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Indonesia News Digest 24 – June 23-30, 2018

West Papua 1965 anti-communist purge Fall of suharto & reformasi Sexual & domestic violence Labour & migrant workers Freedom of information & the press Political parties & elections Surveys & opinion polls Environment & natural disasters Health & education Tertiary education & campus life Corruption & abuse of power Terrorism & religious extremism Hard-line & vigilante groups Religion & politics National holidays & celebrations Farming & agriculture Parliament & legislation Jakarta & urban life Transport & communication Literature & the arts Foreign affairs & trade Mining & energy Banking & finance Taxation & state budget Analysis & opinion

West Papua

Indonesia beefing up disputed Papua border force in bid for minerals

Asia Pacific Report - June 29, 2018

Albert Agua, Waigani – Indonesia is driving towards the Papua New Guinea border because of a recent discovery of huge mineral deposits in the Star Mountain regency just at the back of Tabubil Ok Tedi mine.

"Reportedly, there is gold, copper, coal, and thorium – a safer radioactive chemical than uranium," says president-director of PT Antam Tato Miraza, who was then Director of Development, reports Pusaka. "Geological Survey shows its potential is good and promising."

The core of the deposit is, however, found in the disputed area of the border between PNG and Indonesia.

Recently, Indonesian troops patrolled to Korkit and surveyed the land just around 40km from Ok Tedi, less than 10km from the border marker in the Korkit village to build another military base.

The citizens from Korkit village who are PNG citizens are moving into the new Indonesian village. This is just 20km from the mineral deposit area.

Thorium, a weakly radioactive element that can be used as fuel in a nuclear power reactor, has been discovered in the disputed area and this has been the sole driver for Indonesians to force themselves into the disputed territory.

Also the "explorers" are actually the military carrying out the exploration. The Indonesians have been transporting mining supplies to the area and the locals are prepared to wage war if the exploration continues under heavy military security.

Wutung border improvements

Meanwhile, major improvements in infrastructure and capacity are planned for the PNG-Papua border at Wutung, reports Loop PNG. The improvements are planned as part of the PNG government's West Sepik Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

National Planning Minister Richard Maru and delegates of a fact-finding mission to West Sepik visited the border area last week. Loop PNG also reports that an international bus service and terminal are planned for the Wutung border post.

[Albert Agua is an academic at the University of Papua New Guinea.]

Source: https://asiapacificreport.nz/2018/06/29/indonesia-beefing-up-disputed-papua-border-force-in-bid-for-minerals/

District head killed, two police officers missing in shooting attack in Papua

Jakarta Post - June 28, 2018

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura – An unidentified armed group launched a shooting attack in Papua on Wednesday, in the second attack in the region this week in the wake of the Papua gubernatorial election.

Torere district head Obaja Froaro was killed when unknown armed assailants allegedly shot at a speedboat he was on, on Wednesday at around 4 p.m. local time in Torere in Puncak Jaya, a regency in Papua's restive central highlands.

"The Torere district head was shot to death by the criminal armed group while transporting the Torere people's ballot boxes right after the voting," Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said in Jayapura on Thursday.

Two police officers, who were on board the same speedboat, went missing in the ambush.

"The two police officers are still missing," Boy said, referring to a group of Puncak Jaya Police officers who were in charge of guarding the Dow election materials and securing the Papua gubernatorial election.

Obaja and a total of nine Puncak Jaya Police officers were on their way from the Dow polling station to Torere to transport boxes full of filled-out ballots.

Votes for the Papua gubernatorial election were cast at the Dow polling station earlier that day. "Seven other police officers survived," Boy said.

Another speedboat carrying local residents escaped the gunfire by immediately fleeing the scene when the alleged shootings started.

It was the second incident in Papua this week after a Twin Otter aircraft carrying election material and police personnel was fired on by unidentified assailants shortly after it landed at Kenyam Airport in Nduga regency on Monday.

The pilot suffered a gunshot wound to his back, and three residents died in an ensuing firefight between the gunmen and security personnel, the authorities said. (stu/ipa)

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the number of deaths. The death toll is one, the Torere district head, not three as Boy earlier said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/28/district-head-two-police-officers-killed-in-shooting-attack-in-papua.html

West Papua Liberation Army behind deadly Nduga attack

Radio New Zealand International - June 28, 2018

A faction of the West Papua National Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for Monday's deadly shootings in Indonesia's Nduga regency.

Three people died after gunmen targeted an aircraft transporting Indonesian paramilitary police at the airport of this remote Papuan regency. Liberation Army gunmen launched an attack at the Trigana Air twin otter which had arrived carrying 18 Brimob personnel.

The paramilitary police had been transported from the Highlands town of Wamena to Nduga to provide security during this week's regional elections.

Two people, including the pilot, were injured before a gunfire ensued on the airfield between the Liberation Army members and Indonesian security forces. Three people who died have been identified as migrants from Indonesia's South Sulawesi province.

A faction of the Liberation Army said it was responsible for shooting the three people, including a boy, saying he was hit by a stray bullet.

The boy's parents were the other two killed in the violence. According to reports from Papua, they were migrants from South Sulawesi who had been established traders in Nduga's township.

A PNG-based spokesperson for the Liberation Army and the Free West Papua Movment, Sebby Sambom, said their soldiers shot at the man bcause he had pulled out a gun.

"The person from Sulawesi, he took position holding a pistol and tried to shoot the Liberation Army, Free West Papua group... soldiers... That's why the Liberation army shot him Then his wife and son they came and held him. Then his wife was shot..."

The spokesman suggested that the child's death was entirely accidental. However, he alleged that the man killed was one of many migrants from other parts of Indonesia who had come to live in Papua and become undercover intelligence agents assisting Indonesia's security forces in operaions against Papuans. "We always identify them, we have data," Mr Sembom explained.

"Some Indonesian civillians become businessmen, but they are Indonesian intelligence agents. Indonesian soldiers and police give them small stores or trade house buildings. They're everywhere."

Tensions remain high in Nduga amid bursts of gunfire that have broken out sporadically after the Army dispersed from the airfield following the deadly gunfight.

Meanwhile, the attack in Nduga is one of a series of reported incidents of deadly violence in the Highlands regencies which have disrupted the regional elections taking place this week.

In Puncak Jaya regency, three people died after being shot in Torere district yesterday. According to CNN Indonesia, Indonesian police blamed the shooting deaths on unidentified gunmen.

Along with reported tribal violence in recent days in Yahukimo regency, the incidents cast doubt on whether the elections will proceed in these areas where Papua's provincial governor Lukas Enembe has strong support.

The Liberation Army has launched several attacks in the region since last year. Two TNI personnel were killed in Nduga last December, prompting reprisal attacks which left two civilians dead and a church burnt.

Around the same time, the Liberation Army declared a general mobilisation of all its soldiers in Papua to carry out operations against the Indonesian state and what it called "the invaders".

As well as independence, the Army's stated goal has been to close the Freeport mine, which is one of the largest sources of revenue for the Indonesian state.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/360628/west-papua-liberation-army-behind-deadly-nduga-attack

3 civilians killed by armed group in Papua

Tempo - June 26, 2018

Syafiul Hadi and Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta – Papuan armed separatist group (KKSB) has again attacked civilians in Kenyam, Nduga, Papua on Monday, June 25, 2018.

The group terrorized civilians while trying to escape after shooting Trigana Air aircraft type of Twin Otter rented by Mobile Brigade Corps (Brimob) during landing.

"While they're escaping, KKSB shot dead three civilians and one child severely injured," said Regional Military Command XVII Cenderawasih Chief Colonel Infantry Muhammad Aidi in a statement, Monday, June 25.

Earlier, the airline carrying 15 officers who deployed for the election departed from Wamena airport, Jayawijaya, landed at Keneyam airport at 09:40 local times.

While heading to taxi out for parking, 15 unidentified men started to shoot the left side of the airline at around 10:00 local times. Due to the incident, the pilot Abdillah Kamil suffered injuries caused by pieces of bullets in the right shoulder and the back of his head.

According to Aidi, Papuan KKSB had gun contacts with security officers of Battalion/Yalet 755 and police officers as well as Brimob units. "The group ran away to the end of the runway where the airline comes," he explained.

Aidi mentioned the Papuan KKSB group carried six long weapons AK-47, two NFC rifles, and two pistols. "While others carry arrows, spears, and machetes to attack civilians," he said. The dead victims were Pali (28), Hendrik Sattu Kola (38), and Zainal Abidin (20). In addition, Arjuna Kola (6) suffered severe injuries.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/06/26/055919488/3-Civilians-Killed-by-Armed-Group-in-Papua

Gold prospectors demand reopening of gold stores in Timika

Antara News - June 25, 2018

Evarianus Supar, Timika, Papua – Thousands of traditional gold prospectors in the Kali Kabur river of Timika, Papua, demanded the reopening of gold shops, which had been the buyers of their gold dust in that area.

The people, members of what they called Forum of Community of Gold Prospectors issued their demand in a rally in front of the office of the Mimika legislative body (DPRD) on Friday.

"We asked the government to immediately find a solution and allow gold shops to operate again here," Simon Rahajaan, chairman of the forum said in Mimika, the municipal town on Friday.

Simon said the traditional gold miners have been in difficulty to find buyers for their gold dust after gold shops were forced to stop operation in that area.

Police closed down small gold shops in that area following the arrest of the owner of Toko Emas Rezki Utama, H Basri, at the Makassar airport recently.

H Basri was arrested for taking a lot of gold bars from Timika, Simon said, adding after the incident other shop owners felt not safe in taking gold they bought from the gold prospectors to be resold outside Timika.

The government has to consider the fate of around 15,000 people of Timika make a living from panning for gold in the Kali Kabur river.

The Kali Kabur river has been a disposal place for mining tailing by PT Freeport Indonesia, a U.S. gold and copper mining company operating in Papua.

"We could not continue this life and feed our children and send them to school unless we could sell our gold dust. We have no other jobs other than panning for gold," Rony Leisubun, a depuity chairman of the Forum.

The people said they are ready to cooperate with the district administration and PT Freeport to uncover who were responsible for the damage caused to the mining pipe of Freeport.

"We gold prospectors panning for gold in the Kali Kabur river are not responsible for damaging the Freeport mining pipe as we have no access to the Freeport area,"Anis Werbetu, anothyer leader of the forum.

Mimika DPRD speaker Elminus Mom said the gold prospectors are free to continue their activities at Kali Kabur river.

"No regulation banning them from continuing their activities. Thousands of people make a living from panning for gold in the river," Elminus said

He also asked the old gold shops to resume their business buying the gold dusts from the traditional gold miners. ***2**

Source: https://en.antaranews.com/news/116244/gold-prospectors-demand-reopening-of-gold-stores-in-timika

Aircraft carrying election material fired on in Papua

Jakarta Post - June 25, 2018

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura, Papua – A Twin Otter aircraft carrying election material and the National Police's Mobile Brigade (Brimob) personnel, which will secure the upcoming regional elections in Papua, was fired on by unidentified assailants shortly after it landed at Kenyam Airport in Nduga at 9:45 a.m. local time on Monday.

Pilot Ahmad Abdillah Kamil, 27, suffered gunshot wounds to his left back during the incident. The perpetrators allegedly carried out the attack from the left side of the aircraft.

The aircraft departed for Kenyam, Nduga, from Wamena Airport in Jayawijaya with 15 passsengers on board. They were all Brimob members assigned to oversee the distribution of election material and secure the Papua gubernatorial election, which will be held on Wednesday.

Papua Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. AM Kamal confirmed the incident. "The pilot has received medical treatment at Kenyam health clinic. He is conscious. Plans have been made for the aircraft to fly the pilot back to Wamena, Jayawijaya," said Kamal.

Kamal said the police and Indonesian Military personnel were searching for those responsible for the armed attack.

Responding to concerns over security in the election process in Nduga regency, Papua General Elections Commission (KPU Papua) commissioner Tarwinto said the election might be delayed due to the alleged attack, depending on recommendations from security authorities.

Within one week, two aircraft shooting incidents have occurred at Kenyam Airport. On June 22, a Twin Otter Dimonim Air PK-HVU was fired on when it landed at 1:05 p.m. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/25/aircraft-carrying-election-material-fired-on-in-papua.html

Last day of campaign in Papua festive, smooth

Jakarta Post - June 24, 2018

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura – Tens of thousands of people from six regencies in Papua gathered in Wamena in Jayawijaya regency on Saturday to listen to candidate pair Lukas Enembe and Klemen Tinal on the last day of campaigning.

They came from regencies in the middle mountain area of Papua, namely Lanny Jaya, Tolikara, Nduga, Mamberamo Tengah, Yalimo and Jayawijaya.

The event at Hilapuk field did not disrupt traffic in the city, Jayawijaya Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Yan Piet Reba said on Saturday.

Reba has warned residents not to carry traditional weapons during the campaign period.

In his speech, gubernatorial candidate Lukas said he wanted a peaceful regional election. "Don't let Papuans get killed only because of the regional election," he said.

Lukas, who was the governor for five years before he left the position to begin campaigning, claimed that under his leadership development had come to the mountain areas of Papua, which had seen few infrastructure programs because of its challenging topography.

The other pair, John Wempi Wetipo-Habel Melkias Suwae, held their last campaign event in Imbi Park in Jayapura. Their supporters donned #2018GantiGubernurPapua (#2018ChangePapuanGovernor), in a direct jab at Lukas.

Lukas and Klemen were endorsed by the Democratic Party, Golkar Party, NasDem, National Mandate Party (PAN), Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), Indonesian Justice and Unity Party (PKPI), National Awakening Party (PKB) and Hanura Party. John and Habel are endorsed by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle and the Gerindra Party.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/24/last-day-of-campaign-in-papua-festive-smooth.html

1965 anti-communist purge

There's now proof that Soeharto orchestrated the 1965 killings

Indonesia at Melbourne - June 26, 2018

Jess Melvin – As Indonesia commemorates 20 years since the fall of the New Order military dictatorship, the foundation myth of the regime (and, indeed, the post-New Order state as well) remains stubbornly in place.

According to official state narratives, the military was forced to step in to save the nation from an abortive communist coup during the early hours of 1 October 1965. The military and sources from the Foreign Ministry say that the military acted to bring an end to a "spontaneous" uprising by "the people" – an "explosion" of "communal clashes resulting in bloodbaths" throughout the country – as ordinary Indonesians rose up in anger against their communist neighbours.

These events, described privately by the CIA as "one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century", are known collectively in Indonesia as "G30S/PKI" – a name that implies the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) was responsible for the failed coup led by the 30 September Movement (G30S).

In fact, it was the military that implemented the coup on 1 October 1965. Planning for this began under Soekarno's Guided Democracy as the military became engaged in a struggle for the Indonesian state with the PKI.

It is now possible to explain how Soeharto used existing chains of command to bring the military to power. My book, "The Army and the Indonesian Genocide: Mechanics of Mass Murder", shows how the military initiated and implemented the 1965-66 mass killings. This article focuses on the mechanics of the military's coup.

Dreaming of a coup

In 1965, the Indonesian military was dreaming of a coup. In this ambition it found a key ally in the United States government. After a failed US-backed attempt to break Sumatra off from the rest of Indonesia in the late 1950s, the military and the United States found common ground in anti-communism.

The newly reunited military leadership received training and funding from the US, which hoped that the military might become a "state within a state" capable of overthrowing President Soekarno, who made no secret of his Marxist sympathies.

Initially, the military leadership had intended to wait for Soekarno to "step off stage" before making its move. But the military's plans were pushed forward in August 1965 by fears that Soekarno and the PKI were using the Ganyang Malaysia ("Crush Malaysia") campaign to weaken the military's monopoly of armed force.

Before examining how the military came to power, however, it is important to understand the structures it had at its disposal by the eve of 1 October 1965.

Soekarno, as supreme commander of the Armed Forces, had formal control over the armed forces. Directly under him, Commander of the Armed Forces (Pangad) General Ahmad Yani had practical control.

Since the time of the national revolution (1945-49), the military has been organised along a territorial warfare structure. An internal command, known as the Kodam, still parallels civilian government down to the village level. In 1965, Yani had control over this Kodam command structure.

He also had control over a number of special command structures, including the Kostrad strategic command, led by Major General Soeharto, and the RPKAD Special Forces, controlled by Colonel Sarwo Edhie Wibowo.

In addition, Yani was chief of staff of the Supreme Operations Command (KOTI). KOTI coordinated the military's involvement in the Ganyang Malaysia campaign.

In October 1964, the Mandala Vigilance Command (Kolaga) was established under the KOTI chain of command in Sumatra and Kalimantan to facilitate the Ganyang Malaysia campaign at the local level. The commander of Kolaga was Air Marshall Omar Dhani, with Soeharto as his first deputy. Dhani would later become involved in the 30 September Movement and the KOTI and Kolaga commands were to become significant sites of internal conflict in the struggle for the Indonesian state.


In September 1964, legislation was passed granting KOTI the ability to internally declare martial law without first having to seek the permission of Soekarno. It is possible Soekarno intended to use the KOTI and Kolaga commands to help bring Indonesian communists to power. In addition to placing his ally, Dhani, as commander of Kolaga, Soekarno approved the mobilisation of 21 million volunteers in May 1964. This was ostensibly done to prepare for a potential conflict with Malaysia but the military feared the volunteers might be used to counteract its own power.

It is therefore not surprising that the military also took advantage of the new legislation. Sumatra's Mandala I commander, the staunch anti-communist Lieutenant General Ahmad Mokoginta, used the Kolaga command to begin running dry-run tests (known as the Singgalang Operation) from March 1965, reportedly to assess the preparedness of the military command to mobilise the civilian population. The civilian militia groups trained during this period would later serve as shock troops for the military's attack against the PKI.

This dangerous game of brinkmanship came to a head in August 1965, when Soekarno announced the establishment of a "fifth force", or people's army. Although Soekarno claimed this force would only be used to advance his plans to mobilise civilians in support of the Ganyang Malaysia campaign, the military was deeply concerned. If it no longer had exclusive control over armed power in Indonesia, it appeared inevitable that the PKI would attempt to seize power.

The military no longer wished to wait for Soekarno to step off stage. Instead, it sought to induce a showdown as soon as possible, while it was still the most powerful armed force in the country.

The major concern of the military leadership was that it should not be seen as instigating a coup. Soekarno and the PKI were much too popular. Instead, as John Roosa has explained, the military hoped to encourage a "pretext" event that could be used by the military to portray its own actions as defensive. The actions of the 30 September Movement – which kidnapped and murdered six key members of the military leadership, including Yani, during the early hours of 1 October – provided just such a pretext.

It is my contention that the military's subsequent actions contained elements of both pre-planning and improvisation: when Soeharto seized control of the Indonesian state on the morning of 1 October, he drew on the long-term planning of the military leadership under Yani, while adding his own twist.

The Indonesian military coup of 1 October 1965

When the 30 September Movement decapitated the military leadership on 1 October, it did not paralyse the national military command. Instead, Soeharto stepped in to fill the power vacuum left by Yani, actively ignoring Soekarno's authority. Soeharto also retained his strategically vital position as commander of Kostrad, while RPKAD Commander Wibowo would prove himself as one of Soeharto's most loyal deputies.

It is less well known that Soeharto also seized the position of KOTI commander. Interestingly, there is no indication that Soekarno's ally Dhani attempted to mobilise KOTI, despite it formally being under his command on the critical morning of 1 October.

It was previously thought that Soeharto made only one public announcement on 1 October, when he declared the military leadership had "already managed to take control of the situation" and that both "the centre" and "the regions" were now under the control of the military leadership. It was not known what was meant by this order. It could not be shown that Soeharto had implemented a coup on 1 October, as the existing evidence only proved that he had acted in an insubordinate manner to Soekarno when he refused to step down from the position of army commander when ordered to do so.

It can now be revealed that Soeharto was much more active in consolidating his position and operating independently of Soekarno. New documentary evidence indicates Soeharto sent telegrams to regional military commanders on the morning of 1 October in his assumed position of Armed Forces commander, declaring that a coup – led by the 30 September Movement – had occurred in the capital. This order was then followed by an instruction sent from Sumatra's Mandala I commander, Mokoginta, who declared that military commanders should "await further orders".

These "further orders" would come at midnight that night, when Mokoginta announced over the radio that all orders issued by Soeharto should be "adhered to", in direct contradiction to Soekarno, who had told Soeharto to step down. Mokoginta then ordered that "all members of the Armed Forces [must] resolutely and completely annihilate... down to the roots" all those alleged to have been involved in the 30 September Movement. This is the earliest known instance of such an instruction.

That Mokoginta issued this instruction in his position of Mandala I commander is significant. It is now known that the Sumatra regional command was activated on the morning of 1 October for the explicit purpose of facilitating the military's annihilation campaign. Martial law was also enacted throughout Sumatra.

Meanwhile, in Jakarta, Kostrad and RPKAD were used to physically crush the 30 September Movement from 1 to 2 October, and on 3 October a state of war was declared there. Over the next few days, Soeharto demanded pledges of loyalty from military commanders throughout the country as the press was silenced and civilian leaders were paralysed.

This assumption of control over the armed wing of the Indonesian state and the subordination of civilian space to military control culminated in Soeharto's Armed Forces Day speech on 5 October in Jakarta. As Soekarno dithered, Soeharto publicly established himself as the uncontested kingmaker of the moment. Soeharto did not declare a coup on 1 October because he did not need to.

Multiple chains of command

The killings began within days of the military seizing control of the Indonesian state. It is possible to see clear phases of violence. After first stating its intention to "annihilate" the 30 September Movement at midnight on 1 October, the military ordered civilians to participate in the military campaign from 4 October. It then established a "War Room" in Aceh on 14 October for the explicit purpose of facilitating the military's annihilation campaign. At all times, the military's actions were coordinated through an elaborate two-way system of communication stretching all the way down to the village level. The military used multiple chains of command to implement this campaign nationally.

The actions of the 30 September Movement split Indonesia into its four component territories: Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan and Eastern Indonesia. The military focused the first phase of its attack on Sumatra and Java, the nation's two major economic and population centres, before extending its reach outwards. As the military began to move to implement its self-described "annihilation operation" (operasi penumpasan) against Indonesia's communist group, a division of labour began to develop across the country.

In Sumatra, it made the most sense for the military leadership to make use of the KOTI, Kolaga and regional commands, under the Sumatra-wide leadership of Mokoginta. Internal US embassy files suggest Sumatra was being used as a "test case" by the military at this time because of the military's ability to internally implement martial law. This meant that the military leadership was able to control not only the armed forces but also the civilian population in the area. Public killings began in the territory from 7 October, progressing to systematic mass killings from 14 October.

On Java and Bali, the military coordinated its attack through the Kostrad and RPKAD commands. These commands were, by nature, highly mobile. They were also able to operate independently of local Kodam commands, which, in Java at least, were considered to have been compromised by sympathy towards the 30 September Movement. The only place where local military commands came out in support of the 30 September Movement nationally was in Central Java (even though both Bali and North Sumatra had PKI-affiliated governors).

Kostrad was first used to put down the Movement in the capital before being sent to spearhead the military's attack in Central Java from 18 October. In December, the RPKAD moved to Bali. The RPKAD commander was additionally tasked with coordinating a national network of civilian death squads.

In Kalimantan, the military had its own Mandala command under the KOTI and Kolaga commands, as it did in Sumatra. Yet, although the Mandala II command, under Major General Maraden Panggabean, had the same operational potential as Mandala I, it does not appear that the military's annihilation campaign began in that territory until October 1967. Similarly, the military's annihilation campaign in Eastern Indonesia did not begin until December 1965.

The reason for this delayed start appears to be the diminished strategic importance of these areas to the central government. Both Sumatra and Java were key population and economic centres, while Bali, a known PKI hotspot, became the priority of the military's second-wave attack. As the military's control expanded, so too did the scale of the killings.

An attempt was made in late 1965 to centralise the military's annihilation campaign. Soeharto established the Operations Command to Restore Security and Order (Kopkamtib) on 6 December. Although this command has received much attention for its role in coordinating the military's attack, it was, in fact, irrelevant to the early stages of the military's annihilation campaign. The worst of the killings in Aceh, for example, where they first started, were over by the time the Kopkamtib was established in Sumatra.

That the national military leadership should choose to coordinate its coup and subsequent annihilation campaign through a network of semi-autonomous and territory-specific chains of command does not lessen the centralised nature of military coordination behind the genocide. Nor is such an approach unique to Indonesia. The Nazi Holocaust was similarly coordinated through multiple, territory-specific, chains of command.

It was this level of coordination that allowed such clear national patterns to develop in the subsequent killings. The ultimate purpose of this violence was to consolidate the military's seizure of state power.

It is now clear that Soeharto played a central coordinating role behind the military's coup and subsequent annihilation campaign. The military did not reluctantly step in to save the nation from a coup on 1 October 1965. Instead, it actively worked to seize power for itself, using the actions of the 30 September Movement as the catalyst for implementing a long-term plan to implement its own coup.

In taking the lead on this important day, Soeharto not only reacted to the actions of the 30 September Movement, but also drew on the long-term planning of the national military leadership. The subsequent killings were used to terrorise the population and forestall any challenge to the new military regime.

The trauma of this period still haunts Indonesia to this day. Twenty years on from reformasi and 53 years since the New Order came to power, it is time to start speaking openly about the Indonesian military coup of 1965. To make a clean break with New Order propaganda, it is necessary to turn the military's version of these events on its head. These events would, I propose, be better known as "G30S/Militer".

[Dr Jess Melvin's book, The Army and the Indonesian Genocide: Mechanics of Mass Murder: https://www.routledge.com/The-Army-and-the-Indonesian-Genocide-Mechanics-of-Mass-Murder/Melvin/p/book/9781138574694, is published by Routledge.]

Source: http://indonesiaatmelbourne.unimelb.edu.au/theres-now-clear-proof-that-soeharto-orchestrated-the-1965-killings/

Fall of suharto & reformasi

Indonesia's slow and circuitous road to democracy

ABC News - June 25, 2018

Olivia Nicole Tasevski – This year marks the 20th anniversary of the resignation of Indonesia's authoritarian president, Suharto, who led Indonesia from 1966 until 1998.

Suharto's resignation, which was motivated by a faltering Indonesian economy and widespread anti-Suharto demonstrations, marked the beginning of Indonesia's transition to democracy.

Significant progress has been made in relation to Indonesia's democratisation over the past 20 years.

Nonetheless, a culture of impunity regarding historical human rights abuses persists in Indonesia and human rights violations continue to be perpetrated by the Indonesian government and security forces.

Positive developments in post-Suharto Indonesia

During Suharto's New Order regime, some political parties were banned by the government, in part to prevent them from participating in elections and during elections.

Voter intimidation was used by the Indonesian army (the TNI) to pressure Indonesians to vote for Golkar (Suharto's political vehicle).

During this period, the Indonesian parliament, which was responsible for electing the Indonesian president, was largely stacked with Suharto's supporters and unsurprisingly re-elected Suharto six times.

Post-Suharto era Indonesia has had regular, competitive, free and fair elections, including direct presidential and vice-presidential elections, the first of which occurred in 2004.

During the Suharto regime, the government closed down media outlets that were critical of it. In contrast, post-1998, Indonesian media reports that are critical of the Indonesian government are regularly published.

Moreover, in 2017, Freedom House, an American non-government organisation which monitors human rights globally rated the press in Indonesia, the Philippines and Timor-Leste as "partly free" and rated the media in all other Southeast Asian states as unfree in 2017.

Challenges remain on the human rights front

Despite these positive developments in relation to press freedom, foreign journalists' access to the Indonesian province of West Papua, where a pro-independence movement exists, remains restricted by Indonesian authorities.

Furthermore, a BBC journalist was expelled from West Papua this year for criticising the Indonesian government's response to the current malnutrition crisis in the province on Twitter.

Indonesian and Papuan journalists are also at times harassed, intimidated and assaulted by Indonesian security forces.

Since West Papua's annexation by Indonesia in 1963, the TNI and Indonesian police have repeatedly used force against Papuans at protests, resulting in the killings of Papuans, and detainedand imprisoned pro-independence Papuans who participate in protests.

Notably, in 2013, Papuan Oktovianus Warnares was arrested for raising the Morning Star flag (the banned flag of the Papuan independence movement) and remains imprisoned.

The Indonesian army has also not been prosecuted over an alleged massacre in Biak in 1998, when the TNI, led by General Wiranto, were accused of raping, torturing and killing Papuan civilians who raised and guarded the Morning Star flag in West Papua.

Given that General Wiranto currently serves as Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs it is highly unlikely that the Indonesian government will seek to combat this culture of impunity in relation to the Biak massacre in the foreseeable future.

Similarly, the TNI, religious organisations and vigilante groups have not been held to account for their involvement in the 1965-66 mass killings, imprisonments and sexual violence in Indonesia.

The pretext for these human rights violations was the killing of seven army officers by the 30th September Movement, which the TNI incorrectly blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party (the PKI).

During 1965-66, at the orders of the anti-communist TNI, led by Suharto, members of religious organisations and vigilante groups armed by the TNI killed approximately 500,000 members of the PKI, individuals formally and informally associated with the PKI and alleged communists. The military also directly participated in these killings.

During this period, the army imprisoned many individuals without trial and perpetrated sexual violence, including rape, predominantly against female prisoners.

In 2015, Indonesian president Joko Widodo asserted that he had "no thoughts about apologising" about the 1965-66 events.

Bans on Marxism-Leninism, PKI remain

The bans on Marxism-Leninism and the PKI introduced by the anti-communist Suharto regime remain in place in Indonesia.

In post-Suharto Indonesia, atheism continues to be associated with communism and public expressions of atheism are illegal.

The ongoing persecution of atheists is illustrated by the fact that in 2012, Alexander An received a two-and-a-half-year jail sentence for posting on Facebook the statement, "God does not exist."

Indonesia's ethnic Chinese population is also subjected to ongoing discrimination as a Suharto-era ban on Chinese Indonesians participating in the armed forces remains in place.

The death penalty, introduced during Dutch colonial rule in Indonesia, also continues to be used against locals and foreigners, particularly drug offenders, despite condemnation from local anti-death penalty campaigners and multiple states and the fact that the death penalty violates the right to life enshrined in international human rights law.

At a time of rising authoritarianism in south-east Asia, Indonesia must continue to democratise by addressing historical and contemporary human rights abuses, rather than retaining vestiges of authoritarianism.

[Olivia Tasevski is an international relations and political science tutor at the University of Melbourne, where she completed her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and Master of International Relations. Her honours thesis examined US human rights policy towards Indonesia during Gerald Ford's tenure.]

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-24/indonesias-slow-road-to-democracy/9830834

Sexual & domestic violence

Do Indonesia's abusive 'virginity tests' hurt UN peacekeeping operations?

Human Rights Watch Dispatches - June 27, 2018

Phelim Kine – The Indonesian government is seeking "creative ways" to boost the number of women in the police and military so it can meet its objective of more female personnel for United Nations peacekeeping operations.

Here's an idea: Stop inflicting discriminatory "virginity tests" on female applicants to the Indonesian Armed Forces and National Police. The military and police have required such "tests" for decades and they are likely a strong deterrent for women who justifiably feel that an invasive and degrading "two-finger test" is too high a price to pay to serve their country.

Earlier this month, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi promised to address the shortage of female Indonesian UN peacekeepers. Women constitute only about 4 percent of Indonesian military personnel and just 7 percent of police personnel. There are only 81 female police and military personnel out of a total of 2,694 Indonesians deployed to nine separate UN peacekeeping operations around the globe.

The Indonesian National Police have inflicted "virginity tests" on female applicants since at least 1965. All branches of the Indonesian military have used "virginity tests" for decades and, in certain circumstances, also extended the requirement to the fiancees of military officers. Neither current Indonesian Armed Forces chief, Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, nor National Police Chief Gen. Tito Karnavian have responded to Human Rights Watch's repeated calls to ban the practice.

Virginity testing is a form of gender-based violence and is a widely discredited practice. In November 2014, the World Health Organization issued guidelines that stated, "There is no place for virginity (or 'two-finger') testing; it has no scientific validity." "Virginity tests" have been recognized internationally as a violation of human rights, particularly the prohibition against "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" under article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and article 16 of the Convention against Torture, both of which Indonesia has ratified. If the Indonesian government is serious about boosting the number of female peacekeepers in its ranks, Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo should order Indonesia's police chief and armed forces commander to immediately ban "virginity tests" of female applicants.

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/06/27/do-indonesias-abusive-virginity-tests-hurt-un-peacekeeping-operations

Labour & migrant workers

No language requirement for foreign workers, State Palace says

Jakarta Post - June 27, 2018

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – Presidential spokesman Johan Budi Sapto Prabowo has said that there is no language requirement for foreign workers as Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No. 20/2018 on foreign workers only requires employers to provide their foreign workers with Indonesian language training.

"There is no language requirement for employees. The truth is that the regulation requires employers to provide language training [to their foreign workers]," he said in Jakarta on Tuesday, days after the publication of an article in The New York Times titled "Indonesia's Order to Foreign Workers: Learn the Language."

Johan, referring to Article 26 of the regulation, stated that, "Employers are required to facilitate their foreign workers to have Indonesian language education and training."

Meanwhile, an expert staff member at the Vice Presidential Office, Wijayanto Samirin, explained that the government was currently drafting a manpower ministerial regulation on foreign workers that would further detail the requirements in language training.

"It is not true that foreigners have to be able to speak the Indonesian language before being employed in Indonesia. The process of working and learning the language could occur at the same time," Wijayanto told The Jakarta Post.

Meanwhile, in early May, Manpower Ministry legal bureau head Budiman said that under the ministerial regulation, which was being drafted, the requirement to speak Indonesian would apply to foreign workers staying in the country for long 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 said as reported by kompas.com. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/27/no-language-requirement-for-foreign-workers-state-palace-says.html

Jakarta wants foreign workers to undergo formal training to learn Indonesian

New York Times - June 24, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesia is making it easier for foreigners to work here – but they will have to study as well.

A decree by President Joko Widodo that is set to take effect this month will simplify Indonesia's procedures for issuing work permits to foreigners, which are often hampered by delays, arbitrary denials and revocations, not to mention compulsory bribes to civil servants just to stamp the paperwork.

Buried inside the order is a section requiring all expatriate workers to undergo formal Indonesian language training, an apparent first for any nation in South-east Asia. The foreign business community has been caught off guard by the new requirement.

"Our businesses want to be here and want to invest, but what they also want are predictable rules," said A. Lin Neumann, managing director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia, which represents nearly 300 US companies operating in the country.

The United States is one of Indonesia's largest foreign direct investors, in industries including oil and gas, mining, banking, technology, e-commerce and logistics.

The language requirement "sends a negative message that foreigners are somehow unwelcome," Mr Neumann said. "This hurts the investment climate."

The order also applies to domestic companies, which are reacting with alarm. "I think this is foolish; it's stupid. It lacks clarity on what the objective is," said Suryo B. Sulisto, a prominent Indonesian business executive and former chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"What are they trying to do – stop investment coming in?" he added. "It's counterproductive."

The government has not explained the reasoning behind the language requirement. But it may be an attempt by Mr Joko, who is running for re-election next year, to placate political rivals who say he is "opening the floodgates" to foreign workers by streamlining the process for obtaining work permits.

Indonesia, a country of 260 million people, currently has about 126,000 working Asian and Western expatriates, a low percentage compared with neighbours like Singapore and Malaysia.

The complaints from Mr Joko's opponents stem partly from an increase in the number of Chinese manual labourers entering illegally on tourist visas to work on Chinese-funded infrastructure projects. As unregistered workers, they would not be subject to the new language requirement.

Mr Suryo said it made little sense to address concerns about illegal foreign labour by imposing a language requirement on bankers, engineers and other professionals.

"This is another part of bureaucracy where it's a moneymaking opportunity for someone," he said. "People will get into the business of issuing fake language certificates."

Indonesia has a decades-old history of official corruption and is one of the most graft-ridden nations in Asia. It also remains a difficult market for foreign investors to master, ranking 72nd on the World Bank's most recent Ease of Doing Business survey.

In 2015, Mr Joko publicly quashed a draft regulation requiring all expatriate workers to be proficient in the Indonesian language, saying it was bad for business.

But his own decree now requires companies to arrange and pay for foreigners working in the country for longer than six months to take Indonesian language courses at local schools, and to provide attendance certificates.

If they fail to do so, the companies and their employees could face unspecified sanctions that are being drafted by the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, which processes and revokes foreign work permits, according to Mr Budiman, head of the ministry's legal affairs bureau. The order goes into force on Tuesday (June 26), said Mr Budiman, who like many Indonesians uses only one name. Some details, like how many class hours are required per week, are still being decided.

Mr Budiman said companies shouldn't complain because the decree also reduces waiting times for work permits from months to days. "Don't look at this issue from only one side," he said.

Throughout his presidency, Mr Joko has fought over foreign investment policies with his own Cabinet ministries and bureaucracy, which are often accused of being more focused on protecting their own interests than in opening up the Indonesian economy.

In 2015, as Mr Joko was rolling out a series of regulatory reforms, his government adopted dramatically higher tariffs on more than 1,000 imported items, an increase that he opposed but which did not require his approval.

Johan Budi, Mr Joko's spokesman, played down any political infighting or the possibility of negative economic repercussions, insisting that the order does not require that expatriates be fluent in the Indonesian language to be employed.

"It is necessary for companies to provide the facilities for training expatriates" in the language, Mr Budi said, "and there's nothing wrong with foreign workers learning Indonesian. But it is not mandatory to be able to speak the Indonesian language."

Then why have such a rule?

"My reading is that the government is doing it to address concerns about foreign workers without having to annul the controversial decree," said Marcus Mietzner, an associate professor at Australian National University in Canberra and a longtime researcher in Indonesian politics. "The latter would be an admission that they were wrong on this and thus would look bad," he said.

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/jakarta-wants-foreign-workers-to-undergo-formal-training-to-learn-indonesian-language

Freedom of information & the press

RSF plea to Indonesia to investigate reporter's death in detention

Asia Pacific Report - June 27, 2018

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called for an independent inquiry into the death in detention of Muhammad Yusuf, a reporter who was being held in South Kalimantan province, in the far south of the Indonesian part of Borneo, on a charge of defaming a local palm oil production company.

A series of irregularities surround Muhammad Yusuf's death in the town of Kotabaru on June 10, nine weeks after his arrest because of his coverage of allegedly illegal land seizures linked to the activities of MSAM, a company that operates a huge oil palm plantation in the province, reports RSF.

Yusuf had become well-known for his reporting on the story, writing no fewer than 23 articles for two news websites, Kemajuan Rakyat and Berantas News, from November 2017 to March 2018.

He was arrested on April 5 as he was about to fly to Jakarta to meet with the National Commission on Human Rights.

After holding him for more than two months, the police say he was taken from prison to a hospital in Kotabaru on 10 June with chest pains, vomiting and breathing difficulties, and died soon after arrival as a result of a heart attack.

"We call on the Indonesian government and supreme court to guarantee a full and independent investigation and to deploy whatever resources are necessary to ensure that all possible light is shed on this journalist's death," said Daniel Bastard, head of RSF's Asia-Pacific desk.

"The credibility of the rule of law in Indonesia is at stake because of the many doubts surrounding this case. What with his critical reporting, the appearance of collusion and a lack of transparency, there are many reasons for suspecting that Muhammad Yusuf died because of his journalistic work."

Strong suspicions

Yusuf's wife, Arvaidah, had requested his release three times on medical grounds because of concern about his state of health. After his death, she was denied access to the morgue and to the autopsy results. Convinced that his death was "not natural," she has filed a complaint against the police and district attorney, who were jointly responsible for detention.

Many people question the independence of the police and district attorney's office in this matter. South Kalimantan's governor is the uncle of the wealthy businessman who owns MSAM, the company targeted by Yusuf's reporting.

According to Tempo, a leading Indonesian news website, bruises on the back of Yusuf's neck can be seen in a video of his body.

All these suspicions prompted the National Commission on Human Rights to announce last week that it was opening an investigation into his death.

Indonesia is ranked 124th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

[The Pacific Media Centre is an associate of Reporters Without Borders in media freedom work.]

Source: https://asiapacificreport.nz/2018/06/27/rsf-plea-to-indonesia-to-investigate-reporters-death-in-detention/

Indonesian reporter dies in police custody

Human Rights Watch Dispatches - June 26, 2018

Michelle Winowatan – Indonesian journalist Muhammad Yusuf died in police custody earlier this month after being detained for more than five weeks on hate speech and criminal defamation charges.

The police arrested Yusuf in Indonesia's Kotabaru regency after writing articles critical of the owner of palm oil company PT Multi Saran Agro Mandiri and the company's alleged illegal land acquisitions. The stories allegedly violated Indonesia's Law on Information and Electronic Transactions, which punishes defamation disseminated via the internet with up to six years in prison.

The circumstances of Yusuf's arrest and subsequent death, which authorities have blamed on complications linked to "breathing difficulties and chest pain," have prompted the announcement of an investigation by Indonesia's National Commission for Human Rights.

The commission has good reasons to be suspicious. Members of Yusuf's family along with Sawit Watch – a nongovernmental organization that monitors palm oil company activities in Indonesia – are blaming his death on medical neglect by the police. Yusuf's wife, Arvaidah, said that the police ignored her pleas for Yusuf to receive medical care linked to stomach and cardiovascular illnesses and had rejected her requests for Yusuf's release on medical grounds. Surya Mifta, the chief detective at Kotabaru police department, said he rejected that request because he said Yusuf was "not being cooperative."

The circumstances of Yusuf's death underscore the dangers faced by Indonesian journalists. Human Rights Watch has documented the vulnerability of reporters in Indonesia to harassment, intimidation, threats, and assault by Indonesian police and military personnel. Although Indonesia's 1999 Press Law provides explicit protection for journalists, including up to two years in prison and fines of 500 million rupiah (US$44,000) for anyone who physically attacks a journalist, an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship has developed in many newsrooms due to abuses and threats by state security forces that go unpunished.

The Alliance of Independent Journalists, a nongovernmental media rights advocacy group, has reported that incidents of security forces or government officials assaulting journalists jumped to 66 in 2017 from 40 such cases in 2014.

Ensuring a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into Yusuf's death would go a long way toward demonstrating the Indonesian government's commitment to protecting the country's fragile media freedom.

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/06/26/indonesian-reporter-dies-police-custody

Palu journalist activist reports mistreatment allegedly committed by police

Jakarta Post - June 25, 2018

Jakarta – Chairman of the Palu chapter of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), M. Iqbal, reported on Sunday several police officers to the Central Sulawesi Police's Internal Affairs Division (Propam) over allegations of mistreatment.

Iqbal said in his report that he had been tortured by the East Palu Police's community management division head, Second Insp. Pirade, and several other members of the police.

"I filed a police report that was received by Chief Brig. Rudy Labato on Sunday," said Iqbal as quoted by Antara in Palu.

Iqbal was heading home on his motorcycle from the editorial office of Radar TV on Jl. Yos Sudarso at around 9 p.m. local time on Saturday when he claimed to have been stopped by several police officers on Jl. Jabal Nur and asked him to show his driver's license. Iqbal reportedly told the police that he was not carrying his vehicle registration document (STNK).

Iqbal said his motorcycle was seized and he was taken to the East Palu Police station. He then phoned his colleague, who he asked to pick him up at the police station so that he could get his STNK at home. While waiting for his friend, Iqbal claims to have been mistreated.

"Just go ahead if you want to report us to high-ranking officials," said Iqbal, while recounting a statement allegedly made by a police officer he identified as Pirade.

Iqbal said several police officers pulled at his shirt collar, choked him and threatened to beat him during the incident. (stu/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/25/palu-journalist-activist-reports-mistreatment-allegedly-committed-by-police-personnel.html

Political parties & elections

Voting for Ridwan Kamil gets West Java teacher fired

Jakarta Post - June 30, 2018

Jakarta – Robiatul Adawiyah, a teacher at private elementary school Darul Maza in Bekasi, West Java, went viral recently after news of her dismissal spread on social media.

Robiatul was fired because she voted for West Java gubernatorial candidate pair Ridwan Kamil and Uu Ruzhanul Ulum and not for the pair suggested by school authorities.

The news was spread by her husband, Andriyanto Putra Valora, who took a screenshot of Robiatul's Whatsapp conversation in which she was fired by one of the school's officials and posted it on his Facebook account.

The Whatsapp conversation showed that Robiatul had apologized for making a different choice in the simultaneous regional elections on Wednesday.

The official, named Fahrudin, instead replied to her message by saying that the school's authorities only wanted to hire someone who held similar views to them. "We can find another staff member who would like to cooperate with us," Fahrudin said.

Soon after the conversation went viral, the school's authorities visited Robiah to apologize and asked her to return to the school.

She said she had accepted the apology and was willing to go back to the school. "It's all cleared up now and I hope that it won't cause further problems," Robiah said on Friday as quoted by kompas.com. (vny)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/29/voting-for-ridwan-kamil-gets-west-java-teacher-fired.html

Anti-Jokowi hashtag potent in West Java, says Golkar politician

Jakarta Post - June 30, 2018

Jakarta – West Java deputy gubernatorial candidate Dedi Mulyadi said he believed the hashtag #2019GantiPresiden (#2019ChangePresident) was responsible for his camp's loss in the province's gubernatorial election.

Dedi Mulyadi, a Golkar Party politician, ran as a pair with Deddy Mizwar in the gubernatorial election against pairs Sudrajat-Ahmad Syaikhu, TB Hasanudin-Anton Charliyan and Ridwan Kami-Uu Ruzhanul Ulum.

As quoted by tempo.co, Dedi said the hashtag increased the popularity of Sudrajat and Ahmad Syaikhu and could pose a threat for Golkar in the 2019 general elections.

Golkar is a member of the coalition supporting President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to run for a second term in the 2019 presidential election.

Dedi said he was already aware of the threat since Sudrajat Syaikhu introduced the hashtag in a public debate in the University of Indonesia. "This is clever," he said in Bandung on Friday.

According to Dedi, the effect of the popular hashtag could already be seen a month before the election, when the survey results showed declining popularity. "The number of those voting for me decreased from 43 percent to 37 percent. It also reduced the voters for Ridwan Kamil," he said.

A West Java quick count shows that Sudrajat-Syaikhu got 28 percent of the vote. "It was amazing [...] In this situation, my camp suffered the most," he said, highlighting the fact that his running mate Deddy Mizwar was supported by the Democratic Party, which has yet to nominate a presidential candidate. (gis/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/30/anti-jokowi-hashtag-potent-in-west-java-says-golkar-politician.html

Journalists barred from reporting Makassar election result

Tempo - June 30, 2018

Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta – The Makassar Independent Journalist Alliance (AJI) blasted police's decision to prevent journalists from reporting the vote recapitulation by the Makassar General Election Commission (KPU). The Makassar election is currently under the spotlight after the region's only candidate lost to an empty ballot box.

"We protest against police's decision to forbid journalists from reporting the vote recapitulation of the Makassar election," said AJI Makassar Chairman Qodriansyah Agam Sofyan today, June 30.

At the time of the incident, journalists that were beginning to enter the region's District Office were surprised to see that the public plenary meeting was heavily guarded by fully-armed Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) members.

Qodriansyah stated that journalists were asked to show their ID cards. However, after showing the ID, police did not let any of the journalists in. Police members that guarded the meeting said that it was the order of the KPU Makassar.

Furthermore, Qodriansyah said that journalists were at the location to confirm the information that has spread virally across social media where the votes in three districts differed from the results displayed on KPU Makassar official website.

One example is the voting station (TPS) in Tamalate District which saw 138 people voting for the blank ballot box while the lone candidate Munafri-Andi only gained 94 votes.

"However, based on the image that spread, candidate Munafri-Andi received 238 votes and only one person preferred the empty ballot box," said Qodriansyah. "This is why we would like to verify the information," he further explained.

Lastly, Qodriansyah said that police have potentially violated Law No. 40/1999 since the plenary meeting by Makassar KPU was a public meeting.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/06/30/055919602/Journalists-Barred-from-Reporting-Makassar-Election-Result

110 million people cast vote in regional elections: KPU

Jakarta Post - June 30, 2018

Jakarta – The General Elections Commission (KPU) has said 110 million people turned out to vote during Wednesday's regional elections.

Wednesday's election involved 152 million eligible voters from 171 regions, including the three most populous provinces of West Java, East Java and Central Java.

"Nationwide, voter turnout was 73 percent," KPU commissioner Wahyu Setiawan said as quoted by kompas.com on Friday.

The figure is less than the KPU target of 77.5 percent turnout and lower than the 2017 regional elections, which included the heated Jakarta election, at 74 percent voter turnout.

However, Wahyu said the 2018 figure is not yet final as the KPU was waiting for the results of 14 regions that had postponed their elections and 69 polling stations that had to repeat the election.

Around 196 million voters are expected to participate in the 2019 general elections. (nor/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/30/110-million-people-cast-vote-in-regional-elections-kpu.html

Jokowi advised to watch electability in four provinces

Jakarta Post - June 29, 2018

Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo must pay close attention to his electability in four provinces ahead of the 2019 presidential election, a Jakarta-based pollster has said.

"The critical areas [for Jokowi] are West Java, North Sumatra, West Kalimantan and East Kalimantan," said Saiful Mujani, founder of Saiful-Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC), during a talk show aired at Kompas TV on Thursday evening.

He said some opposition parties, namely Gerindra, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the National Mandate Party (PAN), were seeing strengthening support from those four provinces, as SMRC quick counts indicate that candidates backed by these parties are likely to win in the June 27 regional elections.

In North Sumatra, for instance, candidates Edy Rahmayadi and Musa Rajekshah, who were backed by the three opposition parties as well as Golkar and NasDem, are predicted to win 58.9 percent of the vote in the province's gubernatorial election.

Meanwhile, in West Java, candidate pair Sudrajat and Ahmad Syaikhu, who were backed by the three opposition parties, are predicted to win 29.6 percent of the vote, making them the second most likely winners out of four pairs contending the province's gubernatorial election.

"I have to be honest that, according to the exit poll data, Jokowi will lose in West Java," said Saiful.

SMRC public policy consultant said the decline in Jokowi's popularity was because opposition parties had successfully proliferated the #GantiPresiden [Change the President] slogan and mobilized an anti-Jokowi campaign. (nor/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/29/jokowi-advised-to-watch-electability-in-four-provinces.html

Quick count shows mayoral candidate running unopposed in Makassar lost to blank

Coconuts Jakarta - June 28, 2018

Exit polling results from the Celebes Research Institute in Makassar showing mayoral candidate pair Munafri Arifuddin and Andi Rahmatika losing to the blank box. Those results were corroborated by the government's quick count results but the final official results have yet to be confirmed.

Yesterday's regional elections in Indonesia brought with it a mixed bag of results for political parties, with many analysts saying the overall results pointing towards a tougher reelection campaign for President Joko Widodo in 2019. But for one mayoral candidate in the South Sulawesi capital of Makassar – the only one – the early results are pointing towards a historic and humiliating victory for his only opponent on the ballot: an empty box.

Candidate Munafri Arifuddin and his running mate Andi Rahmatika (often referred to collectively in the media by their nicknames, Appi-Cicu) were running unopposed in the mayoral race and amazingly had the backing of no less that 10 political parties (including parties that are opposed on the national stage, such as PDI-P and Gerindra). Yet the quick count data strongly suggests that they still lost after the majority of the city's voters chose the kotak kosong (empty box) on the ballot instead.

"It is true (the blank box appears to have won) in Makassar. I think it is almost certain that the empty column won, but for the exact figure we should still wait for the KPU (National Election Commission). The empty box got above 50 percent based on the quick count," South Sulawesi Governor Soemarsono said yesterday evening as quoted by Merdeka.

Munafri is so far denying the loss and even declared victory over the empty box to his supporters yesterday evening.

"We will show that Makassar has a new mayor. Based on the real internal count, Appi-Cicu won as much as 53.21 percent, while the empty box earned 47.79 percent of the vote," said Munafri to the cheers of his supporters, as quoted by Kompas.

He went on to say that people should wait until the final results from the KPU are in but claimed that the only way he could have lost was because of cheating.

However, the numbers cited by Munafri were basically a flip of the results by not just exit polling done by several survey organizations but also the government's real count conducted by the Makassar administration which put Appi-Cicu at 46% to the blank box's 53%.

If those numbers hold up as the official result as they are expected to, what can account for the unopposed candidate's loss?

Well, there was allegedly a hoax news story published on Kompasiana (the "Citizen Journalism" section of national news outlet Kompas containing user generated content) on Sunday saying that Munafri had been named a suspect by the country's Corruption Eradication Committee (KPK) in a major case of corruption. The KPK has denied the report and the story seems to have vanished from the Kompasiana website.

We can't say whether that hoax proved decisive in Munafri's likely defeat or if there was another reason so many Makassar voters chose the empty box over him.

However, as to the matter of what happens when an unopposed candidate loses to a blank box, we can tell you that the position is not simply left empty.

According to KPU commissioner Pramono Ubaid Tanthowi, if an unopposed pair of candidates loses in an election (by getting less than 50% of the vote), then the election will be repeated during the next applicable election period (in 2020 in the case of the next regional elections) with the losing pair allowed to compete once more. In the meantime, the local head of the region will appoint somebody to temporarily fill the position.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/quick-count-shows-mayoral-candidate-running-unopposed-makassar-lost-blank-box/

NasDem scores big on election day, quick count shows

Jakarta Post - June 28, 2018

Jakarta – Quick-count results by various pollsters in 15 provinces holding gubernatorial elections are showing that NasDem Party hold the lead in several of Wednesday's regional elections.

The results indicated that 10 NasDem candidates had taken the lead in gubernatorial elections in 15 provinces, kompas.com reported.

The National Mandate Party (PAN) and Hanura were projected as leading in nine and eight provinces respectively.

Meanwhile, the United Development Party (PPP), Gerindra and the Democratic Party each had only three candidates showing a lead, according to quick-count results.

Quick-count results indicated that Ali Mazi in Southeast Sualwesi and Viktor Laiskodat in East Nusa Tenggara held massive leads.

The results, however, did not include two other participating provinces, namely Papua and North Maluku.

Seventeen provinces held simultaneous regional elections on Wednesday.

NasDem chairman Surya Paloh, however, claimed victory in 11 provinces, including Papua, where it, along with eight other parties, supported incumbent Lukas Enembe, a Democratic Party politician.

"It exceeded our target of 10 provinces," he said as quoted by kompas.com. (kuk/ipa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/28/nasdem-scores-big-on-election-day-quick-count-shows.html

From ghosts to World Cup: Creative ways to attract voters

Jakarta Post - June 28, 2018

Suherdjoko and Apriadi Gunawan, Semarang/Medan – During this year's regional elections, voters found unique ways to make the monumental fiesta of democracy even more festive.

Officers at a polling station in Randusari subdistrict, Semarang city, Central Java, picked pocong (the soul of a dead person trapped in a shroud) as the theme of the station to encourage residents to come and use their right to vote in the Central Java gubernatorial election.

Two candidate pairs, Ganjar Pranowo-Taj Yasin and Sudirman Said-Ida Fauziyah, contested the election.

On voting day, polling station officials dressed up as ghosts, such as pocong, gendruwo (malevolent spirit) and various other ghosts. A keranda (a bier made from bamboo) and a body covered by batik was also displayed at the station. Flowers were scattered on the floor, giving the station a sweet scent.

To make the atmosphere spooky, a long piece of batik was hung around the room to make it dark, while haunted sounds were played throughout the day.

The polling station, which was erected at the meeting hall of the neighborhood unit, was located in the middle of Bergota, the biggest public cemetery in Semarang.

"We intentionally created a ghost-themed polling station to make it unique and encourage residents to cast their vote. In the previous regional election, only 80 percent of our residents cast their ballot. Now we have 340 voters and we hope they will all cast their vote," said Krisyanto, head of the polling station's working committee.

Voters who wanted to cast their vote in the Papua gubernatorial election on Wednesday felt a distinct cultural flavor upon entering the polling station in Awiyo, Abepura district, Jayapura.

Polling station officials dressed in traditional Papuan attire representing the Wamena and Nafri cultures, as well as in traditional dress from outside of the province, such as from Toraja and Makassar in South Sulawesi.

"We want to show our enthusiasm for the gubernatorial election," Awiyo subdistrict head Karel Hanasbey said.

In Bandung, West Java, polling station officers in Cibadak subdistrict, Astana Anyar district, chose a Chinese theme to enliven voting day.

Working committee chairman Arif Yunara decorated the station so that it looked like a Chinese village, with officials dressing up as a Chinese emperor, judge and queen, familiar characters in a popular movie about a Chinese kingdom.

"About 30 percent of residents are of Chinese descent. That's why we picked a Chinese village as the theme," Arif said on Wednesday. "Hopefully voter participation here will be more than 80 percent."

At a polling station in Citarum subdistrict, Bandung, polling officials donned costumes of superheroes such as Batman and Captain America.

Show your creativity: A voter takes a picture with election officials wearing costumes of Superheroes at polling station TPS 3 in Citarum subdistrict, Bandung, West Java, after casting vote for the West Java gubernatorial election on June 27. Show your creativity: A voter takes a picture with election officials wearing costumes of Superheroes at polling station TPS 3 in Citarum subdistrict, Bandung, West Java, after casting vote for the West Java gubernatorial election on June 27. (JP/File)

Meanwhile, residents in Medan, North Sumatra, had their own way to have fun with the regional elections. A polling station in Merdeka subdistrict, Medan Baru district, Medan city, was decorated with World Cup-themed accessories.

Working committee member Dodi Ariska said they adopted the 2018 World Cup theme when designing the station in an effort to encourage voters to come and cast their vote.

The polling station, including the World Cup decorations, cost Rp 500,000 (US$35.16), which was fully financed by the working committee.

"Our committee members arranged a cost-sharing scheme," Dodi told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

He claimed the World Cup-themed polling station was effective in encouraging citizens to cast their vote. "As of 9 a.m., 125 people had cast their ballot," said Dodi, adding that the number of eligible voters stood at 621 people.

Voter Pandapotan said he was impressed with the theme, adding that such a uniquely-designed polling station was very effective in attracting voters.

"What a nice coincidence that voting day coincided with the World Cup. It's very interesting," he said. "I'm happy to cast my vote at this World Cup-themed polling station." (swa/stu/ebf)

[Arya Dipa from Bandung and Nethy Dharma Somba from Jayapura contributed to this story.]

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/27/from-ghosts-to-world-cup-creative-ways-to-attract-voters.html

Constitutional Court refuses to pave way for Kalla to seek third term

Jakarta Post - June 28, 2018

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – The Constitutional Court (MK) has rejected judicial review petitions challenging a provision in the 2017 Elections Law that prevents a president and vice president from seeking a third term in office.

The court upheld the provision in question on the grounds that the plaintiffs – two individuals and two little-known civil society groups – lack legal standing to bring such a case to court.

The disputed provision, the court said, did not curtail the petitioners' constitutional right to vote.

"The petitioners do not have the legal standing to file such a judicial review request," chief justice Anwar Usman said, reading out the ruling on Thursday.

In the petitions, the plaintiffs argued that the provision would affect Vice President Jusuf Kalla should he intend to run for reelection as President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's running mate in 2019.

Kalla is serving his second term as vice president, after serving his first term in office with former president Susilo Bambang Yudhotono in 2004.

The petitioners argued that the Jokowi-Kalla administration's programs should only be continued by the same pair in the future.

Justice I Dewa Gede Palguna said such an argument, however, was irrelevant with regard to the plaintiffs' legal standing.

The case, he added, could only be disputed at court by a former president or vice president seeking a third term, or by political parties backing such bids. (ipa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/28/constitutional-court-refuses-to-pave-way-for-kalla-to-seek-third-term.html

Blank box beats Tangerang incumbent pair at governor's polling station

Jakarta Post - June 27, 2018

Fachrul Sidiq, Tangerang – Most voters at polling station TPS 02 in Pinang, Tangerang, Banten, where Governor Wahidin Halim cast his vote, have voted for a blank box, leaving behind incumbent pair Arief Wismansyah-Sachrudin, who are seeking mayoral reelection.

The pair are the sole candidates in the election, who gained the backing from all political parties holding seats at the City Council. Wahidin and Arief are politicians from the Democratic Party.

"Of the 191 votes, 74 voted for [Arief-Sachrudin], 114 voted for a blank box and 3 votes are illegitimate," TPS 02 head Syahrul said on Wednesday. There are 288 voters registered at the station, he added.

Over 1.02 million residents are eligible to cast their vote to decide the fate of the city. To win reelection, Arief needs to secure over 50 percent of the votes, according to the 2016 Election Law.

By the time of writing, Arief claimed that based on his internal team's survey, he had gained over 600,000 votes, while 100,000 voters chose the blank box.

The Tangerang General Elections Commission has yet to announce the official result of the election.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/27/blank-box-beats-tangerang-incumbent-pair-at-governors-polling-station.html

Regional elections peaceful, lively despite glitches

Jakarta Post - June 27, 2018

Arya Dipa, Andi Hajramurni and Nethy Dharma Somba, Bandung/Makassar/Jayapura – Despite all the doom and gloom – from terror threats to communal conflict – the regional elections ran peacefully across the nation, with some polling stations making headlines thanks to thematic decorations and hilarious costumes.

As many as 171 regional administrations were scheduled to hold elections, but two regencies in Papua had to postpone voting amid security concerns and other technical glitches.

In Cirebon, West Java, six polling stations in Dana Mulya village, Plumbing district, had to use reserve ballots after 2,467 ballots for the Cirebon regental election went missing.

Meanwhile, several polling stations in Pekanbaru, Riau, were inundated after the local committee failed to anticipate unexpected floods. Officials then transferred the stations to safer places and voting continued uninterrupted.

A festive atmosphere was also apparent at many polling stations across the country, with local officers using thematic decoration while wearing hilarious costumes to enliven election day. On Wednesday morning, videos and photos of polling stations adorned with themed decoration from Chinese-style villages to ghosts circulated on social media and made headlines in the mainstream media.

Among the most popular themes was the World Cup, as the world's biggest soccer competition is well underway.

A polling station in Mejosari subdistrict, Malang, East Java, employed a restaurant theme with polling station officers wearing costumes and displaying assorted traditional snacks.

"This theme has a hidden meaning: we're trying to remind voters to avoid money politics. You will spend all the money in five days but the impact [of your decision] will last for five years," Mejosari polling station head Rendra Juli said on Wednesday.

By Wednesday afternoon, numerous pollsters revealed the presumed victors, particularly in major provinces such as West Java, Central Java, East Java and North Sumatra.

Six pollsters declared non-active Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil and his running-mate Uu Ruzhanul Ulum as the winner of the West Java gubernatorial election with around 33 percent of the vote, defeating three other candidate pairs: Sudrajat-Ahmad Syaikhu, Deddy Mizwar-Dedi Mulyadi and TB Hasanuddin-Anton Charliyan.

"We can conclude that Ridwan will win [the election]. The data verifies that Ridwan will be the next West Java governor," Poltracking executive director Hanta Yuda said on Wednesday afternoon.

In Central Java, quick counts indicated that incumbent governor Ganjar Pranowo would extend his leadership of the province for another five years after easily defeating former energy minister Sudirman Said. Various pollsters revealed that Ganjar and his running mate, Taj Yasin Maimoen, have secured almost 60 percent of the vote.

Retired Indonesian Army general Edy Rahmayadi will emerge as the winner of the North Sumatra gubernatorial election on Wednesday, a quick count revealed.

In East Java, former social affairs minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa is leading the race, beating rival Saifulah "Gus Ipul" Yusuf, according to quick counts. A quick count by Kompas Research Center based on 95 percent of vote samples at 4 p.m. showed that Khofifah and her running mate Emil Dardak had won 53.74 percent of the vote. The Gus Ipul-Puti Guntur Soekarno pair trailed with 46.26 percent of the vote.

In North Sumatra, Edy and his running mate Musa "Ijeck" Rajekshah led the race as the pair garnered 59.1 percent of the vote, while rival Djarot Saiful Hidayat and running mate Sihar Storus followed with 40.9 percent, according to pollster Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting, whose vote sample reached 88.67 percent as of 4:15 p.m.

In Makassar, South Sulawesi, which set out to elect the next mayor, quick count surveys indicated the sole candidate pair Munafri Arifuddin and Andi Rahmatika Dewi (Appi-Ciccu) were losing to an empty box. The quick count surveys conducted by Celebes Research Centre, Indonesia Voters Network and Indonesia Survey Circle show that the empty box had 53 percent of the vote against 43 percent gained by Appi-Ciccu.

Quick count results are not official, pending the vote count by the General Elections Commission (KPU). (gis/swd)

[Apriadi Gunawan in Medan, Suherdjoko in Semarang, Rizal Harahap in Pekanbaru and Aman Rochman in Malang contributed to this story.]

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/27/regional-elections-peaceful-lively-despite-glitches.html

Crowd-funding for elections, how much is Prabowo's wealth?

Tempo - June 27, 2018

M Rosseno Aji, Jakarta – A few days ago, Gerindra Party Chairman Prabowo Subianto raised a crowd-funding for the Election of Regional Head and the Presidential Election.

Because of this, many people said that Prabowo could be underfunded for the campaign, but Gerindra Party denied that, however, that also raises the question,: how much is Prabowo's total wealth actually is?

Prabowo reported his wealth last time on May 20, 2014, when running for president. In the report, the total assets reached Rp1.6 trillion and US$7.5 million more. The amount of his wealth makes him the richest candidate compared to other candidates at the time.

Prabowo's total wealth consists of immovable property in the form of land and buildings worth Rp105 billion. Moving assets in the form of vehicles reached Rp1.4 billion.

Moving assets in the form of agriculture, plantation, and mining reached Rp12 billion. In addition, he also has a collection of antique art goods worth Rp3 billion.

However, the biggest contributor to Prabowo's wealth is in the form of securities. He was recorded to have securities worth Rp1.5 trillion and US$7.5 million.

Meanwhile, assets in the form of demand deposits and other cash equivalents, namely Rp20 billion and US$3,000. The amount of his wealth must be reduced by a debt of only Rp28 million. With that, the amount of Prabowo's wealth at that time reached Rp1,670,392,580,402 and US$7,503,134.

Previously, Prabowo's colleague, Kivlan Zen, had doubted about Prabowo's financial ability. According to the former Chief of Staff of the Army Strategic Reserves Command, the amount of Prabowo's property is still less than Gatot Nurmantyo, former Commander of the Indonesian National Army.

"Gatot dares to sell his assets, Prabowo does not, and now Prabowo does not dare to show up," Kivlan was quoted as saying by Tempo Magazine on April 22, 2018 edition.

Prabowo's decreasing financial issue was also mentioned by the West Java governor candidate Deddy Mizwar. Deddy had participated in the selection of candidates for governors in Gerindra Party. On one occasion, Deddy said, Prabowo told me that he no longer has the money to run as a presidential candidate.

Prabowo's brother, Hashim Djojohadikusumo, also admitted that logistics became one of his siblings' considerations to compete in 2019 presidential election. The criteria for the vice-presidential candidate that Prabowo will hold include the ability to provide financial resources.

"If the candidate has the access to logistics, thank God, Praise the Lord," Hashim said, on last March.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/06/27/055919518/Crowdfunding-for-Elections-How-Much-is-Prabowos-Wealth

KPK advice to voters: Don't vote for corruption suspects (there are 9)

Coconuts Jakarta - June 27, 2018

Yesterday, Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) offered up some important advice for voters going to the polls today in the country's regional elections: Maybe don't vote for candidate who are suspects in ongoing corruption cases.

"If [the candidate] is a suspect, then certainly it is not recommended that they be elected, because the KPK has sufficient initial evidence to question their integrity," said KPK Vice Chairman Saut Situmorang yesterday as quoted by Merdeka.

This advice may surprise some people unfamiliar with Indonesian politics, who might rightfully ask, "Uhm, how is somebody who is a suspect in a corruption case even allowed to run in an election?"

In fact, there is currently no rule preventing those who have been charged with corruption, or even those who have been previously convicted of corruption, from running for office in Indonesia.

(The country's General Election Commission is trying to introduce a rule for next year's elections that would prevent those convicted of corruption from running, but have met opposition from both the parliament and even President Joko Widodo's administration.)

As it turns out, the KPK's recommendation to voters about not choosing candidates who are currently corruption suspects is very pertinent to this year's regional elections as no less than nine of the candidates competing in today's races have been charged with graft:

Ahmad Hidayat Mus, candidate for Governor of North Maluku: Named a suspect over his role in an allegedly crooked land procurement deal estimated to have cost the state IDR3.4 billion while he was the regent of the Sula Islands.

Mustafa, candidate for Governor of Lampung: The current regent of Central Lampung, Mustafa was charged with bribing six members of the Central Lampung Regional Representatives Council (DPRD) to the tune of IDR9.6 billion in order to ensure his regency's IDR300 billion loan to a PT Sarana Multi Infrastruktur.

Marianus Sae, candidate for Governor of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT): Named a suspect for allegedly accepting IDR4.1 billion in bribes while regent of Ngada in order to fund his campaign for governor.

Asrun, candidate for Governor of Southeast Sulawesi: The former mayor of Kendari, allegedly received a bribe of IDR2.8 billion from the president director of PT Sarana Bangun Nusantara in exchange for his company being awarded a IDR60 billion infrastructure project.

Imas Aryumningsih, candidate for regent of Subang: Charged with accepting billions of rupiah in bribes from companies wanting licenses to build factories, he is currently being held in Sukamiskin Prison.

Nyono Suharli Wihandoko, candidate for Regent of Jombang: Charged by KPK investigators in May, Nyono allegedly collected graft money from 34 puskesmas (public health clinics) in Jombang to finance his campaign.

Syahri Mulyo, candidate for Regent of Tulungagung: Named a suspect for allegedly receiving a IDR2.5 billion in bribes from a company so that he would grant them a major road improvement project.

Mochamad Anton, candidate for Mayor of Malang: Anton along with 18 members of the Malang DPRD were charged by the KPK for accepting bribes related to the city's annual budget allocations.

Yaqud Ananda Gudban, also a candidate for Mayor of Malang: A member of the Malang DPRD, charged as part of the same case as Mochamad Anton.

With exit polling results coming in now, we should know very soon if voters heeded the KPK's advice or if any of these candidates managed to win their elections despite their suspect status.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/anti-corruption-commissions-advice-voters-dont-vote-corruption-suspects-9/

Unofficial counts show regional Indonesia polls favouring President Widodo

Reuters - June 27, 2018

Nilufar Rizki, Yuddy Cahya, Depok, Indonesia – Unofficial counts in Indonesia's regional elections on Wednesday put candidates favouring President Joko Widodo ahead in three provinces on Java island, home to more than half of the population of the world's third-largest democracy.

But candidates backed by the opposition fared better than expected in the elections, which is an important pointer for national parliamentary and presidential races in 2019.

Some hardline Islamic leaders have publicly called for the ousting of Widodo, who has pledged to protect Indonesia's tradition of pluralism and moderate Islam in the officially secular country.

Widodo is expected to run again for the presidency in 2019, against retired general Prabowo Subianto, who was narrowly defeated in the last presidential vote in 2014.

Political analysts said the mixed results meant Widodo, who has mostly enjoyed high approval ratings, may face a tougher fight next year than expected.

"This is likely to be a wake-up call for Jokowi that he can't be too confident and has to be more aware of people's sentiments," said Keith Loveard of Concord Consulting Indonesia, referring to the president by his nickname.

On Wednesday, elections were held for 171 city mayors, regents, and provincial governors across the world's biggest Muslim-majority country.

The regional election results will help underpin support for presidential candidates since local-level leaders are often best placed to mobilise voters. Presidential candidates need to be declared by Aug. 10.

The extent of Islamist influence on voters will be closely watched after a bitterly fought contest for the Jakarta governorship last year exposed deep religious and ethnic rifts.

In West Java province, a conservative area with a population of 47 million, Ridwan Kamil, a 46-year-old, U.S.-educated architect, had won 33 percent of the vote, inching ahead of rivals, according to quick counts, based on unofficial tallies of a sample of votes.

Kamil, the former mayor of Indonesia's third-largest city of Bandung, has won praise for his progressive approach to governance, but was opposed by hardline Islamist groups questioning his Islamic credentials.

Indonesia is on high alert after a series of suicide attacks in Surabaya city killed 30 people last month, in the deadliest militant Islamist attacks in more than a decade.

Last week, one of Indonesia's highest-profile Islamic State supporters was sentenced to death for his involvement in a series of earlier attacks, and experts have warned of a risk of retaliation by supporters.

The security forces have deployed more than 170,000 personnel to secure the polls. There have been no reports of unrest and police declared as false rumours on social media of voter intimidation in some parts of the country with sizeable ethnic Chinese communities.

At some voting stations in Java and on the resort island of Bali there was a festive feel, with polling booths decked out in a World Cup theme and election officials dressed in soccer jerseys.

More than 160 million people are registered to vote. Some voters complained that religious had figured too prominently in the election, and candidates should have focused more on bread-and-butter issues.

"Politics cloaked with religion is very obvious here," said Arma Putra, 26, an unemployed resident of Bekasi town in West Java.

[Additional reporting by Tabita Diela, Kanupriya Kapoor, Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Jessica Damiana in Jakarta and Johannes P. Christo in Denpasar; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Ed Davies, Robert Birsel.]

Source: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-indonesia-elections/unofficial-counts-show-regional-indonesia-polls-favouring-president-widodo-idUKKBN1JN02R?rpc=401&

Ruling coalition candidates win key Central and West Java: exit poll

Nikkei Asian Review - June 27, 2018

Shotaro Tani, Jakarta – Candidates backed by ruling coalition parties look set to clinch Central and West Java in local elections, but opposition candidates fared far better than expected, a sign that President Joko Widodo's charm could be waning.

In Central Java, Ganjar Pranowo, the incumbent governor backed by P-DIP, PPP, NasDem – three parties in the ruling coalition – and the Democrats, is expected to keep his position after gaining around 58% of the votes, according to exit polls gathered by several domestic polling companies.

Although the results are not as conclusive in West Java, Ridwan Kamil, the mayor of Bandung, declared victory to be the governor with around 34% of the votes, also based on exit polls. Kamil, a prominent architect, was supported by PKB, PPP, NasDem and Hanura Party, all parties in the ruling coalition.

What will come as a surprise though, is how close the contest is. Forecasts before the elections had predicted a no-contest for Pranowo in Central Java, with the main opposition Sudirman Said, who was the opposition unity candidate, forecast to only gain around 20% of the votes. He now seems to have done much better, gaining around 40%.

In Western Java, the election seems to have gone as forecast. But Sudrajat, a candidate backed by the main opposition party Gerindra Party as well as two Islamic-leaning parties, is predicted to have received 30% of the votes, significantly more than the 8% forecast. The other three candidates in the race, including Kamil, were backed by the seven parties in the government coalition.

Western Java and Central Java are key provinces for the presidential election in 2019, controlling nearly 40% of eligible votes. Both states are seen as barometers of public opinion of the government.

On Wednesday, 171 regions went to the polls to elect governors, mayors and regents. Official results on the regional elections will be released by July 9.

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Ruling-coalition-candidates-win-key-Central-and-West-Java-exit-poll

Will Widodo's campaigning pay off in West Java, a bellwether of Indonesia's

South China Morning Post - June 26, 2018

Karim Raslan – On Wednesday, the Indonesian province of West Java – with a population of 48 million – (crammed into an area smaller than the Netherlands, the former colonial power) will be going to the polls.

Its gubernatorial contest is part of a nationwide round of provincial, district and city elections that will involve more than half of the republic's population of 265 million (that's 152 million voters).

Back in 2014, when President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was the outsider, he lost the province to his challenger, former special forces, or Kopassus, general and Suharto's son-in-law, Prabowo Subianto by a staggering 19 per cent margin.

In the years since his inauguration, Jokowi has devoted time and energy to West Java – visiting it more than any part of the republic, including his home province of Central Java.

West Java is the home of the Sundanese people, who are quite distinct from the majority Javanese. Long a hotbed of Islamic conservatism, with its proud history, has never been particularly fond of the former mayor of Solo.

And yet despite its relatively small size, it encompasses a wide range of contrasting districts from the inland cities of Garut and Tasikmalaya deep in the interior to the volcano-ringed provincial capital of Bandung with its elegant Dutch modernist architecture.

But perhaps the most densely populated and industrialised parts of the province are the sprawling and dormitory suburbs of Bekasi, Bogor and Depok that surround Jakarta.

Infrastructure development has been a hallmark of the Jokowi administration and West Java has been a major beneficiary of this push.

There are new toll roads, rail links, ports and airports, including the recently opened Kertajati International Airport, Patimban deep seaport and LRT lines linking the capital of Jakarta with Bogor, Depok and Bekasi.

Unsurprisingly, this time around Prabowo's political party, Gerindra, does not seem quite so well-positioned ahead of the provincial polls.

The ticket backed by the party and its conservative Islamist ally, PKS, former major general Sudrajat and Ahmad Syaikhu, have struggled to make headway. At the moment, they are lagging well behind the two front-runners: Ridwan Kamil and Uu Ruzhanul, and Deddy Mizwar and Dedi Mulyadi, both of which enjoy considerable public appeal.

Ridwan, 46, the mayor of Bandung, is a UC Berkeley-educated architect whose environmental concerns match the contemporary mood.

His closest rival Deddy, the deputy governor of West Java and a popular actor as well as a film director, is a well-known figure across the province. While he didn't perform quite as well in the televised debate as the telegenic Ridwan, Deddy remains a formidable candidate.

However, not all the regional elections (called pilkada) are quite so heated. The contest in Central Java is one-sided with the incumbent Ganjar Pranowo from Megawati Soekarnoputri's PDI-P looking to sweep back into power.

Still, with the presidential polls early next year, there's no doubt that these local elections will act as an indicator of the contest to follow.

For example, in a recent survey of West Java, pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia reported that in a two-way contest against Prabowo, 50 per cent of voters would re-elect Jokowi while 39 per cent support the former general.

It would appear that the tables have turned, at least in West Java, and that the incumbent has built up a substantial advantage – so much so that a loss for the PDI-P-backed Hasanuddin-Anton Charliyan ticket in the gubernatorial races there would not really hurt Jokowi's chances for re-election.

As with anything else in Indonesian politics, it is interests and personalities that matter, not so much parties.

Of course, this being Indonesia, the world's third-largest democracy spread across thousands of islands, one would be foolish to rule out a sudden reversal.

Nonetheless, if you want to get a sense of where the republic is heading politically: keep an eye on West Java.

Source: http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2152502/will-joko-widodos-campaigning-pay-west-java-election-bellwether

Bawaslu finds thousands of violation in election

Tempo - June 26, 2018

Dewi Nurita, Jakarta – The Election Supervisory Board (Bawaslu) stated there were thousands of violations in the regional head election (Pilkada) during 2017-2018. The body received 732 reports of violations.

"So the total number of reports and findings of violations in the elections during 2017-2018 are 2,232 files," said Bawaslu Member Ratna Dewi Pettalolo at her office on Monday, June 25.

Based on the violation type, Bawaslu detailed, there were 918 administrative violations, 362 cases of the criminal offense, 111 cases of ethical violations, violations done by civil state apparatus (ASN) as much as 249 cases.

Ratna further mentioned violations occurred during the campaign amounted to 1,149 cases, 286 violations occurred during the candidacy process, 92 violations during finalization of voter data, and 147 violations during the preparation process.

Meanwhile, Bawaslu recorded 362 reports and criminal findings, consisting of 300 reports and 62 findings in the regional head election throughout 2017-2018. 76 of them were investigated and 286 other cases were not followed up due to lack of evidence or proven as not being included in the criminal offense of election.

Bawaslu has currently investigated 32.42 percent of those 76 criminal cases and that 58 percent of it or as many as 44 cases have been terminated which resulted in prison sentences for 16 cases, 10 cases with fines, 3 cases with free verdicts, and 1 case on diversion. While 14 other cases were still in the trial proceedings.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/06/26/055919487/Bawaslu-Finds-Thousands-of-Violation-in-Election

Thousands of names removed from South Sulawesi voting roll due to 'double

Jakarta Post - June 26, 2018

Jakarta – The South Sulawesi General Elections Commission (KPU South Sulawesi) has removed thousands of names from the voting roll after finding that voters were registered twice under two different IDs.

KPU South Sulawesi commissioner Uslimin said in Makassar on Monday that the commission had reduced the number of duplicates from 100,000 to only 35,000 and that it would continue to remove names.

Uslimin said the KPU made the voter list based on data provided by the South Sulawesi Population and Civil Registry Agency (Disdukcapil South Sulawesi). During the verification process, however, it found that many voters on the list were registered twice.

"There are some cases in which two voters own the same ID. In other cases, a voter has two different IDs," Uslimin said as quoted by kompas.com in Makassar on Monday.

He further said that in Wajo regency, dozens of residents were not recognized as local residents because they made their IDs in Papua. The residents claimed that they did so because they wanted to go on haj from the province as the haj registration process in Wajo was quite complicated.

After they returned from the pilgrimage, Uslimin said, the residents did not immediately update their IDs, meaning Disdukcapil Wajo was unable to recognize them as residents of the regency.

"We will try our best [to update the roll] so that there will be no more double-registered voters on polling day," he said. (dpk/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/26/thousands-of-names-removed-from-south-sulawesi-voting-roll-due-to-double-registration.html

Security officers claim ghosts haunt election material warehouse

Jakarta Post - June 25, 2018

Ganug Nugroho Adi, Boyolali, Central Java – Security personnel assigned to guard election material in Boyolali, Central Java, claimed that interference from ghostly beings was making their jobs scary.

"Every night, we hear sounds of furniture being moved as well as people crying and laughing in the warehouse," Boyolali Police officer Second Brig. Wahyu Setiawan said on Sunday.

The suspicious sounds, he added, also came from outside the warehouse, which was built on a plot of land that used to be a public cemetery, as stated by local residents.

One of the scariest moments occurred on Thursday when guards heard the sound of children playing and laughing. When security personnel checked on the source of the sound near the toilets, it suddenly stopped.

"It scares us, especially if we're here guarding alone. Such sounds prompt guards to go to the toilet together," said Tri Darmadi, a security guard assigned by the Boyolali Elections Commission.

The ghostly experiences, however, do not stop them from guarding, among others, 1,645 ballot boxes.

The commission distributed the election material – which includes ballot papers, boxes, voting booths, ink and other stationary – for Central Java's gubernatorial election to districts across the regency on Friday.

More than 27 million people across Central Java, around 770,000 of them are from Boyolali, are set to cast their votes on Wednesday. (kuk)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/24/security-officers-claim-ghosts-haunt-election-material-warehouse.html

Police, military, BIN not neutral in elections: SBY

Jakarta Post - June 25, 2018

Jakarta – Former president and Democratic Party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) said on Saturday that many individuals in the Indonesian Military (TNI), National Police and National Intelligence Agency (BIN) support certain candidates in elections, both in the past and present.

State organizations, SBY said, must maintain neutrality in elections, but instead, the opposite takes place.

"What I said about the subjectivity of individuals in the BIN, TNI and police is real. This really happens. This is not a hoax," SBY said on Saturday as quoted by tempo.co.

Several anomalies could be seen in the Jakarta gubernatorial election in 2017, he said, one of them being how Sylviana Murni, the running mate of gubernatorial candidate Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, SBY's son, was summoned several times by the police.

At that time, Sylviana was summoned as a witness over alleged corruption in the construction of a mosque located near the Central Jakarta mayor's office.

SBY further recalled how during the election, former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman Antasari Azhar suddenly cited his name as the person responsible for the murder charges that resulted in Antasari being sentenced to 18 years in prison.

"My credibility was destroyed. I have reported to the police but there was no progress until today," he said.

However, he also said he did not blame the individuals. "If a mistake happened, the soldiers are not to blame because the ones who are mistaken are their misguided leaders. Remember that," he said.

In response to SBY's statement, Komarudin Watubun, chairman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said the former president was once again playing the victim. Critics of SBY often say playing the victim is his strategy in politics.

"The public already know that SBY is worried that his own way of thinking when he was a president [would work against him]," Komaruddin said on Sunday as quoted by kompas.com. (hol/evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/24/police-military-bin-not-neutral-in-elections-sby.html

Why West Java election matters to Jokowi, Prabowo

Jakarta Post - June 25, 2018

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Arya Dipa, Jakarta/Bandung – Many have noted the political significance of West Java, the nation's most populated province, which shares a border with the capital city of Jakarta.

In the words of West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan: "If you win the election in West Java, you'll win the presidential election."

That is why the upcoming gubernatorial election in the province has caught the attention of many people, including the presidential hopefuls.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Gerindra Party leader Prabowo Subianto have a stake in the June 27 election, with one candidate – Sudrajat – reportedly being chosen personally by Prabowo to run against the other three candidates, who are backed by parties within the pro-government coalition.

Below is what you need to know about the West Java election.

A religiously conservative province

West Java is home to about 43 million people or 18.4 percent of the national population, according to the 2010 Population Census by the Central Statistics Agency (BPS).

Three of the five cities sharing borders with Jakarta – Bekasi, Depok and Bogor – are located in the province, from which millions of commuters drive to the capital on weekdays.

The province is widely known as a religiously conservative region. It is where most of the Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) supporters are. Nevertheless, the region is now controlled by Jokowi's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and Prabowo's Gerindra Party.

Observers have expressed concerns that identity politics will be played out in the lead-up to the regional election, but that bleak outlook, while not entirely groundless, has not proven right so far.

The candidates and their backers

There are four pairs of candidates in the West Java election: The duos of Ridwan Kamil and Uu Ruzhanul Ulum as well as Deddy Mizwar and Dedi Mulyadi, according to the latest polls, rank far above the two other tickets: Sudrajat and Ahmad Syaikhu as well as TB. Hasanuddin and Anton Charliyan.

Bandung Mayor Ridwan is widely popular on social media and therefore among the younger voters. His running mate, Uu, is a former Tasikmalaya regent, who is also known as a cleric.

They are endorsed by two Muslim-based parties, the National Awakening Party (PKB) and the United Development Party (PPP), and two nationalist parties, the NasDem Party and the Hanura Party.

Deddy is the deputy governor of West Java and also an award-winning actor widely known for his legendary role as General Nagabonar. Dedi, his running mate, is currently the regent of Purwakarta.

Sudrajat is a former military general and former ambassador to China. He is running with PKS politician and Bekasi deputy mayor Syaikhu. The pair is backed by Gerindra, the PKS and the National Mandate Party (PAN) and has associated its campaign with Prabowo's presidential bid to gain the backing of Prabowo's supporters in the province.

The PDI-P, which has the highest number of seats at the regional legislative council, decided to go it alone in the election by endorsing former military general Hasanuddin and former West Java Police chief Anton Charliyan.

Close race between two pro-Jokowi candidates?

Based on the latest survey results, the prospects are not good for Prabowo and the parties that support him and his candidate, Sudrajat, in West Java.

A survey conducted by the Kompas newspaper in May found that the Ridwan-Uu pair is the most popular, with 40.4 percent of the respondents saying they would vote for the pair in the election, followed by the Deddy-Dedi pairing with 39.1 percent, the Sudrajat-Syaikhu pair with 11.4 percent and the Hasanuddin-Anton duo with 3 percent.

It is safe to say that the West Java election is a race between Ridwan and Deddy, both of whom are supported by parties that support Jokowi.

Ridwan is popular in regencies located in what the locals call the East Priangan and West Priangan areas. Deddy, meanwhile, has secured the support of voters in northern part of West Java, such as Karawang, Purwakarta, Cirebon and three Jakarta satellite cities: Bogor, Bekasi and Depok.

Hendri Satrio of Jakarta's Paramadina University said that, from the perspective of national politics, the West Java election is going to be a battle between the Prabowo camp and the Jokowi camp.

Jokowi, he said, had the upper hand so far, now that he has three friendly candidates in the province, including Ridwan and Deddy. "Jokowi has learned from the loss of [former Jakarta governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama] during the Jakarta election," he said.

The Sudrajat-Syaikhu campaign is unfazed by the survey results, saying that voters, not pollsters, will decide the winner of the election.

Jokowi's win, but perhaps not the PDI-P's

While the PDI-P remains the biggest party in West Java, only a handful of people in the province are rooting for its candidate pair of Hasanuddin and Anton.

Most voters in West Java look to figures and not parties, according to Bandung's Padjadjaran University political analyst Idil Akbar. "The PDI-P and Gerindra have chosen the wrong candidates. The figures they are endorsing are not popular," Idil said.

Hendri said Hasanuddin could have performed better if the PDI-P had announced his candidacy much earlier. "The figures entered the race too late," Hendri said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/25/why-west-java-election-matters-to-jokowi-prabowo.html

Prabowo: I criticize, not scold govt

Tempo - June 25, 2018

Dewi Nurita, Jakarta – Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) chief patron Prabowo Subianto voiced a string of criticisms on the government after holding Monday's closed meeting at the private residence Zulkifli Hasan, the chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN).

Prior to conveying data on the country's condition, Prabowo said his criticisms to the government had often been misinterpreted as abusive words.

"Criticisms are important to me. Don't misinterpret them as cursing, scolding, looking for errors. In democracy, dialectics is good," he said on Zulkifli's house on Jl. WIdya Chandra IV/16 on Monday, June 25.

Prabowo added as the leader of an opposition party it was his role to correct and keep tabs on the government's policies. "Without correction, it would be excessive," he said.

Prabowo went on to say that his criticisms were based on data, including one from the World Bank in 2016 that showed Indonesia's nominal gross domestic product (GDP) per capita was $3570 or ranked 152 in the world.

He also cited another one from the Human Development Index on the country's life expectancy, income, and education levels that ranked 113, slightly above Palestine. "The question is, with this country being so rich, why is our country in the bottom row?" Prabowo said.

Prabowo said the government should use these indicators to determine whether the country was in a good state. "After we look at the data, then we can ask whether our country is strong or healthy?" Prabowo Subianto said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/06/25/055919476/Prabowo-I-Criticize-Not-Scold-Govt

Prabowo's team crowdfunds Rp 275 m in three days

Jakarta Post - June 25, 2018

Jakarta – Gerindra Party presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto's team started a crowdfunding initiative that had collected more than Rp 275 million (US$19,525) as of Sunday, according to a Telegram messaging app group called "Galang Perjuangan" (Fight Mobilization).

The initiative was first announced on Prabowo's official Facebook account on Thursday.

Prabowo, who is also the party's chairman, said – as quoted by kompas.com – the cost for democracy was high right now, adding that it caused many promising candidates to lose votes to parties that have access to more funds. Thus, the party needed support and donations from its supporters, he said. No details of donors and the amounts were stated.

The latest update read, "Thank you, Fellow Fighters. Your donations mean so much for our fight. The donations have now reached Rp 275,269,608. Do increase your donations to make Greater Indonesia better. Keep fighting!!"

The donations would be used for operating expenses, the announcement said. "I ask for your help, how much of your help depends on your capability. If you, for instance, send Rp 5,000, we're grateful for that. If you can send Rp 10,000, Rp 20,000 and so on, it will be so meaningful," Prabowo said in a video published on his Facebook account. (stu)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/24/prabowos-team-crowdfunds-rp-275-m-in-three-days.html

Prabowo urged to retract controversial statement on money politic

Tempo - June 23, 2018

Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta – The independent election monitoring committee (KIPP) urged Gerindra Party Chairman Prabowo Subianto to retract his public solicitation for people to accept grafts prior to the regional elections in the form of daily staple foods package or sembako.

"[Prabowo's words] are really regrettable, as a national figure to speak such statement," said KIPP Secretary General Kaka Suminta on Saturday, June 23. "Prabowo needs to retract his statement," he continued.

Kaka argued that Prabowo's statement has enormously harmed the country's democracy and the elections by urging people to accept money politics that is supposed to be one of many real threats and is still persistently fought against.

"If he urged people to accept (grafts), it will be the same as justifying the existence of money politics," said Kaka Suminta.

Prabowo Subianto's controversial suggestion was delivered in a video uploaded to his Facebook page on Thursday, June 21. The former special forces command (Kopassus) Commander said that receiving sembako and bribe money is basically the people's right and is ensured that the money used to bribe the people are the ones taken from the people.

"It's impossible that the money used to bribe people are [legally earned money]. It must originate from the Indonesian people, which is why I suggest people accepting the bribe money during sembako distribution since it's the people's right [to do so]," said Prabowo in the video.

Despite suggesting people to receive bribe money from candidates of regional or general elections, Prabowo contradicted his earlier statement by encouraging people to not be influenced by external elements before considering voting for a certain candidate.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/06/23/055919435/Prabowo-Urged-to-Retract-Controversial-Statement-on-Money-Politic

Surveys & opinion polls

Only 24% of Australians agree that Indonesia is a democracy: poll

Coconuts Jakarta - June 25, 2018

While Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull seem to have developed a very good working relationship (some have called it a "batik bromance") relations between the people of the two neighboring countries remain... complicated.

Indonesians generally have very positive perceptions of Australia, many Australians' experience with Indonesia begin and end with the 'holiday island' of Bali (and media coverage about what happens to Australians in Bali), which may be why many Aussies have negative perceptions about the archipelago.

The recently released results of The Lowy Institute Poll 2018, produced by the esteemed Sydney-based international policy think tank, seem to show that Australians' perceptions of Indonesia as a democratic country continue to decline, while their concerns about Indonesia as a source of terrorism are significant.

When asked about the statement, "Indonesia is a democracy," only 24% of respondents agreed, while 50% disagreed and 26% were unsure or did not answer.

The percentage of those who agreed dropped from 27% in last year's poll and is a full 10% below the 2015 poll result, which was held one year after the 2014 election of President Jokowi.

For last year's poll, some analysts pointed to the 2017 Jakarta governor's race and the Islamist-led protest movement against former governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama as causing the precipitous drop in democratic perceptions about Indonesia. The outcry over the 2015 execution of two Australians on drug smuggling charges in Indonesia also likely remains a source of negative perceptions.

This year's poll also suggests that many Australians still perceive Indonesia as a dangerous country in terms of terrorism. About the statement, "Indonesia is a dangerous source of Islamic Terrorism", 44% of respondents agreed and 44% disagree. On the statement, "The Indonesian government has worked hard to fight terrorism," 32% agreed and 41% disagreed.

It should be noted that the survey was conducted in March of this year, well before the deadly terrorist attacks that took place in Surabaya and Riau this May, which would likely have a seriously negative impact on those numbers (as well as on the number of Australian tourists choosing to holiday in Indonesia).

The only relatively bright spot among the survey results is that a majority of Australians still seem to think of Indonesia as an important economy to Australia, with 58% agreeing with that statement (although that number is also down from 65% in 2013).

The Lowy Institute Poll also tracks Australian perceptions about other countries throughout the world and while the "Down Under" view of Indonesia may be eroding, it's nothing compared to the precipitous drop in perceptions about the USA under President Donald Trump. You can see the full results of the survey and their methodology here: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/publications/2018-lowy-institute-poll.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/24-australians-agree-indonesia-democracy-poll/

Environment & natural disasters

'Cornered' indigenous groups invest billions in conservation: Study

Jakarta Post - June 30, 2018

Jakarta – Millions of indigenous peoples in forested countries, including Indonesia, are continuing to suffer from harsh conservation policies despite having played a crucial role in protecting the environment, a new study has revealed.

The study, titled "Cornered by Protected Areas" and coauthored by UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), claims to have quantified the financial contributions made by indigenous peoples in conservation.

It found that local communities around the world invest up to US$4.57 billion per year in conservation, including up to $1.71 billion per year in forest conservation. That figure, it says, is about 23 percent of the amount spent on land and forest conservation by governments, donors, foundations and NGOs.

"The new estimates are based on case studies of labor and cash invested by communities from their own resources in conservation actions such as forest management, fire protection and management, restoration and rehabilitation [...] patrolling/policing, and mapping and cataloguing biodiversity," it says.

The study, however, also highlights the plight of the indigenous people or local communities that have not only been sidelined in conservation efforts, but also been victims of governmental policies on environmental protection.

"Instead of partnering with the people who live in and depend on forests, conservation initiatives continue to drive communities from their ancestral lands, part of a larger trend of criminalization worldwide," Tauli-Corpuz said in a statement. "In some cases, they are declared squatters in their own territories. In my capacity as special rapporteur, I have seen a disturbing uptick of harassment, criminalization and even extrajudicial killings targeting communities."

The study looked into the impact protected areas have on indigenous peoples and local communities in 28 countries, including Indonesia, where many people live in forested areas that have been designated as national parks.

It cited a case study on the Kasepuhan people who live in Mount Salak-Halimun forests in Lebak, Banten. The community has suffered from various disadvantages ever since the forest they currently live in was designated a national park in a 1992 decree issued by the Forestry Ministry.

Before the forest was turned into a national park, the Kasepuhan people used it to gather food. But they now face intimidation from the national park's office rangers.

In 2013, rangers chased down a woman who was herding her buffalo at the national park and destroyed her livestock shelter, according to the study.

In 2014, a resident from Kasepuhan Karang reportedly had to pay Rp 1 million (US$69.55) in fines to rangers for taking charcoal from the national park. The rangers also seized 130 bags of charcoal worth Rp 260,000 from the said resident. The charcoal in question, the report says, was actually produced from leftover timber from an illegal logging operation carried out by GHSNP rangers.

The Kasepuhan people also reportedly found difficulties in meeting their daily subsistence needs after the government prohibited them from cutting down trees, including those that they planted themselves as stipulated in the 1999 law on forestry.

Rukka Sombolinggi, the secretary-general of the Indigenous People's Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), said that, in Indonesia, indigenous communities often struggled with criminalization and persecution when their living space overlapped with protected areas or private concessions.

"The designation of Kasepuhan community land as a national park, for instance, has led to harassment and intimidation by the police, who have cracked down on communities for simply living in their homes and gathering their traditional food," Rukka said in a written statement received by The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

The authorities, Rukka added, intimidated and harassed the indigenous people yet were unable to put a stop to illegal logging by outsiders.

According to the report, the prohibition on forest use disrupted the Kasepuhan community's daily routine as they struggled to fulfill their basic needs without access to forest resources.

Dean Affandi, a researcher from World Resources Institute, explained that indigenous communities had depended on the forest for so long that it was rooted in their culture.

"Since it had been done for generations and generations, of course it's not easy for them to just switch from gathering food in the woods to buying stuff from the market." (dya)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/29/cornered-indigenous-groups-invest-billions-in-conservation-study-.html

World's largest palm oil trader accused of engaging in rainforest destruction in

Coconuts Jakarta - June 25, 2018

Palm oil companies have been blamed for some of the worst environmental destruction in recent times, specifically the wide-scale destruction of Indonesia's critically important rainforests and peatlands which have led to numerous disastrous outcomes including Southeast Asia's annual haze crisis.

In an effort to combat that image, Wilmar International, the world's largest palm oil trader, made a commitment to end deforestation five years ago. But now, Greenpeace says that they have proof that the company is responsible for the destruction of forests on a massive scale.

According to a new investigative report from the international environmental activist NGO, Wilmar bears responsibility for the destruction of an enormous area of rainforest located in Papua and twice the size of Paris. The deforestation was committed by a company named Gama, which has been closely linked to Wilmar.

"Our investigation has exposed Wilmar's dirty secret. For years, Wilmar and Gama have worked together, with Gama doing the dirty work so Wilmar's hands stay clean. But now the truth is out, and Wilmar CEO Kuok Khoon Hong must act now to save his reputation. Wilmar must immediately cut off all palm oil suppliers that can't prove they aren't destroying rainforests," said Kiki Taufik, the global head of Greenpeace Southeast Asia's Indonesian forests campaign, in the report's press release.

Gama was set up by Wilmar's co-founder, Martua Sitorus and his brother Ganda in 2011. The company's concessions are owned and managed by members of Ganda's and Martua Sitorus's family, including Wilmar's Country Head and Deputy Country Head for Indonesia.

According to Greenpeace, they have satellite and mapping data proving that Gama has destroyed about 21,500 hectares of rainforests and peatlands in the five years following Wilmar's 2013 'no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation' pledge. Obviously, that deforestation, linked to Wilmar, would be very much in violation of their pledge.

Greenpeace says that Wilmar has a history of evading responsibility for environmental and human rights abuses by selling off its most controversial land concessions to Gama. Additionally, trade records show that Wilmar continued to sell palm oil from Gama to many of the world's biggest brands, despite being aware that Gama was clearly violating Wilmar's NDPE pledge.

"Wilmar has been trading Gama's oil all over the world, including to brands like P&G, Nestle and Unilever. Brands cannot let this deception pass unchallenged, and have no choice but to suspend all business with Wilmar until it can prove it only trades clean palm oil from responsible producers," Kiki said.

In response to Greenpeace's accusations, Wilmar sent a fax denying that their company and Gama were part of one group and noted that Wilmar had no shareholding interest in the group of companies they refer to as "Gama Group", though they do admit that Gama is run by Wilmar senior executives and members of their family.

They also admit they should have been more "stringent" in sourcing palm oil from Gama Group companies to make sure they were compliant with their no deforestation policy and claimed they would immediately stop trading in palm oil from Gama until it has been fully audited.

As Greenpeace notes in their report, "Southeast Asia's plantation sector is notorious for using shell companies run by managers or family members to hide deforestation. Just last month, Greenpeace broke ties with Asia Pulp and Paper, Indonesia's largest paper company, after detecting deforestation in two concessions linked to APP and its parent company the Sinar Mas Group."

Greenpeace is calling on the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to group Wilmar and Gama as a single entity in line with their membership rules and suspend both companies until the rainforest that Gama destroyed is replanted.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/greenpeace-accuses-worlds-largest-palm-oil-trader-covertly-engaging-massive-rainforest-destruction-papua/

Health & education

Taboo prevents Indonesians from buying condoms

Jakarta Post - June 28, 2018

Gemma Holliani Cahya and Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – In big cities in Indonesia, condoms, which can be as cheap as US$1.19 a dozen, are as ubiquitous as convenience stores. Nonetheless, even with such easy access, making it the easiest form of contraception, cultural norms hamper the use of condoms.

A good sexual education and general awareness about the benefits of condoms appear not to help much in getting Indonesians to buy the rubbers. Being married, and thus having a license of sorts to have sex, also does not seem to help people overcome the cultural barrier.

Many men, and women even more so, find it hard to waltz into a convenience store and buy a pack of condoms without blushing in embarrassment.

Embarrassed to buy condoms

Jakarta resident Naufal, 26, who has been married for almost two years, said he never bought condoms at the same store and always made sure to buy it far away from his home, so that the cashiers would not recognize his face.

Naufal said he had developed this habit after an unpleasant situation. When he was a university student, he had bought condoms at a store near his campus. Later, when he was getting ready to leave the store, an elderly woman approached him and asked him whether he was a college student.

"When I said yes, she looked at me and said, 'be careful with your way of life, son'. I just nodded and quickly walked away," Naufal recalled.

Since that day, Naufal has set his mind on avoiding such awkward situations, even if that literally means going the extra mile to buy the rubbers. His mother-in-law's wish for a grandchild as soon as possible is another factor.

"The cashiers know my wife and my mother-in-law, because they often shop there. If my mother-in-law finds out we have been buying condoms, it might spark drama, because she is expecting grandchildren from us," he told The Jakarta Post.

More difficult for the unmarried

The moral burden of buying condoms is heavier for those engaging in pre-marital sex. Too embarrassed to be seen buying condoms, a lot of couples choose to have sex without protection.

Sasha, 25, not her real name, and her boyfriend of three years, who live in Yogyakarta, have decided to no longer use condoms in the past two years. They decided to just go with their feeling; "now we know when to pull it out," she said.

"We used condoms in the first months of our relationship, but nowadays, we don't use them anymore. My boyfriend said he was too embarrassed to buy them at the store. He was afraid people would judge him or someone he knew would see him," she said on Sunday.

Sasha said they had tried to buy them online, because that was less embarrassing. However, recently they had decided it was easier to just stop using them.

Unintended pregnancies

In Indonesia, the proportion of contraception users among about 48 million fertile-age couples stood at about 60 percent in 2017, data from National Population and Family Planning Board (BKKBN) show.

Birth control shots are the most popular form of contraception, while condoms, used by only 3.23 percent, stand in third place from the bottom after tubal ligation and vasectomy.

The BKKBN's undersecretary for population control, Wendy Hartanto, said the low condom usage was caused by the cultural barriers, as many men think contraception is the responsibility of women.

Research on global trends published in 2014 in Studies in Family Planning shows that 85 million of 213 million pregnancies in 2012 were unintended. Of these, 50 percent ended in abortion, 13 percent ended in miscarriage and 38 percent resulted in an unplanned birth.

The same research shows that, in 2012, there were 8.3 million unintended pregnancies in the Southeast Asian region. Of that number, 57 percent were aborted, 12 percent were miscarriages and 31 percent resulted in unplanned births.

There's no specific data on unintended pregnancies in Indonesia, but 2016 data from the BKKBN show that there were about 4 million births each year in Indonesia, and an estimated 14 percent were unplanned.

Some of the unplanned births see the babies abandoned by their parents. On June 21, a three-month old girl was found alive in Palmerah, West Jakarta, and a newborn boy was found on the same day in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta.

On June 19, police in Magelang arrested a masseuse, Yamini, after they found 20 bags of fetus skeletons buried in her backyard. Yamini said she had offered such service for 25 years. On June 18, a newborn was found dead wrapped in a plastic bag in North Lombok.

Authorities add to taboo

In several areas, the taboo is strengthened by government and religious authorities that frown upon condoms.

Depok authorities in West Java are seen at the inauguration of Toko Umat, a Muslim minimarket where customers will not find condoms, cigarettes or alcoholic drinks on sale.

At Muslim convenience stores across Indonesia, condoms are not sold. One store in Depok, West Java, announced the reason: For the greater good of the Muslims.

Luwu regency in South Sulawesi forbids stores from selling condoms since 2015. In East Java, Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini issued a policy in 2015 to sell condoms only to married couples.

Law No. 52/2009 on population growth and family development states that the government should provide contraception to "husband and wife" while considering "religious norms". Thus, the BKKBN is not allowed to distribute condoms to non-married people.

A culture of frowning upon pre- and extramarital sex had a positive side, BKKBN's Wendy said, but the negative side was a judgmental attitude toward sexually active singles.

"Purchasing condoms is still seen as an act of doing something sinful, even if it is to be used with the marriage partner," the BKKBN's Wendy told the Post.

Safe, responsible sex

The argument that using condoms also means safe and responsible sex does not carry much weight in Indonesia.

Several organizations, such as Dharmendra Kumar Tyagi (DKT) Indonesia, an organization that focuses on family planning services and HIV/AIDS prevention, has organized a campaign for condom usage, but they found it challenging.

"Many people still underestimate their risk and do not understand the importance of always using protection, either to prevent HIV infections or to plan their families," Pierre Frederick, deputy general manager of consumer healthcare at DKT International, told the Post on Monday.

Another challenge for condom usage in Indonesia, Pierre said, was the low distribution in rural and suburban areas, where much of the high-need population lives.

He said the use of condoms in Indonesia had not grown at the same speed as convenience stores had expanded. However, the omnipresence of convenience stores, including in small towns, was very important in increasing access to condoms for vulnerable groups, he said.

"Without access to condoms at convenience stores, many people would have difficulty purchasing condoms where and when they are most needed," he said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/28/taboo-prevents-indonesians-from-buying-condoms.html

At least 8 dead due to bootleg alcohol, suspected seller to be charged with

Coconuts Jakarta - June 26, 2018

Back in April, over 100 people were reported to have died after drinking tainted bootleg alcohol in various parts of Indonesia including Jakarta. While absolutely tragic, it was just the latest in a long line of deaths caused by Indonesia's black market for bootleg liquor that has claimed at least eight more lives in the last week.

The latest deaths happened in East Cengkareng in West Jakarta. Police said that eight men, ranging in age from 27-48, have died due to acute alcohol poisoning over the last five days.

Authorities say they have arrested a suspect, identified by his initials SR, believed to be responsible for both creating and selling the tainted alcohol.

"The results of our examination shows that the tainted alcohol is made with basic methanol, that is then mixed with tea, sugar and water," said West Jakarta Police Chief Hengki Haryadi yesterday as quoted by Merdeka. Hengki said that SR purchased the methanol under the guise of needing it to make perfume.

The police chief said SR was arrested at his home, where he both made and sold the tainted alcohol, on Sunday. Officers seized evidence including several containers of the alcohol ready to be sold for the price of IDR15,000 (US$1.05).

Hengki said that SR would be charged under both food safety laws as well as under the criminal code for murder under the legal theory that he should have been aware that the death of his customers was a likely consequence of his actions.

"This might be the first case in which the murder article (of the criminal code) was used in the case of tainted alcohol," Hengki said.

Whether or not authorities can get the murder charge to stick will become a legal question for prosecutors, but with the government unlikely to loosen Indonesia's strict restrictions and heavy tariffs on safe legal alcohol anytime soon, and the demand for alcohol also unlikely to subside, the threat of murder charges may be one of the only effective possible deterrents to the country's deadly tainted alcohol crisis.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/least-8-dead-due-bootleg-alcohol-w-jakarta-suspected-seller-charged-murder/

'I've been sick in the chest': Tobacco fields take toll on Indonesian children

The Guardian - June 26, 2018

Kate Lamb, Lombok – As a young girl, Julaeping Putri loved to play, even take naps, among the fresh mounds of tobacco leaves piled around her home on the Indonesian island of Lombok.

Her mother, Nurul Huda, thought nothing of it at the time. She liked having the stacks of leaves there too – a reminder it had been a plentiful, lucrative harvest.

From as young as three, Julaeping, or Eping for short, said she would help her parents out in the field, planting the small Virginia tobacco saplings, mixing the fertiliser, watering the plants.

In harvest season, Eping and her friends would spend hours after school tying the tobacco leaves on to large poles, getting them ready for the "ovens", village smokehouses where the leaves are smoked dry for almost a week. Sometimes they would play a game, racing each other to see who could do it the fastest.

But it wasn't always fun. A few times during the harvest Eping felt so ill she collapsed. Her mother, too busy with the yield to take her to hospital, called in the local nurse to give her an injection.

In the decade since, her health problems have never really gone away. "Since second grade, I have been sick in the chest, and then sometimes it is hard to breathe," says Eping, now 14.

It's always worse in tobacco harvest season, she says, especially when they unfurl the leaves from the ovens, when the smell of tobacco is most pungent.

"I have felt like throwing up before because the tobacco smell is so strong. It happens often, that you want to keep throwing up," she says, "After opening up the leaves, I feel sick in the chest and my heart starts to beat very fast."

According to a 2016 report by Human Right Watch entitled The Harvest Is in My Blood, thousands of children work in Indonesia's tobacco industry, where they are exposed to serious health risks.

Based on interviews with more than 130 children, the report notes that symptoms described, such as vomiting and nausea, are consistent with acute nicotine poisoning, caused by contact with tobacco plants and leaves.

Last year Eping's parents took her to the doctor to find out if her repeated complaint, a tightness in her chest and shortness of breath, was connected to her exposure to tobacco. Her elder brother Jovi, 28, laughs scathingly when asked about the diagnosis.

"The doctors here aren't brave enough to be honest. They don't say it is related to tobacco but we know," he says, as he draws on a cigarette himself. "Maybe brave is not the right word. Maybe they are afraid there might be a demonstration."

Tobacco has long been big business in Indonesia. According to research by Euromonitor International, Indonesia produced 269.2bn cigarettes in 2015, while the market was valued at 231.3tn rupiah (#12.4bn, $16.6bn at current exchange rates).

Across the country tobacco advertising and smoking is widespread – for Indonesian men, lighting up is considered the uncontroversial norm. Rules are so lax and cigarettes so cheap – one packet is less than #2 – that many start from an early age.

Indonesia is the world's fifth-largest tobacco producer, with the world's second-largest tobacco market after China and more than 65 million smokers as of 2013.

With such a large presence, the industry is a powerful lobby in Indonesia and campaigners say it is quick to push back against pressure.

In Beleke, residents talk of the financial benefits of tobacco to the village. Next to rice and corn, tobacco is the most lucrative crop but it can only be grown in the dry season, from about May to September. Julaeping Putri, 14, who has worked in Beleke's tobacco fields from a young age.

Home to about 3,000 families, the village is spread across fields of brilliant green rice paddies that become replaced entirely with tobacco plants in the growing season.

About 80% of Beleke residents are farmers, and during tobacco season the village is a hub of activity. There are about 20 "ovens" in the village and during the harvest they smoke continually, day and night.

"No one stays home in harvesting season. You find people young and old around the ovens and in the fields. Everyone is collecting money and everyone is happy about that," says Anggi, 42, a farmer.

Almost all the children above the age of four work – some begrudgingly because their parents ask them to, others because they want to earn money.

"My daughter helps me in the field, putting the fertiliser on the trees and also carrying the water," said Anggi. "That is the picture of all the mothers and farmers who have children in the village."

For almost two months during the harvest, carts of tobacco leaves are hauled into the village and the children are called in to help prepare them for the smokehouses, knitting them on to large sticks and getting paid by the stick.

Some of the children the Guardian meets talk about what they can get with the money from tobacco work, but they also describe long hours. "I like doing it because I get money," says Aning, age 12, who first started working six years ago. "I can buy snacks at school, or toys, like a doll. I start after school, from midday until about 5pm. I can earn about Rp 15,000 (#0.81, $1.08) and I do that every day in the season."

Aning's best friend is only six years old, but last year he worked so hard during the tobacco season that he saved 1m rupiah (#52, $70). "If I keep working in the night, I can get Rp 50,000 (#2.69, $3.60). After praying time at 7.30pm, I work until about midnight," he says. "School starts at 8 in the morning. So we are often late in the season."

While Indonesian labour laws prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from performing hazardous work, in practice, especially in small-scale farming in Indonesia's under-developed eastern regions, the laws are often poorly enforced and understood.

After it is roasted, the tobacco grown by Beleke's small-scale farmers is sold to middlemen, who transport it by the ton to one of several warehouses on the island. Mostly it is sold to a warehouse controlled by the Indonesian tobacco company Djarum.

One middleman, speaking anonymously, tells the Guardian the company is unaware children are involved in production, but admits that no one asks questions about the issue. Djarum declined to respond to questions about child labour.

The five big transnational tobacco companies say child labour was unacceptable and that they were working hard to stop it happening in their supply chain. They said they were encouraging farmers to grow other crops, but added that tobacco gave farms a better income.

No one interviewed in Beleke sees it as problematic that children work in the tobacco industry. One teenage boy, Restu, 13, illustrates just how lax attitudes around tobacco in the village are.

"All my teachers smoke," he replies, when asked what he learns about smoking at school. "Even my headmaster smokes around us at school."

With her repeated ill health but no definitive diagnosis, Eping's parents aren't entirely sure what to think. They say they have asked her to stop working during harvest.

"Sometimes I ask her to stop working, but she is so fast at it and I'm happy with that," says her mother, Nurul Huda. "And sometimes she just disappears," she adds, with a shrug. "Every time she comes back carrying money."

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/26/tobacco-indonesia-child-labour-harvest

Tertiary education & campus life

Universities in Indonesia to fight extremism with own intelligence body

Straits Times - June 26, 2018

Jakarta – The heads of 122 state universities gathered at the Research, Technology and Higher Education Ministry in Jakarta for a closed meeting to address worrying findings from the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT): that many universities have been exposed to radical ideologies.

To combat extremism and prevent it from flourishing, the schools plan to work with BNPT to develop an intelligence body of sorts for campuses.

Dwia Aries Tina Pulubuhu, rector of Hasanuddin University in Makassar, South Sulawesi, who is also head of the Indonesian Rector Forum, said on Monday (June 25) that an organisation was needed to detect signs of radicalism in universities.

"When it was discovered that a radical group was operating on our campus, or someone was arrested (for radicalism), we learned about it from the news, not from the BNPT. So we were shocked when we heard about it. We have to fix (our communication)," she told The Jakarta Post.

Members of the intelligence body, she added, would work to identify radical movements. They will inform the BNPT when they find something and vice versa. The silent approach will accompany the open approach of developing a nationalist spirit on campus, she said.

"Terrorists brainwash people with their radical ideology when they recruit them. Therefore, we must also ignite the spirit of nationalism among our students," she added.

Education expert Arief Rachman Hakim said while he agreed that universities must eliminate radical teachings and movements, he also asked them to give students room to express themselves.

"There must be enough space for them to communicate with the campus and express what they want," he told the Post.

In May, the BNPT revealed that many state universities have been exposed to radicalism, including some of the country's best, such as the University of Indonesia (UI) in Jakarta, Airlangga University and the November Ten Institute of Technology (ITS) in Surabaya, East Java, as well as the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) in West Java.

According to BNPT chief Suhardi Alius, the universities were exposed to various levels of hard-line ideals, some more serious than others.

In Monday's meeting, he told rectors about the methods radical groups employed to spread their ideology on campuses and how universities could prevent them.

"We hope this meeting will bring the same understanding about the situation and the same approach in handling radicalism on campuses," he told reporters.

ITS rector Joni Hermana said the meeting offered a glimmer of hope for universities that have struggled to combat radicalism.

"Honestly, we have been handling this issue in different ways. But through this meeting, we (the universities) agreed to handle radicalism in a more effective way," he said.

"This is not an easy task. If we use the soft approach, we could be accused of protecting hard-liners. But if we handle them too roughly, we might be accused of violating human rights," he noted.

UI rector Muhammad Anis acknowledged the difficulties in identifying radical movements. "So far, they have been quiet. We can't detect how they spread their ideology and we don't have the skills to detect them either," he said.

Anis also said rectors planned to develop a guide with the BNPT that could be used by universities to handle radicalism on campus. Gadjah Mada University rector Panut Mulyono said it was obvious why radical groups were targeting top university students.

"These students are smart, they passed the enrollment process. I can say they were chosen. They also have the potential to be leaders; that's why radical groups are targeting them," he said.

He underlined that anti-radical movements should also be established outside of universities, such as in mosques and dormitories.

"We also have to reach the communities around the campus, engage with them so that nothing can come between them and the universities," he added.

– The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/universities-in-indonesia-to-fight-extremism-with-own-intelligence-body

Corruption & abuse of power

Golkar grateful graft-tainted member wins election

Jakarta Post - June 30, 2018

Jakarta – The Golkar Party said it was grateful that graft suspect and party member Ahmad Hidayat Mus was leading the North Maluku gubernatorial election according to a quick count by the General Elections Commission (KPU).

"Our candidate, who is also a [graft] suspect, alhamdulillah [praise be to God], will win in North Maluku," said Golkar spokesperson Ace Hasan Syadzily in Jakarta on Saturday as quoted by kompas.com.

Ahmad, along with his running mate Rivai Umar from the United Development Party (PPP), has secured an estimated 31 percent of the vote during Wednesday's regional election, earning first place out of four pairs.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) named Ahmad, a former regent of Sula Islands in North Maluku, a graft suspect in March. He is accused of being involved in a corruption case that cost the state up to Rp 3.4 billion (US$237,000).

As of election day, the KPK had named another eight candidates suspects: Ahmad, Jombang Mayor Nyono Suharli, Subang Regent Imas Aryumningsih, Southeast Sulawesi Governor Asrun, Malang Mayor Yaqud Ananda Gudban, Malang Deputy Mayor Mochamad Anton, Lampung Governor Mustafa, and Tulungagung Regent Syahri Mulyo.

The last suspect, Tulungagung Regent Syahri Mulyo, who the KPK suspects of accepting up to Rp 2.5 billion (US$170,000) in bribes, has a high chance of winning, with 60 percent of the vote. (nor/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/30/golkar-grateful-graft-tainted-member-wins-election.html

Setya Novanto's lawyer gets 7 years for engineering infamous fake car accident

Coconuts Jakarta - June 29, 2018

When former house speaker Setya Novanto was sentenced to 15 years in jail in April for his role in the massive electronic ID card (e-KTP) graft scandal, activists heralded it as a major victory in the war against Indonesia's endemic corruption and culture of impunity.

Yesterday, the lawyer who allegedly helped Setya elude investigators was sentenced to 7 years for obstructing justice, hopefully serving as further warning to unscrupulous attorneys and the politicians who use them.

Fredrich Yunadi, who served as Setya's attorney until shortly after the former Golkar chairman was arrested by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), was sentenced to 7 years in prison and a fine of IDR500 million (US$35,000) for interfering in a corruption investigation. Prosecutors had demanded he be sentenced to 12 years.

Fredrich did not react well to the verdict, to say the least. The famous attorney, who regularly made TV appearances before his arrest (sometimes talking about his love of luxury vacations) made some dramatic pronouncements about what his guilty verdict meant for the Indonesian justice system.

"The advocate's role has been ruined because we have been trampled by law enforcement, so for advocates this is like G30S (referring to the infamous September 30, 1965 Communist coup attempt). So June 28 has become the day that advocacy died," Fredrich said in court as quoted by Kompas (he had reportedly been belligerent and combative throughout his trial, which the judges noted in their sentencing).

Friedreich's obstruction case centered on the events of November 16. The day before, Novanto disappeared shortly before the KPK went to his house to arrest him. The former Golkar politicians' whereabouts were unknown until the 16th when it was reported he had been involved in a car accident.

According to Fredrich, Novanto had been in a car on the way to KPK headquarters to turn himself in to authorities when the driver crashed into an electrical pole on the side of the road. Novanto was then rushed to Medika Permata Hijau Hospital after allegedly sustaining severe injuries including, in Friedrich's words, a bump on his head as big as a "bakpao" (Chinese steamed bun).

Dr. Bimanesh Sutarjo, who was named a co-conspirator in Fredrich's obstruction of justice case, backed up the lawyer's claims and tried to prevent KPK investigators from gaining custody of Novanto on medical grounds.

However, the KPK was soon able to bring in their own independent medical examiners who confirmed that Novanto had not suffered severe injuries, allowing investigators to take custody of the politician, move him to a new medical facility and have him arrested.

Shortly after his client's arrest, Fredrich dropped out as Novanto's legal counsel. But that didn't stop the KPK from arresting Fredrich in January on charges that he obstructed justice by trying to deceive investigators regarding Novanto's health.

During the trial, a litany of witnesses testified to Fredrich and Dr. Bimanesh's duplicity surrounding the case. One emergency room doctor said he had been instructed by both Fredrich and Dr. Bimanesh to fake medical records showing Novanto had suffered severe injuries even before the politician had been brought to the hospital. In the end it was Dr. Bimanesh, a kidney specialist, who ended up diagnosing Novanto's car crash injuries (which obviously looked a little suspicious to investigators).

The hospital's attending doctor at the time of the incident told the court that Fredrich had booked a VIP room at the hospital prior to Setya's alleged accident. Two nurses testified to the fact that Novanto's body was covered with a blanket when he entered the hospital, which was very unusual for car accident victims. They also told the court that Novanto did not appear to have any severe injuries on his face or head, contradicting Fredrich's "bakpao" claim.

The overwhelming evidence that Fredrich and Dr. Bimanesh had conspired to try and keep Setya out of the hands of the KPK investigators was enough to convince the judges to find the lawyer guilty yesterday. Dr. Bimanesh (who now claims that he was tricked into helping Fredrich) is still undergoing trial but prosecutors have demanded he be given 6 years in prison.

Fredrich immediately declared that he would appeal his verdict after it had been read out. KPK prosecutors said they were also considering appealing the judge's sentence for being too light compared to their original 12-year demand.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/setya-novantos-lawyer-sentenced-7-years-engineering-infamous-fake-car-accident/

Terrorism & religious extremism

Indonesia plans crackdown on condemned cleric's militant network

Reuters - June 29, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesia's elite counterterrorism squad Densus 88 plans to arrest more than 100 suspected militants in a bid to prevent retaliatory attacks after a radical cleric linked to Islamic State was sentenced to death, National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said on Thursday (28/06).

Aman Abdurrahman, regarded as the ideological leader of Jemaah Ansharut Daulah, a loose grouping of hundreds of Islamic State sympathizers, was convicted last month for masterminding four deadly attacks in Jakarta and elsewhere in Indonesia.

He has been in prison since 2009 but was accused of orchestrating the attacks from behind bars. No date has been set for Abdurrahman's execution, which is likely to be by firing squad, but in the meantime Indonesian security forces have been put on high alert.

"The price we have to pay is the possibility of his networks retaliating," Tito told Reuters in an interview at the National Police headquarters in Jakarta.

"But the good news is we have detected most of his networks and cells... More than 100 of them will be arrested. We have to move before they move," said Tito, who previously headed Densus 88.

The country has faced a surge in homegrown militancy in recent years and around 30 people were killed in suicide bombings in Surabaya, East Java, last month, marking the deadliest militant attack in over a decade in the Muslim-majority country.

The attacks on three churches and a police station in Surabaya were carried out by families, who took children as young as 8 on their mission, marking the first time such a tactic had been used, according to terrorism experts.

Tito said the authorities had been aware of the risk of female suicide bombers but had no information that a whole family unit or children would be used to carry out bombings.

The families behind the attacks had been monitored by authorities for four months last year, but there had been no suspicious activity involving the children, he said.

Since the Surabaya attacks, the police have detained more than 120 suspects and killed 17. One key suspect, Kholid Abu Bakar, who officials believe was the leader of the attackers' Islamic study group, remains at large.

Tito said Kholid and his family had attempted to travel to Syria last year to join Islamic State but were caught in Turkey and deported back to Indonesia.

Tito said surveillance teams in Indonesia had now been doubled and provincial police headquarters instructed to set up joint teams involving local-level military, intelligence and paramilitary police.

In the wake of the attacks, Indonesia toughened up its anti-terrorism laws last month to allow police to arrest and detain suspected militants for longer periods, and without having to wait until they acquired weapons or carried out attacks.

"It gives us more room to maneuver. It is much, much easier because we don't need to watch and wait until they possess weapons," he said.

But expanded authority or firepower may not always be enough to foil attacks, Tito said, calling for radicalization programs to be strengthened.

"I believe Densus 88 is good enough in monitoring people, foiling plans and investigating attacks... but there is no use in this hard approach if we cannot change their mindset."

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesia-plans-crackdown-condemned-clerics-militant-network/

Densus 88 nab 13 suspected terrorists ahead of 2018 election

Tempo - June 26, 2018

Jakarta – The police anti-terror squad Densus 88 has again arrested 13 suspected terrorists allegedly planning to commit terror acts ahead of the 2018 simultaneous regional head election, said National Police Chief Gen. Tito Karnavian.

"We have detected their movements thus we take early measure by the arrests," said Tito at Police HQ, Monday, June 25.

2018 simultaneous regional head election would be held starting tomorrow, June 27. As many as 17 provinces would choose its governor, 39 cities would elect its mayor and deputy mayor, and 115 regencies would vote to decide its regent and deputy regent. Since the beginning, the police had anticipated possible terror acts for the upcoming election.

However, Tito declined to give details to the regions the suspected terrorists that were nabbed. He also reluctant to mention the targetted regions for security reasons.

According to Tito, the 13 suspected terrorists had indeed targetted to commit terror acts during the election because they – such as members of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) – had a different ideology in which strongly rejected democracy system.

The suspected terrorists considered democracy party as a shirk [worship of anyone or anything besides the singular God]. However, Tito appealed to the public to not worry to cast a ballot in the voting station or TPS because the police would tighten the security.

– Danang Firmanto, Vindry Florentin, Taufiq Siddiq

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/06/26/055919492/Densus-88-Nab-13-Suspected-Terrorists-Ahead-of-2018-Election

Suspected terrorist shot dead in Pamanukan for resisting arrest

Jakarta Post - June 23, 2018

Arya Dipa, Bandung, West Java – Personnel of the National Police's Densus 88 counterterrorism squad shot dead on Friday a suspected terrorist who allegedly resisted arrest under the Jl. E. Tirtapraja overpass in Pamanukan, Subang regency, West Java.

West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Agung Budi Maryoto said the police had to shoot the suspected terrorist as he attempted to resist arrest. "He brought a backpack suspected to contain a bomb, including its switch," said Agung, before he attended the West Java gubernatorial candidate debate at Sudirman Grand Ballroom in Bandung, West Java, on Friday evening.

He said the police were investigating further terror attack plans that were allegedly going to be conducted by the suspected terrorist, identified only as M, his initial.

When he was asked on whether the terror plans were aimed at disrupting the simultaneous regional head elections slated for June 27, Agung said: "We are still investigating such a possibility."

Agung said the police had obtained identities and other information related to the man. He said the police had been tracing him since he first moved from his home in Indramayu, West Java. "He is from Haurgeulis-branch Jamaah Ansharut Daulah [JAD]," said Agung, referring to a local affiliate of the Islamic State [IS] terror group.

He said the police had taken the suspected terrorist's body to Jakarta, including evidence confiscated during the raid. Agung said the police and Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel would carry out joint patrols in areas across Indonesia to ensure the simultaneous regional elections run safely and smoothly. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/23/suspected-terrorist-shot-dead-in-pamanukan-for-resisting-arrest.html

Hard-line & vigilante groups

Four Pemuda Pancasila members arrested for allegedly damaging Bantul court

Jakarta Post - June 30, 2018

Bantul, Yogyakarta – Yogyakarta Police arrested four people, members of youth organization Pemuda Pancasila (PP), and named them suspects for allegedly vandalizing the Bantul District Court building.

"They said they had been ordered to do so," general crimes director Sr. Comr. Hadi Utomo said Friday.

Hadi said the instruction had come from other members of the PP and vowed to also arrest those who had issued the order.

"Our evidence is glass and flower pot debris, a black hat, firework shells, bricks and footage from CCTV cameras," he went on. Around 100 PP members damaged the court building on Thursday in anger after the court found the group's chairman, Doni Bimo Saptoto, guilty of assault.

The court's panel of judges sentenced Doni to five months' imprisonment with nine months of probation on Thursday for his involvement in the disbandment of artist Andreas Iswinarno's "Tribute to Wiji Thukul" painting exhibition last year at the Indonesian Islamic University's Center for Human Rights Studies.

PP members who had attended the hearing immediately left the courtroom and ran amok upon hearing the sentence. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/29/four-pemuda-pancasila-members-arrested-for-allegedly-damaging-bantul-court.html

Mob damages Bantul courthouse in anger over ruling

Jakarta Post - June 29, 2018

Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta – Around 100 members of youth organization Pemuda Pancasila (PP) have damaged the Bantul District Court building in anger over the court's verdict to declare the group's chairman, Doni Bimo Saptoto, guilty of assault.

The court's panel of judges sentenced Doni to five months of imprisonment with nine months of probation on Thursday for his involvement in the disbandment of artist Andreas Iswinarno's "Tribute to Wiji Thukul" painting exhibition last year at the Indonesian Islamic University's Center for Human Rights Studies (Pusham UII).

The panel of judges, led by Subagyo, found Doni guilty of violating Article 335 (1) of the Criminal Code. Commenting on the verdict, the defendant said he was still considering whether to accept or appeal it.

PP members who had attended the hearing immediately left the courtroom and ran amok upon hearing the sentence. They destroyed televisions, flower pots, visitor chairs and security guard tables at the courthouse.

"We suspect they are not satisfied with the sentence," Bantul District Court spokesperson Zainal Arifin said. He said the court had not yet decided whether it would take legal action against the rowdies.

In the incident last year, Doni and his men arrived at the exhibition and called for its disbandment, saying Wiji was a supporter of the now-defunct Indonesian Communist Party.

Pusham UII director Eko Riyadi welcomed the verdict, saying it was a milestone in the protection of and respect for academic activities. (swa/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/29/mob-damages-bantul-courthouse-in-anger-over-ruling.html

Religion & politics

Indonesian election season is a gauge of rise of political Islam

Reuters - June 26, 2018

Kanupriya Kapoor, Agustinus Beo Da Costa, Jakarta – About 100 residents of a gritty commercial district of Indonesia's capital listen intently as a man roars into a microphone: "Are you ready to change our president? Are you ready for new leadership?"

But this is not a political rally. Dressed in white robes and a turban, Novel Bamukmin of the Jakarta chapter of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), a hardline Islamist group, addresses evening prayers in a mosque.

As a year of local and then national elections begins this week in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country, some Islamic leaders have emerged as the most vocal opponents of President Joko Widodo, who is expected to seek a second term next year.

They belong to a loose grouping of Islamists behind protests that culminated in the election defeat and jailing for blasphemy in 2017 of Jakarta's ethnic-Chinese and Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Widodo ally.

The case of Purnama, who had said political rivals were deceiving people by using a verse in the Koran to say Muslims should not be led by a non-Muslim, showed how Islam had crept into politics in the officially secular country.

Widodo has pledged to protect Indonesia's tradition of pluralism and moderate Islam, and he has banned Hizb ut-Tahrir, a hardline group with ambitions for an Islamic caliphate.

But a senior government official conceded there are limits to how much the government can control political messaging in mosques.

"Any action against this phenomenon is blasted as anti-Muslim so our actions are restricted," said the official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

'change the president'

A former furniture maker and Indonesia's first president from outside the political and military elite, Widodo – known as Jokowi – has remained popular since he took office in 2014.

He is widely seen as an honest man of the people, rare for a leader in a country where the political class is scorned as corrupt and aloof, and his push for infrastructure and cutting red tape has burnished his image as a hands-on leader.

A recent opinion poll gave him a double-digit lead over the opposition Gerindra party's Prabowo Subianto, a retired general who is expected to run a second time against Widodo in 2019.

Opponents and hardline Muslim groups, including the FPI, accuse Widodo of failing to stem income inequality or deliver higher growth, but the most incendiary attacks have often been around religion and ethnicity.

False accusations have spread on social media that the president is not actually Muslim and is a descendant of ethnic Chinese communists.

Widodo has sought to strengthen his ties with moderate Islamic leaders and he recently appointed a controversial hardline cleric as a communications adviser.

"The only way for the opposition to win is to debunk the argument that Jokowi is one of the masses, and to attack his weakest spot, which is his shyness in showing his religion," said Achmad Sukarsono, a political analyst at Control Risks.

Ahead of local elections across much of the country on Wednesday, the anti-Widodo sentiment has crystallized into a movement called "#GantiPresiden2019" or "Change the president in 2019".

The movement's founder, Mardani Ali Sera, a member of parliament from a conservative Islamic party, says he has no connection with political messaging in mosques.

But he says the majority of those affiliated with his movement are from Islamic parties and the groups that opposed Jakarta's Christian governor.

"We don't use mosques but if the hashtag and the movement works for you, then go ahead and use it," Sera, who is active on social media, told Reuters.

The FPI's Bamukmin supports the #GantiPresiden2019 movement and said he and other preachers push that message in sermons.

"It is the duty of Muslims to try and replace the current president who has betrayed the country and his religion," he said, accusing Widodo of "selling the country to foreigners" and "empowering communists and deviant religious sects".

No campaigning allowed

Indonesia's election laws prohibit political campaigning in places of worship ahead of polls. Vice President Jusuf Kalla told media political discussion is allowed in mosques because they are places of education as well as worship, but campaigning is not.

Tens of millions of Indonesians will vote in 171 elections for mayors, regents, and governors on Wednesday, an important barometer ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections in 2019.

Opinion polls suggest candidates backed by parties supporting Widodo will win in many parts of Java, Indonesia's most populous island, but observers will be watching for signs of Islamist influence.

One man who attended FPI preacher Bamukmin's sermon in Jakarta this month, said even if clerics were becoming more political, their congregations were smart enough to decide for themselves. "People just listen to the good points and ignore the rest," said Huda, 27.

[Additional reporting by Jakarta bureau; Editing by Ed Davies, Robert Birsel.]

Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-elections-mosques/indonesian-election-season-is-a-gauge-of-rise-of-political-islam-idUSKBN1JM0X6

National holidays & celebrations

Further improvement needed despite better Idul Fitri travel this year: Govt

Jakarta Post - June 26, 2018

Jakarta – Despite mostly safe and smooth travel during this year's Idul Fitri holiday season, some improvements, such as opening more rest areas along toll roads, were still needed, the government concluded in an evaluation meeting on Monday.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto said the number of traffic accidents and fatalities during this year's Idul Fitri holiday period was down from last year's number. Stable prices of basic commodities were another government achievement that had seen the Islamic festivities run smoothly, he went on.

"For Idul Fitri last year, the prices of basic necessities skyrocketed and became unaffordable," Wiranto said, as quoted by kompas.com during a multisectoral coordination meeting called Analysis and Evaluation of 2018 Idul Fitri Safety and held by the National Police on Monday.

Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi, Agriculture Minister Andi Amran Sulaiman, Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono, National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian and Indonesian Military commander Air Chief Marshall Hadi Tjahjanto also attended the meeting.

Basuki said more rest areas were needed along the roads used for mass holiday travel. For this year's exodus from Greater Jakarta, several rest areas had been added, he noted.

The minister said one of the causes of severe traffic jams on toll roads was long queues of cars entering rest areas. "We think there should probably be more rest areas for the next Idul Fitri, Christmas and New Year exodus," Basuki said. (stu/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/26/further-improvement-needed-despite-better-idul-fitri-travel-this-year-govt.html

Farming & agriculture

Mass production of vehicles to boost agricultural sector in 2019

Jakarta Post - June 27, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesia is set to begin mass producing special multipurpose vehicles in January 2019 to support the development of the country's agricultural sector.

Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto said in Jakarta on Tuesday that a prototype of the vehicle, called the rural multipurpose mechanical tool (AMMDes), was being finalized and undergoing a trial run in the field in Bogor, West Java.

The minister said the trial run, which began in April, tested the performance of the vehicle's engine, chassis, suspension and transmission.

He said the prototype was made using 70 percent domestic content. "We are cooperating with more than 70 industries to supply the AMMDes components, mostly from small and medium enterprises," said Airlangga.

The multipurpose vehicle will be launched during the 2018 Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show (GIIAS) in August at the Indonesia Convention Center (ICE) in Tangerang, Banten.

AMMDes is manufactured by PT Kiat Mahesa Wintor Indonesia (KMWI). The main users of the cars would be village cooperatives, village-owned enterprises and farmer or fishermen groups to boost agricultural productivity.

Airlangga said he hoped that the vehicles would speed up the distribution of goods to and from villages. (sau/bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/27/mass-production-of-vehicles-to-boost-agricultural-sector-in-2019.html

Parliament & legislation

Constitutional Court scraps controversial House immunity

Jakarta Post - June 29, 2018

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – The Constitutional Court ruled unanimously on Thursday to scrap a number of controversial articles in the 2018 Legislative Institutions (MD3) Law that were believed to have given House of Representatives lawmakers legal immunity from criminal investigation and public criticism.

In its ruling, the nine-justice panel annulled Article 122, which could have been used by the House to criminalize critics. The bench also scrapped a requirement for law enforcers to secure consent from the House's ethics council before launching an investigation into lawmakers, initially stipulated in Article 245.

"The ethics council is not meant to act as the House's shield," Justice Saldi Isra said, while reading out the ruling on Thursday.

The bench, however, decided to maintain the condition that law enforcement authorities would need consent from the president before summoning lawmakers in a criminal investigation. The court said such a requirement was needed to provide proportional protection for lawmakers in carrying out their duties.

The controversial law was enacted in February, immediately inviting condemnation aimed at the legislative body, as well as President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration for allowing the law to be passed. (ipa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/28/constitutional-court-scraps-controversial-house-immunity.html

Jakarta & urban life

Anies appoints former campaign team member to lead TGUPP division

Jakarta Post - June 25, 2018

Jakarta – Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has reportedly appointed Marco Kusumawijaya, a member of his campaign team during the gubernatorial election last year, to lead a committee in the controversial Governor's Team for Accelerated Development (TGUPP).

Marco, an urbanist, was appointed last week to lead the Jakarta Bay management division, which consists of five members. The TGUPP has five divisions in total, including corruption prevention, development acceleration and regulation synchronization committees, which have already been announced to the public.

"The [Jakarta Bay management] committee has been established. Pak Marco will head it," TGUPP head Amir Subekti told kompas.com on Monday.

The TGUPP has sparked controversy among observers who have argued it has too many members, with its 73 members on salaries ranging from Rp 8 million (US$560) to Rp 50 million.

Previously, two other members of Anies electoral campaign team, Bambang Widjojanto and Rikrik Rizkiyana were appointed as members of the TGUPP. They lead the corruption prevention committee and the regulation synchronization committee, respectively.

The governor has yet to form the fifth team, an economic growth committee. (fac)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/25/anies-appoints-former-campaign-team-member-tgupp-head.html

Transport & communication

Indonesian police name captain, three officials as suspects in deadly ferry

ABC News - June 26, 2018

Indonesian police have named four people as suspects in a criminal probe into the sinking of an overloaded ferry on a volcanic lake in which it is believed some 200 people died.

The vessel sank in rough weather on Lake Toba in Sumatra last week, leaving three people confirmed dead and nearly 200 missing, in one of Indonesia's deadliest ferry disasters in nearly a decade.

North Sumatra police chief Paulus Waterpauw confirmed the vessel's captain and three port and transportation officials were being investigated for violating laws on shipping services.

"Their method was to make as much profit as possible by stuffing the vessel beyond capacity," he said, according to media.

He added the ferry, called Sinar Bangun, did not have a sailing permit, was not seaworthy, and did not fulfil safety standards.

The ferry may have been carrying nearly five times the number of passengers it was designed for and dozens of motorcycles. Eighteen people, including the captain, survived the accident.

If prosecuted, the suspects face up to 10 years in prison and a 1.5 billion rupiah ($142,900) fine.

Recovery teams using underwater drones on the weekend estimated the location of the sunken ferry at a depth of around 450 metres. Most victims are believed to be trapped inside.

Authorities have yet to decided whether to raise the boat, as divers will not be able to descend to such depths, officials said.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-26/indonesia-ferry-disaster-suspects-revealed-by-police/9912098

Over 193 feared dead in another Indonesian ferry disaster

World Socialist Web Site - June 23, 2018

John Harris – A passenger ferry capsized on Lake Tabo, in northern Sumatra, Indonesia on Monday evening. Only 18 people have been rescued and three have been declared dead. An estimated 193 people are missing and presumed dead, raising fears that it could be Indonesia's worst ferry disasters since 2009.

The wooden ferry was reportedly carrying over five times its legal capacity of 43 passengers and there were only 45 life jackets on-board. The port ignored two severe weather alerts from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) before the boat departed.

Lake Toba is a popular destination during the Islamic festival of Eid that marks the end of the month of fasting, Ramadan and fell this year on the June 15. The ferry was heading to the port of Tigaras from Samosir Island and sunk about half-way through the 40-minute trip.

A survivor, Juwita Sumbayak, told the Strait Times that the ferry had been hit by high waves. The boat tipped taking on water, sparking panic among passengers. The vessel was then smacked hard by another wave and suddenly capsized. "Many passengers without a life jacket jumped into the deep lake," she said. "I jumped, I cried with fear."

Rudi Wibowo, another survivor, said that he was treading water for an hour before he was rescued and saw all nine of his friends drown. "The majority of those who survived were outside on the front deck, as they had arrived late and the seating areas were full... The passengers inside were unable to break the windows and escape," he said.

Riko Saputra was rescued after an hour in the water using his bike helmet as a buoy. He reported that on top of overcrowding, the boat's instability had been compounded by dozens of motorcycles packed on one side of the boat.

A video released by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency showed the desperate efforts of crewmen from a passing vessel who threw life jackets and lifebuoys to rescue those in the water but their efforts were hindered by rough waters.

Authorities have reported that the ferry was operating illegally as it did not have a manifest or tickets for passengers. As a result, it has been difficult to finalize accurate numbers of the missing. Rescue teams compiled information from survivors and relatives. Private ferry operators often disclose false numbers of passengers to dodge operation costs and government taxes.

The search effort has been inadequate. After five days, the ferry has yet to be located and regional and state governments have failed to provide sufficient resources.

At a depth of 505 metres, Lake Toba is one of the deepest lakes in the world. The National Search and Rescue Agency chief Muhammad Syaugi reported that "more sophisticated underwater search methods require larger ships that aren't available on the lake."

On Friday, Indonesia's navy provided search teams with sonar equipment that can locate objects at 600 metres. The tragedy has devastated hundreds of families, friends and relatives.

Suwarni denounced the inadequate government response, saying: "What kind of government is this that can't protect their own people from unnecessary accidents? And after the accident they're not able to find the victims. I beg help from everyone to quickly find my son and his girlfriend."

In an effort at damage control, Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Wednesday called for an overhaul and re-evaluation of water transportation safety standards, "I am asking for this kind of accident to not happen again."

As in previous maritime disasters, the Indonesian government has sought to scapegoat the crewmembers of the ship to divert attention away from the broader issues that lead to such catastrophes. Captain Tua Sagala, who was among the 18 rescued and reportedly owned the vessel, was detained by authorities for questioning.

Budi Rahario, CEO of the insurance company Jasa Raharja, issued a statement on Tuesday indicating that injured survivors would receive 20 million rupiah (about $US1,400) and the families of dead victims would receive compensation of 50 million rupiah ($US3,500). No further details have been provided.

Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi pledged that the ministry would spend 75 billion rupiah to improve the five docks in Lake Toba. He added that all commercial boat operators on Lake Toba will undergo an audit by the government and will be suspended from sailing until safety standards are met.

None of these measures, even if they are carried out, will put an end to such disasters. Rather they are aimed at deflecting public anger over the unscrupulous profiteering by private ferry operators and the failure of authorities to enforce minimal safety standards. In a country that is an archipelago, it is workers and the poor who are compelled to use ferries for transport.

Indonesia has an appalling track-record for maritime disasters. The Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency reported that there were 715 maritime accidents in 2016 that resulted in fatalities and/or injuries.

This disaster comes less than a week after an overloaded longboat with 43 passengers capsized off of the coast of Makassar in the Sulawesi, killing 13 people. This followed another tragedy earlier last week when four people died after a speedboat carrying 30 people sank off southern Sumatra.

Lake Toba itself was the scene of a previous ferry disaster in 1997 when an estimated 80 people lost their lives.

A distraught grandfather, Muhaimin who lost eight of his relatives in the latest tragedy, told the media: "My sons, my daughter-in-laws and my grandchildren have been the victims of greedy businessmen who just want to take advantage of the holiday season without thinking of people's safety. It would not happen if they follow the rules. But they made money over our misery."

The latest disaster is another manifestation of the far broader social crisis created by capitalism. It is the outcome of irresponsible government policy and enforcement, inadequate and disintegrating infrastructure and the subordination of basic social needs to profit.

Source: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/06/23/ferr-j23.html

Literature & the arts

Shariah, dakwah, and rock 'n' roll: Pemuda Hijrah in Bandung

New Mandala - June 30, 2018

Quinton Temby – A principle of social movements seems to be that once a movement is written about there's a good chance it is now over or changed in some fundamental way. With this in mind, it's not clear what to make of Pemuda Hijrah, a Bandung-based youth movement whose name references the Prophet Muhammad's emigration or flight from Mecca to Madina in 622 – Year Zero in the Islamic calendar.

Over the past 18 months I've watched as Pemuda Hijrah has gone from a local religious revival movement in Bandung to a viral phenomenon attracting national news coverage. For months now on Instagram the most popular Muslim preacher in the largest Muslim-majority country in the world is Pemuda Hijrah founder Hanan Attaki, who has 3.5 million followers. Fast gaining on him is his protege, Muzammil Hasballah, with 2.3 million followers (the same number as the old-school celebrity preacher Aa Gym.) The group has developed this following largely under the radar of the mainstream media, in the belief that there's a trade-off between mainstream popularity and counter-cultural chic.

The secret to their success? It's much more than clever social media marketing – although at that they have few rivals. Some call their approach "Street Outreach" (Dakwah Jalanan). Very deliberately, Pemuda Hijrah has gone out and recruited from urban communities of musicians, bikers, skaters, street soccer players, and parkour groups – youth who are alienated from traditional religious institutions.

Their message to these kids, fine-tuned over the past three years, is that there is more to life than partying and losing oneself in drugs, alcohol, and other worldly intoxicants. Pemuda Hijrah offers them a community that accepts them as they are, tattoos and all, and helps them to reconcile an active social life with a meaningful spiritual life. Fun – a dangerous and radicalising substance – is encouraged. The group's slogan is "Lots of play, lots of benefit, lots of merit... little sin".

Only Bandung could have produced a movement quite like this. With a population of around 2.5 million, and millions more in the greater region, the city has the most vibrant youth culture of any urban centre in Indonesia. The scene comprises many flourishing and interlinked sectors including indie music, graphic design, indie clothing production, and event organising – all permeated by a strong DIY ethos. Bandung also hosts the largest motorcycle gang scene in the country, with some members of the two main gangs, Brigez and XTC, migrating to Pemuda Hijrah in recent years.

The Pemuda Hijrah strategy is to package the street credibility and counter-cultural capital from these recruits into witty posters and sharp videos that appeal to mainstream middle-class youth online. These secondary recruits, many of them university students, are the primary market. Online recruitment also gives the movement its reach beyond Bandung. If these recruits are not members of a cool community before Pemuda Hijrah, they are now.

Pemuda Hijrah organisers are straightforward about how they align their brand with their target market. One founder, Fani Krismandar (known as Inong), told me that Pemuda Hijrah's approach to branding is "a combination of Madina and Hollywood". But it's not all superficial marketing. Inong is representative of the group's core team, he himself having found the mosque via the street: before his awakening he enjoyed a national following as a skateboarding icon.

What's the difference between Pemuda Hijrah and previous Islamic movements featuring celebrity preachers? Although there are some similarities, Pemuda Hijrah is built less on the cult of celebrity than on the camaraderie of common interest. Key to Pemuda Hijrah's success is that its recruitment model starts with a youth hobby group; the spiritual dimension is then affixed to that base and modified as needed. The result is some kind of globalised hybrid, with many elements repurposed from the Middle East. The process is the opposite of mainstream religious organisations like Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah.

Also in contrast to other religious groups, Pemuda Hijrah preachers position themselves not as didactic authority figures dispensing advice from on high but as cool friends who stand in generational solidarity. This role is performed effortlessly by Evie Effendie, a popular preacher and former member of the Brigez motorcycle gang, who is known for his Sundanese-inflected wit. The title of his first book is "Gapleh", one of his many coinages, which is an abbreviation of "gaul tapi saleh" ("social but pious").

Pemuda Hijrah makes deft use of social media metrics to tailor its messaging. On Instagram, its largest cohort of followers is women aged 18-24 so "ladies nights" are a regular feature at Al-Lathif, their main mosque. Inong says they've identified the three most popular event themes: falling in love, finding a career, and hanging out.

But love is the master theme.

In his sermons, Hanan Attaki, having long exchanged his kopiah for a beanie, drifts from preaching to Qur'anic recitation in an enchanting tenor voice. His ironic analysis of the social construction of Indonesian ghosts – why so many take the female form – sounds like feminism of a kind. At their crowded events, Pemuda Hijrah figures are perhaps slightly conscious of enjoying a loophole in the system: while women might dress modestly so as to not inflame the passions of men, there is much less done to avoid the reverse scenario.

Is there a dark side to Pemuda Hijrah? Like most revolutions, there probably is. The group is at the centre of a broader hijrah movement that can be traced to the underground music scene in Jakarta circa 2010, one which saw several prominent musicians disavow music in order to conform to a strict Salafist interpretation of Islam. There is a lengthening spectrum of groups and splinters in the hijrah movement, each with different ideas about to what extent followers should seek refuge from this corrupt world.

For its part, Pemuda Hijrah, which also goes by the brand name "Shift", has emerged from the early debate over whether music is halal with a finely calibrated balance of contrast between the here and the hereafter. Too Salafist and they risk losing popular appeal; too popular or commercial and they risk losing spiritual credibility.

Who knows what direction the movement will go in the future, but one telling difference between Pemuda Hijrah and Salafist groups in Indonesia is that while the latter enjoin the use of Arabic terminology, Pemuda Hijrah favours English or, more precisely, the utopian idiom of Instagram: "no judgement", "life goals", "love lasts forever".

Pemuda Hijrah organisers are guarded about their political preferences, politics being the antithesis of coolness. But this may be changing. On the eve of the West Java gubernatorial election on June 27, an unofficial video circulated on social media featuring a sound track of Hanan Attaki promoting the conservative gubernatorial ticket of Sudrajat and Ahmad Syaikhu, who were nominated by Gerindra, PKS, and PAN.

Quick counts indicate the election was won by the less conservative figure of Ridwan Kamil. But an unexpected late surge in votes for Sudjrajat-Ahmad Syaiku, putting the low-polling team in striking distance of the governorship, has led to speculation that hijrah networks helped to shift the vote. If so, West Java suggests a potential campaign model for a Gerindra-PKS coalition in the 2019 presidential elections – if these parties can harness the social media skills and networks of the hijrah movement.

Could Indonesian civil society learn from the Pemuda Hijrah example? It's early days, but at least one group on Instagram imitates their style and even hijacks the #pemudahijrah hashtag. Unfortunately, the group follows ISIS and uses its platform to circulate videos that attempt to make interesting the statements of recently convicted Jamaah Ansharut Daulah leader Aman Abdurrahman. Not the kind of capacity building that many, least of all Pemuda Hijrah, would welcome.

Source: http://www.newmandala.org/shariah-dakwah-rock-n-roll-pemuda-hijrah-bandung/

The only album you'll hear this year about Indonesia's purge? Probably

Sydney Morning Herald - June 27, 2018

Rod Yates – Karina Utomo was 16 years old and living in Canberra when she received an e-mail from Magic Dirt frontwoman Adalita. As an aspiring singer who was accustomed to having people "go out of their way" to tell her she couldn't hold a tune, the message came as something of a revelation.

"My guitarist gave our first ever high school band demo to Magic Dirt without my knowing, and I'll never forget receiving that e-mail with her words of encouragement," says Utomo, who now lives in Melbourne. "That was really special, she was very encouraging. And then she said again in a Rolling Stone feature that I had a really good scream, and I was like, 'I'm going to keep trying to work on that'."

As will be attested by anyone who has seen or heard High Tension, the band Utomo has fronted since 2012, the 34-year-old's determination in this area has left her with a fearsome roar, a guttural sound that's hard to reconcile with her chirpy, cheerful speaking voice.

"I didn't think I could sing in that way or had the ability, but I had the desire to figure out if I could," she explains. "So I spent a lot of time practising, experimenting, finding my own methods."

It's a fitting match for the band's equally intense sound, a powerful melange of brutal riffing and cacophonous rhythms that they take to new extremes on latest album Purge.

Of the myriad records released this year, it's a safe bet this will be the only one to address the anti-communist purge in Indonesia in the mid-'60s. Though it's a subject that Jakarta-born Utomo has touched on in previous LPs, it forms the lyrical centre of the Melbourne quartet's third album.

"I think the reason why I keep writing and referencing this era is because it's still unresolved," she remarks. "It's something that's still in suspense and I have not yet done everything I can."

Several hundred thousand pro-communist Indonesian civilians were slaughtered during the 1965 purge, under the orders of General Suharto. Despite the scale of the bloodbath, Utomo never learned about it in school as a child in Indonesia, and to this day discussion of the events is still discouraged.

"The history books were very thin," she recalls. "It wasn't a history lesson, it was just propaganda."

Utomo first heard of the purge via her father, and in an attempt to uncover more details visited Indonesia in early 2017 to document the experiences of survivors. It's these stories that informed her latest lyrics.

"One of my friends I grew up with told me her uncles were taken, and she recalls every time her mother had to fill out a government form her hand would shake because there was a box to indicate whether or not your family was affiliated with the Indonesian Communist Party.

"That era really has affected present-day Indonesia," she adds, noting that those with communist affiliations remain stigmatised.

Plans are under way to have Purge released on cassette in Indonesia, though Utomo says there is already some awareness of the LP there.

"A colleague of my sister's was in this very remote village in Java, where this guy read an article about the album [that had been lifted from an Australian website and translated into Indonesian] and was really excited and keen to listen to it somehow, because he's a victim of the 1965 purge, his family.

"But it's just so heartbreaking. When he told my sister's colleague to pass on the message to the band, he asked to not mention specifically which village he is from because he's still so afraid that people might find out that there's a 1965 victim in that village."

Purge marks the recorded debut of guitarist/producer Mike Deslandes and drummer Lauren Hammel, who joined the band following the release of 2015's Bully. Given that female performers are sorely under represented in the extreme music scene, the fact that High Tension have two strong women in the fold is, says Utomo, indicative of a wider change that's occurring.

"We're seeing more women at shows, we're seeing more women participate in a genre that has always had very few women as protagonists, and without making any sort of manifesto we're seeing clear progress. There's so much to look forward to."

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/the-only-album-you-ll-hear-this-year-about-indonesia-s-purge-probably-20180627-p4znzk.html

Jokowi says art, culture 'wealth' that needs to be developed

Jakarta Post - June 23, 2018

Ni Komang Erviani, Denpasar, Bali – "Indonesia's wealth is no longer just about natural resources. Indonesia has extraordinary wealth that has to be developed to face global competition. It is art and culture."

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo made this statement when he gave a public lecture in front of thousands of art and culture students from several universities across Bali at the Indonesian Arts Institute (ISI) Denpasar, on Saturday. Lecturers from several arts institutes across the country attended the public lecture.

"I've often conveyed that the wealth of our nation is no longer just about natural resources. We have an extraordinary source of wealth, namely art and culture," Jokowi emphasized.

"We have 714 tribes that have different types of cultures, arts and traditions. It means, we have at least 714 energy resources we can develop in creative ways. We have 714 inspirational resources to make a jump in the field of art and culture."

Preserving art and culture: President Joko Preserving art and culture: President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo gives a public lecture at the Indonesian Arts Institute (ISI) Denpasar, Bali, on June 23. (JP/Ni Komang Erviani)

Jokowi said art and culture was a strength of Indonesia's that other nations did not have.

He said the government's attempt to build infrastructure across the country was part of its attempt to build civilization and connectivity.

"When we build physical infrastructure, do not perceive it as only physical infrastructure or economic development. Many people wrongly understand it. The most important part of physical infrastructure development is cultural infrastructure development, infrastructure that will unite 714 tribes from the archipelago," Jokowi stressed.

He promised that infrastructure development would advance art and culture in society. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/23/jokowi-says-art-culture-wealth-that-needs-to-be-developed.html

Foreign affairs & trade

Indonesia and Malaysia agree to cooperate on governance, connectivity, border

Jakarta Globe - June 30, 2018

Sheany, Jakarta – Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed to step up cooperation on governance, corruption eradication, connectivity and border issues during a meeting between the two countries' leaders this week.

In his first visit to an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member state since his election victory last month, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad met with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo at the Bogor Palace in West Java on Friday (29/06).

"In essence, we share the same commitment to ensure good governance, which is about the eradication of corruption, the importance of connectivity, and border-related settlements. We will discuss it one by one in ministerial-level forums," Jokowi said in an official statement.

The president personally welcomed Mahathir when he arrived at Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport in East Jakarta on Thursday evening.

During their meeting, Jokowi touched on several other issues, including the protection of Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia, and education for Indonesian youth in that country.

In response, Mahathir promised that his government would pay more attention to these matters, especially the development of school facilities in the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo Island.

He added that Indonesia and Malaysia are facing similar issues on a domestic and international level and should therefore work together more closely to address these more effectively.

"We face very similar issues, such as our palm oil exports. We have been threatened by Europe, and together we must fight back," Mahathir said.

The two countries are the world's top palm oil producers, accounting for around 85 percent of global output. They have united against negative campaigns on palm oil production over the past year, following a resolution adopted by the European Parliament to phase out the use of the vegetable oil.

The two leaders also discussed the South China Sea dispute and expressed their commitment to resolving the issue through dialogue and in accordance with existing international law.

Asean members and China have yet to conclude negotiations on a code of conduct in the disputed waters.

China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, while Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines have overlapping claims over the strategically important waterway.

Indonesia and Malaysia are also exploring the possibility of building a railway line between the two countries, which Mahathir said would be open to Asean citizens.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesia-and-malaysia-agree-to-cooperate-on-governance-connectivity-border-issues/

Jokowi, Mahathir discuss migrant worker protection, border settlement

Jakarta Post - June 29, 2018

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad met for a bilateral talk on Friday, exploring issues ranging from education for Indonesian children in Malaysia to border negotiations.

Jokowi welcomed Mahathir at the Bogor Palace on Friday. This marked the first foreign visit of Mahathir, the world's oldest elected leader, to an ASEAN country since he was sworn in as prime minister for the sixth time on May 10.

The two leaders held a tete-a-tete followed by a closed meeting between Indonesian and Malaysian delegations, during which they discussed various issues, such as strengthening bilateral relations.

Speaking in a joint statement, Jokowi said Indonesia and Malaysia shared the same commitment to promoting good governance and combating corruption. They both agreed on the importance of connectivity and the settlement of unresolved border problems.

"[Indonesia] in particular called for the protection of Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia, as well as the development of schools for Indonesian children in Malaysia," Jokowi said on Friday. Almost 2 million Indonesian migrant workers currently work in Malaysia.

Mahathir acknowledged the need for the children of Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia to have their rights to education fulfilled. A number of schools had been established in Peninsular Malaysia, though more were needed, he said.

"However, schools for Indonesian children are not yet established in Sabah and Serawak and, therefore, we will improve this [situation]," Mahathir said, adding that his government was committed to working with Jakarta to resolve border issues. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/29/jokowi-mahathir-discuss-migrant-worker-protection-border-settlement.html

Israel's foreign ministry confirms mutual lifting of travel ban with Indonesia

Coconuts Jakarta - June 28, 2018

Although Indonesia and Israel have no formal diplomatic ties, Indonesian tourists (mostly those going for religious pilgrimages) are a surprisingly a valuable source of income for Israel.

However, Israel last month banned Indonesian tourists from entering the country in response to the latter's own ban on Israeli tourists entering Indonesia.

The archipelago nation specifically issued a moratorium on visas for Israelis on group tours to Indonesia over the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian civilians caused by clashes between the Israeli military and the Hamas terror group in Gaza.

But there's good news for tourists from both countries. A quiet resolution on the matter seems to have been reached, as confirmed by Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Emmmanuel Nahshon.

"Visa restrictions on Indonesian tourism to Israel were lifted, in parallel to lifting of restrictions by Indonesia on Israeli tourists. Good news," Nahshon said, as quoted by Times of Israel.

However, it must be noted that the Indonesian government has not officially confirmed the lifting of the travel ban.

As reported by Israeli publication Haaretz earlier this month, Israel banning Indonesian tourists would lead to "insufferable losses" for the Jewish nation.

An estimated 30,000 Indonesian pilgrims visit Israel each year, and tour operators – some of which specialize in providing service for Indonesian tourists – urged the Israeli government to rescind the ban as soon as it was passed for economic reasons.

Even without the ban in place, due to the lack of diplomatic ties between the two countries, obtaining visas either way is relatively difficult.

Israelis wishing to enter Indonesia must obtain a special dispensation, aka a "Calling Visa", from the Indonesian Foreign Ministry and Immigration. Indonesians, particularly Christians wishing to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, reportedly have it relatively easier in terms of obtaining a visa to Israel, with tour operators in both countries ready to facilitate the application process.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/israels-foreign-ministry-confirms-mutual-lifting-travel-ban-indonesia/

Mining & energy

Legal fight over Bali power plant illuminates Indonesia's energy dilemma

Reuters - June 27, 2018

Michael Taylor, Celukan Bawang, Bali – Over the past three years, fisherman I Putu Gede Astawa has watched his daily catch off the northern tip of Bali Island fall at an alarming rate.

Having swapped his paddle for an outboard motor in a futile effort to fish further out to sea where waters are more dangerous, Astawa blames a nearby coal power plant for harming his livelihood.

"My catch is totally different to what it was before the power plant began operating," said Astawa, a third-generation fisherman based near the port town of Singaraja who heads a group of about 30 other fishermen. Where once they caught 400 buckets of fish a day, they now net just 10.

Astawa is one of three local residents fighting a legal battle to stop the planned expansion of the Celukan Bawang power plant, about 120 kilometer from the main tourism hub of Denpasar, which began operating in 2015.

"All the fishermen will be impacted and we will lose our jobs," said Astawa, 43, who now makes furniture to get by.

The legal bid, backed by environmental group Greenpeace, claims the planned expansion – which would more than double power capacity at the site – will be a setback to the remote area's fledgling tourism industry.

The legal action also warns of worsening air and water pollution, crop damage and a negative effect on wildlife at a nearby national park.

General Energy Bali, which runs the Celukan Bawang power plant, could not be reached for comment, while the company's majority owner, China Huadian Corporation, did not answer calls.

Building additional coal or gas-fired power capacity at Celukan Bawang or elsewhere on Bali is needed to meet rising power demand, Jisman Hutajulu, a senior electricity official at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, said by email.

But the decision on whether to opt for more fossil fuel capacity or renewable energy is for local governments to make, he said, adding that energy security, the environment and cost should all be considered.

Central government policy on renewable energy has sought to encourage investment while keeping electricity prices affordable for consumers, he noted.

Indonesia is among the fastest-growing countries for energy consumption due to a steadily increasing population, economic development and a rise in urbanisation.

Like other Asian nations, Indonesia also faces the challenge of boosting electricity access while meeting its pledge to cut climate-changing emissions under the Paris Agreement.

Indonesia's emissions targets can only be achieved by reducing its reliance on coal power and ramping up investment in clean, renewable energy projects, several power experts said.

King coal

Indonesia currently has about 54.6 gigawatts of installed electricity capacity but to meet rising demand, especially on the main power-hungry islands of Java, Bali and Sumatra, the country wants to more than double this over the next decade.

With huge coal resources, the archipelago relies heavily on coal-fired power stations to generate more than half of its power, according to experts. Natural gas contributes about 23 percent, renewable energy 13 percent and diesel the rest.

But having committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 29 percent by 2030 under the Paris accord to curb global warming, Jakarta wants renewable projects to provide almost a quarter of its power needs by 2025, and nearly a third by 2050.

Dolf Gielen, director of innovation and technology with the International Renewable Energy Agency, said Indonesia was focused on coal for power generation as recently as a couple of years ago, but "that seems to be somewhat changing."

With more than 17,000 islands scattered atop the volcanic Pacific Ring of Fire, power experts say Indonesia has plenty of options on renewable sources – especially geothermal.

The United States is the world's biggest geothermal energy producer, but largely untapped Indonesia is second since the massive Sarulla geothermal power plant on Sumatra was expanded earlier this year.

Hydro-power is another good renewable energy option for Indonesia, said Yuichiro Yoi, head of Indonesia infrastructure finance at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Manila.

North Sumatra's Asahan hydroelectric power plant, which began operating in 2011, has helped Indonesia reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, he added.

Solar, tidal and wind farms are also suitable for many parts of Indonesia, experts said.

Indonesia's first wind power project – the 100-hectare Sidrap wind farm on the island of Sulawesi – began operating earlier this year, and is a source of national pride.

There are also plans to build the world's largest tidal power plant in East Flores, media reports say.

Clean energy hurdles

Although a clean and abundant power source, Indonesia's geothermal resources are often located on or near protected forest areas, which can put off many financial backers.

One solution may be to exploit them on a smaller scale, said Almo Pradana, energy and climate manager at the World Resources Institute (WRI) Indonesia.

Similar to challenges facing other renewable projects, Indonesia's complicated land ownership structures and land acquisition procedures can create further risks, said ADB's Yoi.

New renewables plants also have to reach a power supply agreement with the state-owned utility and such discussions can lack transparency and lead to delays, power experts added.

In addition, government legislation stipulates new renewable energy projects must provide electricity at a price about 15 percent cheaper than existing power plants in a province. As a result, renewables often cannot compete with coal.

The WRI is working with international corporations operating in Indonesia that have pledged to cut their emissions to try and force the government to change tack.

"If you don't facilitate a company to switch to renewables, they will move to the Philippines or Vietnam where renewable energy regimes are more friendly," Pradana said.

Surayah sits outside her home with her granddaughter in Singaraja, northern Bali, on June 8. (Reuters Photo/Michael Taylor) Surayah sits outside her home with her granddaughter in Singaraja, northern Bali, on June 8. (Reuters Photo/Michael Taylor)

Last stand

Back in northern Bali, Surayah, who goes by one name, is the only resident left on cleared land that was Pungkukan village – where 50 residents once lived.

All her neighbors have been paid to leave their homes over the last decade to make way for the Celukan Bawang plant's planned expansion. Surayah did reach an agreement to sell, but it collapsed due to last-minute changes, she said, strengthening her resolve.

Living alongside six family members, the 64-year-old is adamant she will not leave despite her family's regular hospital trips to treat fevers and respiratory problems, she said.

"I feel the coal power plant doesn't care about me anymore," said Surayah, whose on-grid house is more than three hours' drive from the sprawl of hotels and restaurants in southern Bali that need the power from the plant. "I feel exhausted."

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/legal-fight-over-bali-power-plant-illuminates-indonesias-energy-dilemma/

Banking & finance

Indonesia hikes rates again to reverse rupiah slump

Agence France Presse - June 29, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesia's central bank on Friday raised interest rates for the third time in six weeks as it moves to shield the rupiah from a selloff in emerging market currencies.

Bank Indonesia raised its key rate to 5.25 percent from 4.75 percent. The rupiah has slid more than five percent against the dollar this year to below 14,000 – its lowest level since 2015.

Rising US interest rates are prompting investors to sell the rupiah and other currencies to buy dollar-denominated assets in search of better returns.

"The rate increase comes against a backdrop of continued weak economic growth and subdued inflation, and clearly indicates the main focus of the central bank is boosting the rupiah," said Gareth Leather, senior Asia economist at research house Capital Economics.

While the latest move may offer respite to the depreciating currency, raising borrowing costs could stifle efforts to boost the economy's sluggish growth rates.

In a bid to rev up Southeast Asia's biggest economy, the central bank had been repeatedly slashing borrowing costs over the past year and a half until it reversed course in May.

Indonesia is targeting annual growth of seven percent, but the commodities-driven economy has remained stuck in the 5.0 percent range.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/29/indonesia-hikes-rates-again-to-reverse-rupiah-slump.html

Indonesia books US$356.9 billion in foreign debts

Jakarta Post - June 23, 2018

Marchio Irfan Gorbiano, Jakarta – Indonesia's foreign debt stood at US$356.9 billion as of April, growing by 7.6 percent year-on-year (yoy), which was slower than the 8.8 percent growth recorded in the previous month, Bank Indonesia (BI) revealed on Thursday.

The central bank said in a statement that the foreign debt level was still under control and healthy, as long-term maturity debt still dominated the overall debt structure, amounting to 86.7 percent of overall external debt.

The latest figure brought the external debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio to 34 percent, which is better than that of Indonesia's neighboring countries, BI assured.

"BI coordinates with the government to monitor external debt to optimize its role in development financing without creating risks that could affect the economy's stability," BI said.

The central bank explained that the decline in external debt growth was primarily caused by a decline in both government as well as private sector debt, with business from the mining, manufacturing and financial services sectors booking sluggish external debt growth.

The government's foreign external debt, including that of the central bank, amounted to $183.8 billion in April, while the private sectors' external debt, which includes the foreign debt of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), was recorded at $173.1 billion in the same period. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/22/indonesia-books-us356-9-billion-inforeign-debts.html

Taxation & state budget

Fiscal incentives to take toll on tax revenue

Jakarta Post - June 28, 2018

Jakarta – Director General of Taxation Robert Pakpahan says fiscal incentives granted to businesses to attract investment will adversely affect his office's tax collection efforts this year.

He cited as an example the cut in the final income tax (PPh) rate for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as cooperatives from 1 percent to 0.5 percent, which would cost the state up to Rp 1.5 trillion (US$105 million) in forgone tax revenue this year.

"Because of the rate cut, the revenue will decrease by Rp 1 trillion to Rp 1.5 trillion," said Robert, as quoted by kontan.co.id on Thursday.

The government revised regulations on tax holidays this year to simplify applications for incentives for investors investing at least Rp 500 billion. The government is now preparing several other regulations, including on tax allowances and incentives for export-oriented industries.

Robert, however, said the impact was only temporary, because companies were expected to use the incentives to develop their businesses and more people were expected to open new businesses.

"The objective of the incentives is to help SMEs ease their tax burden in the hope that the incentives could be used to boost their businesses," he said, adding that the number of taxpayers among SMEs could expand by 50 percent.

According to Finance Ministry records through May, tax revenue collected by the tax office this year has reached Rp 484.3 trillion, or 34.02 percent of the Rp 1.42 quadrillion target stated in the 2018 state budget. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/28/fiscal-incentives-to-take-toll-on-tax-revenue.html

Analysis & opinion

Indonesia's government debt ahead of 2019 presidential election: a real economic

The Conversation - June 28, 2018

Tommy Soesmanto and Yenny Tjoe – The increasing level of Indonesia's government debt has become a hot topic ahead of the 2019 presidential election.

The central government debt has increased by about 48% since President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo came to office in 2014, or almost double that of the previous administration.

The opposition leader, Prabowo Subianto, who will once again challenge Jokowi in the upcoming election, claimed that this rising debt would likely bankrupt Indonesia by 2030. In response, Jokowi said that Prabowo's statement was overly pessimistic.

This article offers an objective elaboration and analysis of the government debt situation in Indonesia to help answer the public's concern on the prospects of the country's economy.

Increased appetite for borrowing

Uncontrollable government debts plunged Greece into crisis in 2017. The Greek experience was a wake-up call for countries to carefully evaluate their strategies for managing their debt. Prabowo's statement seemingly reflects his fear that Indonesia might follow in Greece's footsteps.

But will Indonesia end up like Greece? Let us first examine the current status of Indonesia's government debt.

When Jokowi came into office in 2014, his administration inherited a debt of US$122 billion from his predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY). Four years later, this debt has risen by 48% to US$181 billion. The increase is quite substantial as under SBY's five-year administration, from 2009 to 2013, the debt increased by 26%.

Meanwhile, the country's ratio of debt to gross domestic product (GDP) increased from 24.7% to 30% between 2014 and 2018. This level is, however, lower than the 60% limit imposed by the country's debt management constitution.

Compared to other countries, Indonesia's debt-to-GDP ratio is still manageable. The debt-to-GDP ratios of the US and Japan, for example, stand at a staggering 105% and 253%, respectively, as developed countries can easily borrow funds to help finance their deficits. Within the Southeast Asian region, Indonesia's debt-to-GDP ratio is also comparatively low.

A further analysis of Indonesia's debt

Once we understand the current status of Indonesia's debt, the next question is: should we be too concerned about it? Let us now analyse Indonesia's strategies in sourcing its debt.

In recent years, Indonesia has become more dependent on local lenders than foreign ones in efforts to mitigate exchange-rate risk and reduce vulnerability to global shocks associated with external debt. This strategy has been reflected in the increasing use of rupiah-denominated debt securities issued to the Indonesian public.

The latest statistic from Bank Indonesia showed that the share of foreign loans in Indonesia's debt portfolio decreased from 78% to 30% between 2008 and 2017. The share of rupiah-denominated debt securities rose from 21.7% to 70% during the same period.

Another key relevant issue is what Indonesia does with its debt. By reducing the proportion of its external borrowings, Indonesia has more flexibility in spending its debt. Debt raised from foreign creditors often comes with conditions and boundaries on how the debtor can use the loans.

The government has allocated much of its debt money to developing infrastructure – a key priority of Jokowi's administration. Massive spending has been channelled to large-scale projects, including airports, seaports, mass rapid transport system, toll roads, as well as thermal and hydro-power plants.

Under Jokowi's budget plan, spending on infrastructure has consistently increased by nearly US$10 billion per year, almost four times that of the previous administration.

Jokowi has also prioritised spending in two other key sectors of the economy: education and health.

As mandated by the Constitution, and continuing the legacy of the SBY's administration, the government has allocated 20% of the annual budget for education. One innovative education program of Jokowi will soon see an establishment of a sovereign wealth fund to finance scholarships for postgraduate education.

The government has also boosted spending to improve the country's healthcare system. As of September 2017, around 70% of the Indonesian population enjoyed the benefits of the government-supported health coverage program. By 2019, the government aims to cover all Indonesians in the healthcare program.

In contrast to the above, Jokowi's administration has cut the country's fuel subsidy since 2015. Some considered this policy unpopular as it may adversely affect growth in the short run. Higher fuel costs can lead to an increase in production costs and a decrease in economic activity. However, this decision will give significant budget relief for Indonesia and substantially improve its debt position in the future.

Data from the Finance Ministry show that between 2014 and 2017 spending on education, health and infrastructure increased by 11%, 54% and 118%, respectively. Spending on the fuel subsidy decreased by 77% during the same period.

Such budget strategy represents good spending decisions by the government. This spending will create what classical macroeconomic theory argues as sustainable long-term growth with an increase in standards of living resulting from an increase in productivity.

Productivity is strongly determined by an improvement in both infrastructure and the quality of the human capital. By spending most of the budget on infrastructure, education and health sectors, Jokowi is on the right track to stimulate productivity. As productivity increases and the economy grows at a faster rate, we further believe that Indonesia's debt position will be enhanced in the future.

Final verdict

The accumulation of Indonesia's government debt ought to be treated with some caution. The Greek experience has presented lessons for countries to re-evaluate their approaches to debt management.

In the period leading up to the presidential election, the debt issue in Indonesia has been very much politicised. However, we do not see it as a threatening economic concern.

The debt-to-GDP ratio of Indonesia is still within a sustainable limit. Indonesia is also moving in the right direction to effectively utilise its debt. Three major international credit rating agencies agreed with such a verdict. Indonesia's sovereign credit rating was recently upgraded.

There is of course room for improvement as the country continues its struggle to raise taxation revenue, improve bureaucratic efficiency and fight against corruption.

[Tommy Soesmanto is a lecturer in Economics, Griffith University. Yenny Tjoe is a lecturer/tutor in International Economics, Griffith University.]

Source: http://theconversation.com/indonesias-government-debt-ahead-of-2019-presidential-election-a-real-economic-concern-97708

On eve of W. Java election, Ridwan Kamil denies rumors he's pro-LGBT, anti-FPI

Coconuts Jakarta - June 27, 2018

Today, Indonesia is holding simultaneous regional elections across the country, but the one being watched most closely is the governor's race is taking place in West Java, the country's most populous and thus most politically important region.

According to several polls, the front runner candidate going into today's voting is Ridwan Kamil, the popular mayor of the West Java capital of Bandung.

Although the former architect earned his popularity in Bandung thanks to his technocratic approach to governance and innovative policies, he has faced numerous conservative attacks based on social and religious issues in the gubernatorial race, many of which are based on inaccurate information if not hoaxes.

In a tweet posted to his official Twitter account yesterday, Ridwan's social media team issued a statement denying some of the many accusations against their candidate. The nature of the attacks, and the official responses from the politician who was once seen as a progressive by many, should give you a pretty good idea about the sad state of Indonesian politics.

The release included as photos in the tweet begins by stating that Ridwan has been the mayor of Bandung since 2013 but also mentions that he is the grandson of KH Muhjiddin, a respected Islamic scholar from Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia and the world's largest Sunni Muslim organization. This is apparently important to mention since several of the attacks answered in the release question Ridwan's status as a true conservative Sunni Muslim.

In fact, the fourth attack addressed in the release is "They say RK is Shia or a supporter of Shia". Shia Muslims are a tiny minority in Indonesia and are despised by many Sunni. The release answers by saying RK is in fact Sunni Aswaja and is patron to eight Sunni Aswaja boarding schools (pesantren) and invites people to Google "RK Sunni Shia" for clarification.

The next attack noted in the release is "They say RK is pro-LGBT". The vast majority of Indonesians, including those in West Java, are virulently opposed to gay rights and feel threatened by the LGBT community. In response, the release says Ridwan is against anything prohibited in the Quran and notes that he was "brave" enough to shut down LGBT spa/cafes in Bandung and that he was attacked by pro-LGBT forces for trying to stop their campaigns on social media.

On top of trying to firmly establish his intolerance of the persecuted LGBT minority, the release also denies that Ridwan is against the 212 Islamist political movement and the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) – even though the conservative religious attacks on his campaign were pulled from the same 212 protest playbook used by FPI and other hardliners to defeat former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in the 2017 election. The release even apologizes for a 2010 tweet from Ridwan criticizing the FPI.

The last two points addressed in the release are "They say RK is a liberal who doesn't care about Islam" and "They say RK gave permission for 300 churches". His team replies by saying that Ridwan has given permission for some 4,000 mosques to be built in Bandung during his time as mayor and that the 300 churches he also gave permission to was proportional.

That Ridwan has to defend himself against accusations that he is too tolerant of other religions and minorities is sad enough, but his responses are even sadder. Pandering to the worst instincts of the majority may win him the election, but at what cost?

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/eve-w-java-governor-election-ridwan-kamil-denies-rumors-hes-pro-lgbt-anti-fpi/

Indonesia's 2018 regional elections: The race for West Java's governorship

Eurasia Review - June 26, 2018

Keoni Indrabayu Marzuki – The highly anticipated third stage of the simultaneous regional executive elections (pilkada serentak) is set to take place this week on 27 June 2018, with 17 provinces, 39 municipalities, and 115 regencies throughout Indonesia holding elections at the same time.

These elections for regional-level leaderships will take place in several provinces considered as key battlegrounds in national elections, for instance West Java, Central Java, East Java, North Sumatera, South Sumatera, and South Sulawesi.

West Java, home to around 31.7 million potential voters, is slated to be one of the highlights in the upcoming pilkada, given that the province has the highest number of potential voters.

Both political parties as well as political elites will scramble to secure victory in the West Java regional elections, in the hope that it will translate into electoral advantages in the 2019 simultaneous national elections, including the race for the presidency. Hence the importance of the race for the governorship of West Java, Indonesia's biggest province.

Impact of demography, recent memories and timing

West Java province is home to roughly 30 million native Sundanese, constituting nearly 80 percent of the total population in this key province. Muslim population constitutes an overwhelming religious majority, with around 47 million Muslims or more than 95 percent of the total population according to the latest available statistics.

Muslim communities in West Java are predominantly conservative, especially those living in urban areas. The demographic make-up of West Java province means Islamic and Sundanese credentials are important, though not absolutely critical, attributes for voter appeal.

The currency of identity credentials has grown substantially following the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election where identity-based attacks were widely exploited as part of electoral strategy to undermine Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the former Governor of Jakarta who is now jailed on a religious blasphemy charge. The memory of the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election arouses concerns for certain candidates that such a strategy would be re-deployed, albeit with certain modifications to fit the local context.

Shoring up ethno-religious credentials

The importance of identity credentials in turn prompts candidates to bolster their Islamic and Sundanese identities – by means of pairing up with Islamic and/or Sundanese figures, promising policy programmes that overtly benefit Muslim communities, and espousing 'Islam-friendly' vision and mission statements – to insulate themselves from the possibility of identity-based attacks.

The well-known Mayor of Bandung and a contender in the gubernatorial race, Ridwan Kamil, for example, selected Uu Ruzhanul Ulum, two-term Tasikmalaya regent from the Islam-based PPP as his running mate. Kamil is a well-known figure in Greater Bandung Area, thanks to his adept marketing skill and wide social media presence. These allow him to publicise his achievements in managing the capital of West Java Province, although some observers have criticised them as superficial and cosmetic in nature.

His popularity, however, has proven to be insufficient to inoculate him from accusations of him being a closet Shia or that he is sympathetic to LGBT communities. Ulum's santri background and networks with a madrasah in Tasikmalaya region are important qualities for Kamil to reaffirm his beleaguered Islamic credentials and simultaneously attract voters from Ulum's madrasah networks.

Yet, strong Islamic credentials alone is insufficient. Deddy Mizwar, the sitting Vice Governor of West Java, is popular like Kamil due to his acting background, but he has also been the subject of attacks due to his non-Sundanese ethnicity despite of his association with conservative Islamic groups such as the Anti-Shia National Alliance.

His running mate, Dedi Mulyadi – the Regent of Purwakarta and Head of Golkar's West Java leadership board – is renowned for promoting Sundanese culture and a brand of culturally-infused Islam, which often puts him at odds with conservative-puritan Islamic groups that considered such practices as heretical.

Adapting to political realities

Other candidates also adapt to local political realities. PDIP-backed Major General (Rtd) Tubagus Hasanuddin is paired with recently retired Inspector General Anton Charliyan, the former West Java Regional Police chief, who has networks with local Islamic clerics in Tasikmalaya region. In an attempt to anticipate the exploitation of identity and sectarian politics, the Hasanuddin-Charliyan pair has promised to allocate one trillion rupiahs (equivalent to around US$72.6 million) annually to fund mosques, Islamic boarding schools, teachers and clerics to bolster their credentials further.

Similarly, Gerindra paired its cadre Major General (Rtd) Sudrajat with Ahmad Syaikhu, Vice Mayor of Bekasi from the Islamic-based PKS party, which are known for its devoted and organised followers across the West Java province. MG Sudrajat touted his ancestral lineage to one of West Java's prominent clerics, as well as his ownership of a madrasah in the Sukabumi area.

The pair visited Habib Rizieq Syihab, one of the key individuals driving the Defend Islam rallies in 2017 who is currently on a self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia in May 2018 to obtain his blessings in a move to attract the Islamic Defenders Front's (FPI) sympathisers.

Implications of regional elections and national elections

The dynamics of the West Java gubernatorial election showcases the endurance of identity politics in local/regional elections in the aftermath of the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election that deposed the capital's governor, Ahok. Consequently, the race becomes a relatively homogenous contest, whereby all candidates have similar, if not identical, credentials.

To a certain extent, the homogeneity has helped undercut attempts to exploit ethno-religious sentiments and identity politics as a viable electoral strategy and correspondingly while subsequently muffling the salience of identity politics in the election.

That being said, certain sentiments or dynamics in local elections can permeate and subsequently influence national-level dynamics of the 2019 elections. For instance, two separate violent assault cases against two Muslim clerics in West Java province in early 2018 reinforced the view that Islam is being continuously undermined by certain quarters in Indonesia, thereby fuelling pro-Islamic sentiment and potentially making Islam's presence in politics more pronounced.

[Keoni Indrabayu Marzuki is a Senior Analyst at the Indonesia Programme, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (RSIS), Singapore. This is part of a series on Indonesia's simultaneous regional elections.]

Source: http://www.eurasiareview.com/26062018-indonesias-2018-regional-elections-the-race-for-west-javas-governorship-analysis/

Setback for ISIS, opportunity for Widodo

Asia Times - June 25, 2018

Abhishek Mohanty – In a major setback to Islamic State (ISIS) in Southeast Asia, a top court in Indonesia has sentenced to death a cleric reckoned as the de facto supremo of ISIS apologists in Indonesia, an extraordinary judgment that emphasizes a stiffening tone against terrorists in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation.

The judgment against Aman Abdurrahman, founder of Indonesia's most barbarous pro-ISIS group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, came after national grieving over family suicide bombings in Surabaya last month and enactment of an anti-terrorism law that gave police extended power to confine terror suspects. More than 100 suspected terrorists have been taken into custody since the recent bombings.

But Abdurrahman declined to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the court, which is part of his non-acceptance of secular government in Indonesia and desperation to supersede it with sharia law. Capital punishments in Indonesia, a country that has faced incessant terror from armed jihadist groups since 1998, are carried out by firing squad.

Abdurrahman was first jailed in 2004 after a bomb he made was prematurely detonated at a house in West Java, and again in 2011 for his role in establishing a jihadist breeding camp in Aceh province. He has also been found culpable for masterminding the first ISIS-linked terrorist attack in Indonesia, which left four dead in Jakarta in 2016.

In spite of being jailed since 2011, he has recruited a lot of newbie militants to join ISIS, is assumed to have been in touch with leaders of the jihadist group, and is the chief interpreter for ISIS propaganda in Indonesia, according to Indonesian authorities.

Because of the insufficient management of militants in Indonesia's crowded prisons, Abdurrahman had a free hand to disseminate radicalism, and interacted with his followers in the outside world through visitors and video conferences.

Adhe Bhakti, an analyst at the Center for Radicalization and De-radicalization Studies in Jakarta, has said it is possible that militants will respond to Abdurrahman's death sentence with reprisal plots.

"His words alone have been able to incite followers to carry out terrorism," he said. "The security forces must raise awareness and all intelligence services in Indonesia must coordinate well."

According to Bhakti, there were seven ISIS attacks and three foiled plots in Indonesia in 2017, compared with no attacks in 2015.

Ridwan Habib, a terrorism expert at the University of Indonesia, says the death sentence for Abdurrahman will just spark retaliations from his followers and the best punishment for him would be a life sentence. Besides, he argued that capital punishment was considered to be ineffective in deterring jihadi terrorists, since dying for their cause has been one of their end goals all along.

Indonesia has mostly restrained the terrorist menace since the heyday of al-Qaeda-linked attacks in the early 2000s, but with the advance of Islamic State – considering the group's potential to assert territorial dominion as demonstrated last year by the five-month seizure of Marawi in the neighboring Philippines – has left Indonesian authorities fearful that a new phase is in the offing.

The evident growth of small terrorist groups – including, distressingly, family groups – indicates that Indonesia will be dealing more and more with sleeper cells that are mostly self-directed and even more difficult to keep under surveillance or infiltrate than in the past

ISIS' incessant rise has brainwashed about 700 Indonesians to travel to Syria and join the fighting alongside jihadis. Indonesian authorities fear that many of these people could return home from the Syrian battlefields and help finance domestic terrorist groups. The evident growth of small terrorist groups – including, distressingly, family groups – indicates that Indonesia will be dealing more and more with sleeper cells that are mostly self-directed and even more difficult to keep under surveillance or infiltrate than in the past.

Furthermore, Indonesia, with an immense population of young Muslims, many of whom have a presence in social media, will have to grapple with significant numbers of people with radical perspectives. And the troubles do not only come from Indonesians falling victim to ISIS commands from the Middle East. Research in Indonesia has shown that dynamics in some local religious groupings favor those who condone the ISIS reorientation of the world.

President Joko Widodo, who has already sensed the present threats and future challenges, has backed a new policy configured to forbid youth from coming under the influence of radical views. Indonesia is on the path to developing numerous educational programs and materials aimed at furthering the country's motto of "unity in diversity."

However, massive monitoring by counterterrorism forces also advances the probability of human-rights violations, and grave concerns that the new educational programs could endanger freedom of expression. Indonesia, like many other countries, finds itself in the dilemma of trying balance democratic ideals with the war against terrorism. These are challenging issues for Widodo.

Support for terrorism among Indonesian Muslims is marginal. After all, Muslims comprise a huge number of those killed in jihadist attacks. But there are many on the radical Islamist side of Indonesian politics who have criticized the consolidation of the anti-terrorism regime – if only to find shortcomings in Widodo.

There is no doubt that if Aman Abdurrahman is finally executed, he is likely to be acknowledged as a martyr by his followers, which could inspire more terrorist attacks in the near future. But with presidential elections coming closer, it is unlikely that Widodo will wait long to send him to the firing squad. Even if Abdurrahman begs for clemency from the state, there is no chance of a pardon for his heinous crimes.

If there is to be a genuine development over the long term, Widodo will also have to pay heed more attentively to the old remedies: working with the Islamic schools for interfaith cooperation, enacting new prison reforms, and retaining Indonesia's highly effective de-radicalization programs. He will also have to develop new strategies to deal with terror systems that are constantly adapting.

Source: http://www.atimes.com/setback-for-isis-opportunity-for-widodo/

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