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Indonesia News Digest 39 – October 16-23, 2018

West Papua Human rights & justice Criminalisation & political violence Labour & migrant workers Political parties & elections Blasphemy & hate speech Fake news & black campaigns Surveys & opinion polls Environment & natural disasters Health & education LGBT & same-sex marriage Corruption & abuse of power Terrorism & religious extremism Hard-line & vigilante groups Religion & politics Farming & agriculture Land & agrarian conflicts Regional autonomy & separatism Civil service & bureaucracy Jakarta & urban life Armed forces & defense Police & law enforcement Foreign affairs & trade Mining & energy Fishing & maritime affairs Infrastructure & development Economy & investment Banking & finance People & places Analysis & opinion

West Papua

Indonesian rights body says Widodo failing Papua promises

Radio New Zealand International - October 22, 2018

Indonesia's leading human rights organisation says president Joko Widodo has failed to honour human rights commitments including in Papua.

In a report released on Friday, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, or Kontras, evaluated promises made by Mr Widodo.

In its report, Kontras said there was no evidence human rights conditions in Papua region had improved since Joko Widodo took office in 2014. It said there were nearly 70 cases of extrajudicial killings in Papua by security forces between January 2010 and February 2018.

Kontras identified land conflicts between indigenous people and corporations as an ongoing problem. It said foreign media continued to face problems getting access to the region, noting nine arrests since 2015.

A member of Mr Widodo's campaign team, Arsul Sani, told CNN the President was giving special attention to human rights this year and it was unfair to pin the problems on him.

"So this is not just the responsibility of the government, because law enforcement on the one hand forms part of the government apparatus, but on the other has its independence", said Mr Sani.

In its report, Kontras noted a visit to Papua by a United Nations Special Rapporteur was a promising move. But the group said Mr Widodo had failed to carry out most of the 17 human rights programs his government had prioritised.

"His administration failed to accomplish most of its initial commitments about human rights," Kontras commissioner Yati Andriyani told the Jakarta Post.

The report comes ahead of April 2019 elections, where Mr Widodo will face off against Prabowo Subianto in a repeat of the 2014 election race.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/369175/indonesian-rights-body-says-widodo-failing-papua-promises

Human rights & justice

Palace claims respect for human rights has progressed under Widodo

Tribune - October 22, 2018

Rina Ayu, Jakarta – Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko says that law enforcement and human rights have progressed in the four years of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla's administration.

One of the things that proves this is that the families of victims of past human rights violations visited the State Palace [in late May] and met with Security Minister Wiranto, Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo and the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM).

"The government has provided the broadest possible access to all parties, including the families of victims, including opening the Palace's doors to the families holding Kamisan [Thursday actions]", said Moeldoko at the vice presidential offices on Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara in Central Jakarta on Monday October 22.

Nevertheless, the former army chief of staff said that it will not be easy for the government to solve the problems of the past.

"The aim is to figure out what actually [happened] with these past problems, which are quite complex, and resolve them quickly according to priority. So actually there is a process", he explained.

Moeldoko said that the government has already proposed a judicial and non-judicial approach although it has yet to find the right formula in resolving legal and human rights cases.

"So, this is indeed a process. It's impossible to resolve these past problems which are so complicated in a short time. It needs patience from all parties. This doesn't mean that the government is doing nothing. It's already done something", he said.

On October 20 this year the Widodo government entered its fourth year in office.

A number of parties from the opposition believe that Widodo and Kalla's achievements can be said to have succeeded in terms of infrastructure and economic growth.

Rights groups meanwhile have highlighted that fact that few legal and human rights cases have been resolve during the Widodo administration.


The meeting at the State Palace with the families of victims of past rights violations took place on May 30 after Widodo made an apparently offhand remark about wanting to meet with the families which was then seized upon by Kamisan activists protesting in front of the State Palace.

The one hour meeting ended with Widodo saying that he would summon Wiranto and Prasetyo – nether of which attended the meeting – "in the near future" and ask them to act as a bridge with the families.

Representatives of the families later said they were deeply disappointed with the outcome saying the meeting ended without achieving anything whatsoever and that it was nothing more than a cynical attempt at image building in the lead up to the 2019 presidential elections.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Moeldoko Sebut Penengakan Hukum dan HAM di Era Jokowi-JK Alami Kemajuan".]

Source: http://www.tribunnews.com/nasional/2018/10/22/moeldoko-sebut-penengakan-hukum-dan-ham-di-era-jokowi-jk-alami-kemajuan

KontraS: Human right issues not priority for Jokowi-JK

Tempo - October 20, 2018

Friski Riana, Jakarta – Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS) revealed the reasons that made the Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo-Jusuf Kalla (JK) administration fail to fulfill the promises related to human right issues.

"I said that Jokowi's administration does not appear to make the human rights issue a priority. It is defeated by the government's ambition to boost the infrastructure development," KontraS Coordinator, Yati Andriani, Jakarta, Friday, October 19.

Based on the Nawacita (nine priorities) document, KontraS said Jokowi-JK has 17 programs or promises relating to human right issues. KontraS noted six programs were not fulfilled and 11 promises were incompletely finished.

The government only managed to fulfill general issues such as the economic, social and cultural sectors. "Only issues that the government considered safe, sensitive, and populist for the community," said Yati.

Based on 46 plans of human rights act (Ranham), Yati said that her institution had found four Ranham that had failed to run significantly.

Regarding the discussion of the convention ratification against enforced disappearance in 2010, during the Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono administration, the government had signed the convention at the UN.

"But in Jokowi's era, it should have been followed up by ratifying it. [But] until the end of his administration, there was no ratification. It has failed," she said.

Based on the Universal Periodic Review document, Jokowi has not been able to conduct the abolition of the death penalty. The death penalty execution in the Jokowi-JK era has been carried out up to three times since 2015.

Jokowi and Jusuf Kalla are also considered failed to achieve the human rights protection in Papua. There were 69 cases of extrajudicial killings occurred in Papua from January 2010 to February 2018, which were carried out by security forces, National Army or TNI, National Police and Public Order Agency (Satpol PP).

Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla's promise to open the access for journalists to Papua was also considered to have failed. The government had allowed the visit of the UN Special Reporter for the Rights to Health, Danius Puras.

However, foreign media access to monitoring the human right conditions in Papua remains closed. In fact, a number of foreign journalists were arrested, namely two journalists from France, 6 from Japan, and 1 from Poland.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/10/20/055922704/KontraS-Human-Right-Issues-Not-Priority-for-Jokowi-JK

After four years, Jokowi still 'has lots to do' for human rights, graft

Jakarta Post - October 20, 2018

Gemma Holliani Cahya, Jakarta – Four years after his election, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has yet to fulfill many of his promises on the issues of human rights and graft eradication.

Jokowi, who was sworn in as president on Oct. 20, 2014, after defeating former general Prabowo Subianto, did not consider the issue of human right a priority, according to the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras).

"His administration failed to accomplish most of its initial commitments about human rights," Kontras commissioner Yati Andriyani told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

In its evaluation report, Kontras noted that Jokowi had failed to carry out most of his own 17 priority human rights programs.

Jokowi, it claimed, had yet to address the issues of extrajudicial killings, past human rights abuses and religious freedom. The remaining issues, including disability rights, had only been partially resolved, it added.

Contacted separately, Indonesia Corruption Watch's political corruption division coordinator, Donald Fariz, echoes that sentiment with regard Jokowi's antigraft drive.

Jokowi, he said, was not aggressive enough in reforming his bureaucracy by introducing e-budgeting and e-procurement, while many regional leaders have been charged with corruption by the nation's antigraft body.

"We have not seen a concrete agenda from the President to reform law enforcement agencies, such as the National Police or the Attorney General's Office. These two institutions are very powerful, but there has yet to be an effective monitoring mechanism to prevent abuse," Donald said.

Irma Suryani Chaniago, a spokesperson of Jokowi's campaign team, rebuffed Donald's claim regarding Jokowi's lack of achievement in the graft fight, saying the fact that many politicians were arrested for graft under Jokowi showed that the President was allowing the KPK to work professionally.

She conceded, however, that the government had yet to make the issue of human rights a priority. "In the future, the issue of human rights violation should be made a priority, especially past human rights abuses."

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/20/after-four-years-jokowi-still-has-lots-to-do-for-human-rights-graft-fight.html

'Not one human rights case has been resolved by President Jokowi'

Kompas.com - October 18, 2018

Kristian Erdianto, Jakarta – Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid says that over the four years that he has been in office, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has taken no significant steps to fulfill his pledge to solve past human rights violations.

The dossiers of cases investigated by the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) are invariably returned by the Attorney General's Office (AGO), the party authorised to conduct criminal investigations and prosecutions. Incomplete evidence is the reason frequently given for why the dossiers are returned and cases unresolved.

"Specifically in the case of past gross human rights violations, not one case has been resolved. So with the many dynamics between Komnas HAM and the AGO, sending the case dossiers back and forth, there has been absolutely no progress whatsoever", said Hamid speaking at a Kamisan (Thursday Action) in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta on Thursday October 18.

Suring the 2014 presidential election campaign, Widodo made a commitment to resolve past human rights violations and put an end to impunity. This commitment was embodied in his vision, mission and action program known as Nawa Cita.

One of the items in the nine point priority program Nawa Cita was a pledge to prioritise finding a just solution to past human rights cases.

Widodo specifically made a commitment to solve eight past human rights cases which were referred to as having become a political and social burden.

He eight cases were the May 1, 1998 riots in Jakarta, the Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II student shootings in 1998, the forced disappearances of political activists in 1997-98, the 1989 Talangsari massacre, the Tanjung Priok shooting of Muslim protesters in 1984 and the 1965 anti-communist purge.

"[But] the perpetrators of these human rights [crimes] have declared their support for Jokowi. That is why these cases of gross human rights violations have ended in a big zero", said Hamid.

Speaking separately, Komnas HAM commissioner Sandrayati Moniaga said that the commission has already completed the investigation reports into the eight human rights violation cases.

Based on Law Number 26/2000 on a Human Rights Court, the investigation reports on these cases should be taken to the criminal investigation and prosecution stage under the authority of the AGO.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "'Tak Ada Satu Pun Kasus Pelanggaran HAM Masa Lalu yang Diselesaikan Presiden Jokowi'".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2018/10/18/23103481/tak-ada-satu-pun-kasus-pelanggaran-ham-masa-lalu-yang-diselesaikan-presiden

Human rights have gone backwards under President Widodo's watch

Kompas.com - October 18, 2018

Kristian Erdianto, Jakarta – Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid believes that during the four years of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo leadership the protection of human rights has gone backwards.

According to Hamid, the Widodo administration has given too much priority to economic development and sidelined human rights and democracy.

"President Jokowi is a president who prioritises economic development over all other agendas. The human rights agenda is not considered important and has been sidelined. One of the biggest victims of this is the human rights agenda", said Hamid speaking at a Kamisan (Thursday Action) in front of the State Palace on Thursday October 18.

Hamid detailed the results of several international research agencies which show a decline in the human rights and democracy index in Indonesia.

The result of research by Freedom House in 2018, said Hamid, showed that the human rights freedom and democracy index in Indonesian has deteriorated. "Indonesia had initially been included in the category of countries enjoying democratic freedoms, but now it has returned to partly free", said Hamid.

Data released by the well known British magazine The Economist also concluded the Indonesia's democracy index had declined. One of the main indicators of this was the electoral process and pluralism which was evaluated as poor.

Other cases which can be used as references are attacks on minority groups, both religious minority groups as well as minority groups with a different sexual orientation. "For example the jailing [on blasphemy charges] of former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama", said Hamid.

Other indicators outlined by Hamid included data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS). BPS data for 2017 shows that the score for democracy in Indonesia has dropped from a figure of 72 to 70.

In addition to sidelining the upholding and protection of human rights, the Widodo government has also allowed other forms of new human rights violations to take place.

Based on the most recent research by Amnesty International Indonesia, over the last eight years there were 69 cases of extrajudicial murder and 95 people have been killed in Papua.

According to Hamid, out of all these cases, not one has been taken to trial. "Not one family of the victims has received justice. Inducing cases that President Joko Widodo pledged [to solve], namely the killing of four youths in Paniai in 2014", said Hamid.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "4 Tahun Jokowi Memimpin, Penegakan HAM Alami Kemunduran".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2018/10/18/21333351/4-tahun-jokowi-memimpin-penegakan-ham-alami-kemunduran

Criminalisation & political violence

Coal plant protesters in Indramayu face trial over national flag

Jakarta Post - October 17, 2018

Dyaning Pangestika, Jakarta – Human rights watchdogs demand that the government immediately release Sawin and Sukma, two environmentalists from Indramayu, West Java, who were arrested on Sept. 24 following state defamation charges.

Sawin and Sukma are farmers who live in Mekarsari village in Patrol district, Indramayu. Both of them have been persistent in voicing their rejection of the Indramayu 2 coal-fired power plant in their village.

The village residents have been refusing the construction plan, which is funded by a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and have filed a lawsuit against it.

On Aug. 2, 2017, the residents attended the first hearing of the case in the Bandung State Administrative Court. In a hearing on Dec. 6, the panel of judges ruled in favor of them and revoked the construction permit. Sawin, Sukma and another farmer, Nanto, were arrested a week after the verdict.

The head of the Bandung Legal Aid Institute (LBH Bandung), Willy Hanafi, who assisted Sawin and Sukma in the case, said Sawin and Sukma were accused of raising an inverted national flag, which is against Indonesian law.

"On Dec. 14, the villagers organized a feast and raised the Red-and-White flag as well as banners all around the village to celebrate the joyous occasion," he said on Tuesday.

The villagers were later reported to the local police two days later for putting the Indonesian flag upside down. The farmers are accused of violating Article 24 of Law No. 24/2009 on the national flag, language, national anthem and emblem.

"The police took them away from their houses at 1 a.m on Dec. 17. They broke down the door forcefully, intimidating their families," Willy said.

Fortunately, Sawin, Sukma and Nanto were released the following day after the LBH Bandung and environmental watchdog Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) bailed them out.

However, on Sept. 27, the Indramayu Police named Sawin and Sukma the main suspects in the flag defamation case and arrested them, resulting in both of them being detained at the Indramayu Prosecutor's Office.

Data from the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute revealed that criminalization of environmentalists is rampant, with 50 activists having fallen victim in 2017.

Walhi head campaigner for energy and urban issues Dwi Sawung lambasted the authorities for the arrest of the Mekarsari residents, saying that they did not commit the crime.

"It's really ridiculous. Logically speaking, the celebration was a form of expressing gratitude to the government for winning their lawsuit. Why would they express their gratitude by defaming the nation?" he said.

Dwi strongly believes that the defamation case was made up by people who disagree with the court's decision on the Mekarsari residents' lawsuit. "That's their way to silence the activists," he said.

Amnesty International Indonesia director Usman Hamid urged the Environment and Forestry Ministry to help protect the environmentalists.

The ministry is currently formulating a Ministerial Regulation to protect the environmentalists based on Law No. 23/2009 on environment protection. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/17/coal-plant-protesters-in-indramayu-face-trial-over-national-flag-incident.html

Labour & migrant workers

Jakarta to raise minimum wage to Rp 3.9 million

Jakarta Post - October 23, 2018

Jakarta – The city will raise its minimum wage by 8.03 percent, as it has been mandated by a government regulation.

Jakarta wage council member Sarman Simanjorang said on Tuesday the wage would increase from Rp 3.6 million (US$237) at present to above Rp 3.9 million next year.

The increase was in accordance with Government Regulation No. 78/2015 on wages. "Based on the calculation, Jakarta's minimum wage will be Rp 3,940,972," he said as quoted by kompas.com on Tuesday.

The minimum wage amount, Sarman added, would be enough to fulfill an inexperienced worker's needs. The annual raise is aimed at ensuring the well-being of newcomers in the world of work.

Sarman suggested worker unions not demand too much on the minimum wage raise. "Please don't demand a raise beyond employers' capabilities. The regulation has fairly regulated the raise and is positive for both employers and employees," he said.

Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri said the 8.03 percent increase was decided on based on Statistics Indonesia's data, which states this year's inflation stands at 2.88 percent and economic development at 5.15 percent.

"If those figures are combined, it results in an 8.03 percent [raise in the minimum wage]," Hanif said. (vla)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/23/jakarta-to-raise-minimum-wage-to-rp-3-9-million.html

Minister proposes 8.13% rise in minimum wage

Jakarta Post - October 18, 2018

Jakarta – Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri has proposed an 8.13 percent rise in the provincial minimum wage (UMP) for 2019, saying an increase of that amount was based on data issued by Statistics Indonesia (BPS) on inflation of 2.88 percent and economic growth of 5.15 percent.

"We hope that all governors will soon [adopt] the new provincial minimum wage," said Hanif at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Tuesday, adding that he had informed the governors about the proposal through circulars.

Governors have the authority to make decisions on the UMP after taking into account the aspirations of both employers and employees.

He also called on the trade unions to accept the government's proposal, because, according to Government Regulation No. 78/2015, the UMP had to be decided by considering the inflation rate and economic growth.

"So the workers do not need to hold demonstrations. We can do without the uproar," the minister added.

However, the Indonesian Workers Confederation (KSPI) rejected Hanif's proposal, demanding instead that the UMP be raised by 20 percent to 25 percent.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian All Workers Organization (OPSI) said it could understand the proposal of a single-digit UMP increase, because of the economic conditions and the weakening rupiah.

"In a situation where it's difficult for companies to move, an increase of 8.03 percent is enough for workers," he added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/18/minister-proposes-8-13-rise-in-minimum-wage.html

Political parties & elections

Former military Bravo 5, Cakra 19 tasked to win Jokowi-Ma'ruf

Tempo - October 22, 2018

Dewi Nurita, Jakarta – Heading toward the 2019 presidential election, Jokowi's camp seems to have learned from the 2014 election where they lost the voters' concentration area of West Java.

This is why the presidential and vice presidential hopeful Joko "Jokowi" Widodo – Ma'ruf Amin tasked a special team called Bravo 5 and Cakra 19.

Jokowi, who partnered with Jusuf Kalla in the last presidential election lost to Prabowo-Hatta Rajasa pair that won 59.78 percent of West Java's votes in 2014. Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla was just behind with 40.22 percent of votes.

"The Bravo 5 and Cakra 19 special operations team will bear a specific task in West Java. Considering that we lost in 22 districts in 2014 [election]. These men understand the territories," said Jokowi – Ma'ruf presidential campaign team director Maman Imanulhaq to Tempo on Thursday, last week.

The birth of Bravo-5 was driven by, at the time, General Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan who was Commander of the Army Training and Education Center. The TNI retirees joined in Bravo-5 were graduates of the 1970 Military Academy. The name itself took inspiration from a house in Central Jakarta.

Cakra 19 consists of TNI retirees that have just freshly retired, which are mostly from the Indonesian Army's Special Forces (Kopassus) and are headquartered at Setia Budi, South Jakarta. This team was established by the end of 2017.

There are three main tasks for the two former army groups in facing the 2019 presidential election. The first is to assure that Jokowi will only have one opponent in the 2019 presidential election, secondly, is to make sure that Jokowi-Ma'ruf obtains 55 percent of the election's minimum percentage.

The third task for the team is to confirm that political parties in the Jokowi-Ma'ruf coalition obtains a positive result in the 2019 legislative elections.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/10/22/055922743/Former-Military-Bravo-5-Cakra-19-Tasked-to-Win-Jokowi-Maruf

Jokowi's electability may drop due to law enforcement issue

Tempo - October 20, 2018

Andita Rahma, Jakarta – Voxpol Center Research and Consulting executive director, Pangi Syarwi Chaniago, responded to the red note written by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) in terms of law enforcement in Indonesia. Today, October 20, marked the four-year of Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla in leading Indonesia.

Pangi stated that if Jokowi does not provide changes related to law enforcement, it is not impossible that Jokowi's electability would slowly decrease. "If it is left unchecked, even though the infrastructure sector is superior, but Jokowi would have no meaning," he said on Saturday, October 20.

Pangi stated that the democratic index in the Jokowi era has declined. It can be seen from the appearance of several incidents of persecution. He gave an example on the incident of mobs blocking Neno Warisman at the gate of the Sultan Syarif Kasim Airport (SSK) II Pekanbaru.

"The police couldn't do anything when the mob entering the airport and stop an individual [coming to visit a location], how did that happen?" he said.

Pangi stated that Jokowi seems to let the persecution happen. He did not see any firm attitude and warning from the president. So, Indonesia seems to be weak to face the hordes of paid thugs.

"It is obviously can decrease Jokowi's electability and ultimately lead to negative sentiment towards Jokowi's image," said the Voxpol chief.

On the other hand, Pangi said that Jokowi was superior in infrastructure. Based on the results of a survey in March, Voxpol Center noted that the satisfaction towards Jokowi in infrastructure development reached 55.5 percent. It is followed by the health services by 49.2 percent and the law enforcement at 39.1 percent.

Pangi confirmed that the infrastructure development must be linear with other aspects. "It's not balanced. The physical [aspect] is more dominant while building a mental revolution has not been felt yet," he said.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/10/20/055922714/Jokowis-Electability-May-Drop-Due-to-Law-Enforcement-Issue

Prabowo wants to 'make Indonesia great again'

Sydney Morning Herald - October 20, 2018

James Massola, Jakarta – It's the slogan that helped propel Donald Trump to the White House, emblazoned on hats, bumper stickers and t-shirts across the USA and which has resonated around the world: "make America great again".

And it seems Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, the man who lost the 2014 presidential election to Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, has decided to inject some Trump-like rhetoric in a bid to turn the tables and claim victory in the April 2019 election.

Just don't accuse him of copying the US president. In a speech last week to the Lembaga Dakwah Islam Indonesia – the Indonesia Islamic Preaching Institute, in Jakarta – Prabowo reflected on how President Trump had declared a trade war on China and promised to make America great again" with his America first policies.

"Why are the Indonesian people afraid to say 'Indonesia first, make Indonesia great again?' Why there are no Indonesian leaders daring to say the important thing is jobs for Indonesian people?"

The rise of strong man nationalist populist candidates like Trump and Prabowo is a phenomenon taking place around the world.

Prabowo's borrowed line drew strong applause and was very much in keeping with his positioning as a nationalist, outsider candidate who will stand up for his country (much like Trump) against the elite and for ordinary Indonesians.

In a campaign speech in Bali on Friday, Prabowo railed against the fact that so-much of Indonesia's wealth belongs to the one per cent while 99 per cent of citizens don't have enough.

While his point about unfair wealth distribution is correct, it does jar somewhat coming from a man who, like Trump, is part of his country's economic and political elite (Prabowo is a wealthy former army general who was once married to the daughter of long-time president Suharto).

The candidate has already drawn comparisons with Trump, too. Back in March, Australian National University Indonesia expert Dr Marcus Mietzner told Fairfax Media that Prabowo was a Trump-like figure: "impulsive, populist, erratic and with authoritarian tendencies".

The comment drew an angry response from Prabowo's campaign team at the time. And – if you can believe it – the man himself insists he is not borrowing his lines from Trump.

"No. [I am] not copying, who told you to ask that?" he rebuked an Indonesian journalist when asked about the Trump line last week. "So, it's like this. I said that why are other nations allowed to say 'make America great again', why can't we?"

At a briefing for foreign media on Friday, Hashim Djojohadikusumo, the candidate's younger brother and director of media and communications for the campaign, pointed out that for example, French President Emmanuel Macron had used the phrase "make the planet great again".

Irawan Ronodipuro, the campaign team's director of foreign affairs, went further. The country's national anthem, Indonesia Raya, means "Great Indonesia" and the name of Prabowo's political party, Gerindra, was short for "Great Indonesia Movement". "It's a movement making Indonesia great. I think, on the contrary, Donald Trump emulated us."

While "make Indonesia great again" may well resonate with ordinary Indonesians, Prabowo and his campaign team would do well to stop denying the bleedingly obvious source of their catch cry.

Maybe then they would have a chance, to paraphrase another Trumpism, of "winning so much they'll get tired of winning".

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/prabowo-wants-to-make-indonesia-great-again-20181020-p50awr.html

Jokowi camp's fundraising ad violates campaign rules: Bawaslu

Tempo - October 19, 2018

Dewi Nurita, Jakarta – Election Supervisory Board (Bawaslu) commissioner Mochammad Afifuddin said the fundraising advertisement of presidential and vice presidential pair Jokowi-Ma'ruf Amin had violated campaign rules. A Bawaslu team has started an investigation into the case.

"It is a violation of campaign rules, today afternoon, our team visits Media Indonesia and later to Koran Sindo," said Afifuddin at Four Point Hotel, Central Jakarta, Friday, Oct 19.

Earlier, the National Campaign Team (TKN) of Jokowi-Ma'ruf reportedly violated campaign rules when it placed advertisement in two newspapers, viz. Koran Sindo and Media Indonesia. The ad showed a photograph of Jokowi and Ma'ruf along with its election number and a note that reads "Jokowi-Ma'ruf Amin for Indonesia".

TKN deputy head Abdul Kadir Karding argued the commercial was not a form of campaign, but rather a publication of the candidates' account number for supporters. "It aims at disseminating the special account number of the campaign funds," he said.

The campaign team still placed the commercial until yesterday, Oct 18. If it were a violation, Abdul added, Bawaslu should have disseminated the rules in advance.

Afifuddin has dismissed Abdul's statement, saying Bawaslu had disseminated the rules before the campaign period commenced. Bawaslu, he added, also invited both presidential camps on Oct 3 to inform them about the rules of campaign ads in mass media.

"The two national campaign teams were present at that time. The Prabowo camp was represented by Pak Djoko Santoso, and the Jokowi camp by Irfan Pulungan," Arif explained.

General Election Commission (KPU) commissioner Hasyim Asyari, meanwhile, said the fundraising ad could be categorized as a campaign act as it happened before the campaign period in mass media – both in print and electronic media – that would begin 21 days prior to the voting day.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/10/19/055922694/Jokowi-Camps-Fundraising-Ad-Violates-Campaign-Rules-Bawaslu

Two retired army general groups back Jokowi in 2019 election

Tempo - October 19, 2018

Dewi Nurita, Jakarta – As it turns out, several retired Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) Generals have not gone entirely into retirement heading toward the 2019 Presidential Election. Two notable teams that consist of former TNI generals, Bravo-5 and Team Cakra 19, are set to back the incumbent candidate Joko 'Jokowi' WIdodo-Ma'ruf Amin.


Around five years ago, the Bravo-5 team was established to help the presidential campaign of Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla in the 2014 presidential election, which was led by retired TNI General Fachrul Razi. This team was deactivated after the pair won the election.

"On October 2017, we sat together and decided to reactivate the [Bravo-5] team," said Fachrul.

The birth of Bravo-5 was driven by, at the time, General Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan who was Commander of the Army Training and Education Center. The TNI retirees joined in Bravo-5 were graduates of the 1970 Military Academy. The name itself took inspiration from a house in Central Jakarta.

The team currently still headquarters at Menteng, Central Jakarta, but is in another location at Jalan Maluku No 32. They routinely hold meetings upon discussing their strategy that is similar to the one in 2014 where they will face Prabowo Subianto, a former fellow soldier in the military.

Tim Cakra 19

Bravo-5 is not the only former TNI generals that have set a group to help Jokowi face the election. This latest group called the Cakra 19 was introduced in August that was initiated by Minister Luhut Binsar Panjaitan.

The difference is that the Cakra 19 consists of TNI retirees that have just freshly retired, which are mostly from the Indonesian Army's Special Forces (Kopassus) and are headquartered at Setia Budi, South Jakarta. This team was established by the end of 2017.

This team consists of members from general citizens and led by former cabinet secretary Andi Widjajanto, Eko Wiratmoko, former Deputy V of the Presidential Chief of Staff Andogo Wiradi, and the former head of Indonesian National Army Information Center Iskandar Sitompul.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/10/19/055922681/Two-Retired-Army-General-Groups-Back-Jokowi-in-2019-Election

Hand gesture at IMF gathering deemed as campaign violation

Jakarta Post - October 18, 2018

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto's Gerindra Party has accused two of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's ministers of publicly demonstrating political partisanship while representing Indonesia at the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund-World Bank Group in Bali over the weekend.

Video footage went viral on Wednesday showing Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati allegedly telling World Bank president Jim Yong Kim and IMF director Christine Lagarde to pose while making a "partisan" hand gesture during a photoshoot.

"That was a very unfair and unwise action. They [Luhut and Sri Mulyani] were unprofessional and partisan. They were supposed to be neutral," Gerindra executive Ahmad Riza Patria told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

In the footage, Luhut first makes a hand gesture spreading five fingers, like a high five or a hand wave, while the foreign guests give a two-fingered V-sign, a sign commonly used to symbolize either peace or victory.

Sri later told Luhut to tell the apparently unaware guests to make a one-finger gesture using the forefinger, which symbolizes the ballot number of the Jokowi-Ma'ruf Amin ticket in next year's presidential election.

It is common in elections in Indonesia to see candidates and their supporters using hand or finger gestures to symbolize support for their campaigns.

"No, no, no, not two [fingers], not two," Luhut is heard telling his two foreign guests, who later mimic what Luhut did with his index finger.

Luhut and Sri Mulyani, as well as the guests appear amused at this point in the video, and within seconds the audience witnessing the incident also bursts into laughter.

"Two is for Prabowo; one is for Jokowi," Sri Mulyani explains to Lagarde, who seems to be clueless about the meaning behind the hand gesture she has just made.

But Gerindra has not taken it lightly, with Riza saying that the Prabowo-Sandiaga Uno campaign team will file a report against Luhut and Sri Mulyani with the Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu). "This [the report] will be a reminder for other public officials that they have to be independent [during presidential elections]," Riza said.

Bawaslu has yet to receive any report. Bawaslu commissioner Fritz Edward Siregar said the alleged incident, however, would be examined thoroughly and in context to avoid misinterpretation.

"Well, perhaps it can be [reported] as an alleged violation of articles 282 and 283. Article 282 is about public officials' actions benefiting certain candidates," he said, referring to the 2017 Elections Law, which prohibits public officials from using state facilities for campaigning or for encouraging others to support certain candidates. (ipa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/18/hand-gesture-condemned-as-campaign-violation.html

KPU Jakarta launches program to protect voting rights

Jakarta Post - October 18, 2018

Jakarta – The Jakarta General Elections Commission (KPU Jakarta) has launched a program called the Protecting Voting Rights Movement (GMHP) to verify the city's electoral roll ahead of the legislative and presidential elections next year.

KPU Jakarta head Betty Epsilon Idroos said the program aimed to ensure that the right to vote was upheld for all eligible voters during the elections in April.

"If there are still eligible voters that have yet to be registered, this program serves to help them," Betty said in South Jakarta on Wednesday as reported by tribunnews.com.

The GMHP program is citywide, involving 267 subdistricts, and has been running since the beginning of this month. It ends on Oct. 28. Eligible voters who wish to register or want to revise their data are urged to bring their ID and family card to booths that have been set up by the committee.

Betty said she hoped the program would raise awareness on the importance of exercising voting rights. (fac)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/17/kpu-jakarta-launches-program-to-protect-voting-rights.html

Gerindra councillor reported for campaigning at West Jakarta school

Jakarta Post - October 18, 2018

Jakarta – A Gerindra Party Jakarta councillor running for reelection is being investigated for reportedly campaigning at a state junior high school in West Jakarta.

West Jakarta Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) chairman Oding Junaidi said councillor M. Arief handed out campaign paraphernalia and sarongs in goody bags to SMPN 127 teachers during a meeting in Kebon Jeruk on Oct. 10.

The goody bags were distributed after the teachers signed in for the meeting. "[Arief was invited as a] speaker at the meeting," Oding said as reported by kompas.com on Wednesday.

The organizing committee prepared the content of the meeting, Oding said, "but Arief instead talked more about himself during his session between 1 and 3 p.m."

Jakarta Bawaslu commissioner Puadi said the agency, along with police and public prosecutors under the Integrated Law Enforcement Center (Gakkumdu), found possible election law violations during the meeting.

Gakkumdu collected preliminary evidence and obtained clarification from the involved parties. "The police will investigate within the next 14 days," Puadi said.

Law No. 7/2017 on general elections prohibits campaigning in government buildings, places of worship and in educational facilities. The law also prohibits civil servants from being involved in political campaigns. (ami)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/18/gerindra-councillor-reported-for-campaigning-at-west-jakarta-school.html

Calling govt programs pro-business, Jokowi campaign woos conglomerates

Jakarta Post - October 17, 2018

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – The campaign team of incumbent President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Ma'ruf Amin is eyeing conglomerates for financial contributions.

"We'll sell Jokowi programs to them. They have business here and they feel that Jokowi's policies have made it easier for them [in running their businesses], particularly in the realm of infrastructure development," campaign team treasurer Wahyu Sakti Trenggono said. The team opened on Tuesday an official bank account to collect funds for the campaign.

However, Wahyu said the team did not have its eyes set on any specific conglomerates because it was currently focusing on providing aid to victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi.

He also said Jokowi's team would approach the Association of Young Indonesian Businesspeople (Hipmi) and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) for fund-raising and networking purposes.

"For example, we can hold a charity night and ask [Kadin chairman] Rosan Roeslani to invite his fellow businessmen," Wahyu said.

Periodically, the team will inform the public about the account's balance. The campaign funds will go to campaign tools, communication sessions with the media, running social media and all needs of campaign teams in the regions.

According to a General Elections Commission (KPU) regulation, individuals can only contribute a maximum Rp 2.5 billion (US$164,687) per year, while corporations can contribute a maximum Rp 25 billion per year. (foy/wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/17/calling-govt-programs-pro-business-jokowi-campaign-woos-conglomerates.html

PKS views negative campaigns in politics positively

Tempo - October 16, 2018

Friski Riana, Jakarta – The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) secretary-general Mustafa Kamal said negative campaigns are not aimed to slander a political opponent.

"Negative campaigns are not slander. It shows facts and the data that will create collective introspection, which can be seen as a positive element," said Mustafa at the Senayan Parliamentary complex in Jakarta today, Oct. 16.

According to Mustafa, a negative campaign will further translate into positive if packaged with the Eastern culture that views highly politeness and manners. "It should all be expressed calmly under a democratic procedure," he explained.

He further suggests that negative campaigns are common in the political realm. However, Mustafa asserts that it must be framed in a positive construction. He, therefore, said that it is normal for an opposition to publicly issue their opponent's weaknesses through facts.

Previously, PKS President Sohibul Iman allowed candidates for legislation to be involved in negative campaigns. "Go ahead with negative campaigns, but 20 percent is enough. Negative campaigns are when we highlight the weaknesses of our opponents backed with facts. That is permissible," said Sohibul on October 14, during a campaign meeting for the 2019 general election.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/10/16/055922587/PKS-Views-Negative-Campaigns-in-Politics-Positively

Blasphemy & hate speech

Blasphemy or comedy? Netizens divided over cooking video mixing pork

Coconuts Jakarta - October 22, 2018

Cooking pork with dates is probably nothing more than a form of culinary expression in most parts of the world, but here in Indonesia it has sparked debates about blasphemy because of a satirical cooking video.

Recently, comedians Tretan Muslim and Coki Pardede uploaded a video on Youtube showing controversially cooking the two ingredients together – pork being haram (forbidden for consumption by Muslims) and dates holding religious significance in Islam as they are said to be the Prophet Muhammad's favorite fruit.

In the 20-minute video – the original version of which has been deleted – both Tretan and Coki can hardly contain their laughter as they use the pork and dates as comedic props for religious-based jokes. Some of the jokes include:

– Coki, who is wearing a t-shirt that says "Anti-religion religion club", says, "So what happens if the juices from the dates go inside the pores [of the pork], are the tape worms going to be mualaf (Islamic converts)? We don't know."

– Tretan puts his ear close to the pork and claims to hear faint screams of "hell" while Coki does the same thing and claims to hear "kafir" (non-Muslim/infidel).

– Tretan making the observation that this is the only cooking video in which the chef does not taste the food, because he himself is Muslim.

Several Indonesian clerics have expressed outrage by the video, with celebrity cleric Teuku Wisnu one of many who took to social media to condemn Tretan and Coki.

"Why must the youth neglect religion just for a laugh? And then using the reasoning, 'we're just playing around, we're not serious, just joking,'" Teuku wrote in the caption, before quoting religious text about how joking about religion can bring disaster to the joker.

Heavy metal guitarist-turned-cleric Derry Sulaiman went several steps further in condemning Tretan and Coki by issuing a thinly-veiled threat against them.

"Who are these people? Outrageous, they want to be famous but they make fun of our religion. Please come forward with information about the addresses of these two, I want to hear their jokes directly (which aren't funny at all)," he wrote, before quoting renowned Indonesian cleric Buya Hamka who said that if Muslims don't defend their religion if it's being mocked, then they're better off dead.

On the other side of the argument, netizens came out to defend Tretan and Coki, with blogger Zulfikar Akbar tweeting perhaps the most eloquent reasoning for why the video does not constitute blasphemy against Islam.

"To me, the two comics did not intend to blaspheme religion. They're also not after popularity. They're just popularizing how to view religion in a more fun way, even if our religions may be different. They're also viewing differences through happiness, not anger," he wrote.

Other netizens pointed out that it's highly ironic that people not get riled up over religious-based corruption or persecution of religious minorities, but they do over the mixing of pork with dates (which some have also pointed out is not exactly a new culinary invention).

Straying off the topic of religion, we feel this tweet best represents how we feel about the video. Terkait video masak babi pake kurma, what a fucking waste. That pork belly could have been cured, smoked, or roasted. pic.twitter.com/BHCfXsLZyT – Danang (@danangbgs) October 21, 2018

Neither Tretan nor Coki have directly addressed the controversy since it went viral over the past few days, nor have there been any reports of criminal action against the pair.

Blasphemy is a crime in Indonesia, but vague wordings in its legislation has made it prone to be used as a political tool and to persecute religious minorities. Arguably the most infamous blasphemy conviction was given to former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent, who was sentenced to two years in prison in 2017 simply for warning the public not to trust officials who quote the Quran to convince them not to vote for non-Muslim politicians.

More recently, a woman in the North Sumatra province was sentenced to 1.5 years in prison for allegedly complaining about the volume of a mosque's loudspeakers – a conviction that even religious officials and lawmakers criticized.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/blasphemy-comedy-indonesian-netizens-divided-cooking-video-mixing-pork-dates/

Fake news & black campaigns

50 percent of social media hoaxes politically motivated

Tempo - October 16, 2018

Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta – The Indonesian Anti Slander Society (Mafindo) documented numerous hoax contents spread on social media from July to September. They say that 230 hoaxes saturated social media contents with 58.7 percent that were politically motivated.

"Throughout July to September, there were 230 hoaxes, which includes 135 political hoaxes," said Mafindo Presidium, Anita Wahid at the Communication Information Ministry today, Oct. 16.

According to Anita, the political hoaxes more likely targeted the two candidate pairs of the 2019 presidential election, Jokowi-Maruf and Prabowo-Sandiaga Uno. Jokowi's camp was attacked with 36 hoaxes while 16 hoaxes were addressed to Prabowo.

Moreover, on the details of the hoaxes, Mafindo's records state that 58.7 percent of them were political slanders, 7.39 percent were related to religion, 7.39 percent were frauds, 6.69 percent regarding traffic, and 5.2 percent were about health-related issues.

Mafindo's data show that narrated images (50.43) were the most used format to spread the hoaxes, while 26.96 percent were literature, 14.78 percent were in forms of videos with narration, while only 4.35 percent of the hoaxes were images or photos.

Facebook still tops the platform-of-choice to spread the hoaxes with 47.83 percent, Twitter comes second with 12.17 percent, followed by Whatsapp and Youtube.

Social media expert Nukman Luthfie explained that a large portion of society is still easily triggered to share unverified information without thinking it through.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/10/16/055922589/50-Percent-of-Social-Media-Hoaxes-Politically-Motivated

Surveys & opinion polls

Nearly 6 in 10 Muslim teachers intolerant, many vilify modern science:

Jakarta Globe - October 18, 2018

Sheany, Jakarta – Most Muslim teachers in Indonesia are intolerant of other religions and highly prone to radicalization, a recent survey showed.

The results of a national survey by Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University's Center for the Study of Islam and Society (PPIM), published on Tuesday, show that nearly 60 percent of Muslim teachers are intolerant, while about 46 percent had radical leanings.

The PPIM conducted the survey between Aug. 6 and Sept. 6, randomly sampling 2,237 Muslim teachers from regular and Islamic schools across the country. Respondents were given an implicit bias test consisting of computer-assisted questionnaires that measured their levels of intolerance and radicalism.

The center reported a 2.07 percent margin of error and a confidence level of 95 percent.

The PPIM drew its conclusions from answers to several implicit bias questions that reflected intolerant attitudes and radical tendencies among teachers.

When asked about non-Muslims building faith-based schools in their areas, 56 percent indicated that they did not approve. Nearly 30 percent meanwhile said they were ready to wage jihad to establish an Islamic caliphate in Indonesia.

When given the opportunity, around 27 percent of teachers expressed a desire to encourage others to join the fight to establish a caliphate, while 13.3 percent said they would attack members of the police if they tried to arrest those fighting for a caliphate.

The survey coordinator, Yunita Faela Nisa, highlighted how teachers greatly influence students' values.

"From our previous survey in 2017, we've seen the significant influence of teaching methods, and how school experiences greatly impact the values held by students when it comes to intolerance," Yunita said.

In a similar survey conducted among students last year, the PPIM found that nearly 60 percent of those in high schools and universities held radical views based on religion.

The result of another survey by the Mata Air Foundation and the Alvara Research Center, which was released in November last year, also showed that nearly 20 percent of students support the idea that Indonesia should become a caliphate.

According to Yunita, students discuss matters related to faith not only with their religious teachers, but also with other teachers. PPIM executive director Saiful Umam said several key issues contribute to the high level of intolerance and radicalism among teachers.

"We found three things that strongly correlate with these high levels of intolerance and radicalism among teachers: their views on Islamism, demography and their involvement in mass organizations, both during college and at present," Saiful said, noting the difference between Islamism and Islamic views.

He said Islamism refers to a more fundamental movement that often calls for full implementation of shariah.

The survey found that nearly 83 percent of teachers agreed that Islam was the only solution to all kinds of problems facing society, while about 40 percent said the Koran contained sufficient knowledge and that Muslims thus do not need to learn from Western-sourced texts.

Moreover, those teaching language, sports, arts and crafts, tended to me more intolerant and radical, compared with those teaching other subjects.

The survey also showed a correlation between income and radicalism, with those earning less tending to be more radical.

The PPIM recommends, in addition to better salaries, an increase in diversity-oriented programs to give teachers more experience, and greater access to empowering institutions as part of efforts to curb growing intolerance and radicalism.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/nearly-6-in-10-indonesian-muslim-teachers-intolerant-many-vilify-modern-science-survey/

Environment & natural disasters

Water turns "blood" red after factory allegedly pollutes tap water in

Jakarta Post - October 23, 2018

Ganug Nugroho Adi, Surakarta, Central Java – Residents of Banyuanyar subdistrict in Surakarta, Central Java, have complained that the water supplied by the city-owned tap water company (PDAM) has turned red over the last two weeks.

"We suspect an outflow of factory waste is connected to the water pipes. Our team and the police are still investigating the matter," Surakarta PDAM spokesman Bayu Tunggul said on Monday.

A Banyuanyar resident, Arief Setiaji, said residents had been afraid to use the water as they were worried it might contain dangerous chemical substances. He added the water would change color at certain times, especially in the evening when the water flow reached its peak.

"Sometimes the color is dark like blood, sometimes it's blue. We have used the PDAM service for dozens of years, but this has only occurred recently," Arief said.

The incident has prompted residents to buy water collectively from a water tank truck to fulfill their needs for clean water.

PDAM director Sarwono said the company had earlier reported a textile factory to the Surakarta Police and the Surakarta Environment Agency. The report was filed following early indications that the factory had polluted the water.

The city administration reacted quickly to the matter, with Mayor FX Hadi Rudyatmo instructing the environment agency to seal the factory as it was discovered to lack a waste water treatment plant (IPAL). All textile factories are required to have waste treatment facilities.

"Theoretically, the factory can reopen as long as it fulfills the IPAL requirement. However, as the police are currently handling the case, the management should wait until the legal proceedings are complete," Hadi said, adding that its closure also served as a warning to other factories not to ignore operational requirements. (kuk)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/22/water-turns-blood-red-after-factory-allegedly-pollutes-tap-water-in-surakarta.html

Indonesia quake death toll surpasses 2000

Deutsche Presse Agentur - October 21, 2018

Jakarta – The death toll from a 7.4 magnitude earthquake that struck Indonesia's Central Sulawesi province last month has reached 2113 and there's still more than 1300 people missing.

Up to 1703 of the fatalities were from the provincial capital Palu, with the rest from neighbouring districts Donggala, Sigi, Parigo Moutong and Pasangkayu, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Nugroho said on Sunday.

As many as 223,751 people have been displaced and 4612 people are injured after the September 28 quake, which triggered a tsunami and soil liquefaction that sucked thousands of houses into the saturated ground.

"A number of public facilities such as electricity and communication networks have been restored and are almost 100 per cent back to normal," Nugroho said, adding that trading at petrol stations and in markets and the banking sector have also resumed.

He added that even though the search efforts to look for casualties were officially stopped on October 12, members of search and rescue parties clearing out the rubble of damaged properties continue to find bodies under the ruins.

The government has been building temporary housing and tents for the displaced residents, including water and sanitation facilities as the residents brace for the approaching rainy season, Nugroho said.

The government has declared the emergency phase for the affected areas is still in place until Friday.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/indonesia-quake-death-toll-over-than-2000-20181021-p50b1d.html

China-backed hydro dam threatens world's rarest orangutan

Agence France Presse - October 21, 2018

A billion-dollar hydroelectric dam development in Indonesia that threatens the habitat of the world's rarest great ape has sparked fresh concerns about the impact of China's globe-spanning infrastructure drive.

The site of the dam in the Batang Toru rainforest on Sumatra island is the only known habitat of the Tapanuli orangutan, a newly discovered species that numbers about 800 individuals in total.

The $1.6 billion project, which is expected to be operational by 2022, will cut through the heart of the critically endangered animal's habitat, which is also home to agile gibbons, siamangs and Sumatran tigers.

Indonesian firm PT North Sumatra Hydro Energy is building the power plant with backing from Sinosure, a Chinese state-owned enterprise (SOE) that insures overseas investment projects, and the Bank of China, company documents show.

Chinese SOE Sinohydro, which built the mammoth Three Gorges Dam, has been awarded the design and construction contract for the project.

The development is one of dozens being pushed by the government to improve electricity supply throughout the sprawling archipelago, parts of which are regularly plagued by blackouts.

But the Chinese-backed project has sparked fierce resistance from conservationists, who say the potential environmental risk has already seen the World Bank Group shy away from involvement.

Its Chinese backers appear undeterred, however, something critics say underscores the troubling environmental impact of Beijing's trademark "Belt and Road Initiative", which seeks to link Asia, Europe and Africa with a network of ports, highways and railways.

"This issue is becoming in some ways the face of the Belt and Road initiative," Professor Bill Laurance, director of the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science at James Cook University in Australia, told AFP.

"I think this crystallizes in a way that people can understand what a tsunami of 7,000-plus projects will mean for nature."

'Death knell'

Until recently, scientists thought there were only two genetically distinct types of orangutan, Bornean and Sumatran.

But in 1997 biological anthropologist Erik Meijaard observed an isolated population of the great apes in Batang Toru, south of the known habitat for Sumatran orangutans, and scientists began to investigate if it was a unique species.

Researchers studied the DNA, skulls and teeth of 33 orangutans killed in human-animal conflict before concluding that they had indeed discovered a new species, giving it the scientific name Pongo tapanuliensis or Tapanuli orangutan.

The 510-megawatt dam, which will supply peak-load electricity to North Sumatra province, will flood part of the ape's habitat and include a network of roads and high-voltage transmission lines.

Critics say it will fragment the three existing populations, who are living in a tract of forest less than one-fifth the size of the greater Jakarta region, and lead to inbreeding.

Meijaard said the dam would be the "death knell" for the animal. "Roads bring in hunters (and) settlers – it's the start, generally, of things falling apart," he told AFP.

Weighing the risk

But the plight of the cinnamon-furred ape seems to have been given little attention in the environmental impact assessment by PT North Sumatra Hydro Energy, according to conservationists and scientists who have seen the document.

In August, the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) filed a legal challenge against the environmental permit approved by the North Sumatra government, saying it failed to address the dam's impact on wildlife, communities living downstream, or the risk of damage from earthquakes in the seismically active region.

PT North Sumatra Hydro Energy and Indonesia's environment ministry declined to respond to AFP's requests for comment.

Bank of China said in a statement it did not comment on specific projects, but added it takes "all relevant factors into consideration when formulating policies and making decisions."

The World Bank, through its sister organization the International Finance Corporation, declined to comment on any aspect of its initial ties to the project – outlined in World Bank documents dated March 2017 – or environmentalists' claims it pulled out due to habitat concerns.

The Batang Toru project is not the only development in Indonesia-linked to the Belt and Road initiative, which aims to bolster Chinese influence abroad. But it might be the most contentious.

"We really hope the financial backers of this project will see there are environmental and social problems with the project and decide not to support the project," said Yuyun Eknas of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi). "The World Bank has pulled out. We hope the Bank of China will do the same."

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/china-backed-hydro-dam-threatens-worlds-rarest-orangutan/

Nations pledge more than US$15 million for Sulawesi, but Indonesia must

Jakarta Post - October 20, 2018

Gemma Holliani Cahya, Jakarta – After President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo declared that Indonesia would accept foreign aid to reconstruct Central Sulawesi following a strong earthquake with a subsequent tsunami and soil liquefaction, a number of countries have pledged help.

The European Union, China, South Korea, Venezuela, Germany, Vietnam, Australia, Laos and Cambodia are among the countries that have offered to send help to Indonesia after the disaster, with pledges totalling US$11.6 million, Euro 3 million and A$500,000.

Venezuela, despite facing an ongoing economic crisis at home, has pledged the highest amount, $10 million, for Indonesia. Other countries with pledges $1 million or above are Germany (Euro 1.5 million), South Korea ($1 million) and European Union (Euro 1.5 million).

The government-to-government cash aid is only allowed to be transferred to a National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) bank account.

BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said not all pledges would be transferred in cash; the help could also come in the form of goods, such as tents, medicine, electricity generators or water treatment facilities.

He said that, by Saturday afternoon, the agency had received more than $1.5 million from Cambodia ($200,000), Thailand ($145,312), Vietnam ($100,000) and South Korea and several private institutions as well as individuals. That is only about 10 percent of the total amounts pledged.

"There are many who have pledged to help, but only a few who have realized it. Compared to our needs [in the field], the help is still not enough," he told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

A 7.4-magnitude earthquake occurred off the western coast of Donggala regency on Sept. 28 and was followed by ocean waves, with Palu, Donggala, Sigi and Parigi Moutong the worst-hit areas.

The catastrophe killed at least 2,100 people and severely injured almost 5,000, while 680 people have been reported missing. More than 270,000 people have been displaced and have to stay at shelters.

Thousands more are believed to be still buried in the ground when the soil liquefaction happened in Palu and Sigi following the massive earthquake.

A preliminary assessment by the World Bank estimates that the tragedy has caused $531 million in losses.

The bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) have pledged US$1 billion each in funding to support disaster recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara and Palu, Central Sulawesi.

Yoedhi Swastono, the undersecretary for domestic political coordination at the Office of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister, who coordinates foreign aid for Central Sulawesi, explained that Indonesia had yet to receive the aid from Venezuela. "We still do not know what kind of aid Venezuela will provide," he said.

In 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake hit the northern tip of Sumatra and later followed by tsunami that swept Aceh and Nias Island, killing at least 168,000.

A Brookings Institution report recorded that the total estimate of damage and losses from the catastrophe was $4.45 billion. The Indonesian government received a total of $7.7 billion in pledged assistance from countries and private sector for reconstruction and development. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/20/nations-pledge-more-than-us15-million-for-c-sulawesi-but-indonesia-must-rely-on-itself.html

Health & education

Samosir regency Locals want to banish 3 HIV-positive orphans over fear

Coconuts Jakarta - October 23, 2018

In Indonesia, there's still a huge stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS due to a lack of public education about the disease, to the point that people's ignorant fears can lead to sufferers being persecuted – even children.

That is what reportedly happened to three orphans in the Samosir Regency of North Sumatra after residents of the regency found out that they were HIV-positive.

According to reports, the three orphans – one boy, age 11, and two girls, ages 7 and 10 – were recently enrolled in a public elementary school in the regency by the Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) – the largest Protestant denomination in Indonesia.

However, just one day into their schooling, parents of other students at the school demanded that they be expelled over their medical condition. Eventually, residents of the regency called for the banishment of the orphans, giving them until Oct. 25 to leave.

"The three [children] are not from [Samosir]. So the public was scared that they could transmit their disease to their children," Berlina Sibagariang, Executive Secretary of the AIDS Committee at the HKBP, told the media on Sunday, as quoted by Tribun.

The HKBP, which is housing the children, say locals have no right to banish the children. The group also says it is going to continue to try to give the children their right to education in a public school, having already turned down the local government's proposed solution of homeschooling because the church doesn't want the children to be isolated from society.

Samosir Regent Rapidin Simbolon confirmed that locals want to banish the three children but says his administration is looking to offer a solution that would benefit both parties.

"We love all children, all schoolchildren. But now there is the opinion that parents don't want their children to mingle with kids who are HIV-positive. For example if they are playing and one of them bleeds, the other kids don't know [about the dangers]. So parents are worried, that's understandable, right?" Rapidin said, as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

As such, he has offered the orphans to be enrolled in a special class in school, but still separated from the other children. HKBP has not yet announced if they have accepted Rapidin's latest proposal.

According to UN data in 2016, an estimated 3,200 Indonesian children were newly infected with HIV due to mother-to-child transmission. Since 2010, new HIV infections have decreased by 22% but AIDS-related deaths have increased by 68%.

Activists say that many in Indonesia are still uneducated about HIV/AIDS due to the taboo surrounding the subject, but awareness programs by the government and NGOs are slowly changing that. Cases of children born with HIV being denied their right to an education are relatively rare, with the Legal Aid Foundation recording two instances between 2016-2017.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/locals-n-sumatras-samosir-regency-want-banish-3-hiv-positive-orphans-fear-transmission-children/

Stigma, discrimination hamper leprosy eradication

Jakarta Post - October 20, 2018

Gemma Holliani Cahya, Jakarta – Stigma and discrimination continue to hinder people with leprosy from having a normal life, according to World Health Organization (WHO) goodwill ambassador for leprosy elimination Yohei Sasakawa.

Although leprosy medication and an early detection program are now available for free and can be found in health facilities across the country, many who suffer from the disease isolate themselves from their community, embarrassed by their condition.

"We already have the medication to treat leprosy, but it's more difficult to reduce the stigma and discrimination against patients or former patients than to treat them," said Sasakawa, who has been a WHO goodwill ambassador since 2001. The Nippon Foundation chairman further said that elimination and better welfare can be achieved through a systematic approach.

Al Qadri, deputy head of the Leprosy Association (Permata), an NGO that specializes in educating the community about leprosy as well as providing counseling for leprosy patients, said that discrimination has prevented many sufferers from receiving the proper treatment.

"Because of the stigma of leprosy, people are afraid that if they go to health facilities to get treatment, then others will know they have such an embarrassing disease. Therefore, many still keep hiding," he said on Oct. 4.

They are not only discriminated by their community, but also feel insecure and therefore they do not want to go out and join the community, hiding inside their homes, Qadri said.

Indonesia achieved the global target of eliminating leprosy as a public health problem with the prevalence rate of less than 1 per 10,000 people at a national level in 2000, after it had intensified leprosy diagnosis and multidrug therapy starting in 1990.

However, currently, Indonesia has the third-highest number of annual new cases, after India and Brazil. Based on a 2016 WHO report, 16,826 new cases are reported each year, and the number accounts for 7.8 percent of 214,783 new leprosy cases globally.

Sasakawa put a positive light on the findings of new cases, saying that it proved the communities and health facilities are more aware and proactive in finding and treating leprosy cases.

Therefore, he said he was optimistic that the coordination of related institutions and ministries to fight leprosy would be fruitful.

In 2016, family-based case-finding activities were introduced and promoted by the Health Ministry through the Find a Patch campaign, which raises awareness about detecting early signs of leprosy within a family. The national program aims to eliminate leprosy nationwide by the end of 2019.

West Papua, North Maluku and Papua are three provinces with the highest leprosy prevalence rates in the nation, at 11.48 percent, 4.54 percent and 4.06 percent, respectively.

"Many [in these provinces] still think that the disease is a curse and inherited, and it hampers the treatment, because people with this disease are still neglected by their family and community, forcing them to hide in their room. It makes it difficult for us to eliminate [leprosy] in Indonesia because [those who are hiding] can still be a source of transmission," said Sitti Ganefa, head of the Health Ministry's leprosy and yaws division.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/20/stigma-discrimination-hamper-leprosy-eradication.html

Pharma companies still dependent on imported APIs, says ministry

Jakarta Post - October 18, 2018

Jakarta – The Health Ministry has said that local pharmaceutical companies still relied heavily on imported chemical ingredients – active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) – because the industry was unable to carry out sufficient research on developing such materials.

"About 90 percent of the pharmaceutical industry still uses imported materials, particularly chemical ingredients, because it is not easy to produce those materials," the ministry's Health Research and Development Agency (Balitbangkes) head, Siswanto, said on Wednesday in Magelang, Central Java, as quoted by kompas.com.

Siswanto said that many ingredients were patented by pharmaceutical companies in Germany, France and Japan, while Indonesia lacked appropriate laboratory facilities for researching the development of pure chemicals as an initial step toward processing and producing APIs.

He added that Indonesia had no plans to develop a pharmaceutical laboratory in the near future, because of the exorbitant costs of establishing such a facility.

"The cost is too high. We [can] produce many medical substances, but the cost of clinical tests is too high. It could reach billions of rupiah," said Siswanto.

One solution to help reduce the dependence on pharmaceutical chemical ingredients would be to develop local herbs and other natural ingredients used in traditional herbal treatments across the archipelago.

"[...] We must carry out research on plants and animal [materials] and test them for their medicinal properties and after that, they could be used for antibodies, anesthetics and other [medicines]," he continued.

Siswanto said the ministry currently had three consortiums for developing vaccines and other medicinal products. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/18/pharma-companies-still-dependent-on-imported-apis-says-ministry.html

Only 5 percent of Jakarta's children physically fit, says official

Jakarta Post - October 17, 2018

Jakarta – Jakarta's children face high health risks, as only 5 percent are deemed to be physically fit, a youth official has said.

"In a metropolis like Jakarta, only five percent of children have been deemed to be in a very good state of physical fitness. That [low percentage indicates] a very high [health] risk," said undersecretary for sports mainstreaming Raden Isnanta at the Youth and Sports Ministry, as quoted by wartakota.tribunnews.com.

He said that parents opted to drive their children to school so they would feel fresh. "But it's not refreshing when [parents] fight over parking spaces near the school gates," Isnanta said, adding that the ministry planned to introduce several healthy living programs for children.

He said only about 27 percent of all Indonesians were physically active and that the ministry's sports development index showed only 18 percent were physically fit.

"Even in international studies, Indonesia is one of the laziest in [terms of] physical activity from 100 surveyed countries," Isnanta added.

"We can't deny that our citizens are [physically] very lazy. People use ojek [motorcycle taxi] to go to the market, order food using Go-Food...," he said, referring to ride-hailing company Go-jek's food delivery service.

He said that Indonesians only walked an average 3,000 steps per day, whereas the most active were residents of Hong Kong, China, who walked an average 7,000 steps per day.

Nutrition, Sports and Fitness Association (ANOKI) chairman Mury Kuswari said that balanced nutrition and physical activity were the keys to a healthier generation.

Mury said that children should be physically active for a minimum of 30 minutes per day and at least five days per week. (ami)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/17/only-5-percent-of-jakartas-children-physically-fit-says-official.html

57% of teachers are intolerant of other religions: Islamic research

Coconuts Jakarta - October 17, 2018

Many people are concerned about a growing climate of religious intolerance in Indonesia, not just among adults but children as well.

Of course, intolerance is something that children have to learn and there is evidence to suggest that many of the country's teachers are passing their own intolerant attitudes onto their students.

The Center for the Study of Islam and Society (PPIM) at State Islamic University Syarif Hidayatullah recently released the results of a survey of Indonesia's teachers and found that as many as 57% of teachers held opinions they classified as intolerant towards adherents of other religions while 37.77% said they had or wanted to undertake intolerant actions.

"This study aims to see the views and religious attitudes of school and madrasah teachers in Indonesia. Teachers have a strategic position and have an important role in the formation of students' values, views, and thoughts," PPIM Executive Director Saiful Uman said when describing the results of his research at the Le Meridien Hotel in Jakarta yesterday as quoted by Tempo.

Saiful said the study used two measuring instruments, a questionnaire as well as an Implicit Association Test (IAT). Surveyors used those to gauge respondent reactions to statements such as "Non-Muslims can establish places of worship in your neighborhood" or "It is okay for your neighbors of other religions to hold religious events".

The study found that 56% of respondents disagreed with non-Muslims establishing places of worship around their homes, and 21% disagree with neighbors of different religions holding religious events.

Regarding their propensity to act on intolerance, the survey asked respondents questions such as "Would you sign a petition rejecting a head of an education agency because they were a different religion?" (29% agreed) and "Would you sign a petition to refuse the establishment of schools based on non-Islamic religions in your area?" (34% agreed).

The study was based on the responses of 2,237 teachers, 1,172 of which were public school teachers and 1,065 of which taught at private madrasas. The study was conducted from August 6 to September 6 and is based on responses from all 34 provinces in Indonesia based on random proportional sampling.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/57-indonesian-teachers-intolerant-religions-islamic-research-center/

LGBT & same-sex marriage

Indonesian ride-sharing app VP penalized for pro-LGBTI Facebook post

Gay Star News - October 20, 2018

Calum Stuart – The vice president of a popular Indonesia-based ride-sharing app has been received a 'sanction and a strict warning' after posting a pro-LGBTI message on Facebook.

Brata Santoso, vice president of operations and business development for ride-sharing startup Go-Jek, wrote a Facebook post which celebrated the company for its inclusive policies on National Coming Out Day (11 October).

Michael Say, vice president of Go-Jek's corporate communications, said Santoso had violated one of the company's policies relating to social media posts, Tempo.co reports. 'He should not use the company's name for personal interest,' said Say.

'We have given sanction and a strict warning to the employee who posts [the issue], and he is obliged to partake in social activities as to be more thoughtful,' Say added.

Santoso's Facebook post was widely shared on social media. Though the original post has since been deleted, screenshots are still circulating online.

In his Facebook post, Santoso wrote: 'Go-Jek is taking diversity and inclusion matter to the next level by the adoption of non-discrimination policy towards the underrepresented group i.e. LGBT, despite being an Indonesian company.'

The pro-LGBTI post angered many social media users, and the hashtag #UnistallGojek soon began circulating online.

However, other social media users were quick to point out that expressing anger online at a company with pro-LGBTI leanings was contradictory, as the major companies which monopolize the tech market, such as Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, are themselves publically supportive of LGBTI rights.

Increase in LGBTI persecution

Although homosexuality is legal in Indonesia, the country's LGBTI community has seen an uptick in LGBTI discrimination and persecution in recent years. This is largely due to the increased prominence gained by conservative Islamic groups since around 2016.

The stigma against the LGBTI community is also heightened during the lead up to Indonesia's presidential elections, which are due to take place in April next year.

In August, incumbent president Joko Widodo – once seen as a progressive reformer – picked Professor KH Ma'ruf Amin as his running mate.

Ma'ruf, an influential Islamic scholar, is known for his hardline anti-LGBTI stance and has issued fatwas against the LGBTI community in the past, and has called for the criminalization of homosexuality.

Source: https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/indonesian-ride-sharing-app-vp-penalized-for-pro-lgbti-facebook-post/

Gay couple arrested in Bandung for running LGBT Facebook page

Straits Times - October 20, 2018

Jakarta – The West Java Police have arrested a man and his partner for allegedly running a Facebook page for the gay community in Bandung, West Java, in Indonesia's first case of criminalisation of homosexual hangouts on social media.

Police raided on Thursday (Oct 18) a house in Batununggal rented by the man, identified only as IS, who allegedly created the "Gay Bandung" page in October 2015. They also confiscated five cellphones and 25 condoms.

"They connect and matchmake people who want to make same-sex friendships," the police's special crimes deputy director, Adjutant Chief Commander Hari Brata, said on Friday.

The Facebook group reportedly has 4,093 active followers of various ages, including teenagers.

A wave of anti-LGBT sentiment has swept across the conservative province of West Java, as public anxiety rises over LGBT groups on social media.

Another Facebook page for young gay people triggered controversy in Garut regency two weeks ago, triggering a call from school principals to ban LGBT students at schools.

The Cianjur regency administration issued a circular on Monday, instructing all subdistrict heads in the regency to ensure that sermons during Friday prayers discuss the so-called dangers of homosexuality as a lifestyle.

The instruction cited a report by the Aids Prevention Commission (KPA) of Cianjur which claimed that the number of LGBT people had risen significantly in the regency.

The Bandung case marked the first police crackdown on online LGBT groups, who usually keep a low profile in the largely conservative and religious society.

The suspects have been charged under Article 27, Point 1 of the Electronic Transactions and Information (ITE) Law on transmitting and spreading electronic information containing immorality. The law carries a maximum sentence of six years' imprisonment and a maximum fine of one billion rupiah (S$90,888).

– Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/gay-couple-arrested-in-bandung-for-running-lgbt-facebook-page-as-homophobia-grips-west

Bali beauty pageant signals renewed anti-LGBT crackdown

Voice of America - October 20, 2018

Max Walden, Jakarta – Majority-Hindu Bali has long been considered more tolerant of different sexual identities compared with other parts of Indonesia, especially amid recent anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) crackdowns in the world's largest Muslim-majority country.

But a beauty pageant promoting HIV education and equality was this month shutdown by Islamic hardliners, sparking concern among some in the LGBT community that Bali is no longer a safe place.

Organized by the Bali-based Gaya Dewata Foundation, which provides testing, counseling and support on HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, the pageant has been held annually for the past three years. But this year, anti-LGBT Muslim groups reportedly harassed the owners of the Bhumiku Convention Hall in Denpasar, Bali's capital.

"We had to call off our event, due to the owners of the venue canceling it," Christian Supriyadinata, the director of Gaya Dewata, told VOA.

"I thought Bali will have that space for us to be ourselves," said Agung a Balinese native who recently moved back to the island from Muslim-majority Java. He chose to be identified by one name to protect his identity.

Agung told VOA it, "actually turns out to be Bali doesn't have that immunity anymore, doesn't have that bubble anymore to protect ourselves."

LGBT events canceled

Lini Zurlia, an Indonesian queer activist who works for the regional LGBT organization ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, said this was not first LGBT event to be canceled in Bali. Many public events for the Straits Games, a sports event for the gay community from across Asia, were canceled last year after pressure from certain quarters, she said.

"It was not only from hard-line groups but also from the police," she said. "Since then, we think Bali isn't all that friendly [to LGBT people] after all. Maybe it's just friendly because it's a center for tourism in Indonesia."

The local chapter of the Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI) was among the groups that opposed the event and reported it to the police.

"This is clearly very alarming, because the [pageant] is clearly contrary to moral and religious values in Indonesia," the Bali MUI chairman, Muhammad Taufik Asadi, told the conservative-leaning newspaper Republika.

Sexuality and health

Many local cultures in Indonesia have traditionally had fluid understandings of sexuality beyond a binary of heterosexuality and homosexuality. This has, however, eroded in recent years with the rise of more conservative strains of Islam. Intensified anti-LGBT sentiment has also been accompanied by rising infection rates of HIV/AIDS.

According to UNAIDS, Indonesia had 48,000 new HIV infections and 38,000 AIDS-related deaths in 2016, an increase in AIDS-related deaths of 68 percent from 2010.

"We want the community in Bali, especially our friends in the LGBT community, to understand the problem of HIV/AIDS and help with HIV/AIDS prevention," Supriyadinata said.

Members of the LGBT community are disproportionately affected, with HIV prevalence rates of 25.8 percent for men who have sex with men and 24.8 percent of transgender people.

"Cases of HIV/AIDS across the whole community [in Indonesia] have indeed increased, so information about HIV/AIDS is much needed," Supriyadinata said.

Moral panic

The Gaya Dewata pageant's cancellation is just the latest in a string of anti-LGBT actions by the police and civil society groups across Indonesia. While gay sex is not a crime, the LGBT community is often targeted under the country's strict anti-pornography laws.

Earlier this month, Jakarta police raided a so-called "gay party" and arrested four men on drug charges. Law enforcement publicly paraded the suspects and their faces were televised. Several social media accounts later further spread the men's images to shame them.

Social media again exploded with the hashtag #UninstallGojek, with many netizens calling for a boycott of the local ride-sharing application Gojek after one of the company's executives expressed support for diversity and tolerance of LGBT people on Facebook.

Indonesia's minister for religion, Lukman Saifuddin, subsequently released a video on social media declaring that "all religions reject LGBT, that's why I reject LGBT actions and behavior."

"Although LGBT behavior is wrong, they should be treated with empathy so that they change their deviant ways," he added.

Survey results released by Saiful Mujani Research & Consulting in January showed that 81.5 percent of Indonesians believe gay and lesbian "behavior" is prohibited by religion, and a majority said they would object to having LGBT neighbors or in government. But only 58.3 percent of the respondents reported to know what LGBT meant.

Election season

Some worry that anti-LGBT activity will further ramp up ahead of the country's presidential elections in April 2019. The incumbent Joko Widodo's running mate, the influential conservative cleric Ma'ruf Amin, has helped issue fatwas against LGBT people as a member of Indonesia's Ulama Council.

"We want a stern prohibition of LGBT activities and other deviant sexual activities and legislation that categorizes them as crime[s]," he was quoted as saying by the national news agency Antara in 2016.

Anti-LGBT themes also feature heavily in the rhetoric of supporters of opposition candidate Prabowo Subianto. According to Zurlia of ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, many of the Islamic groups who support Prabowo and opposition figure Fadli Zon claim that the LGBT movement is the product of Western influence and an import from countries like the United States.

"They're good friends with the American president and praise Donald Trump and yet say that the LGBT movement comes from America," she said. "It doesn't make any sense."

Source: https://www.voanews.com/a/bali-beauty-pageant-signals-renewed-anti-lgbt-crackdown/4621668.html

Indonesia: Pro-LGBT Facebook post draws anti-gay reaction

Eurasia Review - October 19, 2018

Ahmad Syamsudin (Benar News) – LGBT people in Indonesia are facing renewed pressure after a ride-sharing company's message of support triggered an anti-gay response in the world's largest Muslim-majority country.

In a message on Facebook that has since been deleted, Brata Santoso, a vice president at the ride-sharing company Go-Jek, wrote about a campaign called GOingALLin to celebrate Coming Out Day on Oct. 11.

"I'm happy to say that Go-Jek is taking diversity to the next level by the adoption of non-discrimination policy toward the underrepresented group, ie LGBT," Brata wrote, referring to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

"In the spirit of Coming Out Day, we wanted to give space for the brave ones who embrace diversity and share what freedom, self-acceptance, authenticity, equality and tolerance really means to them," Brata wrote.

A screenshot of the message went viral on social media and led to calls to boycott the app using the hashtag #uninstallgojek on Twitter.

Since then, the company released a statement that the post was Brata's personal opinion. "Go-Jek strives to hold up high the culture and values of Indonesia," it said.

On Thursday, a Go-Jek spokesman said the company required that Brata take part in social activities "to make him more sensitive," Tempo.co news website reported.

A day earlier, Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin urged Indonesians to treat the LGBT community with empathy and respect, but he called their behavior deviant.

Conservative Muslims have accused Lukman of supporting the LGBT community because of his moderate views and because he attended an event in 2016 organized by the Indonesian Alliance of Independent Journalists where LGBT members were honored.

"It is our obligation as religious people and religious leaders to provide guidance to them with empathy so that they cease doing what they do," he said in a video message posted on the ministry's official Twitter account.

Homosexuality is not a crime in Indonesia except in Aceh where Sharia law is in force. That could change.

Under a draft revision to the criminal code being debated in the House of Representatives, a person engaging in "a lewd act" with another person of the same sex who is younger than 18 could face 12 years in prison. If the act involves violence, the penalty is up to 15 years.

The draft stipulates that a lewd act committed in public between two people of the same sex is punishable by up to 18 months in prison. It also says sex between a man and a woman who are not married to each other is punishable by up to five years. Pressure on LGBT community

Police have raided places frequented by gay people and briefly detained hundreds suspected of being homosexuals. Officer filed charges against some of them for committing prostitution or pornographic acts.

The government of Cianjur regency, in West Java province, issued a circular urging Muslim preachers to talk about the dangers of homosexuality during their Friday sermons.

"It's one of the efforts to prevent the spread of LGBT in our area," said Gagan Rusganda, a spokesman for the regency office.

Arus Pelangi, an LGBT advocacy group, said anti-gay sermons would endanger members of the community. "Such calls will only increase the persecution of LGBT people. Even without it, LGBT people are already threatened," Arus Pelangi chairwoman Yuli Rustinawati said.

The mayor of Balikpapan, in East Kalimantan province, said he would issue an anti-gay regulation in response to the emergence of a Facebook group "Pin Gay Balikpapan." He said such a decree did not require the approval of the city council.

Meanwhile, Cholil Nafis a leader of the Indonesian Council of Ulema, said he supported the crackdown.

"We are facing an LGBT emergency, because people with the disease now feel normal," Cholil said. "Sermons calling for avoiding LGBT are necessary. We have to counter this," he said.

Slamet, an activist for Gaya Nusantara advocating for LGBT rights, said the reactions by officials were political posturing during the election season.

"This is just a repeat of old stuff, because I think they know that LGBT isn't a disease or deviance," he said. "The political undertone is very strong, because people are passionate about the LGBT issue."

Most of the country sees the LGBT community as a threat, according to a survey last year by a Jakarta-based firm, Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting. The survey showed 85.4 percent of the nation felt threatened by LGBT people – a figure that increased to 87.6 percent three months later.

Additionally, 79.1 percent of respondents objected to having LGBT neighbors. Despite those concerns, 57.7 percent of Indonesians believed that LGBT members had rights and about 50 percent believed the government was obligated to protect them, according to the survey.

Source: http://www.eurasiareview.com/19102018-indonesia-pro-lgbt-facebook-post-draws-anti-gay-reaction/

Cianjur government to issue appeal to schools to be on guard against

CNN Indonesia - October 19, 2018

Jakarta – The Cianjur regency government in West Java is planning to issue an appeal to the principles of all primary and senior high schools along with equivalent educational institutions to socialise the dangers of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT).

In addition to LGBT, the appeal will also take up the dangers of drugs, alcohol and gambling.

Cianjur regency government public relations head Gagan Rusganda says that the appeal will also be sent to all regional administrative officials (OPD), sub-district heads, village and ward chiefs.

"The appeal will be sent to [all] OPD, sub-district heads, village and ward chiefs, primary and senior high school principles, to socialise and provide guidance on LGBT, drugs, alcohol and gambling", said Rusganda when contacted by CNN Indonesia on Friday October 19.

According to Rusganda, LGBT, drugs, alcohol and gambling are problems that must be overcome by respective local governments in Cianjur. The general public however must also play a role.

Rusganda said that all elements of society have agreed that these problems are a mutual responsibility. All of them are a moral burden that needs to be dealt with. Moreover, they are forbidden by religion.

Nevertheless, Rusganda was unable to specify when the appeal would be issued. Essentially he said, all elements of society must actively carry out socialisation and guidance on the dangers of LGBT, drugs, alcohol and gambling.

"In accordance with their respective functions and authority under the guidelines of the appropriate regulations and laws", he said.

Last week, the Cianjur regency government issued Circular Number 400/5368/Kesra on Presenting Friday Sermons on LGBT.

The circular instructed all sub-district heads to ask local mosques to present sermons on the dangers of LGBT and HIV/AIDS at Friday prayers on October 19.

In addition to the instruction, attached to the circular were six pages of sermon text titled "The Dangers of LGBT, Sodomy and Abuse in Religious Life, the Nation and the State from the Perspective of Islamic Law".

The Cianjur regency government said it had coordinated with several institutions in drafting the circular. The text of the sermon distributed to mosques, he said, was drafted by a team comprising members of the Cianjur regency government, the Cianjur Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI) and representatives from the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Meanwhile the LGBT advocacy group Arus Pelangi (Rainbow Current) has slammed the appeal by the Cianjur government. Arus Pelangi chairperson Yuli Rustinawati said the appeal will further increase threats against LGBT groups in Indonesia (osc)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Cianjur Akan Terbitkan Imbauan Bahaya LGBT ke Semua Sekolah".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20181019072919-20-339698/cianjur-akan-terbitkan-imbauan-bahaya-lgbt-ke-semua-sekolah

Regional govt in Indonesia asks mosques to warn of LGBTI 'dangers'

Gay Star News - October 18, 2018

Rik Glauert – A local government in Indonesia on Wednesday (17 October) sent a circular to the region's mosques asking them to preach on the dangers of the LGBTI community and HIV at prayers on Friday.

Muslim-majority Indonesia has witnessed a violent crackdown on the LGBTI community since 2016, even though homosexuality is not illegal.

The government of Cianjur regency in West Java sent the sermon request because a report by an Aids commission showed the LGBTI population was rising, according to CNN Indonesia.

The memo included sermons titled 'The Dangers of LGBT, Sodomy and Abuse in terms of Religious Life, the Nation and the State from the Perspective of Islamic Law'.

A Cianjur Regency Government spokesperson told CNN the Aids commission indicated there were as many as 3,452 gay men in the region.

'Of course the negative impact of LGBT is our concern and the people in our region do not want it to continue to grow and develop' the spokesperson reportedly said.

HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men in Indonesia is about 25 per cent, according to UNAIDS. But, experts warn, vilifying the LGBTI Indonesian blocks access to prevention and treatment services for the community, worsening the crisis.

The memo came on the same day that Indonesia's Minister of Religious Affairs, Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, posted a video to Twitter denouncing LGBTI people.

Ahead of the 2019 national elections, many politicians are keen to show they do not support the LGBTI community to secure votes among conservative Indonesians.


Advocacy group says anti-LGBT at mosques sermons will trigger even more

CNN Indonesia - October 18, 2018

Jakarta – The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) advocacy group Arus Pelangi (Rainbow Current) has slammed the Cianjur regency government's call for mosques to present sermons on the dangers of LGBT and HIV/AIDS at Friday prayers on October 19.

Arus Pelangi activist Yuli Rustinawati said that the call will only increase the threat against LGBT groups in Indonesia.

"Even without the appeal LGBT people were already under threat, let alone with this appeal. The LGBT community is increasingly under threat and persecuted", said Yuli when contacted by CNN Indonesia on Thursday October 18.

Yuli admitted that she is concerned that the appeal will result in sermons or negative narratives that will trigger persecution against LGBT groups. Yet, said Yuli, LGBT people are also citizens who have rights that must be protected by the state.

"And most important of all, LGBT [people] are still human beings who have the same rights [as everybody else]", said Yuli.

The appeal for sermons on the dangers of LGHT and HIV/AIDS was contained in Cianjur Regency Circular Number 400/5368/Kesra on Presenting Friday Sermons on LGBT which was received by CNN Indonesia.

The government said that the appeal was issued because the number of LGBT people in Cianjur regency is significant based on a report by the Cianjur regency Aids Commission (KPA).

Arus Pelangi itself does not have data on the number of LGBT people in Cianjur, although Yuli asserted that the appeal is a form of homophobia and a negative preconception about LGBT people.

Yuli said that the Cianjur regency government is not the only party that is responsible for this discriminatory appeal because discriminative polices against the LGBT community have also been supported by the central government.

According to Yuli, the discriminative policies by the central government are embodied in articles in the Anti-Pornography Law (UU Anti Pornografi).

"The UU Pornografi views LGBT as a threat. There is also a moralistic narrative which always portrays LGBT in a bad light and a narrative that LGBT is a threat to the country", said Yuli.

Yuli said that Arus Pelangi is yet to issue an official response to the Cianjur regency government's appeal on anti-LGBT sermons at Friday prayers. According to Yuli the group will discuss the matter further before taking a position or deciding on what advocacy to take.

"We are still discussing it with others. What is the best way for us to view this. Because this is not the first time this has happened. It has happened in several other places", said Yuli. (wis)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Arus Pelangi: Khotbah Jumat Anti-LGBT Semakin Picu Persekusi".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20181018111010-20-339441/arus-pelangi-khotbah-jumat-anti-lgbt-semakin-picu-persekusi

West Java governor, Jokowi's campaign team okay with anti-LGBT sermons

CNN Indonesia - October 18, 2018

Bandung, CNN Indonesia – West Java Governor Uu Ruzhanul Ulum says that his office will not make an issue over the appeal by the Cianjur regency government calling on all mosques to present sermons on the dangers Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) during Friday prayers.

"As long as what is said is for the good of the religious community, for the benefit of the religious community, for the improvement of the religious community, there's no problem with that being said in mosques", said Ulum at the Gedung Sate building (governor's office) in Bandung city on Thursday October 18.

But it should not just be on the dangers of LGBT, said Ulum. The speeches given at mosques should also address social ills which are commonly discussed in the context of providing religious views.

"We shouldn't be taboo about speaking about things other than religion in mosques. Mosques function as places for mahdhoh and ghoiru mahdhoh [subjects not directly related to religious worship]", said the former Tasikmalaya regent and United Development Party (PPP) politician.

"But it would be best that if what is conveyed is related to religion or religious obligations, but [sermons] which sow disunity or debase one group against another group, they're not allowed", he added.

Ulum did however admit that he agrees with the Cianjur government's appeal and hopes that the sermons can be part of communicating various aspects of the government's program.

Widodo election campaign team okay with anti-LGBT sermons

Speaking separately, the deputy chairperson of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and vice presidential running mate Ma'ruf Amin's election campaign team (TKN), Abdul Kadir Karding, said he supports the Cianjur government's call for anti-LGBT sermons at Friday prayers.

"The regent proposed this in the sense of religious outreach, yes so it's no problem. I support it", said Karding at the Cemara House, a community-based counseling organisation for drug addicts and people living with HIV/AIDS in Jakarta, on Thursday October 16.

Karding believes that the measures taken by the Cianjur regent are correct because all religious teachings prohibit LGBT and it is extremely dangerous for society.

He emphasised that LGBT behaviour itself does not emerged naturally in a person but is a sexual abnormality which arises as a result of environmental factors and daily social intercourse. "LGBT is indeed unnatural. It is a disease, because of the environment, social intercourse, and is forbidden by religion", he said.

Karding also admitted that protection for minority groups, particularly the LGBT community in Indonesia, is still a dilemma. He suggests that the government draft policies that can embrace as well as treat social groups from the LGBT community so that they can return to a normal life.

A similar view was expressed by TKN Widodo-Amin deputy director for election witnesses, Ahmad Baidowi, who said that LGBT is forbidden under Islam.

"The PPP once proposed a draft law against LGBT (RUU Anti LGBT) but in the end it has been incorporated into the [draft revisions to the] KUHP [Criminal Code] which is currently being deliberated by [the House of Representatives'] Commission III", he said.

Earlier this week, the Cianjur regency government issued Cianjur Regency Circular Number 400/5368/Kesra on Presenting Friday Sermons on LGBT.

In the circular, the government said that there are a significant number of LGBT people in Cianjur regency based on a report by the Cianjur Aids Commission (KPA). Based on this, the regency government has asked that sermons be given on the dangers of LGBT and HIV/AIDS at Friday prayers this October 19.

The circular was signed by Cianjur Deputy Regent Herman Suherman in the name of Cianjur Regent Irvan Rivano Muchtar and dated October 15.

Role of the family and the spread of HIV

West Java KPA secretariat head Iman Tedja Rachmana meanwhile said that family vigilance must be improved in order to prevent LGBT spreading in society. According to Rachmana, the role of the family is very significant because whatever the other factors, it is a bulwark against LGBT.

"LGBT groups do indeed exist in society but they must be dealt with correctly. By embracing and educating them. Socialisation should not just about how this group is immoral, that they must be scorched from the earth, not like that", he said.

According to Rachmana the KPA's role is not dealing with cases of LGBT. But if it is seen in terms of the spread of HIV-AIDS then the KPA has a role in restoring them in an integrated manner.

He explained that in principle, LGBT is in conflict with religious values and the identity and religious culture of the Indonesian nation. It is more correct to view LGBT, he said, as an abnormality and social problem which needs to be dealt with correctly and comprehensively.

"If society doesn't agree with the existence of LGBT, that's not a problem. Our religion forbids it, yes. But we do not yet have the legal instruments (to regulate LGBT) and because of this the approach has to be mid-way. A good step is to begin with parents speaking to their children (communicating)", explained Rachmana.

In relation to HIV, Rachmana explained that it is not just the risk for LGBT people, but also for heterosexuals. Based on this, said Rachmana, the war has to be on sexual behaviour, not just LGBT as an identity.

"Certainly it is true that LGBT is one of the risk factors, certainly it is true that there is a large number [HIV/AIDS infected LGBT people], but the other figure (heterosexual) is higher", he explained.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Wagub Jabar Dukung Seruan Khotbah Jumat Tolak LGBT di Cianjur".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20181018191224-20-339636/wagub-jabar-dukung-seruan-khotbah-jumat-tolak-lgbt-di-cianjur

Lawmakers celebrate defeat of pro-LGBT motion at IPU meeting in Geneva

Liputan 6 - October 18, 2018

Muhammad Radityo Priyasmoro, Jakarta – The head of the Justice and Prosperity Party (PKI) faction in the House of Representatives (DPR) says that Indonesian lawmakers firmly rejected the legalisation and spread of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) at the general assembly of the 139th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) which took place on October 14-18 in Geneva, Switzerland.

"We reject all efforts to spread LGBT ideas let alone those which lead to legalization. Praise be to Allah that our efforts were supported by a majority of countries, 36 rejected it and only 9 supported it", said Juwaini speaking during a session of the standing committee on Democracy and Human Rights via a press release received by Liputan 6 on Thursday October 18.

Juwaini asserted that there is no religion in the world that has legalised LGBT. Because of this, the DPR Commission I member hopes that the world parliament will develop a dignified global debate which upholds ethics and moral values, including religious values.

"There is no religion anywhere in the world that legalises LGBT because of its destructive effects on humanity", he asserted.

Conflicts with Pancasila

Based on this principal, Juwaini emphasised that the successful rejection of LGBT at the world parliament is part of Indonesia's mission as mandated by the nation's principals and constitution.

"The national principles of [the state ideology of] Pancasila and the UUD 1945 [1945 Constitution] clearly reject the spread never mind the legalisation of LGBT. We will therefore continue to fight for this in all and any [global] forums", he said in conclusion.


Led by countries such as Uganda, a majority of parliamentary members attending the 139th Assembly of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva on October 14-18 rejected a proposal by Canada and Belgium that the next 140th Assembly's standing committee on Democracy and Human Rights should hold a panel debate that will not lead to a resolution, entitled "The role of Parliaments in ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and ensuring respect for the Human rights of LGBTI persons".

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Di Forum Parlemen Dunia, DPR Tolak Legalisasi LGBT".]

Source: https://www.liputan6.com/news/read/3670325/di-forum-parlemen-dunia-dpr-tolak-legalisasi-lgbt

Indonesian religious minister denounces LGBT, but calls for people's

Jakarta Post - October 17, 2018

Dyaning Pangestika, Jakarta – Social media went abuzz earlier this week with #UninstallGoJek after homegrown ride-hailing company Gojek has come under fire after a screenshot of a Facebook post from one of its executives expressing support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community went viral.

The condemnation of the LGBT community later grew to accusations that homosexuality, which is considered sinful for many Indonesians across all religions, was supported by Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin.

An edited video uploaded by Twitter user @Gemacan70 showed a clip of the minister attending an event that Gemacan described as an LGBT forum.

"Does this means that the minister legalized LGBT? The government should cure LGBT through a religious and psychological approach, but they appreciate it instead. #WeirdMinister," Gemacan tweeted.

In response to the video, Lukman made a clarification video titled "Religious Affairs Ministry Rejects LGBT". Lukman repeatedly said that all religions rejected LGBT communities and that it was every religious leader's duty to guide them so they will change their ways.

"Although LGBT behavior is wrong, they should still be treated with empathy so that they will change their deviant ways," Lukman said in the video, adding that the public should avoid shunning, mocking or excluding LGBT individuals in the society.

Public anxiety over the LGBT community grew in 2016 after a gender and sexuality study group in Depok-based University of Indonesia was accused of promoting the LGBT movement.

The outrage has triggered high-ranking officials including Research, Technology and Higher Education Minister Mohamad Nasir to ban LGBT-related activities in campus.

As the country enters the presidential campaign season, several regions have also been swept in the anti-LGBT movement.

Hundreds of school principals in Garut, West Java, gathered last week to publicly denounce the presence of the LGBT community in school after discovering a Facebook page for gay students. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/17/indonesian-religious-minister-denounces-lgbt-but-calls-for-peoples-empathy.html

W. Java regency government asks all mosques to preach about dangers of

Coconuts Jakarta - October 17, 2018

Intolerance towards LGBT individuals has been on the rise recently in Indonesia and, while the government hasn't criminalized homosexuality yet (except in the highly conservative region of Aceh), many government officials have made statements or instituted policies aimed at discriminating against sexual minorities.

In the latest disturbing instance of an Indonesian government institution encouraging intolerance towards the LGBT community, the government of West Java's Cianjur regency recently released a circular to the region's mosques asking that they present sermons about the "dangers" of LGBT and HIV/AIDS this Friday.

The instructions were detailed in Cianjur Regency Circular Number 400/5368 which was received by CNN Indonesia and other local media outlets.

The circular says the sermon request is due to a report by the Cianjur District AIDS Commission that indicated the LGBT population in Cianjur had recently increased significantly.

The circular, which it says is to be disseminated to all of the regency's districts and villages, was signed by Cianjur Deputy Regent Herman Suherman on behalf of the Cianjur Regent Irvan Rivano Muchtar and dated October 15, 2018.

In addition to containing instructions, the circular also includes six pages of sermon texts entitled "The Dangers of LGBT, Sodomy and Abuse in terms of Religious Life, the Nation and the State from the Perspective of Islamic Law".

Cianjur Regency Government head spokesperson Gagan Rusganda confirmed the authenticity of the circular.

"Yes. The Circular was issued by the Cianjur Regency Government as one of the efforts to overcome the spread of LGBT in our region," Gagan confirmed to CNN Indonesia on Wednesday.

Gagan said that the Cianjur administration had coordinated with a number of institutions related to the circular including the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) of Cianjur and representatives of the Ministry of Religion.

"Of course the negative impact of LGBT is our concern and the people in our region do not want it to continue to grow and develop," Gagan said, adding that the report from the Cianjur District AIDS Commission indicated there were as many as 3,452 gay men in the regency.

While the spread of HIV/AIDS is indeed a serious problem in some parts of Indonesia, activists and health experts argue that the rise in intolerance and state-sponsored discrimination against the LGBT community is helping to fuel the problem by forcing gay men further underground and out of the reach of HIV outreach and prevention programs.

This latest troubling example of government-sponsored intolerance came on the same day that Indonesia's Minister of Religious Affairs, Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, released a video that he said was a clarification in response to rumors that he supported LGBT.

In the video, which carries the title "Religious Affairs Ministry Rejects LGBT", he repeats the justification used by many Indonesians that all religions reject LGBT (a statement which is wrong for many reasons) and says that while he rejects LGBT behavior he believes they should still be treated with empathy so that they can be convinced to change their sinful ways.

Previously, Lukman had publicly said that LGBT citizens should be embraced, not shunned, but even that tepid defense led to a backlash against him and his ministry.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/w-java-regency-government-asks-mosques-preach-dangers-lgbt-hiv-friday/

Cianjur government instructs mosques to preach on dangers of LGBT,

CNN Indonesia - October 17, 2018

Jakarta – The Cianjur regency government in West Java has asked all regency mosques to present sermons on the dangers of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) and HIV/AIDS at Friday prayers this October 19.

The instruction by the regency government to all sub-district heads was contained in Cianjur Regency Circular Number 400/5368/Kesra on Presenting Friday Sermons on LGBT which was received by CNN Indonesia.

Referring to the circular, the government said that there are a significant number of LGBT people in Cianjur regency based on a report by the Cianjur Aids Commission (KPA).

Because of this, the regency government is asking that sermons on the dangers of LGBT and HIV/AIDS be presented at Friday prayers this week. "And disseminate this to all local village/ward chiefs", read a section of the circular.

Aside from the instruction itself, attached to the circular is six pages of sermon text titled "The Dangers of LGBT, Sodomy and Abuse in Religious Life, the Nation and the State from the Perspective of Islamic Law".

Cianjur regency government public relations head Gagan Rusganda has confirmed the circular. "That's right. The circular was issued by the Cianjur regency government as an endeavor to address the spread of LGBT in our regency", said Rusganda when sought for confirmation on Wednesday October 17.

According to Rusganda, only regency mosques that can accommodate large numbers of worshipers are obliged to give sermons on the dangers of LGBT.

Rusganda claimed that the Cianjur regency government had coordinated with several institutions in drafting the circular. The text of the sermon distributed to mosque managers, he said, was drafted by a team comprising members of the Cianjur regency government, the Cianjur Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI) and representatives from the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

"Of course the negative impact of LGBT is our concern and the concern of communities in our region so that [the number of LGBT] does not continue to grow and develop", he said.

The regency government and the public are anxious about the growth in the number of LGBT people, particularly Men Having Sex with Men (Lelaki Seks dengan Lelaki, LSL) in Cianjur regency. He claimed that the presence of LGBT people has been reported in almost all parts of the regency.

As of July this year, Rusganda claims that 3,452 LSL people were reported in Cianjur regency. This has occurred in concert with findings on HIV/AIDS sufferers, which reached 916 people as of last September.

"This data has been found and recorded, of course there will be more who are not yet recorded", he said. (bmw/arh)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Pemkab Cianjur Minta Masjid Khotbah Jumat Tolak LGBT".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20181017093949-20-339089/pemkab-cianjur-minta-masjid-khotbah-jumat-tolak-lgbt

Ulama Council supports Cianjur government's call for sermons on 'dangers

CNN Indonesia - October 17, 2018

Jakarta – The Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI) has responded positively to the call by the Cianjur regency government in West Java for mosques to give sermons at Friday prayers on the dangers of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT).

The MUI believes that the call is appropriate because the current situation has become a LGBT emergency.

"I agree with the circular that we are indeed facing a LGBT emergency because people with this disease are now feeling that they are normal", MUI religious outreach department head Cholil Nafis told CNN Indonesia on Wednesday October 17.

Even stranger, said Nafis, parties that are trying to cure LGBT people are increasingly considered to be wrong because they are not extolling or supporting LGBT people.

"Because of this [we need] sermons which urge us to avoid LGBT, on the spread of LGBT, on LGBT [people] inviting others [to be LGBT] and influencing others, of course we must stop this because God Almighty's wrath was brought down upon the Prophet Luth because of the behaviour of LGBT people", said Nafis.

According to Nafis, the presence of LGBT people undermines the goals of Islamic law, namely having children through marriage with the opposite sex. He is concerned that LGBT ideas will undermine the health of the next generation.

"Moreover before [the next generation] is depleted because no one will give birth, and at the same time generations will become weak, become abnormal because of LGBT", he said.

The Cianjur regency government's instruction on rejecting LGBT during sermons at Friday prayers was contained in Cianjur Regency Circular Number 400/5368/Kesra on Presenting Friday Sermons on LGBT.

Referring to the contents of the circular, the number of LGBT people in Cianjur regency is significant based on a report by the Cianjur Aids Commission (KPA). Because of this, the regency government has asked that sermons be given on the dangers of LGBT and HIV/AIDS at Friday prayers this October 19.

In addition to the instruction, attached to the circular are six pages of sermon text titled "The Dangers of LGBT, Sodomy and Abuse in Religious Life, the Nation and the State from the Perspective of Islamic Law". (osc)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "MUI Dukung Pemkab Cianjur Serukan Tolak LGBT di Khotbah Jumat".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20181017122807-20-339173/mui-dukung-pemkab-cianjur-serukan-tolak-lgbt-di-khotbah-jumat

Pocky challenge at mall's K-Pop event leads to LGBT panic in Indonesia

Coconuts Jakarta - October 16, 2018

There has been a sharp rise in intolerance against the LGBT community in Indonesia in recent years due to rising conservatism and political fear-mongering.

Not only can sexual minorities face intense public shaming and potential criminalization, anything associated with support for the LGBT community, from a statement about inclusiveness from a major local company to a gay beauty pageant in Bali and even rainbow colored ice cream bars can lead to overblown controversy.

The latest cause of an LGBT moral panic in Indonesia? Pocky.

Yes, the innocent candy-coated biscuit sticks are now an implement of immorality in the minds of many Indonesians following the viral spread of photos and videos of a Pocky Challenge contest held during a K-Pop related event at Magelang Town Square mall in Magelang, Central Java.

The mall's "Little Korea" event, held on Sunday, was primarily meant to be a singing and dancing competition targeting the local K-Pop community. In between performances while waiting for the judges' scores, the organizers held a Pocky Challenge contest with same sex player pairings.

If you don't know what the Pocky Challenge is it involves two players, each holding one end of a Pocky in their mouths and taking bites until they almost kiss. The loser is the first to drop their Pocky or turn away in embarrassment. It started as a cheeky party game ala spin the bottle in Japan but is also very popular in Korea (though they may go for local Pocky competitor Pepero)

One of the organizers of the "Little Korea" event in Malang innocently told Kompas, "For the challenge we paired men with men and women with women because if it was men and women it would clearly not be acceptable by religion."

But, as it turned out, men almost kissing men and women almost kissing women, even with a Pocky between them, still proved to be shocking to many Magelang mall goers. Photos and video of the candy contest went viral very quickly and led to the police shutting down the Little Korea event that same day.

According to the Magelang District Police, they questioned 13 witnesses related to the incident, including the mall's management, event organizers and spectators. They concluded based on their statements and the evidence on social media that the events did not include any criminally pornographic elements (even under Indonesia's draconian and vague pornography law).

Magelang Police Chief Hari Purnomo said that's because there was no kissing or touching of the lips between the participants and also because it was just a game.

The police chief also said that rumors that the event had been forcibly shut down by a group of people was incorrect and claimed that police only stopped the event because it did not have a proper permit.

Both the mall management and the event's organizers emphatically apologized to the public and the organizers quickly dismantled the event's stage after the police ordered it shut down.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/pocky-challenge-malls-k-pop-event-leads-lgbt-panic-indonesia/

Same-sex 'Pocky challenge' causes stir in Indonesia

Gay Star News - October 16, 2018

Rik Glauert – A K-pop event at a mall in Indonesia came to an abrupt end on Sunday (14 October) after same-sex pairs took part in a 'Pocky challenge' on stage.

For the uninitiated, this involves two people chewing either end of a Korean biscuit stick (often covered in chocolate) until one person drops it or backs away and forfeits the game. If they chew until their lips meet and wind up kissing, everyone wins.

In conservative Indonesia, where the LGBTI community is facing an unprecedented backlash, the competition induced moral panic.

Photos and videos of the light-hearted challenge at the Little Korea in Central Java's Magelang Town Square mall event quickly went viral. Then, according to one Facebook users, police shut down the event.

Police questioned 13 witnesses, including event organizers, but made no arrests, according to local media.

The competition did not contravene Indonesia's draconian pornography laws, according to Coconuts Indonesia, because there was no touching of lips.

Although homosexuality is legal in Indonesia, the country's pornography laws are often used to repress the minority. Police later claimed the event was shut down because organizers did not have the correct paperwork.

Campaign of hate

Since the end of 2015, politicians and government officials in Indonesia have been whipping up the public into an anti-LGBT fury.

The historically tolerant nation began the increased persecution and violence against the LGBTI community as Muslim fundamentalist groups became more influential.

Police and Islamist vigilantes have raided gay clubs, hair salons, private homes, and community events.

This atmosphere of fear is having a devastating impact on the community's mental and physical health. HIV outreach workers are struggling to connect with community members to offer advice about prevention and treatment of the disease.

Source: https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/same-sex-pocky-challenge-causes-stir-in-indonesia/

Corruption & abuse of power

Novel case proves Jokowi fails to fulfill Nawacita

Tempo - October 19, 2018

Friski Riana, Jakarta – The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS) deemed President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had failed to accomplish the first point of his promise on human rights mentioned in his Nawacita (nine priorities) program, considering the case of Novel Baswedan had remained in limbo.

"The reality is an anti-corruption activist is criminalized," KontraS coordinator Yati Andriani said in her office, Friday, Oct 19.

Yati explained the first point of Jokowi and Jusuf Kalla's promise on human rights was to develop clear and transparent legislative politics and take side in combating corruption, uphold human rights, preserve the environment, and reform law enforcement institutions.

However, Jokowi has failed to form a joint fact-finding team to investigate the alleged attack against a senior investigator of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), Novel Baswedan.

"While in fact, it is clear that the police have failed to find the perpetrators of the assault against Novel this year," she underlined.

Besides, Yati went on to say there was an attempt to weaken the anti-graft body, such as the suspected destruction of evidence committed by former KPK investigators from the police. The case was recently disclosed by IndonesiaLeaks.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/10/19/055922699/Novel-Case-Proves-Jokowi-Fails-to-Fulfill-Nawacita

56,000 state assets still missing: Ministry

Jakarta Post - October 19, 2018

Jakarta – The Public Works and Housing Ministry has said it was still trying to find some 56,000 missing state assets under its control.

"We are coordinating with the relevant institutions to find the assets," Public Works and Housing Ministry secretary-general Anita Firmanti said in Jakarta on Thursday, on the sideline of the state asset handover ceremony from the ministry to other institutions.

Anita said the ministry currently controlled about 40 percent of state assets across the country.

She said the ministry would further investigate the assets that had not been found because she believed they might be used or controlled by other government institutions.

She pointed to a case where a regional government had constructed an irrigation facility on a plot of land originally controlled by the ministry. "It means that the assets are still there, but we need to do research to find them," Anita said as reported by kompas.com.

Accelerating the handover of ministry assets to other institutions, including to regional administrations, would help in better managing those assets because it would be clear which institutions control them, she added.

A lack of clarity over who is responsible for state assets often sparks problems in the assets' management and maintenance. She said the maintenance of low-cost apartments, for example, often causes disputes between the central and regional governments.

Regional administrations often refuse to repair or to carry out maintenance of low-cost apartments in their regions. "The problem is that the central government does not allocate a budget to carry out repairs or maintenance of low-cost apartments," she added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/19/56000-state-assets-still-missing-ministry.html

Luhut says he backed Meikarta because he thought permits 'were all done'

Jakarta Post - October 17, 2018

Jakarta – Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said he attended the Meikarta topping-off ceremony last year because he was unaware of any problems regarding the issuance of permits for the new city development in Bekasi, West Java.

The mega project, planned on 5,400 hectares of land in Cikarang, is in the spotlight after the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested and named as suspects Bekasi Regent Neneng Hasanah Yasin and Lippo Group operational director Billy Sindoro, as well as several other top officials in the administration, for their alleged roles in bribery relating to the issuance of property permits for the project.

"There are a lot of permits that I don't know about. When I asked about [the matter], [they said] there was no problem with the permits," Luhut said at the State Palace on Tuesday as quoted by tribunnews.com.

On Oct. 29 last year, Luhut said that he asked Lippo CEO James Riady about the permits and that James had told him they were all done. Immigration Director General Ronny F. Sompie and Democratic Party secretary-general Hinca Pandjaitan also attended the topping-off ceremony. Luhut said he would let the KPK investigate the matter.

Besides Neneng and Billy, the KPK also named as suspects two consultants working for Lippo Group, Taryudi and Fitra Djaja Purnama, the company's employee Henry Jasmen, Bekasi Public Works and Housing (PUPR) Agency head Jamaludin, the agency's spatial planning head Neneng Rahmi, the administration's fire agency head Sahat MJB Nahar and Capital Investment and One-Stop Integrated Services (DPMPTSP) Agency head Dewi Tisnawati.

Billy is accused of promising a commitment fee to Neneng Hasanah worth Rp 13 billion (US$858,468). (foy)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/17/luhut-says-he-backed-meikarta-because-he-thought-permits-were-all-done.html

Police to investigate IndonesiaLeaks, LBH finds it regrettable

Tempo - October 16, 2018

Fikri Arigi, Jakarta – Director of the Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers), Nawawi Bahrudin regrets police's intention to investigate IndonesiaLeaks following its report of an alleged violation done by two police investigators.

The alleged violation involves evidence tampering incriminating two police members while they were tasked to work under the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). Nawawi said that the National Police have shown an authoritative approach if they do investigate IndonesiaLeaks.

"We regret that there are attempts [by police] that mimics an authoritative approach," said Nawawi to Tempo today, Oct. 16. Nawawi asserted that if there are oddities in the reporting, police can take it to the Press Council.

He further argues that police and KPK should have reacted to IndonesiaLeaks' investigative report with contemplation and should have been willing to investigate the two alleged police members in question.

IndonesiaLeaks is an investigative platform consisting of members from numerous Indonesian news agencies and the Independent Journalist's Alliance (AJI) that recently uncovered a bribery scandal of businessman Basuki Hariman to Constitutional Judge Patrialis Akbar on January 2017. The evidence, a red passbook, was partially ruined by the two police investigators while they worked as KPK investigators.

"There is no [violation] within the police institution. I can guarantee that it's solid," said National Police Spokesman Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto on Monday, October 15, "Our investigation is outside [of the police institution]," he said.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/10/16/055922579/Police-to-Investigate-IndonesiaLeaks-LBH-Finds-It-Regrettable

Terrorism & religious extremism

Surabaya church bombers believed world ending in 2018: Report

Jakarta Post - October 20, 2018

Devina Heriyanto, Jakarta – Dita Oepriarto, the suspected mastermind behind the Surabaya church bombings in May, believed the world would end in 2018 and was driven by his apocalyptic belief to carry out the deadly attack, according to a report released by the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC).

The imminent end of the world, the report says, was a frequent theme of Dita's lectures after taking charge as the emir (leader) of Jamaah Anshar Daulah (JAD) Surabaya in mid 2017 – a year before a series of bombings in Surabaya and Sidoarjo, East Java, in May this year.

The bombings killed 25 people, including the perpetrators and their family members.

Dita was said to have believed in a hadith (a saying from Prophet Mohammad) regarding the end of days, when the stars would fall and a meteor would hit the earth, followed by a black cloud that would last for at least 40 days.

The apocalyptic event, according to the hadith, would kill everyone but those who live in the greater Syria area, where an Islamic leader called Imam Mahdi would appear after the cloud disappeared.

Other suspected Surabaya bombers, Anton Ferdianto and Tri Murtiono, are thought to have shared this belief.

The three later used their own families, including children, to carry out the attacks. They believed that, since getting to Syria was almost impossible then, the best guarantee to get to heaven was to carry out jihad in their home country.

The decision to use children in the attacks was later condemned by JAD ideologue Aman Abdurrahman, who called it "a cruel act under the pretext of jihad."

The report, released on Thursday, elaborates on the preparation of the JAD network in East Java from 2015 and future scenarios of terrorist activity in Indonesia.

The IPAC notes that Dita, Anton and Tri had started building homemade bombs in October 2017. In five months, the three produced almost 100 pipe bombs and some 64 so-called "mug bombs".

However, the relative success of the families in their terrorist activity was attributed to their "unusual ability to keep secrets rather than their technical know-how".

The families deliberately interacted more with their neighbors to present an image of "normal, pious Muslims". This, the report says, was one of the reasons why police stopped their surveillance of the families three months before the attacks.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/20/surabaya-church-bombers-believed-world-ending-in-2018-report.html

Police foil JAD plot to attack Buddhist temples in Tanjung Balai

Jakarta Post - October 19, 2018

Apriadi Gunawan, Medan – The North Sumatra Police have claimed that two suspected terrorists killed in a raid in Tanjung Balai on Thursday had planned to attack Buddhist temples and police stations in the racially and religiously diverse municipality.

The National Police's Densus 88 counterterrorism squad found seven makeshift bombs containing nails, improvised firearms, ammunition and seven containers of explosive powder from the two suspects.

"They planned to attack temples, police stations and other vital installations in Tanjung Balai," North Sumatra Police chief Insp. Gen. Agus Andrianto told reporters on Friday.

Tanjung Balai has seen rising sectarian tension in recent years following a 2016 incident in which a Buddhist woman of Chinese descent was accused of defaming Islam for complaining about the loudspeaker of a local mosque.

The incident triggered a riot that led to the burning of several Buddhist temples. The woman, Meiliana, was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to 18 months in prison in August this year.

Agus said that the two suspects, identified only as AN, 26, RI, 23, were shot dead after a shootout on Jl. Jumpul in Teluk Nibung district on Thursday afternoon. "They attacked the officers by firing shots."

The police believed that both suspects were members of Jemaah Ansharud Daulah (JAD), the country's largest pro-Islamic State group, which is responsible for a number of terror attacks, including the Surabaya bombings that killed dozens of people.

"We have investigated this terror cell after one of its members was killed [in Tanjung Balai] in May," Tanjung Balai Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Irfan Rifa said.

The police claimed that Tanjung Balai was secure even though they had declared a siaga 1 security alert in the region.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/19/police-foil-jad-plot-to-attack-buddhist-temples-in-tanjung-balai.html

Hard-line & vigilante groups

Despite FPI warning of God's wrath, Gandrung Sewu Festival will go on

Coconuts Jakarta - October 19, 2018

Following an attack by masked assailants that led to cancellation of the traditional Javanese sedekah laut ceremony in Cental Java's Bantul regency on Saturday, another cultural festival in Banyuwangi, East Java, has decided to carry on despite opposition from a local hardline Islamic group.

The celebration in the spotlight is Saturday's Gandrung Sewu Festival, the highlight of which is a massive dance exhibition. Gandrung is a form of traditional dance performed in many parts of Indonesia but which is especially closely related to Banyuwangi. Originally performed as a ritual for Dewi Sri, a goddess of rice and fertility, it evolved into more of a courtship dance and, now, a major tourist attraction. This year's festival is set to feature a record breaking 1,314 dancers.

Although the festival is generally very popular, this year it was denounced by the Banyuwangi branch of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which issued a letter saying they officially rejected the event.

Essentially, the reasoning in the letter is that, because the Gandrung Sewu festival has animistic origins and associations, it could trigger the wrath of God in the form of a natural disaster similar to the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Central Sulawesi on September 28.

Banyuwangi FPI leader H. Agus Iskandar told the media that the letter, and the threat of God's anger, were both very real.

"Yes, that is our statement. The point is to warn people so they are not punished by God for indulging in such disobedience. The disaster in Palu must be a mirror for Banyuwangi residents," Agus told reporters on Thursday as quoted by Detik.

However, Agus also said the letter was just a warning and if the organizers decided to carry out the festival then FPI would not take action against it.

The chairman of this year's festival, Budianto, said the festival would go on as planned as they did not think FPI's rejection constituted a significant problem. He also argued that the dance was purely an art performance without any religious connotation.

Hopefully the festival will go off tomorrow without having to deal with anything like what happened to last week's sedekah laut ceremony in Bantul. On the night before that event was set to take place, a group of about 50 masked men went to the beach and started destroying tables and chairs set up for the ceremony. The ceremony was ultimately canceled while the assailants remain unidentified.

The sedekah laut ceremony in nearby Cilacap did take place last Friday, but in the week before, banners denouncing the event, carrying messages like "Jangan Larung Sesaji Karena Bisa Tsunami" (Don't do offerings because it can cause a tsunami) and "Make a Tourism Program that Doesn't Incur God's Wrath" caused controversy in the area.

Those banners had been put up by the Cilicap branch of the hardline Muslim People's Forum (FUI), who eventually agreed to take down the banners following severe criticism by locals.

The mention of a tsunami in the banners was also no doubt a reference to the disasters in Central Sulawesi, with the implication being that the sedekah laut ceremony is a form of shirik (in Islam, actions that support idolatry or polytheism) that could make God angry and thus cause natural disasters.

The idea that those disasters were caused due to God's anger has unfortunately found a strong following among some Muslim in Indonesia. In addition to numerous anecdotal reports we've heard about Muslim preachers blaming immorality for the disaster in Central Sulawesi, there is actually a conspiracy theory that it was caused by the existence of a monument that resembled the shape of an eye – which is a sign of Dajjal, the Islamic Anti-Christ – in the nearby regency of Mamuju in West Sulawesi (the monument was even destroyed by the local government on Oct. 11 due to fear caused by the conspiracy theory).

The theory says that the people of Mamuju were going to carry out a sacrificial ritual for the sea gods on the day of the disaster. Some, such as preacher Zulkifli M Ali in the video below (which has over 2 million views) claim that it was that blasphemous idolatry that led to the disasters which, back in the real world, caused over 2,000 people to be killed and over 5,000 feared to be missing.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/despite-fpi-warning-gods-wrath-banyuwangis-gandrung-sewu-festival-will-go/

Prabowo claims FPI leader Rizieq Shihab 'principled', becoming more

CNN Indonesia - October 16, 2018

Jakarta – The closeness of Presidential Candidate Number 02, Prabowo Subianto, with the "Great Leader" of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) Rizieq Shihab, can no longer be denied. The "intimacy" between the pair has been noted since the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial elections.

On April 29 last year, Prabowo and Shihab appeared together at the Istiqlal Mosque in Central Jakarta following after the quick count results showed a victory for Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno in the Jakarta gubernatorial election.

The pair were also seen together at when they attended an event titled "Prayers for the Nation" to commemorate Supersemar [the alleged letter transferring power from president Sukarno to General Suharto on March 11, 1966] at the At-Tin Mosque, a month before they attended the prayers of thanks for Baswedan and Sandiaga's victory at the Istiqlal Mosque.

Prabowo admits that he has known Shihab for some time. The Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) chairperson says that Shihab is developing in a more moderate direction. Prabowo also says that Shihab is very nationalistic and stands by his principles.

"I've known Habib Rizieq for quite some time, and I have seen many developments in him. I think he is becoming more moderate, more nationalist. He is a person who stands by his principles very strongly", said Prabowo in a special interview with CNN Indonesia on Monday October 15.

Shihab is known to take a "hard-line" against those who oppose his political views and is very critical towards the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

The culmination of Shihab's political views reared its head during the 2017 Jakarta election. He explicitly called on the capital city's residents to vote for a Muslim leader. Moreover, Shihab was one of the driving forces behind the series of protests known as the 212 actions against incumbent Chinese-Christian Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.

After he was declared a suspect in an alleged pornography case however, on May 1, 2017 Shihab flew to Saudi Arabia. He has resided in Mecca for more than a year even though the Metro Jaya regional police have dropped the charges against him.

Prabowo managed to meet with Shihab in the Holy City after conducting a pilgrimage in June this year. Prabowo met with Shihab together with National Mandate Party (PAN) Board of Trustees chairperson Amien Rais and Alumni 212 figure Ustaz [Islamic teacher] Ansufri Idrus Sambo.

"Perhaps I feel that with a person such as this... We must always maintain a relationship, must always maintain a dialogue, must always seek the middle path", said Prabowo.

Prabowo rejects the view that Shihab disturbs Indonesia's "kebinekaan" (diversity). According to the former commander of the army's Special Forces (Kopassus), it is excessive to say that Shihab does not accept pluralism. "I don't think he's like that, I think that's excessive", he said.

Prabowo says that Shihab was able to accept the state ideology of Pancasila, the UUD 1945 [1945 Constitution] and the NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia] when he signed an integrity pack with the GNPF [the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa, the group which initiated the anti-Ahok protests] on September 16.

One of the points in the integrity pact was a willingness to genuinely and consistently implement Pancasila and the UUD 1945.

"You saw the integrity pact that we made, you saw that he [Shihab] firmly went along with accepting Pancasila, NKRI, the UUD 1945, wanted all religions to be protected, wanted all religious figures to be protected, what was lacking, what was lacking in his nationalism?", said Prabowo.

The former commander of the Army's Strategic Reserves Command (Pangkostrad) drew a comparison between Shihab and other religious figures, such as Buddhist and Hindu leaders. Prabowo believes that religious leaders will certainly defend their values, the rituals they adhere to, the clothing they wear.

"So we shouldn't be allergic. If there is some trend, where this person, if he is convinced of his religious beliefs, or doesn't disturb [others] why? Why must we be allergic or have a phobia against this. That's my view", he said.

Aside from talking about Shihab, Prabowo also raised the issue of why he chose recently resigned Jakarta deputy governor Sandiaga Uno as his vice presidential running mate in the 2019 presidential elections, his closeness to President Widodo and the campaign slogan that he is promoting, "Make Indonesia Great Again".

The full interview with Prabowo can be seen on the AFD Now program on CNN TV at 9pm, Friday October 19. (fra/dea)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Cerita Prabowo soal Rizieq yang Semakin Moderat".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20181016061227-32-338736/cerita-prabowo-soal-rizieq-yang-semakin-moderat

Religion & politics

NU ulema declare support for Prabowo

Tempo - October 23, 2018

Kukuh S. Wibowo, Jakarta – A group of ulema from the country's largest Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) joined in Barisan Kiai dan Santri Nahdliyin Pendukung Prabowo-Sandiaga declared support for presidential and vice presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno on Monday, Oct 22. The declaration held in NU Museum, Jl. Gayungsari Timur, Surabaya coincided with the launching of Prabowo-Sandiaga campaign post in East Java.

Attended the declaration were Sandiaga Uno, hundreds of supporter, and ulemas including the son of KH Wahab Chasbullah, KH Hasib Wahab Chasbullah; son of KH Maimoen Zubair, KH Najib Maimoen, and KH Choirul Anam.

Hasib Wahas Chasbullah, the leader of Nahdliyin Barisan Kiai and Santri Pendukung Prabowo-Sandiaga, said that Nahdliyin (NU supporters) participated in supporting Prabowo was not listed from the structural board.

They, Hasib added, were NU people who in their political view chose Prabowo-Sandiaga whom they deemed taking the side of the common people. "They [Prabowo-Sandiaga] fight for economic improvement and justice," Hasib told Tempo.

Hasib denied the saying that NU was apart due to the 2019 presidential election since NU Rais Aam KH Ma'ruf Amin became Joko Widodo's running mate. According to Hasib, the different support in politics was a natural matter in the organization. "NU is not divided into two camps, but only different in channeling political aspirations.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/10/23/055922772/NU-Ulema-Declare-Support-for-Prabowo

Suspected HTI flag burning sparks controversy among Muslims

Jakarta Post - October 23, 2018

Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta – A video depicting members of the civilian security unit under the Nahdlatul Ulama's Ansor youth wing (Banser) burning what is believed to be a Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) flag has sparked controversy among Muslims.

In the two-minute video that went viral on Monday, individuals wearing Banser uniforms were seen taking out a black flag bearing the Islamic creed printed in Arabic during a rally while the other set the flag on fire. Dozens of other people wearing the same uniform were watching over the burning. When the fire started engulfing the flag, members started singing the Banser marching song.

The incident occurred during a National Santri Day rally in Garut, West Java, on Monday. Indonesian netizens were outraged by the video, saying the flag burning was a blasphemous act.

"Will Banser members that burned the tauhid flag utter La Illaha Illallah [syahadah] upon their death, while they burned the sentence when alive?" Twitter user @CakKhum tweeted on Monday, while sharing the video.

West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil was among the first officials to respond to the video. The governor tweeted on his Twitter account @ridwankamil on Monday that he regretted the incident.

"They were supposed to burn the symbol of an organization that had been banned by the government, but in my opinion, [the act] triggered a different interpretation. Let's express our views in an acceptable manner. Our nation needs that," he said on Monday.

Ridwan referred to the government's decision to ban HTI, an Islamic organization accused of promoting the establishment of a caliphate that contradicted Pancasila, last year.

Ridwan's statement was echoed by Zainut Tauhid Saad, the deputy chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), who said Banser should be more aware of what it was committing to avoid triggering conflict among Muslims.

He also urged people not be provoked by the video. "It shouldn't be exaggerated because it might trigger further misunderstanding," he said, as quoted by Antara.

The Garut Police have apprehended and questioned three people for their alleged involvement in the flag burning. Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Budi Satria Wiguna said the police were also looking for another individual who allegedly brought the flag to the rally.

"We suspect it was an HTI flag, although we need to investigate it further," Budi said as quoted by kompas.com.

NU youth wing GP Ansor chairman Yaqut Cholil Coumas said he was collecting more information from officials of the wing's Garut chapter regarding the incident. He added that GP Ansor would punish the implicated members if they were found guilty.

"[The punishment] will depend on the level of the wrongdoing. However, we don't have the full story of the incident yet," Yaqut said as quoted by tempo.co. (swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/23/suspected-hti-flag-burning-sparks-controversy-among-muslims.html

MUI calls for flag burners to apologize to 'the faithful'

Jakarta Post - October 23, 2018

Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta – The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has called on the people who burned a black flag bearing an Islamic creed in Arabic to apologize for their action.

"The MUI is concerned and regrets the burning of the flag with the tauhid text, as it has caused an uproar among the Islamic faithful," MUI secretary-general Anwar Abbas told a press conference at its Central Jakarta headquarters on Tuesday.

"The MUI requests that the perpetrators apologize and openly admit their mistake to the Islamic faithful," he said.

The tauhid, or tawhid, is the core of the Islamic faith and expresses the belief in Allah as the one and only God.

The flag-burning incident occurred on Monday during the National Santri (Islamic students) Day celebrations in Garut, West Java, when an unidentified individual raised a black flag bearing the tauhid.

Several men, alleged to be members of the Barisan Ansor Serbaguna (Banser) youth wing of the largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), took down the flag and burned it, apparently because they thought it was the flag of the banned Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI).

A video of the flag burning went viral and drew outrage from many Muslims, who deemed it an insult to Islam.

Police have detained and interrogated three people in connection with the incident, but none have been charged with a crime. MUI deputy chairman Zainut Tauhid said the council would leave it to the police to determine whether the burned flag indeed represented the HTI.

"As it was already agreed that the flags of certain mass organizations were not allowed at that event and then the [HTI] flag suddenly appeared, this means that certain parties are trying to take advantage of the situation for their own interests," he said. (swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/23/mui-calls-for-flag-burners-to-apologize-to-the-faithful.html

If FPI leader Rizieq Shihab can't return before I'm elected, 'I'll go

Kumparan News - October 22, 2018

Presidential candidate Number 2, Prabowo Subianto, has received a boost in support from the Indonesian Islamic Boarding School Students Front (Front Santri Indonesia, FSI) which was established by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).

Prabowo also says he hopes that the FPI's "Great Leader" Habib Rizieq Shihab will soon return to Indonesia, preferably before the 2019 presidential election is held.

"[It would be good] if Habib Rizieq can return before I'm elected. If not, I will go and fetch him myself", said Prabowo at the commemoration of National Santri Day in Bogor, West Java, on Tuesday October 23.

Prabowo expressed his thanks for the support from the FPI santri [religious pupils, Islamic boarding school students] for himself and his vice presidential running mate Sandiaga Uno in the 2019 presidential election. He also invited the santri to monitor the vote count on election day.

"Thank you for your support, thank you. Safeguard the people's vote, and at the same time safeguard the TPS [polling booths]. We will make big changes through the ballot box. We are starting work from this day. We guarantee Indonesia's wealth will return and be enjoyed by the Indonesian people", he said.

Shihab's fate in Saudi Arabia is still not known. He was recently barred from leaving Saudi Arabia for Malaysia to pursue his doctoral studies.

Because of these problems, Shihab has been unable to return to Indonesia. According to the Indonesian Embassy (KBRI) in Riyadh, Shihab has overstayed his visa.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Prabowo Harap Rizieq Pulang Sebelum Pilpres: Kalau Tidak Saya Jemput".]

Source: https://kumparan.com/@kumparannews/prabowo-harap-rizieq-pulang-sebelum-pilpres-kalau-tidak-saya-jemput-1540229357622565591

FPI leader Rizieq Shihab calls on Islamic students to support Prabowo

Kumparan News - October 22, 2018

The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) has held a commemoration of National Santri Day at an event which also celebrated the anniversary of the Indonesian Islamic Boarding School Students Front (Front Santri Indonesia, FSI), an organisation formed by the FPI.

The event also featured video conference greetings from FPI "Great Leader" Rizieq Shihab or Habib Rizieq as he is known affectionately. In his greetings, Shihab again call for those present to be ready to ensure victory for Prabowo Subianto in the 2019 presidential elections.

"Also present among us is presidential candidate Prabowo. Are you ready to ensure victory for Prabowo? Once again prepare to ensure Prabowo is victorious", said Shihab in his greetings to the FSI anniversary and commemoration of National Santri Day on the grounds of the Amaliyah Mosque in Bogor, West Java, on Tuesday October 23.

According to Shihab, the santri do not need to be hesitant about replacing the regime that is currently in power. He hopes that Prabowo and his vice presidential running mate Uno Sandiaga will receive guidance (hidayah) from Allah to rejuvenate Indonesia.

"Hopefully Prabowo and Sandi[aga] will receive hidayah from Allah so that they can lead this country with honesty and love for the state and its religion. So that Indonesia will become a country that is full of blessing", said Shihab.

"I express my good wishes to the FSI, and to all santri who today are celebrating National Santri Day", he said in closing.

Presidential candidate Number 2 Prabowo Subianto, who arrived at the event at 9.15pm, was greeted with shouts of God is Great (takbir) from those present.

During the event Prabowo received official backing for his presidential bid from FSI members who referred to him as a "militant santri'. This support was based on the results of a meeting of ulama [Islamic leaders] and a command from FPI "Great Leader" Habib Rizieq Shihab.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Habib Rizieq Serukan Front Santri Indonesia Dukung Prabowo di Pilpres".]

Source: https://kumparan.com/@kumparannews/habib-rizieq-serukan-front-santri-indonesia-dukung-prabowo-di-pilpres-1540229357622565586

Shouting 'Allahuakbar', Islamic students rally behind 'Indonesia's

Kumparan News - October 22, 2018

The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) has held a commemoration of National Santri Day at an event which also celebrated the anniversary of the Indonesian Islamic Boarding School Students Front (Front Santri Indonesia, FSI), an organisation formed by the FPI.

Presidential candidate Number 2 Prabowo Subianto, who arrived at the event at 9.15pm, was greeted with shouts of Allah is Great (takbir) from those present.

"Allahuakbar, Allahuakbar, Prabowo, Prabowo, Prabowo", shouted the santri who held up two fingers symbolising Prabowo's campaign number at the event held on the grounds of the Amaliyah Mosque in Bogor, West Java on Monday October 22.

Prabowo arrived wearing a white koko [a long-sleeve collarless shirt for men] and a black Muslim skullcap. He was accompanied by Greater Indonesian Movement Party (Gerindra) politician and House of Representatives (DPR) deputy speaker Fadli Zon.

During the event Prabowo received official backing for his presidential bid from FSI members who referred to him as a "militant santri'. This support was based on the results of a meeting of ulama [Islamic leaders] and a command from FPI "Great Leader" Habib Rizieq Shihab.

"We will safeguard Pak [Mr] Prabowo Subianto. Are you ready to ensure victory for Prabowo? Takbir [God is Great]", shouted FPI general chairperson KH Ahmad Sobri Lubis.

"Prabowo Subianto has been mandated by the ulama across Indonesia to step forward as Indonesia's presidential candidate for what is to come", added Lubis.

Lubis said that the santri have played an important political role in Indonesia. Beginning with the struggle for independence from the Dutch through to the current period. Looking at the current situation, he said it is time for the santri to rise up to save Indonesia.

"Today in Indonesia we feel that were are on the verge of destruction, so it's time for the ulama and santri to rise up to save Indonesia", he said.

"Through this event, we will strengthen our unity, God willing we will struggle for the decision by the ulama meeting to [support] the candidate and future leader [of Indonesia] Prabowo Subianto", said Lubis in closing.

The event was attended by a number of religious figures including Habib Muhammad Hanif Al-Athos, Habib Muchsin Bin Zain Al-Athos, KH Maksum Hasan, Buya KH Ahmad Qurtubi, Ustaz Haikal Hasan and Habib Nabil Al-Habsy.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Front Santri Indonesia Deklarasi Dukung Prabowo di Pilpres 2019".]

Source: https://kumparan.com/@kumparannews/front-santri-indonesia-deklarasi-dukung-prabowo-di-pilpres-2019-1540222474451811280

Candidates encouraging identity politics with Islamic boarding school

CNN Indonesia - October 22, 2018

Jakarta, CNN Indonesia – Since the 2019 presidential campaign period officially opened on September 22, both presidential and vice presidential tickets have waged "guerrilla warfare" through visits to Islamic boarding schools (pondok pesantren) in every corner of the country.

Almost every day, the number 01 presidential ticket of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and vice presidential candidate Ma'ruf Amin and the number 02 ticket of Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Uno have an agenda item that includes a visit to an Islamic boarding school. Today for example, coinciding with National Santri Day [Islamic boarding school or religious pupils day], vice presidential candidate Ma'ruf Amin will visit the Cipasung pesantren in Tasikmalaya, West Java. Prabowo and Sandiaga meanwhile will visit the Bahrul Ulum Tambakberas pesantren in Jombang, East Java.

Yet the General Election Commission (KPU) has already made it clear that campaign activities at educational institutions, including Islamic boarding schools, are not allowed.

This is regulated by Law Number 7/2017 on Elections (UU Pemilu). Article 280 Paragraph 1 states that "organisers, contestants, and election campaign teams are prohibited from: (h). using government facilities, places of worship, and places of education".

Although this article is a clear prohibition on campaigning at Islamic boarding schools, both camps justify their visits on the grounds that they are simply holding goodwill meetings or social gatherings (silaturahmi). They claim that there is no electoral campaigning or invitations to vote for them during the visits.

Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) researcher Siti Zuhro believes that the candidates' emphasis on visiting pesantrens shows that their campaigns are still heavily entrenched in identity politics.

Both candidate pairs are still playing the old political game of developing a pro-Islam image in order to garner votes from Muslim voters.

"The current election proves that the endless visits by the [political] elite to the pesantrens, embracing the ulamas [Islamic teachers] and kiai [Islamic scholars], is still crucial and shows the importance of saying to the public that they are pro-Islam. Never mind the politicisation of religion", said Zuhro when contacted by CNN Indonesia on Monday October 22.

Zuhro said that this kind of image building is still quite effective in Indonesia bearing in mind that the majority of the population is Muslim, around 85 percent out of a population of 265 million.

The pesantrens, said Zuhro, have a top-down communication system. So if the candidates succeed in "tying up" the top leaders, in this case the kiai, there is a good possibility that they will also get the support of the santri [students]. From the santri it is then hoped that they can draw in the grass roots communities which hold the santri in high regard.

"[Although it is prohibited] they continue the visits meaning that [the support] is significant. The pesantrens are in contact with the grass roots (lower layers of society). A niche of support that is just as sexy as the millennial [vote]", said Zuhro.

Speaking in the same vein, Al-Azhar Indonesia University political observer Ujang Komarudin says that political support from the pesantrens is absolutely critical.

Although he can't give an estimate of exactly how many votes this represents, Komarudin says that there are millions of potential santri voters. They can be drawn in by means of building an emotional link with kiai and ulama as a symbol of the supremacy of the pesantren.

This emotional link with the kiai, he said, will not just influence santri who are still studying at pesantrens but also pesantren graduates and religious congregations of the kiai outside of the pesantren.

Legal loophole

In addition to this and related to the current situation, Komarudin sees that both the Prabowo and Widodo camps are still taking advantage of loopholes in the electoral law, namely by claiming that their visits to pesantren are just silaturahmi. Yet their visits are clearly an appeal for electoral support.

"[It's not part of campaigning] if they don't invite [voters to support them], don't invite them to vote [for them], distribute brochures, banners, leaflets, name cards, their vision and mission, program. This is the loophole that is being used by the candidates", said Komarudin.

Zuhro meanwhile believes that both camps should be more astute and show more authority. She suggests that both camps stop "silaturahmi-ing" at pesantren. This is because the line that differentiates an ordinary visit from mass campaigning is still too narrow.

"If it's wrong, then prohibit it, just ban it. Close the door on all candidate visits to pesantrens. Just find an way that's legitimate in legal terms, like inviting the kiai and santri to hold a silaturahmi, said Zuhro. (dhf/kid)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Silaturahmi Pesantren, Merawat Politik Identitas Demi Pilpres".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20181022121012-32-340369/silaturahmi-pesantren-merawat-politik-identitas-demi-pilpres

Farming & agriculture

Bulog blames output for low absorption

Jakarta Post - October 22, 2018

Jakarta – State-owned logistics company Bulog has attributed the decline of its rice absorption to the ending of the harvest season and the damage to facilities caused by the Central Sulawesi earthquake, both of which occurred last month.

Bulog operations and public service director Tri Wahyudi Saleh said the end of the rice harvest season signalled reduced domestic rice output, while the Central Sulawesi earthquake had disabled the Bulog division in the affected province, thereby affecting the organization's overall performance.

"We used to be able to purchase over 100 tons of rice per day but now it is less than 100 tons," said Tri Wahyudi in Palu, Central Sulawesi on Friday as reported by tempo.co.

The low absorption rate is detrimental to Bulog's goal of purchasing 2.7 million tons of rice by December, and it has only purchased 0.9 million tons as of June.

In spite of the low absorption, Tri Wahyudi said Bulog still had a sufficient 2.5 million tons of rice – including 13,000 tons stored in South Sulawesi – to feed the population until the end of the year.

Central Sulawesi Bulog head Khozin confirmed his division had 13,000 tons of rice, enough to feed the earthquake-struck province, but had to stop purchasing more rice because the earthquake had heavily damaged their warehouse.

He said his division would await for repair aid from Bulog headquarters before resuming rice purchasing operations and, hopefully, catch their year-end target of 15,000 tons of rice. (brf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/22/bulog-blames-output-for-low-absorption.html

Land & agrarian conflicts

Families threaten to remove heroes' bodies from Kalibata cemetery

Jakarta Post - October 19, 2018

Jakarta – The families of some national heroes have threatened to remove the bodies of their relatives buried in Kalibata Heroes Cemetery, following an attempt by the Indonesian Military (TNI) to evict them from a military housing complex in Menteng Pulo, South Jakarta.

A representative of the families, Tini, said they planned to remove the bodies because the TNI did not treat the heroes' families properly during the eviction attempt on Wednesday.

"The eviction was executed arbitrarily and it was disrespectful to the memory of the heroes," Tini said on Thursday as quoted by kompas.com.

Meanwhile, Dasril, a member of the guard on duty at the cemetery, said the families could not remove the bodies. "The families signed agreements that they handed over the bodies [of the heroes] to the country."

Previously, military personnel in full riot gear were accused of threatening the residents with violence if they did not leave. The residents resisted the eviction effort resulting in a clash that left one resident, Jayadi, 25, injured.

The TNI forced two families out of their homes because none of the family members were military veterans or their spouses, while the other 42 families were spared eviction.

Jakarta Military Command spokesperson Lt. Col. Kristomei Sianturi said the homes would be used to accommodate active personnel and their family members.

A 2009 Defense Ministry regulation on military housing stipulates that residents shall vacate the homes if the personnel they are related have retired or died. (cal)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/19/families-threaten-to-remove-heroes-bodies-from-kalibata-cemetery.html

Agrarian Ministry distributes 6.2m land certificates

Jakarta Post - October 19, 2018

Jakarta – The Agrarian Spatial Planning Ministry has as of October distributed 6.2 million land certificates, nearly reaching its target of handing out 7 million throughout the year.

Agrarian Spatial Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil said he was optimistic the target could be reached by the end of 2018.

"Our ambitious target is to completely distribute all plots of land by 2025," said Sofyan in Jakarta on Thursday, as reported by kontan.co.id, adding that next year, the ministry would distribute 9 million land certificates.

He emphasized the importance of the land certification program, which aimed at providing people with certainty over the ownership of their own land. It also helps push the government's financial inclusion program because the certificates could be used as collateral when applying for bank loans. Sofyan said the program would also minimize agrarian conflicts.

The distribution of land certificates is one of the prioritized programs introduced by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo. His administration aims to distribute 23 million land certificates by the time Jokowi ends his first five-year term in 2019. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/19/agrarian-ministry-distributes-6-2m-land-certificates.html

Regional autonomy & separatism

Jokowi fumes over pork barrel accusation on subdistrict fund

Jakarta Post - October 23, 2018

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has finally grown tired of accusations that his administration's plan to disburse funds to subdistricts across the country was a political move ahead of his reelection bid next year.

Speaking at an event where he was distributing land certificates in South Jakarta, Jokowi railed against the accusations surrounding the funds, which will be allocated to subdistricts to repair infrastructure such as roads and drainage systems.

"This is the government's commitment to the people, not for anyone else, so don't equate this issue to politics," he said on Tuesday. "Too much things are being equated to politics, while there is so much more to life than politics such as social issues, the economy and culture."

Opposition politicians said Jokowi's subdistrict funds plan was political, with Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) senior politician Hidayat Nur Wahid asking why the government had made the move months prior to the presidential election.

Jokowi warned the public to be careful about politicians who tried to influence them with their remarks. "Be careful, there are many good politicians but there are also many foolish politicians."

The funds will be disbursed to every subdistrict in the country, including ones located in cities. It will be drawn from the 2019 state budget (APBN) through the general allocation fund (DAU) scheme.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani had approved the funds and said the amount would be Rp 3 trillion (US$197 million), according to kontan.co.id. The amount, the minister added, would be taken from the Rp 73 trillion village fund.

According to the Home Ministry, there were 8,545 subdistricts across the country and each would receive around Rp 350 million. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/23/jokowi-fumes-over-pork-barrel-accusation-on-subdistrict-fund.html

Opposition says subdistrict funds 'political' ahead of presidential

Jakarta Post - October 23, 2018

Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta – The government's plan to disburse funds to subdistricts across the country has been met with criticism from the opposition, which says such funds are political ahead of the 2019 general election.

The fund would be disbursed to every subdistrict across the country, including ones located in cities. It will be allocated from the 2019 state budget (APBN) through the General Allocation Funds (DAU) scheme.

"It wasn't included in the 2019 state budget bill before. Why do they suddenly want the fund to be included in the bill without any proper regulation, months prior to the presidential election?" Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) senior politician Hidayat Nur Wahid said on Monday, as quoted by kompas.com.

"We demand the government issue the regulation pertaining to the funds first. Without any regulation, it will become corruption."

Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko has dismissed such concerns. "Local leaders are expected to work more flexibly with the fund. That's the rationale behind such a plan; there are no politics," he said as quoted by Kompas TV.

The plan for the disbursement arose after hearing a number of complaints from residents regarding operational funds at the subdistrict level.

"The amount allocated [to subdistricts] will be different compared to village funds, as the size of subdistrict areas tends to be smaller compared to villages," Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo said a statement on Saturday.

In a separate statement, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said the amount of the funds disbursed would be stipulated in a revision of Government Regulation No. 17/2018 on district regulation, the amount of which ranges between 4 to 5 percent of the regional budget (APBD).

The revision, Jokowi added, would also act as an operational guideline regulating the usage and monitoring of the fund.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani has approved the suggestion and said the total amount of the subdistrict fund would be Rp 3 trillion (US$197 million), as reported by kontan.co.id. The number, the minister said, would be taken from the total village fund of Rp 73 trillion.

As the Home Ministry stated there are 8,545 subdistricts across the country to date, each will receive around Rp 350 million.

Roy Salam, a researcher from the Indonesia Budget Center (IBC), said he lauded the fund for urging the citizens' participation, as the fund was intended for citizen empowerment activities at the subdistrict level, as had been discussed in regional development planning forums (musrenbang).

He, however, highlighted the challenge of managing the funds transparently and accountably, as most regencies' and cities' APBDs had yet to be transparent. Regional administrations tend not to publish documents related to the APBD.

"It's OK to allocate the fund from the APBN, although it might need strict preconditions [persyaratan ketat]. For example, the fund will be given to subdistricts that already have a budget transparency system and published APBD documents for, at least, the last two fiscal years," Roy said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/23/opposition-says-subdistrict-funds-political-ahead-of-presidential-election.html

Civil service & bureaucracy

Regent instructs civil servants to prioritize praying on time even when

Coconuts Jakarta - October 16, 2018

For many of the religiously devout, servitude to God is more important than fulfilling their earthly duties. That is presumably the argument one Indonesian official used to come up with this new regulation for his civil servants.

Newly re-elected Tangerang Regent Ahmad Zaki Iskandar recently issued a circular to all Muslim civil servants in the regency, instructing them to prioritize performing the Salah (Islamic prayer) on time and even told them to temporarily stop serving the public so they could fulfill their religious duty.

"It's true, the circular has been spread on social media and we will shortly send it to regional offices and districts," Tangerang Regency Communications and Information Commission Acting Head Soma Atmaja told Detik today.

Soma said the circular was created under the instruction of Regent Ahmad, who wanted his regency's civil servants to be pious, which, by extension, would rub off on citizens as well.

He also confirmed that the circular contains instructions for civil servants to temporarily cease assisting the public in order to pray. "Every person deserves to rest, however busy they are, they must rest. How could they not pray? That would be a sin," Soma said.

Two mandatory Islamic prayer times fall during regular working hours, namely Zuhr (around noon) and Asr (around 3 pm). The circular reportedly does not contain similar instructions for breaks given to civil servants of other faiths.

Last month, the mayor of the city of Palembang in South Sumatra passed a similar religious-based regulation specifically for Muslim civil servants, requiring them to perform Fajr (dawn) prayer at a mosque or face the threat of dismissal.

Other religious-based regulations in the past include the government of Bengkulu encouraging all female government employees to wear hijab and many Indonesian public schools requiring the use of the hijab by female Muslim students.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/tangerang-regent-instructs-civil-servants-prioritize-praying-time-even-theyre-middle-serving-public/

Jakarta & urban life

Teachers deplore demolition of school in front of children

Jakarta Post - October 20, 2018

Jakarta – Teachers of early childhood education school Tunas Bina in Tamansari, West Jakarta, have deplored the sudden demolition of the school building by Public Order Agency personnel and city officials on Wednesday.

One of the teachers, Heni Suhaeni, said the administrations of West Jakarta and Tamansari district had announced the plan to demolish old buildings in the area in May to welcome the 2018 Asian Games.

"The teachers supported the plan, but they asked the administration to look for a new place for them," Heni said on Friday. They also asked the administration not to move them during the Ramadan season.

The teachers and students were surprised that the officials decided to demolish the building on Wednesday without giving them prior notice.

"Why didn't they execute the plan when we were relocated to the mosque? Why was it held during school hours? I would've asked the students not to come to school if I had known the building would be demolished," Heni said as quoted by kompas.com.

The children have been temporarily relocated to Al-Ikhlas Mosque, located within the Tamansari district office complex.

The district administration is set to build a replacement school on vacant land in the area. "We are grateful that the children have a place to study," Heni said.

Meanwhile, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan announced on Thursday that he had removed Firman Ibrahim from his position as Tamansari district head because of the incident.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/19/teachers-deplore-demolition-of-school-in-front-of-children.html

One year in, Anies Baswedan still has much to prove

Jakarta Post - October 16, 2018

Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta – Last year, Anies Baswedan started his job as Jakarta governor amid controversy. Shortly after being inaugurated on Oct. 16, 2017 by his former boss President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, Anies sparked controversy with his racially infused speech in which he used the term pribumi (indigenous).

Many lambasted him given the sectarian tensions that had dogged the divisive 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election. But he shrugged off the concerns and set out to convince the people of the city that he aimed for reconciliation and a united Jakarta. Under the "Move Forward" slogan, Anies, with former deputy governor Sandiaga Uno, laid out his priority programs in a list of 23 pledges he made on the campaign trail. One year in, he has checked several off the list, but questions remain as to how he will transform Jakarta for the better.

The former education minister gained praise from supporters for revoking reclamation permits for 13 man-made islets in the controversial project in Jakarta Bay as one of his pledges. He has also been lauded for repealing the business permit of the notorious Alexis hotel and providing shelters for residents of evicted Kampung Aquarium in North Jakarta. On Friday, he also launched 780 apartment units in Pondok Kelapa, East Jakarta, under his zero down-payment housing program, which will provide affordable housing for residents.

However, there has been little progress in addressing Jakarta's perennial problems such as flooding, traffic gridlock, waste disposal and housing, experts say.

Suryono Herlambang, an urban expert from Jakarta-based Tarumanegara University, said that while the first year of leadership was crucial in forecasting the direction of the city, what Anies had done so far had yet to reflect a vision to improve the city.

"There's a certain pattern, in which regional heads use the first year of their leadership to capture people's attention by creating something visible only rather than addressing the core problems," Suryono told The Jakarta Post on Monday. "It would be concerning if what Anies did was all about political implications," he added.

He pointed out that Anies had invested much time in addressing partial problems, like Tanah Abang market and traffic management, when he was supposed to address the bigger picture of street-vendor management in the city.

Anies, who frequently criticized his predecessor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for the latter's eviction policy, has failed to eliminate the practice, albeit greatly reducing it, under his leadership, according to data from the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta).

Rita Padawangi, a senior research fellow at the Asia Research Institute, praised the governor for keeping the promises to his constituents, particularly to groups such as the Network of Urban Poor (JRMK) and Jakarta Pedicab Driver Union (Sebaja), which made political agreements with him during the election.

However, she added that Anies needed to do more to ensure a commitment to protecting the rights of the poor in the city. "I have yet to see a long-term vision to protect the city's kampungs," she said.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) faction at the Jakarta Legislative Council slammed Anies for failing to fulfill his campaign promise to side with ordinary people, as the policies he had introduced had not benefited them.

The party pointed out that six of Anies flagship programs, OK OCE, OK OTrip, the zero down-payment housing scheme, river revitalization, pedicab operations and public service improvement, had all been backpedaled on with no significant progress.

The PDI-P said the OK OCE, a program aimed at creating at least 200,000 new entrepreneurs by 2022 had failed to reach a target. As of this month, only 1,811 business units have obtained permits. Similarly, only a small number of angkot (public mini van) operators have been integrated into the OK Otrip public transportation scheme, which has been rebranded as Jak Lingko.

"The zero down-payment housing scheme is not targeting the poor but the middle class who earn at least Rp 4 million [US$263] monthly. So it won't solve the city's housing backlog," PDI-P faction head Gembong Warsono said on Monday.

The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), which backed Anies and Sandiaga along with the Gerindra Party, came to Anies' defense saying that it would not be fair to judge Anies based only on his first year.

"It is important for a leader to fulfill their promises. I believe what he has achieved so far is the foundation for greater improvement in the future," councilor Abdrrahman Suhaimi said.

Anies did not make any statement on Monday regarding his first anniversary, which will fall on Tuesday.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/16/one-year-in-anies-baswedan-still-has-much-to-prove.html

Jakarta council rejects return of 'becak'

Jakarta Post - October 16, 2018

Jakarta – The City Council has refused to discuss the planned revision of Jakarta Regulation No. 8/2007 on public order, which was set to allow becak (pedicabs) to operate in Jakarta.

The Jakarta administration had submitted the draft revision, but City Council speaker Prasetio Edi Marsudi declined to review the draft, saying legalizing becak would be a setback for the city.

"I believe we shouldn't downgrade Jakarta residents," Prasetio said on Monday as quoted by kompas.com.

People in Jakarta should be encouraged to use good quality mass public transportation, such as the Transjakarta bus, commuter line and later MRT, he said.

Inside neighborhoods, residents could use environmentally friendly gas-powered bajaj (three-wheeled taxis), Prasetio added. "We have to encourage people to use proper public transportation," Prasetio said.

In the late 1960s the Jakarta administration excluded becak from the masterplan of the city's transportation system. Former governor Ali Sadikin prohibited the introduction of new becak in 1970.

The City Council passed a total ban on becak in 1988. Former governor Sutiyoso partially lifted the ban to help the city mitigate the impact of the Asian financial crisis in 1998, but the policy lasted for less than a week. (cal)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/16/jakarta-council-rejects-return-of-becak.html

Armed forces & defense

Two soldiers arrested for alleged drug trafficking

Jakarta Post - October 22, 2018

Jakarta – The National Narcotics Agency (BNN) has arrested two Indonesian Army (TNI) personnel who were allegedly involved in drug trafficking.

The personnel, identified only as Second Cl. ED and chief Pvt. RD, were arrested in Cilegon, Banten, recently with drug dealer AD, who intended to distribute thousands of ecstasy pills to major cities including Medan in North Sumatra and Jakarta. Some 63,573 ecstasy pills were seized as evidence.

BNN drug control head Insp. Gen. Arman Depari said on Tuesday that the two soldiers and drug dealer were busted during BNN's operations held between September and October.

"They have been detained by the North Sumatra Police," Arman said at the BNN headquarters in East Jakarta, as reported by kompas.com.

Arman said the suspects would be charged with the 2009 law on narcotics, meaning they could face the death sentence or life imprisonment. (vny/swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/22/two-soldiers-arrested-for-alleged-drug-trafficking.html

Police & law enforcement

Denied permission for dance event, rioters burn police vehicles in

Coconuts Jakarta - October 22, 2018

Some people really wanna dance. When local police told the residents of Lawele Village, located in Southeast Sulawesi's Buton Regency, that they did not have permission to hold a late night dance event following their annual harvest festival on Saturday night, it sparked a riot that ended with one police car and seven police motorcycles set ablaze.

The Buton Regional Police said the riot began around 1 am on Sunday following the official end time for the village's harvest festival. Revelers wanted to keep the party going and asked police to allow them to continue playing music and dancing later into the night but police denied their request.

People then began throwing stones at the officers, who responded by firing tear gas into the crowd, leading to more resistance and eventually a retreat by the police.

What happened next can be seen in the above video as angered revelers turned into rioters, attacking the leftover police trunk and setting their motorcycles on fire. Towards the end of the video, you see the rioters push the truck into the bonfire already stacked with motorcycles.

The Buton Police later returned in force with backup from Southeast Sulawesi Regional Police and took control of the situation. They have arrested seven suspected of being involved in the burning of the police vehicles and said they are still investigating others. Authorities have yet to release a statement regarding their decision to deny the festival goers dance request.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/denied-permission-dance-event-rioters-burn-police-vehicles-southeast-sulawesi/

Foreign affairs & trade

Indonesia warns Canberra on Jerusalem move

Australian Associated Press - October 16, 2018

Indonesia has warned Australia that moving its embassy to Jerusalem could undermine a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country, has warned Australia that moving its embassy to Jerusalem could undermine a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday that his country was "open" to shifting recognition of Israel's capital to Jerusalem while still being committed to a two-state solution.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said she had conveyed her country's opposition to such a move to Australia.

"Indonesia encourages Australia and other nations to continue to support the peace process and not conduct any action that could undermine the peace process and global security," she said after talks with visiting Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir declined to comment on a report by Australian broadcaster ABC that Jakarta was considering putting a trade deal due to be signed soon with Australia on hold over Morrison's comments.

Morrison said no decision had been made to move Australia's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but he said arguments in favour of such a move were "persuasive."

He said there had been no discussion on the matter with the United States, which has already moved its embassy to Jerusalem. Indonesia has also criticised the US embassy move and warned that it would threaten the peace process.

Source: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/indonesia-warns-canberra-on-jerusalem-move

Mining & energy

From six offered blocks, only two get contractors

Jakarta Post - October 23, 2018

Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman, Jakarta – Deputy Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Arcandra Tahar has said that from six oil and gas blocks that had been auctioned since August, only two had contractors that are ready operate them.

The two blocks are the onstream block South Jambi B, which would be operated by Hong Kong energy firm Hong Kong Jindi Group Co. Ltd, and exploration block Banyumas, which would be operated by local company PT Minarak Brantas Gas, an affiliate of the Bakrie Group.

Through the two deals, the government collected a total signature bonus of US$5.5 million and working commitments at $64 million.

Meanwhile, the four others are Andika Bumi Kita (ABK), the South East Mahakam (SEM), Makassar Strait and Selat Panjang. The first two are exploration blocks and the latter two are onstream blocks.

Until Oct. 12, when the auction closed, no party was interested in operating the ABK or SEM blocks, the official said.

Meanwhile, there were companies that wanted to operate the Makassar Strait and Selat Panjang blocks, but they failed to meet the requirements to become operators of the blocks.

"The Makassar Strait and Selat Panjang blocks were an inch away from getting new contractors, but they failed to fulfill the requirements, so we turned them down," Arcandra added.

Arcandra said the government might put the unsold blocks in the upcoming action, which is scheduled to open soon. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/23/from-six-offered-blocks-only-two-get-contractors.html

Fishing & maritime affairs

Minister Susi declares ship-sinking policy success

Jakarta Post - October 22, 2018

Jakarta – Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti relished in the improved performance of Indonesia's fishing industry ever since the administration began cracking down on illegal fishing by foreign boats in 2015.

Speaking at the Security Summit in Yogyakarta recently, Susi said Indonesia's fish stock had risen to an average 12.5 million tons per year compared to 7.1 million tons before 2015.

As a result, the ministry recorded gross domestic product (GDP) of Indonesia's fishing industry at Rp 169.5 trillion (US$11.2 billion) last year, the highest in Southeast Asia according to the minister. She also claimed that the fishing industry's GDP in Thailand and Vietnam have dropped significantly since 2015.

"So now we know where these countries had really gotten their fish from," she said as reported by tempo.co. "They should really just buy Indonesian fish."

However, Susi said her tough stance on illegal fishing vessels did not mean that Indonesia's fishing industry would be completely closed off to foreigners.

Susi said the government welcomed foreigners to invest in the domestic fish-processing sector and that investors would be allowed to have full control over any factory or technological asset they set up in Indonesia. "We welcome foreign investment as long as the fishing is done by Indonesians," she said.

Sinking illegal fishing vessels is a cornerstone of Susi's maritime affairs policy. Under her guidance, the government has sunk more than 380 vessels since 2015. "You can't solve big problems with a soft approach, so we settled upon a 'boom!' approach," said Susi. (nor/bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/22/minister-susi-says-ship-sinking-policy-success.html

Infrastructure & development

Indonesia to review China's belt and road projects if Prabowo wins

South China Morning Post - October 22, 2018

Resty Woro Yuniar – Infrastructure projects Indonesia signed up to as part of China's Belt and Road Initiative are likely to be reviewed if former general Prabowo Subianto wins next year's presidential election, his brother and campaign leader has said.

"Indonesia and China have a good relationship, but I think there are certain [belt and road] projects that we want to look at," Hashim Djojohadikusumo said about China's ambitious infrastructure investment plan, after a recent media briefing for foreign correspondents. "I'm sure there are some projects that are very good, and I'm sure some projects are not necessary."

Djojohadikusumo, a wealthy businessman, contributes funding to his older brother's bid to lead Southeast Asia's biggest economy, just like he did in 2014, when Prabowo lost to current president Joko Widodo.

The 64-year-old, who serves as director of media and communications for Prabowo and his running mate, entrepreneur Sandiaga Uno, said one of the projects that would be reviewed was the US$4.5 billion high-speed railway currently being built to connect Jakarta and the city of Bandung, about 150km apart. The railway is being funded by loans from China Development Bank.

"I think it's too expensive... we're talking about a US$4 billion investment for a [less than] 200km railway which [goes] from the suburb of Jakarta to the suburb of Bandung," said Djojohadikusumo, whose net worth in 2012 was estimated by Forbes to be US$850 million.

"It seems to me that it doesn't serve a purpose. Most people will be using buses, these are much cheaper and they go from city centre to city centre."

Djojohadikusumo and Prabowo are sons of Sumitro Djojohadikusumo, a former cabinet minister from the 1950s to 1970s who was labelled the architect of the country's modern economy.

Djojohadikusumo dismissed concerns that Prabowo would be seen as anti-China, quoting the example of Malaysia, where new prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has frozen US$22 billion of Chinese-backed projects since coming into office this year.

"In Malaysia, Tun Mahathir has said that the China relationship is very, very important, but he wants to have an equal relationship and, I quote him, according to the Malaysian government they cannot afford to have all these projects, so some have been deferred and some have been cancelled.

"It's a matter of cash flow... the Malaysian government doesn't have the money, so it's not being anti-Chinese. I think Indonesia and China have a good relationship."

In April, Indonesia and China signed five contracts worth more than US$23 billion under the belt and road plan. These included the construction of two hydropower plants worth nearly US$20 billion in North Kalimantan, a US$1.6 billion power plant in Bali, and a US$1.2 billion steel smelter.

These are in addition to belt and road projects already under way in Indonesia such as the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway and Morowali Industrial Park in Sulawesi. North Kalimantan, North Sulawesi, and North Sumatra have been offered by the country's investment board as investment zones especially for infrastructure projects such as industrial parks, ports, and airports due to their strategic location for seaborne trade.

The progress of these projects has been slow. According to a report by Nikkei Asian Review and The Banker magazine published in March, the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, the country's first high-speed train, faced setbacks including a funding crunch and slow land acquisition, as well as paperwork and permit issues. This could delay the railway, which had been expected to open to the public next year. Only 10 per cent of the work has been completed so far, the report said.

The Chinese-funded projects in Morowali have also sparked controversy over a rumour – dismissed by Jakarta – that many Chinese have been working there illegally on tourist visas, exacerbating anti-Chinese sentiment.

President Widodo's infrastructure drive across the archipelago is expected to cost US$355 billion, which is too expensive for the country's state-owned enterprises and state budget, especially amid an economic downturn that has seen the rupiah's value against the US dollar hit its lowest level since the 1998 Asian monetary crisis. Infrastructure spending is set to increase only 2.4 per cent next year, the smallest increase since Widodo came to power in 2014.

Private sector and foreign investment have been sought to fill the funding gap. According to a report by Singapore-based research firm The Tusk Advisory, about 286 projects were underway or had been completed by December 2017, with a combined value of more than US$103 billion. If these projects were to be completed by next year or 2020, Indonesia's GDP growth rate would be on track to rise to 7.2 per cent by 2023.

Critics of belt and road projects in Indonesia fear China will use its economic power to gain influence. They point to Sri Lanka, for example, where China has taken over a US$1.5 billion port it had helped build after the government could not pay its debt.

In the news conference, Djojohadikusumo reiterated that his brother was not a xenophobe, an accusation that emerged after Prabowo picked "Make Indonesia Great Again" as his campaign slogan.

"The other side has been trying to portray him as a xenophobe... we don't have the intention for nationalism," Djojohadikusumo said. "We want to have reciprocal treatment by other countries. Financial services, for instance. The bank sector has been [a source] of unhappiness for us."

Djojohadikusumo said that Prabowo, if elected president, would ask neighbouring countries such as Malaysia to provide a level playing field for Indonesian banks.

"One Malaysian bank has been given the right to operate 1,600 branches and sub-branches in Indonesia, while Indonesian banks have only been allowed limited operations in Malaysia. This is also the case in Korea, Japan, and Singapore... no reciprocity in the financial services," Djojohadikusumo said. "That's not fair."

Prabowo is currently trailing Widodo in opinion polls – SMRC and Indikator showed 60.2 per cent and 57.7 per cent of respondents, respectively, favoured the incumbent to win the election on April 17 next year. The initial Prabowo-Sandi campaign fund is two billion rupiah (US$131,683), smaller than the incumbent's 11 billion rupiah kitty, according to campaign financing declarations made last month.

Djojohadikusumo dismissed the polls. "I don't believe in those polling organisations, they were all wrong [before]. In Jakarta [the gubernatorial election] every one of them said that Ahok would win. They were all wrong and Ahok lost," Djojohadikusumo said, referring to former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

"[Widodo] is leading because he is an electable guy. He is a nice guy, but a nice guy is not a leader."

Source: https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/geopolitics/article/2169655/indonesia-review-chinas-belt-and-road-projects-if-prabowo

Economy & investment

Indonesia's competitiveness improves, but still well below Singapore,

Jakarta Post - October 17, 2018

Devina Heriyanto, Jakarta – Indonesia's economic competitiveness has stepped up, according to the recently released Global Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Under the newly introduced Global Competitiveness Index 4.0, Indonesia has a score of 64.9 points and is ranked at 45th, up two places compared to the previous index.

Neighboring countries Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, however, place higher in second place (83.5 points), 25th (74.4 points) and 38th (67.5 points), respectively.

The report notes that Indonesia benefits from its sheer size and its interconnectedness, which combined with a vibrant entrepreneurial culture and overall business dynamism is said to "bode well for the future".

However, the country lacks innovation capability, particularly in research and development activities. Indonesia's R&D spending is less than 0.1 percent of GDP, ranking at 112nd among 140 countries in the index. Countries with the highest spending for R&D are Israel (4.3 percent of GDP), South Korea (4.2 percent), Japan, Sweden (3.3 percent) and Taiwan (3.2 percent).

Another concern is infrastructure. Among G20 economies, Indonesia is the worst performer in terms of physical infrastructure with 66.8 points, or almost 25 points behind Japan as the best performer (91.5 points).

The Global Competitiveness Report is an annual study by the WEF, assessing both microeconomic and macroeconomic foundations, comprising 98 indicators.

The 2018 report methodology includes several relatively novel factors such as idea generation, entrepreneurial culture, openness and agility.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/17/indonesias-competitiveness-improves-but-still-well-below-singapore-malaysia.html

Banking & finance

Indonesia's foreign reserves hit two-year low

Nikkei Asian Review - October 21, 2018

Tsubasa Yoda, Singapore – Indonesia's foreign reserves have fallen to a level not seen for two years after the central bank's repeated interventions in the currency market to defend the rupiah.

Given the pace of the decline, some market watchers believe the bank's strategy may soon become unsustainable.

Bank Indonesia announced on Oct. 5 that, at the end of September, the country's foreign reserves had fallen by $3.1 billion on the month to $114.8 billion, marking an eighth straight month of decline.

The figure also logged its lowest level since November 2016, and the second-largest decline since the start of the year, trailing only that seen in February.

U.S. rate hikes are putting downward pressure on the Indonesian currency, and the central bank has reacted by buying rupiah and selling dollars, leading to the decline in foreign reserves.

Reserves have now fallen by 13% from their peak in January, and it is unclear how long Bank Indonesia will be able to continue propping up the rupiah.

Due to a rapid increase in imports, the country's total reserves-to-import ratio dropped from 10 months to seven and a half months over the same period. According to the International Monetary Fund, countries need to keep reserves that can cover a minimum of three months' worth of imports.

Several countries increased their reserves after the Asian currency crisis in a bid to raise the ratio, and many will find it increasingly difficult to dig into what they have accumulated.

Earlier in October, the rupiah dipped below 15,000 per dollar, its lowest level in nearly 20 years. If buying rupiah ceases to be an option, Bank Indonesia may be forced to raise interest rates further to continue defending the currency.

The central bank has already raised rates five times since May. If the rupiah weakens any more, "Bank Indonesia could decide on a rate hike at its extraordinary meeting ahead of the monetary policy meetings on Oct. 22 and 23," said Hirofumi Suzuki, an economist for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking in Singapore.

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Markets/Indonesia-s-foreign-reserves-hit-two-year-low

Bank credit growth slowdown in Q3: BI survey

Jakarta Post - October 17, 2018

Jakarta – Bank Indonesia on Tuesday released a survey of 40 banks representing 80 percent of total bank credit, which showed slow growth of bank credit in the third quarter of 2018.

BI communications director Agusman said the slow credit growth was reflected in the net weighted balance in the third quarter, which decreased to 21.2 percent from 90.3 percent in the previous quarter.

The credit demand for working capital declined from 90.2 percent to 69.9 percent in the previous quarter; the credit demand for investment declined from 73.8 percent to 68.9 percent, and for consumption it declined from 36.6 percent to 26.8 percent.

Agusman, however, said bankers were still optimistic about the prospect of credit growth in the whole of 2018. Respondents saw that the average credit growth in 2018 was 11.5 percent, higher than the credit growth in 2017, which was recorded at 8.2 percent.

The optimism was triggered by the expected higher economic growth this year and the decline of credit distribution risk, Agusman said as quoted by kontan.co.id.

The survey shows that the slowdown in credit growth was particularly sparked by the decline in automotive credit from 40.3 percent in the second quarter to 20.9 percent in this quarter.

On the other hand, the demand for housing credit has increased from 42.9 percent to 66.7 percent, which is considered to have occurred as a result of the relaxation of the loan to value ratio for mortgages by the central bank. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/17/bank-credit-growth-slowdown-in-q3-bi-survey.html

Indonesia books US$360.7 billion in foreign debt in August

Jakarta Post - October 16, 2018

Marchio Irfan Gorbiano, Jakarta – Indonesia's foreign debt – which includes debts from central banks, governments and the private sector – stood at US$360.7 billion in August, growing by 5.14 percent year-on-year (yoy), driven by growth in private sector debt amid slowdowns in government and central bank debt.

Bank Indonesia (BI) said in a statement that the structure of Indonesia's foreign debt remained healthy as 86.8 percent of the debt had a long-term maturity period.

With the latest figure, Indonesia's foreign debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio stood at 34 percent, relatively better than peer countries, said BI.

"BI and the government continue to coordinate to monitor the developments of foreign debt from time to time to optimize its role in supporting the financing of the developments without incurring risks that would harm the stability of the economy," the central bank's statement read.

The private sector's foreign debt, which also includes debt from state-owned enterprises, was recorded at $179.4 billion, growing by 6.7 percent yoy in August compared to 6.49 percent growth in the previous period.

BI explained that the increase in the private sector's external debt in August was driven by firms in the financial services and insurance, manufacturing, electricity and gas as well as mining sectors.

The government and central bank's external debt, meanwhile, was recorded at $178.1 billion in August, growing by 4.07 percent yoy.

The debts increased on a monthly basis as a result of net loan withdrawal, including from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the purchase of sovereign bonds by foreign investors. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/16/indonesia-books-us360-7-billion-in-foreign-debt-in-august.html

People & places

Jokowi, Prabowo listed in world's 500 influential Muslims

Tempo - October 21, 2018

Andita Rahma, Jakarta – President Joko Widodo or Jokowi is ranked 16th in the list of the world's 500 most influential Muslims for 2019 edition.

As quoted from the themuslim500.com website, Jokowi is considered to be more influential than the prominent Ulema of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Aal Al-Sheikh who is the 26th position.

Besides Jokowi, two Indonesian ulemas are also on the list, namely PBNU Chairman KH Said Aqil Siradj who is in 20th rank and Central Java MUI Chairperson Habib Lutfi bin Yahya who ranks 37th.

The first and second position on the list is world's well-known figures Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi Arabia King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud.

Meanwhile, president hopeful Prabowo Subianto is included in the list of world's 450 influential Muslims for the political category on the same site. But in this list, there is no ranking order.

RISCC regularly selects 500 of the most influential Muslims around the globe in 13 categories, such as from the fields of science, politics, religious relations administration, preachers and spiritual leaders, philanthropy, social issues, science and technology, arts and culture, Quran recitation, media, celebrities and sports stars, as well as extremism.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/10/20/055922711/Jokowi-Prabowo-Listed-in-Worlds-500-Influential-Muslims

Analysis & opinion

What is IndonesiaLeaks?

Indonesia at Melbourne - October 23, 2018

Eni Mulia – What is IndonesiaLeaks? Who is behind it? Is it connected to Wikileaks, the international organisation that publishes classified and leaked government and corporate materials? These have been the questions on everyone's lips after five Jakarta-based media organisations published an explosive report from the IndonesiaLeaks joint investigative team on 8 October.

The report focused on the destruction of key evidence relating to the bribery case involving former Constitutional Court Chief Justice Patrialis Akbar and cattle importer Basuki Hariman, which was being investigated by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in 2017. The IndonesiaLeaks investigation alleged that in April 2017, two police investigators on loan to the anti-graft agency from the National Police, Roland Ronaldy and Harun, tore nine pages from a red bank transaction record book.

The removed pages allegedly documented the flow of funds to dozens of public officials, including then Jakarta Metropolitan Police Chief Tito Karnavian (now National Police chief). An internal KPK investigation in 2017 found that the two police investigators were guilty of destroying evidence and violating the KPK Code of Ethics. Given that obstructing a corruption investigation is a criminal offence (under Article 21 of the 1999 Anti-Corruption Law, as revised in 2001) the KPK could have pursued charges against them. But the two investigators were simply returned to the National Police and the case vanished. Both are still on active duty and, in fact, received promotions soon after their return to the police institution.

Wikileaks sparked worldwide outrage in 2010 when it released thousands of classified military documents relating to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as sensitive diplomatic cables issued by the US Department of State. Its founder, Julian Assange, became an international celebrity and has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012.

While not on the same scale, the IndonesiaLeaks reports have also shocked Indonesia. But not for revealing classified government secrets. Few of the politicians and observers criticising IndonesiaLeaks have actually sought to understand the content of the investigative reports published in early October.

Instead, there have been a series of reactionary and concerned statements, as well as several people who are clearly attempting to use the report to their own advantage. The strongest reactions have come from the police and supporters of the two figures squaring off in next year's presidential election, Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto, who have dismissed the claims.

In an effort to obscure or play down the revelations of criminal behaviour described in the IndonesiaLeaks joint report, many have dismissed the report as a hoax, or claimed that it lacked credibility. By describing the report as a hoax, police then have justification for taking action against those who created and distributed it, and the public are given "permission" to dismiss its contents.

However, there is a clear difference between an investigative report made by professional journalists that fulfils journalistic ethical standards and a hoax, a story not based on facts and spread for the benefit of the creator.

This is also a clear difference between IndonesiaLeaks and Wikileaks. Information and data released by Wikileaks is made available to anyone and is not subject to the same level of journalistic confirmation and verification. IndonesiaLeaks is a safe platform for anyone who wishes to report a crime with relevance to the public interest, commonly referred to as whistleblowers or public informants. Anyone who witnesses a crime can send documents, data and information and be reassured of anonymity: their name or identity will not be revealed to the public.

IndonesiaLeaks' digital security system means that the member reporters who receive tip-offs from whistleblowers will not be able to trace the identity of the sender. This digital security system underwent rigorous testing in July and August 2018. Hackers were not able to penetrate the security system and determine the identity of whistleblowers.

The platform can only be accessed by journalists that are members of IndonesiaLeaks. These reporters have been trained in digital security and in the handling any reports that come in. Reporters first determine which leaks or information fulfil requirements and have the potential to be developed into a journalistic investigation. One of the key requirements is that the crime must have relevance to the public interest (and not simply interest the public).

The process continues with verification of documents through journalistic investigation and confirmation. When reports are verified, the journalistic team will work to enrich the report, searching for additional information, checking facts and evidence, conducting interviews and research and then writing a news report. Although the joint team discuss and agree on a broad angle, the content of the final published report is up to the individual media outlets themselves.

IndonesiaLeaks clearly does not create investigative reports itself, let alone disseminate them. Its function is simply a "letterbox" to receive data and information from whistleblowers and then channel them to competent journalists.

Why, then, are member journalists described as members of the IndonesiaLeaks team? This is because the process of creating reports is done in a collaborative manner, with journalists from multiple news outlets working together.

If there are those who still consider the IndonesiaLeaks report to be a hoax, there are a few important matters to consider. Journalistic activities in Indonesia are protected by Law 40 of 1999 on the Press. This Law created the Press Council, which is responsible for responding to and resolving all complaints against journalistic products. What about those who claim that political interests are behind IndonesiaLeaks? Who has been implicated in the IndonesiaLeaks report? The police investigators allegedly involved in the destruction of evidence had already been named previously and former Constitutional Court Chief Justice Patrialis has already been sent to prison. Neither presidential candidate nor members of their team were mentioned. Only the National Police and the KPK have been asked to take responsibility for the events.

As citizens who care about the realisation of clean and responsible government, as well as the rule of law, we must value all efforts from the public to participate in law enforcement. IndoensiaLeaks is a platform that connects the media and wider public, especially whistleblowers, to work together to promote good, transparent governance.

In the future, it is hoped that IndonesiaLeaks will continue to assist in the production of investigative reports that focus not only on corruption by public officials, but also corporate crime, human rights violations, failures in the delivery of public services, and exploitation of natural resources.

Dismissing investigative reports that reveal public sector crime as being politically motivated does the country a disservice. It undermines journalism's vital fourth estate role.

At a time when Indonesian media is often derided as being captured by oligarchic and politically partisan interests, this is the last thing that Indonesia needs.

[Eni Mulia is the executive director of the Indonesian Association for Media Development (Perhimpunan Pengembangan Media Nusantara, PPMN). PPMN is one of the founding organisations of IndonesiaLeaks.]

Source: http://indonesiaatmelbourne.unimelb.edu.au/indonesialeaks-hoaxes-and-political-competition/

Has Indonesia forgotten contraception?

Indonesia at Melbourne - October 16, 2018

Contraception is not simply a method to prevent pregnancy. Given the suspicion – if not outright hostility – toward contraception that is common to most religions, debates over its regulation are often deeply political and value-laden.

The problem is that suspicion does not solve problems. In Indonesia, adolescents cannot legally access birth control unless they are married. Yet many adolescents are sexually active, whatever their marital status. In fact, according to Unicef, one in nine Indonesian adolescents are sexually active. The Indonesian Demographic and Health Survey (SDKI) puts the figure even higher, at one in four. They have an urgent need for contraception.

There are more than 45 million 10-19 year olds in Indonesia. In 2017, the Indonesian Demographic and Health Survey (SDKI) found that only 45 per cent of married or sexually active adolescents aged 15 to 19 said they used contraception. This means the other 55 per cent either had no plans to use contraception or had limited exposure to knowledge about their bodies, sexuality, reproductive health, and contraceptives. These are concerning findings.

A 2016 study by Rumah KitaB found that from 52 female adolescents who married in childhood, 36 (about 70 per cent) got married because of unwanted pregnancies. Nearly all admitted that they never used contraception when they had sex, either because they didn't know how to obtain the pill or didn't have the courage to ask their partners to use a condom.

Only one tenth of the child brides surveyed had access to contraception. They usually acquired it from private midwives, not state-run community health centres (puskesmas), with the help of their mothers or mothers-in-law.

On World Contraception Day on 26 September, Indonesia received the distinction of being the country with the greatest unmet need for contraception. Lack of legally available contraception for adolescents contributed to this result. Indonesia was once a leader in family planning but it is fast becoming one of the worst performers in the region.

How did we get to this point? The main problem lies in flawed population policies. Grounded in the ideology of "developmentalism", which held that the nation would become prosperous if population growth could be controlled, the New Order regime strictly applied a Family Planning project called Keluarga Berencana, or KB.

Using a wide range of methods and approaches, Indonesia's population policy was deemed successful. But the program's occasionally coercive methods, in which those who did not practice KB were treated as "the other", alienated many. This included sections of the Muslim community, which was under the most suspicion when the program was first applied. Any effort to question, let alone oppose, the assertion that families would become prosperous through the KB program was simply crushed by the state.

Islamic mass-based organisations – first Nahdlatul Ulama, and later Muhammadiyah – tried to assuage Muslim anxieties about New Order enforcement of the KB policy. These two organisations agreed to support the New Order government's population program, relying on interpretation and exploration of Islamic arguments. They justified support for KB in the name of both darurat (emergency) and maslahat (the greater good) to avoid even greater mudharat (harm) if the size of the population were not controlled.

However, this theological discourse from NU and Muhammadiyah certainly did not comfort everyone in the Muslim community. Even today, many Muslims are suspicious of family planning as a "western project" to reduce the size of the Muslim population. This is not simply because the religious arguments are insufficient to convince them, for example because of differences in interpretation or exploration of Islamic law. Rather, narratives about "genocide of the Islamic community" have taken root, and are now considered truth by many people.

Those who reject family planning point to the fact that promises about family planning delivering prosperity were never truly realised, but it did reduce the size of many Muslim families.

Another problem is that there was never any theological debate or discussion of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) on the use of contraception by young people during the New Order era. The state seemingly sought to increase the moral acceptance of the KB program by guaranteeing that it would not be accessed by adolescents.

The Criminal Code (KUHP) (under Article 283) and the 2009 Population Growth and Family Development Law (under Article 26) still explicitly prohibit provision of contraception services to adolescents and unmarried couples, apart from information, and even that is restricted, with punishments of fines and imprisonment if violated. These prohibitions on serving the needs of adolescents were clearly a "band-aid" strategy to contain the anxiety and suspicions of the religious community.

Ignoring adolescents' need for contraception has created a huge gap in addressing the problems of reproductive health in Indonesia. Adolescents are now a quarter of the population and among those who most need information on reproductive health and contraception services.

Indonesians cannot simply shut their eyes to the reality that the age at which girls are menstruating and becoming sexually active is steadily decreasing. At the same time, underage marriage is also becoming more common – on the grounds of fear of committing the "sin of premarital sex", or if pregnancy has already occurred.

As long as the government remains closed to discussion on reproductive health education for adolescents, and the law remains unchanged, young people will remain shut off from accurate information.

The government's reluctance to address adolescent sexual and reproductive health also provides room for conservative religious groups to push their position. And their solution is worryingly simplistic: Just marry them off!

Now is the time for the state, assisted by NU and Muhammadiyah, to come down from the mountaintop, and take a frank and pragmatic look at adolescent sexuality. Gaps in information and reproductive health services, including contraception services for adolescents, must be addressed.

If not, Indonesia can look forward to a grim future of more and more child brides and unwanted pregnancies.

[An earlier version of this article was published in Kompas on 12 October as "Kontrasepsi bagi Remaja".]

Source: http://indonesiaatmelbourne.unimelb.edu.au/has-indonesia-forgotten-contraception/

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