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Indonesia News Digest 28 – July 24-31, 2018

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News & issues

Indonesia's tattoo removers zap the sin from your skin

The Inquirer - July 29, 2018

Indonesian tattoo remover Sandi Widodo does a brisk business zapping sin from skin – at bargain-basement prices.

But there's a catch for pious Muslims keen to shed body art at his Jakarta shop: they've got to recite 50 Koranic verses from memory and repent for their tattooed past.

That's a small price to pay for Riki Irawan, who hopes that getting rid of three tribal-style tattoos will bring him closer to God.

But he has another reason for ditching the ink – his fiancee's devout parents won't let him marry their daughter unless he is tattoo-free.

"The joy of having a tattoo is temporary," the 31-year-old said. "It only lasts for a few weeks and after that, your life is ruined."

Irawan is not alone in his regret judging by the volume of business at Widodo's clinic, which has a waiting list of over 1,000 people.

The stigma over tattoos has long faded in the West, with everyone from college kids to celebrities and athletes happy to display their body art in public.

But in some Asian countries, tattoos are often associated with crime and loose morals. Tattoos are also frowned upon in Islam, making it especially tough for wearers in the world's largest Muslim majority country.

"It was uncomfortable to go into a mosque," said Widodo, who still has a fading tattoo on the side of his face. "I tried to act normal but people were looking at me."

'Remove tattoo & repent'

Widodo's current profession is a long way from his former life as a successful tattoo artist in the Hindu-dominated resort island Bali, where local men frequently sport body art and there are few hang-ups about the practice.

His tattoo-seeking clients asked for everything from relatives' names to elaborate, centuries-old designs still worn by the Southeast Asian archipelago's indigenous people.

A traditional practice known as hand-tapping – artists gently tap a stick mounted with a needle on a subject's skin – has even enjoyed a revival in recent years.

But for Widodo, finding religion marked a turning point and he turned his back on the business.

"Tattoos are associated with negative stuff like drugs and partying," he said. "So I decided to quit and sold my equipment."

Indonesia's Muslim clerics say the choice is clear. "Tattoos are not allowed in Islam because you're not only hurting yourself, but it is altering God's creation," said Huzaemah Tahido, an official at top religious body the Indonesian Ulema Council.

"If possible, remove your tattoo and repent. If you can't remove your tattoo because it's too painful, then leave it but you must still repent."

Renny Rengganis, a practising Muslim, has no plans to repent or ditch her tattoos.

In fact, she wants to enlarge a design depicting a mother and son that covers three-quarters of her back, despite the objections of her devoutly religious relatives.

"I didn't get tattoos to rebel against anything or to express my right to do what I want with my own body," said the 35-year-old public relations professional.

"I simply like tattoos that have meaning and wanted (them) inscribed on my body forever."

'Drop your sins'

For those who do regret their body art, plenty of Indonesian clinics offer tattoo removal services.

But most charge several thousand dollars for the repeated treatments necessary to clear color pigmentation – putting them out of reach for many ordinary Indonesians.

In response, cheaper tattoo removal shops have opened in recent years including a service in Indonesia's second-biggest city Surabaya that also requires clients to recite Koranic verses.

Islamic lender Bank Muamalat has sponsored a mobile tattoo removal van on the country's main island Java.

Years ago, cheaper options weren't available for regretful tattoo enthusiasts like Widodo.

So he set out to start a tattoo removal shop with a crowd-funding campaign that raised about $6,500 – enough for a pair of laser removal machines.

His shop, which has a sign that reads "Drop your sins, clasp the hand of a Muslim brother", opened its doors last summer.

Widodo has since removed tattoos from a few hundred customers and many more are eager to tap his 150,000 rupiah ($11) service.

One of them, Maulidul Irfan, was so desperate to remove his tattoos – which he chalks up to teenage rebellion – that he tried everything from cashew sap and breast milk to harsh chemicals that scarred his skin, all without success.

"I'm studying to be an Islamic study teacher so it would be embarrassing to have tattoos," the 23-year-old said at the clinic. "People don't always judge us on who we are now, but rather what we did in the past." NVG

Source: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/301414/indonesias-tattoo-removers-zap-sin-skin/

West Papua

Indonesian students hold Papua talk at New Zealand university

Jakarta Post - July 31, 2018

Gemma Holliani Cahya, Jakarta – The Indonesian Student Association (PPI) held the first ever talk on Papua at the Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) in New Zealand on Monday, with the aim of providing information on the development of the eastern most region of Indonesia.

For the event, titled "Papua Today", the association invited three Papuans speakers, Franz Joku and Nick Messet, who are both former West Papua independence campaigners and now consult the Indonesian government on West Papua-related issues, and Michael Menufandu, a Papuan diplomat.

Michael applauded the current special autonomous status granted to the region, which permits only native Papuans to lead Papua, saying, "You see now that all leaders, from governors to mayors, are native Papuans. Even our military leaders are also Papuans."

Meanwhile, Nick, who is a former foreign minister of the Papuan Independence Group, said he believed Papua today was what he and his friends had dreamed of and fought for.

"Papua today is what we struggled for! We dreamed about having leaders from our people, and now there they are," Nick said.

Contacted separately, Indonesian ambassador to New Zealand Tantowi Yahya said that he appreciated such discussions as they could shine a light for New Zealanders who showed an interest in and cared about Papua.

"I fully support PPI New Zealand's initiative to hold such an event. It is important to provide New Zealanders with correct, accurate and factual information on Papua. It is a big initiative," Tantowi said on Tuesday.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/31/indonesian-students-hold-papua-talk-at-new-zealand-university.html

New Indonesian military tank-boat to be used in Papua

Radio New Zealand International - July 30, 2018

A new tank-like military vessel under development in Indonesia is being targetted for use in provinces including Papua.

Production of the Antansena combat vessel began last year by East Java high-tech shipping company PT Lundin.

Antara news agency reports the Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu saying the vessels will be complete next year. He said they are to be used in regions with many rivers and swampy areas such as Papua and Kalimantan.

PT Lundin describes the vessel as "a tank in the form of boat", flexible enough to pursue pirates up narrow rivers that can't be accessed by wider bodied patrol boats.

The minister said orders for the tank boat have been received from military forces of other countries such as Russia.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/362969/new-indonesian-military-tank-boat-to-be-used-in-papua

MSG no place for West Papua talks – director general

Radio New Zealand International - July 27, 2018

Melanesian Spearhead Group director general Amena Yauvoli says political discussions about West Papua don't belong in the organisation.

Mr Yauvoli told the Fiji Times human rights issues relating to West Papua should be dealt with by international organisations.

Speaking during a working group meeting in Nadi on Thursday, he said the MSG's common enemy is crime and politics should be set aside.

Earlier this week Vanuatu Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu said the MSG was failing because of a lack of political engagement.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/362792/msg-no-place-for-west-papua-talks-director-general


Aceh official and employee accused of adultery, vigilantes dump

Coconuts Jakarta - July 30, 2018

A few months ago, the (literally) shitty punishment forced on a couple accused of allegedly getting intimate out of wedlock in Aceh shocked and disgusted the world, even by the ultra conservative province's standards. A new incident shows that punishment was not an isolated act of mob justice.

On Saturday, self-appointed moral vigilantes in a village in the city of Langsa raided the home of a 30-year-old woman, identified by her initials DK, on suspicion that she has been engaging in an extramarital affair with her boss, the head of the city's Regional Development Planning Board (Bappeda), identified only by his initials TSF.

Video footage of what happened next went viral online, showing the vigilantes pouring pail upon pail of comberan (raw sewage) water from an open sewage stream onto the couple.

Langsa Islamic Sharia Agency Head Ibrahim Latif confirmed the incident, saying the local vigilantes were outraged by DK and TSF's alleged adultery and that they saw the sewage water bath as a befitting punishment.

"So the culprit (TSF) often went to the house of the woman, according to locals. Maybe, after a long time of peeping on them, the locals got angry because they were deemed to have engaged in immoral acts. The locals were angry because when the couple was interrogated they could not keep their answers straight. It has become a norm in villages like that," he told Kumparan today.

Ibrahim added that TSF attempted to calm the mob down, telling them that he and DK had performed a nikah siri (a marriage sanctioned by religion but not by the state) in South Sumatra and showed them the certificate. However, the vigilantes questioned the validity of the certificate and proceeded to dump sewage water on TSF and DK anyway.

Islamic Sharia Agency officials came to take TSF and DK into custody after the inhumane public shaming. The agency is now looking into the authenticity of their marriage certificate, and will attempt a mediation between the couple and the mob should it be proven to be real. Should the certificate be fake, TSF and DK could be further punished by publicly being caning in accordance with the province's religious bylaws.

Either way, things won't end well for TSF because if he is found to have married a second wife, he will face sanctions from the city administration because polygamy is not permissible for civil servants according to national regulations. Not a single person from the mob has reportedly been arrested.

As the only province in Indonesia that is allowed to enact explicitly sharia-based laws, Aceh criminalizes everything from selling alcohol to homosexuality to adultery and even the simple act of two unmarried people of the opposite sex being too close to each other. The local government and religious police encourage citizens to snoop on each other to report these crimes, leading to frequent acts of moral vigilantism that rarely go punished.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/aceh-official-employee-accused-adultery-vigilantes-dump-sewage-punishment-video/

Military ties

Indonesia-Australia commanders meet up to intensify defense

Jakarta Post - July 28, 2018

Dian Septiari, Jakarta – Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto met his Australian counterpart Gen. Angus Campbell on Friday during the sixth annual Australia-Indonesia High Level Committee meeting in Darwin, Australia.

In their first encounter since assuming their roles, Hadi and Campbell agreed to an extensive program of navy, army and air force joint exercises and engagement activities for 2019 and 2020 period.

They also recognized that people-to-people ties were critical to developing a strong and mutually beneficial relationship and agreed to establish a regular program of contacts and exchange visits between young officers.

"We emphasized the importance of increasing the complexity of bilateral military exercises, enhancing information sharing and growing practical maritime security cooperation in the Indian Ocean," Hadi and Campbell said in a joint statement on Friday.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Indonesian and Australian special forces cooperation.

Following the meeting, the two chiefs signed a joint letter of endorsement for the Indonesian Australian Defense Alumni Association (Ikahan), which plays an essential role in deepening people-to-people links between the two defense forces.

The two chiefs noted the participation of Indonesia's Air Force F-16 aircraft in Exercise Pitch Black as one of the many examples of Australian-Indonesian Defense cooperation.

Hadi also visited Australian Defense facilities hosting the US Force Posture Initiatives (US FPI), where he talked with Australian and United States officials about the important contributions the US FPI makes to security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/28/indonesia-australia-commanders-meet-up-to-intensify-defense-cooperation.html

Indonesia participates in exercise in Australia

Antara News - July 26, 2018

Kornelis Aloysius Ileama Kaha, Kupang, E Nusa Tenggara – Indonesia has sent four of its US-made F-16 fighter jets to participate in the Exercise Pitch Black Royal Australia Air Force in Darwin, Australia.

"We have sent four F-16s to participate in the exercise," commander of the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto told newsmen here on Wednesday.

He was at the El Tari airbase here for an hour before departing to Australia for a high-level meeting.

"I am travelling to Australia not because of the exercise but to attend a high-level meeting, which is an annual meeting between Indonesia and Australia," he remarked.

Various issues from logistics to personnel, intelligence, and other security-related matters would be discussed at the meeting. Regarding the two-yearly exercise, he hoped Indonesian forces would gain good results.

A number of aircraft has already left for Darwin to prepare before being involved in the exercise on Monday, which is attended by 16 countries. The four F-16s are from Squadron 3 at Iswahyudi airbase in Madiun, East Java.

Source: https://en.antaranews.com/news/116858/indonesia-participates-in-exercise-in-australia

Human rights & justice

Government forms team to resolve past rights abuses

Jakarta Globe - July 31, 2018

Sheany, Jakarta – Chief Security Minister Wiranto reaffirmed the government's commitment to resolve past human rights abuses by the state, and announced the formation of an integrated team for this purpose.

"We want to resolve these issues together so that no one would put the blame on another. The government has not been evading [its responsibility]," Wiranto told reporters in Jakarta on Monday (30/07).

The integrated team would comprise of the Attorney General's Office, the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), the National Police and the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. The team will investigate the abuse cases and what has been hindering their resolution.

Komnas HAM is strongly dependent on other institutions in bringing perpetrators to justice. It has to report its findings to the Attorney General's Office, which then decides what steps to take. Over the years, however, the attorney general has repeatedly returned the commission's reports, citing various reasons.

In June, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo expressed his commitment to take responsibility for resolving past human rights violations, and requested that Wiranto and Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo step up their efforts.

Shortly after the president's request, however, Prasetyo referred to one of the reports by Komnas HAM as "assumptions and opinions."

The new step taken by the government could improve coordination and transparency. Wiranto also mentioned the possibility of addressing past human rights violations through a non-judicial mechanism.

However, according to the minister, lack of evidence is one of the issues that make it difficult to help the progress of investigation.

"There are a number of challenges, including insufficient evidence. While Komnas HAM has conducted their investigations, their results have not yet met the requirements laid out by the attorney general to move further to prosecution," Wiranto said.

The unsolved cases include the murder of student activists during violent street protests in Jakarta in 1998, the 1965-66 anticommunist purge and a number of rights abuses in Papua.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/govt-forms-team-resolve-past-rights-abuses/

Government to form integrated team to resolve 'alleged' past human

Kata Data - July 30, 2018

Dimas Jarot Bayu – The government plans to form an integrated team to resolve cases of past human rights violations. The team will be formed to dissect the various obstacles and find a solution to resolve the cases.

Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs (Polhukam) Wiranto said that the team would be made up of stakeholders from related government ministries and institutions as well as the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM). Other non-profit organisations will also be invited to hold discussions with the team.

"We will dissect them one by one [to find] where the obstacles are. Perhaps pro-justice or perhaps non-judicial. [If it's] non-judicial how will it be done", said Wiranto at his office in Jakarta on Monday July 30.

Wiranto said that the government has still not resolved any cases of alleged past human rights violations because of it has been hampered by many obstacles.

One of the obstacles is proving the case in the eyes of the law. Although there has indeed been investigations by Komnas HAM into cases of alleged past human rights violations, the results failed to meet the requirements to be investigated by the Attorney General's Office (AGO).

If another investigation is carried out, Wiranto believes that this would be difficult because the incidents happened a long time ago. "It's very difficult to find out who is guilty and accountable", said Wiranto.

Furthermore, he believes that another obstacle is because no Ad Hoc Human Rights Court exists. According to Wiranto, Komnas HAM should not have handed the results of the investigations directly to the AGO.

Wiranto believes that the investigation results should be given to the House of Representatives (DPR) so they can be discussed first. This is so the DPR can later make a recommendation to the president to form an Ad Hoc Human Rights Court.

Meanwhile Wiranto believes that right now efforts to resolve alleged past human rights violations non-judicially would be difficult to do because it would conflict with Law Number 20/2000 on the Human Rights Court. The other problem is that no institutions exists which can resolve the cases without going through the courts.

"Before there was the KKR (Truth and Reconciliation Commission), but it has already been disbanded because it wasn't in accordance with legislation. So there must be something to accommodate this", he said.

In 2015 the government raised the issue of forming a team to investigate past human rights cases. There were at least seven cases that have been prioritised, namely the 1965 anti-communist purge, the Talangsari massacre in 1989, the Wamena killings in 2003, the Wasior killings in 2001, the abduction of activists in 1997-98, the mysterious shootings in 1983 and 1985 and the May riots in Jakarta in 1998.

So far there have been no concrete steps taken to resolve these human rights cases.


In 2003 Wiranto was indicted on charges of crimes against humanity by a UN-backed court for his role in the Indonesian military violence during East Timor's 1999 independence referendum. He was also implicated in the anti-Chinese riots in 1998 in a 2003 report by Komnas HAM he is alleged to have been involved in the Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II shooting in Jakarta in 1998.

In 2009 the DPR issued four recommendations to follow up an investigations concluded by Komnas HAM which were submitted to the AGO in 2006. The four recommendations were for the president to establish an Ad Hoc Human Rights Court to examine the 1997-98 abductions, find the missing activists, for the government to provide compensation and restitution to the victims and for the Government to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. None of these recommendations have been acted upon.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Pemerintah Akan Bentuk Tim Gabungan Kasus Pelanggaran HAM Masa Lalu".]

Source: https://katadata.co.id/berita/2018/07/30/pemerintah-akan-bentuk-tim-gabungan-kasus-pelanggaran-ham-masa-lalu

PDIP accuses SBY involved at 27 July 1996 attack

Tempo - July 27, 2018

Insan Qurani, Jakarta – The Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) secretary general Hasto Kristiyanto said Democratic Party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) had an important role in the 27 July 1996 incident.

Hasto said his party had recorded several findings on rights violation committed by SBY, based on the party's internal team investigating the attack in the Indonesian Democratic Party headquarter on Jl. Diponegoro, Menteng, Jakarta.

The findings revealed that many special meetings were conducted ahead of the 27 July 1996 attack. "Between June 26 until July 24, 1996, multiple meetings took place to plan the attack by PDI Soerjadi fraction with military authority and political advisers," as quoted from the first point of the findings.

The next point, PDIP believed the meeting on July 24, 1996, in Kodam Jaya office (Jakarta military command area) resulting on the attack that was led by SBY who was the Kodam Jaya chief of staff.

The case was not revealed yet after 22 years, said Hasto, and that SBY should inform the public regarding the massacre. "We also know his position at that time – of course, he understands the incident which should be made public," he said in the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) office, Thursday, July 16.

Hasto mentioned after the visit to Komnas HAM office, his team would submit an official report to quicken the establishment of a special team to investigate cases of human rights violation.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/07/27/055920308/PDIP-Accuses-SBY-Involved-at-27-July-1996-Attack

Criminalisation & political violence

Families of criminalised environmental activists protest at

Sukoharjo Sorot - July 31, 2018

Vitriana Dhessy, Sukoharjo – Families demanding justice for those charged with vandalising the company PT Rayon Utama Makmur (RUM) are continuing to protest.

As if they do not know the meaning of the word tired, they have continued fighting to the last drop of blood to win their demands.

As was the case on Monday July 29 when scores of people from the Environment Concern Society (MPL) marched to the residence of President Joko Widodo's mother in Sumber Solo to express their feelings and hold a friendship gathering for justice.

Although the heat was intense, it did not however diminish their determination to take action. Moving off from one of the resident's homes on Jl. Celep Nguter, they march passionately without concern for the sweat that continued to drip down their faces.

Not discriminating between women and men, for them the demand for justice was all that mattered. "I just want to express my feelings, and hold a friendly gathering to ask for justice", said Feni, the wife of one of the suspects Sukemi.

Unfurling banners reading "A Friendly Gathering for Justice" and flying red-and-white flags, they marched oblivious to the intense heat. The action was closely guarded by police.

As has been reported, the vandalism of the PT RUM factory in Plesan Village occurred following a protest action by local residents. As a result, seven residents were arrested by the Sukoharjo police.

Local residents say the arrests were unjust because they were people fighting to articulate their demand that the foul smell emanating from the PT RUM factory be dealt with.

To this day the long suffering of the families persists because their efforts to call for justice and have the seven suspects released have not been realised.

The seven arrested residents are Bambang Wahyudi, Danang, Sukemi, Muhammad Hisbun Payu, Sutarno, Brilian and Kelvin. They were sentenced to jail and have been serving time at the Kedungpane prison in Semarang since February.

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Ingin Curhat, Keluarga Terdakwa Jalan Kaki ke Rumah Ibu Jokowi".]

Source: http://sukoharjo.sorot.co/berita-2536-ingin-curhat-keluarga-terdakwa-jalan-kaki-ke-rumah-ibu-jokowi.html

Sexual & domestic violence

Judges reported to ethics commission after jailing rape victim

Jakarta Post - July 31, 2018

Jakarta – A coalition of NGOs has reported judges from a district court in Jambi to the Judicial Commission for alleged ethics violation after a 15-year-old sexual abuse victim was sentenced to prison.

The NGOs – the Women and Children Care Alliance (APPA), the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) and the Legal Aid Foundation of Indonesian Women's Association for Justice (LBH APIK) – have found a number of irregularities in the trial.

The 15-year-old, who was allegedly repeatedly raped and later impregnated by her own brother, was sentenced to six months in prison by the Muara Bulian District Court for aborting her pregnancy.

She was tried alongside her brother, who was charged with abortion and sexual assault. The activists said they had found that the same legal team had represented the girl and her brother.

"The same legal team worked for two related cases. This could lead to a conflict of interests," Genoveva Alicia from the ICJR said, as quoted by tempo.co. They also found it odd that the abortion trial and the rape trial were held on the same day.

Judicial Commission member Farid Wajdi said the commission would follow up on the report. "If we find indications of any ethics violation, we will question the judges." (stu/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/31/judges-reported-to-ethics-commission-after-jailing-rape-victim.html

Labour & migrant workers

Online 'ojek' drivers to protest during Asian Games opening

Jakarta Post - July 27, 2018

Jakarta – Drivers of app-based ride-hailing services are threatening to stage a protest during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Asian Games.

Two-Wheel Action Movement (Garda) leader Igun Wicaksono said the ojek (motorcycle taxi) drivers demanded an increase in the fare from Rp 1,200 (83 US cents) per kilometer to Rp 3,000, like when online ojek started to operate in the country in 2015.

Igun explained that the rally, dubbed Aksi 188 Ojek Online (online ojek action 188) in reference to the date of the Games' opening, had been scheduled for Aug. 18 because one of the ride-hailing app companies was a main sponsor of the Asian Games.

"The app company is a sponsor for the Asian Games by extorting the drivers' blood and tears," he said, as quoted by wartakota.tribunnews.com.

Igun said 20 percent was deducted from every transaction made by the drivers for various expenses, including income tax. However, the drivers were never shown any proof of the tax payment.

Igun said that was why the drivers alleged that the company was sponsored the Asian Games using the deducted funds. (gis)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/26/online-ojek-drivers-to-protest-during-asian-games-opening.html

Political parties & elections

Prabowo Subianto on SBY: We share the same DNA

Tempo - July 30, 2018

Dewi Nurita, Jakarta – Gerindra Party helmsman Prabowo Subianto said his meeting with Susilo "SBY" Bambang Yudhoyono, the chairman of the Democrat Party, at his Kertanegara residence today was focusing on multiple issues, among them a coalition deal, adjusting visions on the country, and the people's future. The talks lasted for two hours.

After the meeting, Prabowo reiterated SBY's advice for him. "Mas Bowo, if you are later given the mandate to lead this country, you must focus on the fact that your administration is for the Indonesian people's interests," said Prabowo today.

The Gerindra top man said he took the advice and would use it as a cornerstone and part of his commitment.

Prabowo added he and SBY could easily see eye to eye as both have military backgrounds. "We have the same DNA as former Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) soldiers who are committed to executing the Pancasila (Five state ideologies) and the 1945 Constitution," said Prabowo.

Prabowo Subianto said the meeting was not filled with rhetoric, but rather an open and honest one and was based on clear views.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/07/30/055920375/Prabowo-Subianto-on-SBY-We-Share-the-Same-DNA

Former Indonesian leader endorses Widodo rival for presidency

Reuters - July 30, 2018

Jakarta – Setting the stage for a re-run of Indonesia's 2014 election, former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Monday he would support an opposition leader to challenge President Joko Widodo in polls due next year.

Indonesians are due to vote for members of parliament and the president in April, but tensions are already mounting because candidates for the presidency have until Aug. 10 to register with the election commission.

"We came here with one understanding that Mr. Prabowo is our presidential candidate," Yudhoyono told a news conference after meeting Prabowo Subianto, head of the Gerindra party and a former armed forces general who was narrowly defeated by Widodo in the last election.

Widodo, a former furniture businessman and the first president to come from outside the political or military establishment, is expected to seek another five-year term. A quietly spoken reformer, he has enjoyed strong popularity.

Regional elections held last month showed that candidates who favoured Widodo were ahead in three provinces of Java island, home to more than half of the population.

Subianto, who has criticised the government on welfare issues and its ties with Beijing, told the news conference with Yudhoyono that he would hold meetings in coming days to decide on his running mate for the vice-presidency.

His campaign for the presidency in 2014 was dogged by accusations of human rights abuses during his days as a top general, in particular during unrest that brought down his former father-in-law and long-serving autocrat, Suharto, in 1998.

Yudhoyono, also a former army general who served as president from 2004 to 2014, has had a shaky relationship with his successor, Widodo.

Last year he accused government agencies of illegally tapping his phone and sabotaging his son's chance in an election for Jakarta governor. Widodo's government denied the charges.

[Reporting by Gayatri Suroyo and Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by John Chalmers and Nick Macfie.]

Source: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-indonesia-politics/former-indonesian-leader-endorses-widodo-rival-for-presidency-idUKKBN1KK15S?rpc=401&

Prabowo-SBY meeting solidifies Gerindra-Dems coalition

Jakarta Post - July 30, 2018

Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta – The Gerindra Party and the Democratic Party appear to have solidified their coalition for the 2019 presidential election with a meeting between their respective chairmen, Prabowo Subianto and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in South Jakarta on Monday.

"There is a willingness on both sides to create synergy and close cooperation to deal with the troubles the country faces," Prabowo told reporters after the meeting of more than two hours. "We have agreed to cooperate politically, which will, of course, be in the form of a coalition."

The two had previously met last Tuesday at Yudhoyono's house in Kuningan, South Jakarta, where they explained that the path to a coalition between their parties was "wide open."

"This is the second meeting. In the first meeting, it was wide open for Gerindra and the Democratic Party to form a coalition," Yudhoyono said. "Now the door is even wider, and, God willing, we can come together to improve [the nation] for the next five years."

The former president dismissed reports that Prabowo might relinquish his spot as a presidential candidate. "We are here with the conviction that Pak Prabowo is our presidential candidate," he said.

He added that they had not discussed who would take the slot of vice presidential candidate, saying that he would leave the decision to Prabowo.

"The important thing is that [the VP candidate] has the support of the people and has the capability to be a leader for the future," he said. (swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/30/prabowo-sby-meeting-solidifies-gerindra-dems-coalition.html

'He's our candidate': SBY endorses Prabowo in 2019 presidential

Coconuts Jakarta - July 30, 2018

Prabowo Subianto received a huge boost in his potential bid to run for president in next year's election today by gaining the endorsement of former president and current Democratic Party Chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY).

After SBY announced last week that he's closed the door on joining President Joko Widodo's coalition due to his frosty relationship with PDI-P Chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri, he said that the Democrats were likely to join up with the coalition of opposition parties headed by Prabowo's Gerindra Party.

Today, SBY made the political alliance with Prabowo all but official, publicly announcing that he, and the Democrats, are endorsing Prabowo for the 2019 presidential election.

"We came with one understanding: Pak Prabowo is our presidential candidate," SBY told the media after meeting with Prabowo at the latter's home in South Jakarta today, as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

SBY's meeting with Prabowo today is the second time the two political powerhouses met in the space of a week. Last Tuesday, Prabowo met with SBY and his eldest son, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (AHY), prompting rumors that the young politician is being prepped to be Prabowo's running mate.

But today, Prabowo said SBY did not seek any political favors for the endorsement. "He (SBY) left it all to me [who the running mate will be] should I end up being a presidential candidate," Prabowo told the media, although he did make any comments specifically about whether or not AHY would be joining him on his ticket.

Prabowo, who, unlike Jokowi, has yet to make his candidacy official, needs the support of at least one major party to fulfill the presidential threshold requirement of 20% of seats in the House of Parliament (DPR). As soon as Gerindra's coalition with the Democrats become official, Prabowo will have surpassed the threshold.

Prabowo still has yet to consolidate his party's alliances with opposition Islamic parties such as the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) for next year.

Presidential and VP candidates have until August 10 to register themselves with the General Elections Commission (KPU). A duel rematch between President Jokowi and his 2014 challenger Prabowo seems increasingly likely by the day.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/hes-candidate-former-pres-sby-endorses-prabowo-2019-presidential-election/

212 Alumni recommends 4 names for 2019 presidential bid

Tempo - July 29, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – Former protesters of the 2017 mass-rally in Jakarta '212-alumni', announced their presidential and vice presidential candidates for the upcoming 2019 presidential election that was announced by the group's chairman Aminuddin.

"We recommend four names for the 2019-2024 presidential and vice presidential candidates for the 'keumatan' and national political party coalition which corresponds to the hopes of the public," said Aminuddin.

Aminuddin said that based on the recent political dynamics, the four names proposed by the group consist of Prabowo Subianto, Yusril Ihza Mahendra, Gatot Nurmantyo, and Anies Baswedan.

He further explained that the names were chosen after the group saw that Indonesia's weak financial management and the increasing amount of foreign debt, which he deemed," It is certain that Indonesia's economy will be bleak."

The individuals proposed by the 212 alumni group corresponds to the choices of Indonesia's opposition coalition consists of Gerindra, PAN, and PKS that are set to support Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto in the 2019 Presidential Election.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/07/29/055920347/212-Alumni-Recommends-4-Names-for-2019-Presidential-Bid

Jokowi supporters try to prevent anti-Jokowi activist from entering

Jakarta Post - July 29, 2018

Fadli, Batam – About 150 people claiming to be supporters of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo tried to prevent Neno Warisman, an opposition activist with the #2019ChangePresident campaign, from entering Batam, Riau Islands, on Saturday.

Neno, who was a famous singer in the 1990s, had landed at Hang Nadim Airport to attend a #2019ChangePresident event on Sunday. However, a crowd intercepted her at the airport and demanded that the authorities prohibit her from entering the city.

Neno found herself stuck inside the airport for six hours, before the committee for the #2019ChangePresident event escorted her out. The crowd, which carried banners expressing their rejection of Neno, said Neno often uttered hate speech against Jokowi.

Riau Islands Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) executive Soeryo Respationo told The Jakarta Post on Saturday that the people were hurt by Neno's behavior.

"If you criticize his performance, that would not be a problem. But they malign him much, and our friends here could not accept that," he said.

He said groups wanting to change the president should air their grievances during the presidential election campaign. "Don't push it now," he said.

Soeryo demanded that the police prohibit Neno from entering Batam, because that was "what the crowd wanted".

Neno's friends, on the other hand, demanded that police escort Neno out of the airport safely. The #2019ChangePresident campaign also deployed its own crowd, estimated at about 500 people, to the airport.

After six hours at the airport, Neno finally got out, escorted by people wearing her campaign's T-shirts. When Jokowi supporters found out that she had got out, they shouted in anger and tried to hurl stones at the car transporting Neno.

Barelang Police chief Sr. Comr. Hengki told the Post that his office would ensure Neno's safety in Batam.

On Sunday, the anti-Jokowi event passed without any significant trouble in the yard of Batam's Grand Mosque. Neno, a prominent figure in the anti-Jokowi movement, said next year was the right time to change the president.

"Why? Because of our economic woes, as prices are rising and eggs are very expensive. How could this happen," said Neno.

Not far from the mosque, Jokowi's supporters held an event of their own on Sunday, which also remained calm. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/29/jokowi-supporters-try-to-prevent-anti-jokowi-activist-from-entering-batam.html

Rizieq Shihab: Jakarta election prove community coalition can win

Tempo - July 28, 2018

Dewi Nurita, Jakarta – The Islamic Defender Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab is optimistic the pair of presidential candidate carried out by the Community Coalition could win against the incumbent President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo in the 2019 presidential election.

He said that it was proved in the Jakarta gubernatorial election last year when Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno defeated the incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama-Djarot Saiful Hidayat.

"Brothers and sisters, let's learn from the Jakarta election, we are capable to win over the incumbent who is backed by the state, publicized by media, and many survey institutes," said Rizieq Shihab on late Friday, July 27.

Rizieq made the statement during his opening speech in the Ijtima' Ulema Forum (ulema meeting) organized by the National Movement to Safeguard Indonesian Ulema Councils Edict (GNPF-MUI) in Peninsula Tower Hotel, Jakarta, Friday, July 27 via a teleconference from Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Rizieq claimed a total of five parties joined in the Community Coalition were Gerindra Party, PKS, PAN, PBB, and Berkarya Party which he considered as the locomotive of justice enforcers. "Let's unite the community coalition, against communism, liberalism, and Islamophobia."

The community coalition, Rizieq said, would welcome Democratic party should it willing to participate. He believed the six parties joined in the coalition would be supported by the massive community. "The power of community will be a great investment in politics," he added.

The meeting was attended by the leaders of the five parties namely Prabowo Subianto, Zulkifli Hasan, Sohibul Iman, Yusril Ihza Mahendra, and Tommy Soeharto. However, the Democratic Party was absent.

GNPF head, who is also the organizing committee Yusuf Muhammad Martak said the forum was aimed to convey the community's aspirations in light of the coalition ahead of presidential race next year and that was the follow-up discussion between Rizieq Shihab and the parties' chairmen.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/07/28/055920332/Rizieq-Shihab-Jakarta-Election-Prove-Community-Coalition-Can-Win

Doors still open for other presidential candidates, PKS says

Jakarta Post - July 28, 2018

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – The opposition coalition may not necessarily field Gerindra Party patron Prabowo Subianto in the upcoming presidential election, Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) executive Salim Segaf al-Jufri has said.

While the PKS and Gerindra still back Prabowo's candidacy, Salim said on Friday that everything could change before the registration deadline for presidential and vice presidential candidates in next year's election.

When asked about whether or not Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan was considered a potential candidate, Salim said, "Everything is possible before Aug. 10 [deadline]."

Anies' name has been frequently mentioned as a potential figure to run against the camp of incumbent President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo. Last year, Anies won the Jakarta gubernatorial election with the backing of Gerindra, the PKS and the National Mandate Party (PAN).

During a speech at the opening of an ulema gathering on Friday evening, Prabowo said that although he was ready to run for president, should there be a better candidate, he would throw his support behind the figure to comply with the interests of the people.

Gerindra recently expressed interest in forming a coalition with the Democratic Party, with Prabowo signaling that he was leaning toward choosing as his running mate Agus Harimurti, the son of Dems patron Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Salim said that the PKS had yet to discuss whether to select Agus as a vice presidential candidate as the party was focused on nine members from within. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/28/doors-still-open-for-other-presidential-candidates-pks-says.html

Prabowo ready to drop presidential bid, support other figure

Jakarta Post - July 28, 2018

Jakarta – In a rare statement, Gerindra Party chairman and presumptive presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto said he was ready to throw support behind other eligible people to run for president in next year's election.

Prabowo delivered the statement before hundreds of participants of an ulema gathering spearheaded by the National Movement to Safeguard Ulema Fatwa (GNPF), During the three-day event, ulemas are set to discuss national issues, including the 2019 election.

In his speech at the opening of the event on Friday, Prabowo said the country needed a change of leadership, especially to improve social justice and welfare for Indonesian citizens, most of whom were Muslims, who suffered from economic injustice.

"Thus I declare before you that I am ready to become the tool of change and a tool for the Muslim community and Indonesian citizens," Prabowo said on Friday.

"However, if I am no longer needed and there is someone else who is better, I am ready to throw my support behind them for the sake of the people," he went on to say.

In the event, the ulemas and national figures, including from the political parties, are set to discuss the presidential and vice presidential candidates for 2019, which would result in a recommendation.

Besides the Gerindra chief patron, the opening was also attended by chairmen of political parties in the opposition, including Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) chairman Sohibul Iman and National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman Zulkifli Hasan.

Berkarya Party chairman Hutomo Mandala Putra, also known as Tommy Soeharto, and Crescent Star Party (PBB) chairman Yusril Ihza Mahendra also attended the event. The two parties, which currently do not hold any legislative seats, are set to take part in the 2019 general election.

Before Prabowo, Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab, who is currently in Saudi Arabia, provided a speech through a recording, in which he urged the participants of the gathering to push the political parties to unite and challenge the parties backing President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's reelection.

Rizieq and activists grouped under the GNPF were among the staunchest critics of Jokowi. They also spearheaded several sectarian rallies in the past in which they demanded the prosecution of then-Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for blasphemy.

"We must embrace new parties like the Idaman Party, which has joined PAN and Berkarya Party, as well as big parties such as the Democratic Party," Rizieq said in his speech.

Gerindra and the Democrats recently indicated that they may form a coalition in 2019, as a result of a meeting between Prabowo and Democratic chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday. At the time, Prabowo also signaled that he was leaning toward Yudhoyono's son, Agus Harimurti, as a running mate.

In his speech, Prabowo said the coalition of Gerindra, PKS and PAN was de facto and already working. He went on to say, "[Rizieq] has also said that we must invite the Democrats here."

The gathering comprises discussions over economic, Islamic and political issues on Saturday. It will end on Sunday, during which they will issue a press statement expected to include the names of presidential and vice presidential candidates for the 2019 election. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/28/prabowo-ready-to-drop-presidential-bid-support-other-figure.html

Top Democrat official says willing to work with devil to beat

Jakarta Post - July 26, 2018

Jakarta – Democratic Party deputy secretary-general Rachland Nashidik has tweeted a controversial message saying he is ready to work with the devil to beat President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in the next year's election.

"I want to change the president! If for that I must cooperate with the devil, I will do it. Especially if only with Prabowo," Rachland, through his Twitter handle @RachlanNashidik, tweeted in the wee hours on Thursday.

The tweet came following Democratic Party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's forging of a coalition with the Gerindra Party and publicly supporting the presidential candidacy of its chairman, Prabowo, in the 2019 presidential election.

The Democrats previously made overtures to Jokowi's camp for a possible alliance before finally deciding to team up with Gerindra.

The tweet attracted scores of replies from netizens, who either slammed or agreed with Rachland.

He said his tweet was intended to show that despite being a democratic country, there were not many options for the public to choose their next leader in the 2019 presidential election.

The high presidential threshold requirements, he said, limited the options for political parties. "There is no ideal luxury in today's democracy of Indonesia," he said on Thursday.

The 2017 Elections Law requires a party or coalition of parties to secure at least 20 percent of the seats at the House of Representatives or 25 percent of the popular vote to be eligible to nominate a presidential candidate in next year's election.

"The options are riding a horse or a bike. I choose to ride a horse," he said, referring to the respective pastimes of Prabowo, who owns and rides horses, and Jokowi, who often grants bikes to people during working visits. (rin)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/26/top-democrat-official-says-willing-to-work-with-devil-to-beat-jokowi.html

SBY closes door on Jokowi's coalition due to poor relationship with

Coconuts Jakarta - July 26, 2018

As things stand, President Joko Widodo's huge coalition of six political parties should make his path to re-election next year very smooth, barring any extraordinary surprises.

But with coalitions and rivalries still forming behind the scenes leading up to the August 10 registration deadline for presidential/VP candidates, it looks like Jokowi won't be able to count on the Democratic Party, led by predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), to back him next year.

In a candid press conference yesterday, SBY revealed that Jokowi had asked him for the Democrats to join his coalition on five occasions over the past year. SBY said that, while he respects Jokowi, he has to close the door on any possibility of the Democrats joining the president's coalition due to his frosty relationship with Jokowi's party's leader, PDI-P Chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri.

"There's still distance, there's still an obstacle there," SBY told the press, as quoted by Kompas. "I have to be honest, [our relationship] has not been mended."

Megawati and SBY had a widely publicized falling out during the 2004 presidential election, when Megawati was running for her second term as president. During Megawati's presidency, SBY served as her coordinating minister for political, legal, and security affairs. Their relationship reportedly became irreparable after SBY stepped down from his post before being nominated for the presidency in 2004, which he won.

PDI-P Secretary General Hasto Kristiyanto rebuffed SBY's claims, saying that the Democrats not joining Jokowi's coalition has nothing to do with Megawati. Instead, he said the coalition did not want to accept SBY's condition to have his son, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, be Jokowi's running mate next year.

Despite closing the door on joining Jokowi's coalition, SBY hinted that there's still a possibility of the Democrats joining an opposition coalition led by Prabowo Subianto, chairman of the Gerindra Party and likely Jokowi's only challenger in the 2019 election.

The Democrats were the victors of the 2009 legislative election. But, due to SBY being unable to run for a third presidential term and numerous high profile graft cases against the party's cadres, the Democrats were only able to obtain around 10% of the national vote in 2014 – half of its achievement five years prior. The party chose to be neutral in 2014 and it could remain so for 2019, but it's looking increasingly likely that it will join the opposition coalition based on SBY's latest statement.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/former-president-sby-closes-door-jokowis-coalition-due-poor-relationship-pdi-p-chairwoman-megawati/

Bawaslu says 199 corruption ex-cons registered for regional

Coconuts Jakarta - July 26, 2018

Early this month, the General Elections Commission (KPU) officially banned those who have been convicted of corruption from running for public office, despite opposition from parliament and government agencies.

A legal challenge to KPU's ban seems inevitable, and it looks like many corruption ex-cons are banking on the hope that it will be repealed as hundreds have registered to run for regional councils (DPRD) in 2019.

According to the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), 199 politicians have been convicted of corruption have gone through the first steps in registering as candidates for DPRD seats next year. Thirty of them have registered at the provincial level, along with 148 at the regency level and 21 at the city level.

"As things stand, the numbers are the result of monitoring that's still being validated and verified," Bawaslu official Mochammad Afifudin told CNN Indonesia yesterday.

Bawaslu did not reveal the individual identities of the ex-cons but said that the provinces with the largest number of registrations is Jambi with nine. One has registered in Jakarta.

Those registering for legislative seats will still have to go through numerous verification processes over the next few months. The KPU will announce the list of officially registered legislative candidates on September 20, taking into account the ban in order to prevent corruption convicts from running for office.

Before KPU enacted the ban, corruption convicts who had been sentenced to less than five years in prison had been allowed to run as long as they met an ambiguous requirement to declare their criminal history to the voting public.

The first elections the new regulation will apply to will be those taking place in April 2019, assuming it can stand up to the coming legal challenges. In previous meetings between KPU representatives and reps from the House of Representatives (DPR) to discuss the regulations, legislators fiercely protested on the grounds that it ran contrary to current laws and even argued that it was a violation of human rights (the rights of the convicted corruptors that is).

Somewhat surprisingly, Bawaslu and even President Joko Widodo's Home Affairs Ministry (Kemendagri) opposed the KPU's plan on those same grounds. But KPU officials have pushed through the regulation anyways, arguing that they had a strong legal basis for it (corruption convicts are already legally barred from running as presidential and vice presidential candidates) and were ready for it to be challenged in court.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/elections-supervisory-agency-says-199-corruption-ex-cons-registered-regional-council-elections-2019/

Indonesia's opportunistic politicians: Jakarta Post

Straits Times - July 26, 2018

Jakarta – Opportunistic politicians have been switching allegiance from one party to another since the wake of strongman Suharto's downfall in 1998, but never had this political circus stirred as much controversy as it has in recent weeks.

In the past, politicians left their old parties and joined a new one en masse as part of the euphoria that came along with newfound political freedom.

Suharto's New Order regime allowed only three political parties: Golkar as his re-election machine and two pseudo-oppositions, namely the Muslim-based United Development Party (PPP) and nationalist Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI).

Back then, many Golkar politicians jumped to the mushrooming political parties they thought would be more propitious, thinking their stigmatised old party would go to the trash bin of history.

They were wrong. Thanks to its unwaveringly dedicated leaders, Golkar surprised even the most optimistic by finishing as runner-up in the 1999 general election after the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). It even won the 2004 election and has remained the second-largest party until today.

Now that Indonesia enjoys greater political freedom, with 16 national political parties plus four local parties in Aceh contesting next year, party switching sounds like the multi-million transfer of professional soccer players in Europe.

As the registration for new House of Representatives members closed last week, it became public that 19 political bigwigs changed sides. NasDem is the most favourited haven, receiving 15 switchers.

Among the best-known names are Yusuf Supendi, a co-founder of the Islamist Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) who moved to the nationalist PDI-P; Syarifuddin Suding from the Hanura Party to the National Mandate Party (PAN); ex-model Okky Asokawati from the PPP to NasDem; and Suharto's daughter Siti Hediati from Golkar, who joined the Berkarya Party founded by her younger brother Hutomo "Tommy" Mandalaputra.

The changes take place as pollsters reflect pessimism about small parties' performance in next year's general elections.

The Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI), for example, came out with the chilling conclusion that five of the 10 older parties – the PPP, PKS, PAN, Hanura and NasDem – may not win any seats in the House.

Their chances shrank after new laws raised the minimum threshold to 4 per cent of the national vote from 3.5 per cent set for the 2014 election, as well as the emergence of new political parties with platforms more appealing to younger voters, such as the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI).

The opportunists see a better chance of winning seats under other parties that give them red-carpet treatments.

They may secure a top slot on the new parties' list of favoured candidates in recognition of their tested expertise, experience and popularity.

Hence, hiring experienced lawmakers is a shortcut for wealthy but lethargic parties in recruiting seasoned politicians.

In the short term, these opportunistic lawmakers leave behind a mess.

They have to quit their old political parties and the legislative body at the same time. Then, their parties will have to scramble for substitutes to fill the vacant seats.

All the rush and inexperience of new recruits will likely serve nothing but further slow down the House's work. The recent party switching has already heightened tensions among political parties.

PAN has openly alleged that NasDem bought its celebrity-cum-lawmaker Lucky Hakim for Rp 5 billion (S$471,531). Predictably, NasDem denies the allegations.

It is intriguing that NasDem, the second-smallest of the 10 political parties with 35 seats in the House, has become the most popular destination for jittery politicians who lost confidence in their old parties.

Besides, some pollsters doubt NasDem would be able to survive next year's election. So, it's only logical that its sudden appeal is giving rise to wild speculations, mainly the money factor.

Hanura, the party founded by former army general Wiranto, now the coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister, lost the most with eight lawmakers leaving as the result of its unresolved internal conflict that has already split its top leadership, potentially eroding its electability.

Even though Indonesia's legal system does not restrict anybody from switching political parties, the ongoing trend is provoking questions of integrity among our politicians already infamous for their pragmatism.

Politicians moving to other parties, obviously, have ethical issues. They miserably fail and betray voters who trusted them to defend their interests.

Leaving constituents when the promised job is far from over for the sake of their personal gains is a show of dishonesty.

The phenomena also disclose political parties' inability to manage internal bickering and instill their ideology among members, common failures contributing to pragmatism and corruption that poison democracy.

The transfer of politicians and recruitment of celebrities as vote-getters are cheap tactics that hamper the recruitment of truly capable and loyal career politicians and provide fertile ground for breeding internal conflicts.

A plausible measure that may help stem the tide is to have a rule that sets the minimum number of years for a public official to serve in a political party before they can be eligible to contest for a public post.

– Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/indonesias-opportunistic-politicians-jakarta-post

Agus' vice presidential bid not nonnegotiable: SBY

Jakarta Post - July 25, 2018

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – In working toward forming a coalition, Democratic Party chief and former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said the vice presidential bid of Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, his eldest son, is open to negotiations.

"For the Democratic Party, [the proposal for] vice presidential candidacy is not undisputed," Yudhoyono said after saying that all political parties would of course prioritize their own members to contest the presidential race.

He made the statement on Tuesday evening after a two-hour closed-door meeting with Gerindra Party patron Prabowo Subianto at the former's residence in South Jakarta.

Speaking to the press after the meeting, Prabowo asserted that he and Yudhoyono agreed that other names would be considered. "[...] But if Agus' name [as a vice presidential candidate] later emerges [during negotiations], why not?" said Prabowo.

The Dems have been touting Agus as the party's candidate in next year's presidential election. The party has also assessed various scenarios of pairing him with people deemed potential candidates to contest the 2019 race, including with Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

Political parties are scrambling to form coalitions as candidate registration draws near. The General Election Commission (KPU) will open registration for candidates of the presidential election on Aug 4 to 10. (rin)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/25/aguss-vice-presidential-bid-not-nonnegotiable-sby.html

Dems, Gerindra's path to coalition 'wide open'

Jakarta Post - July 24, 2018

Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta – Democratic Party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said in a joint press conference with Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto that both parties were talking about the possibility of a coalition to contest in the 2019 presidential election.

"The path to building this coalition is wide open, especially after we have agreed on what problems the people are facing," said Yudhoyono on Tuesday night after an almost three-hour closed door meeting with Prabowo at his house in South Jakarta.

After Yudhoyono's speech, Prabowo delivered his, saying that they had "very good chemistry".

"We feel very good chemistry; both of us are concerned with the nation's economic condition," Prabowo said. "In the following days, there will be meetings on more technical matters toward a coalition that will be able to give solutions to this nation."

Prabowo added that he had been in intensive communication with the Justice and Prosperous Party (PKS) and the National Mandate Party (PAN). He said when he was about to depart to Yudhoyono's house, the "friends in the other parties" were happy with this meeting.

The joint statement was made following a closed-door meeting between Prabowo and Yudhoyono at Yudhoyono's house in Mega Kuningan, South Jakarta.

Clad in brown batik, Prabowo arrived at the house at 7:15 p.m. He was welcomed by Yudhoyono and his son, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono. The former president and Agus, touted by the Democractic Party as a vice presidential candidate, were both wearing brown batik as well. With them were top executives from both parties. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/24/dems-gerindas-path-to-coalition-wide-open.html

Jokowi coalition agrees on VP candidate

Jakarta Post - July 24, 2018

Jakarta – The six political parties standing behind President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's reelection bid have agreed on a vice-presidential candidate after party leaders met with the President at Bogor Palace on Monday evening.

The meeting was attended by Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri, Nasdem Party chairman Surya Paloh, Golkar Party chairman Airlangga Hartarto, United Development Party (PPP) chairman Muhammad Romahurmuziy, National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman Muhaimin Iskandar and Hanura Party chairman Oesman Sapta Odang.

It was the first time all the coalition party leaders have sat together since they declared their support for Jokowi.

"The coalition is unanimous, [the vice-presidential candidate] is in the president's hands. There is only one name left," Oesman said after the meeting as quoted by kompas.com. "It will probably [be announced] in one or two weeks to avoid speculation."

Airlangga said the President would decide when to announce the candidate's name. "It is unlikely to happen in the near future because this is connected to political strategy, and of course, we have different ways of communicating to the public," he said.

"[The vice-presidential candidate] will most likely be announced on the last day of [presidential] candidate registration, not on the first day," Romahurmuziy said as quoted by tempo.co, adding that there would be a follow-up meeting soon.

"There will definitely be another meeting after this one. God willing, at the beginning of August we will be together again," he said.

A photo of the meeting was posted on Jokowi's official Instagram account with a caption reading: "The nation's problems cannot be solved by just one or two people. Togetherness and unity is an important asset for the nation at this time." (kmt)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/24/jokowi-coalition-agrees-on-vp-candidate.html

TGB resigns from Democrats in follow-up to announcing support for

Jakarta Post - July 24, 2018

Jakarta – West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) Governor Muhammad Zainul Majdi, also known as Tuan Guru Bajang (TGB), has resigned from the Democratic Party a few weeks after declaring his support for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

"It's true, I resigned a few days ago," TGB confirmed on Monday as quoted by kompas.com.

He said he submitted his resignation letter to Democrat high council secretary Amir Syamsuddin, but declined to provide the reasons for his resignation, saying only that they were "personal".

Meanwhile, Democrat deputy secretary-general Rachland Nashidik released a separate statement on Monday, wishing TGB well in his future endeavors.

TGB will end his term as NTB governor in September and has been widely touted as a potential running mate for Jokowi.

"We pray that his new status as a nonpartisan Muslim cleric will lead him on a path to a better political career as one of Pak Jokowi's [potential] vice presidential candidates," Rachland said.

The defection is seen as a coup for Jokowi, with analysts saying that TGB's reputation as a respected Muslim scholar could help boost Jokowi's electability among conservative Muslim voters.

TGB supported Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto in the 2014 presidential election. His support for Jokowi came as a surprise, especially as it was at odds with the Democrats' policy.

The Democrats have yet to declare support for either the President or his main contender Prabowo, but appear to have drawn closer to Gerindra, with a meeting between Democrat chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Prabowo scheduled for Tuesday night. (kmt)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/24/tgb-resigns-from-democrats-in-follow-up-to-announcing-support-for-jokowi.html

PA 212 asks five political parties to form people's coalition

Tempo - July 24, 2018

Dias Prasongko, Jakarta – The 212 Alumni or the PA 212 brotherhood held a meeting with a number of political party officials at Sultan Hotel, South Jakarta, Monday, July 23. Secretary-General of the National Mandate Party (PAN) Eddy Soeparno, one of the invited party officials, said in the meeting, PA 212 asked some parties to be able to coalesce.

"PA 212 asked the invited parties to be able to unite and in the near future, to declare a coalition. That is the wish of the ulema who we respect and consider," Eddy said after the meeting.

The five parties invited were Gerindra Party, PAN, Berkarya Party, Crescent Star Party (PBB) and Prosperous Justice Party (PKS). Of the five parties invited, Berkarya Party dan PKS were absent.

Eddy said PAN has not decided whether to join the coalition or not. He claimed to be still discussing and considering it in the internal party. "It is a desire that we respect and will be taken into consideration," he said.

Eddy ensured that PAN is still firmly in the National Coordination Meeting (Rakornas) held in 2017. Rakernas agreed to propose PAN Chairman Zulkifli Hasan both as the presidential and vice presidential candidate in the 2019 presidential election.

Eddy said that at the meeting, the invited parties were listening more to the input of the PA 212 ulemas. He said the ulemas hope that the parties have a people's commitment to the presidential election.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/07/24/055920197/PA-212-Asks-Five-Political-Parties-to-Form-Peoples-Coalition

Meet Tommy Suharto, son of a dictator turned democrat

Sydney Morning Herald - July 24, 2018

James Massola & Karuni Rompies, Bogor – He has beaten corruption charges, spent time in jail for ordering the assassination of a Supreme Court judge, made a fortune that once ran to $US800 million ($1 billion) off the back of government concessions and grown up in the shadow of a nearly-all powerful father who ruled and shaped Indonesia for 31 years.

And now Hutomo Mandala Putra, much better known as Tommy Suharto, wants Indonesians to vote for him.

The youngest son of Indonesia's longest-serving president, recently confirmed as a parliamentary candidate in Papua province for the April 2019 elections, has a new(ish) party machine, Berkarya, and has his sights set on winning 80 seats in the 575 member national parliament (they plan to stand a candidate in every seat).

Suharto told Fairfax Media on Monday that he had broken with Golkar, the party of his father and still a formidable machine in Indonesia's electoral politics, because "first of all, Golkar has moved away from its initial mission because they no longer put people's interest as priority".

"Instead, they fight more for the interest of the party elite and for power. In the end pragmatism is high so party ideology and character are no longer there," he said.

"Indonesia must become a strong agrarian country supported by strong industry. It means we should not only work to be self-sufficient, rather Indonesia, with such huge land, should become a world food barn [an exporter of food]."

Like so many other candidates, Suharto's message is tightly-targeted one for the orang kecil, the so-called little people of this sprawling nation.

Both Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and the man considered most likely to challenge him again, the failed 2014 presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, stress the need for food security, too – a popular aspiration in Indonesia, where memories of the 2011 live cattle export ban imposed by Australia still linger.

But Suharto's dose of nationalism is measured with a dash of reassurance for an international audience wondering whether Australia's near neighbour might be about to turn further inward.

"I think Indonesia and Australia can co-operate because Indonesia has a huge need for meat, however we should have actual self-sufficiency in meat, especially beef, because we have a very big land. But cattle farming in Indonesia is not as good as in Australia," he said.

"So we should work together so that Indonesia can learn about the technology from Australia on how to run cattle farming."

Suharto's party has targeted 80 seats – one for each of the 80 electoral districts in the country – which amounts to about 13.9 per cent of the national vote, but "as a new party, it's quite challenging", he conceded.

In fact, according the Australian National University's Indonesia expert Associate Professor Marcus Mietzner, Suharto's new party could struggle to claim any seats in Parliament at all.

That's because to claim seats a party must also reach a threshold of four per cent of the national vote.

Mietzner said that was unlikely to happen because "he doesn't connect with the electorate, he doesn't connect with political elites and the electoral threshold is quite high this time".

Other "equally unappealling" potential candidates own TV stations or newspapers, Mietzner said. "[Suharto] lacks all of that. He would have to do really well to win 40 seats, about half of what he wants."

Four per cent of perhaps 200 million registered voters is a tall order for any political party, Mietzner said, particularly one running candidates for Parliament for the first time, and in an environment where there is "no particular [president] Suharto nostalgia at the moment".

Under Indonesia's election laws, Suharto is not banned from running for Parliament because his corruption conviction was overturned.

And the prohibition on people convicted of crimes that carry a jail term of more than five years (he received 15 years but served about four for his role in ordering the murder of judge Syarifuddin Kartasasmita) also contains a get-out clause that lets people stand for Parliament if they are up front about their track record, according to the Jakarta Post.

Suharto has been famously litigious when the details of his past have been raised in the media.

He successfully sued national flag carrier, Garuda Indonesia, in 2011 after a translator for the English-language version of the airline's magazine added a footnote to an article about one of his resorts that noted his previous conviction.

Given his legal problems in the past, does this son of an autocrat-turned-democratic candidate support freedom of the press? "Very much, that's why you are here, you are free to talk to me," he said with a laugh.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/meet-tommy-suharto-son-of-a-dictator-turned-democrat-20180723-p4zt3f.html

Blasphemy & hate speech

Indonesia's blasphemy law survives court challenge

Human Rights Watch Dispatches - July 26, 2018

Michelle Winowatan – Indonesia's Constitutional Court dealt a blow to Indonesia's already fragile religious freedom when it dismissed a petition to revoke the country's blasphemy law.

The petition was filed by nine members of Indonesia's persecuted Ahmadiyah religious community, who sought the law's abolition on the basis that it fuels discrimination and abuse of religious minorities. On Monday, the court dismissed the petition, ruling that such abuses had nothing to do with the blasphemy law itself, but were rather linked to subsequent regulations derived from the law as well as "local regulations." This petition marked the third failed attempt to repeal the law since 2010.

Article 156a of the 1965 Criminal Code punishes deviations from the central tenets of Indonesia's six officially recognized religions with up to five years in prison. The law has been used to prosecute and imprison members of religious minorities, including three former leaders of the Gafatar religious community. Former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Purnama, a Christian, was sentenced to a two-year prison term for blasphemy in 2017 because of a public reference he made to a Quranic verse.

United Nations human rights experts and groups like the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation have criticized the law's discriminatory use. Yet Indonesia's Ministry of Religious Affairs is seeking to reinforce and expand its scope through the so-called Religious Rights Protection Bill.

Indonesia's Ahmadiyah community has been particularly vulnerable to violations of religious freedom under the blasphemy law and other discriminatory regulations. In 2008, the government of then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a decree ordering the Ahmadiyah community to "stop spreading interpretations and activities that deviate from the principal teachings of Islam."

Following the decree, militant Islamists launched several attacks against Ahmadiyah, including an attack in Cikeusik village in February 2011 that killed three Ahmadiyah men. Over 100 Ahmadiyah members are still displaced in Mataram, the capital of West Nusa Tenggara, after militant Islamists forced them out of their village in 2006.

And this May, an unidentified mob on Lombok Island attacked seven Ahmadi families and forced them out of their homes.

The government's refusal to seek the law's revocation raises troubling questions about its commitment to human rights for all Indonesians. Indonesia cannot claim to be a tolerant Muslim country while continuing religious discrimination and rights violations enabled by its blasphemy law.

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/07/26/indonesias-blasphemy-law-survives-court-challenge

Indonesia: Court rejects Ahmadi blasphemy law petition

UCA News - July 26, 2018

Ryan Dagur – Indonesia's Constitutional Court has rejected a petition from the Ahmadiyya community to strike down the country's blasphemy law, which they said is used to persecute minority groups, including them.

It was the second time the court has rejected changing the law after rights activists filed a similar petition in 2009.

Both petitions sought a review of articles 1-3 of the law, which prohibit people from publicly spreading beliefs and teachings that can be considered heresy. Indonesia's criminal code dictates that blasphemy is punishable by up to five years in prison.

On July 23, the court rejected the Ahmadiyya petition on the grounds that the principal source for interpreting religious teachings is through a holy book, which in this case was the Quran.

"Interpretation cannot be carried out freely," Chief Justice Anwar Usman, said. "If interpretation of religious teaching is carried out freely... it will create chaos," he said.

Ahmadiyya is an Islamic movement founded in India by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in the late 19th century, which believes that the Prophet Mohammed was not the last prophet.

In 2005, the Indonesian Ulema Council issued a fatwa calling the group heretics. In 2008, the government prohibited the dissemination of Ahmadiyya teachings.

Ahmadi community spokesman, Yendra Budiana, told ucanews.com the court's ruling means believers would only suffer more and more.

"The law justifies persecution against us," he said, pointing to mosque closures in recent years in Java and evictions of hundreds of Ahmadis in West Nusa Tenggara province since 2006 after being accused of having tainted Islam. "There have not been any solutions to these problems," he said.

Ikhsan Abdullah from the Indonesian Ulema Council backed the court ruling, saying the interpretation of norms in a particular religion must be based on an interpretation acknowledged by its experts and adherents.

"It must not be based on the free interpretation of an individual who then calls on others to support it," he said.

The blasphemy law is needed to maintain unity and protect people from those who want to interpret religious teaching any way they want, he added.

Source: http://www.eurasiareview.com/26072018-indonesia-court-rejects-ahmadi-blasphemy-law-petition/

Indonesian man sentenced to 4 years for insulting Prophet Muhammad

Coconuts Jakarta - July 25, 2018

A 21-year-old man named Martinus Gulo was sentenced to four years in prison by the Medan District Court yesterday after being found guilty of blasphemy.

Martinus was arrested in Medan in March after he wrote a post likening the Islamic Prophet Muhammad to an animal on Facebook. His arrest came after hardline group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) reported him to the authorities over the post.

"The convicted carried out an act prohibited by Article 28 Verse 2 from Law no. 11/2008 on Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE)," said presiding judge Fahren, as quoted by JawaPos yesterday.

In addition to the four-year sentence, the court also ordered Martinus to pay a fine of IDR1 billion (US$68,914) in lieu of an additional six month prison sentence.

Case prosecutors previously demanded a five-year sentence for Martinus, which is the maximum sentence for blasphemy. The court gave Martinus and his legal counsel five days to appeal the decision.

Indonesia's controversial blasphemy laws have been under intense scrutiny in the past few years, particularly after the jailing of former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in 2017 for blasphemy against Islam. Many domestically and abroad, including the United Nations, have called for abolishment of the laws as they are prone to political manipulation and have been used to unjustly persecute religious minorities.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/indonesian-man-sentenced-4-years-insulting-prophet-muhammad-facebook/

Surveys & opinion polls

Indonesians more worried about terrorism, support stronger

Jakarta Post - July 31, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesians have become more concerned about terrorism since the Surabaya bombings, according to a recent survey.

The Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) found that 82 percent of Indonesians, regardless of gender, religion, income, education and political affiliation, are more concerned about terrorism as a result of the Surabaya suicide bombings in May.

"We've witnessed a new development in terrorism where women and children are now involved [in terrorist attacks]," said LSI researcher Ardian Sopa on Tuesday in Jakarta.

The Surabaya bombings shocked the nation as 10 minors were used in a string of bomb attacks. Only three of them survived.

The survey, which interviewed 1,200 respondents above the voting age, also indicates that most Indonesians favor stronger antiterrorist measures and support the new Terrorism Law, which is described by some human rights groups as draconian and prone to abuse.

More than 76 percent of respondents approved longer detention periods for suspected terrorists as stipulated in the new law, according to the survey. Furthermore, 70 percent of respondents also supported increasing the annual budget for the police in order to crack down on terrorism.

However, the survey also showed that 53 percent of respondents felt that civil society, including the media, NGOs and religious organizations, had fallen short of raising awareness about terrorism.

"The police have been quite successful in curbing terrorism but the people also want civil society to better raise awareness to support the police," Ardian said. (nor/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/31/indonesians-more-worried-about-terrorism-support-stronger-measures-survey.html

Jokowi's electability remains high amid voter satisfaction: LIPI

Jakarta Globe - July 26, 2018

Bernadus Wijayaka and Adriel Arismunandar, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's electability remains high compared with other potential candidates contesting next year's presidential election, according to the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, or LIPI.

Jokowi's electability stands at 58.2 percent, while that of his most likely opponent, Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) chairman Prabowo Subianto, is 26.6 percent.

"The public is pleased with Jokowi's performance so far; a high electability can be expected. This indicates a safe victory for him, as long as there are only two candidates running in the 2019 presidential election," Syamsuddin Harris, senior researcher at LIPI, said in statement on Friday (20/07).

Indonesia saw a significant influx of investment in the tourism sector, which increased to $929 million in the first half of 2017, compared with $600 million in the same period four years ago. The country has also seen the creation of 3.4 million additional employment opportunities last year.

"Jokowi's achievements across all sectors are indeed great. However, his electability would stumble slightly if this presidential election features three candidate pairs. A 58 percent electability is not quite safe yet, due to the possibility of a split in support," Syamsuddin warned.

He added that the possibility of having either two or three candidate pairs in next year's election creates great uncertainty, considering that the Democratic Party has expressed a desire to put forward Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, eldest son of party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, as a presidential candidate.

"SBY's position here can alter the map we've drawn, as Agus Harimurti is being conspicuously and continuously pushed as a candidate," Syamsuddin said, referring to the former president by his initials.

Jokowi's candidacy has so far been endorsed by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Golkar Party, United Development Party (PPP), People's Conscience Party (Hanura), National Democratic Party (NasDem), Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) and United Indonesia Party (Perindo), which is enough to meet the legal requirement of a candidate having to have the backing of a minimum 20 percent of seats in the House of Representatives. While no political party besides Gerindra has so far announced support to Prabowo, the retired Army general met with four prominent political figures last week to discuss his potential running mate in the election.

Registration of presidential candidates and their running mates will take place on Aug.4-10.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/jokowis-electability-remains-high-amid-voter-satisfaction-lipi/

Environment & natural disasters

Indonesia earthquake: 10 dead, buildings collapsed on tourist

The Guardian - July 29, 2018

Anne Davies – Ten people have been killed when a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck the island of Lombok in Indonesia, a popular tourist destination, authorities have said.

The quake struck at 6.47am local time, and its epicentre was located 50km north-east of the city of Mataram on the island of Lombok, which has a population of 319,000.

Tourists near Senggigi, gateway to the popular Gili Islands resorts, reported strong shocks.

"We jumped out of our beds to avoid anything falling on our heads," said Jean-Paul Volckaert who was woken by the quake in the Puncak hotel.

"We were very surprised as the water in the pools was swaying like a wild sea. There were waves in the pools but only for 20 to 30 seconds," he said, adding that there was no damage to the hotel.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) reported that in the four hours after the quake, the islands had experienced 66 aftershocks. BMKG Mataram head Agus Riyanto said the earthquake was also felt in neighboring Bali.

The agency said 10 people had died, while 40 were injured. Dozens of buildings have been damaged.

In East Lombok, the agency recorded eight fatalities, 10 severely injured and 10 having sustained minor injuries. North Lombok recorded two deaths and 13 injured.

The BMKG received a report that the quake had caused a landslide on Mount Rinjani, resulting in the closure of Rinjani's hiking path. The hike is very popular with western tourists.

The epicentre was 130km north-east of the island's main city of Mataram and was very shallow, which would have amplified its effect. People living near the epicentre felt a strong jolt.

"The earthquake was very strong... and everybody in my house panicked, we all ran outside," said Zulkifli, a resident of North Lombok, close to the epicentre.

"All my neighbours also ran outside and the electricity was suddenly cut off," he said.

Indonesia, an archipelago of thousands of islands, sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a seismic activity hotspot. This earthquake was due to movement in the Flores plate, experts said.

It is frequently hit by quakes, most of them harmless. However, the region remains acutely alert to tremors that might trigger tsunamis. In 2004, a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, in western Indonesia, killed 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/29/casualties-in-earthquake-on-indonesian-island-of-lombok

Riau paper company raises forest fire awareness 'to support Asian

Jakarta Post - July 27, 2018

Jakarta – PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP) has said it is supporting the 2018 Asian Games by raising awareness on the dangers and impacts of forest fires in an effort to reduce the number of fire incidents in Riau.

Through its Fire Free Village Programme (FFVP), RAPP educates villagers living in and near the company's concession areas about the dangers of the slash-and-burn method, which farmers commonly use to clear land for cultivation.

RAPP president director Sihol P. Aritonang said the program was part of the company's support to the 2018 Asian Games. Indonesia is hosting this year's Asiad from Aug. 18 to Sept. 2 in Jakarta and Palembang, the capital of South Sumatra.

According to RAPP, 27 villages in five districts of Pangakalan Kerinci, Riau, have been involved in the program since it was implemented in 2014. The FFVP has provided agricultural assistance like tree seedlings, facilities and infrastructure, as well as training on alternative land clearing methods.

The company said it has also cooperated with local branches of religious organizations such as the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and local environmental NGOs like the Laskar Alam Foundation and Perkumpulan Tapak in preventing fires.

The program claims to have successfully reduced fire incidents in Pangkalan Kerinci, from 0.18 percent of burned areas in 2014 to 0.03 percent of burned areas in 2017. (ris/dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/27/riau-paper-company-raises-forest-fire-awareness-to-support-asian-games.html

Report says Indonesia 'land swap' plan puts forests at risk

Associated Press - July 24, 2018

Jakarta – Researchers say the Indonesian government's "land swap" plan to give plantation companies new lands in exchange for restoring areas they destroyed could result in more tropical forests being cut down.

Spatial analysis by civil society groups shows 40 percent of the 921,000 hectares (3,556 square miles) designated for land swaps is natural forest. Indonesia is second only to Brazil in the amount of such forest cut down in the past decade.

The forestry ministry plan is part of Indonesia's attempts to avoid a repeat of disastrous 2015 fires that ravaged vast acreages of swampland that were cleared and drained by pulp and paper companies for industrial plantations.

In exchange for "re-wetting" the so-called peatlands, making them unsuitable for plantations, conglomerates such as Sinarmas and April would be given lands elsewhere.

Source: http://uk.businessinsider.com/ap-report-says-indonesia-land-swap-plan-puts-forests-at-risk-2018-7/?IR=T

Health & education

In this tobacco village, smoking 'kretek' is rite of passage

Jakarta Post - July 26, 2018

Kusumasari Ayuningtyas, Magelang – In a tobacco-producing district in Magelang, Central Java, smoking has become part of the rite of passage for boys.

The long-ingrained tradition, coupled with regional revenue from the tobacco industry, has made regency officials hesitant to send a strong message against tobacco control.

Katon Wijaya began smoking when he received four packs of cigarettes from his father as a gift for his circumcision. He was 11. Some cultures in Indonesia regard circumcision as the mark of when a boy becomes a man.

Now, when he has a craving, he spends more than half of his pocket money, Rp 5,000 (34 US cents), to buy two cigarettes.

But the resident of Butuh village in Kaliangkrik district would love to smoke more often. When he turned 14, Katon got seven packs of kretek (clove) cigarettes as a birthday gift from his brother. Containing 12 cigarettes each, the seven packs lasted only a week. "I smoked a pack a day," the teenager said.

Katon always carries a lighter in his pocket. "How could I not [always bring it]?" he said as he lit a flame.

His close friend, Sulistiyanto, also 14, began smoking when he was 9 years old when he received cigarettes as a gift for his circumcision. Like Katon, Sulistiyanto also spends about half of his pocket money on cigarettes. When he wants more, he rolls the bitter-tasting cigarettes himself.

Both dismissed the warnings that smoking is bad for their health. They said they had never been sick.

'Dare to plant, dare to smoke'

Kaliangkrik has long been known as a center of tobacco production. According to data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), Kaliangkrik has the largest tobacco fields, with 2,193 hectares, among the 21 districts in the regency in 2015.

The total size of tobacco fields in the regency in 2015 was 6,613 ha. Among other plantations managed by smallholders, tobacco topped the list, followed by coconuts with 5,023 ha and coffee with 813 ha. The whole regency also had 702 ha of smallholders' clove fields, which is essential for kretek cigarettes.

"Daring to plant tobacco means daring to smoke too," said Markodi, 53, a resident.

He said he was proud that he could give his second son two boxes of cigarettes as a gift for his circumcision. Smoking is common in Butuh village, even among children, so he sees nothing wrong with giving cigarettes as a gift.

"Since the time of our ancestors, tobacco has been seen as a medicine. It doesn't harm us; it instead heals us," he said.

Health vs income

Chairperson of Magelang Muhammadiyah University's Muhammadiyah Tobacco Control Center (MTCC), Retno Rusdjijati, said the case of Kaliangkrik put tobacco-control campaigners like her in a dilemma.

"On one hand smoking is a part of the culture in the village. On the other, these children have to get help to quit smoking," said Retno.

The Magelang regency administration launched an intensive campaign against children smoking early this year. They go to junior high schools to explain the dangers of smoking to teenage students.

The head of the Magelang Health Agency's Non-Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Section, Bambang Prihutomo, said they were aware of children smoking in Kaliangkrik.

"But it is difficult [to tell them to stop] because it has been a tradition and to my knowledge, their own mothers give the cigarettes to the children," he said.

Besides campaigning in schools, they have also drafted a regulation on smoking-free zones. Bambang said his office had submitted the draft in 2014. However, he said, the draft stopped at the regency administration's law bureau.

"The law bureau does not dare to propose it further, saying it was like defying the administration," Bambang said. He referred to the fact that tobacco is considered a lucrative commodity in Magelang.

Magelang councillor Suroso Singgih said he preferred campaigning rather than applying regulation on smoke-free areas. He said the regency administration would face a big challenge when it came to enforcing a regulation on tobacco control.

Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo said smoking was an individual choice. Every region has its own approach to tobacco control, he said. It is either through regulation along with the sanctions, and directly through parents and their children.

"Not all regulations are effective. Without regulation it may be even more effective because of the approach conducted directly with parents and their children," Ganjar said.

Parents and government play a role

Researcher Rosita Eva of the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) once expressed concern on how easy it is for children in Indonesia to obtain cigarettes.

The 2016 Survey on Health Indicators in Indonesia by the Health Ministry found the government could not reach the target of reducing the prevalence of smoking among people aged 10 to 18 years old. The survey found in 2016 it stood at 8.8 percent, much higher than the government's target of 5.4 percent by 2019.

Rosita blames the condition on, among others, weak implementation of the regulation requiring cigarette consumers to be at least 18 years old. She also blamed the uneven implementation of smoke-free areas and retail sales of cigarettes that made purchasing easy for children.

She said ideally cigarettes had to be sold at Rp 50,000 per pack, thus making it less affordable for children with an average of Rp 10,000 per day in pocket money. "This is where the parents and the government play important roles," Rosita said.

She added that parents must be responsible their children's smoking habits, while the government is in control of increasing excise. "Unfortunately, excise that should be used to control consumption has in fact become a source of income," she said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/25/in-this-tobacco-village-smoking-kretek-is-rite-of-passage.html

District head in Kalimantan bans cigarette ads to curb smoking

Jakarta Globe - July 24, 2018

Adinda Normala, Jakarta – In South Kalimantan, Hulu Sungai Utara district head Abdul Wahid no longer permits cigarette advertising in order to make the region child-friendly.

Upon Abdul's instruction, the district's Integrated Licensing Office will no longer grant or extend permits for cigarette advertisements, while existing ads will be removed.

"Although cigarette advertising earns a substantial income, we have to protect people, especially our children, from the dangers of tobacco," Abdul said on Sunday (22/07), as quoted by Antara.

According to Abdul, local government offices will also gradually become smoke-free, under a newly imposed regional regulation on non-smoking areas. Residents, too, should not smoke in public, only in designated places, as cigarette smoke has a harmful effect on children and toddlers.

Indonesia is the only country in Asia that has not signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) by the World Health Organization (WHO), which imposes strict limits on tobacco advertising, production, sales, distribution, taxation and sponsorship. Last year, the convention already had 180 signatories.

Indonesia, home to about 260 million people, has approximately 60 million smokers. According to Tobacco Atlas data, 469,000 of them are children between 10 and 14 years. More than 200,000 people die of smoking-related illnesses every year.

According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), among the country's poor, cigarettes are the second largest expenditure after rice, consuming nearly one-fourth of their monthly income. The government imposes only a 10 percent excise tax on cigarettes, a pack costs only some Rp 20,000 ($1.4).

Politicians often defend the tobacco industry, despite alarming health concerns, citing it as an important source of income for tobacco farmers and the state's coffers.

"We are aware of its [the low tax rate] impact on consumption and health, but we also take into account the impact on the industry, especially labor absorption whether farmers or distributors," head of the fiscal office at the Ministry of Finance, Suahasil Nazara, told the Jakarta Globe last week.

State revenue from tobacco products is increasing. Last year, it reached Rp 148 trillion, from Rp 51.25 trillion in 2008, BPS data shows.

According to Euromonitor International, Indonesia produced 269.2 billion cigarettes in 2015, with a market value of Rp 231.3 trillion.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/district-head-kalimantan-bans-cigarette-ads-curb-smoking/

Indonesian cops stop 3 people on motorcycle, turns out one of them

Coconuts Jakarta - July 24, 2018

Not everybody in Indonesia can obtain proper healthcare in life or a mobil jenazah (similar to a hearse, but often just a repurposed ambulance) to transport them after death, either due to geographical and/or financial limitations.

Not everybody owns a car, either, and this viral Instagram post shows the desperate measures some people will take to both seek medical treatment and transport the dead in such circumstances.

The first slide shows several traffic police officers in the East Tanjung Jabung Regency of Jambi stopping a motorcycle carrying three people. Upon closer inspection, the person sitting between the driver and rear passenger appears to be limp. It turned out that he was already deceased and was being transported to his house for a wake.

"At the time, the departed was sick when his family transported him on a motorcycle from Pematang Rahim Village to his house in Kampung Laut, Kuala Jambi District. But, on the way, the departed passed away," East Tanjung Jabung Traffic Police Chief Tesmirizal told Kompas yesterday, confirming the viral post.

Tesmirizal added that the incident took place at around 11am yesterday and that the deceased was identified as H Kade, though details about his sickness was not revealed.

The second slide shows that, instead of giving the motorcyclist a ticket, the police took H Kade and transported him some 20 km to his final destination on their pickup truck, earning them widespread praise online for the humane and sympathetic way they approached the situation.

That said, some commenters on the viral post said this incident should serve as a reminder to the government of how important free or cheap medical transportation is in Indonesia, particularly for the poor.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/viral-indonesian-cops-stop-3-people-motorcycle-turns-one-just-died/

Marriage & the family

'Cultural, religious norms' used as ground for early marriage:

Jakarta Post - July 24, 2018

Rita Widiadana, Denpasar – Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Yohana Susana Yembise said it was difficult to combat early marriage in Indonesia because "cultural and religious values and norms" had been used as a basis for the practice.

"Child marriage has been such an ongoing, controversial issue. It has been practiced on the grounds of cultural and religious values and norms here in Indonesia," Yembise said during an interview with The Jakarta Post recently.

Minister Yembise highlighted the problem during the commemoration of National Children's Day on July 23. "I wish to extend a happy Children's Day to the future of Indonesia. Save the children, save the future of our nation. Protecting them from early marriage is one of our efforts," she said.

In a village in Boyolali, Central Java, for example, getting married before 18 is the norm. Parents there encourage their daughters to marry quickly to avoid zina (adultery and premarital sex). They also believe that when a girl is 17 but not yet married, she is an "old virgin".

UNICEF and the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) published a report in 2016, which showed that the prevalence of early marriage stood at 22.82 percent in 2015, slightly down from 24.17 percent in 2013.

The number shows that one in five women aged between 20 and 24 said they had been married at least once before they reached 18 years old. The report showed that many of them had married when they were 16 or 17.

In 2015, the prevalence of women marrying before 16 was 3.54 percent, and the prevalence decreased to 1.12 percent when it comes to marrying before 15.

The prevalence is also higher in rural areas, with 27.11 percent, compared to 17.09 percent in urban areas, according to data in 2015.

In ASEAN, Indonesia ranks fifth in terms of child marriage prevalence, after Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines. However, due to its large population, Indonesia has the highest burden of child marriage in the region.

"The government, together, with civil society groups, international agencies, local and international NGOs [non-governmental agencies] have been struggling for years to fight to end child marriage as it strongly links to the Indonesian government's strong commitment to protect children's rights," the minister said.

The United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) state that child marriage is a violation of children's rights. Goal five, point three of SDGs requires nations to eliminate all harmful practices of early and forced marriage.

Research has shown that early marriage contributes to maternal mortality rates.

Emilie Minnick, child protection and gender specialist at UNICEF Indonesia, said there were many interrelated factors that underlie the practice of child marriage in Indonesia. Analysis of data conducted by the BPS indicated that poverty, poor education and social norms are three key factors behind the high numbers of girls marrying before 18.

"However, the causes may vary from place to place as social norms, poverty levels and access to education differ," Minnick said.

Child marriage not only harms the girls, their families and the community, but also has a significant cost on the economy and the development potential of Indonesia, with 1.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) being lost due to child marriage, she added.

Ending child marriage, she said, would help the nation achieve at least eight other development goals, including education, poverty and health goals.

Minister Yembise said the government had launched a campaign last year called "Stop Child Marriage". The aim of the program was to demonstrate Indonesia's commitment toward the Convention on the Rights of the Child, she said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/24/cultural-religious-norms-used-as-ground-for-early-marriage-minister.html

Corruption & abuse of power

Graft resists Widodo's purge in Indonesia localities

Nikkei Asian Review - July 28, 2018

Jun Suzuki, Jakarta – Indonesian local governments are confronting widespread graft that appears to be worsening despite President Joko Widodo's campaign against corruption, with leaders turning to lucrative licensing powers to fill heavy funding needs.

Eighteen local government officials – including two provincial governors – have been arrested since January on bribery and other charges, according to the Corruption Eradication Commission. That is the most since the 2003 founding of the independent investigative body, known as the KPK by its Indonesian initials.

"Every month, every week, someone is caught red-handed and arrested," Widodo has said. There are concerns that if left unchecked, the problem could negatively impact investment from overseas.

Indonesia has over 500 local governments, with 34 provinces which contain cities and regencies. Those localities have gained more powers in democratic reforms following the 1998 resignation of authoritarian president Suharto after three decades in power, largely in response to the overconcentration of power in the hands of Suharto's government.

Localities now receive a large share of the revenue from natural resources they produce, such as oil and gas, and hold the authority to grant development licenses for infrastructure and resources. Central government grants to localities have increased more than 30% since Widodo took office in 2014 to 766 trillion rupiah ($52.8 billion) in the 2018 budget.

Many scandals have stemmed from officials cashing in on such authority, such as through taking bribes in return for development licenses. The governor of Aceh Province, on the north end of the island of Sumatra, was arrested July 4 on suspicion of accepting cash from local officials in return for granting infrastructure development rights within the province.

Widodo, as governor of Jakarta campaigning for the Indonesian presidency, promised to wipe out government corruption, an approach that won the support of a public heavily disapproving of such misbehavior. The common practice of police officers, customs and immigration workers and other officials seeking small bribes – usually the equivalent of less than $10 – for convenient treatment has apparently dwindled during his tenure.

Yet the problem appears to be worsening at the regional government level, with 50-plus top officials arrested this far into the Widodo era.

The cost of running for office is seen as a main driver of the graft. A provincial gubernatorial campaign is seen as requiring a war chest to the tune of millions of dollars to cover such expenses as paying staffers. There is a widespread belief that the roots of corruption cannot be pulled up without reforming the campaign system to be less costly.

Political talk has emerged of limiting the KPK's power, stirring fears that the anti-corruption campaign could falter. The commission, which can tap communications without a warrant, has too much power and needs oversight, the argument goes. But with legislators among those embroiled in graft cases, there is suspicion that they are simply trying to avoid getting caught.

Indonesia ranked 96th among 180 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index for 2017, worsening from No. 90 in 2016.

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Graft-resists-Widodo-s-purge-in-Indonesia-localities

Novel Baswedan urges president to crack his case

Tempo - July 27, 2018

Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta – Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) senior investigator Novel Baswedan has again called on President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to solve his assault case.

"I will not stop unraveling this case. I will keep on urging the president," he said at the KPK building on Friday, July 27.

Novel said he was ready to bear all risks to solve the case, adding that the attack was not a mere act of terror, but rather an attempt to undermine the anti-graft body.

Novel said the perpetrators behind the attack was the same as those terrorizing the KPK. He also believed that the police would not solve the case. "I will continue urging the president as the police's superior to solve this case," he said.

Novel also appealed to the KPK to crack terror cases against its employees. "Do not talk about this attack terrors in the gray area," he said.

KPK chief Agus Rahardjo said in response to Novel Baswedan's plea that he would continue the investigation into the case. "Later when [we] meet with the President, we will talk about the unraveling of this case," he said.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/07/27/055920323/Novel-Baswedan-Urges-President-to-Crack-His-Case

Indonesia graft buster returns to work after acid attack

Associated Press - July 27, 2018

Niniek Karmini, Jakarta – An anti-corruption investigator almost blinded by an acid attack urged Indonesia's President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to set up a fact-finding team to solve his case as he returned to work Friday 16 months after the assault.

Activists and anti-graft officials, showing solidarity by wearing white shirts and red arm bands, cheered and clapped Novel Baswedan as he arrived at the headquarters of the Corruption Eradication Commission in Jakarta.

A banner with a picture of Baswedan was emblazoned with the words: "Mr. President, where is your promise?" and "16 months the case of Novel in the darkness."

Baswedan was leading investigations into an epic graft scandal that implicated prominent politicians when he was attacked last year as he left dawn prayers. No one has been arrested and Baswedan has criticized police handling of the investigation. "I hope Mr. President wants to know the real facts," he told reporters.

After the attack, Baswedan underwent months of medical treatment in Singapore to treat his damaged eyes. He said vision in his left eye is not fully restored but it has recovered much better than he'd thought possible.

"I thought I could not see as you all can see, but now, I can see," he said. "I will use my vision for good and useful things as God's blessings given to me," Baswedan said. "This blessing should be followed by action, by working. I love my job and now I'm back."

Baswedan was leading investigations into in a case in which 80 people, mostly officials and legislators, and several companies allegedly used the introduction of a $440 million electronic identity card system in 2011 and 2012 to steal more than a third of the funds.

Senior Golkar party politician and former speaker of parliament Setya Novanto was sentenced in April to 15 years in prison for his role in coordinating the $170 million theft of public money.

Baswedan has also been involved in investigations of alleged corruption involving senior police.

Corruption is endemic in Indonesia and the anti-graft commission, one of the few effective institutions in the country of more than 260 million people, is frequently under legislative attack by lawmakers who want to reduce its powers.

Agus Rahardjo, chief of the anti-graft commission, said Baswedan's return to work will bring new spirit and inspiration for the commission in its fight against corruption. "He is our role model to make the best contribution to the nation," Rahardjo said.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/indonesia-graft-buster-returns-to-work-after-acid-attack/2018/07/27/a1fd842e-915a-11e8-ae59-01880eac5f1d_story.html?noredirect=on

Terrorism & religious extremism

13 terrorism suspects arrested in Riau and Banten

Jakarta Globe - July 31, 2018

Farouk Arnaz & Adinda Normala, Jakarta – The National Police's counterterrorism unit, Detachment 88, arrested 13 people in Riau and Banten on Friday (27/07). One of the detained works at state utility company Perushaan Listrik Negara, or PLN.

The arrested are reportedly affiliated with the Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) terrorist network, which was responsible for recent attacks in East Java, Riau and the deadly riot at the Police Mobile Brigade headquarters in Depok, West Java, two months ago.

The operation was possible as the country's new anti-terrorism laws were passed in May, after two years of deliberations, following a series of suicide attacks on churches in Surabaya, East Java, which killed 25 people and wounded more than 50.

The revised legislation allows police to detain without trial anyone suspected of planning an attack for up to 21 days for an initial examination, and for up to 200 days for formal investigation.

In accordance with the new law, those who join or recruit others for terrorist organizations can also be prosecuted. Police said eight suspects, caught in Banten, were the network's recruiters and participants of its military training.

"There is AD who was arrested in Lebak, as he once declared joining ISIS and became a recruiter and military training instructor. There is also ARM who was arrested as he attended a meeting at Pesantren Batu in Malang, East Java, to discuss attacks on Christmas and New Year," National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. M. Iqbal said in a statement, as reported by Beritasatu.

Meanwhile, the suspects arrested in Riau's Pekanbaru were involved in the Brimob headquarters attack that killed five police officers. One of the suspects, Ardansyah Daulay, works at PLN's provincial office. He has been charged with funding JAD's terrorist cell in Riau.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/13-terrorism-suspects-arrested-riau-banten/

Court ruling gives authorities justification to arrest more JAD

Jakarta Post - July 31, 2018

Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta – A Tuesday court ruling outlawing Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a homegrown terror group affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) group, provides legal justification for law enforcers to arrest people connected to the group, a prosecutor has said.

Such a move is now possible thanks to the newly added Article 12A in the Terrorism Law enabling law enforcers to prosecute individuals who intentionally recruit for or join an organization declared a terror group by court. Under the revision to the law, enacted in May, violators face a sentence of two to seven years in prison.

"If we refer to Article 12A, every person found of being a member or administrator of JAD can be arrested because the court has declared the organization forbidden," said prosecutor Heri Jerman of the Attorney General's Office (AGO), who handled the JAD case.

On Tuesday, the South Jakarta District Court found JAD guilty of committing a number of terror acts across the country, declaring it a "forbidden organization" and ordering that all of its activities be frozen.

The ruling came only days after the National Police reportedly nabbed five people in Riau on suspicion of being connected with JAD. The court also ruled that other organizations affiliated with IS be disbanded, without revealing the names of the groups.

Court spokesman Achmad Guntur said the ruling was now applicable to other organizations affiliated with IS. "However, we don't know how many other groups are also affiliated with IS. We have no capacity to comment on it," he said. (ipa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/31/court-ruling-gives-authorities-justification-to-arrest-more-jad-members.html

Indonesian court outlaws Islamic State-linked group JAD

Sydney Morning Herald - July 31, 2018

Jakarta – An Indonesian court has outlawed Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, a network of militants that supports the Islamic State group, following a series of deadly attacks over the past two years.

Presiding Judge Aris Bawono Langgeng told the South Jakarta District Court on Tuesday that the organisation comprised of almost two dozen extremist groups was a "forbidden corporation". He said its activities and those of other groups affiliated with it or IS were now banned.

Senior Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, or JAD, figure Zainal Anshori stood up and shouted "Allahu akbar" when the judge delivered the ruling in the heavily guarded courtroom in Jakarta, capital of the world's largest Muslim-majority country.

JAD is a US-listed terror organisation with thousands of followers in Indonesia.

The ban and recent changes to anti-terrorism laws will empower police to detain JAD sympathisers, experts say. Police have long complained of not being able to act against the group.

The case against JAD was brought by government prosecutors and appeared aimed at empowering stronger police action against militant members of the network and their supporters.

In 2008, a court banned Jemaah Islamiyah, the al-Qaeda-affiliated network responsible for the Bali bombings in 2002. The group was obliterated by a sustained crackdown on militants by Indonesia's counter-terrorism police with US and Australian support, but a new threat has emerged in recent years inspired by IS attacks abroad.

The prosecution said JAD supporters across Indonesia had carried out attacks that killed civilians and police and damaged public facilities.

Regional leaders of the militant network, including Zainal, who is serving a seven-year prison sentence for gun smuggling, acknowledged in court that JAD exists but asserted it was not a legal entity in Indonesia.

In May, two families carried out suicide bombings in Indonesia's second-largest city, Surabaya, killing a dozen people and two young girls whose parents had involved them in one of the attacks. Police said the father was the head of a local JAD cell.

A radical cleric who founded JAD, Aman Abdurrahman, was sentenced to death last month for inciting attacks including a 2016 suicide bombing at a Starbucks in Jakarta.

– AP, Reuters

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/indonesian-court-outlaws-islamic-state-linked-group-jad-20180731-p4zup8.html

221 alleged terrorists nabbed, 21 shot dead weeks before Asian

Jakarta Post - July 30, 2018

Jakarta – As law enforcement authorities step up security ahead of the 2018 Asian Games, National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said on Monday that 221 alleged terrorists had been arrested and 21 others shot dead in recent weeks.

"To this day, 242 alleged terrorists have been arrested [or shot dead] after the Surabaya attacks," Tito said during the 2018 Asian Games security coordination meeting at Jakarta Police headquarters on Monday, as reported by kompas.com.

He was referring to suicide bomb attacks on churches in the East Java capital of Surabaya in May, which killed 25 people, including 13 perpetrators.

He said the arrests occurred in places across the country and pledged that the police would be constantly on alert during the 2018 Asian Games, which will be opened on Aug. 18.

"No need to be too scared," Tito said, adding that high security would be maintained in view of the terrorist threat, especially during the opening and closing ceremonies and at locations where many supporters would gather, such as soccer games. (stu)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/30/221-alleged-terrorists-nabbed-21-shot-dead-weeks-before-asian-games.html

Indonesia drills to the roots of its terror problem

Asia Times - July 27, 2018

John McBeth, Jakarta – Armed with new powers under the revised Anti-Terrorism Law – and President Joko Widodo's instructions to drill "down to the roots" – Indonesia's Detachment 88 counterterrorism unit has arrested scores of suspected militants in raids across the country over the past few weeks.

Police have also rounded up non-violent sympathizers whose support, now subject to legal action under the revised law, has allowed Islamic State-linked terror cells to flourish in as many as 18 of the country's 34 provinces by official count.

National police chief General Tito Kanarvian, a former Detachment 88 commander and frequent critic of previous holes in Indonesia's terrorism-related laws, says the new intensity in counterterrorism operations will be maintained as police seek to unravel the Islamic State-linked Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) and other jihadist networks.

"Everyone, including bomb-makers, ideologues, instigators, perpetrators, supporters, fund-raisers and individuals who conceal the activities of suspected terrorists must be arrested," he said in a July 16 speech at the Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) headquarters in Jakarta.

The crackdown may have regional implications. Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen warned earlier this month that the island republic is facing its highest terrorism threat level since the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States and the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings.

In neighboring Malaysia, security forces last week arrested three Indonesians and four Malaysians after one of the detainees pledged loyalty to Islamic State on social media and threatened to assassinate the Malaysian king and prime minister for failing to introduce Sharia law.

Indonesia's Parliament moved swiftly to revise 2003 anti-terror legislation following last May's bombing of three churches, an apartment building and police headquarters in Surabaya city, and subsequent terrorist attacks in Jakarta and Sumatra which altogether left 37 people dead, including 21 assailants.

About 20 militants have been killed and 180 suspects detained in the latest raids, which may also be aimed at removing any potential threats to the 2018 Asian Games, which begin in Jakarta and the South Sumatra province capital of Palembang on August 18.

Most of those detained are allegedly part of JAD, previously led by radical cleric Aman Abdurrahman, who was sentenced to death last month for the January 2016 bomb and gun attack in central Jakarta that killed four civilians and all four attackers.

Earlier this week, the Attorney General's Office initiated proceedings in the South Jakarta District Court to have JAD declared a banned organization under an unamended section of the Anti-Terrorism Law.

Courts now appear more willing to hand down tougher sentences in response to a public outcry over the Surabaya bombings and a previous riot by scores of terrorist suspects at the Brimob detention center in south Jakarta.

Authorities came close to losing control of the facility during the 36-hour stand-off, in which inmates brutally murdered six police hostages and seized a massive cache of automatic weapons and ammunition from an adjoining armory.

The revised law extends the period of detention for anyone suspected of planning a terrorist attack from seven days to a maximum of 30 days; it also extends definitive detention from an all-inclusive 180 days to a maximum of 510 days – 300 days for investigation and 210 days for prosecution, including two extensions that must be approved by the courts.

Other provisions provide a maximum of seven years' imprisonment for anyone who is either a member or recruits a person to become a member of what a court deems to be a terrorist organization. Leaders and organizers of such groups are subject to 12 years' imprisonment.

Another important new provision prescribes a five-year jail term for anyone who incites an individual or a group, either through "speech, behavior, action or text," to commit an action of terrorist violence.

The military's role at this stage is defined in the law as "by any means to provide reinforcement to the police," making it clear that Detachment 81 retains the lead role in counter-terrorism efforts unless confronted with a hijack or major siege situation.

The parliamentary committee reviewing the legislation agreed that rather than characterizing terrorism as a national threat, which would open the door to wider military involvement, it should instead be defined as "any action that has political and ideological motives or has the intention of destabilizing security."

What is less clear is how the government is dealing with the clerics at the forefront of the growing wave of Islamic conservatism that is laying the ideological groundwork for extremist groups – even on the state's own doorstep.

Only now are authorities paying attention to a 2017 study by the Association for the Development of Pesantrens and Society (PPPM) and the House of Nationalism, which showed that more than 40 of every 100 mosques under the state's jurisdiction had been infiltrated by radical groups.

In Jakarta alone, sermons delivered in 57% of the 37 mosques located within state-owned enterprise compounds contained what was judged to be a high level of radical content. A similar result was found among 34% of mosques inside 35 ministry compounds and 29% of those in 28 other state institutions.

The study claimed that 73% of the sermons either taught hatred, or otherwise looked down on other religions, minorities and female leaders. According to one researcher, "those infected with radicalism were actively preaching values contradictory to religion, tolerance and the Constitution."

Only since Surabaya, where whole families – including young children – carried out the suicide attacks, has the government woken up to the realization of just how far radical teachings have penetrated educational and religious institutions and other corners of Indonesian society.

With next April's simultaneous legislative and presidential elections on the horizon, the president has ordered a stricter supervision of neighborhood mosques, which played a significant role in the mass mobilization that brought down former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Purnama last year.

Primordial tactics were not apparent during the recent gubernatorial, municipal and district elections held across 18 of the country's 34 provinces, but Widodo is clearly not taking any chances that the opposition will attempt to use religion as a weapon on the national stage.

The president is working through the Indonesian Council of Mosques (DMI), which is headed by outgoing Vice President Jusuf Kalla and includes National Intelligence Agency director Budi Gunawan as one of its board of experts, and Ma'ruf Amin, chairman of the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) and chief adviser to the mass Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama.

Amin's thinking appears to have undergone a dramatic reversal since he served as former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's religious adviser during a lengthy period when the MUI issued a string of controversial edicts against secularism, pluralism and liberalism and added its voice to the inflammatory 2008 fatwa that banned and fueled bloody attacks on the Ahmadiyah minority Muslim sect.

Source: http://www.atimes.com/article/indonesia-drills-to-the-roots-of-its-terror-problem/

Freedom of religion & worship

Student allegedly loses college scholarship after converting to

Coconuts Jakarta - July 31, 2018

The North Sumatra Ombudsman Office is investigating the possible violation of a woman's religious rights after she filed a complaint alleging that she had lost her college scholarship because she had converted to Islam.

Arnita Rodelina Turnip, a resident of Simalungun Regency in North Sumatra, was the recipient of a scholarship to the prestigious Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) from the Simalungun administration.

On September 2016, after she had converted to Islam, she received a letter from the Simalungun Education Board announcing the termination of her scholarship. According to Arnita and her family, no explanation was given for the termination, even though Arnita had more than fulfilled the minimum GPA requirement by that point.

Numerous efforts by Arnita and her family to get her scholarship reinstated have failed, leading to their seeking assistance from the Ombudsman. The North Sumatra branch of the public advocacy body says it is taking the matter seriously, starting with summoning the Simalungun Education Board for questioning today.

"If the reported party does not fulfill the Ombudsman's summon in three occasions without an acceptable excuse, then the Ombudsman can summon them with force with the police's help. We hope the Simalungun Regency Government is cooperative," North Sumatra Ombudsman Head Abyadi Siregar said in a press release yesterday.

However, neither Arnita nor the Ombudsman have revealed any specific details about how her religious conversion might have led to the revocation of her scholarship at this point.

The Ombudsman has asked IPB not to expel Arnita from her program considering she now owes the university IDR55 million in tuition and expenses as she continued her studies for three semesters after she lost her scholarship. Unable to afford IPB, she is now receiving financial assistance to continue her studies at Jakarta's Universitas Muhammadiyah Prof Dr Hamka (UHAMKA) for the time being.

Lisnawati, Arnita's mother, said she and the family will continue to fight to get Arnita's scholarship back even if they no longer share the same faith.

"She is an adult now. That is her choice. But we asked her, even if our beliefs are different, not to stray away from us. And now our relationship is closer than ever," Lisnawati told Merdeka.

Scholarships given on religious grounds are quite common in Indonesia. In 2016, for example, the West Java Provincial Government was criticized for giving out scholarships for those who had memorized huge sections of the Quran, while no equivalent requirement for those of different faiths were given.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/student-allegedly-loses-college-scholarship-converting-islam-govt-investigating/

Mandatory hijab at state schools stirs debate

Jakarta Post - July 29, 2018

Gisela Swaragita, Jakarta – Twitter users are divided in responding to women's rights activist Tunggal Prawesti's recent post about SMP 4 state junior high school in Tangerang, Banten, which made donning hijab mandatory for Muslim female students.

In the post, she shared images of the school's circular that stipulates Muslim girls attending the school should wear long uniforms and headscarves printed with the school's logo on Thursdays and Fridays. The punishment for those rejecting the rule would be expulsion.

Tunggal posted the tweet on Friday, with the post having been retweeted more than 800 times as of Saturday afternoon.

Among the many responses she received was a circular stipulating a similar rule at SMP 137 state junior high school in Jakarta, which she reposted.

Tunggal told The Jakarta Post on Saturday that she had received many replies and direct messages reporting similar rules in state schools across the country. The rules were announced in either official circulars or in classrooms by teachers as moral guidance.

"This kind of coercion should never be tolerated, especially when [the students were] threatened to be expelled," she said over the phone.

"There are many principles violated here. These are public schools [which are] subsidized by the state. Schools should never give sanctions to things that are outside its authority," she said. "Hijab is all about an individual's faith."

Among Twitter users who responded was a woman who wears a headscarf with the username @ranirbi, who agreed with Tunggal. She wrote "If a girl is forced to wear hijab, she would think of hijab as a burden and thus will not get the essentials of [wearing] hijab."

Many others did not agree with Tunggal, saying the school was not discriminating because the rule was only applicable to Muslim female students.

Another headscarf-wearing Twitter user, @MutiaraAzk, wrote "What is the problem? For faithful Muslims, hijab is obligatory. Maybe we should criticize the sanction, instead of hijab. But, if we think further, which one is worse: earthly sanctions or afterlife sanctions? Why do you have to be told to wear hijab?"

Another user, @cimminimy, said she wore hijab at school because she did not want to stand out among other students who mostly wore headscarves.

"Because Muslim girls without headscarves are the minority, I decided to make a new uniform set and wear hijab. Not because I received a [spiritual] revelation," she said.

Sely Martini, an Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) activist who was among the first to find out about the rule, said the case pertained to state intervention on the bodies of women. As a woman who wore a headscarf faithfully, she said the school rule was coercion.

"Please teach women to take care of their bodies because she and only she is the one who has the authority to decide what is done to her body. Please teach your men [sons, fathers, brothers] to respect women's bodies and stop viewing a woman's body as an object," she said. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/29/mandatory-hijab-at-state-schools-stirs-debate.html

Poverty & social inequity

Cigarette consumption affects Indonesia's poverty rate

Tempo - July 30, 2018

Kartika Anggraeni, Jakarta – Central Statistics Agency (BPS) chief Suhariyanto has revealed one item other than rice that remains a factor affecting Indonesia's poverty: cigarettes.

He explained that public's need for cigarettes had affected the country's poverty rate since they were also consumed by the poor. "One of the poor's largest consumption is cigarettes," said Suhariyanto in a discussion on poverty at the Communication and Information Ministry (Kominfo) on Monday, July 30.

Earlier, Suhariyanto said the poverty rate dropped 9.82 percent in March of 2018. "The first time the poverty rate was at a single digit number," he said.

He further explained that since 2002 Indonesia's poverty had gradually tumbled, ending at 633.2 thousand people breaking free from the poverty rate in 2018. Compared to 2017 that saw 26.58 million impoverished people, 2018 saw it down to 25.95 million people.

Other items affecting poverty are rice, beef, eggs, instant noodles, and sugar. Other than food consumption, gas prices, electricity tariffs, education, and bathroom utilities are also among the contributory factors.

BPS is currently pushing for cigarette's tax and excise to be increased to help reduce the number of cigarette consumption, as talks of doing so have taken place in the past.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/07/30/055920374/Cigarette-Consumption-Affects-Indonesias-Poverty-Rate

Jakarta & urban life

Anies should reinstate dismissed officials: Commission

Jakarta Post - July 28, 2018

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – The State Civilian Bureaucracy Commission (KASN) has urged Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan to reinstate 16 civil servants he fired, on the grounds that procedures and regulations were violated during the dismissal process.

The KASN came to the conclusion that violations had occurred after questioning the dismissed officials, Anies, the city secretary Saefullah and the acting head of the Jakarta Employment Agency (BKD).

"Should there be new evidence regarding violations conducted by the dismissed officials, [the city administration] should submit the evidence within no later than 30 working days to the KASN," KASN head Sofian Effendi said in a statement on Friday.

Sofian said civil servants could be assessed after one year working in a certain position. After that, the city administration should give the civil servants a chance to improve their performance within a period of six months.

He went on to say evaluation of the civil servants' performance should be written on assessment reports.

Citing Article 33 (1) of Law No. 5/2014 on the state apparatus, Sofian said the KASN would ask the president to punish the acting head of the BKD or the related officials who failed to fulfill the KASN's recommendation.

The governor would also be violating Law No. 23/2013 on the regional government should he disregard the KASN's recommendation, Sofian said.

Earlier in June, Anies dismissed three agency heads amid problems surrounding his flagship programs, namely the zero down-payment housing program and the Jakarta Smart Card Plus program.

On July 5, Anies dismissed more officials, including mayors and a regent, as they had reached retirement age.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/27/anies-should-reinstate-dismissed-officials-commission.html

Anies speaks at park opening spearheaded by predecessor, Ahok's

Coconuts Jakarta - July 26, 2018

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has been taking a lot of heat this week over his administration's "solution" of curtaining over the fetid Sentiong Canal, located next to the dormitories for athletes visiting for next month's Asian Games.

He received particularly sharp criticism over his assertion that his administration "inherited" the problem of Sentiong due to the neglect of former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama (an excuse that doesn't fly for several reasons).

Yesterday, Anies spoke at a ceremony inaugurating the beautifully revitalized Lapangan Banteng park in Pasar Baru, Central Jakarta. Work on the park was started in 2016 under Ahok's administration and was built entirely using IDR77 billion (US$5.3 million) in funds donated by several private companies' CSR programs including Sinar Mas and McDonald's Indonesia.

According to this viral post by entrepreneur Ryan Gozali, who says he was involved with the CSR project from the start, things were running smoothly under Ahok's administration but progress became very slow after Anies' administration began and the date of the inauguration had to be pushed back several times.

It is one of many such parks that were built due to Ahok's negotiations (another one being Taman Kalijodo, which the current administration has recently been criticized for allowing to fall into disrepair).

As seen in this video, during Anies speech last night cries of "Hidup Ahok!" (Long live Ahok) "Ahok terbaik!" (Ahok is the best) and "Hanya Ahok bisa berkarya" (Only Ahok could accomplish this) can be heard coming from the former governor's fans that came to attend the inauguration.

At one point, the Ahok supporters unfurl two banners. One read "Inherited from the Former Governor" (a reference to Anies' excuses about the Sentiong) while the one read "Thank you Basuki-Djarot for your work revitalizing Lapangan Banteng" (Djarot referring to Ahok's vice governor, Djarot Saiful Hidayat).

Security officers at the event can be seen trying to stop the Ahok supporters from disrupting the event but it seems no official action against them was taken.

When asked about Ahok's supporters following his speech, Governor Anies said, "Every citizen has the same right to enjoy this place [Lapangan Banten] and hopefully it will become a place of interaction for all, from any background and with any viewpoint," Anies said, as quoted by Merdeka.

Many of Ahok's supporters still hold a grudge against Anies for the way he campaigned during the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial race. One of Anies' campaign managers recently admitted that they took advantage of the 212 protest movement started by the trumped-up blasphemy charges against Ahok as part of their winning strategy. That movement ultimately led to Ahok's current two-year prison sentence

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/gov-anies-speaks-opening-new-park-spearheaded-predecessor-ahoks-fans-roll-banner-burns/

Jakarta ranks #1 again this week on index of cities with the

Coconuts Jakarta - July 26, 2018

On top of concerns about the capital's notorious traffic and the stench emanating from a fetid canal near their dorm, top athletes from around the region might have another noxious environmental hazard to contend with while competing at the Asian Games in Jakarta next month – some of the worst air pollution of any city on the planet.

Jakarta has intermittently appeared on rankings of cities with high levels of air pollution in the past, but the atmosphere in the capital this week has been notable for reaching the #1 spot multiple times on the major cities ranking of air-quality monitoring site Air Visual.

Jangan lupa tetap gunakan masker jenis N95 untuk mencegah dampak buruk dari polutan PM 2,5 masuk ke paru-paru kamu.?? pic.twitter.com/wFYNeCthqu – Greenpeace Indonesia (@GreenpeaceID) July 26, 2018

As shown by the Twitter thread from Greenpeace above, Jakarta was ranked #1 this morning with an air quality index (AQI) rating of 184. It was also at #1 yesterday morning with an AQI of 183. And, as you can see in the tweet from today, Jakarta was not the only Indonesian city to make the list this morning – the capital of vacation getaway Bali, Denpasar, ranking 10th with an AQI of 104.

AQI is a standardized measurement based on relative levels of five major air pollutants: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. AQI levels between 150 and 200 are classified as "unhealthy".

The Greenpeace tweets advise residents of the city to use N95-level maskers (face masks) as the normal cheap mouth coverings used by most Jakartans are able to do very little when it comes to filtering out harmful particulates.

A large percentage of the air pollution in Jakarta comes from approximately 3.5 million cars and 14 million motorcycles that ply the capital's roads each day.

The government is enacting several temporary policy fixes to limit the number of cars in the roads during the Asian Games, including an expansion of the odd-even traffic rule and closing three dozen schools, but even if those changes somehow manage to get pollution levels down to acceptable levels for competing athletes, Jakartans will likely be needing those N95 maskers again soon after.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/jakarta-ranks-1-week-index-cities-highest-air-pollution-levels/

Public transport users up 11.4% in Jakarta since expansion of odd

Coconuts Jakarta - July 24, 2018

Ahead of the start of the Asian Games on August 18, the Jakarta Government has been conducting a test expansion of the odd-even traffic rule in the hopes that it can help tame some of the capital's notoriously awful traffic so that, once the massive sporting event begins, athletes and sports officials will be able to make it to their venues in a reasonable amount of time (they will also be shutting down some of the capital's toll gates for that reason as well).

The government previously claimed that, just two weeks into the test, the expanded odd-even rule had led to an increase in average vehicle speeds of 12% and decreased travel times and air pollution levels as well. Now in its third week, the expansion is also being credited with a significant increase in the number of public transportation users.

The head of the Greater Jakarta Area Transportation Management Agency (BPTJ), Bambang Prihartono, said public transport passengers began to increase since the odd expansion trial was first came into effect on July 2.

"Currently, the shift to public transportation has started to increase. Use of the Transjakarta is up 11.4 percent, which is remarkable," Bambang told the media today as quoted by Kompas.

Bambang said BPTJ did not yet have data on how much private car usage had decreased during the same period but said they would get those numbers soon in order to better evaluate the policy.

Separately, Transjakarta's head of public relations, Wibowo, gave similar figures, saying that they had seen about a 10% increase in busway users in areas affected by odd-even expansion.

The trial expansion of the odd-even rule – which only allows vehicles with odd-numbered plates to use certain major roads during rush hours on odd calendar dates and vice-versa – began on July 2 with a a month-long awareness drive before the expansion officially comes into effect on August 1.

This map below, from the Jakarta Transportation Agency, details exactly which roads are now covered by the odd-even rule. The light blue lines represent the roads where the odd-even rule was previously enforced, while the red lines represent the new additions and the blue dotted lines represent suggested alternate routes (be warned: they will be jammed more than usual).

The biggest expansion stretches all the way from Jalan S. Parman in West Jakarta, through Gatot Subroto, M.T. Haryono, D.I. Panjaitan, Jenderal Ahmad Yani up to Cempaka Putih in Central Jakarta, measuring close to 22km.

The other three points of expansion are: South Jakarta's Jalan Arteri Pondok Indah – Kebayoran Baru, Jalan H.R. Rasuna Said, and Central Jakarta's Jalan Benyamin Sueb, Kemayoran.

In addition, under the expansion, the odd-even rule is now be enforced for 15 hours every workday, from 6am to 9pm. This is much longer than the 7am-10am and 4pm-8pm rush hour windows prior to the expansion.

During the trial period, violators of the odd-even rule won't be fined, but starting August 1, the IDR500K (US$34.74) fine applies.

The Jakarta Provincial Government has not decided on whether or not the expansion will still apply after the Asian Games concludes on September 2, but there has been talk that they are considering making it permanent beyond the Games. Considering all the apparent benefits it has brought, it seems like keeping it should be the obvious choice.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/public-transportation-users-11-4-jakarta-since-expansion-odd-even-rule/

What makes Jakarta's rivers ugly and smelly?

Jakarta Post - July 24, 2018

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – This month, the Jakarta administration covered an eyesore of a river with a giant nylon net ahead of the 18th Asian Games in August.

The Sentiong River, nicknamed the black river by locals, is murky and smelly because, according to a city official, wastewater from houses and a tofu factory is dumped untreated there. The Sentiong River is not the only heavily polluted river in Jakarta. In fact, all 13 rivers in Jakarta and their dozens of tributaries are highly polluted.

How polluted?

The Jakarta Water Resources Council stated that the rivers in Jakarta could only supply 2.2 percent of the total demand for clean water, all of which came from the Krukut River, as the other rivers were too dirty to process.

In addition to the more visible solid trash that is picked up by the "orange troops" – sanitation workers that were first deployed under the leadership of former governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama – Jakarta's rivers contain highly toxic wastewater.

The National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) reported in February that 96 percent of river water in the city is severely polluted. The rivers are contaminated with high levels of biochemical oxygen demand, phosphor and nitrogen.

Some 20 percent of the raw water supply for Jakarta comes from the Cisadane River in Tangerang, Banten, and the remaining comes from the Jatiluhur Reservoir in West Java, which receives water from the Citarum River, dubbed "the world's most polluted river" by international media.

Why and how?

Jakarta rivers receive an estimated 2.5 million cubic meters of wastewater per day. More than 70 percent of the wastewater comes from millions of households and the remaining comes from commercial buildings and industrial activities.

Household wastewater is sourced from the population's "gray water" or detergent water, other kinds of household wastewater and "black water", which is wastewater from feces.

The 2009 law on the environment prohibits companies from dumping wastewater into rivers; however, poor supervision and law enforcement have resulted in companies polluting rivers without consequence.

In March, water in the East Flood Canal in Marunda, North Jakarta, was covered with white foam that had a pungent smell. Wahyu Perdana, the campaign manager for food, water and essential ecosystems at the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), said that, based on monitoring conducted by the organization a few years ago, the water in the canal had a sulfur smell. "Judging by the characteristics of the smell, we suspect that the pollution came from textile factories. The factories wash the clothes with detergent," Wahyu said.

The city administration said the suffocating smell emanating from the black river was also partly due to a nearby tofu factory that dumped untreated wastewater into it.

Jakarta's sole wastewater treatment plant (IPAL) is located in the Setiabudi Reservoir in Central Jakarta. It can only treat about 2 percent of wastewater, which comes not only from households in Jakarta but also from millions of houses, factories, commercial buildings and agricultural fields in upstream areas.

How do we clean the rivers?

The government has long planned to develop the Jakarta Sewerage System (JSS) to process household waste at the Jakarta IPAL before the water is pumped into rivers.

The system is expected to reduce pollution in Jakarta's 13 rivers, provide clean water and stop residents from pumping groundwater, an activity that has resulted in land subsidence.

However, development of the JSS, which was scheduled to kick off last year, has been postponed to 2019 for various reasons.

The JSS is set to manage waste treatment in 15 zones, including Zone 0 at the Setiabudi Reservoir, with an initial focus on zones 1 and 6.

Zone 1 will be situated on a 4.9-hectare plot of land in Pluit, North Jakarta, while Zone 6 will be situated on a 5.8-hectare plot of land in Duri Kosambi, West Jakarta. Zone 1 and 6 will be able to process 198,000 and 282,000 cubic meters of wastewater per day respectively.

The cost of the Zone 1 project is around Rp 8.1 trillion (US$614 million) while the Zone 6 project is around Rp 8.7 trillion. The Japan International Cooperation Agency will bear about 55 percent of the total cost through a loan scheme.

The president director of city-owned wastewater treatment firm PD PAL Jaya, Subekti, said the company was conducting detailed engineering for the development of the system in Zone 1.

"We hope that the detail engineering can finish in mid-2019 and the construction can begin in 2020. The project is set to finish in 2026," Subekti said recently.

After finishing both zones, the project will continue in 12 other zones across the city.

Subekti said the project would be time-consuming and cost a lot of money as the pipes for the system would be placed 20 to 30 meters underground. Furthermore, with building foundations already occupying space underground, installing the pipes would be difficult.

"To find investors interested in the project might also be challenging, as the project might not bring much of a profit," he said.

Are there alternatives to the large-scale JSS?

PAL Jaya has planned to take another approach – the subzone approach – to treat wastewater, and it is all about starting small.

To treat wastewater at Ancol Dreamland in North Jakarta, for example, it would start by installing a pipe that would treat wastewater. "We have also conducted a study to treat water in industrial areas and several office buildings in Jakarta," he said.

The city administration has urged the management of high-rise buildings to operate their own IPALs.

In March, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan raided buildings along Jl. Sudirman and Jl. MH Thamrin and asked management teams to install infiltration wells, preserve groundwater and treat wastewater.

In addition to the two thoroughfares, the city administration has also inspected buildings in industrial areas in East Jakarta and West Jakarta.

What about informal settlements?

An informal settlement in Malakasari in Duren Sawit, East Jakarta, has had its own communal wastewater treatment system since 1998, using both aerobic and anaerobic processes. The wastewater treatment plant was built by the city administration and managed by the community and PAL Jaya.

Officials from the city administration and city-owned wastewater management firm PD PAL Jaya inspect a communal wastewater treatment site in Malakasari, East Jakarta, in 2017. Officials from the city administration and city-owned wastewater management firm PD PAL Jaya inspect a communal wastewater treatment site in Malakasari, East Jakarta, in 2017. (Courtesy of Water Management Agency/-)

Urban-water spatial planner Prathiwi Widyatmi Putri said it would be difficult for the city administration to realize the idea of developing a centralized sewerage system. Apart from the high cost of installing big pipes, many problems could arise during the process.

She suggested that the administration install sewerage systems in smaller areas, including informal settlements, such as subdistricts or neighborhoods like Malakasari, as it would cost less and pose fewer risks to other utility systems.

She emphasized that communal sewerage systems would also reduce the time it takes for water to be processed and distributed as clean water.

Why should we take on the difficult task of cleaning the rivers?

Cleaner rivers in Jakarta more than just make them visually and olfactorily acceptable to residents. It also means Jakarta tap water operators would have a greater raw water supply, which would allow them to expand their tap water coverage in the city. The operators have long complained about a lack of raw water supply to improve their tap water coverage, which stands at about 60 percent.

The polluted rivers have also degraded the quality of the Jakarta Bay ecosystem. Fisherfolk in Muara Angke, North Jakarta, often complain about catch declines, allegedly because of pollution from the rivers.

Bogor Agriculture Institute scholar Alan F. Koropitan studied the Jakarta Bay and found that the water had "become a wastewater disposal site for Jakarta, and domestic sewage, and industrial and agricultural waste, are deposited in it".

"It will be a difficult task, but when it is accomplished it will be a source of national pride," said Alan. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/23/what-makes-jakartas-rivers-ugly-and-smelly.html

Sport & recreation

Puan delivers invitation to Kim Jong-un to attend Asian Games

Jakarta Post - July 31, 2018

Dian Septiari, Jakarta – Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Puan Maharani visited North Korea on Tuesday to deliver a personal invitation from President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to attend the Asian Games 2018 hosted by Indonesia.

Puan was received by Kim Yong-nam, the nominal head of state and president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, at the Mansundae Assembly Hall in the capital Pyongyang.

During the meeting, Indonesia welcomed the participation of joint North and South Korean teams at the Asian Games, which Puan said could strengthen friendship and further peace efforts on the Korean Peninsula, according to a statement from the Indonesian Embassy in Pyongyang.

She also said the visit aimed to strengthen Indonesia's "long and historical relationship" with North Korea, forged decades ago by the two nations' respective founding fathers, Sukarno and Kim Il-sung.

The daughter of former president Megawati Soekarnoputri, who has continued to maintain the friendship with North Korea after her father Sukarno's reign, Puan seized the opportunity to congratulate North Korea's government and its people on the 70th anniversary of the nation's founding, which falls on Sept. 9.

In his response, Kim Yong-nam reportedly conveyed his government's appreciation to President Jokowi on the invitation and said he would soon present it to leader Kim Jong-un.

He said he also appreciated Indonesia's ongoing support for peace efforts on the Korean Peninsula.

The Pyongyang visit follows the delivery of a similar invitation in Seoul last week by Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/31/puan-delivers-invitation-to-kim-jong-un-to-attend-asian-games.html

FAM sends protest letter after Malaysian team called 'dogs' by

The Star/ANN - July 31, 2018

K. Rajan and Mohd Farhaan Shah, Kuala Lumpur – The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) has sent a letter of protest to ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) after provocative chants from Indonesian fans such as "Malaysia are dogs" and "Amirul is a dog".

This was during a match in Surabaya, Indonesia, between Malaysia and Thailand at the AFF Under-16 tournament. Malaysia lost to Thailand 2-1 in the Group B match on July 30, 2018.

Before departing for the tournament, Malaysia U-16 forward Amirul Ashrafiq Hanifah uploaded a picture of the team at the airport on his Instagram account, and included the Indonesian flag in the caption.

However, he mistakenly picked the white and red Polish flag, which is the reverse of the red and white Indonesian flag but has since apologised for his error.

"Nonetheless, action needs to be taken. I believe that it has to be done immediately. You have to be diplomatic but this is not a question of resolving the situation diplomatically," he said in a statement posted on Johor Southern Tigers official Facebook page.

FAM secretary-general Stuart Ramalingam in a statement said that the Indonesian fans had gone overboard with their insults and hopes action will be taken to prevent a recurrence of such an incident at the team's next match against Brunei on Friday.

"The action of sending in the letter of protest to AFF and AFC was swiftly undertaken so that both parties concerned can take the necessary actions in making sure the same thing will not happen during the team's next Group B match against Brunei in the same stadium this Friday.

"In making sure that the safety level of the team is assured, FAM has decided to send FAM exco member, ACP Mohd Dali Wahid, who is a high ranking police official to Surabaya tomorrow [Aug. 1] to evaluate the safety measures implemented by the host nation and organizers.

"If it is found that the host nation and organisers are taking this issue lightly, FAM will not hesitate to take more drastic actions in the future," he added.

Stuart also hoped that AFF and AFC would seriously address this issue, citing a previous incident when Malaysia was fined US$30,000after Malaysian fans sang defamatory chants towards Brunei and Singapore during the men's soccer matches at the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.

Meanwhile, in a tweet, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said previously action had been taken against Malaysia over the irresponsible behaviour of some Malaysian fans.

"Now, when our players are called dogs and threatened to be killed, FAM must take strict action and report it to the AFF. Stern action must be meted out," he said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/31/fam-sends-protest-letter-after-malaysian-team-called-dogs-by-indonesian-fans.html

Asian Games 'rainbow roads' back to black and white after gov't

Coconuts Jakarta - July 31, 2018

With the Jakarta Provincial Government deep into preparations for hosting the Asian Games, which begins on August 18, Governor Anies Baswedan's administration has been getting hit with a constant barrage of criticism over its perceived lack of preparations for the massive sporting event, including controversies over a smelly canal curtain, temporary grass strips and other apparently ad hoc policies.

The latest colorful anecdote added to that pile of accusations concern the government's decision to paint a large swathe of boring black and white cement road separators in some parts of the city, one of the first being Pasar Rebo, East Jakarta.

After people started noticing the roadblocks' rainbow redesigns over the weekend, Anies was asked about it by the media and said that it was one of several steps taken by the government to beautify the city before the Asian Games. He said that the makeover was just temporary and that they had only done it in late July as they were afraid the colors might have faded before the end of the games if they had repainted them earlier.

"The nature of Indonesia is that it's hot and rainy, so we do not want the colors to fade during the Asian Games. This was all planned ahead of time, it was just executed in July," Anies said on Sunday as quoted by Tribun.

Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno said that the roadblock repainting was the "people's initiative" but then confusingly said that the Jakarta Provincial Government had asked the mayor of Central Jakarta to give some of the roadblocks in his part of the city the rainbow treatment. But then he also said he was pleased that citizens in some other parts of the city had taken the initiative on their own. Photos such as the ones below show that government workers did handle at least some of the rainbow painting.

Some Jakarta netizens seemed to like the colorful blocks while other made fun of them, such as this brilliant meme noting there resemblance to a real life version of the hardest track from the classic Nintendo racing game Mario Kart.

But many others questioned the decorative decision, noting that the reason the blocks were painted black and white was for safety concerns. However, the deputy head of the Jakarta Transportation Department, Sigit Wijatmiko, said on Sunday that the rainbow separators were not illegal because the law does not specify their color since their effectiveness was based only on their form, unlike a marker.

However, that reasoning apparently didn't hold up to much scrutiny as, after just a few days of fabulousness, the separators were back in their original boring but better-in-terms-of-safety black-and-white paint jobs.

Anies explained the reason for this today by saying that Yusmada Gaizal, Jakarta's assistant head of Development and the Environment, had informed him that the road separator blocks were indeed classified as road markers after all and thus were required to follow the color guidelines stipulated by the law for safety reasons.

"The Development assistant head yesterday explained that it's important that we follow the provisions on road markings because their functions are not only aesthetics but also for safety," Anies said today as quoted by Detik.

Jakarta Police officials explained that, while it wasn't well known, the black and white separators were meant to signal to drivers that they were within a zebra crossing zone in which pedestrians might be traversing the road.

Although the cost of the error is not much more than that of the paint and labor for repainting them twice, to many it reflects a pattern seen in many of the Jakarta government's temporary improvements for the Asian Games, such as the lack of cement walking paths in front of the bus stops on Jalan Sudirman's newly laid but apparently temporary grass strips.

In another example of poor paint planning pointed out by memes below, Anies' administration had also added rainbow color panels to the side of the Sentiong Canal, before the governor decided to cover the canal with a black nylon cloth to keep the canal's foul appearance and smell from disturbing the visiting athletes staying in the nearby Wisma Atlet dormitory complex in Kemayoran.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/jakartas-rainbow-roads-asian-games-go-back-black-white-govt-learns-regulations/

Online criticism prompts removal of 'defunct telcom' poles from

Jakarta Post - July 31, 2018

Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta – Following widespread criticism on social media, workers from state-owned electricity company PLN have begun removing several utility poles that had been installed in the middle of bicycle lanes near the Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) sports complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta.

"The poles do not belong to us, but to telecommunications firms and are no longer in use. We are just helping to remove them," PLN spokesperson Aries Dwianto told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

Workers were seen removing the poles on Monday, when the Bike To Work community posted a picture of the poles on its Intagram account and questioned their placement.

"Is this a dedicated bicycle lane or just a bicycle painting? Our suggestion is to erase the bicycle illustration or remove the poles," it said in the caption.

Earlier, the Indonesian Asian Games Organizing Committee (INASGOC) had demanded the poles' removal so the area could be paved for bicycle lanes. The bicycle lanes were designed by the Public Works and Housing Ministry.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/31/public-criticism-forces-removal-of-defunct-telcoms-poles-from-senayan-bicycle-lanes.html

Farmers, researchers step in to eliminate 'Black River's' smell

Jakarta Post - July 30, 2018

Ida I. Khouw, Jakarta – The foul smell emanating from the Sentiong River, which has been dubbed Kali Item or the Black River because of its severe level of pollution, in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, has prompted several groups to work together to reduce its smell.

On Sunday, members of the Jakarta branch of the Indonesian Farmers Association (HKTI) scattered 500 kilograms of deodorizing powder called DeoGone on the river's surface.

"[Jakarta HKTI members] chipped in to procure the powder. We could only purchase 500 kilograms, while 7.5 tons is needed to completely eliminate the river's smell," said Jakarta HKTI representative Suwardi Hagani, as quoted by kompas.com.

DeoGone, Suwardi added, was a deodorizing powder developed by microbiologist Dr. Tri Panji from the Indonesia Biotechnology and Bioindustry Research Center (PPBBI). The product was patented in 2014.

Suwardi said the Jakarta HKTI had tried something similar in 2015 to reduce the smell of the Grogol River in West Jakarta.

Another effort was made by the Gadjah Mada University Alumni Family (Kagama) in Jakarta. Several representatives of Jakarta Kagama sprayed 2,500 liters of a microbe liquid believed to be able to eliminate the river's smell.

The organization's head Shodiq Sihardianto explained that the organic and sulfuric matter in the river had been contaminated by a pathogen bacteria. The combination of these matters created fatty acid and sulfide gas that caused the water to turn dark and smell.

"Hence, we believe that the only solution is to inject a microbe liquid containing probiotic lactic acid that can biologically break down the compound and kill the pathogen bacteria." (vla)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/30/farmers-researchers-step-in-to-eliminate-black-rivers-smell.html

Not enough done by Jakarta administration to clean black river:

Jakarta Post - July 28, 2018

Jakarta – An expert with the Public Works and Housing Ministry, Firdaus Ali, has said the Jakarta administration has yet to make maximum efforts to clean the Sentiong River ahead of the Asian Games.

The smelly river has been covered by a huge nylon net to supposedly prevent it from emanating a foul smell that could offend international athletes, who will stay at the athletes village across from the river in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, during the Asian Games.

"It [the Jakarta administration] has yet to make significant efforts to clean the river even though the event is only 24 days away. We don't want to show this 'face' [the dirty and smelly river]," Firdaus said on Friday.

Firdaus said the ministry would assist the Jakarta administration to clean the river, such as by providing pumps and dredging the river.

Previously, the ministry's Ciliwung-Cisadane Flood Control Office (BBWSCC) provided 28 portable pumps to help the city administration divert the flow of the Sentiong River to the Sunter River in the hope of reducing the smell.

Meanwhile, a staff member at PT HAS Environmental, a company working with the administration to clean the river, has said the administration would procure more equipment to clean the river as soon as possible.

The administration is currently trying to clean the water by using a nano bubble generator, an aerator, a surface aerator and a blower. The technology is being used to increase the oxygen level in the river, which may reduce the smell and clean the polluted water.

Diki, PT Has Environmental staff member, said the process to clean the river with existing equipment could be lengthy because a nano bubble generator, for instance, could only filter 20 cubic meters of water per second, way below the river's discharge level.

"Why does it takes a long time to clean the water? It's because the equipment is insufficient, given the river discharge," Diki said on Friday as quoted by kompas.com.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/27/not-enough-done-by-jakarta-administration-to-clean-black-river-expert.html

Principals learn of school closure for Asian Games through social

Jakarta Post - July 27, 2018

Jakarta – The principals of several Jakarta school say they have not been officially informed that their schools are to be closed during the Asian Games.

The city administration decided that some schools would be closed for nine days during this year's Asian Games to reduce traffic between the athletes village in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, and some of the sport venues.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said he had decided to close 34 schools from Aug. 18 to Sept. 2 and suggested the 17,000 affected students do lots of homework instead.

SMA 24 state high school principal Sunaryanto said he had read about the closure but had yet to receive any instruction from the Jakarta Education Agency.

"I'm aware of the closure, but I haven't received any official information from the [education] agency. The instruction is not yet official, but based on its location, our school is among those that will be temporarily shut," Sunaryanto said, as quoted by wartakota.tribunnews.com on Friday.

SMA 24 is located in the vicinity of the Games' main venue, the Bung Karno sports complex on Jl. Lapangan Tembak Senayan in Central Jakarta. The school was awaiting instructions from the education agency regarding lesson plans for the relatively long stretch of holidays, Sunaryanto said.

SMA 21 principal Taga Radja Gah concurred, saying he had learned about the closure through social media. "I only read about it on social media. I haven't dismissed any teachers or students, since the education agency hasn't issued any official instruction," he said.

SMA 21 on Jl. Tanah Mas Raya in Pulogadung, East Jakarta, is only 1.5 kilometers from the Games' equestrian venue in Pulomas. Taga said the school planned to assign homework to students to keep them busy during the holiday.

"We will assign homework to the students once we've been officially instructed by the education agency to temporarily close the school," he said. (rfa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/27/principals-learn-of-school-closure-for-asian-games-through-social-media.html

Government takes over cleaning of stinky river, official throws

Coconuts Jakarta - July 27, 2018

The Jakarta Provincial Government's curtaining off of the Sentiong Canal (locally known as "Kali Item", meaning Black Canal) in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta to hide its putrid water and odor has been a major embarrassment in terms of the capital's preparations (or lack thereof) for next month's Asian Games. So much so, in fact, that the central government has decided to take charge of the situation.

According to the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry (PUPR), it has now taken over the cleaning of Kali Item – which lies right next to the dormitories that will house visiting athletes competing in next month's games – from the Jakarta administration.

"Kali Item is under the Jakarta Provincial Government's jurisdiction, but we are taking over because there is no progress. There is certainly legal basis for the takeover because Jakarta is the capital city so there are special rules regarding its management," PUPR official Firdaus Ali told Metro TV today.

Seemingly unable to help himself, Firdaus also tossed in some shade aimed at Governor Anies' administration for their odd temporary "fix" of the canal.

"I think this (curtaining off the canal) is so magical. I have been to numerous countries in five continents to study water management, and this is the first time I've seen anything like it," he said.

But Firdaus wasn't done there. He said Anies can thank the ministry later when the canal is clean.

"I think he has no right to be angry that we are taking over his authority [of the canal]. Instead, he should be thankful. He can go ahead and claim, 'oh, only in my term was Kali Item clean.' Go ahead," he said.

Oof. We await your response, Pak Anies.

According to a press release from PUPR, the ministry is working with the Jakarta Public Works Agency (so the Jakarta Provincial Government hasn't been fully absolved of all responsibility over the cleaning of the canal) to pump the fetid waters of Kali Item away towards Sunter Canal.

It remains to be seen if this will get rid of the nasty sight and smells in time for the Asian Games (which starts Aug 18) and there's no word yet on whether or not the Jakarta administration's infamous mesh covering will be removed.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/central-govt-takes-cleaning-jakartas-stinky-kali-item-official-throws-shade-gov-anies/

Ministry says it works hard to combat haze ahead of Asian Games

Jakarta Globe - July 26, 2018

Amal Ganesha, Jakarta – The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has renewed its commitment to combatting forest fires, as the resulting haze could potentially derail next month's Asian Games, co-hosted by Jakarta and Palembang, South Sumatra.

Raffles Panjaitan, director for land and forest fire control at the ministry, said last week that special teams are dispatched every day to combat haze and urge people to cooperate in preventing it.

One of the 12 significant hot spots on the island assessed on Tuesday (24/07) is located in South Sumatra's Ogan Komering Ilir district, just 72 kilometers from the provincial capital, Palembang.

South Sumatra and Riau are the two provinces on the island most prone to forest fires.

The ministry said in May that air quality in Palembang was good at 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter of particulate matter, compared with the World Health Organization's threshold of 25 micrograms per cubic meter. The reading measures particles in the air that can cause cardiovascular and respiratory disease, as well as cancers.

The measurement in Jakarta meanwhile stands at 35 micrograms per cubic meter, though it is deemed acceptable under the law, which sets the maximum at 65 micrograms per cubic meter.

"We at the ministry are cautious over the issue, and thus we are dispatching our teams in the provinces to extinguish fires on a daily basis," ministry spokesman Djati Witjaksono Hadi told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday.

The ministry also confirmed that there are around 50 fire-control stations in South Sumatra tasked with eradicating forest and land fires through various means, including water-bombing aircraft. "Another thing is that the dry season also doesn't help," Djati said.

According to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), the dry season on the island is expected to continue until September. The closing ceremony of the Asian Games will take place on Sept. 2.

NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites have reported 1,183 hot spots in Indonesia since January. "Please note that not all the hot spots are fires and not all the fires are forest fires," Djati said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/ministry-says-it-works-hard-to-combat-haze-ahead-of-asian-games/

Cover-up: Jakarta hides foul river with giant net before Asian

The Guardian - July 26, 2018

Kate Lamb, Jakarta – The Jakarta city government has come under fire for buying a giant nylon net to cover up a polluted and foul-smelling river weeks before the Indonesian capital hosts the 2018 Asian Games.

The Sentiong River, which twists alongside the athletes' village in Kemayoran in central Jakarta, is so polluted it is known by locals as kali item or the black river.

The administration installed a 600 by 20 metre black mesh net earlier in July to minimise the putrid stench and unsightly view. It's function is to elevate the beauty [of the river] so that the black water cannot be seen by international athletes An official from the Jakarta water resources agency said the nets were intended to hide the aquatic eyesore. "Its function is to elevate the beauty [of the river] so that the black water cannot be directly seen by international athletes," the official, Supriyono, told Kompas.

The cost of the river beautification plan is just over 580m rupiah (#30,000), Jakarta's deputy governor, Sandiaga Uno, told reporters at city hall on Tuesday.

The move has been criticised and ridiculed, with some saying the city government was more interested in covering up the river than in trying to clean it.

Jakarta's governor, Anies Baswedan, has argued that his administration inherited the chronic problem.

"If the past administrations took notice of this issue, we would not have inherited the black river," he told Tempo. "But now it has grabbed widespread attention."

The governor said on a visit to the area that the river had to be covered up because it ran past the athletes' dining hall.

He also said the government was working to clean the waterway by employing aerators and "nano bubble" technology to help break down organic material.

Water from a dam in Bogor in west Java is being pumped in to help flush the river out, and the city government said it planned to build more wastewater treatment plants.

Wastewater from houses and a nearby tofu factory have contributed to the heavily polluted condition of the Sentiong, one of many rivers in that run through Jakarta.

The national development and planning board reported in February that 96% of river water in the Indonesian capital was severely polluted.

The Asian Games begin on 18 August, with 11,000 athletes from 45 countries expected to attend the largest multi-sporting event after the Olympics. Events will be hosted in Jakarta and Palembang in south Sumatra.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/jul/26/cover-up-jakarta-hides-foul-river-with-giant-net-before-asian-games

'Black River' nylon net damaged by trash, cigarettes

Jakarta Post - July 25, 2018

Jakarta – A giant black nylon net covering Sentiong River, nicknamed Kali Item (Black River), in Kemayoran, North Jakarta, has been damaged by trapped trash and cigarette butts just days after its installation.

At least 10 tears of varying sizes have been spotted in the 689-meter-long net, and trash such as water bottles, cigarette packs and dried leaves have started to accumulate on top of it.

The city administration spent Rp 580 million (US$40,002) to purchase the net, which is intended to mask the river's pollution and stench from Asian Games visitors who are set to arrive in Jakarta next week. Sentiong River is located across the athletes village in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta.

Governor Anies Baswedan has also ordered the placing of decorative lamps on top of the net. However, residents of the area have started throwing their trash onto the net, according to Saiful, who lives near the river.

"At night, a lot of people loiter around here. They would throw their trash onto the center of the net, and their cigarette butts have also torn some parts of the net," Saiful said on Wednesday as reported by kompas.com.

In the meantime, the Jakarta Water Resource Agency has started to use aerators and nano bubble technology to clean up the river, though results have been insignificant. The city plans to add more aerator machines soon. (ami)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/25/black-river-nylon-net-damaged-by-trash-cigarettes.html

Asian Games venues vicinity to be free from non-sponsor ads

Jakarta Post - July 25, 2018

Jakarta – The area surrounding Asian Games venues will be free from advertisements of companies competing with the sponsors of the event.

"We have a deal with the Olympic Council of Asia [OCA] that areas within a 1-kilometer radius of the Games' venues must be free from the marketing equipment of sponsors' competition," Indonesian Asian Games Organizing Committee (INASGOC) chief Erick Thohir said on Tuesday as reported by kompas.com.

He said the policy would be enforced soon. "We will sort them out gradually," he said.

One of the affected spots is the Go-Food Festival food court by ride-hailing app Go-Jek at Gelora Bung Karno sport complex in Central Jakarta, as Go-Jek is a competitor of Grab, one of the Games' official sponsors.

Erick said the food court must be altered during the duration of the Games, slated for Aug. 18 to Sept. 2. "It can remain open, but it depends on what it is called. If it's a food court, then it must be neutral," he said. (ami)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/25/asian-games-venues-vicinity-to-be-free-from-non-sponsor-ads.html

Criminal justice & legal system

KPK requests access to prison CCTVs

Jakarta Post - July 29, 2018

Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has requested access to the closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems in all prisons in Indonesia to monitor malpractice.

The request was made following the recent discovery that a graft convict in Sukamiskin Penitentiary in Bandung, West Java, lived in an upgraded, air-conditioned prison cell

"We think giving us access to prison CCTVs would be an effective solution [to corruption within the prison system]," said KPK deputy chairwoman Basaria Panjaitan on Friday as reported by tempo.co.

She acknowledged that the KPK would need cooperation from other parties, such as the prisons and the Law and Human Rights Ministry, in agreeing upon funding and securing permission.

The cost of such a project would be considerable as there are some 512 prisons throughout Indonesia but Basaria believes it is necessary and opportune to improve Indonesia's prison system.

"This is a good opportunity to conduct a collective evaluation [of Indonesia's prisons]," she said. (nor)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/29/KPK-requests-access-to-prison-cctvs.html

Ministry to introduce new prison system following KPK bust

Jakarta Post - July 25, 2018

Jakarta – The Law and Human Rights Ministry is overhauling the country's approach to managing its penitentiaries, after the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) last week uncovered rampant corruption taking place in a West Java prison housing graft convicts.

"There will be four categories of prisons: super maximum security, maximum security, medium and minimum security," a spokesman for the ministry's Directorate General of Corrections, Ade Kusmanto, said on Tuesday as reported by tempo.co.

The ministry has been hit by a string of scandals relating to its penitentiaries, ranging from prison breaks, drug rings operated from behind bars and prisoners bribing their wardens for better facilities.

The latter was exposed in a recent KPK arrest of the Sukamiskin prison warden and graft convicts in Bandung, West Java, for alleged bribery.

In the discussed new scheme, there will be no more specialized prisons, such as those for graft convicts, Ade said. Convicts will be placed in facilities that are in accordance with their crime, behavior and security threat.

"[Inmates] that are likely to repeat their offenses or harm others will be put in the highest security-level prison," he said.

Inmates showing good behavior will then be moved to a lower-security prison. The assessment, Ade said, would be made by prison staff every day based on indicators that are still in discussion.

In the current system, convicts are housed in various facilities according to their prison sentence.

The new concept aims to encourage good behavior among inmates and prevent prison authorities from abusing their power, Ade added. (nor/rin)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/25/ministry-to-introduce-new-prison-system-following-KPK-bust.html

Prisoners need entertainment too: Deputy House speaker criticizes

Coconuts Jakarta - July 24, 2018

On Saturday, officials from Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) conducted a raid on Sukamiskin Prison in Bogor, a penitentiary that exclusively houses corruption convicts, and found that the new warden had been engaging in the selling of 'luxury' cells to inmates, complete with amenities such as AC, flat screen TVs, refrigerators, private bathrooms and even their own private keys to their cells.

The raid led to the immediate arrest of Sukamiskin's warden and five others, as well as calls for Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly to step down. Anti-corruption activists and almost all politicians denounced the flagrant corruption in the penal system and demanded that major reforms be made to prevent such violations (which have happened many, many times in the past – including at Sukamiskin) from happening again.

We said "almost" all politicians because, unbelievably, there are some who would actually criticize the KPK for uncovering the rampant corruption in the prison system and even dare to defend those corrupt practices. One who was willing to do that, in public, was Deputy House Speaker Fahri Hamzah.

"I'm sorry but if the KPK is doing things like this it's like they have no other work to do so. So they try to look busy, searching for ways to cause a sensation." Fahri said yesterday as quoted by Tribun.

Fahri said that the KPK did not have jurisdiction over the prison system and was overstepping their authority in conducting a raid of Sukamiskin (which is false, the KPK has special jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute corruption in all areas of the government).

He also argued that the KPK's recent actions somehow showed that President Joko Widodo had no real agenda to fight corruption, despite the KPK having racked up several major corruption arrests and convictions in the last year such as the jailing of former House Speaker Setya Novanto.

But, even more incredibly, Fahri defended the corrupt practices at Sukamiskin that allowed corruption convicts to continue living the good life when they were supposed to be doing hard time.

"Sukamiskin prison is the most humane in Indonesia," Fahri told Tempo yesterday, saying he did not agree with plans to reform the prison.

The deputy house speaker argued that the amenities provided to the rich inmates at Sukamiskin Prison were not luxurious but necessities. "People detained for years need entertainment too."

Indeed, prisoners in Sukamiskin were not only allowed to have rooms that have been described as being similar to "5-star hotels" but there are also stories of prisoners being able to throw parties for guests including live entertainment from famous dangdut singers in the prison's luxuriant garden area.

We're sure Fahri will now start campaigning for more humane conditions in Indonesia's other prisons for common criminals, most of which are known for being notoriously overcrowded, violent and understaffed.

The deputy house speaker is a member of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) but will not be contesting a seat in the 2019 election due to ongoing legal disputes with the party leadership.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/prisoners-need-entertainment-deputy-house-speaker-criticizes-KPK-raid-corrupt-prison/

Police & law enforcement

Amnesty, Kontras demand investigation into fatal police shootings

Jakarta Post - July 25, 2018

Andi Muhammad Ibnu Aqil, Jakarta – Amnesty International Indonesia and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) have called on authorities to investigate police shootings, following the deaths of criminals in several cities as part of a special operation to beef up security ahead of the Asian Games, which begin on Aug. 18.

Amnesty International stated that, in a span of three weeks since June 29, police officers in Jakarta, South Sumatra and Lampung shot dead 15 suspected criminals and injured another 41.

Since Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Idham Aziz instructed his team to crack down on street crime in Jakarta, 320 people have been detained and 52 have been shot, 11 of whom were shot dead.

Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono argued that the suspected criminals were shot for resisting arrest.

Amnesty International Indonesia spokesman Haeril Halim said that the police should only use weapons for self-defense or to prevent others from being killed.

"The use of deadly firearms on purpose should be done only if absolutely necessary to save someone's life," Haeril said in written statement on Wednesday.

He said that, despite claims from the police that the shootings were lawful, it was unclear whether they acted purely out of self-defense or if they were following a superior's orders, as no independent investigation had been launched.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/25/amnesty-kontras-demand-investigation-into-fatal-police-shootings.html

Police justify lethal shootings to secure Asian Games

Jakarta Post - July 24, 2018

Jakarta – The Jakarta Police said shootings during their special operation to secure the Asian Games were conducted according to their standard operational procedure.

During the operation, which took place from July 3 to 12, the police had shot 52 suspected criminals in their legs and shot dead 11 others.

Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono argued that the suspected criminals were shot because they allegedly had resisted and attacked the officers during arrests.

"When one resists and retaliates against us during an arrest, we obviously should take firm action, though not by shooting [the suspect] immediately," he said as quoted by kompas.com on Tuesday.

The measure, Argo added, was conducted based on articles 48 and 49 of the Criminal Code. "The shooting was necessary, because they potentially put others' lives in danger otherwise," he added.

Argo's statement was made following demands from a coalition comprising several civil society groups to investigate the shootings, as they suspected false arrests and premature shootings in the security operation. (vla)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/24/police-justify-lethal-shootings-to-secure-asian-games.html

National security & intelligence

Jokowi praises Babinsa personnel commitment

Jakarta Post - July 30, 2018

Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo showed his appreciation for the notable services of four members of the Indonesian Military's (TNI) village supervisory non-commissioned officers (Babinsa) of the Military Region Command (Kodam) XIV/Hasanuddin, Makassar, in Makassar, South Sulawesi, on Sunday during a gathering with 2,000 Babinsa personnel.

The four members have carried outstanding public services. Sergeant major Musbah from Malagano Subdistrict Military Command (Koramil) saved passengers from a burning boat in Muna, Southeast Sulawesi in 2016, while corporal Yahya made organic liquid fertilizer, named Corporal Fertilizer, for the locals. Staff sergeant Asmulyadi made a 5,000-watt wind turbine and chief sergeant Darwis helped schoolchildren and local residents cross a river with a gondola before there was a suspension bridge.

Upon learning about their contributions, President Jokowi asked them to name whatever gift they wanted. "What gift do you want?" Jokowi said, but the four did not say anything.

Jokowi repeated his question, but they were still silent. "I might not grant your wish, but what gift do you want?" Finally, Musbah said his wish was for "help for local children wanting to start a military career."

Meanwhile, Yahya asked for the tools to make liquid fertilizer, Asmuladi asked the President to try to accelerate the development of electricity in the area, and Darwis asked for two-wheeled vehicles for his Babinsa colleagues who did not own transportation. "This is what pleases me," President Jokowi said. "When asked what gifts they want, they still think about those in their hometown."

At the end of the event, the committee said Jokowi would give the four Babinsa members umrah (minor haj) packages for their services, tribunnews.com reported. (stu)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/30/jokowi-praises-babinsa-personnel-commitment.html

Mining & energy

Jokowi cancels plan to revoke coal DMO

Jakarta Post - July 31, 2018

Anton Hermansyah, Bogor, West Java – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Tuesday has canceled the government's plan to revoke the domestic market obligation (DMO) for coal producers as a means to help state-owned electricity company PLN maintain current electricity rates.

Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan said revoking the government policy on the coal DMO would require a lot of effort, as it was stipulated in law, while the price cap was stated in a government regulation (PP).

"The President decided to leave [DMO rule] as it is. There is no new PP and we have same price mechanism. DMO is a mandate of Law No. 4/2009 and the $70 price cap is regulated by a PP," he said at Bogor Palace in West Java.

Prevailing regulations require coal producing companies to allocate 25 percent of their production to fuel power plants for supplying electricity to PLN at a price cap of $70 per ton of coal.

PLN president director Sofyan Basir said that the company needed around 92 million tons of coal per year, around 20 percent of national coal output.

"The market price of coal is now $120 per ton, while the price in the state budget is set at $68 to $70 per ton. If the DMO is revoked, the [resulting] subsidy would be enormous, perhaps up to Rp 30 trillion [US$2.08 billion]," he said.

Last week, Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said the government would revoke the DMO policy for coal in response to the increasing coal price. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/31/jokowi-cancels-plan-to-revoke-coal-dmo.html

Government to revoke coal price cap policy

Jakarta Post - July 28, 2018

Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman, Jakarta – The government plans to revise its domestic market obligation (DMO) on coal price next week during a high-level meeting with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, with among considerations being to increase state revenue from coal, the efforts of which are currently hampered because of the formula.

Deputy Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Arcandra Tahar said on Friday that the ministry would lead a team to find a new formula for the DMO on coal policy.

"We didn't cancel the policy [DMO for coal], but the government has decided to cancel the price cap [selling price for power plants] and to find another formula," he said.

The DMO is a policy that obliges coal miners to allocate 25 percent of production for the domestic market and to cap the selling price at no higher than US$70 per ton for state-electricity firm PLN's coal-fired power plants.

However, the price cap for coal has resulted in state revenue taking a hit, as the selling price of coal is lower than the market price, which is currently around $100 per ton. It has been reported that the new formula will be similar to incentives for biodiesel.

Indonesian Coal Mining Association chairman Pandu Sjahrir said previously that the policy was confusing as not all miners produced coal in accordance to the needs of PLN's power plants.

Hence, more than six months since the implementation of the policy, not all coal miners have realized their obligation to sell coal under the market price to PLN. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/28/government-to-revoke-coal-price-cap-policy.html

Papua, Mimika must buy Freeport shares: Inalum

Jakarta Post - July 24, 2018

Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman, Jakarta – The regional administrations of Papua province and the Mimika regency must purchase their 10 percent shares in gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI), which operates the Grasberg mine in Papua, state mining holding company PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Inalum) has said.

But Inalum president director Budi Gunadi Sadikin has said Inalum would help the local administrations in obtaining loans and that they could pay the installment with dividends from PTFI.

"We will pay for all initial transactions and the installments will be from the dividends. However, if [the administrations] have the funds, there is no need for a loan," Budi said on Monday.

The shares would be distributed to the Papua and Mimika administrations after the divestment process was completed and Inalum took control of 51 percent shares in PTFI.

In January, the central government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Papua and Mimika administrations on distributing 10 percent shares of PTFI to the two local administrations.

The Finance Ministry has said that the funds to finance the 10 percent stake would use neither the state budget nor the regional budgets.

Meanwhile, during a meeting with the House of Representatives on Monday, it was revealed that Inalum and the Papua and Mimika administrations planned to establish a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to hold 25 percent shares of PTFI.

Inalum would hold 60 percent of the SPV, while the Papua and Mimika administrations would hold the other 40 percent. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/24/papua-mimika-must-buy-freeport-shares-inalum.html

Infrastructure & development

Indonesia soars 17 levels in World Bank's logistic performance

Jakarta Post - July 27, 2018

Jakarta – LPI is the world's logistics performance index released by the World Bank every two years since 2012. It measures performance on trade logistics within a country.

In the 2018 edition report released on Tuesday, the bank analyzes countries based on six indicators, namely the efficiency of customs and border management clearance, the quality of trade and transport-related infrastructure, the ease of arranging competitively priced international shipments, the competence and quality of logistics services, the ability to track and trace consignments, and the frequency with which shipments reach consignees within the scheduled or expected delivery time.

Of all these indicators, Indonesia's customs indicator scored the lowest with 2.67 points, positioned at 62nd from all surveyed countries. Indonesia's highest score was in the timeliness indicator with 3.67 points at 41st position.

The report states that among the lower-middle income countries, large economies such as India and Indonesia, as well as emerging economies such as Vietnam and Cote d'Ivoire, stand out as top performers by showing a significant jump to a higher rank.

Among Indonesia's neighboring countries, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, are still ahead, ranking 32nd, 39th and 41st, respectively. (sau/dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/27/indonesia-soars-17-levels-in-world-banks-logistic-performance-index.html

Banking & finance

Indonesia president pushes biodiesel plan to stop currency tanking

Reuters - July 31, 2018

Maikel Jefriando, Jakarta – Indonesia's president called on Tuesday for the immediate implementation of a plan to widen the use of biodiesel that his economic ministers hope will cut the country's fuel import bill by billions of dollars and halt a decline in the rupiah currency.

Joko Widodo also sounded an alarm on the foreign exchange reserves of Southeast Asia's largest economy, less than a week after he pleaded with exporters to bring home earnings they currently keep offshore to stem the slide in the rupiah.

"The country needs dollars now," Widodo said at the opening of a cabinet meeting, before reporters were ushered out. "I don't want to keep doing meetings without good implementation."

Concerns about tighter U.S. monetary policy and a global trade war have put emerging market currencies under pressure.

Indonesia's central bank has spent about $12 billion of its foreign exchange reserves in recent months and hiked policy interest rates by 100 basis points to defend the rupiah IDR=ID, which has lost about 6 percent of its value against the dollar this year.

Cabinet ministers have met at least six times since the start of July to tackle concerns over trade and the rupiah, said a senior government official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

"Like any other central bank in the world, Bank Indonesia can only slow things down and smooth things out, but cannot stop underlying trends driven by fundamentals," the official said.

One key remedy the government sees as a way to cut the current account deficit – which the central bank estimated would widen by $8 billion this year – is a plan to substitute fuel imports with palm oil-based biodiesel by making it mandatory for all diesel vehicles, including locomotive engines and heavy equipment.

The present rules, intended to boost consumption of palm-oil-based biodiesel, apply only to subsidized diesel, which some users and vehicles are not allowed to buy.

Indonesia is the world's top producer of palm oil, the raw ingredient for fatty acid methyl ester (FAME), which can be used to make biodiesel.

'Faster than boosting exports'

Vegetable oil prices are currently low in relation to fossil fuel prices, which have risen sharply, so government planners see sense in consuming more palm oil domestically to curb imports of diesel.

Expanding the so-called B20 biodiesel program could save Indonesia $2-4 billion in import costs a year, the official said. Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto told reporters this week the saving could be as much as $5 billion.

"In the short term, this would be a faster solution compared to trying to boost exports," said Josua Pardede, an economist at Bank Permata in Jakarta. "Replacing imports would be one alternative to maintain the current account deficit at a healthy level."

A presidential regulation on expanding B20 had been completed and it would start no later than next month, said Chief Economic Minister Darmin Nasution.

Along with low prices, Indonesian palm oil exporters are already facing pressure Europe due to concerns over environmental damage related to deforestation, so more domestic consumption will be welcome to plantation companies.

However, while biodiesel can cut fuel costs and reduce emissions, some varieties need special handling and equipment as the fuel has a solvent effect, corroding engine seals and gasket materials, and it can solidify in the cold.

Indonesia's auto industries group, GAIKINDO, has said stepping up biodiesel blends can increase fuel consumption and could cause engines to overheat.

Kyatmaja Lookman, deputy chairman of the Indonesian Trucking Association, said fuel consumption could increase by 2 percent.

"The question is, when our drivers have to spend more on fuel, their welfare is also declining," he told reporters. "Who will be responsible for this 2 percent increase? The transportation business margin is only around 6-8 percent."

[Additional reporting by Tabita Diela and Bernadette Christina Munthe; Writing by John Chalmers and Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Neil Fullick.]

Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-economy/indonesia-president-pushes-biodiesel-plan-to-stop-currency-tanking-idUSKBN1KL0G0

Government calls on export heavyweights to help bolster rupiah

Jakarta Post - July 27, 2018

Anton Hermansyah, Bogor, West Java – The government has asked major exporters to park their export revenue in Indonesia and convert it into rupiah to help bolster the currency's exchange rate.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo made the call during his meeting with 40 top Indonesian exporters on Thursday at Bogor Palace in West Java. Also present at the meeting were Indonesia's richest man, Robert Budi Hartono, Adaro Energy president director Garibaldi "Boy" Thohir and GarudaFood Group chairman Sudhamek Agoeng Waspodo Soenjoto.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the meeting was held to gather input from the businessmen on managing the prolonged global uncertainty. The government also asked how to channel export revenue to Indonesia.

"We conveyed to them what we, the government, could do to [persuade] the businessmen to bring their export revenue [back] to Indonesia," she said after the meeting.

Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) chairman Hariyadi Sukamdani said only 85 percent of export revenue returned to Indonesia, while the remaining 15 percent was parked overseas.

Indonesia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) chairman Rosan Perkasa Roeslani told The Jakarta Post that some of the revenue had to be parked abroad in order to buy raw materials and pay foreign debts. In addition, some foreign banks required companies to deposit money in their branches abroad in order to obtain loans.

"Several businesspeople have offered solutions, such as using loans from foreign banks that have Indonesian branches. However, it is not final yet. We plan to have more intensive talks with the Finance Ministry and the Investment Coordinating Board [BKPM] soon," said Rosan. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/27/government-calls-on-export-heavyweights-to-help-bolster-rupiah.html

President Joko Widodo pushes tourism for dollars as funds flee

Straits Times - July 27, 2018

Jakarta (Bloomberg) – As foreign funds continue to dump Indonesian stocks and bonds, President Joko Widodo is chasing dollars from tourism and exports to help contain a widening current-account deficit.

Mr Joko, known as Jokowi, ordered ministers, officials and central bankers on Thursday (July 26) to step up efforts to lure more foreign visitors into the pristine sand beaches dotting hundreds of islands across the archipelago.

He also asked provincial chiefs to expedite tourism and exports-related investments to address the twin deficits of current-account and trade.

The current-account shortfall is set to swell to the highest in four years as foreign investors turn net sellers of Indonesian bonds and stocks amid a selloff in emerging markets triggered by rising US interest rates and a stronger dollar.

With three interest rate hikes since mid-May and regular central bank market intervention failing to stem a rupiah rout, Mr Joko's government is exploring other ways to shore up dollar inflows.

Foreign investors have pulled out a net US$3.8 billion (S$5.2 billion) from bonds and stocks this year as the rupiah weakened more than 6 per cent against the dollar, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

"There are still two problems that we need to solve – the current-account deficit and trade deficit," Mr Joko told the meeting of provincial chiefs in Jakarta. "If we are able to see a surplus in current account, then we can relax."

The current-account deficit is seen widening to about US$25 billion this year, or about 3 per cent of the gross domestic product, according to Bank Indonesia Governor Perry Warjiyo. That would be the highest shortfall since 2014, according to central bank data.

South-east Asia's largest economy posted a trade deficit of US$1.02 billion in the first half after recording surplus for three years in a row, official data show.

Bank Indonesia will collaborate with the government in expediting the licence process for tourism-related investments, increase the availability of cheap flights, airport access as well as promote religious tourism, Mr Warjiyo said.

The government is also considering several incentives for budget airlines to expand air connectivity and setting a competitive floor price for airfares, Bisnis Indonesia reported.

Indonesia is aiming to draw 20 million foreign tourists next year with a potential to generate US$20 billion in revenue from by promoting 10 new Balis, a strategy that includes developing infrastructure in Sumatra in the country's west to North Maluku in the east.

The industry can accelerate economic growth, create jobs, boost small- and medium-enterprises and reduce poverty, according to Bank Indonesia. The central bank will introduce a number of initiatives to promote tourism next month, according to Mr Warjiyo.

Indonesia plans to extend tax-breaks to new investment for up to 50 years to woo more investors and improve the manufacturing sector, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati told reporters on Thursday. The government also asked exporters to repatriate foreign exchange to strengthen the nation's current-account, the minister said after a meeting between Mr Joko and exporters.

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/president-joko-widodo-pushes-tourism-for-dollars-as-funds-flee-indonesia

Bank Indonesia projects current account deficit to hit $25 billion

Jakarta Post - July 25, 2018

Jakarta – Bank Indonesia (BI) has projected this year's current account deficit to hit US$25 billion, a significant increase over last year's $17.53 billion or 1.73 percent of the gross domestic product.

BI senior deputy governor Mirza Adityaswara said that, despite the change in deficit, the economic situation was still stable as $25 billion was under the 3-percent threshold.

He said that, to reduce the deficit, Indonesia needed to record an increase in foreign capital inflow. The change in deficit was the reason why BI reissued BI promissory notes (SBIs) in an auction on Monday, he said.

"Foreign investors are allowed to buy the SBIs, unlike the BI deposit certificate, which can only be bought by domestic investors," he said as reported by kontan.co.id.

Mirza added that he hoped that the SBI could be an alternative instrument for foreign investors who wanted to invest in Indonesia.

BI led the auction for the reissued SBIs with nine and 12-month tenors. The central bank welcomed Rp 14.2 trillion (US$979.29 million) in total incoming bids and took in Rp 5.9 trillion from investors.

The winning bids were given a weighted-yield average of 6.04 percent for SBIs with a nine-month maturity period and 6.71 percent for those with a 12-month maturity.

BI head of monetary management Nanang Hendarsah said investors had shown strong interest in the reissued SBIs, as reflected in the high value of the incoming bids. (ris/dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/25/bank-indonesia-projects-current-account-deficit-to-hit-25-billion-this-year.html

Analysis & opinion

A polarised Indonesia? Elections, intolerance and religion

Indonesia at Melbourne - July 31, 2018

Sandra Hamid – Identity politics, particularly religious identity politics, has increasingly become the norm in Indonesian elections. With continual waves of elections – legislative and presidential, as well as at the local and national levels – religious identity politics are now a near constant presence in the public arena. Political competitions that invoke religious sentiment naturally seek to highlight the differences between religious communities, resulting in a divisive and polarising political discourse.

It is hard to disassociate this political discourse from the everyday lived experiences of Indonesian citizens, particularly in the age of social media. In a religious country like Indonesia, the repercussions of political competition are felt long after citizens have left the polling stations.

The 2017 Jakarta elections saw religion deployed in politics in a way that was unprecedented. The success of groups like the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) in mobilising a huge portion of the Muslim community against the Christian ethnic Chinese former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, and popularising discourse suggesting that those Muslims who choose to support Ahok were somehow "less Muslim", was a wholly new phenomenon.

Long after the elections delivered Governor Anies Baswedan to power, many divided constituents have not been able to bridge their differences. National and presidential elections are on the horizon and the cycle looks set to continue.

While there has been growing attention to this problematic deployment of religion in electoral contests, there has been little examination of the periods between elections, and the everyday lives of voters. In a recent paper I described how Indonesia has seen an incremental process of increasing exclusivism in the practice of Islam. This has been marked by the commoditisation of religion and growing public expressions of piety.

The media and entertainment industry have also been important players in perpetuating this trend, through the binary way in which religious issues are presented to the public. Subtlety, exploration, efforts to find meaning and solution (ijtihad) have become less and less important. Religious messages in the media are conveyed in simplistic binary sound bites.

Over the past decade, Indonesian has also seen an increasing boldness among some portions of the majority in denying minorities their right to religious freedom. There has been a deterioration in social cohesion among people of different religions, and even among those of the same religion but with different worldviews. In the early 2000s, intolerant language was typically only used in the public sphere by hard-liners. But now it is not uncommon to hear value-laden terms like unbeliever (kafir) being used unapologetically by people to describe friends and members of the community they have known for years – even long after the heat of the election has dissipated.

Previously inclusive community events have become exclusive, and social norms are shifting. In a village near Yogyakarta, for example, non-Muslim residents reported that they were no longer invited to a village cleansing ritual held in the weeks before Ramadhan. While the event used to involve the whole community, with a communal prayer and distribution of food, over the past three years, non-Muslims said that they felt they were no longer welcome.

One Jakarta family reported that they were scolded by their relatives for singing "Happy Birthday" to their child, and were told not sing a "Christian song". A non-Muslim woman I spoke to decided to quit her arisan (a form of social gathering) group because the Muslim members of the group refused to visit her house, over concerns that it was not halal.

These daily, low-level examples of intolerance need to be better documented to understand the extent of exclusivism and its potential implications for future electoral contests. Civil society organisations have done important work documenting prominent acts of intolerance like church burnings, the closure of houses of worship and the persecution of religious minorities. Likewise, they have documented intolerance in public schools and discriminatory local government bylaws and policies.

Sadly, there has been little government attention to addressing the discrimination that has been recorded. The small-scale examples of intolerance and these overt acts of violence and discrimination are not unrelated.

In fact, the incremental increase in low-level intolerance over time is leading to large-scale social change. In the political arena, the signs first appeared in the 2012 Jakarta election, when then candidate Joko "Jokowi" Widodo faced baseless accusations about his religion and ethnicity. These attacks intensified in the 2014 Presidential Election. Since then, Indonesia has seen a constant progression toward the use of intolerant language and actions in everyday life and in electoral politics.

The massive mobilisation against Ahok finally put this phenomenon on the national agenda. It made Indonesians more aware of the scale and consequences of the work done by groups promoting intolerant discourse. The government has allocated funds to understand how teachings that promote the exclusionary practice of religion are spread. Communities and civil society organisations working to promote tolerance have sprung into action. Unfortunately, they are still playing to catch up to larger and more established campaigns promoting exclusive outlooks and practices.

The government response intensified further following the horrific terrorist attack in Surabaya in May. After nearly two decades of ignoring warning signs of growing intolerance the authorities began taking bold steps to address radicalism on university campuses and in schools. Previously conducted surveys have found new momentum and are finally attracting the attention they deserve. For example, a survey documenting intolerant messages at mosques in state institutions that was conducted in 2017 is now being widely circulated and discussed. Just a year or two ago, this type of research had a limited specialist audience and did not inform policy.

Just as important as these steps is mending widening fissures in society. There need to be public sanctions for politicians who base their campaigns around the demonisation of minorities. Unfortunately, these do not exist yet.

In the midst of a global trend towards illiberalism and populism, Indonesia faces an uphill battle. But the modalities to succeed are solid. Civil society organisations continue to be the backbone of efforts. Now that their efforts are supported by the attention and engagement of the government, it may just be possible for Indonesia to get through the 2019 elections without communities becoming further estranged from one another because of differing religious beliefs.

If not, the 2019 elections could prove to be one more step towards social division and fragmentation.

[This post is based on Sandra Hamid's paper, "Normalising Intolerance: Elections, Religion and Everyday Life in Indonesia", published by the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society (CILIS), at Melbourne Law School.]

Source: http://indonesiaatmelbourne.unimelb.edu.au/a-polarised-indonesia-elections-intolerance-and-religion/

Commentary: How morality-obsessed Indonesia fails its children

Jakarta Post - July 24, 2018

Ary Hermawan, Jakarta – On Oct. 12, 2016, Indonesia introduced one of the world's toughest antirape laws. Initiated by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in response to national outrage over the gang rape and killing of a 14-year-old girl in Bengkulu, the revised Child Protection Law was a warning to potential offenders that the punishment for child rape would be unforgiving: forced chemical castration.

A tough law, seen as cruel and inhumane by human rights activists, is now in place. Yet, Indonesia is still failing its children.

In an ironic and tragic twist, the very same law was used to punish a child for simply being a victim to the failures of the state and society to protect her, as in the case of a 15-year-old girl in Batanghari, Jambi, who was sentenced to six months in jail for aborting her 8-month-old fetus.

The girl, who was known to be quiet and rarely left her house, lived with her 18-year-old brother and 38-year-old mother. Her brother allegedly raped her repeatedly. Her mother, who was abandoned by her father, helped her terminate the pregnancy.

Abortion is illegal here, except for health reasons or for rape victims. The Jambi girl was still charged with a crime, however, as abortion is legal only if it is done within the first 40 days of pregnancy and carried out by medical professionals.

That being said, her being sent to jail still reeks of injustice. She's only 15. She was carrying her brother's baby. And her mother might have encouraged her to abort the baby for fear of being shamed by neighbors.

Her case sums up how the new law has miserably failed to serve its purpose. It reflects everything that is wrong with how the country deals with sexual abuse: that rape is the by-product of a permissive, "immoral" society and that stricter laws or harsher punishments would be the silver bullet to end it.

The Jambi family's tragedy barely made headlines in national media. Local media reported extensively on the case, but it was largely framed as an incest and murder story in which the girl was both victim and perpetrator.

It was no surprise that some local media mistakenly reported that the girl and the brother were found guilty of "incest that led to an abortion", when the two were not charged with incest between siblings – which nevertheless is not clearly regulated in the country's criminal justice system.

The girl was charged with abortion in Article 77 of the Child Protection Law, while her brother was charged with abortion as well as child sexual abuse as stipulated under Article 81 of the same law.

By framing it as a story of incest, the local media implied that the sexual relationship between the brother and sister was consensual.

The local press ignored their own reporting of the brother's admission that he had threatened to physically harm his sister if she refused to have sex with him, and that prosecutors had charged him with statutory rape.

The brother, who was sentenced to two years in jail for his crime, claimed to have forced his sister to have sex with him eight times since September 2017.

With the local media portraying the alleged sexual abuse as a consensual incestuous relationship, the case has been widely presented as another example of the current generation's "moral degradation", wherein the abused is often regarded as culpable as the abuser.

But perhaps the media are not entirely at fault, for they may only reflect what the public wants to see. The grim fact is that victim blaming remains largely the norm in Indonesia, with many religious leaders and public officials pointing their fingers to female victims' attire in cases of sexual violence.

Recently, a local media outlet shocked netizens after reporting that a 16-year-old student in Bogor, West Java, struggled with depression and then died after "having sexual intercourse with her boyfriend in an empty house".

She was actually gang-raped by eight people, including her boyfriend. The police have arrested the perpetrators, which include underage boys.

Unlike the 2016 Bengkulu rape case, neither the Jambi or Bogor cases have triggered public outrage, possibly because of a belief that the victims were somehow partly to blame for what happened to them. Was it rape? Was it consensual? Why did she go with her boyfriend to an empty house?

From the moral standpoint, everyone involved seems complicit, even the victim.

A strict law on sexual abuse and sexual assault is certainly needed to combat sexual violence. But it takes more than a piece of legislation to win the fight.

The girl in Jambi was not only a victim of her brother's sexual aggression; she was also a victim of rape culture and of society's blind obsession with morality, which led to a public failure to differentiate between a victim of sexual abuse and her abuser.

As long as we refuse to confront these problems, we will continue to fail our children – no matter how merciless our antirape law.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2018/07/24/commentary-how-morality-obsessed-indonesia-fails-its-children.html

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