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Indonesia News Digest 27 – July 17-23, 2018

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West Papua

Dialogue with Indonesia is not the answer for West Papua: ULMWP

Vanuatu Daily Post - July 22, 2018

Dan McGarry – The United Liberation Movement speaks with one voice and with one clear message.

"We demand the freedom of our people and nation from colonial rule is delivered to us through a genuine act of self-determination, in the form of an internationally supervised vote," Benny Wenda, Chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) conveyed in a statement yesterday.

"Our position also remains crystal clear that there is no room for dialogue with Indonesia; the time for that has long passed. Instead, as pointed out yesterday by Secretary Rumakeik, the only place for 'dialogue' on the issue of West Papua is the floor of the UN, where the wrongs of the past must now be corrected."

The ULMWP seeks to remind key players at the UN of the legacy of failure they inherit, as well as their sacred duty under their Charter to ensure the decolonisation process is completed by giving the West Papuan peoples their inhalable right to self- determination.

The ULMWP chairman noted that Secretary Rumakeik's comments echoed the sentiment expressed by PNG's Prime Minister and current Chair of the MSG, Peter O'Neill, who recently stated he would like to encourage others to take the issue of West Papua to the UN. "We are encouraging that this be put to the decolonisation committee of the United Nations," he also said.

The recent reports from Amnesty International and the International Coalition for Papua, that both highlight the huge number of extrajudicial killings carried out by Indonesian Security forces against our people, should show the international community why ULMWP dialogue with Indonesia is not possible. It would also be a betrayal of our people and the 500,000+ who have lost their lives under Indonesian occupation.

"The only solution is for us to be allowed a genuine act of self-determination, through an internationally supervised vote," the chairman concludes.

Source: http://dailypost.vu/news/dialogue-with-indonesia-is-not-the-answer-for-west-papua/article_116db1a1-633f-55af-b518-1f5cfa1cc661.html

Pato reaffirms PNG's position on West Papua to Jakarta

Radio New Zealand International - July 21, 2018

Papua new Guinea's Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato says he has reaffirmed his country's support for Indonesian control of West Papua.

It was one of the points of discussion in Mr Pato's meeting with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi on Thursday night in Jakarta.

Mr Pato provided some clarity to the Indonesian government on what he said was some recent misreporting on the issue of PNG's stance on West Papua.

Other matters discussed in the bilateral meeting were Indonesia's assistance to PNG in its preparations for hosting the APEC leaders summit in November

Mr Pato said he was grateful that Indonesia successfully proposed PNG to host APEC 2018 and for its support in hosting the event.

He said they had a useful discussion on cooperation for the economic development of the PNG-Indonesia border regions, and on planning for the first PNG- Indonesia Ministerial Forum.

According to Mr Pato, he reaffirmed Papua New Guinea's longstanding and permanent position on the status of the West Papua and Papua provinces of Indonesia.

"They are an integral part of the Republic of Indonesia," he said. "There has been some misreporting on this issue. Papua New Guinea's position has not changed and there is no intention to ever change it."

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/362293/pato-reaffirms-png-s-position-on-west-papua-to-jakarta

Indonesia's Papua cover-up reflex prompts police dormitory raid

Human Rights Watch Dispatches - July 19, 2018

Michelle Winowatan – Dozens of Indonesian military and police personnel raided a student dormitory in Surabaya on July 6 to stop the screening of a documentary about security force atrocities in Papua. It's the latest example of the government's determination not to deal with past abuses in the country's easternmost province.

Security forces carried out the raid following social media postings about the planned screening of "Bloody Biak." The film documents the security forces opening fire on a peaceful pro-Papuan independence flag-raising ceremony in the town of Biak in July 1998, killing dozens. They said the dorm raid was necessary to prevent unspecified "hidden activities" by Papuan students.

The raid is emblematic of both the Indonesian government's failure to deliver on promises of accountability for past human rights abuses in Papua and its willingness to take heavy-handed measures to stifle public discussion about those violations. The government of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has not fulfilled a commitment made in 2016 to seek resolution of longstanding human rights abuses, including the Biak massacre and the military crackdown on Papuans in Wasior in 2001 and Wamena in 2003 that killed dozens and displaced thousands. Meanwhile, police and other security forces that kill Papuans do so with impunity.

Media coverage of rights abuses in Papua are hobbled by the Indonesian government's decades-old access restrictions to the region, despite Jokowi's 2015 pledge to lift them. Domestic journalists are vulnerable to intimidation and harassment from officials, local mobs, and security forces. The government is also hostile to foreign human rights observers seeking access to Papua. Last month, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, said he is "concerned that despite positive engagement by the authorities in many respects, the Government's invitation to my Office to visit Papua – which was made during my visit in February – has still not been honoured."

The raid in Surabaya signals the government's determination to maintain its chokehold on public discussion of human rights violations across Indonesia. This suggests that the government's objective is to maintain Papua as a "forbidden island" rather than provide transparency and accountability for human rights abuses there.

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/07/19/indonesias-papua-cover-reflex-prompts-police-dormitory-raid

Traumatised Papuan villagers flee Indonesian military in Nduga

Asia Pacific Report - July 18, 2018

Thousands of West Papuan villagers have reportedly fled from their homes in a remote regency due to conflict between Indonesian military forces and pro-independence fighters.

This follows a string of deaths in Nduga regency where Indonesian security forces and the West Papua National Liberation Army have exchanged gunfire in recent weeks.

Three people were killed in an attack on police at the local airport two weeks ago during regional elections. A faction of the Liberation Army claimed responsibility.

Following the attack, about 1000 extra police and military personnel were deployed to the remote regency as part of a joint operation.

They have been conducting an aerial campaign over the Alguru area in pursuit of the Liberation Army, with unconfirmed reports saying at least two Papuans have been shot dead and others injured in recent days.

A police helicopter was reportedly fired on by a faction of the Liberation Army last week, although it is unclear whether it was in response to rounds of aerial artillery fired by the military over Alguru.

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua has accused the Indonesian military of bombing in Nduga.

'Bombing, burning'

"Bombing, burning houses, and shooting into villages from helicopters are acts of terrorism," the Liberation Movement's chairman Benny Wenda said.

"The Indonesian government's horrific acts of violence against the Melanesian people of West Papua are causing great harm and trauma."

The Nduga regent, Yarius Gwijangge, last week made a plea to the security forces not to shoot from the air because he feared this could lead to civilian casualties.

With the situation in Nduga remaining tense, a local Liberation Army field operations commander, Egianus Kogoya, confirmed a number of Alguru villagers had fled from their homes.

"All the (Liberation Army) soldiers scattered back into the forest with 50 heads of family from Alguru village without possessing or not carrying their possessions, in order to save themselves from the death threats of Indonesian military and police bombs," Kogoya said.

"The Indonesian military helicopters fired the bombs, four times with huge explosion through air strikes at Alguru village. As a result of this attack, the gardens and houses of the people in Alguru's village are flattened with the ground."

However, Indonesia's military published a statement saying reports that security forces were conducting airstrikes or dropping bombs were a hoax.

Liberation stronghold

It said military forces were working with police in "law enforcement activities" in Alguru which is considered a stronghold of the Liberation Army and the OPM Free West Papua Movement.

Indonesian authorities have described the Liberation Army as armed criminals rather than by their pro-independence moniker.

Meanwhile, responding to the attacks, the largest organisation of Christian Churches in Indonesia called for the country's human rights commission to open offices in Papua region.

The Communion of Churches (PGI) urged Indonesian authorities to stop repressive action and adopt a strategy of persuasion.

It said the National Commission on Human Rights should open an office in Papua, citing a government mandate under Papua's special autonomy laws.

PGI spokesman Irma Riana Simanjuntak said Indonesia's government should establish a fact-finding team to verify deaths in recent attacks and guarantee the public's safety.

Indonesian authorities did not give permission to the KNPB to hold a demonstration, so police and military forces blocked the procession of demonstrators who aimed to petition the Papuan Legislative Council.

Human rights workers, journalists and medical workers should also be able to access Papua, Simanjuntak said.

Indonesia officially ended restrictions on access to Papua in 2015 but human rights groups and journalists continue to face hurdles when trying to travel there.

Trauma revisited

Young people in Nduga are tired of violence triggered by politics, a West Papuan from the regency said.

Speaking from the Papua provincial capital Jayapura, Samuel Tabuni said he had been in contact with friends and family in Nduga.

Thousands of Nduga villagers had fled from the regency since the violence surged during last month's elections, Tabuni said.

The villagers were terrified by recent developments which echoed shootings and killings that took place in previous Indonesian military deployments to the remote region, he said.

The recent influx of Indonesian military had brought back memories from 1996 in particular, when Indonesian military commander Prabowo Subianto led special forces into the same area on a campaign to save hostages held by the Free Papua movement commander Kelly Kwalik.

"That's why when a lot of troops... army and police coming in to Nduga, Kenyam, most of our people are afraid, you know, that the same thing is going to happen," Tabuni said.

"So we are deeply traumatised. That's why when a lot of troops... army and police coming in to Nduga, Kenyam (the regency's capital), most of our people are afraid, you know, that the same thing is going to happen. "

Special Autonomy Status

Special Autonomy Status was granted to Papua by Jakarta in 2001 with the promise of developing its human potential but in Mr Tabuni's view this had not transpired.

"Conflicts in Special Autonomy is more than in the past because of this politics," he said.

"The regional politics as well as the politics in terms of campaigning (for) being head of regency and governors. So these two politics kill many Papuans, honestly, especially those that are young."

Tabuni said many young Papuans wanted dialogue between Indonesia's government and those pursuing independence to find a peaceful solution.

"We don't want to be involved in all this politics and conflict and war. We have to have open dialogue to solve all the problems."

Meanwhile, human rights activists urged the security forces to withdraw their join operation in Nduga, saying it was having a major impact on the lives of local villagers.

Source: https://asiapacificreport.nz/2018/07/18/traumatised-papuan-villagers-flee-indonesian-military-in-nduga/

Liberation Movement opening new offices in West Papua

Radio New Zealand International - July 18, 2018

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua will soon have seven new offices in West Papua, its chairman says.

Benny Wenda said three offices had already opened in the region and four more would follow shortly.

Mr Wenda told the Vanuatu Daily Post their was a danger the new offices could be targeted by Indonesia's military, which had reportedly been exchanging gunfire with the West Papua Liberation Army in recent weeks.

The Movement's two other offices in Wamena and Fak Fak had been targeted in the past, he said. The Movement also has offices in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/362103/liberation-movement-opening-new-offices-in-west-papua

Papuan Liberation Movement wants dialogue

Radio New Zealand International - July 18, 2018

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua supports the idea of dialogue with Indonesia as long as it is mediated internationally, the movement's secretary says.

Indonesia's government of Joko Widodo has recently made overtures to West Papuan customary and civil society leaders for dialogue over a range of issues in Papua region. Secretary Rex Rumakiek said the push for dialogue was not a bad thing.

"But dialogue internationally, not Indonesian type of dialogue that resulted in 1969's Act of Free Choice. That's the type of dialogue Indonesia wants. We are not going to go back to that approach," Mr Rumakiek said.

"We want an international dialogue and the best place to dialogue is the United Nations general assembly. Let us vote on the issue."

The movement hoped to have questions over the legitimacy of the self-determination act under which West Papua was incorporated into Indonesia debated by the UN General Assembly in the next year or two, Mr Rumakiek said.

Since being admitted to the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) in 2015 with observer status in the regional grouping, the movement has had more opportunities to engage with Indonesia, which enjoys associate member status in the MSG.

The dynamic between the two parties, however, is clearly strained, as Indonesia's government has characterised the movement as a separatist group that does not represent Papuans.

The full MSG members – Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia's Kanaks – have been working to facilitate dialogue between the movement and Indonesia

"We can talk direct to them with the MSG members as witnesses. That is what we call a third party" Mr Rumakiek explained.

"We cannot talk direct to Indonesia by ourselves, but with the MSG facilitating. We try to avoid other people speaking on our behalf. The MSG is trying to arrange for meetings (between the West Papuans and Indonesia's government)."

Meanwhile, the Australia-based Mr Rumakiek said the movement was disturbed by the reports from Papua's remote Nduga regency that Indonesian security forces and the West Papua National Liberation Army had exchanged gunfire in recent weeks.

Three people were killed in an attack on police at the local airport two weeks ago during regional elections. A faction of the Liberation Army – which is not directly linked to the United Liberation Movement for West Papua – claimed responsibility.

Following the attack, about a thousand extra police and military personnel deployed to Nduga as part of a joint operation.

They have been conducting an aerial campaign over the Alguru area in pursuit of the Liberation Army, with unconfirmed reports saying at least two Papuans have been shot dead and others injured in recent days.

The Indonesian aerial operations over Alguru echoed previous military operations in the area, which devastated the livelihoods of Papuan villagers, Mr Rumakiek said.

"They are applying the same strategy that they bomb villages and chasing the people who live in the bush, so the after effects are much more serious than the actual destruction itself," he said.

"Those people, when they come back to their village there will be nothing left for them to return to because the schools and clinics are destroyed and the churches are destroyed."

But in a statement, Indonesia's military said reports that security forces were conducting airstrikes or dropping bombs in Nduga were a hoax. Military forces were working with police in "law enforcement activities" in Alguru, it said.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/362078/papuan-liberation-movement-wants-dialogue


Legislative hopefuls in Aceh take Quran recitation test to contest

Jakarta Post - July 17, 2018

Jakarta – Prospective legislative candidates in Lhokseumawe, Aceh, participated in a Quran recitation test on Monday to meet the requirements to run in the 2019 general election.

Lhokseumawe Independent Elections Commission member Mulyadi said candidates from six parties – the National Awakening Party (PKB), the Gerindra Party, the Garuda Party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the Golkar Party, and the NasDem Party – had taken the test on Monday, with more to follow in the next two days.

"Tomorrow [the tests] will continue with candidates from the other political parties, until July 18, as has been scheduled and informed to all the parties participating in the Lhokseumawe elections," Mulyadi said on Monday, as quoted by Antara.

He added that test-takers would be judged on their adab (manners), tajwid (pronunciation), and falshahah (clarity) in reciting the holy book and would be judged by officials from Lhoksemauwe's Quran Recitation Development Institution, Council of Religious Scholars and Religious Affairs Ministry.

Under the 1999 law on Aceh's special region status, coupled with the 2001 Special Autonomy Law for Aceh and Papua, Aceh is the only Indonesian region that applies sharia.

The region's legal stipulations or qanun require legislative and regional head candidates to be able to recite the Quran.

There are 575 House of Representative seats up for grabs in 80 electoral districts across the country next year, with a further 19,817 seats are open for contention in 2,478 regional, municipal and regency legislative council electoral districts. (ahw/kmt)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/17/legislative-hopefuls-in-aceh-take-quran-recitation-test-to-contest-election.html

Sexual & domestic violence

Activists demand review of rape victim's punishment for abortion

Jakarta Post - July 22, 2018

Jon Afrizal, Jambi – Activists criticize the six-month imprisonment of a 15-year-old girl in Batanghari, Jambi who aborted her rape-related pregnancy, asking the government to review the case.

A women's activist from Embun Pagi Women School in Jambi, Zubaidah, said Sunday that the girl's case had a legal fallacy.

"This case must not be viewed as an abortion case," she said Sunday. Abortion is a crime in Indonesia but there are some exceptions. Zubaidah said the girl's case should be seen as a medical emergency, thus an exception.

The Muara Bulian District Court sentenced the victim to six months' imprisonment for undergoing an unlawful abortion of the 8-month fetus and sentenced her brother-cum-assailant to two years' imprisonment for sexually assaulting a minor.

The girl's mother had helped her abort the pregnancy out of shame, after discovering she had been raped and impregnated by her own brother. The mother, who claimed she was unaware of the sexual abuse, is still on trial.

The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) objects to the sentence, arguing that Indonesia's abortion laws are unfair to victims of sexual abuse.

ICJR mentioned articles 75 and 76 of the Health Law, which state rape victims can undergo an abortion if it is performed by a licensed practitioner less than 40 days after her last menstruation.

"[But] In practice, many women only discover they are pregnant after 40 days. By then it is too late for them to undergo a lawful abortion," said Anggara, executive director of the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) on Saturday.

"The state should help these victims recover from their trauma instead of punishing them, especially if they are children," she added

The ICJR also pointed out that judges often neglected victim rights and lacked gender sensitivity when dealing with sexual violence cases, despite both concepts being enshrined in the 2017 Supreme Court Regulation No. 3 on women before the law and the 2014 law on victim and witness protection.

The Legal Aid Foundation of Indonesian Women's Association for Justice (LBH APIK) also object to the girl being imprisoned stressing that, as a minor and a victim, she should not be held responsible for having an abortion.

"It's not fair that she was punished just because it [the abortion] was done on her body," said Uli Pangaribuan a lawyer from LBH APIK.

She also objected to imprisonment, arguing that she is likely to suffer heavy stigmatization on top of rape trauma. Several online news portals are already guilty of sensationalizing the case as pasangan sedarah (incest) and their village has banned the siblings from returning home.

"There's no way she can get the necessary psychological help in prison. She should be sent for treatment and counseling instead," added Uli.

Zubaidah, of the women's school, said such cases of incest were likely to recur if the government did not pay attention to proper sex education.

"Incest cases have never been handled well. This proves that many people do not know the roots of the problem," she said. She said schools did not teach children how to build healthy relationships with the opposite sex.

The case surfaced after residents found a dead baby boy in a palm plantation in Pulau village, Muaratembesi district, in early June.

The brother told the police investigators that he had forced his sister to have sex with him eight times since September 2017. He said he would hit his sister if she refused. The brother, WA, said he watched pornography and wanted to have sex.

The villagers saw the case as incest, dismissing the fact that the sister had been forced to have sex. They told the siblings to leave the village.

The head of Pulau village, Damanhuri, called the siblings perpetrators. "The perpetrators would be banished from the village. It is the agreement between the customary institution, village and residents," he said. (nor/evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/22/activists-demand-review-of-rape-victims-punishment-for-abortion.html

Jambi girl imprisoned for abortion after being raped by brother

Jakarta Post - July 20, 2018

Jon Afrizal, Jambi – A 15-year-old girl in Batanghari, Jambi, was sentenced to six months in prison for aborting her pregnancy after being raped by her own brother.

The Muara Bulian District Court handed down the sentence on Thursday after finding the girl guilty of committing abortion, which is illegal in Indonesia.

The girl, along with her 18-year-old brother, were charged with abortion as stipulated in Article 77 of the Child Protection Law.

The brother was also charged with sexually abusing his sister as stipulated in Article 81 of the Child Protection Law. He was sentenced to two years in prison for his crime.

"Besides imprisonment, both of them [the girl and her brother] will also be asked to undergo three months of job training at the Juvenile Rehabilitation Institute [LPKA] in Muara Bulian," Muara Bulian District Court spokesman Listyo Arif Budiman said on Friday.

Thursday's verdict hearing was closed to the public. The defendants and their lawyers stated that they accepted the verdict from the panel of judges.

Meanwhile, the prosecution stated that they would still discuss whether or not to appeal for a harsher sentence, as originally they had demanded the girl and her brother be sentenced to one year and seven years in prison, respectively. "We have seven days before announcing our decision," prosecutor Vanda said.

The case came to light in early June when local residents found the body of a male newborn on an oil palm plantation in Pulau village, Muara Tembesi district. Based on the results of the investigation, the police found that the 15-year-old girl was the mother of the deceased baby.

The brother admitted that he had forced his own sister to have sex with him eight times since September last year. He threatened to harm her physically if she refused.

Meanwhile, the mother of the two, who was tried in a separate hearing, claimed that she did not know about the sexual abuse and had helped her daughter to abort the pregnancy out of shame. (ist/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/20/jambi-girl-imprisoned-for-abortion-after-being-raped-by-brother.html

Rape survivors often have to bear it alone

Jakarta Post - July 17, 2018

Gemma Holliani Cahya, Jakarta – Reports of a 16-year-old girl who reportedly died of "depression" in Bogor, West Java, after allegedly being raped by eight men have highlighted the fact that in Indonesia, rape victims often have to bear the consequences alone despite the existing regulations aimed at helping them.

The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) has urged the government to improve its victim-protection policy, following the report of the Bogor case.

The police said the girl died on July 3 because of "depression". She refused to eat and showed some psychological disorder. The family did not know she was a victim of rape before she died. Later they learned about the crime from her friends. She told her friends that last month she was picked up by a boy she knew, who took her to an empty house and then, along with others, raped her.

"This case shows that the current victim-protection policy still fails to reassure victims that they will be safe. The assistance programs for the rape victims -including legal aid, and also medical and psychological help- are still not adequate," the executive director of ICJR, Anggara, said in a release on Sunday.

The ICJR said that in sexual-abuse cases the government focused more on punishment for the perpetrators rather than the welfare of the victims. Anggara said the government should protect victims even if they decided not to pursue a legal process.

Ninety six percent of sexual-abuse victims did not want to report the crimes to the authorities, afraid that they would be stigmatized, ICJR said.

What happened in Bogor to the 16-year-old girl was not the first case that ended in the death of the rape victim. In January a rape victim committed suicide in Tambun Selatan, Bekasi, West Java. In March 2017 in Bandung, also in West Java, another rape victim committed suicide. In May 2016, In Medan, North Sumatra, a rape victim committed suicide after police asked her to make peace with the rapist.

Bearing a child from rape

Some rape survivors also have to bear a child as a result of the crime, despite a regulation allowing them to abort the fetus. In the 2009 Health Law, abortion is a crime but the law allows exceptions including for rape survivors.

In a recent case in January, a 17-year-old high school student was allegedly raped by her 57-year-old uncle in Sukabumi, West Java. The girl is six months' pregnant, reportedly with her uncle's child.

The Legal Aid Foundation of Indonesian Women's Association for Justice (LBH APIK) said such cases were common because sexual and reproductive health services for rape victims in Indonesia, including access to emergency contraception that could prevent an unwanted pregnancy after the rape, were not always available in every region.

"Not every region has it, and even if it exists, the victim still must pay for the service," LBH APIK director Veni Siregar told The Jakarta Post.

Veni said many survivors assisted by LBH APIK said they did not know about the service.

For rape victims, time is absolutely critical if they wish to prevent pregnancy after rape. Emergency contraception, which in Indonesia is known as Postinor, can be effective up to 120 hours after the rape but will be most effective if taken 12 hours after the assault. The effectiveness decreases every 12 hours.

But not every drugstore sells the emergency contraception. Those that do sell it often require women to show their marriage certificate first.

"The policy depends on each drug store, but the National Population and Family Planning Board [BKKBN] can't give the emergency contraception to those who are not married," the BKKBN's undersecretary for population control, Wendy Hartanto, told the Post.

'Full range of services' for survivors

Founder of rape survivor support group Lentera Indonesia, Wulan Danoekoesoemo, however, said that survivors needed a "full range of services", not only access to Postinor. They needed sexually transmitted disease prevention and physical and psychological help, she said.

She suggested utilizing local health centers for that. "Medical officers, even at the community healthcare level, must have the capacity, knowledge and resources to help these rape victims, so that help is near and available for them at any time," she said.

Data from the National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) show that 1,036 rape cases were reported in 2016 and 619 reports in 2017.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/16/rape-survivors-often-have-to-bear-it-alone.html

Labour & migrant workers

Motorcycle taxi drivers to strike at start of Asian Games if fares not

Coconuts Jakarta - July 17, 2018

Flocks of sports fans are expected to be coming to the Asian Games' host cities of Jakarta and Palembang for the enormous regional athletic competition beginning on August 18.

Plenty of people in those two cities will be relying on app based ride-hailing services Go-Jek and Grab to help them get around the traffic-choked streets around the games, but a major demonstration by ojol (short for "ojek online", the local term for app-based motorcycle taxis) might make that very difficult.

According to a statement from Igun Wicaksono, a member of the Two Wheel Action Movement Presidium (Garda), an ojol activist group, ojeks across the country are planning on holding a massive demonstration at the start of the 2018 Asian Games if their demands for higher minimum tariffs and better legal protections are not met before then.

"That's the final deadline, if until (the start of the Asian Games) the government has not given us a decision regarding the struggle of online ojeks to improve the tariffs then thousands of online ojeks from all over Indonesia will strike simultaneously," Igun said as quoted by CNN Indonesia today.

Igun said the Asian Games would be an ideal setting for getting the ojol's message maximum coverage and urged the government to help set higher tariffs before the games starts.

"The government prefers to protect its investors' rather than the interests of the lives of the millions of people who work as ojek online. (Hence) this massive and national protest is the last resort if our demands cannot be fulfilled," Igun said.

For months, online ojek drivers have been holding demonstrations to get the government and ride-hailing operators to increase the minimum tariffs for ojek rides, which are currently set at just around IDR1,600 (US$0.12) per kilometer. Drivers have demanded tariffs in the range of IDR3,000 to 4,000 as well as minimal order prices of IDR10,000.

During a major demonstration in front of the Presidential Palace in April involving thousands of drivers, President Joko Widodo himself met with representatives from the driver's side and instructed his transportation and IT ministers to meet with representatives of Go-Jek and Grab to find a solution. The companies made tentative promises to increase their tariffs upon review, but have yet to make any major rate hikes, claiming that increases in fares would lead to lower demand and lower overall salaries for drivers.

Both Go-Jek and Grab have raised billions of dollars in investments to fuel their competition for market share in Indonesia and throughout the region, with Go-Jek raising over USD1 billion this year alone from numerous investors including Google.

While one might wonder if there are even 2 million ojols in Indonesia that could participate in such a strike, Go-Jek does claim to work with over one million partner drivers in Indonesia, while Grab claims to have over 2 million drivers spread across their markets in the region.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/organizer-says-2-million-motorcycle-taxi-drivers-will-strike-start-asian-games-fares-not-raised/

Freedom of speech & expression

Man arrested for 'insulting' Batak people on social media

Jakarta Post - July 23, 2018

Apriadi Gunawan, Medan, North Sumatra – Police have nabbed a man for allegedly defaming Batak people, one of North Sumatra's ethnic groups, on social media following a tense gubernatorial election.

North Sumatra Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Tatan Dirsan Atmaja said the suspect, Faisal, was arrested on Friday at his in-laws' house in Deli Serdang regency after he went on the run a few weeks earlier.

"We are still processing the documents. The suspect will be handed over to prosecutors," Tatan told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

Manganar Situmorang, a board member of Batak association Parsadaan Poparan Raja Lontung, reported Faisal for insulting the ethnic group through social media posts that allegedly violated the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law.

His posts concerned the defeat of gubernatorial candidate pair Djarot Saiful Hidayat and Sihar Sitorus, known as "Djoss". "Batak people, eat that s***...," read one of the postings, using the vulgar slang term for feces. Djarot is Javanese while Sihar is Batak.

Edy Rahmayadi, a retired army general and a Malay of the royal Deli house, and his running mate Musa Rajekshah, also a Melayu Deli, won the North Sumatra election.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/23/man-arrested-for-insulting-batak-people-on-social-media.html

Political parties & elections

Surveys show most parties won't meet parliamentary threshold, PDI-P

Coconuts Jakarta - July 23, 2018

Indonesians are spoilt for choice when it comes to the number of political parties they can vote for (not that they're always good choices, considering almost all of our parties differ very little in terms of policy and ideologies). But come 2019, the number of parties in parliament may be but a fraction of the current number.

Sixteen political parties have officially been registered to contest seats in the House of Parliament (DPR) in next year's general election. But recent surveys from several institutions show that most of the parties – even the traditionally large ones – won't win seats in the DPR as they don't meet the 4% popular vote parliamentary threshold required by Indonesia's General Elections Law.

One of those surveys was released today by Media Survei Nasional (Median). Out of 1,200 respondents, current government coalition leader PDI-P came out on top with 26% of the votes, followed by opposition coalition leader Gerindra with 16.5% of the votes. Others who passed the threshold were Golkar with 8.8%, the National Awakening Party (PKB) with 8.6%, and the Democratic Party with 3.6%.

Surprisingly, 10 parties did not meet the 4% threshold, including the National Mandate Party (PAN), Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the United Development Party (PPP), NasDem and Hanura – all parties that fulfilled the parliamentary requirements in 2014. New parties including Perindo, the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) and Berkarya also failed in the survey, while the Change Indonesia Movement Party (Garuda) was not included in the survey.

Of course the survey's results also reflect the 14.4% of respondents who did not state their preference in the survey, making them potential swing voters that could sway these numbers significantly before the election. Median's survey has a margin of error of 2.9% and a 95% confidence level.

Other recent surveys showed similar results. From April to May, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) surveyed 2,100 people on their political party preferences, resulting in PDI-P coming out on top with 24.1%, followed by Golkar with 10.2% and Gerindra with 9.1%. Like Median's survey, most other parties did not make the cut, but LIPI's version has PPP above the threshold.

The Indonesia Survey Institute (LSI) showed near-identical results to Median's, while Poltracking Indonesia had PKS just making the threshold with 4.6%.

The 2019 General Election will feature four more parties compared to the previous one in 2014, which might explain why the votes are more spread out and fewer parties appear prepared to make the cut. Historically, it's not easy for a new party to meet the threshold and break into parliament (only one party, NasDem, managed the feat in 2014), but, if these surveys are anything to go by, next year might be the first time we'll see parliamentary mainstays like and PKS and PAN without a seat in the DPR.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/surveys-show-indonesian-political-parties-wont-meet-parliamentary-threshold-pdi-p-clear-winner-2019/

Tommy Suharto says corruption has become worse since Indonesia became a

Coconuts Jakarta - July 23, 2018

Last week was the registration deadline for candidates seeking to compete for seats in Indonesia's House of Representatives (DPR) and one of the most surprising contenders to announce their candidacy was Hutomo Mandala Putra, better known as Tommy Suharto, the youngest son of the dictator Suharto, the chairman of the Berkarya Party and a convicted murderer.

Besides the controversy over his murder conviction (which, as it turns out, doesn't disqualify one from running for office in Indonesia), many wondered what Tommy could offer in terms of a political vision for Indonesia and East Papua (the region he is vying to represent in the DPR).

That vision became clearer over the weekend when Tommy, who was convicted in 2002 for ordering the assassination of a judge who had found him guilty of corruption, said that corruption had actually become much worse in Indonesia since the age of Reformasi after his father (who is, by the way, ranked 1st on Forbes' list of the most corrupt leaders of all time) was removed from power.

"Reformasi promised to get rid of KKN (corruption, collusion and nepotism), but in reality it has become worse. Foreign debt is getting bigger while foreign investors are being pampered," Tommy said to reporters in Bogor on Sunday as quoted by Detik.

The son of Suharto also said that the presence of more foreign workers was making it harder for Indonesians to find work (an argument that's simply not supported by data) and that the country suffered from a lack of food self-sufficiency. He promised that he and his party could change Indonesia for the betterment of average Indonesians.

Naturally, Tommy's assertion that KKN is somehow worse now than during the notoriously corrupt dictatorship of his father, who is estimated to have embezzled some US$35 billion in state funds and given his family members (including Tommy) highly lucrative monopolies on state industries, did not sit well with many people.

"Regarding the problem of dependence on foreign parties, Mas Tommy should read up on history. Who started the [problem of] foreign debt? Was not the IGGI (Inter-Governmental Group on Indonesia) during the era of Soeharto? What institution is that? Learn your history," said Golkar Executive Board Chief Ace Hasan Syadzily yesterday.

Inas Nasrullah Zubir, the head of the Hanura Party's executive board, was even more blunt. "Tommy is very familiar with KKN because in the Soeharto era he was directly involved, right?" he told Detik yesterday. There is no question that with independent institutions such as the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) given extraordinary power to take down corrupt officials, corruption in Indonesia is far less pervasive now than it was under Soeharto's reign.

But that is, of course, not to say that corruption has been eradicated in Indonesia. Far from it. The KPK's raid of Sukamiskin prison in Bogor on Saturday, for example, showed that corruption convicts can still purchase the good life even after they've been found guilty of stealing the people's money.

In another terrible example of corruption that still exists within the Indonesian legal system, a prisoner who had been sentenced to serve 15 years for ordering the assassination of a judge in 2002 only ended up serving 4 years of that sentence (while also allegedly being able to come and go from prison as he pleased with a private helicopter). As if that wasn't bad enough, he's been allowed to run as a legislative candidate in the 2019 elections...

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/tommy-suharto-says-corruption-become-worse-indonesia-since-became-democracy/

Tommy Suharto's Berkarya Party gears up for election, wants 'spirit of

Jakarta Globe - July 23, 2018

Adinda Normala, Jakarta – The Beringin Karya Party, commonly known as Berkarya, held training for its legislative candidates in Bogor, West Java, on Sunday (22/07), to prepare for next year's legislative election.

One of the party's co-founders and current chairman is Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, the youngest son of former President Suharto. His siblings also got aboard.

The former president's family and closest associates have often been dubbed as the Cendana Family (Keluarga Cendana), after the street where the Suhartos resided.

The family spun an intricate web of businesses during the former president's 32-year authoritarian rule, which ended in 1998. Many see the Berkarya Party as a Cendana attempt to return to power.

"The Berkarya Party is not a party trapped in nostalgia, as has been said by certain parties. The Berkarya Party exists precisely to bring the spirit of change, improvement for the nation and state," Tommy told the candidates.

The party has registered 575 legislative candidates in 80 regions, including Tommy, Siti Hediati "Titiek" Hariyadi – Suharto's second daughter and former wife of Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto, and Muhammad Ali Reza, son-in-law of Suharto's first daughter Siti Hardiyanti "Tutut" Indra Rukmana.

Titiek was previously with the Golkar Party, which she left to support her brother. Tommy expects the party to exceed the parliamentary threshold of 4 percent of the popular vote.

"We must say that it is unfitting for us to fight only for the minimal result, we are optimistic and we are confident that we will achieve victory and, God willing, exceed the threshold of 4 percent," he said.

Indonesia's simultaneous presidential and legislative election will be held on April.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/tommy-suhartos-berkarya-party-gears-election-wants-spirit-change/

Tommy Soeharto wants Repelita and GBHN revived again

Tempo - July 22, 2018

Ade Ridwan Yandwiputra, Jakarta – Chairman of the Berkarya (Working) Party Hutomo Mandala Putra or Tommy Suharto said, as a politician and a son of former second President of Indonesia Soeharto, he's saddened with the condition of the Indonesia as a nation today.

"Food security is indispensable, especially since we have a large area, we have the potential not only the self-sufficiency in food but world food barns, but never used or realized by the government during the reform," said Tommy, Sunday, July 22.

Tommy said the situation was a tough challenge and would be the flagship of the party he leads. "Especially rice, maize and palm oil, because only those three elements of food that can be highlighted from our country, and thus will also generate great foreign exchange for the nation," said Tommy.

"Our benchmark for the nation is concrete steps, such as long-term plans of five years (Repelita) and 25 years and GBHN (State Policy Guidelines), how we build a state if we only rely on the State Budget (APBN)," said Tommy.

Tommy Soeharto also hoped that the Repelita and GBHN that existed during the reign of President Soeharto could be revived through Berkarya Party.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/07/22/055920158/Tommy-Soeharto-Wants-Repelita-and-GBHN-Revived-Again

3,000 students support Cak Imin as Jokowi's running mate

Tempo - July 20, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – A group of approximately 3,000 people from students of Islamic boarding schools, mass organizations, including Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Banjar City chapter in West Java, took the long march to Jakarta as a form of support to PKB Chairman Muhaimin Iskandar or Cak Imin as the vice presidential candidate for Joko Widodo.

The group is released directly by the Head of Miftahul Huda Al-Azhar Islamic Boarding School KH Munawwir Ibrahim, in Banjar City.

"Cak Imin as the Vice President, a running mate for Pak Joko Widodo in the 2019 Presidential Election is undisputed. We prove this support with a long march from Banjar to Jakarta, followed by thousands of Islamic boarding schools students and other elements of society," said Banjar City Students Leader Gun-Gun Gunawan, in a broadcasted press, Friday, July 20.

He said the long march begins from the Al Azhar Banjar-PCNU Banjar-Banjar Townsquare, continues to Ciamis, until Jakarta. In addition, it has coordinated with the security forces in order to maintain the condition. "From Bandung, we will take the route via Cianjur-Bogor to Jakarta," he explained.

Gun-Gunawan asserted that the action is done on the full awareness of students, mass organizations and the community, which from the beginning has declared their certainty to support Cak Imin as a vice president candidate.

"It is time for Islamic schools students to return to lead this country, repeating history at the beginning of the Millennium era when the great leader of NU, KH Abdurrahman Wahid or Gus Dur, was inaugurated as the fourth President with Megawati Soekarnoputri as his vice president," he said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/07/20/055920109/3000-Students-Support-Cak-Imin-as-Jokowis-Running-Mate

Prabowo meets prominent leaders ahead of registration period for

Jakarta Globe - July 20, 2018

Adinda Normala, Jakarta – With the period to register as presidential candidate getting close, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's main potential competitor, Prabowo Subianto, has been meeting with prominent religious leaders and politicians.

The retired army general and chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) has recently met with Said Aqil Siroj, chairman of Indonesia's largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Coordinating Human Development and Cultural Affairs Minister Puan Maharani, who is also a top Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician, National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman Zulkifli Hasan and former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who leads the Democratic Party.

Candidates in the 2019 presidential election will be registering between Aug. 4 and Aug. 10.

"I think there is confusion... because it is close to injury time, but he is still doing political lobbying... There could be a political deadlock," said Jerry Massie of the Indonesian Public Institute (IPI), as quoted by BeritaSatu.com.

While Jokowi has secured support from six parties to meet the 20 percent of seats at the House of Representatives threshold to compete in the election, Prabowo has yet to be endorsed by other parties aside from his own Gerindra.

Jokowi is supported by PDI-P, the Golkar Party, the United Development Party (PPP), the People's Conscience Party (Hanura), the National Democratic Party (Nasdem) and two new players: the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) and the United Indonesia Party (Perindo).

PAN, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the Democratic Party remain undecided. The following four leaders met with the Grindra chairman last week.

Said Aqil Siroj

Prabowo met with Said Siroj on Monday (16/07) at NU headquarters in Central Jakarta.

After the meeting, Prabowo said his visit was a silahturahmi (friendship) meeting following Idul Fitri, during which he also sought consultation regarding his potential running mate for the upcoming election.

"I think that every policy, every important decision, should be consulted with NU," Prabowo told reporters.

NU has some 40 million members of various professions and backgrounds. "As we have a big followership, his [Prabowo's] choice must at least not be contrary to Muslim-majority [preferences]."

Said said he urged Prabowo not use religion as a tool to gain political support. "Whatever the reason, religion is not allowed to be a political tool," he said.

According to the latest survey by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC), Said ranks third as Jokowi's most suitable vice presidential candidate, after former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani.

Puan Maharani

On Tuesday, the Gerindra chairman met with Puan Maharani. The minister is the daughter of PDI-P chairwoman, former President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

"I just met with Ms. Puan, it was a friendly meeting. I feel close with the family after all. Friendship is friendship, if we take different political decision, it's okay, we'll remain friends," Prabowo told reporters after the meeting.

Probowo was Megawati's running mate during the 2009 presidential election, which was won by Yudhoyono.

PDI-P is the main ruling party. Gerindra politicians have been constantly criticizing the government for the country's expanding debt, inflation and closer ties with China.

"The conversation ranged from mild to heavy [issues], we also talked about names [presidential and vice presidential candidates]. Jokowi and Prabowo are different, and I am between them," Puan told reporters on Wednesday.

According to a survey released by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) on Thursday, Prabowo would be the most suitable vice president for Jokowi in next year's election.

Zulkifli Hasan

After meeting Puan, Prabowo met with Zulkifli Hasan. According to Zulkifli, the meeting was related to both presidential and legislative candidates who will run in the elections next year.

Zulkifli, who is also speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), has been endorsed by PAN as Prabowo's vice presidential candidate.

Prabowo's coalition with PKS and PAN, however, is still not fixed, as each of the parties has its own vice presidential candidate.

"The candidate should be approved [by all parties]. If there is only agreement without support, it is impossible to win the presidential election," said Ahmad Patria, chairman of Gerindra's central executive board.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

Prabowo was scheduled to visit Yudhoyono at his house, but the meeting was canceled as the former president was rushed to a hospital on Tuesday.

Prabowo then visited Yudhoyono at the hospital, after which he told reporters it was "a familial visit" and that they "may talk more seriously next week." The meeting has been rescheduled for July 24.

Yudhoyono has been trying to get his first son, Agus Harimurti, into the national political scene.

In early March, PDI-P gave signals it was joining forces with the Democratic Party, following several meetings between Agus and Jokowi's sons, but there was eventually no deal. On May, Agus started meeting Gerindra members instead, including Jakarta Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno.

"We will continue to maintain good communication between the Democratic Party and Gerindra, and with other political parties. Hopefully, in the future, there will be more productive discussions," Agus said after Prabowo's visit.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/prabowo-meets-prominent-leaders-ahead-registration-period-presidential-candidates/

Who is TGB, Jokowi's strongest ally against sectarianism?

Jakarta Post - July 20, 2018

Marguerite Afra Sapiie and Panca Nugraha, Jakarta – West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) Governor Muhammad Zainul Majdi, affectionately known as Tuan Guru Bajang (TGB), may or may not be chosen as President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's running mate for the upcoming presidential race.

But the 46-year-old politician looks set to take center stage in national politics after declaring his support for Jokowi's reelection bid, a shock decision that not only angered his colleagues in the Democratic Party, which has yet to declare support for any presidential contender, but also Islamists who had tapped him as one of Jokowi's strongest challengers.

TGB, who was elected governor in 2008, is set to finish his second and final term in September 2018. His recent decision to officially endorse Jokowi may reflect his readiness to leave local politics and aim for a career in national politics.

Seeing his credentials, the future looks bright for TGB. Here's why:

Influential Muslim leader

TGB, like Jokowi, is widely regarded as a successful regional leader, having managed to bring more tourists and investors to NTB. But he has something that Jokowi lacks: strong credentials as a Muslim leader.

TGB holds a degree in Islamic theology and Qur'anic exegesis from the prestigious Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the very same school from which several top Islamic thinkers in the country have graduated, including scholar Quraish Shihab and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) cleric Mustofa "Gus Mus" Bisri.

Tuan Guru Haji is an Islamic title given to a master in religious teaching while Bajang means "young" in Sasak, the local language of NTB, where TGB was born and raised.

He is also the head of Nahdlatul Wathan, an Islamic group in NTB, and currently leads Al-Azhar Alumni International Organization (OIAA), the Indonesian chapter of the World Organization for Al-Azhar graduates.

As a scholar, TGB often preaches in other Indonesian provinces, building a national rapport. He has continuously promoted the values of moderate Islam, or Wasathiyyatul Islam, which he himself refers to as a guidance or ideology adopted by Al-Azhar graduates in mainstreaming Islamic moderation within Indonesia's pluralist society.

As a former supporter of Gerindra Party chief Prabowo Subianto, TGB had gained traction among Islamists critical of Jokowi. His defection has triggered a backlash, with some of his supporters accusing him of betraying the Muslim community.

The scholar took to his official Instagram account to defend his decision. "Do you dare to say that you are haq [truthful] while your political opponents are bathil [false], similar to the infidel Quraysh? Who dares say so? I don't dare," TGB told his audience during a sermon in a video uploaded on July 6.

The way to cope with political differences was to learn and fulfill each other in the concept of fastabiqul khairat or "race each other in all things that are good," he said.

"Please stop quoting the verses that speak of war in the Quran during political contests. We are not at war, we are [united] as one nation and [we must] complement each other in kindness."

'Progressive' governor

TGB was elected twice as NTB governor in 2008 and 2013, first with the Crescent Star Party and second with the Democratic Party. Prior to serving as governor, TGB served as a lawmaker on the House of Representatives Commission X.

Many have applauded TGB for his progress in economic, social and tourism development, as well as promoting the practice of good governance during his two terms.

Under his leadership, NTB took home the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) award five years in a row from 2011 to 2015 for its progress and achievement in alleviating poverty, reducing child and maternal mortality, as well as improving education and literacy.

He also implemented transparency in local government in a bid to eradicate corruption, including by requiring all officials who had control over public funds, down to the most junior level, to submit official wealth reports.

"Transparency should start with government officials themselves. If the people could increase their faith in them, public participation would begin," TGB said during a panel presentation at the Asia Pacific Leaders Forum (APLF) on Open Government in December.

NTB has gained several awards for tourism and transparency under his leadership. Last year, the province also received an award for best performance and good governance based on the assessment of the Institute for Public Governance (IIPG).

It is expected that TGB will retain the support of the NTB people. On Monday, hundreds of public figures and clerics in the province held a rally to support TGB in endorsing President Jokowi for a second term.

"Endorsing Jokowi to be reelected as president is a very realistic decision, considering the central government's massive, ongoing efforts in developing NTB," NTB Youth Movement chairman Muhammad Sukro said.

A potential VP candidate

In the current political climate, observers say that TGB's image as a respected Muslim scholar could help burnish Jokowi's own Islamic credentials and boost the President's electability among more conservative Muslim voters.

While Jokowi himself is a Muslim, his political opponents and staunch critics often label him as anti-Islamic and at one point rumors were spread that he was a Christian and was accused of being affiliated to the defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

"Should TGB be touted [as Jokowi's vice president], the stigma that attaches to Jokowi as being anti-Islamic can be reduced to a certain extent," said Djayadi Hanan, a political observer from Jakarta-based Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC).

In a survey by SMRC released on July 5, TGB is placed among the top figures favored by political elites, opinion formers and the public. The others include former Constitutional chief justice Mahfud MD and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati.

When asked recently about the possibility of running with Jokowi, TGB said, "It's the President's prerogative." He added that there were other senior figures of more prominence including Mahfud and Golkar Party chairman Airlangga Hartarto.

During a recent visit to the office of The Jakarta Post, TGB said he was ready to run for election. "Anyone has to be ready." Regardless of Jokowi's decision, TGB's political journey is unlikely to end soon. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/20/who-is-tgb-jokowis-strongest-ally-against-sectarianism–-.html

Indonesian dictator's convicted murderer son to run for office

Agence France Presse - July 20, 2018

Indonesian dictator Suharto's youngest son – who was convicted of ordering the assassination of a supreme court judge – will run for a seat in parliament, his political party said Friday.

Tommy Suharto, 56, wants to represent the eastern province of Papua, a region annexed by his father in the late Sixties following a UN-backed referendum widely criticised as a sham.

Papua, on the western half of New Guinea island, has since grappled with an insurgency aimed at winning independence from Jakarta.

Suharto's son will run in the April polls under his Berkarya Party, said a senior party official, who added that Papuans themselves called for him to run for office.

"That's the request of the people there," Badaruddin Andi Picunang told AFP. "Mr. Suharto (Tommy Suharto's father) liberated Papua. Mr. Tommy loves Papua and he wants to represent the people."

Picunang dismissed suggestions that some in Papua are not fans of Tommy Suharto or his late father's annexation of the region. "There will always be positive and negative views, but we're just looking at the positive," he said.

Tommy Suharto, who had been known as a playboy with a taste for flashy cars, served just four years of a 15-year prison term for hiring hitmen to murder a judge who had sentenced him to jail for corruption. He was released in 2006.

His political Party, formed in 2016, has at least one other member who is a convicted murderer.

The late dictator's six children allegedly amassed fortunes by enjoying privileged access to lucrative business deals during Suharto's three-decade rule, which was marked by massive corruption. He was toppled in 1998 during the Asian financial crisis.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-5973911/Indonesian-dictators-convicted-murderer-son-run-office.html

PDI-P says Rizieq's lawyer vying for House seat with party

Jakarta Post - July 18, 2018

Jakarta – The secretary general of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Hasto Kristiyanto, said Tuesday that Rizieq Shihab's lawyer, Kapitra Ampera, was among the hopefuls in the 2019 legislative election.

Hasto said Kapitra's electoral region was West Sumatra, a province known as a stronghold of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second-largest Muslim organization. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's rival, Prabowo Subianto, scored a landslide victory with nearly 77 percent of the vote in the province during the 2014 presidential election.

"We're considering the hopes of the people, including those in West Sumatra," said Hasto as quoted by tribunnews.com on Tuesday at the General Elections Commission (KPU) office in Jakarta.

He said the PDI-P had spoken to West Sumatrans, who wanted to have a figure who could act as a bridge between them and the PDI-P. In the 2014 legislative election, the PDI-P was in the eighth position out of 12 parties. The Golkar Party was number one in the province, followed by Prabowo's Gerindra Party.

"[Kapitra] is endorsed by the PDI-P for the West Sumatra electoral region. We received suggestions that the PDI-P should improve its communication, that's why we have recruited a figure from West Sumatra," he said.

He said the PDI-P was building "a house for the nation for Greater Indonesia" so all the nation's problems could be solved by dialogues and discussion embracing "all components of the public".

"Whatever the political ideology, they are all the nation's citizens that have to be invited for dialogue under the leadership of Pak Jokowi. We invite everyone, as long as they hold Indonesian ID cards, to have a dialogue. It is the President's task to build the dialogue, and the PDI-P is the politics of dialogue too," Hasto said.

Kapitra himself, however, was surprised to hear this when journalists confirmed the news to him.

"Running in the legislative election? Who said that?" said Kapitra to tribunnews.com on Tuesday. "I have never met Hasto in my entire life," he said. Kapitra said he would hold a press conference on Wednesday about Hasto's statement.

Kapitra's client, Rizieq Shihab, is known as one of Jokowi's toughest critics. Rizieq was being investigated by the National Police over pornography allegations, but the police dropped the case last month.

Tuesday is the last day that legislative hopefuls can register with the KPU, whose office is open until midnight.

Among the hopefuls from the PDI-P was Yusuf Supendi, one of the founders of the Justice Party, which now has transformed into the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

Yusuf said he had decided to go with the PDI-P after doing some "research". He said he wanted to change the perception that the PDI-P was anti-Islam and a sympathizer of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

"I'm sure I can fight to correct the false perception by spreading accurate information and showing political behavior that puts forward the benefit for religions, the nation and the state," he said as quoted by tribunnews.com.

Yusuf will run in the West Java electoral region, where Jokowi lost to Prabowo in the presidential election in 2014 with only about 40 percent of the vote. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/17/pdi-p-says-rizieqs-lawyer-vying-for-house-seat-with-party.html

Tommy Soeharto listed for the Papua legislative candidacy

Tempo - July 18, 2018

Dewi Nurita, Jakarta – Berkarya Party Chairman and late-Soeharto's youngest son, Hutomo Mandala Putra or Tommy Soeharto declared that he has listed himself as a Papua legislative candidate (caleg) for the 2019 general elections.

Tommy's name was registered to the General Elections Commission (KPU) together with Berkarya Party's 575 soon-to-be legislative candidates on Tuesday night.

The party's secretary general Priyo Budi Santoso revealed the reason behind Tommy Soeharto's candidacy in Papua. He claims that the people of Papua has a sense of enthusiasm and nostalgic towards Soeharto's past administration under the country's New Order.

"The enthusiasm of people in rural areas were outstanding, they welcomed (Tommy) with the spirit and memories of President Soeharto's administration," Priyo claimed.

Other than Tommy Soeharto, legislative candidates that Berkarya Party enlisted are actors Andi Arsyil and senior actress Paramitha Rusady.

Priyo said that there are many former Golkar Party members that chose to jump ship and join Berkarya Party for the 2019 legislative elections. "From the 575 names that we registered, 30 percent of them are former members of other political parties," said the Berkarya Party secretary general.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/07/18/055920054/Tommy-Soeharto-Listed-for-the-Papua-Legislative-Candidacy

Celebrities, ministers eye House seats in 2019

Jakarta Post - July 17, 2018

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – The names of well-known singers, actors and ministers are among thousands who registered with the General Elections Commission (KPU) on Tuesday, the last day of registration for those eyeing a seat in the House of Representatives after next year's legislative election.

The KPU in Jakarta, which is open until midnight, received submissions from more than 5,000 hopefuls as of Tuesday evening, among them Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly and Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Puan Maharani. Both are Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) members who became lawmakers in 2004 and 2009, respectively.

Presidential spokesperson Johan Budi also reportedly registered to be a legislative candidate for the PDI-P.

On Tuesday, PDI-P executive board member Andreas Hugo Pareira said only two ministers from the party would contest the election.

"From executive institutions, Yasonna and Puan will be our legislative candidates. [...] It was the party that asked them to contest the election," Andreas added.

The PDI-P also registered vocalist Ian Kasela, who fronts the band Radja, and singers Krisdayanti and Harvey Malaiholo.

"We hope they will encourage [the people] to love Indonesia's culture more through the legislative institution," said PDI-P secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto.

The party registered around 575 legislative candidates representing 80 electoral districts with the KPU.

Well-known boxer Chris John, dangdut singer Kristina and several actresses – Nafa Urbach, Tessa Kaunang and Wanda Hamidah – are also on the list of legislative candidates registered with the KPU. They are all NasDem Party members.

NasDem secretary-general Johnny G. Platte said the legislative body needed people from those industries who could implement policies and regulations that developed Indonesia's arts and culture.

However, he did not deny that registering so many public figures in the contest was part of the party's political strategy to win big in the legislative election, given the popularity of the celebrities.

"We are sure that they have integrity and are competent [to enter the political arena]," Johnny said. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/17/celebrities-ministers-eye-house-seats-in-2019.html

Prabowo meets Puan in undisclosed location

Jakarta Post - July 17, 2018

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – Opposition leader Prabowo Subianto held a meeting with top Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) official Puan Maharani at an undisclosed location on Tuesday.

The leader of the Gerindra Party described his visit with the daughter of PDI-P patron Megawati Soekarnoputri as "a friendly meeting between two family friends". "I think we'll meet again. If we want to meet we don't need to set a serious agenda," Prabowo said.

He declined to confirm if they talked about the 2019 presidential election and the possibility of Gerindra joining forces with the PDI-P. He said Puan had told him that "she wanted to learn how to ride a horse in Hambalang. And I am happy for that".

The two politicians had planned the meeting a month ago, following speculation that the PDI-P would ask Gerindra to join its coalition and endorse President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's reelection bid.

Some have said that Jokowi once offered Prabowo a vice presidential ticket. Gerindra, however, has made it clear that it will nominate Prabowo as a presidential candidate.

Prabowo added that he might welcome Puan at his private residence in Hambalang, Bogor, West Java.

Following the meeting with Puan, he is scheduled to meet Democratic Party chairman and former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to talk about a possible coalition. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/17/prabowo-meets-puan-in-undisclosed-location.html

Islamic-based PKS founder becomes legislative candidate for Jokowi's

Kumparan News - July 17, 2018

The founder of the Islamic-based Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS), Yusuf Supendi, has nominated himself as a legislative candidate for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

Supendi is a former PKS leader who served as a member of the House of Representatives (DPR) in 2004-2009.

Supendi admitted that he has switched parties and is now a member of the party of the bull as the PDI-P is known. Today, Tuesday July 17, he will join a group of PDI-P members to register with the General Elections Commission (KPU).

Nevertheless, Supendi has yet to reveal further details about his status within the PDI-P. "[It will be announced in] a press release later at the (PDI-P's) central leadership board", he told Kumparan.

Supendi was sacked by the PKS in 2010. At the time he held the post of deputy chairperson of the PKS's advisory board.

In his book titled, "Yusuf Supendi Sues the PKS Elite", he claimed that he was sacked because of [false] accusations that had an affair with another woman and misappropriated donations.

Supendi claims that this is slander. He also says that his sacking was not carried out in accordance with procedures because he never received a formal notification. Supendi later sued the PKS in the South Jakarta District Court.


These kind of opportunistic defections, which are taking place in the context of continued infighting within the organised Islamic opposition to the Widodo government and former general Prabowo Subianto's failure to cobble together a viable coalition of political parties to enable him to contest the 2019 presidential election, demonstrate, yet again, just how shallow the ideological and political differences are among Indonesia's political and religious elite.

See Max Lane's article The country with no left.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Pendiri PKS Yusuf Supendi Nyaleg dari PDIP".]

Source: https://kumparan.com/@kumparannews/pendiri-pks-yusuf-supendi-nyaleg-dari-pdip-27431110790547120

Rizieq Shihab's lawyer becomes legislative candidate for Jokowi's ruling

Detik News - July 17, 2018

Audrey Santoso, Jakarta – There seems to be no end of surprises when it comes to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

Now, Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab's lawyer, Kapitra Ampera, has become a legislative candidate for the party of the white-snouted bull as the PDI-P is known.

The surprise news was revealed by PDI-P Secretary General Hasto Kristiyanto who said that the people of West Sumatra had asked that Ampera become a legislative candidate.

"Yes, as we stated, in our dialogue with the people of Sumbar [West Sumatra] they truly wanted a bridge to link with the PDI-P so Ampera has indeed been nominated by the PDI-P for the Sumbar electoral district", said Kristiyanto at the General Election Commission (KPU) offices on Jl. Imam Bonjol in Central Jakarta on Tuesday July 17.

Responding to questions about the news that Ampera has become a candidate for the PDI-P, Kristiyanto insisted that the PDI-P is open to any and all groups and welcomes any figure who wishes to talk and cooperate in building the nation.

"The PDI-P is building its identity as a nationalist home for Indonesia Raya [the national anthem] so those that join and declare that the PDI-P is a party which stands strong with the [state ideology of] Pancasila, so our dialogue has been going well", said Kristiyanto.

Responding to the news about his nomination, Ampera insisted that he has never met with Kristiyanto.

Ampera is Rizieq Shihab's lawyer and has actively defended Shihab until the pornography chat case against his client was dropped by the police last month.

Ampera recently criticised the Alumni 212 Brotherhood – a grouping of hard-line Islamic groups behind last year's protests against former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama – for removing popular West Nusa Tenggara governor Tuan Guru Bajang (TGB) from its list of legislative candidates after he declared his support for Widodo earlier this month.


These kind of opportunistic defections, which are taking place in the context of continued infighting within the organised Islamic opposition to the Widodo government and former general Prabowo Subianto's failure to cobble together a viable coalition of political parties to enable him to contest the 2019 presidential election, demonstrate, yet again, just how shallow the ideological and political differences are among Indonesia's political and religious elite.

See Max Lane's article The country with no left.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Bikin Kaget! Kapitra Pengacara Habib Rizieq Jadi Caleg PDIP".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita/4119318/bikin-kaget-kapitra-pengacara-habib-rizieq-jadi-caleg-pdip

Police ask ulemas help to secure 2019 election

Tempo - July 17, 2018

Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta – The National Police Chief Gen. Tito Karnavian called on scholars or ulemas to help maintain the conducive situations during this political year.

"As figures whom I consider close to the public, ulema has a role in maintaining the security," said Tito during a national gathering on public security and order at South Jakarta, Tuesday, July 17.

According to Tito, ulema has a role in delivering messages of peace to cool off the situation ahead of the election considering a political contest might threaten the unity of the nation.

Tito considered general election and presidential election as a political and power contest in which some parties would likely use every way to clear their path.

The Police Chief said the election should be held in a democratic way without sacrificing the diversity and unity of the Republic of Indonesia. "Don't let this competition divide the unity," he underlined.

Police Chief Tito further mentioned the spread of radicalism network which deemed regional head election or presidential election as an event of shirk (deification or worship of anyone or anything besides the God), as claimed by several terror suspects. He then demanded ulema shed light to the public to avoid radicalisms.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/07/17/055920031/Police-Ask-Ulemas-Help-Secure-2019-Election

Fake news & black campaigns

'I felt disgusted': inside Indonesia's fake Twitter account factories

The Guardian - July 23, 2018

Kate Lamb, Jakarta – To pass them off as real, Alex would enliven his fake accounts with dashes of humanity. Mixed up among the stream of political posts, his avatars – mostly pretty young Indonesian women – would bemoan their broken hearts and post pictures of their breakfasts.

But these fake accounts were not for fun; Alex and his team were told it was "war"."When you're at war you use anything available to attack the opponent," says Alex from a cafe in central Jakarta, "but sometimes I felt disgusted with myself."

For several months in 2017 Alex, whose name has been changed, alleges he was one of more than 20 people inside a secretive cyber army that pumped out messages from fake social media accounts to support then Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as "Ahok", as he fought for re-election.

"They told us you should have five Facebook accounts, five Twitter accounts and one Instagram," he told the Guardian. "And they told us to keep it secret. They said it was 'war time' and we had to guard the battleground and not tell anyone about where we worked."

The Jakarta election – which saw the incumbent Ahok, a Chinese Christian, compete against the former president's son Agus Yudhoyono, and the former education minister, Anies Baswedan – churned up ugly religious and racial divisions. It culminated in mass Islamic rallies and allegations that religion was being used for political gain. Demonstrators called for Ahok to be jailed on contentious blasphemy charges.

The rallies were heavily promoted by an opaque online movement known as the Muslim Cyber Army, or the MCA, which employed hundreds of fake and anonymous accounts to spread racist and hardline Islamic content designed to turn Muslim voters against Ahok.

Alex says his team was employed to counter the deluge of anti-Ahok sentiment, including hashtags that critiqued opposition candidates, or ridiculed their Islamic allies.

Alex's team, comprising Ahok supporters and university students lured by the lucrative pay of about $280 (#212) a month, was allegedly employed in a "luxury house" in Menteng, central Jakarta. They were each told to post 60 to 120 times a day on their fake Twitter accounts, and a few times each day on Facebook.

In Indonesia – which ranks among the top five users of Twitter and Facebook globally – they are what are known as a "buzzer teams" – groups which amplify messages and creates a "buzz" on social networks. While not all buzzer teams use fake accounts, some do.

Alex says his team of 20 people, each with 11 social media accounts, would generate up to 2,400 posts on Twitter a day.

The operation is said to have been coordinated through a WhatsApp group called Pasukan Khusus, meaning "special forces" in Indonesian, which Alex estimates consisted of about 80 members. The team was fed content and daily hashtags to promote.

"They didn't want the accounts to be anonymous so they asked us to take photos for the profiles, so we took them from Google, or sometimes we used pictures from our friends, or photos from Facebook or WhatsApp groups," says Alex. "They also encouraged us to use accounts of beautiful women to draw attention to the material; many accounts were like that."

The cyber team was allegedly told it was "only safe" to post from the Menteng residence, where they operated from several rooms.

"The first room was for the positive content, where they spread positive content about Ahok. The second room was for negative content, spreading negative content and hate speech about the opposition," says Alex, who says he chose the positive room.

Many of the accounts had just a few hundred followers, but by getting their hashtags trending, often on a daily basis, they artificially increased their visibility on the platform. By manipulating Twitter they influenced real users and the Indonesian media, which often refers to trending hashtags as barometers of the national mood.

Pradipa Rasidi, who at the time worked for the youth wing of Transparency International in Indonesia, noticed the phenomenon when he was researching social media during the election.

"At first glance they appear normal but then they mostly only tweet about politics," he said. Rasidi interviewed two different Ahok buzzers, who detailed using fake accounts in the same fashion as that described by Alex. Both declined to speak to the Guardian. A social media strategist who worked one of Ahok's opponents campaigns said buzzing was a big industry.

"Some people with influential accounts get paid about 20m rupiah ($1,400/#1,069) just for one tweet. Or if you want to get a topic trending for a few hours, that costs between 1-4m rupiah," Andi, who only wanted to be identified by his first name, explained.

Based on its study of the buzzer industry in Indonesia, researchers from the Center for Innovation and Policy Research (CIPG) say all candidates in the 2017 Jakarta election used buzzer teams – and at least one of Ahok's opponents skillfully created "hundreds of bots" connected to supporting web portals.

The Baswedan campaign denied using fake accounts or bots. A Yudhoyono spokesman said they did not breach campaigning rules.

Slander, hatred and hoax

The authorities have made moves to crack down on fake news and the spread of hate speech online but buzzers, which operate in a grey area have largely slipped through the cracks.

Even the central government appears to employ such tactics. The Twitter account @IasMardiyah, for example, which Alex says was utilised by his pro-Ahok buzzer team, now posts a steady flow of government messages and propaganda for President Joko Widodo – mostly retweets about Indonesia's infrastructure and diplomatic successes, or the need to protect national unity.

Featuring an avatar of a young woman wearing a headscarf and sunglasses, the account tweets almost exclusively pro-government content with accompanying hashtags.

Recently the account has posted about Indonesia's election to the United Nations security council, fighting terrorism, boosting agricultural exports, a new airport in West Java, next month's Asian Games, but also on sensitive issues such as West Papua.

A presidential spokesperson was asked for comment by the Guardian, but did not respond.

A spokesperson from Twitter declined to specify how many fake Indonesian accounts it had identified or removed from its platform in the past year. The company said it had "developed new techniques and proprietary machine learning for identifying malicious automation".

Given that Ahok lost the election, and ended up in jail, Alex says he can't be sure how effective his team was. Ulin Yusron, a spokesman for Ahok's campaign team refused to comment on specific allegations but said the campaign was "very tough".

"The use of slander, hatred and hoax [fake news] was enormous," he told the Guardian. "Naturally, the team fortified itself with support troops, including in social media. That is not something new in politics."

Researcher Rasidi said buzzer teams operate in the same way as gossip. "When everyone is talking about the same thing you might think that maybe it's true, maybe there is some merit to it. That is where the impact lies."

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/23/indonesias-fake-twitter-account-factories-jakarta-politic

Internet & social media

Jakarta comes in 12th out of 12 in 4G mobile speed ranking in major

Coconuts Jakarta - July 18, 2018

If you're a Jakartan who has upgraded to a 4G phone in the last few years and are wondering why your connection is still so sluggish, you're not alone.

According to the results of a 12-city survey of major cities in East Asia and Southeast Asia done by OpenSignal, a company specializing in wireless coverage mapping, Jakarta came in last in terms of overall average 4G connection speeds.

According to the company's data from March through May (crowdsourced from users of their consumer app), Jakarta's average 4G download speeds were 8.8 Mbps, well below those of Phnom Penh, which ranked 11th with 11.2 Mbps. Jakarta and Phnom Phen were tied in terms of average 4G upload speeds at 4.9 Mbps.

We're not surprised to see Seoul and Singapore sitting pretty at the top of their survey with blazing fast 4G download speeds of 48.3 Mbps and 47.6 Mbps, respectively. But we were shocked to see Yangon near the top of the pack, beating out even Tokyo with an average 4G download speed of 27.2 Mbps. (The fact that Yangon's 4G network is less than two years old is probably a major factor.)

Most of our other neighbors in Southeast Asia fell near the bottom half of the pack, but it still sucks to come in last (at least 4G is still relatively cheap here). If you want to get the most bang for your pulsa, OpenSignal's latest Indonesia report from June says that Telkomsel has the fastest 4G download and upload speeds of any carrier, averaging 12.9 Mbps and 7.3 Mbps in each category, respectively.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/jakarta-comes-12th-12-ranking-4g-mobile-speeds-major-asian-cities/

Environment & natural disasters

Palm oil from Indonesia's shrinking forests taints global brands: Report

Reuters - July 19, 2018

Fergus Jensen and Bernadette Christina Munthe, Jakarta – Palm oil sourced from illegally cleared rainforest areas in Indonesia has flowed through traders to major consumer goods brands despite widespread commitments to cease purchases of non-sustainable oil, a new report says.

Palm oil companies Royal Golden Eagle (RGE), Wilmar, Musim Mas Group and Golden Agri Resources sold oil from 21 "tainted" mills to more than a dozen global brands including Nestle and Unilever, according to the report by Eyes on the Forest (EoF), a coalition of environmental nongovernmental organizations, including WWF Indonesia.

In spot checks since 2011, EoF used GPS tracking to follow trucks carrying palm oil fruit, known as fresh fruit bunches, to mills from plantations within Tesso Nilo National Park and the Bukit Tigapuluh protected forest areas in central Sumatra.

"All companies bought directly or indirectly from at least some of the 21 implicated mills," according to the report, which calls for traceability on palm oil to be improved and to be extended to plantations that supply mills.

Forest cover on Sumatra Island, home to endangered tigers, orangutans and elephants, had declined by more than half to 11 million hectares in 2016 from the 25 million hectares it had in 1985, as palm oil and other plantations have expanded and encroached on protected areas.

Nestle said in an emailed response it was "committed to tackling" deforestation. A company spokeswoman said the firm was working with partners to transform the palm oil industry "further down the supply chain."

Unilever said by email it publicly disclosed suppliers and mill details and was committed to increasing traceability in the palm oil supply chain "and to working with our suppliers and partners to resolve issues."

Unilever also said it was examining "details behind the investigation to determine the right approach and next steps."

Environment Ministry spokesman Djati Witjaksono Hadi said smallholders, "not companies," owned plantations in national parks.

Hadi referred further questions on the mills to the ministries of agriculture and industry, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Similar issues were highlighted in earlier EoF reports including in 2016, but a lack of strict supervision by traders has led to more forest clearing and illegally grown palm oil entering global supply chains despite their commitments to improve traceability and stop deforestation, the report said.


"We acknowledge that it's really challenging to get traceability beyond the mill and going right down to the plantation source," Elizabeth Clarke, WWF global palm oil lead, told Reuters. "But it's absolutely paramount that they do this."

Among those mentioned in the report, Wilmar International was accused of buying palm oil from Citra Riau Sarana (CRS) whose three mills were found to have bought fresh fruit bunches from Tesso Nilo in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2017, even though Wilmar sold its 95 percent stake in CRS in 2014.

"Whatever action they've been taking, it hasn't fixed that particular mill, and this is what we're asking these particular individuals to do," the WWF's Clarke said.

Responding to the report, Wilmar said it had "continued to engage with CRS and to monitor their traceability system" from 2014. "While there was progress made on traceability, we have stopped purchasing from them since June 2018 for other reasons," Wilmar said in an emailed statement.

But Wilmar said it had not received "a clear confirmation from the authorities which companies are illegal in the landscape" despite making a request to the Environment Ministry.

CRS could not immediately be reached by phone for comment.

Sime Darby Plantation, also named in the report, said it had 94 percent visibility of its supply chain "which provides key customers access to traceability information that can help them make informed choices about the palm oil products that they purchase."

It also said it was working with nongovernmental organizations to eradicate deforestation for the remaining 6 percent.

Daniel A. Prakarsa, head of downstream sustainability at Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food, a subsidiary of Golden Agri, said the company considered 39 percent of its output to be fully traceable, and was targeting full traceability from the 427 mills of its suppliers by 2020.

"Our policy is to help suppliers to comply. Not just [saying] 'this is our standard, you must comply, otherwise we stop [buying],'" he said.

Musim Mas Group did not immediately respond to a written request for comment. On its website, the group says it is working with smallholders and other stakeholders along the supply chain to achieve sustainable palm oil production.

Clarke from the WWF said trading firms "need to make it very clear to the mills that they won't buy from them until they can provide assurance that it is 100 percent legal."

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/palm-oil-indonesias-shrinking-forests-taints-global-brands-report/

Indonesia sees 7 brutal animal killings in 2018

Jakarta Post - July 18, 2018

Devina Heriyanto, Jakarta – Considered one of the richest countries in the world in terms of its biodiversity, Indonesia boasts a wide variety of flora and fauna.

Many are endangered, including the Sumatran tiger, the Javan rhinoceros, Sumatran elephant and three orangutan species, one of which was discovered only in 2017. Aside from habitat loss and the illegal wildlife trade, human contact also presents a threat to the animals.

While the slaughter of 292 crocodiles in Sorong, Papua, made headlines across the world, this was not an isolated incident.

Here is a list of seven human-wildlife conflicts since January:

1. Orangutan shot 130 times, 'tortured'

An officer shows airsoft gun pellets retrieved during the Feb. 6 autopsy of an orangutan in East Kalimantan. An officer shows airsoft gun pellets retrieved during the Feb. 6 autopsy of an orangutan in East Kalimantan. (Courtesy of the Centre for Orangutan Protection/File)

An orangutan was found in a critical condition with 130 pellets in its body on Sunday, Feb. 4, in Teluk Pandan village in East Kutai regency, East Kalimantan. The Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) spokesperson Ramadhani said this was the largest number of pellets ever found in an orangutan shooting.

Doctors at the hospital where it was taken found dozens of old and new wounds from an airsoft gun all over the great ape's body, 74 in his head. They also found 19 fresh stab wounds, and the orangutan's left foot had been cut off. After a 12-hour surgery, the endangered animal succumbed to his wounds. An autopsy later found that he had been injured on several different occasions.

The orangutan was reportedly killed for entering an oil palm plantation. On Feb. 19, East Kutai Police arrested four Teluk Pandan men and a 13-year-old as suspects. The case was brought to the Sangatta District Court in late April.

On Tuesday, July 10, the court sentenced each of the four men to seven months in prison for the intentional killing of the orangutan. The court also ordered them to pay a fine of Rp 50 million (US$3,478) or serve an additional two months in prison. The teenage boy was released because he was a minor.

2. Tiger disemboweled and strung up

A male Sumatran tiger was killed with a spear on Sunday, March 4, in Hatupangan village of Batang Natal subdistrict, North Sumatra, as the local residents feared it was a siluman (shapeshifter). Its disemboweled body was hung from the ceiling of the village hall on Sunday morning. Batang Natal head Lion Muslim Nasution said the villagers were aware of the animal's endangered status, but they had heard rumors that a siluman had been wandering around the village for more than a month.

North Sumatra Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) head Hotmauli Sianturi said the agency had spoken to the villagers three days before the killing to try and prevent them from harming the critically endangered animal. "We spoke to [the villagers], even involving personnel from the national army [TNI], but they still wouldn't listen to us," she said.

The Sumatran tiger population currently stands at no more than 600, according to the Environment and Forestry Ministry's official estimate.

3. Rejected by zoo, crocodile becomes meat

Several residents of Ciputat in South Tangerang, Banten, reportedly killed a crocodile they found in a river near Jl. KH Dewantara and cut it up for its meat.

South Tangerang Police general crimes chief Adj. Comr. Alexander Yurikho said that on Thursday, June 28, a riverbank resident spotted a crocodile about 2 meters long swimming in the river. The alleged owner of the animal, local resident A. Karyana, claimed that the animal had fled his cage.

The resident then asked his neighbors to help catch the aquatic reptile, and then they killed it and distributed its meat among local residents.

Karyana said there had been plans to take the crocodile to either Taman Safari Indonesia in Bogor, West Java, or Ragunan Zoo in South Jakarta, but the management of the animal parks said they had no space.

4. 292 crocodiles slaughtered

Local residents killed 292 crocodiles, from 2-meter adults to babies, on Saturday, July 14, at a crocodile farm in Sorong, West Papua. The mass killing was allegedly done in retaliation for Sugito, 31, who was reportedly killed by a crocodile.

After Sugito's funeral, the local residents went to the crocodile farm, owned by Sorong resident Albert Siahaan, to slaughter the reptiles.

"The residents used knives to slaughter the crocodiles," said Olga, a local resident. "The crocodiles were caught and dragged outside and stabbed to death. It was so horrible to see."

West Papua Natural Resources Conservation Agency head Basar Manullang said he disapproved of the incident. "The crocodile slaughter violated the law on destroying others' property," he said.

He added that the crocodile farm was legal, and had an official permit from the Environment and Forestry Ministry.

5. Sun bear killed, cooked as 'rendang'

Four residents of Tempuling district butchered four sun bears, which are protected under the 1990 law on natural resources and ecosystem conservation, and consumed the animals. The bears' meat was cooked in a soup, curry and rendang (stewed meat). The illegal act was videoed and uploaded to Facebook, and quickly went viral.

After seeting the video, the Indragiri Hilir Police in Riau arrested four farmers on early April.

During a preliminary investigation, the four suspects said they had initially set up traps on March 18 for wild boars in Mumpa village, Tempuling. On March 31, they instead found three sun bears in the traps.

The farmers said they either hit the bears in the head or speared them in the neck to kill them before skinning and butchering them. They then divided the bear meat among themselves for personal consumption.

The four also told investigators that they found another sun bear in a trap on a different day. At first, they took the sun bear alive to one of their houses, but then killed it with an air rifle.

The suspects are facing charges under the 1990 law, which carries a maximum punishment of five years' imprisonment and a Rp 100 million (US$7,270) fine.

6. 'Police' elephant killed for ivory

Bunta, a 27-year-old male elephant at the Serbajadi Conservation Response Unit (CRU) in Bunin village, Serbajadi district, East Aceh, was found dead on June 10. One of its tusks had been removed, and the elephant was believed to have died of intentional poisoning.

The CRU is tasked with preventing human-wildlife conflicts, and Bunta was the main police elephant at the Serbajadi CRU, which Hollywood actor Leonardo Di Caprio visited in March 2016.

The Environment and Forestry Ministry suspected that the killing was planned by an organized crime group, Antara reported. "[Poaching] is a very serious problem because it is an organized cross-border crime," said the ministry's biodiversity conservation director, Indra Exploitasia, as quoted by Antara.

The police have arrested two suspects in the case, both residents of villages in the Serbajadi CRU's jurisdiction. The police also found and confiscated Bunta's missing tusk.

7. Orangutan shot and beheaded

A local resident found a dead orangutan on Jan. 15, floating in a river near Kalahien village in Buntok subdistrict, and mistook it for a human body, kompas.com reported.

An autopsy indicated that humans were responsible for the death of the critically endangered animal, which had been shot with an air rifle at least 17 times. Its head had also been cut off with a sharp instrument.

The South Barito Police named two suspects on Jan. 30, who were tried at the Buntok District Court. In May, the court sentenced each man to six months in prison and a Rp 500,000 fines.

The Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) stated that the convictions were too lenient to act as a deterrent and to mitigate the damage the perpetrators had done to conservation efforts for the critically endangered species, which is protected by law. Violators are punishable by up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of Rp 100 million. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/18/indonesia-sees-7-brutal-animal-killings-in-2018.html

Health & education

Gov't establishes training centers, microbanks at Islamic boarding

Jakarta Globe - July 21, 2018

Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has made improving the Indonesian workforce a focal point in his presidency, stating that investing into human resource development is the key to competing with other nations.

One of the programs in this effort is focused on the communities of Islamic boarding schools, at which the government initiated a program to establish training centers.

"Next year, we're planning to build at least 1,000 training centers at Islamic boarding schools, complete with all the necessary facilities," Jokowi said during the sixth national conference of the Alumni Association of the Indonesian Muslim Students Movement at the JS Luwansa Hotel in Jakarta on Friday (20/07).

As a pilot project in 2016, the Ministry of Manpower built training centers at 50 boarding schools, 75 more were established in 2018. There are more than 29,000 Islamic boarding schools in Indonesia.

The president said that 40 microbanks have been built at various boarding schools. More are to come next year, if the program shows positive results.

During the same occasion, Nahdlatul Ulama chairman Said Agil Siradj said the responsibility of improving human welfare falls upon the government and the organizations affiliated with it.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/govt-establishes-training-centers-microbanks-islamic-boarding-schools/

88% of Indonesians support increasing the price of cigarettes: survey

Coconuts Jakarta - July 18, 2018

One of the main factors contributing to Indonesia having some of the highest smoking rates in the world is the relatively low cost of cigarettes, which keep them within the reach of even the country's poorest citizens. The government has shown little political will to raise cigarette excise prices to decrease demand, but the results of a new survey indicates that it's something that the vast majority of Indonesians actually want.

The National Commission on Tobacco Control and the Center for Social Security Studies at the University of Indonesia (PKIS-UI) recently conducted a survey of Indonesians, including representatives percentages of active smokers, former smokers and non-smokers, and found that 88% of respondents supported increasing the price of cigarettes.

"Support for making the price of cigarettes expensive does not only come from non-smokers but also from smokers themselves, as evidenced by the the results of the survey conducted by PKJS-UI in May 2018 of 1,000 respondents," said PKJS-UI Research Team member Renny Nurhasanah at a press conference in Jakarta yesterday as quoted by Kompas.

Currently, the average price of a pack of cigarettes in Indonesia is around IDR 17,000 per pack (US$1.20). The survey asked smokers how expensive cigarettes would have to become to make them quit and 66% said they would quit if packs became IDR 60,000 per pak and 74% said they would quit if they became IDR 70,000 per pack.

These survey results came just days after the government touted new economic data showing that poverty levels in Indonesia reached a historic low in March 2018 of 9.82% (the first time it had dropped below the 10% mark). However, that same data showed that cigarettes remain one of the primary causes of poverty among low-income families.

In fact, the PKJS-UI survey showed that respondents from lower income households tended to have significantly higher rates of smoking. Those with a family income of less than IDR 2.9 million had smoking rates of 44.61% while those with income levels between IDR 3 million and IDR 6.9 million were 41.88%. Smoking rates of those from households with incomes of over IDR 7 million were only 30.91%.

At the survey's press conference, the head of communications for the National Team to Accelerate Poverty Reduction (TNP2K), Ruddy Gobel, said that a steep increase in cigarette prices was needed not just for health reasons but to fight poverty.

"We agree the government should raise the price of cigarettes as high as possible as one of the concrete steps towards reducing cigarette consumption among the poor," he said as quoted by Detik. "That money can then be diverted towards the purchasing of nutritious foods, education and healthcare costs which in turn can contribute to poverty alleviation."

Despite over 200,000 people dying of tobacco-related diseases in Indonesia each year, the disastrous health impacts of tobacco addiction have not been enough to get the government to increase prices or pass any significant anti-smoking regulations at the national level. Perhaps the poverty argument will prove more persuasive to the government.

Unfortunately, based on empirical evidence, that seems unlikely. Government officials and tobacco industry lobbyists have consistently been able to hold off stricter rules and higher tariffs on cigarettes by arguing that the economic benefits that tobacco brings to Indonesia outweigh the negatives. They often focus on the plight of poor tobacco farmers who might be put out of work if the government were to crack down on smoking (though some will admit to the crucial importance of tobacco excise taxes to government revenue).

But the real pressure comes from foreign-owned tobacco companies who seek to keep Indonesia's cigarette market growing strong to offset their losses in countries that wised up and made cigarettes expensive and hard to access long ago as comedian John Oliver explained in this brilliant segment (also featuring an appearance by Indonesia's infamous smoking baby)

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/88-indonesians-support-increasing-price-cigarettes-survey/

Marriage & the family

Marriage between 13 and 15-year-olds annulled after government

Coconuts Jakarta - July 19, 2018

Child marriage have long been practiced in Indonesia but it is only recently that stories about young teens tying the knot have regularly been making the national news amid warnings by some officials that child marriages have risen to "emergency" levels. This has led the government to begin cracking down on the practice and even intervening in some particular cases.

Last Friday, a 13-year-old boy identified by his initials ZA, who just graduated from elementary school, married his 15-year-old girlfriend, IB, in the Tapin Regency of South Kalimantan. The pair was wed by a village religious official and held a reception ceremony.

But their marriage didn't last long. After word about the marriage spread throughout the area, the district Religious Affairs Office (KUA) – which holds sole authority over the legal recognition of religious marriages in Indonesia – as well as the district police's Women and Children Protection Division (P2TP2A) met with the bride, groom and their families.

By Saturday, KUA had annulled their marriage as it did not meet legal and religious requirements. The village religious official who officiated the wedding also accepted that the marriage was not legitimate.

Even though the government successfully intervened in this case, Binuang District KUA Head Ahmad conceded that there are still avenues the teenage couple could take to make the marriage legal under Indonesian law.

"The families of the couple could take the case to a religious court to get a legal dispensation for their marriage," Ahmad said, as quoted by Kompas.

The families thought about going to a religious court, but have reportedly changed their minds after the Tapin Child Protection Agency advised them against the marriage. Both ZA and IB are going back to school.

In April, a 15-year-old and a 14-year-old from South Sulawesi received legal dispensation from the local religious court to marry after their initial marriage request was denied by KUA. In reaction to the shocking case, President Joko Widodo has agreed to sign a regulation raising the minimum age for marriage and effectively end child marriage, though there have been no reports that it has been signed since.

The current legal age of marriage in Indonesia is 19 years old for men and 16 years old for women. However, the country's 1974 Law on Marriage also includes a major loophole to this requirement which allows marriages to still be considered legal if they are done "in accordance" with religious belief, known as nikah siri. As such, underage marriages that have been sanctified by religious courts or officials must still be officially recognized by the government – if not, many are satisfied with merely fulfilling religious or traditional requirements for marriage.

In April of last year, Indonesian female Muslim clerics issued an unprecedented fatwa (edict) declaring child marriage to be harmful as it is a large contributor to Indonesia's high maternal mortality rate. Furthermore, they cited studies that many Indonesian child brides could not continue their studies once wed and half their marriages ended in divorce in addition to child marriage increasing the risks of exploitation, sexual violence, and domestic abuse.

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

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/marriage-13-15-year-olds-indonesia-annulled-government-intervention/

Corruption & abuse of power

KPK demands foreign firms to stop bribing officials

Tempo - July 19, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has demanded foreign companies operating in Indonesia to stop bribing government officials.

"At the meeting with the Anti Bribery Committee of Japan (ABC-J), all Japanese companies operating in Indonesia were advised to stop bribing Indonesian officials. We have also asked them to contact KPK if they find Indonesian officials or irresponsible parties collecting bribes from their client companies operating in Indonesia," KPK Deputy Chief Laode M Syarif said on Wednesday.

Syarif made the remarks at a joint press conference with ABC-J chief, Kengo Nishigaki; ABC-J member, Tsutommu Hiraichi; and chief of the private unit task force of the education and public service directorate of the KPK, Roro Wide Sulistyowati.

ABC-J is the organization of lawyers and law experts in Japan operating under the coordination of the United Nations Global Compact.

Syarif stated that the KPK is in the process of developing and building a corruption prevention system called "Professional for Integrity" (Profit) in the private sector.

"We hope that the private sector in Indonesia will have good integrity to prevent bribing of public officials. We have formulated a manual guideline for small and medium enterprises, and we are in the process of finalizing a manual guideline for large companies. Hopefully, they will be completed this month or next month at the latest," he concluded.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/07/19/055920075/KPK-Demands-Foreign-Firms-to-Stop-Bribing-Officials

Politician arrested for graft says she thought money from private sector

Coconuts Jakarta - July 17, 2018

Here's some legal advice we never thought we'd have to give: all corruption, whether the money comes from the public or private sector, is illegal.

On Friday, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested Eni Saragih, deputy head of the Energy Committee in the House of Parliament (DPR).

She was accused of receiving an IDR500 million (US$34,746) bribe for a thermal power plant project by private firm Apac Group, the first of several installments of bribes that would've amounted to IDR4.8 billion (US$333,565).

While in the KPK's custody, Eni wrote a letter to her family proclaiming her innocence, which was passed on to Indonesian news outlet Tempo. In the letter, Eni claims she did not know that her actions were illegal because the bribe money came from the private sector.

"[The project's] importance to the state is paramount, the people will be able to receive cheap power," Eni wrote in the letter, as picked up exclusively by Tempo yesterday.

"So if there's fortune that I gain from the process it becomes halal and I had intended [for the money] to be given to those who deserve it more," she said, "halal" referring to what is permissible in Islam (and no, receiving a bribe is not permissible in Islam).

Though we'll probably never know her true intentions, Eni said, in a slightly Robin Hood-esque way, the bribe money was going to be used to pay for events for "the people" as well as for her "private needs".

Eni has been charged with bribery under the KUHP (Criminal Code), which is punishable by four to 20 years in prison. Apac Group boss Johannes Budisutrisno Kotjo, who was also arrested and suspected of giving Eni the bribe, was charged with bribing a government official, a crime punishable by one to five years in prison.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/indonesian-politician-arrested-graft-says-thought-money-private-sector-halal/

Terrorism & religious extremism

Nearly 50 arrested in Jakarta under new laws that criminalize terrorist

Coconuts Jakarta - July 17, 2018

Since the horrific suicide bomb attacks that took place in Surabaya in May, Indonesia's anti-terrorist police have been tracking down anybody with connections to the extremist network believed to be behind the attacks, already using recently passed anti-terrorism laws to arrest not only those directly involved in the attacks but even those who have shown sympathy for their cause.

Indonesia's National Police Chief Tito Karnavian said the new law was used as the basis for the recent arrests of nearly 50 people in Central Jakarta's Bendungan Hilir and Kemayoran neighborhoods suspected of having connections to Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), the ISIS-affiliated terrorist network believed to be behind several terrorists attacks over the last few years including those in Surabaya.

"We used the new law (Law No. 5/2018 on Criminal Terrorist Actions). In the past, only those directly involved in the planning of attacks (could be arrested), but now we can process them even if they have just become a member of the terrorism network, we can hold them for 200 days and we are doing just that," explained Tito yesterday as quoted by Detik.

Indonesia's top cop said that, in total, police have arrested around 200 suspected terrorists and terrorist sympathizers since the Surabaya attacks. Twenty suspects were shot and killed while resisting arrest.

"I ordered that, in case of the Surabaya bombings, whoever was involved, be they ideologues, inspirators, perpetrators, supporters, those who prepared the funds, hid suspects, prepared explosives, or sympathizers to their cause, be arrested according to the new (anti-terrorism law). Those who are sympathetic to their actions as a group we are also classifying as criminals," Tito said.

Indonesia's previous anti-terrorism laws, passed soon after the 2002 Bali bombings, were often criticized for being inadequate in that they largely limited authorities to merely be reactive to attacks. The revisions passed in May broaden the definition of terrorism and give police the power to detain suspects without trial for longer. The changes would also allow police to arrest people for hate speech or for spreading radical content, as well as those taking part in para-military training or joining proscribed groups.

Activists warned that some of the revisions to the anti-terrorism law, such as allowing authorities to wiretap suspected terrorists, goes against the basic principles of human rights and could easily be misused.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/50-arrested-jakarta-new-laws-criminalize-terrorist-sympathizers-national-police-chief/

Land & agrarian conflicts

High school students speak out against Yogyakarta's land law

Jakarta Post - July 23, 2018

Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta – Two high school students are speaking out against a land regulation in Yogyakarta that has been widely criticized as discriminatory.

Elisabet Larasati Kartika and Angelina Samodra, Grade 11 students from Stella Duce 1 high school, raised the issue during the 2018 Sagasitas Research Exhibition organized by the province's Education, Youth and Sports Agency.

The event took place at the Gadjah Mada University's Koesnadi Hardjasoemantri Cultural Center from Thursday to Saturday. "It all began with a 1975 local regulation on the land rights of non-native Indonesian citizens," Angelina told visitors on Saturday.

Their presentation was based on six months of research, interviewing citizens who oppose and support the law, as well as government officials who enforce the regulation.

Yogyakarta prohibits non-pribumi (non-native) Indonesians, including those of Chinese, Indian and Dutch-descent, from owning land. At most, they can secure a right-to-build certificate, which requires additional payments every 20 years equal to 20 percent of the property's value.

According to Elisabet, the regulation was passed out of fear that non-natives would monopolize the land in Yogyakarta. "[But now], there are laws that forbid the use of the term non-pribumi, and land rights should not be based on ethnicity or race," she added.

She also pointed out that the discriminatory regulation contradicts other prevailing laws, such as the 2008 Law on the abolishment of racial and ethnic discrimination and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was ratified in 2006.

The two students hoped that their research would be useful for the public and the government. Some 70 people visited their stand during the event, including Ni'matul Huda, a law professor from Indonesia Islamic University. "May the government provide justice and not discriminate its people by race," Elisabet said.

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has twice requested for the policy to be repealed, but were rejected each time by Yogyakarta Governor Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X. (nor)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/23/high-school-students-speak-out-against-yogyakartas-land-law.html

East Jakarta residents continue fight over disputed land

Jakarta Post - July 17, 2018

Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta – Residents of Kebun Sayur in Ciracas, East Jakarta, gathered on Monday to protest a move by state-run bus company Perum PPD to develop a transit-oriented development (TOD) project in the area they have lived in for over 30 years.

Amid an ongoing legal dispute over the land, PPD, which claims that it owns the land and who has urged residents to leave the area, visited the site on Monday escorted by the Jakarta Police and lawyers.

"Residents questioned PPD's move and asked the company to show them the permit to measure the land and the land ownership certificate they claim to possess. But the company failed to show it to the residents," the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta), which is assisting the residents, said in a statement.

"There was not even a prior notice regarding the land measurement activity," the LBH added.

The residents have gone to the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to report the land dispute and asked the body to assist them in the case.

PPD earlier signed an agreement with state construction firm Adhi Karya, which is also a developer of the light rapid transit (LRT), to develop a TOD area in Ciracas.

Adhi Karya will develop the LRT and apartments while PPD will provide a shuttle bus service and build a bus station in the area.

Currently, the 4.5-hectare Kebun Sayur village is inhabited by 450 families comprising about 2,300 residents who mostly work as farmers or vegetable sellers. The residents said they first occupied and farmed the area in the 1980s.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/16/east-jakarta-residents-continue-fight-over-disputed-land.html

Housing & property

Bid to revive property market highlights Bank Indonesia's policy dilemma

Reuters - July 18, 2018

Maikel Jefriando and Gayatri Suroyo, Jakarta – As Indonesia's central bank drives up interest rates to defend a fragile currency, governor Perry Warjiyo is banking on a revival of the sluggish property sector to help maintain growth momentum in Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

Five years ago, luxury Indonesian apartment prices skyrocketed amid a commodities boom that saw some wealthy buyers pay cash upfront. The boom's end, slower economic growth and rules to curb property speculation slammed on the brakes.

Now, authorities want to encourage buying. From August, the central bank is scrapping its 15 percent minimum mortgage down payment for first-time home buyers and relaxing rules on loan disbursements, in a bid to support listless credit expansion.

"We need to support our economic growth," Perry said in a recent interview, asserting that property can have a multiplier effect on other sectors.

This comes as Indonesia is caught in the cross hairs of an emerging market sell-off that caused the central bank to raise interest rates by 100 basis points in six weeks, to defend the rupiah.

Filianingsih Hendarta, a senior Bank Indonesia (BI) official, estimates the eased mortgage rules will add 0.04 percentage points to economic growth this year. That sounds small, but Indonesia's higher interest rates will reduce its growth pace, making a net gain from the rule changes welcome.

BI's growth forecast is 5.1-5.2 percent, compared with 2017's 5.07 percent. But given the absence of a hot commodity market and the rising interest rates, seeking to make property an economic pillar might highlight authorities' lack of credible policy options in the current environment.

A pedestrian pace

Standard & Poor's expects property sales to be flat this year despite BI's new measures.

"We don't think there will be a major recovery, everything will probably move at pedestrian pace until the second half of 2019, after elections at best," analyst Kah Ling Chan said, referring to parliamentary and presidential polls next April.

In recent years, Indonesia's biggest online housing broker Rumah123.com, part of Australia's REA Group, has recorded sluggish sales. "The number of buyers seems to be stagnant now," country manager Ignatius Untung of Rumah123.com said.

Bankers have said they will not completely remove downpayments and instead will adjust the interest rates on home loans based on a customer's risk profile.

Roosniati Salihin, deputy president director of Bank Panin, said tepid demand is a major problem for property. "The market needs to be reinvigorated. The banking sector is only waiting for customers to walk in," she said.

Soelaeman Soemawinata, chairman of the Real Estate Association of Indonesia, said its "most optimistic scenario" is for the number of units sold to increase by 10 percent in the next year. "But the property industry is hard to predict," he said. "People's psychology affects this."

Preference for renting

The younger generation prefer to rent than purchase a home, said Handayani, consumer banking director of Bank Rakyat Indonesia. "Kids nowadays prefer to rent and to travel whenever they have spare money," she said.

Even if banks start requiring no downpayment at all, that would mean higher installments for customers, which won't sit well given higher interest rates, said Aldi Garibaldi, senior associate director of Colliers International Indonesia, a property services firm. He said he does not think BI's measures will be enough to spur demand.

While BI's easing is welcome, the central bank should take it up a notch by scrapping rules on the maximum number of credit facilities per person and allow banks to dispense more cash upon signing loan documents, said Adrianto Adhi, president director of developer Summarecon Agung.

BI's announcement on mortgages has spurred some young Indonesians to consider home-ownership.

Newly married Khaerul Estian, a 28-year-old who works in a bank, has started looking. He hopes not to have to make any down payment, given small savings. But Estian intends to buy, even if higher interest rates raise the ultimate cost. "It's a risk, but the most important thing is to own a house," he said.

[Additional reporting by Cindy Silviana and Tabita Diela.]

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/bid-to-revive-property-market-highlights-bank-indonesias-policy-dilemma/

Jakarta & urban life

Former Jakarta mayors claim they were dismissed without notice

Jakarta Post - July 17, 2018

Jakarta – Four former Jakarta mayors claim that they did not receive proper notice of their dismissals by Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan during his major reshuffle of the city's top officials on July 5.

Former West Jakarta mayor Anas Effendi said he did not know what he had done wrong to warrant his dismissal.

"If we did something wrong then prove it," Anas said on Monday as reported by kompas.com. "[Municipal posts] should not be cherry-picked, as a form of reward, or as a result of pressure from groups, or political pressure," he said.

He said that staff regeneration was not sufficient reason for his dismissal as Anies had put an official older than him in his old post.

Anas was replaced by former North Jakarta mayor Rustam Effendi, who stepped down from his post during the administration of Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.

Former South Jakarta mayor Tri Kurniadi said he was not warned in any way about his performance and received the news about his dismissal only a day before the inauguration of the new mayors and regent.

"I was not summoned [for a meeting]. I was only told by phone [on July 4] that the next day would see the position handover," Tri said.

Similar treatment was meted out to former East Jakarta mayor Bambang Musyawardana, who claimed that he only received the news about his dismissal through a Whatsapp chat.

He said he had submitted the necessary paperwork to apply for his retirement to the National Civil Servant Agency (BKN) and was set to retire on Oct. 1.

Meanwhile, former Central Jakarta mayor Mangara Pardede said he assumed that he had been put into retirement by Anies as he was not told what his new post would be after his dismissal.

"I presume that I am in retirement because the SK [gubernatorial decree] does not say where I am going to go next," the 58-year-old Mangara said. He said Anies had told him about his dismissal the night before the inauguration of the new officials.

"I was phoned on July 4, at around 9:25 p.m. [by Anies]. I was also told that the inauguration [of the new officials] was the next day at 2 p.m.," he said.

The State Civilian Bureaucracy Commission has launched an investigation into Anies' dismissal of several officials.

The commission is currently investigating alleged irregularities in the dismissals and has questioned several dismissed officials and members of the Jakarta Civil Service Agency. (ami)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/17/former-jakarta-mayors-claim-they-were-dismissed-without-notice.html

Sport & recreation

Anies doubles down on curtaining over smelly canal, says 'solution' may

Coconuts Jakarta - July 23, 2018

The Jakarta Government was on the receiving end of wide-ranging criticism last week after it became clear that their main plan for "fixing" the terrible sight and smells of the Sentiong Canal – located right next to the government-built accommodations for athletes coming to Jakarta for next month's Asian Games – was to simply cover up the canal with a 689-meter curtain of black nylon mesh.

Not only was this "solution" lambasted for being almost the literal definition of "sweeping the problem under the rug", many doubted whether the porous mesh covering would be able to fulfill its secondary goal of keeping the canal's foul odors from leaking out into the surrounding area and disturbing the visiting athletes staying in Kemayoran's Wisma Atlet (Athlete's Village).

But rather than take the criticism, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has doubled down on his administration's solution and said that he would expand the smell-reducing river covers to other waterways in the capital, should they prove effective.

"We'll see their effectiveness, if this one proves successful, we will do it in other places as well, we don't want to experiment in all places at once," Anies said while inspecting the canal, which is better known as the Kali Item (Black Canal), according to Liputan 6.

Anies said that officials would be closely monitoring the river over the next month to see how effective the curtains are at taming the noxious canal's odors.

He also reiterated his previous defense for not simply starting work dredging the river months earlier, saying that the source of the bad smells was actually the waste being poured into the river from numerous sources further upstream, which dredging couldn't solve.

"It's not dredging that's the problem, but because there are multiple sources of pollutants, not just one but many, it's a lot of water sources from lots of households and home industries," the governor said.

Previously, officials said they were also using other methods to eliminate the canal's bad smell, including "nano bubble" technology from Singapore as well as a water waste filter machine they said they were going to use on the canal a couple of months ago (although that plan seems to have fallen through or been ineffective).

Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno told the media that the decision to put up the mesh was made by himself and Governor Anies Baswedan after they received requests to fix Kali Item problem by the Asian Games' organizers.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/gov-anies-doubles-curtaining-smelly-canal-says-solution-may-expanded-others-successful/

Indonesia soccer fans damage Asian Games stadium

Agence France Presse - July 22, 2018

Palembang, Indonesia – Irate Indonesian football fans ripped plastic seats from the stands and hurled them onto the pitch at a stadium scheduled to host the Asian Games next month, an official said Sunday.

A league match between Sriwijaya FC and Arema FC ended in chaos Saturday afternoon when the fans tore up seats at the Gelora Sriwijaya Stadium in Palembang on the island of Sumatra.

Pictures showed multi-coloured chairs strewn across the outer edges of the ground, which is bordered by an athletics track.

"We are very upset with the supporters who ruined the seats in Gelora Sriwijaya during the game," Rusli Nawi, the stadium's security supervisor, told AFP. "I've been here for nearly 10 years... there has never been damage to the seats like yesterday."

The stadium had been renovated for the Games, which are being held in Palembang and the capital Jakarta from August 18-September 2.

Indonesia has been scrambling to prepare venues, finish building work, widen roads and ease traffic congestion. Some 335 seats were damaged, about half of which will have to be replaced with seats ordered from outside Indonesia, Nawi said.

Police have arrested four people over the rampage, which was started by Sriwijaya fans upset at their team's 3-0 home loss, Nawi said. No one was injured.

About 11,000 athletes and 5,000 officials from 45 Asian countries will compete in the Games, the world's biggest multi-sports event after the Olympics.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/22/indonesia-soccer-fans-damage-asian-games-stadium.html

'Black River' cover is a back-up plan, Anies says

Jakarta Post - July 21, 2018

Jakarta – Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said the cover on the Sentiong River, also known as Kali Item or "Black River", in Central Jakarta is a back-up plan that is expected to reduce the pungent smell and cover the dirty river.

The administration, he said, was still trying to clean the river ahead of the 2018 Asian Games that will begin on Aug. 18. An athletes village is located near the river.

"The back-up plan uses the net while we keep trying to clean the river," he said as quoted by kompas.com. "So if we fail to clean it [by the time the Asian Games starts], we have it as a contingency plan. Just to be safe."

Anies claimed that the river's condition was better than a few months earlier. The administration has been criticized for covering the river. People accused officials of trying to hide the river instead of cleaning it.

It has also cleaned another two nearby reservoirs in Sunter, which are also close to the athletes village.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/21/black-river-cover-is-a-back-up-plan-anies-says.html

Too ugly, too smelly: Jakarta covers up 'Black River' for Asian Games

Jakarta Post - July 20, 2018

Jakarta – The Jakarta administration has covered a river so polluted it got the nickname kali item (black river) with a giant black nylon net amid concerns it would be an eyesore and too smelly for foreign athletes during the Asian Games.

Supriyono, an official with the Jakarta Water Resources Agency, said they needed to cover the river, as it passed the newly built athletes village in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta.

"We covered it, so that the dark, polluted water will be hidden from the view of international athletes," he said, as quoted by kompas.com on Thursday, adding that the effort was also expected to reduce the unpleasant smell emerging from the river.

The black netting will cover the entire length of the river, according to Supriyono.

During a visit to the athletes village in February, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan noticed the smell from the river and agreed to find a way to make it less smelly.

The administration has used aerators and nano bubble technology to clean the river, but to no avail.

The river, which is officially called the Sentiong River, is heavily polluted with domestic waste thrown into adjacent reservoirs, according to the city's environment agency. The river also does not flow very well, the agency said, as quoted by kompas.com.

The city's decision has sparked some negative responses from the public.

One twitter user wrote: "Hallo @aniesbaswedan and @sandiuno, if there's a dirty and smelly river, clean it up, don't hide it under black cover. Why are you so fond of hiding the rottens?"

"You're not trash collectors, aren't you?"

"Kali item uses a niqab, afraid that its aurat will be seen by the guests of Asian Games. #sorrynotmuhrim," wrote another Twitter user. [niqab – a full face veil, aurat – parts of a woman's body that should not be seen in public as stipulated by Islam – JB.]

Another user is more cynical, writing: "Kali Item – instead of being cleaned up, it's covered with black nets. This is a lazy thought. Looks good on the outside, but rotten inside."

The Asian Games will commence on Aug. 18 and run until Sept. 2. (ahw/rfa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/20/too-ugly-too-smelly-jakarta-covers-up-black-river-for-asian-games.html

Retail & service industry

Jokowi wants Starbucks, int'l fast food chains on toll roads replaced

Coconuts Jakarta - July 17, 2018

Toll road rest stops (or "rest areas" as they are locally known) usually consist of a good mix of foreign food and beverage chains and local snack chains and eateries.

But during his inauguration of the Kartasura-Sragen toll road in Central Java on Sunday, President Joko Widodo said that he wants to see fewer Starbucks, McDonald's, and KFCs in rest areas to give small local businesses a better chance.

"Don't let it get to the point that economic activities are dominated by foreign brands. I ask that all rest areas don't sell the likes of McD, Kentucky (KFC), or Starbucks and that they be replaced with sate, soto, tahu guling, gudeg," Jokowi said, as quoted by Detik.

Jokowi added that he has verbally instructed the Public Works Ministry to work with regional governments to make this a reality, with failure to do so resulting in his issuance of a formal Presidential Instruction (Inpres).

While many would expect the foreign chains to cry foul at Jokowi's blatant call for economic protectionism, PT Fast Food Indonesia, the sole franchisee of KFC in Indonesia, said they wouldn't be hurt by such a policy if it came to pass as their rest area restaurants contribute little to their overall revenue.

"In truth we were asked by rest area developers [to set up our restaurants there] so there's a good combination [of food options at the rest areas]," said Fast Food Indonesia Corporate Secretary Justinus Dalimin Juwono, as quoted by Detik today.

"I have seen that local [businesses in rest areas] get so much attention. Us big brands are just there to attract people to the rest areas, but when they're there they can pick from many options."

Starbucks, McDonalds, and other fast food chain franchisees have not commented on Jokowi's plan.

We'd probably have to side with the KFC representative in this case. The way things are at most rest areas now, we believe there's already a good number of local delicacies like tahu sumedang and pisang goreng for every Starbucks. Choice is always good.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/jokowi-wants-starbucks-intl-fast-food-chains-toll-road-rest-areas-replaced-local-businesses/

Criminal justice & legal system

KPK reveals leadership dualism in Indonesia's prison system

Tempo - July 23, 2018

Budiarti Utami Putri, Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) held a meeting with the House of Representatives (DPR) today following the former's recent sting operation at Sukamiskin prison.

KPK deputy chief Laode Muhammad Syarif revealed the country's penitentiary management was beset by leadership dualism.

According to Laode, the authority in handling prison issues turned out to be the Secretary General of Law and Human Rights Ministry as opposed to the Directorate General of Penitentiary.

"The Secretary General of Law and Human Rights Ministry is more in control," Laode revealed in the hearing with the House's legal commission today.

Laode further explained that the Law and Human Rights Ministry's Directorate General of Penitentiary is authorized to control affairs on budgets and human resource placement, which he deemed had severely curbed the Directorate General's authority. He said this had led to unclear management of the country's prison system.

Laode highlighted the facts after the anti-graft agency found an alleged bribery at Bandung's Sukamiskin prison related to the availability of additional facilities, permit recommendations, and other facilities that should not have existed in a prison system.

The KPK has named four suspects in the sting operation including Sukamiskin warden Wahid Husen, prison staffer Wahid Hendry Saputra and graft convicts Fahmi Darmawansyah, Fahmi, and Andri Rahmat.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/07/23/055920190/KPK-Reveals-Leadership-Dualism-in-Indonesias-Prison-System

Raid reveals convicts buying 'luxury' cells at Indonesian prison: KPK

Coconuts Jakarta - July 23, 2018

Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has had some huge wins recently in their fight against the country's pervasive corruption, such as the conviction of former house speaker Setya Novanto. However, the importance of such convictions is severely undercut when it turns out that those same convicts have been able to use their ill-gotten riches to purchase special treatment in prison, from luxurious amenities in their cells to keys that only they carry, allowing them to come and go as they please.

Officers from the KPK made a surprise raid on Sukamiskin Prison in Bandung on Saturday and said they found plenty of evidence to indicate that such practices were widespread within the infamous penitentiary under the rule of warren Wahid Husein, who had taken over the position just four months prior.

Wahid was one of six people arrested by the KPK in relation to their investigation of corruption at Sukamiskin. He was arrested at his home in Bandung, which is where Wahid also kept two brand new luxury cars that had allegedly been gifted to him by inmates in exchange for their special considerations.

"This is still preliminary information, but the rates for these room in Sukamiskin Prison range from IDR 200-500 million (USD 13,000 – 35,000)," said Deputy KPK Chairman Laode M. Syarif at a press briefing at KPK headquarters on Saturday as quoted by Tempo, adding that that was the base price for the luxury cells but that addition renovations could also be purchased.

The KPK showed video of the inside of some of the cells they found at the prison, which local media described as looking like the rooms of a "5-star hotel" complete with amenities including tasteful furniture sets, refrigerators, AC, flat screen TVs, private bathrooms and showers. Many prisoners were also found to have mobile phones and computing devices.

Perhaps most embarrassing, a few prisoners were found to be out of their cells when the KPK raid occurred. Prison officials said they were out for medical reasons but sheepishly had to admit they did not have keys to open the cells. The KPK believes that some prisoners had purchased the privilege of carrying the only key to their cells.

Besides warden Wahid, several other prison officials were arrested by the KPK as well as Fahmi Darmawansyah, an inmate at the prison who allegedly bought Wahid a Black Mitsubishi Triton (the warden reportedly had requested a white one) as part of his luxury cell payment.

Stories about rich prisoners being able to purchase cells with luxury amenities in Indonesia are depressingly familiar. In June of last year, the warden at Cipinang Prison in East Jakarta was also fired after a raid by the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) uncovered a drug kingpin living in a "luxury cell" with amenities such as AC and even an aquarium. Even more outrageous examples from the past include a prisoner found to have been allowed out of jail to attend a tennis tournament in Bali and a female bribery convict who got to have maids and beauty treatments in her "palatial" cell that also had a karaoke room.

Numerous investigation have revealed such practices occurring at Sukamiskin in the past, before Wahid's time as warden, including a Tempo investigation from early 2017 showing similar violations such as prisoners being able to order food from their favorite restaurants and hold parties inside prison with popular dangdut singers as entertainment.

Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly had promised at the time to crack down on such corrupt practices within Sukamiskin and other prisons. He is now facing calls that he be fired or step down.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/raid-reveals-convicts-buying-luxury-cells-complete-private-keys-indonesian-prison-KPK/

Cost of enjoying 'VIP' cell in Bandung prison: At least Rp 200 million

Jakarta Post - July 22, 2018

Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta – At first glance, the room shown by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in a video recording looked like a decent studio-type apartment, with air-conditioning, a television, a small refrigerator and a compact kitchen, as well as a bathroom equipped with a water-heater for the shower.

It turned out, however, that the room was actually a prison cell in Sukamiskin Penitentiary in Bandung, West Java, allegedly assigned to Fahmi Darmawansyah, a businessman convicted in 2017 in a corruption case pertaining to a Maritime Security Board (Bakamla) procurement project.

The luxurious prison cell was discovered by KPK investigators in their raid on the prison, where they arrested head warden Wahid Husein on suspicion of accepting bribes in exchange for the lavishly appointed prison cell.

"From our initial investigation, graft convicts can get such cells for between Rp 200 million [US$13,812] and Rp 500 million. They can get more facilities, such as a cellphone, at extra cost," KPK deputy chairman Laode Muhammad Syarif said during a press briefing on Saturday.

The money was paid by the inmates before they got the facilities and it is not clear whether they had to make further payments.

Apart from Wahid, graft busters also arrested his subordinate, warden Hendry Saputra, as well as two inmates, namely Fahmi and Andri Rahmat. Andri was convicted in a separate criminal case connected to Fahmi's corruption case. The KPK has named all of them bribery suspects.

Wahid, who was only appointed as warden in March, allegedly accepted two luxury cars from Fahmi in exchange for the special facilities. Apart from the cars, he is also suspected of having accepted money from other inmates as investigators seized Rp 280 million and $1,410 in cash during the operation.

Hendry and Andri allegedly served as intermediaries for Wahid and Fahmi, respectively, in the handover of the cars. Investigators also found at least seven smartphones in Andri's cell.

"During the investigation, we also came across allegations of abuse of medical-treatment permits. We've warned hospitals and doctors to act professionally in their work," KPK deputy chairman Saut Situmorang said during the press briefing.

Among those arrested was Fahmi's wife, actress Inneke Koesherawati. She, however, was only questioned as a witness in the case and eventually released.

The well-appointed prison cell was not the first to be revealed in the Indonesian penal system, as in 2009 the Judicial Mafia Taskforce discovered a luxurious prison cell in Pondok Bambu Penitentiary, East Jakarta, equipped with special facilities, including a karaoke room and a baby play pen, enjoyed by businesswoman Artalyta Suryani, who was also convicted in a bribery case.

Misuse of medical permits has also been uncovered previously, as Tempo reported last year that a number of graft inmates including Anggoro Widjojo and Romi Herton had misused permits to attend medical appointments to get out of prison to meet relatives and even go shopping.

One of the most high-profile cases in recent years was that of Gayus Tambunan, a former tax official imprisoned for embezzlement, who was spotted watching a tennis tournament on Bali in 2010.

Leopold Sudaryono, a prison expert at the Asia Foundation, said graft convicts tended to use their economic and political leverage as capital in offering promotion to prison wardens in exchange for special facilities.

He said the Law and Human Rights Ministry had issued prison-management guidelines that emphasized security facilities like CCTV and procedures for securing prisoners such as codes of conduct. However, one aspect was often overlooked, he said, and that was prison personnel's integrity.

He said several measures needed to be implemented in handling graft convicts, such as using ankle monitors to keep track of the convicts' conditions and whereabouts as well as limiting the interaction between convicts and prison personnel.

In response to the arrests, the Law and Human Rights Ministry issued an apology and vowed to resolve the matter by instructing its inspectorate general to carry out an investigation.

"In parallel, we are conducting a total revitalization of our organization. It will be done comprehensively, we are working on the instruments and personnel," said Sri Puguh Budi Utami, the ministry's correctional affairs director general, during a press briefing on Saturday night.

"Should the revitalization fail, I will resign from my position," she added. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/22/cost-of-enjoying-vip-cell-in-bandung-prison-at-least-rp-200-million.html

'Special package' for corrupt offenders at Indonesian jail

Straits Times - July 22, 2018

Jakarta (Bernama) – In jail for graft? Want to upgrade your cell to be like a hotel room? How about having a key to come and go as you please?

At the Sukamiskin Prison in the Indonesian city of Bandung, which houses graft offenders, all this was apparently on offer for prisoners willing to pay for a "special package", according to the country's anti-graft agency.

The cost was reportedly a payment of between 200 million and 500 million rupiah (S$18,891 to S$47,230). Through the payment, prisoners could hold their own key to the prison cell, enabling them to come and go as they please.

The deputy chairman of Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), Laode Muhammad Syarif, said the KPK had detained six people, according to Tempo online. Among those detained was the head of Sukamiskin Prison, Wahid Husein.

Wahid, who took over the post only four months ago, was arrested on Saturday night at his home in Bandung. The KPK found cash totalling hundreds of millions of rupiah believed to be linked with the scheme, Laode Muhammad said. A car was also confiscated.

During a KPK raid on the prison, officials found that several prison cells had been renovated. Some rooms had air conditioning, televisions and refrigerators.

According to Indonesia media, among the prisoners arrested was Fahmi Darmawansyah, husband of the popular 1990s-era Indonesian singer Inneke Koesherawati.

Fahmi, an entrepreneur, was jailed for two years and eight months for bribery in May last year. KPK also questioned Inneke.

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/special-package-for-corrupt-offenders-at-indonesian-jail

Indonesia deports French drug smuggler after 18 years

Agence France Presse - July 22, 2018

A Frenchman who served 18 years in custody for smuggling drugs into Bali was deported Saturday in a case that sparked outrage in his native country over Indonesia's tough narcotics laws.

Police arrested Michael Blanc on the day after Christmas in 1999 at the tropical island's airport with 3.8 kilograms (8.4 pounds) of hashish hidden inside scuba diving canisters.

The now 45-year-old was originally given a life term – narrowly escaping the death sentence handed to some other foreign drug traffickers, including two members of the notorious Bali Nine who were executed in 2015.

Blanc's prison term was later cut to 20 years and then in 2014 he won something that few foreigners get in Indonesia – parole.

The former cook arrived at the airport in Jakarta escorted by Indonesian immigration officials, and accompanied by his mother, Helene Le Touzey, who gave up her life in France to spend nearly two decades in Indonesia campaigning for his release.

The two departed on a Turkish Airlines flight at 9:00 pm (1400 GMT). They are expected in Paris on Sunday around 11:00 am.

The life sentence handed out by an Indonesian court, which rejected Blanc's claim that he was carrying the drug-filled gear for a friend, was criticized in France as overly harsh.

Paris raised the issue at the highest levels, with the then-prime minister Francois Fillon bringing it up during a visit to Indonesia in 2011.

In 2008, Blanc's sentence was cut to 20 years thanks in large part to his mother's efforts.

Le Touzey later helped secure her son's parole in 2014, despite the fact that Indonesian law does not usually allow conditional release of foreigners after serving just two-thirds of their sentence.

Blanc's three-year parole period ended in July 2017, after which he was required to finish one year of probation.

Indonesia has some of the world's toughest drug laws. More than 70 people, including 42 foreigners, are facing the firing squad for drug offenses, according to the Coalition for the Abolition of Death Penalty in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

Indonesia has executed several drug traffickers since President Joko Widodo took office in 2014. Among them were foreign nationals, including two Bali Nine members arrested in 2005 for an attempt to smuggle heroin from Indonesia to Australia.

The executions of Australian ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran sparked diplomatic outrage and a call to abolish Indonesia's death penalty.

Although Jakarta suspended executions last year, Widodo has said the country is facing a "drug emergency" and previously ordered police to shoot traffickers who resist arrest.

High-profile cases like that of Australian national Schapelle Corby, who spent more than nine years behind bars for smuggling marijuana into Bali, have stoked concern that Indonesia is becoming a drug destination. Corby was deported in 2017 after several years of parole.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/indonesia-deports-french-drug-smuggler-18-years/

Police & law enforcement

Rights groups seek probe into Jakarta police shootings ahead of Asian

Reuters - July 22, 2018

Jakarta – Human rights groups called for an independent investigation on Sunday, after Indonesian police shot dead 11 men earlier this month as part of a security clampdown ahead the Asian Games.

Jakarta police has said that it shot 52 people suspected of street crimes, killing 11, and arrested hundreds over July 3-12.

Amnesty International Indonesia researcher Bramantya Basuki said the shootings echoed Brazil's anti-crime operation before the Rio Olympics in 2016, when rights activists accused police of tampering with crime scenes to make it appear that its officers had come under attack.

"We need to have an independent, effective investigation to make sure that this pattern is not used in Indonesia," Basuki told a joint news conference with other rights activists in the Indonesian capital.

Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono told Reuters the police had acted according to standard procedure and had only shot suspects who were "a danger to officers or to other people".

The rights groups also accused authorities of widespread unlawful killings of suspected drug dealers and suspected militants, saying the numbers of "extrajudicial killings" had increased to 71 in the first seven months of this year from 38 cases in the corresponding year-ago period.

"We are not supporting robbery, drug-dealing or terrorism, but we want to show that everyone accused of crimes has the right to the presumption of innocence until there is a verdict from a trial," Arief Maulana, a lawyer with the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute, said.

The Asian Games, which will run from Aug. 18 to Sept. 2 is estimated to draw nearly 17,000 athletes and officials and more than 100,000 spectators. Tens of thousands of police and military officers will be deployed during the games in Jakarta and the city of Palembang in South Sumatra.

[Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Himani Sarkar.]

Source: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-games-asia-crime/rights-groups-seek-probe-into-jakarta-police-shootings-ahead-of-asian-games-idUKKBN1KC0BO?rpc=401&

Tito Karnavian suggests law on law enforcer protection

Tempo - July 21, 2018

Andita Rahma, Jakarta – The National Police Chief Gen. Tito Karnavian suggested creating regulation on law enforcer protection. It was conveyed during a collaborative meeting with the Law Commission of the House of Representative (DPR).

According to the police chief, the regulation was vital to oversee the rights and protection of law enforcers so there would be guards for law enforcer who bear the risk while on duty.

"Heavier punishment for those using violence against law enforcers on duty," said Tito Karnavian in the DPR building, South Jakarta, July 19.

Aside from that, Tito demanded a special prison for law enforcers as it would be dangerous for convicts and law enforcers to stay in the same cells.

"[Law enforcer] can be a target of revenge. Such cases have already happened," said Tito Karnavian, hoping the idea would be soon actualized. "Let's discuss the draft of this special law together," he added.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/07/21/055920129/Tito-Karnavian-Suggests-Law-on-Law-Enforcer-Protection

LBH Jakarta invites relatives to challenge police's shoot-on-sight

Jakarta Post - July 19, 2018

Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta – The Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) encouraged the relatives of criminal suspects that had been shot by police to challenge the latter's shoot-on-sight policy, which had resulted in the deaths of 11 suspects and severely injured 41 others.

LBH Jakarta opened on Wednesday a post dedicated to collecting reports from families whose members had been affected by the policy, including those that had the victims of extrajudicial killings.

"We received a call from the family of a detained robbery suspect who feared getting gunned down," Shaleh al-Ghifari, a lawyer with LBH Jakarta, said on Wednesday. "We opened this post as an attempt to assist families in their quest for justice," he added.

Earlier this month, Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Idham Aziz instructed his underlings to take firm measures against suspected street criminals, including by shooting them, as part of their effort to secure the city ahead of the Asian Games, which will kick off in the city on Aug. 18.

Concerns were also raised following robberies in which several government officials were victims. More than 2,000 people have been arrested and 320 of them have been named suspects in the past two weeks, LBH Jakarta reported.

The institution said the policy had been "exaggerated" and had the potential to be "misused", given the high number of suspects that had been killed without standing trial.

Extrajudicial killings contravene National Police Chief Regulation No. 8/2009 on the implementation of human rights standards and principles in the organizing of police duties, Shaleh said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/18/lbh-jakarta-invites-relatives-to-challenge-polices-shoot-on-sight-policy.html

Human rights groups condemn Jakarta cops' 'licence to kill'

9 News - July 18, 2018

Richard Wood – Human rights activists are calling on the Indonesian government to investigate a deadly police crime crackdown ahead of next month's Asian Games.

Since early July, officers in the host city Jakarta have allegedly shot 52 people and killed 11 during the arrests of 320 citizens over 10 days. It's triggered fears that police have a "license to kill", comparable with the Philippines' war on drugs waged by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Usman Hamid, director of Amnesty International in Indonesia, told nine.com.au the shootings must be investigated by the country's National Commission on Human Rights.

"There must be accountability on any actions by the police that resulted in deaths," Mr Hamid said.

"We acknowledge the police have the responsibility to protect people but at the same time the Jakarta police must also launch an investigation to determine whether the shootings and killing of 11 people had been conducted based on existing police procedure.

"Any police action must be proportional... they should not use their power excessively."

Source: https://www.9news.com.au/world/2018/07/18/14/09/human-rights-groups-condemn-jakarta-cops-licence-to-kill

National security & intelligence

Jokowi asks Babinsa to increase territorial capability

Tempo - July 17, 2018

Ahmad Fikri, Bandung – President Joko Widodo or Jokowi asked the Indonesian Military's (TNI) village supervisory non-commissioned officers (Babinsa) to improve territorial capability.

"Your territorial capability must be improved," said Jokowi when giving direct instruction to thousands of Babinsa in Dirgantara Indonesia complex, Bandung, Tuesday, July 17.

According to Jokowi, the improvement includes quick meet, quick report, management skills, detailed territory control ability; one by one, home to home. "The ability of people's resistance, how to improve the people's ability in facing threats, how to develop people's ability in defending the country," the president said.

TNI Commander Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said at the meeting, there were 4,505 Babinsa. The majority came from Babinsa under regional military commando or Kodam III/Siliwangi, which is 4,435 people. The remaining 70 people came from the representatives of 14 Kodam from all over Indonesia. "All Babinsa throughout the TNI today amounted to 60,239 people," said Hadi.

Thousands of Babinsa members were deliberately gathered in Bandung to listen to President Jokowi's direct instruction. In the event, Jokowi was accompanied by the Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, TNI Commander Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mulyono, and West Java acting Governor Comr. Gen. Mochamad Iriawan.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/07/17/055920042/Jokowi-Asks-Babinsa-to-Increase-Territorial-Capability

Foreign affairs & trade

Indonesia's exports down 19 percent in June

Tempo - July 17, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – Indonesia's exports fell 19.8 percent to around US$13 billion in June 2018 from $16.2 billion a month earlier, according to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS).

Speaking at a press conference here on Monday, BPS Chief Suhariyanto stated that non-oil/non-gas exports declined 22.57 percent from $14.57 billion to $11.28 billion. However, oil and gas exports rose 4.67 percent from $1.64 billion to $1.72 billion.

The June 2018 exports increased 11.47 percent compared to the same month last year. "The drop in export value, coinciding with Lebaran (post-fasting month festivities), is something normal due to the long holidays," he remarked.

He added that the fluctuation of commodity prices in the international market also has an impact on the export value. The BPS noted that the prices of several non-oil/non-gas commodities, including coal, nickel, and aluminum, in the global market have increased in June 2018.

However, the prices of several other commodities, including palm oil, gold, and rubber, have declined. The Indonesian Crude Price (ICP) also fell to $70.36 per barrel in June 2018 from $72.6 per barrel the month before.

Therefore, the increase in non-oil and gas exports chiefly resulted from a 4.22 percent rise in crude oil price to $544.2 million and a 15.45 percent surge in gas exports to $1.05 billion.

The agency noted that the export of vehicles and spare parts recorded the greatest shortfall at $241.1 million or 36.21 percent, while the export of mineral fuel saw the greatest increase at $119 million or 6.11 percent.

Cumulatively, the June 2018 exports brought the country's exports in the first half of 2018 to $88.02 billion, up 10.03 percent compared to $80 billion in the same period last year.

By sectors, the country's export of farm products in June 2018 dropped 35.20 percent to $200 million compared to May 2018 and fell 25.31 percent compared to June 2017.

The mining sector saw a 1.08 percent rise to $2.53 billion in June 2018 compared to May 2018 and a 58.53 percent surge compared to June 2017.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/07/17/055920014/Indonesias-Exports-Down-19-Percent-in-June

Mining & energy

'Populist policies' may take toll on Pertamina assets

Jakarta Post - July 19, 2018

Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman, Jakarta – The government has allowed state-owned energy company Pertamina to sell some of its assets to improve its financial position, which has come under pressure largely as a result of fuel subsidies aimed at keeping gasoline and diesel cheap for consumers.

In a letter obtained by The Jakarta Post on Wednesday, State-owned Enterprises (SOEs) Minister Rini Soemarno grants Pertamina permission to conduct several measures "in order to save the firm's financial situation".

The SOEs Ministry's undersecretary for mining, strategic industries and media affairs, Fajar Harry Sampurno, confirmed the letter, calling it the initial approval for the release of assets because of the upward trend in global crude prices.

"However, any corporate action must pass through a thorough study, should be reported to commissioners and must be approved in a shareholders meeting," he said.

Previously, Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (INDEF) economist Bhima Yudhistira said the real burden for Pertamina were "populist government policies" he described as "a ticking bomb" for the company's finances.

There were at least two government policies that would affect Pertamina's cash flow, he explained, namely maintaining the low price of Premium-branded gasoline in Java, Madura and Bali as well as the general pricing policy for gasoline sold across country.

Premium-branded gasoline is sold at Rp 6,450 (46 US cents) per liter, far below the market price of Rp 7,350. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indarwati has announced that the government will soon increase the subsidy for Solar-branded diesel.

Pertamina has had to shoulder trillions of rupiah worth of subsidies to sell Premium and Solar fuels at below-market prices. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/19/populist-policies-may-take-toll-on-pertamina-assets.html

Energy subsidy swells to 173 percent of state budget projection

Jakarta Post - July 18, 2018

Jakarta – Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has said the realization of this year's energy subsidy is estimated to be 173 percent higher than the projection stated in the 2018 state budget.

"The energy subsidy is estimated to reach Rp 163.5 trillion (US$11.35 billion) this year from the initial projection in the state budget of Rp 59.51 trillion," Sri Mulyani said when presenting a 2018 budget outlook before members of the House of Representatives' budget committee in Jakarta on Tuesday.

The energy subsidy was included into non-ministry budgets with a total allocation of Rp 640 trillion, this year, the minister added.

The government spent Rp 59.51 trillion on the energy subsidy in the first half of 2018 and in the second half it was projected to spend Rp 103.98 trillion, Sri Mulyani said.

The subsidy is allocated for state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina, which is tasked by the government with stabilizing fuel prices and for state-owned electricity company PLN because the government has prohibited the company from increasing electricity tariffs this year.

"PLN is also required to carry out an expansion of the village electrification program," the minister said as reported by kompas.com.

The decision on the new subsidy figure was made during a meeting involving the Finance Ministry, the State-Owned Enterprises Ministry, the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry and PLN after considering the financial situation of PLN, Sri Mulyani added.

"The policy was made to maintain people's purchasing power and to maintain growth momentum as well as to stabilize the economy amid strong external pressure," she added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/18/energy-subsidy-swells-to-173-percent-of-state-budget-projection.html

Indonesia a step closer to controlling Grasberg mine

Asia times - July 17, 2018

John McBeth, Jakarta – The prolonged talks between the Indonesian government and Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold have passed another milestone with Freeport, partner Rio Tinto and state-owned holding company PT Inalum signing an agreement under which Rio Tinto will sell its stake in Papua's fabulously rich Grasberg mine.

Coming a year after the two main parties agreed on a framework deal which President Joko Widodo's administration over-optimistically hailed as a breakthrough, the new non-binding "Heads of Agreement" sets down a valuation of the mine's assets and describes a pathway to Freeport's eventual 51.2% divestment.

Politically, it is the target Widodo was anxious to reach before the end of June as he gears up for the simultaneous April 2019 presidential and legislative elections. But it doesn't resolve the key issues of managerial control over the mine, international arbitration and newly introduced environmental regulations.

Indeed, with analysts and social media commentators this time openly skeptical about the implications of the July 12 agreement, it appears to place more pressure on the government to get the final deal done before rather than after the elections as the opposition looks for ammunition to bring down the high-flying president.

Inalum will pay US$3.5 billion for Rio Tinto's 40% participating interest in PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) and another US$350 million for the 9.36% stake held by Indocopper Investama, a Freeport unit controlled on separate occasions by influential Indonesian businessmen Bob Hasan and Aburizal Bakrie, who once enjoyed close relations with storied former Freeport chairman Jim-Bob Moffett.

Rio Tinto, an Anglo-Australian mining giant, entered into an agreement with Freeport in 1996 that gave it the right to 40% of production above a certain level and 40% of all production after 2022 in exchange for investing in the Grasberg's early underground block-caving operations that now make up more than a third of its output.

Added to the 9.36% stake the state already owns in the Indonesian subsidiary, converting Rio Tinto's stake into PTFI shares through a subsequent rights issue will give it the controlling interest, which Widodo hailed as a "big leap forward" in allowing Indonesia to increase its income from the mine.

According to some reports, Inalum will receive US$5.2 billion in funding from a consortium of 11 foreign and domestic banks, including Citibank, HSBC, Standard Chartered, BPP Paribas, Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFG, OCBC, SMBC, CIMB Niaga and state-owned Mandiri, Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) and Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI).

Inalum chief executive officer Budi Gunardi Sadikan, who has said the company is putting forward US$1.5 million in equity, did not respond to an e-mailed request to confirm the amount, but the loan is still dependent on a sales and purchase agreement being executed in 30 days and reaching closure a month after that.

"Given the terms that remain to be agreed, there is no certainty that a transaction will be completed," Rio Tinto said in a sobering statement. "Any final agreements will be subject to approval by the necessary government regulators and authorities."

Wrapping up all the outstanding issues by early September when the 2019 presidential campaign officially gets under way will be no mean feat given the way the two sides have haggled over the one issue of managerial control for more than a year now without resolution.

Phoenix-based Freeport chairman Richard Adkerson has told negotiators from the finance, state enterprise and energy and mineral resources ministries that the company must continue to retain managerial as well as operational control to ensure conformity with the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Who will operate the mine itself is not an issue, but it is the management that will be in charge of parceling out the lucrative procurement contracts associated with the Grasberg's current conversion from an open pit – which runs out of ore next month – to the world's biggest underground mine with hundreds of kilometers of electric railway connecting to five different ore bodies.

Notorious for its rent-seeking practices, Indonesia scored only 37 out of 100 on Transparency International's 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index, putting it in 96th place among 180 countries. Illustrating the slow progress that has been made in Indonesia's so-called war on corruption, the country's score has moved only five points in five years.

The index is mostly based on business perceptions and puts special emphasis on licensing and similar red tape issues, but Indonesia's standing with the business community wasn't helped by the US$173 million identity card graft case, which sent House Speaker Setya Novanto to jail for 15 years earlier this year.

Although he was later reinstated, Novanto was forced to resign as speaker in 2015 for allegedly conspiring with oil mafia kingpin Muhammad Reza Chalid to shakedown Freeport; in a secretly taped hotel conversation, Novanto was heard demanding PTFI shares in exchange for an early extension to Freeport's contract.

Freeport has insisted on appointing the new PTFI president director, who will then assign responsibilities to the executives under him. Given the fact that an Indonesian has filled that post for decades, analysts are puzzled why the two sides can't come up with an inventive solution that would address both their concerns.

PTFI hasn't had a president-director since retired air force chief Chappy Hakim, reportedly a Widodo recommendation, resigned after only seven months in the job in February last year as the government sought to pressure Freeport into converting its Contract of Work (CoW) to a Special Business License (IUPK) four years ahead of its 2021 expiry date.

Nationalist politicians say with the state holding a controlling interest, Indonesia has every justification for wanting to take charge of management, although after using Freeport as a convenient scapegoat for decades that will put it in the direct firing line of Papuan activists demanding a greater share of the mine's revenues.

Also missing from the public debate is a new situation where Inalum will have to come up with half of the cost of a new US$2.7 billion smelter and also half of the US$19 billion Freeport calculates is still needed for the underground expansion of the Grasberg, which will be a hefty recurring expense for at least the next four years as the company seeks to return production to current levels.

Freeport and Amman Mineral are in talks to build a joint-venture smelter on a 160-hectare site at Amman's Batu Hijau mine in Sumbawa, where there is already a deep-water port.

Amman purchased the country's second biggest copper and gold mine from Newmont for US$1.3 billion two years ago, but now needs an extra cash injection to exploit an adjoining concession.

Many in the mining community believe that once Freeport is under new ownership, the implementing regulations that have still to be attached to the amended 2009 Mining Law will drop the requirement to refine the last 5% of the mine's copper and gold concentrate, which they say has never made a lot of sense anyway.

Source: http://www.atimes.com/article/indonesia-a-step-closer-to-controlling-grasberg-mine/

Analysis & opinion

2019 Election: The jockeying gathers pace, fluidity of candidates and

Eurasia Review - July 21, 2018

Alexander R Arifianto – With Indonesia's presidential election less than a year away, the two leading candidates are Joko Widodo ('Jokowi'), who is seeking a second five-year term as president and retired Lieutenant General Prabowo Subianto, leader of the Gerindra Party, who was his primary opponent during the last presidential election in 2014. However, given the shifting political allegiances among the 20 political parties that are contesting the general elections and the presidential race, the emergence of other contenders cannot be ruled out.

A likely third presidential candidate is Anies Baswedan, Governor of the capital city, Jakarta, who took office last year, after a controversial election in which he defeated Basuki Tjahaja Purnama ('Ahok') – the city's previous governor – following month-long protests that led to Basuki being accused of blasphemy by Muslim groups.

A PKS-centered alliance?

On 4 July 2018, campaign volunteers backing Anies affiliated with the Islamist Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) declared that he will run as a presidential candidate from their party. This indicated that after aligning itself with Prabowo's Gerindra for the past five years, PKS is ready to break this alliance and nominate its own presidential candidate.

PKS' performance during the recently concluded simultaneous regional elections – in which candidates backed by the party won 7 out of 17 contested gubernatorial races – seems to have emboldened PKS cadres about its prospects during the 2019 general elections for the legislature, likely motivating them to consider contesting the parallel presidential election on their own.

That PKS declaration triggered several frenzied meetings between officials from the two parties. They were concluded on 8 July with a declaration that Anies will serve as Prabowo's vice presidential nominee. However, Tifatul Sembiring, a former PKS general chairman, announced two days later that the party is ready to break away from the Gerindra-PKS coalition – if Prabowo failed to select a PKS-backed vice presidential nominee.

This indicates no firm agreement has been settled between the two parties and PKS still considers the possibility of nominating its own presidential candidate – likely with Anies as the party's nominee and Ahmad Heryawan – the outgoing West Java governor – as its vice-presidential candidate.

Earlier this year, PKS held discussions with both the National Awakening Party (PKB – affiliated with Nahdlatul Ulama or NU) and the National Mandate Party (PAN – affiliated with Muhammadiyah) for a possibility to form an Islamist alliance (poros Islam) consisting of the three parties. This idea could be revisited should PKS decide to end its alliance with Gerindra and nominate its own presidential candidate.

Jokowi's likely VP nominee

Meanwhile, President Jokowi is considering Tuan Guru Bajang (or TGB whose real name is Muhammad Zainul Majdi) as his vice-presidential nominee. Like Jokowi, Majdi is considered as a successful local executive, having completed two consecutive terms as governor of West Nusa Tenggara and made the province as an internationally renowned Islamic tourist destination.

In addition, Majdi is a well-regarded religious scholar (alim), who obtained degrees in Islamic theology (usuluddin) from Al Azhar University in Egypt – considered by many Muslims as the most important Islamic higher education institution in the world.

As a preacher, he has a wide following in West Nusa Tenggara and in the outer islands such as Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Sulawesi. By appointing Majdi as his vice-presidential nominee, Jokowi plans to split the support from the Jakarta protest participants (known collectively as 'Alumni 212' groups); as a result some of them would have backed his re-election bid, instead of supporting other presidential candidates like Prabowo, Anies, and retired General Gatot Nurmantyo, the former Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) commander-in-chief.

Jokowi also seeks support from other religious leaders, mainly NU clerics, to boost his re-election chances. On 10 July 2018, 100 Islamic clerics who called themselves The Young Ulama Solidarity Group for Jokowi (Samawi) announced their support for his re-election, declaring that as president, Jokowi is "a leader who pays attention to the welfare of religious groups, especially Muslims". The group is chaired by Aminuddin Ma'ruf, a former general chairman of the Indonesian Islamic University Students Association (PMII), which is affiliated with NU.

Other ulama groups are also preparing to declare their endorsement for Jokowi. Majdi is scheduling an international conference of Islamic clerics in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, inviting this month Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of al-Azhar Mosque, as its keynote speaker.

Another ulama conference organised by 'Alumni 212' groups is also scheduled in Jakarta around the same time. The latter conference – endorsed by Rizieq Shihab, supreme leader of Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), is expected to endorse one of Jokowi's opponents as a presidential candidate. Supporters said this conference would be attended by up to 10,000 Islamic clerics, lending religious legitimacy to their effort to unseat Jokowi in the 2019 general election.

Apart from these presidential aspirants, we can expect other key players like former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his Democrat Party to have an important role in the coming month, by either aligning itself with one of the leading presidential candidates or sponsoring its own candidate – likely to be Agus Yudhoyono – the eldest son of the former president. The Jakarta Post reported on 17 July that Prabowo is seriously considering Agus to be his vice-presidential nominee.

The backroom negotiations and deals between political parties and presidential candidates is expected to continue up to 10 August 2018, when the list of presidential and vice-presidential nominees is finalised. This will be followed with an eight-month long campaign period that will end one week before the election day scheduled for 17 April 2019.

[Alexander R Arifianto PhD is a Research Fellow with the Indonesia Programme, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. This is part of a series on Indonesia's presidential election in 2019.]

Source: http://www.eurasiareview.com/21072018-the-2019-indonesian-presidential-election-the-jockeying-gathers-pace-fluidity-of-candidates-and-parties-analysis/

A third of Indonesian voters bribed during election – how and why

The Conversation - July 20, 2018

Burhanuddin Muhtadi – The practice of handing out cash or items in an effort to influence votes – known as vote buying – is pervasive in Indonesia.

My PhD research found that as many as one-in-three Indonesians was personally exposed to the practice in the previous national election. That would put Indonesia in third place on the list of countries with the most vote-buying practices.

The research analysed data from multiple sources, including surveys with more than 800,000 respondents across the country from 2006 to 2016.

My article aims to explain why vote buying is deeply rooted in Indonesia despite opposition from the society and the fact that it appears to have a relatively small impact on who voters support.

Vote buying: past and present

The practice of vote buying in Indonesia dates back to the country's first election in 1955. One of the country's oldest political parties, PNI, which was founded by the first president Soekarno, distributed a large sum of money to local leaders to win the election.

During the New Order era, buying votes was not a popular strategy as political parties saw no benefit under a voting system that always produced the government-backed Golkar Party as the winner. However, Golkar was sometimes reportedly engaged in pouring money into electorates to mobilise support.

Vote buying was almost unheard of in the 1999 election when Indonesia became a new democracy following the fall of New Order regime. At that time, the competition was still between political parties and not candidates. Contests between candidates, I argue, have contributed to the rise in vote buying.

I noticed that the practice of vote buying began to flourish in the 2009 election, after the government allowed political candidates to enter the political race. The fact that each candidate not only competes with candidates from other parties but also with other candidates from his or her own party has exacerbated the practice.

Vote buying continues today. During my 13-month fieldwork in 2013 and 2014, I found that most candidates were relatively open when discussing how much money they distributed to voters and how they engaged in vote-buying operations.

The practice is so ubiquitous that a famous one-time national parliament member once dared me in an interview to cut his finger off if I could find a legislator who got elected without buying votes.

Despite the high prevalence of vote buying in Indonesia, little is known about its scope and how it affects election results. My research attempts to answer these questions.

Using a dataset compiled after the 2014 legislative election, I found that vote-buying practices involved of up to 33% of voters. This means that, of 187 million registered voters in the 2014 election, up to 62 million were the targets of vote buying. This figure would make Indonesia the country with the third-largest vote-buying practice, after Uganda and Benin.

Spreading against all norms and laws

In most countries, including Indonesia, vote buying is illegal and socially unacceptable. The recently passed election law makes buying votes a crime. The penalty is a maximum fine of Rp 48 million (US$3,329) and four years in jail.

People receiving bribes to vote for certain candidates also earn negative labels from the society for failing to execute their democratic mandate properly.

Knowing that vote buying is regarded unfavourably in Indonesia, I assumed it would be difficult to ask my respondents about it. I expected they would mostly lie about it for fear of being punished or excluded socially.

Based on this assumption, I created an experimental survey designed to encourage voters to give honest answers. Unlike regular surveys, my survey involves a set of disguised questions that do not deter respondents from telling the truth.

The survey is based on a method carried out in Nicaragua and Lebanon to anticipate respondents lying about vote buying.

Interview results prove that my assumption was wrong. Surveys using either direct or disguised questions show Indonesian people openly admit that they took the bribe to vote for certain candidates. This suggests vote buying in Indonesia is less stigmatised than previously thought.

At the height of the 2014 campaign, I witnessed how popular terms such as NPWP and golput were among voters. In normal usage, NPWP is the acronym of "tax file number", but in this context it stands for "Nomer Piro, Wani Piro", representing the question "What number on the ballot are you and how much do you dare to give?"

Meanwhile, golput usually refers to people who deliberately abstain from voting, but in this case it means golongan penerima uang tunai to represent a group of voters who are willing to vote if given cash.

Low return, high cases

Even though vote buying is ubiquitous in Indonesia, its impact on voters' choices is relatively low. My research shows that vote-buying practices influence only up to 11% of the total electorate.

I offer two explanations for the low impact of vote buying. First, the candidates target the wrong voters. My research shows that, instead of targeting loyal voters, political candidates mostly target uncommitted voters who do not reciprocate with votes.

Loyal voters, who account for only 15% of total voters, are highly contested among political candidates, making them difficult to target.

Second, the tendency of vote brokers to gain more money from political candidates by inflating the numbers of loyal voters also makes vote buying less effective. Many of the voters bribed by brokers are in fact not even loyal to the candidate. They may receive the money but they choose other candidates.

Some brokers even support multiple candidates, including those from different parties, resulting in massive defections.

But, if vote buying is proven to produce very low returns, why is it still prevalent? I have calculated that the average margin that determined whether one candidate won or lost the election in Indonesia was only 1.65%.

So, if buying votes can influence up to 11% of voters, no wonder many political candidates are still doing it. It may give them a chance to clinch victory.

[Burhanuddin Muhtadi is a lecturer at the Universitas Islam Negeri Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta.]

Source: http://theconversation.com/a-third-of-indonesian-voters-bribed-during-election-how-and-why-100166

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