable to being use simply as a political tool.

"What's important is unity between trade unions. In the past they have united and eventually gave birth to the BPJS [Social Security Management Agency", said Subhan.

Based on data from the Department of Home Affairs, the number of voters eligible to participate in the 2019 legislative and presidential elections is as high as 196.5 million people. Meanwhile according to the National Statistics Agency (BPS), Indonesia's total working population stands at 131.5 million.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Buruh dan calon presiden: diperdaya atau menggalang politik?".]

Source: http://www.bbc.com/indonesia/indonesia-43977922?SThisFB

Citing Trump's border wall, Prabowo warns of threat foreign workers pose

Coconuts Jakarta - May 2, 2018

Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto, the man most likely (but still far from certain) to challenge President Joko Widodo in the 2019 election, officially received the support of the Indonesian Trade Union Confederation (KSPI) during International Workers' Day yesterday.

Beyond being an important endorsement for the former general, who is still struggling to consolidate the political coalition needed to make his candidacy official, Prabowo's cautionary comments to the KSPI crowd about the dangers of allowing more foreign workers into Indonesia strongly signal something that many political analysts have predicted – Prabowo is planning to adopt a similar strategy to that used by US President Donald Trump for his campaign, one that relies heavily on exploiting the economic insecurity of voters through xenophobic fear-mongering about foreigners coming to take their jobs.

Although there have been plenty of signs that Prabowo was going to adopt such a strategy in the past, the Gerindra chairman specifically referenced Trump's long promised border wall between the US and Mexico his KSPI endorsement acceptance speech in Istora Senayan yesterday.

"There are no people in the world that want to open their doors to foreigners like us," Prabowo said during his speech as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

"The United States wants to make a wall to keep them out. In Australia people who try to enter are discharged to remote islands, in Malaysia, our own illegal migrant workers are whipped," he said.

Prabowo's comment about "opening their doors to foreigners like us" was in reference to a new presidential regulation (Perpres) on the use of foreign workers, signed by Jokowi last month, that aims to ease some of the challenges faced by companies looking to use workers from outside Indonesia.

Jokowi and his administration have argued that Perpres is necessary to help stimulate foreign direct investment in the country and that its overall effect on the number of foreign workers would be minimal as it was mainly aimed at easing existing processes and did not loosen the already tight regulations on what jobs foreigners can hold in Indonesia (regulations which keep the number of foreign workers in the country incredibly low at just around 0.04% of the entire population).

But the technicalities of the bill or its impact matter little to politicians such as Prabowo, who know that high unemployment coupled with xenophobic attitudes towards foreigners (particularly the Chinese) held by many low-income Indonesians make the issue ripe for attack.

Prabowo certainly wouldn't want to be associated with Trump by name (he, along with pretty much every other Indonesian politician denounced the US president's decision to name Jerusalem the capital of Israel) but political analysts such as Muhammad Qodari, executive director of survey group Indo Barometer, have predicted he would likely adopt a Trumpian campaign strategy ever since the Gerindra chairman's much panned speech, released in March, in which he predicted that Indonesia could cease to exist by 2030 (based on the premise of the sci-fi novel Ghost Fleet) if the country's elites continued to sell off Indonesia's natural resources to foreign powers.

The foreign worker angle certainly seems to be resonating more with the masses than the Ghost Fleet prediction, and with Prabowo on a downward trajectory against a rising Jokowi in the latest surveys, we expect to see him continue to focus on that line of attack as he seeks to solidify political support for his presidential run.

And if indeed the Prabowo continues to lean on the foreign worker issue in the hopes that it becomes his Trump card, then we can also expect the efforts to unseat Jokowi to become increasingly ugly.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/citing-trumps-border-wall-prabowo-warns-threat-foreign-workers-pose-indonesia/

Government urged to strengthen protection of plantation workers

Jakarta Post - April 30, 2018

Gemma Holliani Cahya, Jakarta – Environmental group Sawit Watch has called on the government to issue a special regulation for oil palm plantation workers, arguing that the 2003 Manpower Law does not adequately address their needs.

"A special regulation on oil palm plantation workers is needed. [...] Their jobs have unique characteristics, while current regulations mainly focus on industrial sector or manufacturing workers," Sawit Watch labour expert Hotler Parsaoran told journalists at a press conference about palm oil workers on Sunday.

Hotler said almost all oil palm plantation laborers in Indonesia experienced problems, such as an unclear working status, child labor practices, a lack of health and safety protection, low wages and union busting.

He was speaking on the eve of International Workers Day, also known as May Day, when workers across Indonesia are expected to take to the streets to fight for their rights.

This year, they specifically call on the government to revoke Government Regulation No. 78/2015 on wages, which they deem unfair.

Around 30,000 workers from 35 organizations, including Migrant Care, Kontras and LBH Jakarta, will participate in a long march that will be concentrated at the State Palace on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, around 150,000 people will also stage May Day rallies in other cities, including Bandung (West Java), Denpasar (Bali), Malang (East Java), Medan (North Sumatra), Surakarta (Central Java) and Pekanbaru (Riau). (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/30/govt-urged-to-strengthen-protection-of-plantation-workers.html

Trade union deal with Prabowo for cabinet post misplaced, vulgar

Liputan 6 - May 1, 2018

Jakarta – Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) chairperson Prabowo Subianto has gained the support of the Indonesian Trade Union Confederation (KSPI) as a candidate for the 2019 presidential elections.

This support was forthcoming after Prabowo agreed to a political contract which included a pledge to nominate KSPI president Said Iqbal as Minister of Labour (Menaker).

Al Azhar University (UAI) political observer Ujang Komarudin says that this is far too vulgar because the "festival of democracy" – as elections are popularly known – is still some time off and the official "games" [negotiations, horse trading] will take quite some time.

"Workers are indeed a political force anywhere. Not just in Indonesia. But making a request [like this] right now is misplaced, it's vulgar. If you're just offering support, yes well, that quite legitimate", he said in Jakarta on Tuesday May 1.

Komarudin said that this can be compared with the previous elections when the National Democrat Party (Nasdem) requested certain cabinet positions but did not do so publically. "Although there were [political] interests their support was unconditional. They played it nicely", said Komarudin.

However the solidity of the labour vote itself is a problem. Will the labour vote fully support Prabowo and result in Said Iqbal becoming Minister of Labour.

"Politically [trade unions] have yet to demonstrate that they are solid and cohesive. Many labour organisations are still not of one voice. More consolidation is needed. And the most important thing is the fight for workers' welfare", explained Komarudin.

Komarudin said that ministerial posts cannot just be given out through a political agreement between the KSPI and the future president elect because such posts require that the nominees actually have the capacity to do the job.

"There are standards and measures of being able to hold a post if later they are chosen by the president. Feeling they have the right to it is dangerous, it's not yet certain that they are capable of holding that post. The measure of a labour leader and a ministerial post are different, right. Later everybody will be making claims. It's okay to want something but look at the democratic context", he concluded.

KSPI executive director Muhammad Rusdi said earlier that the KSPI's political contract with Prabowo, part of which was asking for a ministerial post, was related to labour welfare. The aim of having such a post is to articulated workers' interests.

"Yes, for us the political contract also includes ministers related to labour and welfare, particularly the Menaker. This isn't for personal gain but in the interests of Indonesian workers", he said.

Meanwhile he said, the trade union leader who is best suited to hold the post is KSPI president Said Iqbal. "Our best cadre, one of which is the president of the KSPI, namely Said Iqbal", he said.

Rusdi said that the union has not yet proposed the name of a vice presidential running mate (cawapres) for Prabowo although the KSPI has suggested that Prabowo run with a figure who is an economics specialist.

"Not yet. We haven't proposed [anyone] yet, at most we are considering a cawapres who is a senior economics expert who we hope can bring reform to the Indonesian economy", he added.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Ajukan Said Iqbal Jadi Menaker Prabowo, Langkah KSPI Dianggap Vulgar".]

Source: https://www.liputan6.com/news/read/3496337/ajukan-said-iqbal-jadi-menaker-prabowo-langkah-kspi-dianggap-vulgar

Freedom of speech & expression

Police to act firmly against political activities at Car Free Day events

Jakarta Post - May 5, 2018

Jakarta – The Jakarta Police have vowed to strictly enforce a ban on political activities at the Sunday morning Car Free Day (CFD) events and to take stern action against violators.

Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said the force would be on guard to assure that people obeyed Jakarta Gubernatorial Regulation No. 12/2016, which only allows for activities related to sport, culture or the environment at CFD events.

"It is not allowed to hold activities related to [sectarian] issues," he said on Saturday, as quoted by tribunnews.com.

He added police would coordinate with the Jakarta administration to assure that the regulation was enforced. He also called on all parties to avoid political activities during the Sunday events.

At the Car Free Day event last Sunday, a woman and her son were intimidated by a group of campaigners opposed to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's bid for re-election, as shown by the slogan #2019GantiPresiden (#2019ChangePresident) printed on their T-shirts. The woman has reported the case to the police.

While denying involvement in the intimidation incident, the #2019GantiPresiden pressure group has announced plans for a large event to be held this Sunday. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/05/police-to-act-firmly-against-political-activities-at-car-free-day-events.html

Man jailed for 5 years for Facebook post allegedly insulting Islam

Agence France Presse - May 1, 2018

An Indonesian was jailed for five years Monday for a Facebook post deemed offensive to Islam, his lawyer said, the latest conviction under the country's controversial electronic information law.

Alnoldy Bahari, 39, was found guilty of spreading hate speech for a post in which he claimed to have experienced God's presence and questioned the faith of other Muslims.

"He's been sentenced to five years' jail and has to pay a fine of 100 million rupiah ($7,200)," said Bahari's lawyer Andi Komara. "We will most likely appeal because many facts weren't taken into account and were twisted."

The verdict will fuel fears that Indonesia's moderate brand of Islam is coming under threat from increasingly influential radicals.

Bahari, from the town of Pandeglang in West Java province, was charged with blasphemy and hate speech in December 2017, after a local leader of the militant Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) complained to police.

Although the blasphemy charge was subsequently dropped, Bahari found himself facing up to six years' jail for the loosely defined charge of hate speech, as defined under the electronic information law.

Demonstrators from the FPI – many dressed in white and wearing skullcaps – gathered outside the court as the verdict was read.

Rights groups have long campaigned against Indonesia's controversial defamation laws, which they say are unnecessarily vague and allow officials and wealthy individuals to criminalize critics and minorities.

"Indonesia needs an internet law that can protect rights to express opinions or even questions about religion," Damar Juniarto, Indonesia coordinator for digital rights group SAFEnet, told AFP.

"This Alnoldy case proves that people who only express their thoughts about a regular situation on Facebook... can be punished by the law."

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/indonesian-man-jailed-5-years-facebook-post-allegedly-insulting-islam/

Freedom of assembly & association

Jakarta court rejects attempt by Hizb ut-Tahrir to reverse its ban

The Guardian - May 7, 2018

Kate Lamb – A legal attempt by the Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir to overturn a decision that saw it outlawed in the world's largest Muslim-majority country has been rejected by an Indonesian court.

Reading the verdict at Jakarta state administrative court, the head judge, Tri Cahya Indra Permana, said the lawsuit was "rejected in full".

Hizb ut-Tahrir was banned in Indonesia on the basis of a 2017 presidential decree that gives the government powers to disband groups deemed a threat to national unity.

The ruling on Monday upheld that decision, with the judicial panel stating that the government had acted according to procedure and Hizb ut-Tahrir runs counter to Indonesia's state ideology.

The Islamic group, a global organisation that had an estimated 10,000 members in Indonesia before it was dissolved, supports the establishment of a global caliphate.

Under heavy guard from police and military personnel, hundreds of hardline supporters dressed in white skullcaps gathered outside the courtroom, where they conducted a mass prayer before the verdict was announced.

Ismail Yusanto, a former Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia spokesman, said it would appeal.

"If we accept, that means accepting injustice, that we allow injustice and we accept that preaching our ideals is wrong. Are you willing to let the teachings of Islam be blamed?" Yusanto was quoted as saying by CNN Indonesia.

The ruling is a clear political victory for the administration of Joko Widodo, but there are doubts that it will help curb radicalism.

Todd Elliott, a political analyst at Concord Consulting, said: "There is no guarantee that former members of HTI [Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia] are simply going to give up their extremist beliefs now that their former group is outlawed. There is a plethora of other hardline Islamist groups."

Hizb ut-Tahrir was one of several Islamic groups involved in mass rallies that led to the downfall and imprisonment of the former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, on charges of blasphemy last year.

Elliott said the group, which has been banned in several other countries, was an easier target than some Indonesian organisations that have a demonstrated pattern of violence.

The decision to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir, he said, could backfire. "HTI was unique in that it strictly adhered to a policy of non-violence, so now there is a risk of these 10,000 former members saying, 'OK, well we were a legal mass organisation, we played by the rules and that didn't work.' So some of them could gravitate towards violence," Elliott said.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/07/indonesia-jakarta-court-rejects-hizb-ut-tahrir-attempt-to-reverse-ban

Political parties & elections

Banner blunder shows Prabowo asking supporters to seize memories

Jakarta Post - May 7, 2018

Jakarta – A picture of a political banner during a Gerindra Party event in Bojonegoro, East Java, on Saturday has gone viral online for all the wrong reasons.

The writing on the banner, showing opposition leader Prabowo Subianto raising his right arm, was supposed to say, Bergeraklah Merebut Kemenangan (Act to Seize Victory). It instead said Bergeraklah Merebut Kenangan (Act to Seize Memories).

The banner was installed to welcome Prabowo, Gerindra's presidential nominee, who was touring Java to campaign for the party's candidates in the regional elections, including in Bojonegoro.

Deputy chairman of Gerindra's East Java chapter Hendro Subianto admitted that the writing was a typo and that party officials had taken down the banner.

"We apologize for the misprint of a political banner in Bojonegoro," he said, as quoted by kompas.com on Sunday night. The party is reportedly investigating the case to find the culprit behind the fiasco.

Prabowo lost to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in the 2014 presidential election. It is widely believed that the former general will take on Jokowi for the second time in 2019. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/07/banner-blunder-shows-prabowo-asking-supporters-to-seize-memories.html

Rally participants asked to change t-shirts before entering CFD

Jakarta Post - May 6, 2018

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Officers of the Jakarta Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) distributed white t-shirts to people who were wearing T-shirts with "#2019GantiPresiden" (Change President in 2019) printed on them at the Car Free Day (CFD) event, in a bid to ensure the event is "politics free".

Five sacks of white T-shirts were prepared in anticipation of participants of the #2019GantiPresiden declaration rally, being held around Arjuna Wiwaha monument, Gambir, Central Jakarta, about 2.3 kilometers from Jl. MH Thamrin, choosing to enter the CFD area wearing their politically emblazoned T-shirts.

Jakarta Public Order Agency head Yani Wahyu said the distribution of the t-shirts was in line with Jakarta Gubernatorial Decree No. 12/2016 on no politics at the CFD.

The step was taken following an incident last Sunday in which a woman, who was wearing a white T-shirt bearing the slogan "#DiaSibukKerja" (He is Busy Working), to express her support for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, was heckled by several people who were wearing "#2019GantiPresiden" t-shirts.

"We offered white T-shirts to participants of the declaration rally who wanted to enter the CFD area. We didn't force them, simply persuaded them to wear the white T-shirts to comply with the gubernatorial decree," Yani told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Yani said he had deployed 250 officers, of whom 120 were women, to safeguard the CFD and to make sure no political activities were conducted in the area.

Besides distributing white T-shirts, Satpol PP also erected several banners stating people could only hold environmental, sports, arts or cultural events at the CFD. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/06/rally-participants-asked-to-change-t-shirtsbefore-entering-cfd.html

PKS politician leads anti-Jokowi declaration in Jakarta

Jakarta Post - May 6, 2018

Jakarta – Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) general commissioner Mardani Ali Sera played a leading role on Sunday at an event aimed at preventing the reelection of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in next year's presidential election.

The politician made a declaration against the incumbent at an event organized by the #2019GantiPresiden (#2019ChangeThePresident) movement in the Monas area of Jakarta.

In his speech, the politician also stated that the movement had not expressed support for any particular 2019 presidential candidate, including Gerindra Party Prabowo chairman Subianto.

"We ask all of them, whether Prabowo or Gatot [Nurmantyo] or Yusril [Ihza Mahendra] or Sohibul Iman [...], including Jokowi, to prove that they are fighting for Pancasila. If they do, then we will support them," he said, as quoted by kompas.com. He was referring to individuals that had shown some interest in running for president.

During his anti-Jokowi declaration, Mardani stressed that the #2019GantiPresiden movement had yet to propose any candidate. However, the movement would make an official announcement regarding its political stance in August. (roi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/06/pks-politician-leads-anti-jokowi-declaration-in-jakarta.html

Gatot Nurmantyo's view on divided Islamic political parties

Tempo - May 5, 2018

Pribadi Wicaksono, Yogyakarta – Answering a question in a dialogue held at the University of Gadjah Mada, Former Indonesian Military (TNI) Commander Gatot Nurmantyo quipped about the country's Islamic political parties that are seemingly divided.

The question, asked by a student in the audience, was how should the current Muslim communities replicate the struggle and spirit of ulema and santri (students of Islamic boarding school) during the country's independence era without being shackled by each group's interests.

Gatot answered that every party must first stand united to establish an independent power, either economically or politically. "But you can observe the current situation, which bears the question if Islamic political parties have already stood united?" said the former TNI Commander on Friday, May 4.

"If [Islamic political parties] such as PAN, PKS, PKB, PPP, and PBB realize and unite, they don't need to think about a presidential or vice presidential candidate first, but tend to think about how they can together serve its people first," said Gatot Nurmantyo.

However, when asked if he intends to unite these Islamic political parties for the upcoming presidential election, Gatot Nurmantyo diplomatically answered that he currently does not have a vessel, or political party, let alone unite them.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/05/05/055918186/Gatot-Nurmantyos-View-on-Divided-Islamic-Political-Parties

No thank you: Candidates in conservative West Java reject shamans' support

Jakarta Post - May 3, 2018

Jakarta – A group of shamans in West Java has refuted suggestions that their support for a candidate pair in the religiously conservative province was a form of negative campaign, claiming instead that their endorsement for the pair was sincere.

The Deddy Mizwar-Dedi Mulyadi pair, who apparently refused to be associated with the shamans for fear of electoral backlash from Muslim voters, has reported the group to the Election Supervisory Agency for an alleged smear campaign.

"Go ahead and file a report, they need evidence anyway. I didn't even ask for money from them," said West Java Paranormal Community head Tubagus Zunaedi as quoted by kompas.com on Wednesday.

"I never disparaged or talked about other candidates. I only talked about my support for Deddy Mizwar and Dedi Mulyadi. I know [Dedi's] track record as Purwakarta regent, and Deddy Mizwar as West Java [deputy] governor. They are very good," he said.

Dedi, a Sundanese who has a natural affinity with the Sundanese culture, has long been accused of being a syncretic Muslim, a politically damaging allegation in a region where Islamic orthodoxy is thriving.

During an election debate in March, Dedi's opponents questioned his decision to cover trees in Purwakarta with black-and-white fabric, in an apparent attack aimed at questioning his beliefs. The regent played down the allegation, arguing that he covered the trees with fabric to respect and protect the environment.

The pair has said that the shamanic group did not coordinate with them before publicly declaring their support and suggested that the move was meant to discredit them.

"The declaration [of the shamans' support] will lead the public into thinking that Deddy and Dedi are supported by supernatural beings," said the pair's lawyer, Agus Sihombing.

According to a 2017 Indobarometer survey, 17 percent of West Java voters said they did not like Dedi because he "looked like a shaman". (dpk/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/03/no-thank-you-candidates-in-conservative-west-java-reject-shamans-support.html

Why an anti-Jokowi hashtag could be his strongest foe so far

Jakarta Post - May 1, 2018

Sita W. Dewi and Gisela Swaragita, Jakarta – The #2019GantiPresiden (#2019ChangePresident) campaign has been the talk of the town both online and offline and is set to become President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's strongest faceless enemy in his reelection bid next year.

The hashtag, which began in early April, is believed to have made its first public appearance when Mardani Ali Sera, a politician from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), distributed rubber bracelets with the hashtag on a TV show. Mardani was part of the success team for incumbent Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan and his deputy Sandiaga Uno, while his party, PKS, is one of Jokowi's strongest opponents.

T-shirts printed with the hashtag have also begun to be sold everywhere. The offline campaign made headlines over the weekend when a group of anti-Jokowi activists wore the t-shirts during the supposedly politics-free Car Free Day event on Sunday in Jakarta.

In the first two weeks of April, at least 110,000 mentions of the hashtag were recorded on Twitter, far exceeding the 18,000 mentions of the counter-hashtag #Jokowi2Periode (#Jokowi2Terms), according to big data company Drone Emprit.

Jokowi initially downplayed the campaign, suggesting in an April 7 speech that such smear campaigns alone were not enough to challenge him. "... can a t-shirt unseat a president?" Jokowi asked around one thousand of his supporters in Bogor, West Java, adding that, "Only God and the people can do so."

The statement, however, backfired as big data analysis showed it only triggered more use of the hashtag.

"Before [the April 7] statement, the hashtag [#2019GantiPresiden] was mentioned a maximum of 7,000 times a day. But a day after the statement, the number surged to 37,000, a 300 percent increase," Drone Emprit founder Ismail Fahmi told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

On the back of the hashtag's popularity, #2019GantiPresiden t-shirts also sold quickly on online marketplaces and offline. The prices of the t-shirts vary, from Rp 60,000 (US$4.32) to Rp 125,000.

More politically apathetic netizens jumped on the heated campaign, popularizing satire hashtags such as #2019GantiBojo (#2019ChangeSpouse), #2019GantiRakyatnya (#2019ChangeThePeople). One parody contains the anagram of "ganti": #2019GiantPresident (#2019GiantForPresident), referring to Giant, a character from Japanese cartoon Doraemon.

Ismail said the hashtag created an effective anti-Jokowi narrative because it served as a uniting language for those opposed to Jokowi, regardless of their political affiliations or other intellectual backgrounds.

"Jokowi's supporters also created hashtags to counter the #2019GantiPresiden campaign. But they weren't as effective because they didn't create a single and strong hashtag," Ismail said, citing pro-Jokowi tags such as #Jokowi2Periode, #2019TetapJokowi (#2019StillJokowi) and #DiaSibukKerja (HeIsBusyWorking).

Social media consultant PoliticaWave founder Yose Rizal shared this sentiment, saying that the lack of one uniting hashtag was the main factor behind the pro-Jokowi camp's failure to counter the latest anti-Jokowi campaign before it snowballed.

Yose added that it was only natural for the Jokowi camp and its supporters to try to promote different messages at the same time, using different hashtags.

"As an incumbent, [Jokowi's camp] has different programs and activities to promote. He also speaks different 'languages' in his official visits to different regions in Indonesia. Meanwhile, the opposition only has one single agenda: to defeat Jokowi in the 2019 presidential election," Yose told the Post.

However, there is a limitation to the anti-Jokowi campaign. "Their campaign stops at #2019GantiPresiden. They have yet to offer anything other than that, such as an alternative candidate or alternative programs for example. They also can't claim any achievements now of course. The presidential election is one year away, so anything could change," he said.

Those hoping to see a change in the presidency would eventually want more than just an emotional anti-Jokowi campaign, Yose said.

To date, several names have been touted as potential presidential candidates, including Jokowi's rival in 2014 Prabowo Subianto and former military commander Gatot Nurmantyo, but they have yet to officially declare their bids despite having made their aspirations public.

Jokowi is currently considered the strongest contender in the 2019 presidential election. The former Jakarta governor has topped popularity surveys and holds an over 50 percent approval rating.

However, social media-driven campaigns have proven effective in taking down politicians, as shown by the defeat of former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who lost to rival Anies in the second round of the election, despite garnering the most votes in the first round.

Anies began with an unconvincing electability record but came out victorious after he, in the words of political analysts, "rode the wave of the Islamist movement". The Islamist movement was massive online and offline and while its anti-Ahok message was loud and clear, the movement never clearly declared its affiliation to either Anies or Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, the other contender in the 2017 gubernatorial election.

Observers have warned about the influence of social media-driven campaigns. In Indonesia, which has a population of 250 million people, more than 100 million citizens have access to the internet, with about 90 percent regularly using social media platforms to express themselves and to communicate.

"Social media-driven campaigns are the easiest. You could create something in Jakarta and see the message reverberate in Aceh, Papua and other regions. It's simply borderless," Yose said.

Before the official presidential campaign period begins, many presidential hopefuls and members of the anti-Jokowi camp will make use of digital campaigns. "It's not necessarily about hashtags, but an effective and consistent idea as a mass communication tool," Yose said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/01/why-an-anti-jokowi-hashtag-could-be-his-strongest-foe-so-far.html

Blasphemy & hate speech

Man sentenced to four years in prison for religious defamation

Jakarta Post - May 7, 2018

Jakarta – The Tangerang District Court in Banten sentenced on Monday Abraham Ben Moses, also known as Saifuddin Ibrahim, 52, to four years in prison for religious defamation.

The court also ordered that Abraham, who claimed to be a Christian cleric, pay a Rp 50 million (US$3,565) fine, or else spend an additional one month in prison.

"We sentenced the defendant to four years in prison and ordered him to remain in custody," presiding judge Muhammad Damis said as reported by tempo.co.

Damis said Abraham was convicted under Electronic and Information Transactions Law No. 11/2008 as he intentionally spread information intended to incite hatred against an individual, group and society based on religion.

The verdict was lighter than the prosecutors' demand of five years in prison.

Abraham's legal team decided to file for an appeal. "The sentence is too heavy for the defendant," one of Abraham's lawyers, Maxie Ellia, said on Monday.

Abraham was known for recording his conversations with an online taxi driver identified only as Supri.

In a video he uploaded to his Facebook account, Abraham quoted a Quran verse about marriage and tried to convince the driver to convert to Christianity.

The police arrested Abraham and confiscated evidence in the form of a white iPhone 6 Plus at his house in Buaran Indah, Tangerang, Banten, on Dec. 5, 2017. (ami)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/07/man-sentenced-to-four-years-in-prison-for-religious-defamation.html

Amnesty International blasts hate speech conviction of spiritual book author

Jakarta Post - May 3, 2018

Jakarta – Human rights group Amnesty International Indonesia has criticized the hate speech conviction of a spiritual book author who offended some Muslims after writing a Facebook post saying that those who have not seen God are "fake" Muslims.

The Pandeglang District Court on Monday sentenced Alnoldy Bahari, the author of spiritual book Kitab Sihir: Rahasia Kuno (The Book of Magic: An Ancient Secret), to five years in prison and ordered him to pay a Rp 100 million (US$7,155) fine after being found guilty of spreading hate speech, as stipulated under Article 28 of the 2008 Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law.

Alnoldy, known by his pen name Ki Ngawur Permana, sparked controversy in November last year when he claimed to have seen God and questioned the faith of those who declared syahada (the Islamic creed declaring belief in the oneness of God) but have not had the same experience.

On his Facebook page he wrote: "I testify that there is no god but God, but if you have not seen God, then you are a fake witness. I am a Muslim and I testify that there is no god but God. I have seen God. Have you?"

According to the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet), Alnoldy, who had the chance to study at the Jakarta Institute of Arts, changed his Facebook privacy settings from private to public to help sell his book.

Amnesty International's researcher on Indonesia Papang Hidayat said the conviction was flawed and violated the defendants' rights. "People like Alnoldy have become what we call prisoners of conscience," Papang told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Papang also said Amnesty International had talked to Alnoldy's wife to discuss the possible legal action it will take after the conviction. "We will also put pressure on the authorities to release Alnoldy as he is a victim of human rights violations."

Alnoldy is the latest victim of the infamous ITE law, which rights activists say is draconian and a threat to freedom of speech.

The law, along with the 1965 Blasphemy Law, has repeatedly been used to charge people for merely expressing their opinions online, activists say. (dpk/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/03/amnesty-international-blasts-hate-speech-conviction-of-spiritual-book-author.html

Fake news & black campaigns

News on tourist visas for Israelis is a hoax: Indonesian govt

Jakarta Post - May 6, 2018

Riza Roidila, Jakarta – Indonesia's Immigration Directorate General denied on Saturday a report by an Israeli media portal claiming that it was issuing tourist visas to Israelis.

Israeli media portal Hareetz reported on May 3 that Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country, was issuing tourist visas to Israelis. The article said the policy had been effective since May 1.

However, immigration spokesperson Agung Sampurno has since denied the report. "The Indonesian government does not have a tourist visa policy for Israeli citizens," he said in a press release, while stressing that Indonesia and Israel had no diplomatic relations.

Agung said the granting of visas to foreign citizens from a country that did not have diplomatic relations with Indonesia was only made possible through the Calling Visa mechanism, which is overseen by the Foreign Ministry and its related agencies, including the Immigration Directorate General.

"The report stating Indonesia was issuing tourist visas to Israelis is a hoax," Agung said.

Hareetz stated that Israelis could apply for tourist visas through the "Israel Indonesia Agency", which, according to Hareetz, had been set up last month. Hareetz's article did not quote any Indonesian authorities. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/06/news-on-tourist-visas-for-israelis-is-a-hoax-indonesian-govt.html

Press, societies launch antihoax website

Jakarta Post - May 5, 2018

Sita W. Dewi, Jakarta – In an unprecedented move, 22 national and regional news media organizations and a number of associations have launched a website to debunk false news and hoaxes ahead of the 2019 elections.

The name of the website, cekfakta.com, translates to "fact check" in English.

The joint project was initiated by the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), the Indonesian Cyber Media Association (AMSI), the Indonesian Anti-Slander Society (Mafindo), Internews and Google News Initiative.

The news media organizations – most of which are online news media or the digital version of established dailies – comprise tirto.id, viva.co.id, swara.com, detik.com, kompas.com, liputan6.com, merdeka.com, katadata.co.id, beritajatim.com, kbr.co.id, bisnis.com, beritasatu.com, kabarmedan.com, kabarmakassar.com, antaranews.com, timesIndonesia.co.id, riauonline.co.id, thejakartapost.com, republika.co.id and mafindo.or.id, which is run by the Mafindo association.

Representatives of the organizations signed a memorandum of understanding on the collaboration during the 2018 Trusted Media Summit, held on Saturday and Sunday at the Gran Melia Hotel in Jakarta.

"AMSI believes that the initiative is a breakthrough that this country needs to fight hoaxes and disinformation, especially ahead of regional elections this year and legislative as well as presidential elections next year," AMSI chairman Wenseslaus Manggut said in Jakarta, adding that the initiative was the first of its kind in Indonesia.

The collaboration also marked a new era in digital journalism, added AMSI secretary-general Wahyu Dhyatmika. "It's time to work together instead of competing with each other. Fighting hoaxes can't be done individually," Wahyu said.

To date, several online news outlets have a feature to report and debunk hoaxes on respective websites, but they were operating individually. Wahyu mentioned predecessors France's award-winning crosscheck and Taiwan's cofacts as inspiration as well as models of the project.

Misinformation and disinformation in Indonesia are alarming. According to Communication and Information Ministry Public Communication and Information Director General Niken Widiastuti, 90 percent of false news or hoaxes circulating online were shared by readers, while only 10 percent of them were shared by the producers themselves.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/05/press-societies-launch-antihoax-website.html

Environment & natural disasters

Indonesia's regional elections take toll on environment

Jakarta Post - May 4, 2018

Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta – Testimony by a palm-oil businessman in a bribery trial at the Jakarta Corruption Court has revealed how local elections have done more harm than good to the environment.

The court heard on Wednesday that Rita Widyasari, the suspended regent of Kutai Kartanegara in East Kalimantan, allegedly financed her political activities with billions of rupiah that she received from the businessman, who allegedly wanted to secure concession permits in a protected peatland area in the former's regency.

Businessman Hery Susanto Gun, who is also being charged in the case, testified on Wednesday that Rita had demanded Rp 9 billion (US$643,950) when she was running for office.

Hery, president director of oil palm firm PT Sawit Golden Prima, told the court that the demand was conveyed by Rita's aide Hani Kristiyanto.

Rita did visit Hery afterward, but did not ask for the money, merely asking for advice on "winning the local election", Hery said.

When Rita was elected Kutai Kertanegara regent, Hery told the court that the politician, again through Rani, asked for Rp 6 billion because Rita had run out of money after the election.

According to Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) prosecutors, the Rp 6 billion was a bribe given by Hery to Rita relating to Hery's efforts to obtain a business permit for the former's 16,000-hectare oil palm concession in the regency.

After Hery gave the money to Rita, the latter finally signed the permit document for Hery's oil palm plantation, even though a local regulation prohibits agricultural companies from having concessions of over 15,000 ha.

Furthermore, according to local activists, the oil palm plantation is located within a peat swamp ecosystem, which plays a major role for the environment by cycling and storing significant amounts of carbon. A substantial proportion of Indonesia's peatlands, including in East Kalimantan, has suffered severe degradation to make way for industrial logging concessions and oil palm plantations.

Agricultural business in Indonesia, which contains one of the world's three largest stands of tropical forest, along with the Amazon and Congo basins, rapidly expanded during the 32-year regime of former president Soeharto, which benefited a small group of forestry conglomerates with close links to the strongman president after it created the Forestry Law in 1967, which gave Jakarta the exclusive right to forest exploitation in roughly 143 million ha of the country's forests.

The fall of Soeharto in 1998 marked the birth of the regional autonomy system, which gave local forest agencies control over much of the forest estate, and the direct regional elections to generate a new breed of local leaders.

While political parties flex their muscles ahead of the simultaneous regional elections scheduled for June, in which 171 regions across Indonesia will elect their new leaders, the period is likely to be used by businessmen to deepen their ties to political hopefuls in the regions to support their business expansion through obtaining permits, environment groups have warned.

In a report released in January, the Indonesian Forum for Environment (Walhi) predicted 2018 would be a tough year for the environment, with corporations "hoping to secure their own interests through political intervention."

Walhi said that in the past business permits had been rampantly issued by local leaders before or soon after elections through various means, such as by revising local spatial documents, which detail land use in various areas.

"Regional elections always provide room for a strong association between business magnates and political leaders," Walhi said in its report.

The practice may flourish again in 2018, because the public's attention is solely focused on provinces that could be battlegrounds for political parties to secure their interests, not regions that are prone to environmental degradation and land conflicts, said Walhi executive director Nur Hidayati.

It is not only agricultural firms that are eyeing permits before or after regional elections, but also mining companies.

Merah Johansyah, national coordinator of the Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam), said there were at least 13 regions participating in the simultaneous local elections that were prone to mining permit transactions in the midst of elections.

"They are regions with a high number of conflicts relating to mining operations based on Jatam's data," said Merah.

The regions are 11 provinces – Bengkulu, Central Java, East Java, East Kalimantan, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), Jambi, Papua, Riau, Southeast Sulawesi, South Sumatra and West Java, – and two regencies – Dairi in North Sumatra and East Manggarai in NTT.

Issuing extractive business permits is one of five moves in the corruption playbook widely used by regional leaders in Indonesia, according to Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), along with misusing village funds, disbursing social funds, promotion for civil servants and misusing authority in goods and services procurement.

Another important element that could decide the future of the environment is whether candidate pairs competing in regional elections see environment protection as a primary concern during their campaigns.

But a substantial discourse on environmental protection is one that is somewhat missing in Indonesia's regional elections, said Hendri Sitorus, a North Sumatra University environmental sociologist. "Regional election campaigns have not been sensitive to environment issues."

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/04/indonesias-regional-elections-take-toll-on-environment.html

Pertamina sanctioned over Balikpapan oil spill

Jakarta Post - May 2, 2018

Jakarta – The Environment and Forestry Ministry has imposed administrative sanctions on state oil and gas company Pertamina over an oil spill incident that caused pollution and damage to the ecosystem of Balikpapan Bay in East Kalimantan.

The ministry's law enforcement director general, Rasio Ridho Sani, said three steps needed to be fulfilled by Pertamina.

"I signed the administrative sanctions for Pertamina last week. As one of the three steps, we asked Pertamina to make improvements to its exploration safety management," he said as quoted by kompas.com in Jakarta on Monday. Among the requirements is the submission of data on areas where Pertamina's operations face similar oil spill risks.

The ministry also asked Pertamina to carry out an environmental audit to identify the problems it faced and to determine ways to solve them.

Pertamina must also take responsibility for areas affected by the oil spill. Rasio said the ministry had obtained detailed data on the polluted areas. "We have ordered Pertamina to rehabilitate locations still contaminated with oil, such as beaches."

In addition to administrative sanctions, Pertamina will have to pay compensation for losses caused by the oil spill. The ministry said, however, that it had yet to determine an exact amount for the losses and environmental damage caused by the incident.

"Regarding the compensation figure in the civil law suit we will file against Pertamina, our team in the field is still conducting calculations," Rasio said. He said the losses would include damages to the ecosystem, such as to mangrove forests and beaches. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/02/pertamina-sanctioned-over-balikpapan-oil-spill.html

Health & education

'Oplosan' deaths threaten to rekindle Indonesia's alcohol debate

Nikkei Asian Review - May 6, 2018

Shotaro Tani, Jakarta – When news broke in early April about an increase in deaths from drinking bootleg alcohol in Indonesia, it was initially dismissed as unimportant.

The problem had been ongoing for years, with those who could not afford legal alcohol often turning to moonshine, known locally as "oplosan."

But the full scale of the problem has become clear since the start of the year. More than 100 people have died and dozens more have ended up critically ill in hospital. With pictures emerging of grieving family members, it has quickly became a topic everyone is talking about.

With regional elections scheduled for later this year and national and presidential votes in 2019, the long-standing debate over whether alcoholic beverages should be banned in the country is again likely to spark social division. "This year is phenomenal," said Sugianto Tandra, a researcher at the Centre for Indonesian Policy Studies.

The Jakarta-based think tank has been keeping track of deaths from homemade liquor since 2008. The annual average over the past 10 years has been 84 deaths, but the toll just four months into 2018 has already surpassed that. In some cases, the toxic concoction was found to be a mix of ginseng, cough medicine and mosquito repellent.

"[The oplosan] smelled more of alcohol, and it stung," Faisal, who survived drinking the toxic brew, told local media. "My body felt like it was burning when I drank it."

The reason for the sudden rise in deaths is unclear. Some media outlets have put it down to a bad batch. Others suggest the problem might always have been so widespread, but was simply underreported. Whatever the cause, there is no doubt now of the prevalence of alcohol consumption in the country.

Indonesia is a Muslim-majority nation but not a Muslim state, and alcohol is not prohibited. Restaurants and bars offer alcoholic drinks, and wine, whiskey and beer is readily available in big shopping malls.

The problem for oplosan consumers, who are often on the lowest rungs of the social ladder, is that approved alcoholic beverages are unaffordable.

Taxes on imported alcohol can be as high as 150%, hugely inflating the price. More importantly, in 2015 the government banned the sale of legal alcohol in the small shops where most Indonesians buy their groceries. Sales of alcoholic drinks in 2015 dropped 22.6% from the previous year to 120.2 million liters, according to data from research company Euromonitor.

The combination of high taxes and the ban on sales has created a significant black market for bootleg liquor among Indonesia's poor.

According to the World Health Organization, Indonesians consumed an average of 0.1 liters of recorded, or legally produced, pure alcohol per capita on average between 2008 and 2010. However, unrecorded alcohol consumption was five times higher at 0.5 liters per person.

"Given the low per capita consumption [of alcohol] in the country – our country is among the lowest – our policies are all directed at trying to reduce consumption of recorded alcohol," said Sugianto of CIPS.

"The unrecorded alcohol consumption is never discussed. Why is there no policy there? If policymakers want more regulations, even prohibition of consumption of recorded alcohol, that is misdirected."

But Sugianto believes that in light of the oplosan problems, the debate over a complete ban on alcohol will return as the country heads toward general and presidential elections next year. Islamic sentiment against alcohol is bound to be factored in when politicians make their appeals to voters.

Indonesia's Islamists have traditionally pressed for such bans, pointing to health concerns rather than an ideological ones.

Legislation that would criminalize the production, distribution and consumption of alcoholic drinks has been in parliament since 2015, and is endorsed by three Muslim parties, the National Development Party, the Prosperous Justice Party and the National Mandate Party. The proposed bill – which is awaiting more deliberation – would put anyone caught drinking alcohol in prison for two years, while those making or selling it would be put away for 10.

Until now, such legislation has proven unpopular among moderate Muslims. Many viewed it as an affront to cultural diversity. The Jakarta branch of Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Muslim organization in the country, in 2017 opposed a ban in the capital, saying such prohibition would lead to more deaths from bootleg alcohol.

Whether Indonesia can keep a level head on the issue come the elections is uncertain.

"It seems to be the case now that even mainstream political parties who have previously had no interest in having a position on issues like alcohol, or LGBT rights, now feel that even being silent on it might be dangerous for them politically," said Douglas Ramage, managing director at the consultancy Bower Group Asia.

He said the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial elections, when then-governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, was ousted and later imprisoned amid claims he had insulted the Koran and was anti-Islamic, will have a "long-term, lasting impact" on Indonesian politics. The winner, Anies Baswedan, is seen to have courted Islamic votes by appealing to this part of the population throughout the campaign.

"The 2017 Jakarta election shows that political campaigns based on racial and religious sentiment can be overwhelmingly successful."

The incumbent governor Baswedan is continuing to cater to his support base. The Jakarta government is supposedly trying to sell shares it owns in Delta Djakarta, an alcoholic beverage manufacturer, despite the fact that the dividends contribute to the province's coffers.

The current government is well aware of the backlash it could face should the oplosan problem bubble on. Failure to contain the problem may lead to the opposition labeling the government as pro-alcohol and not Muslim enough.

This has led to an order from National Police Deputy Chief Syafruddin for regional police chiefs to be sacked if the problem does not end in their jurisdictions by the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in mid-May. Right after the order was given, the police arrested a man alleged to be behind the tainted alcohol supply. But since the arrest, another three people have died from drinking oplosan in Majenang, Central Java.

The factions that put forward the alcohol ban "cannot stop talking about it," said one political observer who asked not to be named.

"The thing with these parties is that they don't have any particular narrative that they can sell to the public that makes them look good," the person added, saying such politicians are in a "honeymoon phase," having found that focusing on issues of ethnic religious, racial or social division can be effective. "They found a new weapon. Why would they drop this issue?"

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Oplosan-deaths-threaten-to-rekindle-Indonesia-s-alcohol-debate2

Protesters demand Unpad rector to step down from his position

Tempo - May 3, 2018

Anwar Siswandi, Jakarta – During the 2018 National Education Day on Wednesday, Gelora Community Action Group of Padjadjaran University (Unpad) held a protest against the work performance and policy making of Unpad Rector Tri Hanggoro Achmad within the past three years.

"It's fitting that [Tri Hanggoro] should resign immediately now," said Unpad Statistics Department lecturer Achmad Bachrudin directly to the Rector in a dialogue.

The group that protested consists of 50 people comprising of students, lecturers, and maintenance crews. The group feels that the Rector's policies were too centralized, premature, unlawful, and does not consider the opinions of Unpad residents.

Furthermore, they assessed that the Rector and other managements has failed to manage Unpad democratically, which includes guaranteeing student's freedom to express themselves and being too centralized with an anti-criticism approach.

An example of the rector's rushed policies includes the failed joint preparation stages (TPB) program in 2016 that had a negative effect towards the students' scoring. They also questioned several other policies that had negative effects towards the Unpad maintenance crews and cleaners.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/05/03/055918125/Protesters-Demand-Unpad-Rector-to-Step-Down-from-His-Position

Group calls for 12-year compulsory education, end of child marriage

Jakarta Post - May 2, 2018

Jakarta – Women's rights advocacy group Institut KAPAL Perempuan has called on members of the public to join the effort to implement the country's 12-year compulsory education policy, which is part of the government's plan to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To commemorate this year's National Education Day, Institut KAPAL Perempuan director Misiyah warned that one of biggest challenges Indonesia faced now was the growing number of marriages among children under 18 years old, which has become an obstacle to the government's successful efforts to achieve its 12-year compulsory education program.

The activist said rampant practice of early marriage in Indonesia was rooted in the 1974 Marriage Law, which set 16 as the legal age for females to marry. Poor awareness of the risks of child marriage and weak public control over the problem aggravate the situation.

"Hence, we must ring 'an alarm' as loud as possible to prevent and end child marriage practices in Indonesia," said Misiyah in a statement on Wednesday.

According to UNICEF's State of the World's Children 2016, Indonesia ranks seventh among countries with the highest rates of child marriage.

Central Statistics Agency (BPS) data in 2015 reveals that one in every five Indonesian women aged between 20 and 24 years had gotten married before their 18th birthday. This accounts for around 23 percent of the total population in that age group. In West Sulawesi, the percentage is much higher, standing at 34.22 percent.

"This contradicts the 2014 Child Protection Law, which mandates the protection of children aged under 18 years from marriage," said Misiyah. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/02/group-calls-for-12-year-compulsory-education-end-of-child-marriage.html

Stop commercializing education, students urge govt

Jakarta Post - May 2, 2018

Apriadi Gunawan, Medan, North Sumatra – Hundreds of students from various universities in Medan, North Sumatra, staged a rally on Wednesday to call on the government to stop what they call the commercialization of education.

The rally – coinciding with National Education Day, May 2 – proceeded smoothly and without any violent incidents amid a tight escort of security personnel.

Rally coordinator Ikhsan Simatupang said the commercialization of institutions of education and capitalist practices in the education sector had created difficulties for a growing number of Indonesian citizens to get a good education.

Ikhsan asserted that the national education sector was divided into several social structures. "Poor people can access some schools, but there are also education institutions that can be accessed only by rich and middle-class people. This form of educational discrimination must be abolished," Ikhsan said on Wednesday.

He added that discriminatory practices in education reflected in the implementation of a single university tuition fee system under Research, Technology and Higher Education Ministry Regulation No. 39/2017, which clearly displayed a social class categorization in education.

Ikhsan said the government should have been able to remove discrimination in education by realizing free, scientific, democratic and pro-people education.

"Education in Indonesia must be pro-people, not pro-rich," he asserted, adding that the government should also reconsider its plan to open up opportunities for foreign lecturers at Indonesian universities. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/02/stop-commercializing-education-students-urge-govt.html

Education Day: Government urged to revise law on marriage age

Tempo - May 2, 2018

Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta – In a commemoration of National Education Day, the director of KAPAL Perempuan Institute Misiyah stated the institution urged President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to immediately issue a revision of the law on marriage age from 16 to 18 thus the children can have the right of the 12-year compulsory education.

"We demanded the president to issue a policy on the minimum of marriage age," said Misiyah in a written statement in Jakarta, Wednesday, May 2.

Misiyah argued there has a tendency of children to drop out from school due to the child marriages. The child marriage, she stated, occurred because the Law No. 1/1974 on Marriage stipulating the legal marriage for the girls at the minimum age of 16.

Misiyah noted in 2015, Indonesia was ranked as the seventh country with the highest child marriage. Based on Central Statistics Agency (BPS), 23 percent of female age 20-24 years old got married under the age of 18 throughout 2015.

Other than the high rate of dropout at 90 percent, Misiyah added the child marriage also affect the rate of maternal mortality, poverty, and child stunting.

Misiyah went on to say that the child marriage is against the Law No. 35/2014 on Child Protection. "Child marriage must be ended," she asserted.

In the National Education Day, Misiyah urged the House of Representatives (DPR) to ensure there will be a regulation and budget allocation in a bid to prevent child marriage under age 18. She also demanded the Coordinating Ministry of Human Development and Culture guarantee the children's right to have 12 years of education.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/05/02/055918086/Education-Day-Govt-Urged-to-Revise-Law-on-Marriage-Age

Komnas HAM reveals increasing violations in education sector

Tempo - May 2, 2018

Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta – The National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM) Commissioner Beka Ulung Hapsara assessed the government under the reign of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has not succeeded yet in creating a better education atmosphere, as designed in the Nawacita program.

"The education in this country is currently in an emergency condition," Ulung noted in a written statement, Tuesday, May 1.

As of April 2018, Komnas HAM recorded 11 cases related to the human rights abuses in education sector this year. While throughout 2017, the total case was 19 issues. Beka mentioned the violation include the right to education, to access justice, to self-development, to welfare, and the right to life.

Komnas HAM's Sub-Commission of Education and Counseling coordinator pointed out the data from the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) that one in three girls and one in four boys in Indonesia were abused.

Moreover, the Plan International and International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) stated 84 percent of children in Indonesia experienced violence in school, based on the research in March 2015. The rate was higher than the trend in the Asian region of 70 percent.

Komnas HAM, in the period of February 2017-April 2018, has received 31 complaints on human rights violations in the education sector. 51 percent of the cases are related to violations of the right to get self-development in 16 cases. While the rest are on welfare, justice, the right to education and children's rights as well as the right to have security.

Furthermore, Ulung asserted Komnas HAM has urged the government to form a task force at handling human rights violations in schools and universities, in which including the implementation of the HAM Friendly School Program (SRHAM).

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/05/02/055918076/Komnas-HAM-Reveals-Increasing-Violations-in-Education-Sector

Education Day: KPAI shows 84% students suffer violence in schools

Tempo - May 2, 2018

Alfan Hilmi, Jakarta – In the National Education Day, the National Commission for Child Protection (KPAI) Commissioner for Education Retno Listyarti expressed her concern that in 2018 thus far, 84 percent of students across the country experienced a violence in schools.

"The number of violation case in the school is quite high, either conducted by students to each other or teacher to student and vice versa," said Retno in a press release dated today, May 2.

Based on KPAI data, 40 percent student at age 13-15 years old claimed to have suffered from physical abuse by their friends. Meanwhile, 75 percent students admitted they have done violence act. In addition, 50 percent students reported having bullied in school.

Retno stated the violent act was not only done by the students but also the teacher. As many as 45 percents of boys and 22 percent of girls revealed that the teacher or school's staff are among the perpetrators.

"[The abuse is] starting from the beatings until the unusual punishment such as licking the toilet, as happened to a student in North Sumatra, and also the slapping did by SMK teacher to his students in Purwokerto," said Retno.

KPAI further recorded that throughout the first quarter of 2018, the complaints received were related to physical abuse and victims of the policy at 72 percent. Nine percent of them were on the psychological abuse, four percent on the extortions, and two percent on the sexual abuse.

Retno further urged the Ministry of Education and Culture to massively socialize the Ministerial Decree No. 82/2015 on the countermeasures and deal with the violence in education to the teachers and educational bureaucrats.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/05/02/055918079/Education-Day-KPAI-Shows-84-Students-Suffer-Violence-in-Schools

Corruption & abuse of power

Democratic Party fires member suspected of graft by KPK

Jakarta Post - May 6, 2018

Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta – The Democratic Party dismissed House of Representatives member Amin Santono on Saturday after the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) officially named Amin a graft suspect.

"As a form of support for the KPK and as part of the Democratic Party's moral responsibility to give no room for graft, the Democratic Party's central executive board has decided to dishonorably dismiss AS from the Democratic Party and from the House of Representatives," Democratic Party secretary-general Hinca Panjaitan said in a written statement on Saturday.

"The Democratic Party would like to thank the KPK for helping to cleanse the party of graft," he said.

Hinca went on to apologize to the public over the incident, saying that the Dems would continue to support the eradication of corruption and would not tolerate any corrupt practices.

Amin, a member of the House's Commission XI overseeing banking and finance, was arrested in a KPK raid on Friday after allegedly accepting an Rp 400 million bribe in relation to the 2018 state budget deliberation.

KPK deputy chairman Saut Situmorang said the commission had been investigating the case since December 2017 after receiving a tip-off.

Besides Amin, three others were named suspects after the raid: Finance Ministry official Yaya Purnomo, private contractor Ahmad Ghiast and suspected middleman Eka Kamaluddin. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/06/democratic-party-fires-member-suspected-of-graft-by-KPK.html

Terrorism & religious extremism

West Java Police arrest three over terror plot

Jakarta Post - May 7, 2018

Jakarta – The West Java Police arrested three individuals, identified only as Anang, Abid and Mulyadi, in Caringin village, Ciawi subdistrict in Bogor, West Java, on Friday for allegedly plotting a string of attacks on police stations in three different locations across the province.

Preliminary police questioning found that Anang planned to attack the Kedunghalang Mobile Brigade Command detention center (Mako Brimob) in Bogor, while Abid was preparing to attack police officers stationed at the Gadog traffic police post with a cleaver. Separately, Mulyadi reportedly planned to carry out a suicide bomb attack on the Bogor Police headquarters.

Police seized several explosive materials from the suspects, including explosive chemicals, an LED lamp, mercury, plastic bottles, wires, a welder, lead, a pan, screwdrivers and electrical switches.

"The results of forensic laboratory analysis showed that the suspects planned to assemble a highly explosive homemade bomb," spokesperson Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto said at a press conference on Monday, as quoted by kompas.com.

The suspects were later taken to the National Police's Kelapa Dua detention center in Depok, West Java, for further questioning. (hol/dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/07/west-java-police-arrest-three-over-terror-plot.html

Hard-line & vigilante groups

Palace denies Jokowi's meeting with Alumni 212 influenced police to drop

Coconuts Jakarta - May 7, 2018

When it was revealed last week that the West Java Police and National Police had dropped the Pancasila insult case against Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab, they did not give a satisfactory explanation as to why, leading many to speculate over the sudden legal U-turn.

One of the most prevalent theories is that President Joko Widodo himself influenced the decision in light of his meeting last month with representatives of a coalition of Islamist hardliner groups called Persaudaraan Alumni 212 (Alumni 212 Brotherhood), who consider Rizieq to be their spiritual leader.

The theory was so widespread that the Presidential Palace was forced to issue a denial and say that Jokowi did not intervene in the case.

"The Investigation Termination Warrant (SP3) was issued by the National Police after they interviewed several experts, including linguistic experts," Presidential Palace Spokesperson Johan Budi told Kompas yesterday.

Johan added that the SP3 was issued on February 18, whereas Jokowi met with 212 representatives on April 29.

That said, Johan admitted that 212 asked that Jokowi drop the criminal charges against Rizieq, to which the president replied that he can't intervene in criminal investigations.

The West Java Police confirmed that the SP3 was issued in February, supposedly over a lack of evidence incriminating Rizieq.

But many would say that the evidence against Rizieq is as clear as day, or at least clearer than many other defamation/blasphemy cases in Indonesia.

In January 2017, the West Java Police named Rizieq a suspect in the desecration of a state emblem based on statements Rizieq had made about two years prior during a sermon in West Java in which he supposedly said, "In Sukarno's Pancasila, God is located in the ass, whereas in the Jakarta charter of Pancasila, God is in the head."

He was reported to the police by Sukarno's daughter, Sukmawati Soekarnoputri, who herself had to deal with religious blasphemy accusations over a controversial poem recently.

Rizieq is currently in Saudi Arabia, where he has been hiding from the Indonesian police for over a year after being named a suspect in a high profile, highly ironic pornography case.

Though he has teased his potential return to Indonesia on numerous occasions, he has so far disappointed many of his followers as he remains steadfast in his refusal to return while he's a criminal suspect.

In one instance after deciding against his homecoming, he said, "it's better than I'm called a coward who's running away, instead of gallantly returning to Indonesia and then being arrested."

In light of recent developments, Rizieq's lawyers have filed an SP3 request with the Jakarta Metro Police to drop their client's pornography case.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/presidential-palace-denies-jokowis-meeting-alumni-212-influenced-police-drop-rizieqs-pancasila-insult-case/

Sukmawati's lawyer asks police to revoke SP3 of Rizieq Shihab

Tempo - May 6, 2018

Imam Hamdi, Jakarta – Sukmawati Soekarnoputri's lawyer, Petrus Selestinus asked West Java Regional Police to revoke the Termination of Case Investigation Letter or SP3 towards the leader of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) Rizieq Shihab.

"We strongly protest the issuance of SP3 on Rizieq Shihab's case. We ask it to be revoked, "said Peter in his written statement on Saturday, May 5, 2018.

Rizieq Shihab was named a suspect by the West Java Regional Police because he was considered to have insulted Pancasila as the state symbol and defamed President Soekarno.

He was reported by Sukarno's daughter, Sukmawati Soekarnoputri in October 2016. In January 2017, West Java Police also changed the status of Rizieq Shihab from the witness reported to be a suspect.

Petrus asked the West Java Police to re-open the case investigation involving Rizieq. In addition, he asked the police to be open to the investigation of the case.

"Inform the public and to the reporter the work result of the investigator for almost two years of the investigation, whichever is lack and what the investigator needs from the role of community participation," said Coordinator of the Team of Defenders of Indonesian Democracy (TPDI).

According to Petrus, the National Police must warrant the public that the community report towards Rizieq Shihab is guaranteed to be processed fairly and transparently. Do not let, he said, there is discrimination in the form of different treatment for the people who report.

Because, according to Peter, he saw people who reported the case politely, were not processed. Whereas if those who report cases come from large groups who come angry and rally, then the legal process is quickly delegated to prosecution and/or easily stopped with SP3 in the middle of the case.

Peter said that based on the investigation law, police have no right in issuing the SP3 on Rizieq case. Therefore, the public prosecutor did not give instructions for SP3, but for the refinement of the file.

"The next issue of work is to strengthen and sharpen the existing evidence in the form of two or more evidence," he said.

The police's attitude that issued the SP3 for Rizieq Shihab's case also has the potential to cause concerns of some parties who also reported him to the Police Criminal Investigation Police and Polda Metro Jaya on several allegations of crime such as religious blasphemy and others.

"The case is running in place, the progress of the investigation has not been explained to date," said Peter.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/05/06/055918201/Sukmawatis-Lawyer-Asks-Police-to-Revoke-SP3-of-Rizieq-Shihab

West Java Police drop defamation charges against FPI leader

Jakarta Post - May 4, 2018

Gisela Swaragita and Arya Dwipa, Jakarta – The West Java Police have dropped the investigation into a defamation case involving Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab, citing a lack of evidence.

"The [West Java Police's] general crime division unit closed the case as of last month, maybe even in late February," West Java Police spokesperson Adj. Sr. Comr. Trunoyudo Wisnu Andiko told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Rizieq was accused of insulting the state ideology of Pancasila and the nation's founding father, Sukarno, when a video of him comparing the early version of Pancasila drafted by Sukarno and the Jakarta Charter's version went viral on social media.

The original version of the Jakarta Charter's Pancasila, which was formulated by the nine founding fathers, including Sukarno, contains a clause obliging Muslims to abide by sharia.

In the video, Rizieq says: "In Sukarno's Pancasila, faith in God is placed in the butt, but in the Jakarta Charter's Pancasila, faith in God is placed in the head. Which one is better? Sukarno's or the Jakarta Charter's?"

The West Java Police's chief detective, Sr. Comr. Umar Surya Fana, said they had to drop the case because they only had a clip of the video. "The judges want us to provide the video of the whole sermon, which we do not have," he said.

"We have asked the plaintiff to provide the full video, but they are unable to provide it."

The report against Rizieq was made by Sukmawati Soekarnoputri, the third daughter of Sukarno. The firebrand cleric was charged under articles 154a and 320 of the Criminal Code on insulting the state ideology and defamation.

Rizieq's supporters have accused the government of criminalizing their leader. In a meeting with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo at the Bogor Palace last month, several Islamist groups, including the FPI, asked Jokowi to stop criminal probes into their leaders.

The FPI leader reportedly fled to Saudi Arabia after a steamy conversation allegedly involving him and a woman was uploaded online. The police have charged him with spreading pornography and, as of now, have yet to drop the case.

The State Palace has said President Jokowi will not interfere with the law. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/04/west-java-police-drop-defamation-charges-against-fpi-leader.html

West Java police drops Pancasila insult case against Rizieq Shihab

Coconuts Jakarta - May 4, 2018

Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab might be one step closer to returning to Indonesia after the West Java Police dropped the charges against him for insulting the Pancasila state ideology.

Sugito Atmo Prawiro, one of Rizieq's lawyers, said West Java Police investigators ceased investigation into the case after finding no criminal intent by Rizieq in the case.

"Because there was no [criminal] element after [the West Java Police] interviewed witnesses and experts, the Crime Investigation Department through the West Java Police issued an SP3 (investigation termination warrant)," Sugito said today, as quoted by Detik.

Sugito added that the SP3 was issued recently after Rizieq, through his legal representatives, filed for a pretrial to abolish Rizeq's criminal suspect status in the Pancasila insult case.

Separately, the National Police's Crime Investigation Department confirmed that Rizieq's Pancasila insult charges were dropped, but was not able to give details as to why for the time being.

In January 2017, the West Java Police named Rizieq a suspect in the desecration of a state emblem based on statements Rizieq had made about two years prior during a sermon in West Java in which he supposedly said, "In Sukarno's Pancasila, God is located in the ass, whereas in the Jakarta charter of Pancasila, God is in the head."

He was reported to the police by Sukarno's daughter, Sukmawati Soekarnoputri, who herself had to deal with religious blasphemy accusations over a controversial poem recently.

Rizieq is currently in Saudi Arabia, where he has been hiding from the Indonesian police for over a year after being named a suspect in a high profile, highly ironic pornography case.

Though he has teased his potential return to Indonesia on numerous occasions, he has so far disappointed many of his followers as he remains steadfast in his refusal to return while he's a criminal suspect. In one instance after deciding against his homecoming, he said, "it's better than I'm called a coward who's running away, instead of gallantly returning to Indonesia and then being arrested."

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/west-java-police-drops-pancasila-insult-case-rizieq-shihab/

Freedom of religion & worship

Muslim politician leads Easter celebration in Medan

Jakarta Post - May 1, 2018

Apriadi Gunawan, Medan, North Sumatra – The 2018 national Easter celebration at Lake Toba in North Sumatra got a warm welcome from the public as it was led by a female Muslim.

Led by North Sumatra Deputy Governor Nurhajizah Marpaung, the national Easter celebration proceeded smoothly with a wide array of events, including a torch relay across 15 provinces of three main islands of Indonesia.

The Easter torch relay started on Tondano Island in North Sulawesi and ended at Lake Toba on Saturday. It was the first torch relay held as part of the national Easter celebration, which has been conducted 14 times.

Nurhajizah said that, as a Muslim, she was very happy that she could make the 2018 national Easter celebration successful. The deputy governor admitted that, initially, a number of Protestant church leaders had rejected her appointment to lead the Easter celebration this year. She chose to ignore their rejection, however.

Nurhajizah said her involvement in the Easter celebration was purely motivated by a sense of brotherhood among human beings.

"We can be different from one another. I'm wearing a headscarf; other women wear hair buns. Some men wear clergy robes, while others wear the kopiah. Just go ahead, because it is all related to our faiths and beliefs. However, let's maintain our brotherhood," said Nurhajizah in her remarks during the closing ceremony at Si Singamangaraja Square, Balige, on Saturday.

Nurhajizah called on church congregations to use the Easter celebration as a moment to revive the culture of the Batak people that was rich with precious life values and principles but had started to fade away.

"Let's search together our victory as a diverse society that has begun to disappear," said Nurhajizah. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/30/muslim-politician-leads-easter-celebration-in-medan.html

Religion & politics

Mosques may become battleground for 2019 election

Jakarta Post - May 7, 2018

Gisela Swaragita, Jakarta – Widely spread footage of a Muslim preacher telling his audience at a mosque in Surakarta, Central Java, that voting for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is haram has sparked concern about political sermons at houses of worship ahead of the 2019 election.

In the video, Sugi Nur Raharja began his sermon by saying that it was only natural for Muslims to use mosques to talk politics in election years. "At the time of Prophet [Muhammad], the mosque was the place to settle all kinds of problems, from businesses to politics."

He went on to make a case against voting for Jokowi, who he said had failed as president, asking the people attending his sermon that they could leave the mosque if they supported the incumbent.

The sermon, titled "Indonesia Bangkit dari Masjid" (Indonesia Rising from the Mosque), was delivered at the Jami MUI mosque on April 29.

A video of the sermon was uploaded on Sugi's YouTube channel and immediately sparked criticism from internet users who believed bringing politics into the mosque was wrong.

A Twitter user with the handle @AfifFuads, who identifies himself in his twitter profile as a part of the youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia, said he rejected the use of mosques as venues to spread hatred or provocation.

"The house of God should not be filled with profanity, especially when the preachers talk trash, erroneously and full of logical fallacies," he said.

"Mosques should be a neutral public sphere that can be shared with anyone looking for universal kindness," said International Center for Islam and Pluralism (ICIP) director Syafieq Hasyim.

He argued that Muslims during the time of Muhammad used the mosque for political consolidation, because Muslims were a more homogenous group.

"When the Prophet was still alive, Muslims could easily look up to him for guidance to solve their problems," he said.

He added that contemporary Muslims could not just ignore the fact that they live in a diverse society. "What Sugi delivered was not a religious sermon."

Sugi, however, had one high-profile defender: former Indonesian Military (TNI) commander and presidential hopeful Gatot Nurmantyo, one of Jokowi's potential contenders who appeared to have backtracked on the position he held last year while serving as military chief, that holding any campaign-related activities in places of worship was prohibited under the law.

"It pains me if anyone says you should not talk about politics in mosques," Gatot said while speaking at an event at the Gadjah Mada University Mosque in Yogyakarta on Friday, as reported by tempo.co.

He said the Prophet himself talked about politics in Nabawi Mosque. "What should be banned is provocation, not political talk."

Using the pulpit at the mosque for political campaigns is not new in Indonesia, particularly after the heated Jakarta gubernatorial election last year, which pitted a Muslim candidate against a Christian.

Some Muslims in Jakarta reported that religious sermons at their mosques became increasingly political ahead of election day.

The trend forced the Religious Affairs Ministry to find ways to "standardize" religious sermons at mosques, mainly during Friday prayers. According to the ministry, the policy was devised to ensure that preachers giving Friday sermons were competent and stuck to their roles as clerics.

But the policy has been widely seen as ineffective, as the ministry lacks the resources and legal authority to enforce it. It was also later forced to soften the policy after being accused of trying to censor religious sermons.

Indobarometer political analyst Muhammad Qodari expects increased use of mosques for political campaigning in 2019. "There is a possibility that mosques will be turned into campaign venues and used for political mobilization," he said.

"This kind of campaign strategy was successful at the regional level last year," he said, referring to the Jakarta election. "There are indications that the strategy will be used again at the national level."

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/07/mosques-may-become-battleground-for-2019-election.html

Cultural & Religious Events

Government to go ahead with 10-day Idul Fitri holiday

Jakarta Post - May 7, 2018

Jakarta – The government has decided to maintain its Joint Ministerial Decree (SKB) to extend the collective Idul Fitri holiday, which will see offices closed for 10 days from June 11 to June 20.

Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Puan Maharani said the decision to maintain the extended holiday was made after the government was informed of public concerns over social and economic disruptions, as well as public order and security issues.

"The SKB will still [be in effect] with relevant ministries to implement it," Puan said on Monday at a press conference in Central Jakarta, kompas.com reported.

The Manpower Minister, the Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister, the Home Minister, the Social Affairs Minister and the Transportation Minister also attended the press conference, along with head of the Financial Services Authority (OJK).

Puan said social concerns included how the government could provide enough time for people to spend time with their families in different cities and how to manage the holiday traffic.

The government also considered how businesses could continue to operate with help from the banking, transportation, trade, immigration and customs sectors. Puan said the government also discussed the matter with the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (Kadin), as well as the Indonesia Stock Exchange to ensure that an environment conducive to economic activities would be maintained over the extended holiday.

Earlier, businesses protested the government's decision to extend the collective Idul Fitri holiday, arguing that the extended holiday would negatively affect productivity and exports. (dwa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/07/govt-to-go-ahead-with-10-day-idul-fitri-holiday.html

Food prices increase ahead of Ramadhan

Jakarta Post - May 6, 2018

Jon Afrizal, Jambi – Two weeks before the start of Ramadhan, basic commodity prices have begun to increase in several regions.

According to data from Jambi's Industry and Trade Agency, prices of several commodities, such as chili and chicken, have increased in the last three days.

The price of chicken, for example, has increased from Rp 36,000 (US$2.58) to Rp 40,000 per kilogram. Meanwhile, the price of chili has increased to Rp 32,000 per kg from Rp 28,000.

The industry and trade agency, however, said the price increases were normal. "The increases in the price of chili and chicken are attributed to the lack of supply in the market, "said agency head Ariansyah on Sunday.

Ariansyah said the government's food task force would launch a market operation to monitor the prices of basic commodities should any unusual price increases occur.

"If any food distributors try to increase prices or stockpiles ahead of Ramadhan, we will discipline them and impose sanctions," he said.

At present, price of other basic commodities in Jambi, such as rice, are reportedly still stable at around Rp 9,000 to 13,500 per kg depending on type and brand.

The price of sugar is also reportedly stable at Rp 11,500 per kg, while the price of cooking oil is also reportedly normal at Rp 9,000 per liter for low-cost oil and Rp 14,000 per liter for higher-end oil. Moreover, meat prices are also stable at Rp 120,000 per kg.

Aside from Jambi, increases in the price of basic commodities have also occurred in Batam, Riau Islands. In Batam, the price of rice has increased to Rp 12,500 per kg, up from Rp 10,000 per kg, as reported by kompas.com.

The price of garlic has also increased to Rp 16,000-Rp18,000 per kg, a significant increase from Rp 7,000 per kg.

Meanwhile, the price of chili has increased to Rp 55,000 per kg, up from Rp 35,000. Similar increases were also seen in the price of potatoes, which had risen to Rp 20,000 per kg from 10,000. (roi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/06/food-prices-increase-ahead-of-ramadhan.html

Nightlife banned during Ramadhan

Jakarta Post - May 4, 2018

Rizal Harahap, Pekanbaru – Entertainment centers such as nightclubs and karaoke bars in Pekanbaru and Dumai in Riau province will be prohibited from operating at night during Ramadhan, which will begin in less than two weeks. The ban has been imposed in both cities for years.

Pekanbaru Investment Agency head Muhammad Jamil said the regulation was expected to be signed by the acting mayor soon.

"The decision has been made. We aim at creating a supportive environment [for people who are fasting] given that most Pekanbaru residents are Muslim," he said on Friday.

Bars and cafes that are part of hotel facilities will be exempted, Jamil said. "But we have yet to decide on the operational hours allowed during Ramadhan. We'll discuss it in a meeting soon," he said.

Meanwhile, Dumai Public Order Agency head Bambang Wardoyo cited similar reasons for the nightlife ban in the city. "We will send a circular [about the ban] to nightclubs [soon]," he said. (swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/04/nightlife-banned-during-ramadhan-1525427094.html

Pornography & sexual morality

Villagers in Jogjakarta accost female runner for 'inappropriate' attire

Coconuts Jakarta - May 7, 2018

A female runner participating in a race in Jogjakarta, Central Java, was allegedly sexually harassed in a village the race route passed through while being aggressively confronted by a group of locals angered by her "inappropriate" attire, video of which has gone viral over the weekend.

The woman, wearing a black t-shirt and black shorts, was one of many runners participating in a race on Tuesday that passed through Mlangi Village in Jogja's Sleman Regency. However, she seemed to be the only one to draw the anger of locals, one of whom even picked up a long plank of wood and threatened to hurt her with it.

One incident not captured in the short clip, but confirmed by the organizers of the race, Islamic institution Universitas Aisyiyah (UNISA), involved an older male villager spanking the runner over her outfit.

"Maybe the local man wanted to remind [the runner] that the hot pants she wore were inappropriate. But his hitting her is also inappropriate," said UNISA Faculty of Health Dean Ruhiyana, as quoted by Kumparan.

Ruhiyana said that after the incident, the woman and several other runners decided to withdraw from the race to avoid further confrontation. He said the university and locals of Mlangi – which is an Islamic tourism site filled with mosques and pesantren (religious boarding schools) – have settled their dispute.

Muhammad Mustafid, a renowned religious figure from Mlangi, said that several men in the village would apologize to the woman for bothering and harassing her (though he made no mention of the old man who spanked her being ready to apologize).

Mustafid also said the race's organizers must shoulder some of the blame as they failed to notify Mlangi officials about including the village in their race route, especially because the village's locals hold "centuries-old" traditional and Islamic values and that they have their own rules requiring people to wear appropriate clothing in public.

"The organizers should apologize. Right now the people of Mlangi are bothered by news reports that don't cover both sides, as well as bullying from netizens," Mustafid told Kompas today.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/watch-villagers-jogjakarta-accost-female-runner-inappropriate-attire-old-man-allegedly-spanks/

Land & agrarian conflicts

Kulon Progo residents send letter to Angkasa Pura in latest legal move

Jakarta Post - May 7, 2018

Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta – Residents of Temon district, Kulon Progo regency, Yogyakarta, sent a letter on Monday to airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I (AP I) in Jakarta to demand that it halts the eviction process that will make way for the New Yogyakarta International Airport.

The residents, grouped under the Association of Residents Rejecting Forced Eviction, also sent a copy to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in their latest bid to defy the land acquisition.

Their lawyer, Teguh Purnomo, said the land acquisition was not in line with the 2012 law on land procurement for public facilities because it rejected compensation for some residents.

Teguh quoted the Yogyakarta office of the Ombudsman, which said AP I had mismanaged the land execution on Nov. 27 and 28 last year.

As of Monday, about 300 people are still rejecting the eviction. They said their land was not for sale and that they rejected the compensation offered by AP I.

The Kulon Progo administration and AP I have pushed for the eviction. Regent Hasto Wardoyo said those people who were defying the order would have to vacate the land. "As soon as possible," he added in a text message.

AP I general manager Agus Pandu Purnama said the airport was set to start operating by April next year and that AP I wanted the residents to vacate the land for "the interest of many people".

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/07/kulon-progo-residents-send-letter-to-angkasa-pura-in-latest-legal-move.html

No one can stop Rembang cement factory: SI

Jakarta Post - May 1, 2018

Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman, Jakarta – Publicly listed cement manufacturer PT Semen Indonesia (SI) said the company had fulfilled all of its operational requirements at its controversial cement factory in Rembang, Central Java, since last March despite a series of protests by locals over environmental issues.

SI corporate secretary Agung Wiharto said the company had obtained all permits to build the factory, including environmental ones. "Therefore, legally, no one can stop us now [from operating the plant]," he added after a shareholders meeting recently.

Agung said SI had been forced to delay the operation of the factory by two months early this year after the local government revoked their permit.

He added that the company had previously disbursed Rp 40 billion (US$2.8 million) for a corporate social responsibility program on education, health, farmers and the development of small and medium enterprises.

The long-running dispute over the cement factory in Rembang between the company and locals has festered for the past four years. The locals argued that the construction would compromise the quality of groundwater in the Kendeng karst mountain of Central Java.

A protest staged by farmers from Central Java last year made headlines around the world after they cemented their feet in concrete blocks in front of the State Palace in Jakarta. (dwa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/01/no-one-can-stop-rembang-cement-factory-si.html

Jakarta & urban life

Ministry files judicial review on Jakarta water privatization

Jakarta Post - May 4, 2018

Jakarta – The Finance Ministry has submitted a judicial review challenging the Supreme Court's decision to instruct that the Jakarta administration put an end to the privatization of piped water and return water treatment and distribution authority to city-owned water company PT PAM Jaya.

The judicial review was filed through the Central Jakarta District Court on March 22, Finance Ministry communications and information bureau head Nufransa Wira Sakti said on Thursday.

Nufransa said the ministry filed the review because it had filed a warranty on the privatization in line with government policy. "[That is] the reason why we are pursuing maximum legal efforts," Nufransa said on Thursday as reported by tempo.co.

On April 10 last year, the Supreme Court granted the cessation petition of the Coalition of Jakarta Residents Opposing Water Privatization and decreed that PAM Jaya's cooperation with PT Lyonnaise Jaya (Palyja) and PT Aetra Air Jakarta since 1997 was illegal because it gave water treatment authority to private entities.

Central Jakarta District Court civil registrar Wiyono said the ministry did not provide new evidence in its appeal and it argued that the judges had made a mistake in granting the coalition's appeal.

Wiyono said the district court was still waiting for the coalition to file its statement responding to the judicial review before submitting all documents to the Supreme Court.

Jakarta Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno said the administration would still follow the Supreme Court's ruling despite the ministry's judicial review. (ami)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/04/ministry-files-judicial-review-on-jakarta-water-privatization.html

Jakarta's air pollution worse than Bangkok, better than Manila: WHO

Jakarta Post - May 3, 2018

Devina Heriyanto, Jakarta – Jakarta's air pollution is worse than Bangkok, but not the worst in Southeast Asia, data from the World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed.

Jakarta and Bangkok are notorious for their traffic jams. Fuel emissions from slow-moving motorized vehicles contribute to air pollution.

The WHO's latest report contains a database of the latest measurements of pollutant particles PM10 and PM2.5 in more than 4,300 cities and towns in 108 countries. PM10, coarse particle matters, and PM2.5, fine particle matters, are pollutant particles measuring less than 10 and 2.5 microns in diameter, respectively, which can penetrate respiratory tracts and in the long-term cause health problems.

The WHO encourages cities to have an annual mean value of less than 20 ?g/m3 (for PM10) and 10 ?g/m3 (for PM2.5).

Measurements in 2016 found that Jakarta's annual mean value of PM10 stood at 82 ug/m3 and PM2.5 at 45. The air in Bangkok, measured in 2015, has a value of 41 ug/m3 PM10 and 28 ug/m3 PM2.5, almost half that of Jakarta.

Jakarta is not the worst in Southeast Asia, especially compared to rising megacity Manila and Ho Chi Minh City. In 2016, Manila had 118 ug/m3 PM10 and 29 ug/m3 PM2.5, while Ho Chi Minh City had 90 ug/m3 PM10 and 42 ug/m3 PM2.5.

As a comparison, Beijing, notorious for its air pollution, was measured in 2016 to have 92 ug/m3 PM10 and 73 ug/m3 PM2.5. The WHO states that 91 percent of the world's population lives in places where air quality falls below its guideline. Outdoor air pollution causes 4.2 million deaths annually.

Air pollution can be caused by natural or human activities, although the WHO mentions that "contributions from human activities far exceed natural sources". These human activities include fuel combustion, coal-fired power plants, industrial activities, waste incineration, to residential cooking or lighting with polluting fuels. Poor urban planning is cited as a major accelerating factor. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/03/jakartas-air-pollution-worse-than-bangkok-better-than-manila-who-1525325966.html

Mother of Monas charity event victim claims families received hush money

Jakarta Post - May 3, 2018

Jakarta – The mother of a child who died on Saturday during a charity event at the National Monument (Monas) in Central Jakarta has claimed that she received hush money from a campaign group.

Komariah, the mother of 10-year-old Muhammad Rizki Syahputra, one of the children who died during the event said she received money from Relawan Merah Putih, her lawyer Muhammad Fayyadh said.

"They asked Komariah to not talk about the chronology of the incident to anyone," Muhammad said at the National Police criminal unit office in Central Jakarta on Wednesday as reported by tempo.co.

Fayyadh said two members of Relawan Merah Putih had given Rp 5 million (US$358) in hush money to Komariah and Rp 10 million to the family of Mahesa Junaedi, a 12-year-old who also died during the event.

On Saturday, a group, Forum Untukmu Indonesia, held an entertainment event while giving out free staple food at Monas. Rizki reportedly died after being trampled by a crowd pushing to wait in line for the free food. Mahesa reportedly died of dehydration caused in part by hot weather.

Relawan Merah Putih is a campaign group that supported Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Jusuf Kalla during the 2014 presidential election and Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and Djarot Syaiful Hidayat during the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election.

Separately, on Thursday, former Relawan Merah Putih national coordinator and PDI-P politician Charles Honoris reported Twitter account @MunchlistHassan to the police over allegations of slander. The account allegedly accused Charles of having been involved in the Monas event. Charles denied that he had anything to do with the event. (ami)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/03/mother-of-monas-charity-event-victim-claims-families-received-hush-money.html

Mining & energy

Indonesia braces for rising oil prices

Jakarta Post - May 1, 2018

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – As oil prices continue to rise, the government is set to push for more subsidies for those in need in an attempt to stabilize the economy.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said that the rising price of oil would put pressure on the economy as a hike in fuel prices would likely lead to a hike in prices of other goods. On the other hand, the government would obtain more revenue from oil exports and tax.

"We will redistribute the additional revenue from the oil and gas sector to the poor who will be affected the most by the rising prices," she said during a press conference with the Financial System Stability Committee (KSSK) at the Bank Indonesia (BI) office in Jakarta on Monday.

She added that the government had increased the number of beneficiaries of the Family Hope Program (PKH) to 10 million families compared to 6 million in 2017. The number would be further increased to 15 million in 2019.

"We will increase government intervention for the poor so they can get access to health care and education," she said.

The price of oil has continued to increase. As of Monday, the price at the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) had increased by 11.5 percent to US$67.37 per barrel. Meanwhile, the Brent price increased by 10.13 percent to $73.65 per barrel. (dwa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/01/indonesia-braces-for-rising-oil-prices.html

Economy & investment

Indonesia's economy expands 5.06% in first quarter

Jakarta Post - May 7, 2018

Marchio Irfan Gorbiano, Jakarta – Indonesia's economy expanded by 5.06 percent year-on-year (yoy) during the first quarter this year thanks to growth in investments and consumer spending.

Data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) show that the first quarter figure at 5.06 percent was a slight increase on the 5.01 percent that was recorded over the same period last year.

"This figure is better than the first quarter of 2017 [...] we hope that the figure will continue to increase in the next quarters because there are events that can spur economic growth such as Ramadhan and Idul Fitri, the regional elections and the Asian Games," BPS head Suhariyanto said during a press release on Monday.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than half of GDP, was recorded at 4.95 percent during the first quarter this year.

Investments grew by 7.95 yoy percent during the first three months of this year, contributing 2.54 percent toward the overall gross domestic product (GDP).

Exports also grew 6.17 percent yoy during the first quarter this year, while the growth of imports was higher at 12.75 percent.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/07/indonesias-economy-expands-5-06-in-first-quarter.html

Weak consumption may keep Indonesia from raising rates just yet

Bloomberg - May 4, 2018

Harry Suhartono and Karlis Salna, Jakarta – Indonesia's central bank said it won't hesitate to raise interest rates to stabilize the rupiah, but that plan faces a hurdle in the form of Indonesians who aren't spending enough.

Weak consumer spending meant that the average earnings of companies in the Jakarta Consumer Goods Index, the worst performer in the benchmark Jakarta Composite Index this year, was 7.3 percent below analysts' expectation in the first quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It was the biggest earnings miss since the second quarter last year.

With consumer spending accounting for almost 60 percent of Indonesia's economic growth, lackluster sales threaten to not only hamper recovery in Southeast Asia's biggest economy but also Bank Indonesia's ability to raise rates. That's poised to limit the central bank's options for defending the currency.

Weaker-than-expected inflation for April is seen as a signal that spending power remains frail, according to Taye Shim, head of research at PT Mirae Asset Sekuritas Indonesia. Consumer prices rose 3.41 percent in April, slower than the 3.5 percent pace estimated in a Bloomberg survey.

"The April inflation reading was a disappointment," Shim wrote in a text message. "Bank Indonesia will have difficulties in finding the argument to raise rates to defend the rupiah amid a prolonged low inflation environment."

Bank Indonesia is open to adjusting interest rates if the pressure on rupiah – which is trading near a two-year low – persists and is considering boosting dollar supply through more foreign exchange swap auctions, Governor Agus Martowardojo said on Monday. The central bank also pledged to keep buying government securities from secondary market to maintain market stability.

David Sumual, the chief economist at PT Bank Central Asia, said the central bank should raise rates, starting in the third quarter, but that lackluster credit growth and consumption are complicating factors for policy makers.

"Right now, the demand for credit is really slow, basically flat," he said. "That's complicating the decision for the central bank."

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/04/weak-consumption-may-keepindonesiafrom-raising-rates-just-yet.html

Consumer confidence slips 2.2% to 98.5 in April

Jakarta Post - May 2, 2018

Jakarta – The consumer confidence index (CCI) declined from 100.8 to 98.5 in April after increasing 3.6 percent in the previous month, according to a survey conducted by Danareksa Research Institute (DRI).

"Consumers are also less optimistic about the future, particularly due to concerns about high foodstuff prices, while around 39.0 percent of consumers are still worried about job scarcity," DRI said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The fall in this index reflects weaker consumer optimism toward the economy and the job market outlook over the next six months."

DRI also recorded a decline in buying intentions for durable goods in April as 41.59 percent of consumers expressed plans to purchase a durable good over the next six months, or down from 42.75 percent in the previous month.

Nevertheless, on a yearly comparison, buying intentions for durable goods are still higher, compared to 39.79 percent in April, 2017, DRI says.

Consumers expect inflationary pressures to increase slightly over the next six months, the survey finds.

"Overall, the index measuring consumer sentiment toward general prices rose 1.3 percent from 185.6 to 187.9 in April. This index is higher than its level one year ago, when it reached 186.5 in April 2017," it says.

Meanwhile, after 4 percent increase in the previous month, consumer confidence in the government index (CCGI) deceased 1.3 percent to 106.3 in April.

However, CCGI are still above the neutral level of 100, indicating that consumers are generally convinced in the government's ability to carry out its duties. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/02/consumer-confidence-slips-2-2-to-98-5-in-april.html

Chinese investments trending in Indonesia

Jakarta Post - May 2, 2018

Rachmadea Aisyah, Jakarta – In the past few years, Indonesia has seen more and more investments from Asian powerhouse China.

In 2017, China was ranked as the country with the third-largest foreign investment in Indonesia at US$3.36 billion, a significant increase from $2.66 billion in 2016. It seems that the trend is here to stay.

According to data from the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), investment from China in the January-March period of this year was Rp 676.2 billion, an 8.3 percent increase from the same quarter the previous year.

BKPM head Thomas "Tom" Lembong said such a phenomenon was a "mathematical trend", as China is one of the largest economies and the most populous country in the world.

"China is the number one trading partner for more than 120 countries and the main source of foreign tourists for Indonesia and for many other countries," Tom told a press briefing in Jakarta on Monday.

Tom said ongoing smelter projects, particularly the ones in Sulawesi, which are managed by Chinese investors, were among the most reliable investments for the government as they could absorb a large amount of capital.

Since China introduced its Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, its outbound investments, including to Indonesia, increased significantly. The initiative is an ambitious road, rail and construction project spanning dozens of countries across Asia, Africa and Europe.

Last month, Indonesia and China signed five contracts worth $23.3 billion as part of the initiative. The contract consists of several infrastructure projects such as a hydropower plant development and a facility to convert coal into dimethyl ether, among other projects.

Indonesia is also seeking Chinese investment in some of its economic corridors. The government this year has set an investment target of Rp 765 trillion. In the January-March period, the BKPM recorded Rp 185.3 trillion in investments, or 24 percent of the target. The figure is an 11 percent increase from the same period last year.

Foreign investments still dominate investments at Rp 108.9 trillion, while domestic investments make up the remainder at Rp 76.4 trillion. Meanwhile, the top five countries or territories of origin for investments are all in Asia: Singapore, Japan, South Korea, China and Hong Kong.

Tom said the results were a reflection of the reforms implemented by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration. More incremental reforms, he said, were prepared to ensure the investment target would be achieved this year.

"To sustain this kind of result is very tough for us," Tom said. "It would take a much more radical solution than what the government has done."

He added that some of the reforms had been met with controversy this year, such as Presidential Regulation No. 20/2018 on the utilization of foreign workers, which drew strong and somewhat political reactions as it is considered to privilege foreigners for job access in Indonesia.

However, businesspeople have applauded most of the other reforms, such as the Finance Ministry's plan to extend its tax holiday program as well as the ambitious online single submissions (OSS) system.

"It will take these reforms a while for their actual impact to be seen, so as much as they are a good start, we still need to push their implementation," said Tom.

Responding to the results, Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) deputy chairman Shinta W. Kamdani agreed that the government still needed to step up its reforms in order to reach the desired gains.

She noted that the OSS system would especially help investors as they were often confused by overlapping and mismatched regulations from the central and regional governments.

"The government should further harmonize the relationship between the regional and central [government]," Shinta told The Jakarta Post over the phone. "Furthermore, they should also remember that what is more important than new incentives is consistency for all its policies because investors are always here for the long term."

Meanwhile, Eric Sugandi, a project consultant for the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Institute, said the government should make sure not to undermine domestic investors with its reforms.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/02/chinese-investments-trending-in-indonesia.html

Banking & finance

Indonesia's rupiah breaches 14,000 as GDP growth misses estimate

Bloomberg - May 7, 2018

Indonesia's rupiah traded above 14,000 to a U.S. dollar for the first time since December 2015 on concern disappointing economic growth may limit the central bank's options to defend the currency.

The rupiah fell as much as 0.5 percent to 14,003 to a dollar, before trading at 13,999 by 4:55 p.m. in Jakarta. The slide extended the currency's loss to 3.2 percent in the past three months, making it the worst performer in Asia after India's rupee, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Indonesia's economy expanded at a slower pace last quarter than economists had forecast, making it difficult for Bank Indonesia to increase interest rate to shield the currency. The central bank has stepped up buying of sovereign bonds from the secondary market to stem a selloff and intervened in the forex market to stabilize the rupiah without much success.

The pressure on the currency may continue as foreign investors will convert rupiah-denominated dividend and interest payments from stocks and bonds into dollars, according to Mingze Wu, an FX trader at INTL FCStone Inc. in Singapore.

"This is just regular seasonality adding pressure," Wu said. "Nonetheless 14,000 is a psychological barrier so the central bank may yet play a part to defend this especially if price breaks just above this region which may trigger stops."

Bank Indonesia Governor Agus Martowardojo has said the bank will ensure ample liquidity of local currency and foreign exchange in the market to ease volatility and cited its second line of defense including bilateral currency swaps as a cushion to stem further losses.

Foreign investors net sold $1.1 billion of sovereign bonds last month on top of net sale of $2.6 billion of stocks this year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Indonesian debt is seen as a bellwether with its high yields, strong economic growth and a reformist government, with foreign investors holding 38.5 percent of local-currency bonds.

"There's a misconception that Indonesia's economy is heading toward deterioration as indicated by rupiah depreciation," said Enrico Tanuwidjaja, Jakarta-based head of economic & research for PT UOB Indonesia. "But we see this as broad-based dollar strengthening, and the efforts taken by Bank Indonesia to intervene from time-to-time to correct the misconception is justified."

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-07/indonesia-s-rupiah-breaches-14-000-as-gdp-growth-misses-estimate

Post-reformasi Indonesia: the age of uncertainty

Indonesia at Melbourne - May 4, 2018

May 1998 was a watershed moment in Indonesian history. Soeharto's 32 years of authoritarian rule ended as his bloated New Order regime collapsed amid the economic and political chaos triggered by the Asian Economic Crisis.

Over the next five years, elite survivors, oligarchs and newly confident civil society leaders slowly negotiated a new democratic system with liberal ambitions. It drew on long-repressed but persistent aspirations for negara hukum (the rule of law) and human rights and opened politics, business and public discourse to a diverse range of voices.

Since then, Indonesia has defined itself by reference to those catalytic events, with the years since Soeharto generically referred to the Era Reformasi (the reform era). Such is the resonance of the events of the turn of the century that the term is still used today, 20 years on, even though the spirit of radical reform that drove democratisation is now distant.

In fact, most Indonesian civil society champions would agree that reformasi ended long ago, maybe a decade or even a decade and half ago. However, a new label to define what replaced reformasi has not yet emerged and this reflects uncertainty among Indonesians about recent social and political change, and where their country is heading.

Some prominent critics of the government claim that, while electoral democracy seems entrenched, liberal democracy is under threat from populism and renewed conservativism. For them, Indonesia seems to be sliding towards what they call the "Neo-New Order".

Others say this is too harsh, arguing that the critical change that marked the end of Soeharto's system, the retreat of the military from government to the barracks, has not been reversed. They also point to new governance institutions established post-Soeharto to combat the repression and corruption that characterised his regime, such as the Constitutional Court and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), as well the development of a diverse and vibrant civil society and a largely free, even boisterous, media.

They do so with increasingly difficulty, however: with rampant corruption perhaps Indonesia's single biggest political issue, the KPK under constant attack from politicians and police, the Constitutional Court entangled in its own scandals, the press facing increased use of defamation laws that assist politicians and oligarchs and civil society under pressure from elite pushback.

"Neo-New Order" may not be the right label but it is clear enough that reformasi is history. What is not so clear is where Indonesia will eventually land. Will liberal democracy bounce back? Will Indonesia's resilient oligarchs finally complete their creeping takeover of government? Will Indonesia follow Malaysia, conceding political privilege to Islam and institutionalising intolerance? Or will the country just keep muddling through, as it has for most of this century?

The uncertainty this all creates is now one of the key characteristics of post-reformasi Indonesia, and the source of much confusion and anxiety among ordinary Indonesians. These tensions will only increase with local elections this year and next April's national elections drawing closer. Negative campaigning – fake news and all – is already underway and expected to reach fever pitch in early 2019.

The elections will determine the patterns of power and patronage for the next five years, as they always do, but the campaigning will particularly intense because the presidential and legislative elections will be held together for the first time next year.

The likely outcome is still unclear, not least because of the disruptive influence of social media manipulation and the unpredictability of the many millions of young millennials who will be voting (half the population is under 40). It is therefore hardly surprising that the 2019 elections are already overshadowing everything else in Indonesia public life, as the elite begin to jostle for position.

The uncertainty that dominates domestic Indonesian politics will have also profound implications for Indonesia's foreign relations, not least because it comes precisely as Indonesia, poised on the cusp of middle-class status, begins to rise economically.

It does so despite unimpressive economic management. For all the rhetoric from Jakarta about being open for business, and regular announcements of reforms to facilitate foreign investment, the reality is that Indonesia remains fiercely protectionist. A small group of politically powerful oligarchs continue to dominate a highly uncompetitive economy that is a minefield for foreign investors. This is particularly true at the local level, where oversight from the national government is weak and rent-seeking behaviour is common among local administrations.

But Indonesia may prosper nonetheless, with rating agencies claiming that even if it simply maintains its current 5 per cent GDP growth, Indonesia will soon achieve global economic clout. Certainly, its leaders believe predictions that by 2030 Indonesia will be among the seven largest economies in the world and that this will transform it in the way that rapid growth transformed China. This, combined with Indonesia's strategic geographic expanse and huge population (by then approaching 300 million), will make it a global player, they think.

What does this mean for Australia? In 2008, at the height of the administration of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, when relations with Australia were as good as they get, as they put it, Andrew McIntyre and Douglas Ramage wrote a perceptive paper titled "Seeing Indonesia as a Normal Country". In it, they argued that Indonesia had committed to a liberal democratic path and participation in the international community. Pluralism, they said, was "the bedrock fact of Indonesian society", and Australia needed to rethink dated Soeharto-era attitudes to Indonesia.

Ten years later, another rethink is necessary. Indonesia's commitment to electoral democracy remains strong but support for liberal democracy is less certain and concern for international opinion much diminished. In fact, expectations of Indonesia's rise are already fueling experiments with populism, xenophobia and regional assertiveness (triggered to a great extent by virulent Sinophobia).

Likewise, pluralism – and, in particular, the status of religious, ethnic and social minorities – face major challenges from rising religious intolerance. The so-called conservative turn – the growing influence of Islamist hardliners, repressed by the Soeharto regime for most of his long rule – is fracturing the national consensus on pluralism. In fact, these groups now seem to be emerging as Indonesia's alt-right.

The massive rallies led by Islamist groups that led to the electoral defeat and then jailing for blasphemy of Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, the Christian ethnic Chinese governor of Jakarta, shocked many Indonesians as much as they did foreign observers. Worse still, advocates of pluralism and minority rights in Indonesia feel intimidated and, by their own admission, are beginning to self-censor. The apology forced by Islamist critics from a weeping Sukmawati Soekarnoputri, a daughter of the first president, for a poem she wrote praising traditional Indonesian culture over Islamic culture will only increase the chilling effect of the conservative turn on public discourse.

All this means that Australia will need another rapid recalibration of its expectations about Indonesia as the country contemplates a very uncertain post-reformasi future that may well prove to be much less liberal and less welcoming of foreign engagement.

We need to be aware that, ironically, even as it becomes a wealthier, middle class society, Indonesia's always-turbulent relations with its neighbours may prove to be even more difficult in the decade ahead than at any time since last century.

[This article was first published on the blog of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, Australian Outlook.]

Source: http://indonesiaatmelbourne.unimelb.edu.au/post-reformasi-indonesia-the-age-of-uncertainty/

Preacher says Starbucks customers will go to the hell – a new generation of

The Conversation - May 2, 2018

Puji Rianto – An old video of a local preacher Abdul Somad has gone viral. In the video, Somad says that people who buy coffee from US coffee chain Starbucks will go to the hell due to the company's support for LGBT movements.

Putting aside the debates on Somad's remarks, I would like to explain the popularity of Indonesia's new generation of preachers, represented by Somad.

Abdul Somad Batubara, known as Ustaz (Islamic teacher) Abdul Somad, is one of the most popular preachers in Indonesia. The popularity of the 40-year-old has surpassed his seniors Abdullah Gymnastiar (Aa Gym) and Zainuddin MZ.

His sermons are always packed with people from different social and economic backgrounds. Before the Starbucks issue, his name also appeared in the media after he was denied entry, for unknown reasons, to Hong Kong, where he was scheduled to preach to Indonesian citizens there.

In the social media era, the popularity of a person can be identified from the number of his or her followers. In Somad's case, his Facebook followers reached more than 1 million people, while more than 2 million people follow him on Instagram. His official YouTube account, Tafaqquh Video, has been viewed more than 50 million times.

Somad represents a new generation of preachers in Indonesia who rose to fame due to their frequent exposure on social media. The title of "a preacher to a million followers" that belonged to the late Zainuddin MZ has been passed down to Somad as he became "a preacher to a million viewers".

However, I have identified other factors, aside from social media exposure, that contribute to Somad's fame.

Smart with social media

Following his predecessors, Somad is a preacher who takes advantage of technology advances to increase his popularity.

In the 1990s, Zainuddin MZ was popular as people could also listen to his sermons via local radio stations and mosques, which aired recordings of his preaching.

During the booming of the TV industry in the early 2000s, other names like Aa Gym, Yusuf Mansur, the late Jefri AL Buchori, Arifin Ilham and Dedeh Rosidah appeared.

In the digital era, many preachers try to reach out to the public via social media, including Somad. Somad knows very well how to take advantage of the public's current tendency to use the internet in their daily activities.

A 2017 survey released by the Indonesian Internet Service Providers Association showed that 43.89% of Indonesians' internet use was for at least one hour day, with the remaining use exceeding four hours a day. Almost 90% of internet users access social media, with 69.64% of them surfing the net to watch videos.

From these data, it is not surprising that Somad uses social media like YouTube to build his popularity. With technology, Somad manages to break various limitations set by conventional media and appears on the screens of his followers' gadgets anytime and anywhere. This can happen as gatekeepers who decide who's in or out on screens no longer exist in the new media ecosystem.

Social context

Many analysts argue that social context is important to understand the popularity of this new generation of young preachers in Indonesia.

According to sociologist Ariel Heryanto, the interest in anything related to Islam has increased in Indonesian society, especially among middle-class people. As a result, symbols that strengthen Islamic values are deemed important and the recent hijab trend is one of the perfect examples of this.

Ariel's argument can also explain the success of Ayat-Ayat Cinta (Verses of Love) which entered the list of 10 most popular films in Indonesia between 2008 and 2018. This new trend also happens in the television industry with the presence of successful religious dramas Para Pencari Tuhan (God's Seekers) and Rahasia Ilahi (The Secret of God).

The public's infatuation with Islamic values happens across sectors. People's daily practices have also become a target. We have seen so many banners announcing religious sermons from popular preachers in public space. Given this infatuation, it seems that Somad has found his niche market.

Distinct communication style

Abdul Somad is a good speaker. His sermons always make people laugh. This shows that the public does not only want religious teachings but also entertainment. And Somad gives it to them.

He has proved himself as a good public speaker by using humour to deliver his messages. Often, there is nothing new about his humour. But people like to hear what they want to hear instead of what they need.

In this case, it seems that Somad follows Aristotelian rhetorical principles. Aristotle argues that building a good relationship with the audience is important to ensure the success of a speaker. Somad has built solid connection with his followers through humour that's closely related to the public.

In addition, Somad's interactive style in delivering his sermons is another strategy to build a good rapport with his audience. His sermons are mostly about answering questions from the audience. This two-way communication can improve audience satisfaction.

As a speaker, Somad not only masters the audience, but he also meets three public speaking rules: ethos, pathos and logos.

One example of how he has nailed the public speaking theories was when he was asked about dating. Somad responded by sharing his experience when he was a student in Egypt. Here, he tried to build his credibility (ethos) as a person who could speak about the rules of dating, but at the same time he also built sympathy and proximity with his own experience (pathos).

For logos, he built an argument, based on his own experience, that pursuing education was more important as it would open more blessings. With this approach, people can accept and like Somad's sermons.

[Puji Rianto is a lecturer at the Universitas Islam Indonesia.]

Source: https://theconversation.com/a-preacher-says-starbucks-customers-will-go-to-the-hell-the-rise-of-indonesias-new-generation-of-preachers-95837

Millenials won't rescue Indonesia

New Mandala - May 2, 2018

Abdil Mughis Mudhoffir – The appearance of the Indonesia Solidarity Party (Partai Solidaritas Indonesia, or PSI) – bearing the slogan of "the millenials' political party" – as a new participant in the 2019 elections has prompted public discussion. For some, the party is seen as providing the opportunity for a vehicle for alternative politics. But how promising is it really, in a political arena marked by transactionalism and predation?

In its official website, it's declared that "PSI, as a new party, is no longer hostage to old political interests, bad track records, historical legacies and bad images from previous parties". These claims, according to PSI, are substantiated by its recruitment of members from among former activists and young people (i.e. below 45 years old) with separate track records from old politicians and parties.

Given this platform, Ariel Heryanto has opined in one article that PSI's emergence should be welcomed; as he says, all social change has historically rested on the role played by young people. But reflecting on the experience of Partai Keadilan Sejajhtera (PKS) and the former Partai Rakyat Demokratik (PRD), and the emergence of new figures imagined to be independent of old political interests – such as Joko Widodo, who in fact only gave limited hope of change – prompts Ariel to similarly not expect too much from PSI. He concludes that "the challenges of macro political conditions" is the factor that should limit such expectations.

In my opinion, there are several problems with Ariel's viewpoint. First, his defining the role of youth as the "spearhead of all social change" is an excessive generalisation, which disregards the particular social and political conditions that make young people more likely to become the vanguard of social change. Which youth, and in which conditions? His description of the failure of both PKS and PRD is enough to defeat his essentialist historical argument here.

Second, the combination of doubts based on "macro political conditions" and hope because of PSI's drawing sustenance from young political actors is also contradictory in its view of the relationship between structure and agency. On the one hand, the doubts show that Ariel gives relative dominance to structural conditions in determining political actors' manouevres. On the other hand, his hopes suggest that we can trust PSI's new breed of politicians to have relative autonomy from those same macro conditions.

But a satisfactory explanation of the extent to which either of these factors is dominant is missing from Ariel's article. His suggestion to PSI's politicians that they should pay attention to substantive issues in public polemic emphasises his analysis' tendency to emphasise personalistic understandings. Such a framing is of course more likely to give rise to optimism, but it's ultimately problematic.

Most of all, his view of "youth" seems to contain a monolithic understanding of this category, one which neglects diversities of social class. The political orientations of young people from the lower classes in Indonesia, for instance, can't be equated with those from the middle and upper classes.

The fluid 'millenial' political base

Departing from the limitations of existing explanations, an alternative viewpoint on the political futures being shaped by Indonesia's millennial generation needs to be advanced. In my view, many of PSI's claims are worthy of scepticism. There's little chance that this party or its politicians can be separated from the domination of transactionalism and predatory politics, for two main reasons.

First, we haven't so far seen any serious organisation based on the social base they categorise as "millennials", apart from a particular brand of social media polemic to build popularity. The "millennial" category – apart from cutting across classes – is also highly fluid, and as such can't become an organised political force capable of controlling the behaviour of a party, legislative institution or government.

Nevertheless, looking at PSI's anti-corruption and anti-intolerance rhetoric, combined with its social-media based campaign tools, it seems PSI is more inclined to target middle class youth. If that's indeed the case, then it's difficult to expect that this class segment will push for changes to Indonesia's predatory politics.

In addition to this, the demographic reality of the sheer size of the younger generation has of course become the focus of parties well-experienced in winning electoral contests. Most Indonesian parties have youth organisations to target this group.

Is it working? A survey of university students in 23 Indonesian provinces conducted by Ella Prihastini showed that young voters' participation in the 2014 election actually declined compared with the two elections that preceded it. More than half of all voters between the ages of 17 and 29 didn't vote in the 2014 legislative election. Another interesting finding was that 34% of young respondents said they preferred to vote for PDI-P, while only 5% said the same of PSI.

Apart from relying on social media, PSI's efforts to contest the millennial vote include trying to piggy-back on the popularity of one of Indonesia's largest youth organisations, the Nadhlatul Ulama-affiliated Gerakan Pemuda (GP) Ansor.

Among other things, PSI's rhetoric appears to be coordinated with the political stances of NU factions that promote the values of religious pluralism, particularly GP Ansor's. Many PSI members have supported GP Ansor, given it excessive praise, and remain involved in its activities. PSI has unilaterally proposed Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, GP Ansor's chairman, as one young figure worthy of consideration as Jokowi's running mate for the 2019 presidential polls. But Ansor's members are already a source of votes for Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa (PKB) and Partai Persatuan Pembangunan (PPP). Of course, both of these old and better-consolidated parties won't sit silently if their own bases are contested by a newcomer.

The stamp of oligarchy

Second, because of its weak organisational basis, it's almost impossible for PSI to avoid transactional politics. We can observe this by tracing the economic resources it's using to consolidate its political strength. So far, PSI claims that it has relied only upon voluntary, no-strings-attached dues to pay for its political activities. But viewed in light of its weak organisational condition, statements like these are a daydream. How are they supposed to mobilise votes in a legislative election if they don't have an organised social base to sustain them, amid the "high-cost politics" of a political arena dominated by predation?

Ample information indicates that PSI isn't merely a home for new figures who haven't dabbled in politics before, as the party says. The appearance of names like Sunny Tanuwidjaja and Jeffrie Geovanie in the lineup of PSI's Advisory Board is enough of a caveat to demolish that claim.

Sunny is a former staffer of ex-Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok). He has been questioned, and forbidden to travel abroad, by the KPK in relation to a bribery case surrounding the Jakarta Bay spatial plan, which has ensnared local parliamentary member M. Sanusi and the president director of property developer Agung Podomoro Land, Ariesman Widjaja.

Reporting from TEMPO magazine has shown that Sunny acted as a middleman between Ahok and developers responsible for the Jakarta Bay reclamation, including the owner of Agung Sedayu Group, Sugianto Kusuma (Aguan). When questioned by the KPK, Sunny also admitted that he served as a general manager of Peter Sondakh's Rajawali Group. A report from Merdeka.com also revealed Ahok's admission that Sunny's cousin is married to Franky Oesman Widjaja, son of the Eka Tjipta Widjaja, owner of the Sinarmas conglomerate.

Jeffrie Geovanie, meanwhile, is known as a party-hopping politician, having being involved in PAN, Golkar, Nasdem, Perindo and PKB before landing at PSI. The official site of the DPD (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah, Indonesia's second house of parliament), where he currently serves, notes that Jeffrie was previously a director of Singapore's Trego Holdings Ltd, and a director of Bank Artha Prima Jakarta, owned by Tommy Winata.

In 2013 Kompas identified Jeffrie as the chairman of PT Panen Galeries Lafayette Indonesia – the local franchisee of France's largest department store brand – which itself is a subsidiary of PT Mitra Adi Perkasa (MAP). MAP is a retail company which owns licenses for Starbucks, Zara and many other international brands. MAP is owned by Boyke Gozali and his uncle Sjamsul Nursalim, the businessman wanted in connection with the BLBI scandal who now lives as a fugitive in Singapore.

PSI's chairwoman, Grace Natalie, has acknowledged that Jeffrie is one of the businesspeople funding the party's activities. Looking at Jeffrie's networks it's difficult to dismiss the possibility that the conglomerates have played a part in underwriting PSI's political activities. Moreover, Jeffrie is the head of the party's Board of Advisors.

Meet the new party, same as the old party

At face value, then, the position of Jeffrie and Sunny in the organisational structure of PSI is a hint that this new party isn't much different to the old. Given both of their backgrounds, PSI bears traces of also being closely linked to oligarchic networks. Sunny's presence harms PSI's claims to be a party that campaigns against corruption. The presence of the Jeffrie, meanwhile also demolishes PSI's claims to be the party solely of new figures. The recent entry into PSI of Christianto Wibisono, a 73 year old former founder of PAN, just reemphasises its inconsistency on this front.

When it comes to its political support, because PSI isn't built as a bottom-up movement (just like Indonesian parties in general), aside from it being appropriate to assume it will be involved in money politics, there are many potential avenues for mobilising votes – including playing with identity politics. The anti-LGBT statements of a PSI cadre in Depok, along with PSI's supporting the Perppu (now Law) on Mass Organisations in the name of Pancasilaist nationalism, shows such a tendency. PSI cadres were at the front lines of defending Ahok against claims of blasphemy, but their support for the Perppu Ormas – which contains provisions that replicate the Blasphemy Law – just illustrates how contradictory, if pragmatic, their stance is. These conditions are the early signs of the consolidation of a party that already looks fragile, and caught up in transactionalism and predation. Built upon a weak social base, the politics PSI articulates primarily targets the middle class. It would be unsurprising if they also showed a tendency to adhere to a particular oligarchic faction, rather than attempt to fight oligarchy. When they enter the real political arena come election time, such oligarchic tendencies will only become more obvious, in turn hampering the possibility of change that challenges the interests of oligarchy. In this context, can anybody still claim that a millienials' party can be trusted to bring change?

[This post originally appeared in Bahasa Indonesia at IndoPROGRESS, an online forum for progressive viewpoints from Indonesia. This translation was prepared by Liam Gammon.]

Source: http://www.newmandala.org/millenials-wont-rescue-indonesia/

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