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Indonesia News Digest 40 – October 24-31, 2018

West Papua Aceh Labour & migrant workers Political parties & elections Blasphemy & hate speech Fake news & black campaigns Surveys & opinion polls Environment & natural disasters Health & education Students & youth LGBT & same-sex marriage Corruption & abuse of power Freedom of religion & worship Politics & religion Farming & agriculture Land & agrarian conflicts Jakarta & urban life Transport & communication Literature & the arts Police & law enforcement Foreign affairs & trade Economy & investment Taxation & state budget Analysis & opinion

West Papua

West Papua National Committee calls for general strike

Radio New Zealand International - October 31, 2018

After electing a new leader, the West Papua National Committee, or KNPB, has called for a general strike of all Papuan workers.

The pro-independence KNPB has just concluded its second congress in Jayapura, attended by hundreds of its representatives across Indonesian-ruled Papua region.

The congress was held in a secure location the suburb of Waena, amidst pressures from hundreds of police who tried to prevent the event proceeding. A new KNPB executive was inaugurated, with Agus Kossay elected the new chairman, replacing Victor Yeimo.

Now the KNPB's international spokesman, Mr Yeimo said it was time for Papuans to take civil action to press their demands for a legitimate self-determination process.

"So we want them to stop all the activity in West Papua, from economic activity, from political activity. What we want now in West Papua is Indonesia should accept our demand for a referendum in West Papua. So it is time for people of West Papua to stop all activity of colonialism and capitalism in West Papua."

After the congress, the KNPB issed a declaration announcing the call for a general strike. Mr Yeimo said a date for the strike would be announced later, when the call for civil action had been widely disseminated around Papua region.

The declaration reaffirmed the KNPB's recognition of the West Papua Liberation Army, or TPNPB, as the "only" military force representing West Papuans.

The KNPB has also reaffirmed its support for "diplomatic unity" within the United Liberation Movement for West Papua as the lead "coordinating" body in international fora.

"This organisation does not belong to Victor Yeimo or only one," he said. "We have collective leadership within KNPB."

He said everyone in the KNPB remained committed to campaigning peacefully for an independent West Papua. "That is why we choose a national strike as a peaceful agenda," Mr Yeimo explained.

"So people power can go down the road. This is the big agenda in West Papua, for all people in West Papua, whether people who work for Indonesia, or who work for capitalism or colonialism, this is the time for them to realise and let us be together to strike to choose and go for our future."

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/369885/west-papua-national-committee-calls-for-general-strike

Police deploy to Papua village after hostage taking

Radio New Zealand International - October 29, 2018

Police in Papua will deploy to a village where 15 people were reportedly taken hostage by the West Papua Liberation Army and later released.

Since the latter part of 2017, fighters with the West Papuan Liberation Army, or TPN, have intensified hostilities with Indonesia's military and police in Tembagapura and its surrounding region in Papua's Highlands.

Local media report the group of school teachers and medical workers were held as hostages in Nduga district for two weeks earlier this month.

Antara News reports all 15 civilians held in Mapenduma village were released on October 17 and flown out of Nduga. One female teacher was reportedly raped by members of the armed group and hospitalised after her release.

Akouboo Amatus Douw, a Liberation Army spokesperson, said reports of hostage taking and rape were false. He said the Liberation Army held a meeting in Mapenduma earlier this month where teachers and medical workers suspected of working for the Indonesian military were "kept quiet".

Mr Douw said this was only for a few hours and denied it amounted to hostage taking.

Around 100 school children in Mapenduma could no longer access education after the incident, said Papua police chief Inspector General Martuani Sormin.

The Governor of Papua, Lukas Enembe, said teachers working in Papua should have an understanding of the culture there. "Don't just send the teacher carelessly, eventually it will be like this," he said on Friday in the provincial capital of Jayapura.

Mr Enembe said there were no witnesses to the alleged rape and reports around it were unclear.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/369744/police-deploy-to-papua-village-after-hostage-taking


After drug suspect dies in custody, angry mob burns down police station

Coconuts Jakarta - October 24, 2018

In Indonesia's highly conservative province of Aceh, locals often take the law into their own hands. While the province's self-appointed moral vigilantes often target young unmarried couples or people they suspect of being LGBT with the tacit support of police, in this latest incident of vigilante justice, the target was the police.

Yesterday afternoon, the police station in the Bendahara subdistrict of Aceh Tamiang was burned by an angry mob, as well as several police motorcycles and cars.

In a statement released by the Aceh Regional Police to the media, authorities said around 300 people came to the police station to vent their anger over the arrest and subsequent death of a 31-year-old man identified by his initials AY.

According to the police account, AY was arrested while selling two grams of methamphetamines on Sunday. AY told the officers there were more narcotics hidden elsewhere and offered to show them, so he went in a car with three police officers to the hiding location.

Police say AY attempted to strangle the car's driver with his handcuffs, causing the vehicle to swerve to the side of the road. AY then attempted to escape but was caught by officers. Eventually they found the hidden methamphetamines which were then taken to the station.

The official account given by police is that AY was then fed by officers, after which he said he felt dizzy and became unconscious. He was taken to a local medical center and then a hospital but died, although the police account doesn't explain the cause of death.

However, there are photos being circulated online that allegedly show AY's corpse with what looks like traumatic bruising over large parts of his body, leading to accusations that he died after being viciously beaten by police officers.

Those accusations appear to have been the catalyst of the mob coming to the Bendahara Police Station to demand answers about AY's death. The police chief tried to address the mob but the situation quickly spiraled out of control.

According to authorities, the mob was quelled by officers from the Aceh Tamiang Regional Police who quickly arrived on the scene and there were no injuries.

Aceh Regional Police spokesperson Misbahul Munauwar said that all Bendahara Police personnel had been secured and that the station chief, Ipda Iwan, would soon be replaced while the incident was investigated.

"The police chief and his members have been directly removed from the provincial police chief, they are still being processed at the moment," Misbahul said as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/drug-suspect-dies-custody-angry-mob-burns-police-station-aceh-video/

Labour & migrant workers

Indonesia protests Saudi Arabia execution of migrant worker

Jakarta Post - October 31, 2018

Dian Septiari, Jakarta – The government has aired its "deep concerns" about the execution of Indonesian migrant worker Tuti Tursilawati, which was carried out on Monday without the prior knowledge of her family or Indonesian officials.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi immediately called her Saudi counterpart Adel bin Ahmed Al Jubeir to express her disapproval on the execution, of which she was notified after it took place on Monday.

"Tuti's execution was carried out without [prior notification]. I also summoned the Saudi ambassador [Usamah Muhammad Al Syuaiby] in Jakarta to meet me in Bali," she told reporters on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Our Ocean Conference in Bali, according to a distributed recording of her interview.

Separately in Jakarta, the ministry's director for overseas citizen protection, Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, said Tuti's family had accepted her passing, after it was revealed that he had personally delivered the news of her execution in a visit to her hometown in Majalengka, West Java.

Iqbal said they were surprised because almost two weeks ago on Oct. 19, Tuti was allowed to talk to her mother through a video call to say she was healthy and unworried about her execution.

Tuti was charged with the premeditated murder of her employer's father, who she beat to death with a stick. According to Saudi criminal law, the act is punishable by had ghillah (absolute death).

In contrast to previous reports, Tuti did not commit the murder in self-defense against attempted rape. "It is true that Tuti had been harassed, but not when she committed the murder," Iqbal said.

After the incident, Tuti ran away from her employer but was raped by nine Saudi men before the police took her into custody. All of her rapists were processed separately.

Observors say Indonesia is unable to criticize other countries that uphold capital punishment without appearing hypocritical. Under President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, Indonesia has executed 18 death row inmates convicted of drug-related offenses, including foreigners, in three batches since 2015.

Instead, Jakarta complained about the lack of consular notification in cases that fall under Saudi authority.

International law expert Hikmahanto Juwana from the University of Indonesia said Riyadh had "violated the norms of international relations" by not informing Indonesia about the execution.

In an attempt to prevent such disputes from arising, Indonesia pursued last week a mandatory consular notification agreement with Saudi Arabia, which Iqbal said had been "received positively" by the Saudi delegation. The Saudi Embassy in Jakarta was unable to provide immediate comment.

Meanwhile, the Migrant CARE advocacy group has called on the Manpower Ministry to scrap a recent agreement with its Saudi counterpart to send Indonesian migrant workers to the kingdom.

The One Channel System was a scheme agreed upon by the two countries' manpower ministers in mid-October, which allows for the placement of a limited number of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia.

However, Migrant CARE founder Anis Hidayah said the government was violating the 2017 law on the protection of migrant workers by rushing into a deal that bypasses a 2015 ban on sending migrant domestic workers to the Middle East. "The law prohibits private organizations from recruiting migrant workers but this project allows it."

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/31/indonesia-protests-saudi-arabia-execution-of-migrant-worker.html

Indonesia must scrap workers agreement with Saudi Arabia following

Jakarta Post - October 30, 2018

Dian Septiari, Jakarta – The Migrant CARE advocacy group has called on the Manpower Ministry to cancel a recent agreement with Saudi Arabia to send Indonesian migrant workers to the kingdom in limited numbers, following the execution of Indonesian worker Tuti Tursilawati on Monday.

Migrant CARE executive director Wahyu Susilo strongly condemned the execution of Tuti by Saudi authorities and urged President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to take significant diplomatic measures in protest of Riyadh, such as scrapping a pilot project to send a limited number of migrant workers to Saudi Arabia.

"President Jokowi must cancel the agreement between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia on the One Channel System [because the execution is] proof that Saudi Arabia does not fulfill the terms and conditions pertaining to the protection of the rights of migrant domestic workers," Wahyu said in a statement on Tuesday.

The assured protection of migrant workers' rights was an explicit requirement in documents signed by Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri and his Saudi counterpart Ahmed Sulaiman Al Rajhi on Oct. 11, the rights activist said.

The One Channel System was a scheme agreed upon by the labor ministers that would allow Indonesia to send a certain number of workers to the Middle Eastern kingdom, bypassing a 2015 moratorium.

Tuti was sentenced to death in 2011 for beating her employer to death with a stick in self-defense against attempted rape. She ran away but was raped instead by nine Saudi men before the police brought her into custody, tribunnews.com reported.

She was executed on Monday without prior notification to her family and Indonesian officials.

During a recent joint commission meeting between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi requested the cooperation of Riyadh to provide consular notifications in accordance with the 1963 Vienna Convention on consular relations.

President Jokowi also asked Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al Jubeir for assurances that Indonesian migrant workers' rights be protected.

"Jokowi must be truly serious in responding to a situation like this. When he met with the Saudi foreign minister, the President asked Saudi Arabia to provide protection for Indonesian migrant workers and work to resolve the [murder of journalist Jamal] Khashoggi in earnest," Wahyu said. "It turns out the request was simply ignored."

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/30/indonesia-must-scrap-workers-agreement-with-saudi-arabia-following-execution-ngo.html

Depok labor union demands 25 percent wage hike

Jakarta Post - October 29, 2018

Depok – A labor union in Depok, West Java, has demanded an increase of 25 percent to the current minimum wage of Rp 3.58 million (US$241).

"In 2019, we demand an increase to around Rp 4.48 million," Wido Pratikno, chairman of the Indonesian Metal Workers Federation, said on Sunday as quoted by tempo.co.

He said that the increased wage would be sufficient for to provide an appropriate standard of living for workers in the city. Wido also said that talks with the Depok Wage Council had collapsed with the issuance of Government Regulation No. 78/2015 on labor wages.

Wido said the talks had resulted in a recommendation that the Depok mayor had signed, but that its implementation had ended once the 2015 regulation was issued.

"The 2015 regulation has prevented the right of labor unions to negotiate [on behalf of workers] from being fulfilled, because the wage is set by the central government," he said.

Depok Mayor Mohammad Idris and Depok Social and Manpower Agency head Diah Sadiah have yet to respond to the union's demand.

Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri stated earlier that the government had determined the rate of next year's regional minimum wage increase at 8.3 percent, referring to data from Statistics Indonesia (BPS).

The BPS data calculates national inflation at 2.88 percent and economic growth at 5.15 percent to total a wage increase of 8.03 percent.

Hanif said he had disseminated the information to regional heads that were obliged to announce next year's wage increase on Nov. 1. (sau)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/29/depok-labor-union-demands-25-percent-wage-hike.html

Political parties & elections

Prabowo camp says despite lack of money, logistics, they have God on

Detik News - October 29, 2018

Tsarina Maharani, Jakarta – The coordinating spokesperson for the Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno election campaign team, Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, says that God Almighty and militancy are sufficient capital to win the 2019 presidential election.

Simanjuntak, who is the chairperson of Pemuda Muhammadiyah – the youth wing of the Islamic mass organisation Muhammadiyah – said that Prabowo and Sandiaga do not have logistical and media capital and are not in power.

"I want to say that the Prabowo-Sandi presidential ticket which is supported by the PKS [the Islamic based Justice and Prosperity Party] doesn't have money. The pair doesn't have any media, and are not in power. But we have militancy and have Allah SWT [Almighty God]", said Simanjuntak during the anniversary of the PKS youth wing on Jl. Tb Simatupang in South Jakarta on Sunday October 28.

He then raised the issue of Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan in the 2017 gubernatorial election. Then, said Simanjuntak, Baswedan defeated incumbent governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama despite predictions by survey groups that he would win.

"Who would have thought then that Anies Baswedan who was supported by the PKS could win? Yet all the surveys were wrong. All of them said Ahok would win. But we were able to defeat Ahok. What was our capital? Our capital was Allah and militancy", he asserted.

Simanjuntak then reminded PKS cadre of three things, namely the tauhid [the Oneness of God], knowledge and strategy. Simanjuntak said that through these three things, Prabowo and Sandiaga could win the 2019 presidential elections.

"You the youth must have three things. The most genuine possible [belief] in tauhid, the highest level of knowledge and the smartest strategy. With this, God willing, the PKS and Prabowo-Sandi will win the 2019 presidential elections", said Simanjuntak. (tsa/yld)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Timses: Prabowo-Sandi Modal Militansi dan Allah".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita/d-4277271/timses-prabowo-sandi-modal-militansi-dan-allah

What is 'sontoloyo', the new buzzword in Indonesian political lingo?

Jakarta Post - October 27, 2018

Devina Heriyanto, Jakarta – The word "sontoloyo" has enjoyed a prolonged five-minutes of fame since President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo uttered it on Tuesday.

Jokowi was commenting on the backlash against the subdistrict fund program, which the opposition called a political stunt.

"This is the government's commitment to the people, not for anyone else, so don't equate this issue to politics," Jokowi said in his speech. He then 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 'sontoloyo' politicians."

Deputy House Speaker Fadli Zon, who is also an outspoken government critic, quickly slammed the speech, calling it rude and inappropriate coming from the head of state, according to kompas.com. Jokowi later admitted that he was angry and could not stop himself from swearing.

According to the official Indonesian dictionary (KBBI), "sontoloyo" is a colloquial word that means foolish, crooked or stupid. The opposition might consider the word rude as the KBBI itself notes that the term is used as a curse word.

Gajah Mada University linguistic professor I Dewa Putu Wijana told tempo.co that "sontoloyo's" usage was limited to the older generation because the word was often used in old novels.

An actual "sontoloyo", which in Javanese means duck farmer, said the word was often used negatively. "We are hard workers and consistent when doing our job," Mbah Dasar, a 60-year-old "sontoloyo" from Rembang, Central Java, told detik.com.

Jokowi's 'sontoloyo' and Sukarno's 'sontoloyo'

Jokowi is not the first Indonesian politician to use the word in public. The country's founding father and first president, Sukarno, used the term in Islam Sontoloyo. The article was first published in Pandji Islam magazine in 1940, before he included in an essay collection titled Di Bawah Bendera Revolusi Jilid I (Under the Revolutionary Flag Part I).

Sukarno wrote the article after reading in a newspaper that a religious teacher had raped his own student. The teacher justified the rape by marrying the girl.

"If the news in the Pemandangan newspaper is true, we are seeing a 'sontoloyo' [crooked] Islam. A sin is permissible under a fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence)," Sukarno wrote. He went on to criticize how some people used fiqh to justify their actions, as if "they [were] playing cats and dogs with God". The rest of the article slammed Muslims who were "religious only on the surface".

Jokowi's "sontoloyo" speech, however, is apparently not related to religion, but to what he refers to as Indonesia's "politics of lies".

Jokowi has long been a target of hoaxes aimed to undemine his reelection bid. He also questioned criticism leveled against him that he claimed was based on false information.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/27/what-is-sontoloyo-the-new-buzzword-in-indonesian-political-lingo.html

Jokowi-Ma'ruf campaign videotron violates KPU decree: Bawaslu

Jakarta Post - October 26, 2018

Jakarta – The Jakarta Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) has declared that several videotrons displaying campaign advertisements for the Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Ma'ruf Amin presidential ticket violate the General Elections Commission (KPU) Decree No. 175 on the placement of campaign attributes in the capital ahead of next year's election.

Jakarta Bawaslu commissioner Muhammad Puadi said the agency would coordinate with the city's One-Stop Integrated Services Agency (PTSP) to remove the Jokowi-Ma'ruf campaign ads from the videotrons.

"The owner of the videotrons must stop displaying the campaign ads for [the Jokowi-Ma'ruf] ticket in these locations as prohibited by KPU Decree No. 175," Puadi said in a statement.

The disputed videotrons are located on Jl. MH Thamrin, Taman Tugu Tani, Jl. Menteng Raya and Jl. Gunung Sahari Raya in Central Jakarta. Friday's ruling followed up a report provided by an individual named Sahroni, as reported by tribunnews.com.

However, the Jakarta Bawaslu rejected Sahroni's demand for an apology from Jokowi and Ma'ruf to the opposition camp as no evidence has emerged to suggest that the videotrons were owned or funded by the Jokowi-Ma'ruf campaign. (rfa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/26/jokowi-maruf-campaign-videotron-violates-kpu-decree-bawaslu.html

Constitutional Court maintains presidential threshold

Jakarta Post - October 25, 2018

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – The Constitutional Court has once again upheld the threshold for political parties in nominating presidential candidates, in the latest and perhaps the last ruling on such a case before the concurrent presidential and legislative elections next year.

The nine-panel bench rejected on Thursday a petition filed by a group comprised of activists and academics who challenged Article 222 of the 2017 Elections Law, which stipulates the presidential threshold.

Article 222 of the 2017 law stipulates that a party or a coalition of parties is required to secure at least 20 percent of the seats at the House of Representatives or 25 percent of the popular vote to be eligible to nominate a candidate in the 2019 elections.

In its ruling, the justices maintained that the threshold requirement was constitutional and that the court had shown its stance on the matter in a ruling on a similar article in the 2008 Election Law in 2009 and a ruling on Article 222 of the 2017 law in January this year.

"There is no fundamental reason to date for the Constitutional Court to change its stance," Justice Saldi Isra read out in the ruling on Thursday. "The plaintiffs' requests have no legal basis."

In the ruling issued in January, the court argued that the threshold was a legal policy in electoral contestation that aimed to strengthen the country's presidential system and simplify the multiparty system. (swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/25/constitutional-court-maintains-presidential-threshold.html

Prabowo despises Denny JA poll, mocks them as pollster gods

Tempo - October 25, 2018

Budiarti Utami Putri, Jakarta – Presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto gave his response upon being asked about the latest LSI Denny JA poll result which suggested Prabowo-Sandiaga's electability had taken a dive after Ratna Sarumpaet's hoax case emerged.

"Huh, Denny JA? No thank you. Poll results depend on who financially backs them. That's all thank you," said Prabowo in East Jakarta yesterday.

The Gerindra Party chairman did not stop there and asked the journalists who were present; "Why am I not asked about the movement on consuming milk?" which he just introduced. "Why ask about the Denny JA poll result? Oh my, I would rather not answer that," he quipped.

However, asked upon questions regarding the funds for electoral witnesses in the 2019 General Elections, he agrees that it should be government funded and agrees that they should be paid on a lower wage.

He then [he] suddenly mentioned Denny JA again and maintained that Indonesia does not need 'money democracy' and rhetorically asked; "What is Denny JA? The Gods of pollsters?," said Prabowo.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/10/25/055922861/Prabowo-Despises-Denny-JA-Poll-Mocks-them-as-Pollster-Gods

Prabowo vows to oppose power hunger, personal enrichment

Tempo - October 24, 2018

Budiarti Utami Putri, Jakarta – Presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto said, during the commemoration of the inaugural Indonesian Santri Front anniversary, backed by Indonesian Islamic Front (FPI), that he will not use authority as a means to enrich himself.

"In front of a crowd that consists of known Ulema, public figures, and thousands of santris (Islamic school students) from various regions, I declare that I will neither be power hungry nor dive into personal enrichment," said the former commander of the Indonesian Army's Special Forces (Kopassus).

The event that Prabowo attended was in celebration of the National Santri Day that was commemorated on Monday. He attended the event held in Amaliyah Mosque, West Java, in a full Islamic suit.

"Thank you for the support to me and Sandiaga Uno to lead this nation," said Prabowo Subianto, referring to the support given by the group for the upcoming election.

Furthermore, Prabowo Subianto, who's also the Gerindra Party Chairman, called for the santri attending the event to use their voting right in the 2019 Presidential Election. His visit to this event is a series of visits of his East Java "jihad resolution".

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/10/23/055922797/Prabowo-Vows-to-Oppose-Power-Hunger-Personal-Enrichment

Blasphemy & hate speech

Muslim, Christian comedians get death threats over video about cooking

Jakarta Post - October 31, 2018

Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta – Comedians Tretan Muslim and Coki Pardede have claimed to have received several death threats after uploading a video on the popular video sharing platform Youtube in which they cooked a pork dish.

"I am very open and thankful if anyone wants to reproach me or give me advice, because if someone is wrong, they should be reproached and reminded," Tretan said in a YouTube video posted on Tuesday.

"But curses, insults, persecution, condoning the killing of me and my friend and death threats toward me and people close to me – I am sure that those things do not reflect Islamic teachings."

Nevertheless, both Tretan and Coki apologized for any offense caused by the video and announced they were leaving comedy group Majelis Lucu Indonesia (MLI) because of the brouhaha.

They said several MLI events had been canceled because of protests from Muslim organizations over Tretan and Coki's video. "Not just from Majelis Lucu Indonesia; the two of us are also leaving Indonesia's entertainment scene," Tretan said.

Coki added that the pair would concentrate on improving their knowledge of comedy and other matters before returning.

The "blasphemous" video was part of Tretan's comedic cooking series "Last Hope Kitchen", where he and other comedians prepare dishes with unusual ingredients. Previous examples include chicken soup with herbal drink Adem Sari and rawon (beef soup) with isotonic drink UC1000.

In the video, Tretan, a Muslim, teamed up with Coki, a Christian, to cook pork with date syrup and honey.

Tretan joked that he could hear the pork saying "Hell, hell, the fires of hell!" and the two speculated on whether adding dates, which Muslims are encouraged to consume when breaking the fast, would reduce the haram level of the pork.

The video went viral after popular preacher Derry Sulaiman posted a short clip of it on his Instagram account on Oct. 20 with a message condemning the two comedians.

"Who are these people? [They are] disrespectful, they want to be famous by making fun of our religion," he wrote. "Please tell me where these two people live, I want to hear their jokes in person (that are not funny at all)." The post has since been deleted.

Comedy has long been part of Indonesian culture, and some high-profile figures, including late cleric Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid, are known to have often joked about religion.

But the rise of religious conservatism and what scholars called the "weaponization" of the blasphemy law by radical groups seemed to have created a climate of fear where anything remotely considered as blasphemous could land an individual in jail. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/31/muslim-christian-comedians-get-death-threats-over-video-about-cooking-pork.html

Court keeps Indonesia woman irked by noisy mosque in prison

Associated Press - October 25, 2018

Medan – A High Court on Thursday upheld an 18-month prison sentence for a woman convicted of blasphemy in Indonesia after complaining about the volume of a mosque's loudspeakers.

The woman's lawyer, Ranto Sibarani, told The Associated Press that the decision would be appealed to the Supreme Court.

The ethnic Chinese woman, Meiliana, was sentenced in August, more than two years after her comments sparked rioting in her hometown Tanjung Balai on the island of Sumatra.

In a conversation with the daughter of the caretaker of her neighborhood mosque, Meiliana had commented that the five-times-daily call to prayer was too loud. Rumors spread that she wanted to stop the call to prayer and days later, mobs attacked her home and burned and ransacked at least 14 Buddhist temples.

Indonesia's largest Muslim organizations have said her complaint wasn't blasphemy and have criticized her imprisonment but a conservative group, Islamic Community Forum, said Meilana's sentence was too light.

The case has highlighted how Indonesia's blasphemy law has become a tool for Islamic hard-liners to persecute followers of minority religions in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Meiliana, who uses a single name, wasn't in court for Thursday's decision. Her supporters say she is kept in a 30-square-meter (323-square-foot) cell with more than a dozen other women. Her husband and two sons feared for their safety and moved from Tanjung Balai to Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province.

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-6315465/Court-keeps-Indonesia-woman-irked-noisy-mosque-prison.html

Fake news & black campaigns

I'm sorry for spreading lies that Jokowi was a communist: La Nyalla

Jakarta Post - October 29, 2018

Jakarta – Chairman of the East Java branch of youth organization Pemuda Pancasila (PP), La Nyalla Mattalitti, 59, has apologized to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo for spreading rumors that the latter was a member of now-defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

"I apologize as I also took part in spreading negative information during the 2014 presidential election, including the issue that Jokowi was a descendant of members and supporter of the PKI," La Nyalla told reporters after his 30-minute meeting with the President in Surabaya, East Java, on Sunday.

In the 2014 race, La Nyalla, former graft suspect who was later acquitted, was a campaign team member for the Prabowo Subianto – Hatta Rajasa ticket.

In the 2019 election, Prabowo is challenging Jokowi again, with businessman-turned-politician Sandiaga Uno. However, La Nyalla has thrown support behind Jokowi's reelection bid, saying that Jokowi's campaign has "clearer and more concrete programs".

Speculation is rife that La Nyalla made the move after Prabowo did not accommodate his political interests. In the 2018 East Java gubernatorial election, La Nyalla was mentioned as a figure to have the most potential to a secure gubernatorial nomination from Prabowo's Gerindra Party.

However, Prabowo decided to endorse the Saifullah Yusuf-Puti Guntur Soekarno ticket instead. La Nyalla claimed Jokowi told him to let bygones be bygones.

Jokowi and La Nyalla met amid the national working committee meeting of the Jokowi – Ma'ruf Amin campaign team in Surabaya, on the occasion of which Jokowi called on all officials on the team to explain infrastructure programs and clarify the PKI issues to the public.

"The point is, all of the team members, at both the national and regional level, have to be able to explain all the programs that we have been working on," Jokowi said. "They also have to explain to the people that it [the PKI issue] is not true and a lie." (foy/evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/28/im-sorry-for-spreading-lies-that-jokowi-was-a-communist-la-nyalla.html

IT ministry plans to fine social media platforms for allowing fake news

Coconuts Jakarta - October 25, 2018

Like many other countries throughout the world, Indonesia is struggling with the issue of hoaxes, fakes news and misinformation being spread online, primarily through social media.

Indonesia already has laws that can criminalize individuals who create or spread hoaxes online, but now the man in charge of policing Indonesia's internet says his ministry is planning to penalize social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, if they're found to have allowed fake news to spread.

Rudiantara, Indonesia's minister of communications and information technology, said revisions to the law were in the works that would allow the government to impose sanctions in the form of fines on social media platforms that facilitate the spread of hoaxes, justifying it as a matter of state security.

"The problem with hoaxes is a matter of the state. We must take a strong position related to these issues," Rudiantara said yesterday as quoted by Republika.

The IT minister said the mechanism through which such penalties would be issued is a revision to the 2012 regulations on the Implementation of Electronic Systems and Transactions. He said the sanctions would be applied through a derivative ministerial regulation, coordinated with the Ministry of Finance.

Rudiantara said he hopes that the revision will be completed by the end of the year so that sanctions can be applied starting next year, all with the aim of getting social media platforms to take responsibility for their content.

As for the complicated question of how such a law would work, Rudiantara referred to Germany and Malaysia, which he said had passed similar laws.

Which is true. At the start of this year, the German government's Network Enforcement Act, commonly known as NetzDG, took effect. It requires social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, to promptly remove "illegal content," as defined by their criminal code. With potential fines of up to 50 million euro, companies quickly began removing content to comply with the law.

However, activist groups such as Human Rights Watch say that, with illegal content defined as anything from actual threats of violence to hate speech to insults towards public offices, the legislation is fundamentally flawed.

"It is vague, overbroad, and turns private companies into overzealous censors to avoid steep fines, leaving users with no judicial oversight or right to appeal," said Wenzel Michalski, Germany director at Human Rights Watch.

Malaysia's fake news bill, which was also heavily criticized as vague, draconian and prone to political manipulation, was thrown out by the country's new government in August.

Indonesia's current laws criminalizing individuals for creating or sharing hoaxes and fake news online have been similarly accused of being prone to abuse, as has the government's selective prosecution of such cases.

The major problem of course is, who gets to decide what does and doesn't count as fake news? Rudiantara's ministry has a "war room" dedicated to fighting fake news, but given who his boss is, it's fair to wonder if they are tackling misinformation about incumbent President Joko Widodo and the opposition, led by presidential challenger Prabowo Subianto, without any bias towards either side in the run up to the 2019 election.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/ministry-plans-fine-social-media-platforms-allowing-fake-news-spread/

Surveys & opinion polls

Give, give, give: Indonesians most generous people in the world

Coconuts Jakarta - October 31, 2018

In Indonesia, there's a saying that goes, "It's better to have your hand above than below," meaning it pays to be charitable. It appears that many Indonesians live by that principle as the country was named the most generous in the world in a new study.

UK-based Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) released the 2018 edition of its "World Giving Index" report, which ranks over 140 countries according to how charitable their people are based on data from 2017. The report was first issued in 2010 and Indonesia has been climbing up its ranks over the last few years, coming in 22nd in 2015, 7th in 2016, and 2nd last year before rising to the top in this latest edition.

The report, primarily based on data from the Gallup World Poll, surveys respondents from participating nations about their giving behavior. Specifically, this report focuses on three aspects of giving: helping strangers, donating money and volunteering time.

Indonesia came out on top after receiving an aggregate score of 59%, which puts them level with Australia (although we edged out our neighbors from down under on decimal points). Indonesia didn't score particularly high on helping a stranger (46%) and volunteering time (53%), but shone on the donating money aspect (78%).

The report doesn't specifically say why Indonesians like to donate their money, but one possible factor is that, being a majority Muslim country, many Indonesians are religiously obligated to give zakat (alms), which is one of the main pillars of Islam.

Indonesia displaced Myanmar in the top spot, the latter dropping to 9th after having been number 1 since 2014. Singapore is the only other Southeast Asian nation to make the top 10 this year and had one of the most improved scores of any country in the world, coming in at 7th after having ranked as low as 64th five years ago.

Globally, the report concluded that people are more willing to help a stranger or volunteer their time, but the cumulative score for donating money dropped to its lowest level since 2013. Donation levels also increased among developed nations while it had fallen among developing countries.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/give-give-give-indonesians-generous-people-world-according-study/

Jokowi's campaign team urged not to be too optimistic

Tempo - October 28, 2018

Surabaya (Antara) – The chief of the steering board of President Joko Widodo (Jokowi)-Ma'ruf Amin national campaign team, Jusuf Kalla, called on the team members on Saturday to not be over-optimistic of the positive results of surveys so far.

"Do not be over-optimistic over the survey results," he stated, in his directives at the opening of the national meeting of the team, on Saturday.

Kalla, who is also the vice president, reminded about the incidents in 2016, namely Brexit and Donald Trump's victory over Hillary Clinton in the US election.

He noted that during the time, 90 percent of US citizens believed Clinton would win, and 90 percent of British citizens believed Brexit proponents would lose, but they were wrong.

"They were too optimistic that people would follow the winner. Hence, they did not think of voting because they thought they would win. The young people went on vacation and did not vote, and only those above 40 finally voted," he remarked.

Only 1 out of 10 surveys had Trump as the winner, and the survey result was from South Africa.

"It also happened in Jakarta before. So do not be too optimistic, but continue to advise people to vote for us, so that they would really come to the poll," he elaborated.

He added that it was not impossible that people would not work hard if they were too optimistic. "So we must continue to work hard and think that it would still be a 50-50 chance," he explained.

Jokowi would seek reelection with Amin, who is the chief cleric, as his running mate in the election scheduled in April next year.

He would compete against former army general Prabowo Subianto and businessman Sandiaga Uno as his running mate. In the last election in 2014, Jokowi defeated Prabowo.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/10/28/055922927/Jokowis-Campaign-Team-Urged-Not-to-be-Too-Optimistic

Jokowi-Ma'ruf maintain huge lead over Prabowo-Sandiaga in new survey

Coconuts Jakarta - October 24, 2018

Another day, another survey for next year's presidential election. The main takeaway from all of them in aggregate is that the Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Uno ticket trail far behind President Joko Widodo and his running mate Ma'ruf Amin.

The latest poll, released today by Kompas' Research and Development (Litbang) department, shows Jokowi-Ma'ruf chosen by 52.6% of the survey's 1,200 respondents, nearly 20 points ahead of Prabowo-Sandiaga with 32.7%. The remaining 14.7% of respondents said they were undecided.

Based on Kompas' assessment of the numbers, Prabowo-Sandiaga have a very slim chance of catching up.

"Even if all of the 14.7% of respondents [who abstained] picked Prabowo-Sandiaga, by simple math, Jokowi-Ma'ruf still have a slight lead," Kompas' Bambang Setiawan said.

But if the survey's 2.8% margin of error were to entirely work in the favor of Prabowo-Sandiaga, then there is a chance the pair could overtake Jokowi-Ma'ruf, provided most, if not all, of the 14.7% of those who abstained picked the opposition leader and the former Jakarta vice governor.

Furthermore, the survey indicated that 30.7% of respondents who picked Jokowi-Ma'ruf could still be swayed to switch to the other side. But that is still lower than the 34.2% of those who picked Prabowo-Sandiaga who said they aren't still totally convinced by the ticket.

Kompas' survey was carried out between Sept. 21-Oct. 5, with respondents picked randomly from all 34 provinces.

Previous surveys from major pollster showed similar numbers. The first survey after both candidate pairs' official nominations in August was carried out by the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) and their poll put Jokowi-Ma'ruf above their rivals with 52.2% compared to 29.5%.

Another survey in September by Indikator Politik Indonesia indicated a decrease in undecideds, with Jokowi-Ma'ruf scoring even higher at 57.7% compared to Prabowo-Sandiaga at 32.3%.

While political observers have noted that Prabowo-Sandiaga are mainly focusing their campaign on economic reforms, their credibility took a hit after the huge Ratna Sarumpaet scandal recently.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/jokowi-maruf-maintain-huge-lead-prabowo-sandiaga-new-survey/

Environment & natural disasters

Bogor to ban use of plastic bags at malls and supermarkets starting Dec.

Coconuts Jakarta - October 31, 2018

Indonesia holds the unfortunate distinction of being the world's second largest producer of plastic marine waste in the world, behind only China. A great deal of that waste comes from the 9.8 billion (!) plastic bags the country is estimated to use each year.

The Indonesia government is going to need to make a lot of changes if it is going to achieve its goal of achieving a 70% reduction in plastic and other marine waste within the next seven years, but Bogor, one of Jakarta's satellite cities, is going to do its part by banning the use of plastic bags at shopping centers and supermarkets before the end of this year.

At the Our Ocean Conference in Bali yesterday, Bogor Mayor Bima Arya told the media that his city's plastic bag ban is set for implementation on December 1. He said his administration has already socialized the policy to the city of nearly 1 million people over the last three months.

Arya told state-run news agency Antara that implementing the ban could be difficult, mainly because they were planning on relying on consumers to bring their own shopping bags. But he said he was at the conference hoping to find cheap, environmentally friendly alternatives. He also said his government would work to support small entrepreneurs who could produce and sell reusable shopping bags for citizens.

Bogor is not the only place in Indonesia preparing a plastic bag ban. The cities of Banjarmasin and Balikpapan are also preparing their own regulations and Bali's capital of Denpasar announced plans to ban plastic bag use starting on January 1 of next year.

At last year's World Oceans Summit in Bali, government officials pledged to spend $1 billion a year to dramatically reduce the amount of plastic and other waste polluting its waters including support for new industries that produce biodegradable materials such as cassava and seaweed as plastic alternatives as well as incentives for local governments seeking to decrease plastic bag use.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/bogor-banning-use-plastic-bags-malls-supermarkets-starting-dec-1/

Thousands flee flooded houses in Riau after heavy rain

Jakarta Post - October 28, 2018

Rizal Harahap, Pekanbaru, Riau – Thousands of people in Rokan Hilir regency in Riau had to flee their houses after the Bangko River overflowed following heavy rains.

Rokan Hilir Police chief, Adj. Comr. Sigit Adiwuryanto, said the flood inundated three villages in Pekaitan district in the regency: Karya Mulyo Sari, Rokan Baru and Pesisir.

"In total, 2,500 people were affected by the flood. More than half of them are form Rokan Baru village. They took shelter in tents or the homes of relatives," he added on Sunday. The flood began on Thursday and so far no deaths have been reported, Sigit said.

He added that relief aid, including instant noodles, eggs, biscuits, drinking water, coffee, tea, condensed milk and sugar, had been distributed to the displaced residents. Sigit also ordered his officers to guard the unoccupied houses. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/28/thousands-flee-flooded-houses-in-riau-after-heavy-rain.html

Quake, tsunami-hit Palu faces health crisis

Agence France Presse - October 27, 2018

Harry Pearl, Jakarta – Indonesia's quake-tsunami battered city of Palu is facing a public health crisis as torrential rains threaten to spread malaria and dengue fever to the devastated region a month after the disaster, aid agencies have warned.

On September 28, a magnitude 7.5 quake and a subsequent tsunami razed swathes of Palu on Sulawesi island, killing some 2,200 people and displacing more than 220,000.

Thousands more are missing, presumed dead, after entire neighbourhoods were swallowed up by liquefaction – a process where a strong quake makes the ground start behaving like a liquid, turning it into a kind of quicksand.

Desperate to stave off disease, authorities last week dropped disinfectant from helicopters on the worst-hit parts of Palu, where some 5,000 rotting corpses are feared buried beneath the ruins.

Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency said the move was crucial to preventing the proliferation of disease-laden flies, cockroaches and rats.

But aid groups say there has been an increase in cases of diarrhoea and respiratory infection, while there are also suspected cases of mosquito-borne illnesses, including malaria and dengue fever.

Heavy monsoon rains predicted for the months ahead threaten to make a bad situation worse.

Workers use a backhoe to clear away debris on Wednesday at a destroyed warehouse complex in Mamboro, Palu city, Central Sulawesi, that was hit by last month's tsunami.Workers use a backhoe to clear away debris on Wednesday at a destroyed warehouse complex in Mamboro, Palu city, Central Sulawesi, that was hit by last month's tsunami. (The Jakarta Post/Ruslan Sangadji)

"It is likely we're going to see more and more people getting sick... given how hard it is to maintain hygiene standards, with the rains providing the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, and with hundreds, if not thousands of bodies, believed to be decomposing in the ground," said Selina Sumbung, chairperson of Save the Children's partner in Indonesia, Yayasan Sayangi Tunas Cilik.

Safe play spaces and temporary schools have provided some solace for kids – including many left orphans or still separated from surviving parents – but children are at particular risk from any illness outbreak.

Local and international relief efforts have accelerated over the past month after initial delays sparked looting as food and water ran out. Telephone reception and electricity have been restored to many areas with shops, restaurants and markets open.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said Friday that things were "getting better" for people in the worst-affected areas.

But numerous challenges remain. The hundreds of thousands left homeless by the disaster are scattered across Palu and beyond. Many squat outside their ruined homes or are bunkered down in makeshift camps and entirely dependent on handouts to survive.

Safe drinking water has to be trucked into encampments, while tarpaulins, blankets and tools are still in short supply in some areas.

"We know when people are living in temporary conditions – in tents or under tarpaulins – that always poses a problem for hygiene," said Andreas Weissenberg, team leader of the Red Cross field assessment team in Palu.

"People stay closer together. It's difficult to keep clean. They may not have access to water and latrines."

Elsewhere, monsoon rains have already turned roads to mud and primed slopes for landslides in some remote areas – hampering access for relief teams.

Indonesian authorities lifted a state of emergency on Friday, after which a "transition period" is to continue before that ends on December 25.

Indonesia has said that damage to the devastated area has topped $900 million while the World Bank has offered the country up to $1 billion in loans to get Palu back on its feet.

Seventy percent of Palu has been cleaned up and water supply will return to normal by December, Central Sulawesi governor Longki Djanggola said Thursday.

More than 1,400 tents have been erected for classes and 1,200 semi-permanent shelters – each with a dozen rooms – are expected to be finished in two months' time.

For many, however, life is still far from returning to normal. "I just hope I can get a decent place, permanent housing and a job," said 65-year-old Abdurrahim Laadu.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/27/quake-tsunami-hit-palu-faces-health-crisis.html

BNPB: 1,999 disasters hit Indonesia as of September 2018

Tempo - October 26, 2018

Muhammad Hendartyo, Jakarta – The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) head spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said throughout January to September 24, 2018, as many as 1,999 disasters befell Indonesia. According to Sutopo, the number would likely increase up to the end of this year.

"The impact of the disaster is quite enormous," said Sutopo in a written statement, Thursday, Oct 25.

The death toll or missing victims thus far, Sutopo mentioned, recorded at 3,548 people, while 13,112 people injured, 3.06 million people were evacuated; 339,969 houses severely damaged; 7,810 houses damaged; 20,608 houses lightly damaged; and thousands of public facilities destroyed.

Indonesia is the disaster-prone country, Sutopo marked. Various disasters hit the archipelago, and the trend tends to increase over the years.

"The high potential of disasters [in Indonesia], such as the earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption, flood, landslide, drought, forest and land fire, tornado, and extreme weather, in addition to highly susceptible and has low capacity [to manage disaster], cause a high disaster risk," he said.

According to the BNPB spokesman, disaster is multidiscipline, multisector, multidimensions, and multicomplex which are related to each other. Thus it requires comprehensive and sustainable management.

Currently, Indonesian territory would enter the rainy season. Sutopo estimated floods, landslide, and tornadoes would possibly occur during the season. He saw that averagely 5,000 to 6,000 earthquakes jolted the country in a year, but that could not be predicted precisely.

"Earthquake may occur at any time, especially in quake-prone regions. The public is urged to be vigilant. Acknowledge the dangers and reduce the risk," Sutopo concluded.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/10/26/055922883/BNPB-1999-Disasters-Hit-Indonesia-as-of-September-2018

Eight of ten new Bali located in earthquake prone regions: BNPB

Tempo - October 24, 2018

Francisca Christy Rosana, Jakarta – The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said eight out of ten new tourism destinations or known as New Bali initiated by the government were located in earthquake-prone regions.

The eight destinations are Borobudur Temple, Central Java; Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara; Bromo, East Java; Wakatobi, Southeast Sulawesi; Mandalika, Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara; Lake Toba, North Sumatra; Morotai, North Maluku; and Tanjung Lesung, Banten.

"Ten tourism destinations [New Bali] are prone to disaster, as well as earthquake except for Bangka Belitung and Seribu Islands," said Sutopo in Sari Pan Pasifik Hotel, Central Jakarta, October 24.

According to Sutopo, the quake vulnerability regions did not mean that it could not be promoted as tourist spots. The government, particularly Tourism Ministry, was required to coordinate with BNPB to list disaster mitigation points in the draft of 10 New Bali development plan.

Sutopo admitted no synergy made with the ministry thus far related to the disaster mitigation in those areas. "We have also just known about the 10 New Bali," he said. However, the agency had disseminated pre-disaster measures in those regions.

He further stressed mitigation plans in the tourism priority areas must be taken seriously considering the lives of the locals and domestic or foreign tourists were on the stake.

Sutopo suggested the disaster mitigation plan handled by BNPB, instead of Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPDB) in a bid to form more serious communication between the Tourism Ministry and the agency.

Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya claimed to have earmarked disaster special fund worth Rp100 billion in the 2018 State Budget (APBN) and that had been allocated in the draft of State Budget (RAPBN).

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/10/24/055922837/Eight-of-Ten-New-Bali-Located-in-Earthquake-Prone-Regions-BNPB

Health & education

Minimarkets in Depok and Bogor now required to place cigarettes behind

Coconuts Jakarta - October 29, 2018

One of the (many) reasons why Indonesia has such infamously high smoking rates is that cigarettes are so incredibly visible and available here – it's hard to walk more than 100 meters in many Indonesian cities without seeing cigarettes on display somewhere. But two of Jakarta's satellite cities are trying a tactic that has been used successfully in other countries to decrease demand by curtaining off cigarettes from consumers at convenience stores.

The West Java cities of Depok and Bogor, both just outside of Jakarta, recently passed regulations requiring minimarkets to place curtains in front of the cigarette stands that are always found prominently displayed behind their cashiers.

The regulations did not receive much fanfare when they were enacted. Bogor's regulation actually came into effect in December but was based on an earlier 2009 regulation banning cigarette advertising in certain public spaces.

Depok's cigarette curtaining rule came into effect one month ago, also as part of newly passed regulations on cigarette advertising passed by the local government.

"Yes, they are curtained off because of the regulation of the Depok Government. About a month ago there was a circular about this policy. It requires (the curtains) to be installed," an Alfamart employee named Indira told Detik today.

Indira said that minimarkets that did not comply with the regulation would face sanctions from the authorities.

Are the policies effective? Two minimarket employees that Detik talked to said that the curtains in their stores had been somewhat successful in decreasing demand, especially among young customers (children under 17 are not legally allowed to buy cigarettes in Indonesia, but the country's disturbingly high underage smoking rates shows how ineffective that is).

On the other hand, employees of an Alfamaret in Bogor told Kumparan that the curtain had not really affected their cigarette sales. Most but not all stores still had some signage indicating that cigarettes could still be purchased there.

Similar regulations requiring tobacco products to be hidden from display have been passed in cities such as New York and countries including England (where studies have shown it was especially effective in decreasing the number of underage smokers purchasing from stores).

The effects of Indonesia's infamously high smoking rates have been well documented, with around 67.4 percent of all men over 15 in Indonesia being tobacco users (the highest rate in the world) and tobacco-related diseases killing at least 200,000 Indonesians per year. The government has shown little willingness to combat the country's smoking epidemic, failing to pass national laws banning tobacco advertising and refusing to ratify the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

In fact, the House of Parliament in 2017 tried to pass a tobacco bill aimed at rolling back regulations, including those on advertisement as well as health warnings on cigarette packs.

Luckily, that bill never passed into law, but the national government's unwillingness to pass tobacco controls means that local regulations such as those in Depok and Bogor are the only thing preventing another generation of Indonesian children from being bombarded with tobacco advertising and turned into young smokers. One study in 2016 found that around 30% of all Indonesian children have smoked a cigarette before the age of 10 (one of those, of course, being Indonesia's infamous smoking baby).

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/minimarkets-depok-bogor-now-required-place-cigarettes-behind-curtain/

Doctors association calls for medical audit on national health insurance

Jakarta Post - October 27, 2018

Dyaning Pangestika, Jakarta – The Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) has recommended a medical audit as an option to solve a perpetual deficit in the national health insurance (JKN) that is expected to reach over Rp 10 trillion this year.

During the 30th National Meeting (Muktamar) of the IDI in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, on Friday, state health insurer Health Care and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan) was criticized for poor management of the insurance.

IDI chairman Ilham Oetama Marsis suggested that the government body conduct a medical audit at hospitals and public health centers that were care providers of the insurance.

"The deficit in the health insurance program should be prevented because it can affect the health facilities' services for the public," Ilham said during the meeting.

The medical audit would be related to the clinical care for patients as provided by medical staff in health facilities.

A medical auditor is tasked with reviewing the accuracy of policies and procedures of medical providers to ensure efficient and cost-effective delivery of care. In the Health Ministry's guideline for medical audits, it is stated that a medical audit has to be conducted objectively and independently. The auditor team also needs to protect the patients' confidential information.

Ilham said the deficit could also affect doctors or medical workers because BPJS Kesehatan had been holding payments to providers due to a large amount of bills.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who also attended the meeting, said he had requested that the Health Ministry and the National Social Security Board (DJSN) involve the IDI in reforming the JKN, which is one of the world's largest universal healthcare programs, covering more than 200 million people.

"I already learned about the issues with BPJS [Kesehatan]. But I will still invite the [state insurer] for a dialogue since this is a management issue. This is an issue that we need to fix," he said during his speech at the gathering. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/27/doctors-association-calls-for-medical-audit-on-national-health-insurance.html

PGI protests several clauses in religious education draft bill

Tempo - October 27, 2018

Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta – A number of articles contained in the Islamic Boarding Schools (Pesantren) and Religious Education Draft Bill (RUU) was met with protests from the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) as it oversees Sunday school worships and church catechism.

PGI General Secretary Gomar Gultom argues that the two activities do not need to be backed by the rules stated in the RUU's Article 69 and 70.

"Sunday schools do indeed use the word school but it already is part of a Church's worship activity, same goes to catechism," said Gomar Gultom when Tempo reached him on Friday, October 26.

PGI also disagrees with the limit on the number of attendants during a non-formal education program held by Churches, as the Draft Bill's Article 69 and 70 states that such activities must be attended by a minimum of 15 congregations.

The following are parts of Article 69 in question:

Article 69

(1) Non-formal Christian Religious Education as stated in Article 56 is held in the form of Sunday School, Bible School, Church Youths, Catechism, or any other similar activities.

(2) The non-formal Christian Education as stated in the first clause are ones held by Churches, Christian mass-organizations, and Christian religious institutions in the form of a formal education or program.

(3) Non-formal Christian Religious Education in clause (1) is held in a program that has at least 15 attendees.

(4) Non-formal Christian religious education held in the form of a formal education or compulsory formal education must bear a permit from the city's or district's Religious Affairs Office.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/10/27/055922917/PGI-Protests-several-Clauses-in-Religious-Education-Draft-Bill

Police look for bootleg liquor sellers after two die in West Jakarta

Jakarta Post - October 26, 2018

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – The Tamansari Police in West Jakarta are looking for people who sold bootleg liquor to a group of men on Sunday, two of whom died after consuming fake cognac using Martell branding.

Another victim, Ramli, who survived, said he and six of his friends bought three bottles of liquor, worth Rp 150,000 (US$9.87) each, from a house on Jl. Talib II in Tamansari. They later consumed the liquor while hanging out in a karaoke center near the house of the bootleg liquor seller. However, the next day, they felt unwell and vomited. Two of his friends, Pian, 28, and Fadli, 31, later died in the hospital.

"I have been interrogated by the Tamansari Police. I have also delivered the leftover drink to the police," Ramli said as quoted by tempo.co.

Tamansari Police chief Adj. Comr. Rango Siregar said the police were still checking the ingredients of the bootleg liquor in the laboratory. The result will come in the next few days, Rango said. The police were still also searching for the people who made the liquor, he said. (cal)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/25/police-look-for-bootleg-liquor-sellers-after-two-die-in-west-jakarta.html

PGI protests draft bill regulating Sunday schools, catechism

Jakarta Post - October 25, 2018

Gemma Holliani Cahya, Jakarta – The Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) lamented the House of Representatives' proposal to regulate Sunday schools and catechism in a draft bill on pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) and religious education, which was discussed by lawmakers in a plenary meeting recently.

The draft bill in question stipulates that Sunday schools and catechism constitute religious education, therefore, to hold the activities, each forum must have at least 15 participants and require permission from the representative office of the Religious Affairs Ministry in the regency.

In a press release made available to The Jakarta Post on Thursday, PGI spokesperson Jeirry Sumampow said the proposed articles 60 and 70 – which stipulate the aforementioned issue – reflected the lawmakers' ignorance, suggesting that Sunday schools and catechism were informal educational forums, thus, should be regulated as such.

"Both activities are part of the church service for children and teenagers," Jeirry said, "they should not be restricted by the number of participants or permits because they are part of our worship."

Jeffrey added he was worried that the draft bill would turn into some sort of government intervention in religious affairs.

"We support the draft bill on pesantren and religious education and we hope that it will be passed into law. We support it as far as it regulates only formal education and doesn't include informal education such as Sunday schools and catechism," he said. (swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/25/pgi-protests-draft-bill-regulating-sunday-schools-catechism.html

HIV-positive orphans in North Sumatra must be allowed to go to school:

Jakarta Post - October 25, 2018

Dyaning Pangestika, Jakarta – The Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) called on the government on Thursday to protect three HIV-positive orphans who currently face the threat of being driven out of their homes in Samosir, North Sumatra.

The orphans, all of whom are under 12 years old, have been given an ultimatum to leave the regency in seven days because local residents are afraid that they might get infected. The children are also prohibited from going to school.

It was suggested following a meeting among school management, the local community and the regency administration that the children be home-schooled.

In a statement received by The Jakarta Post on Thursday, KPAI commissioner Retno Listyarti lambasted the recommendation, saying it could potentially violate the children's right to education.

"Homeschooling needs active participation from parents, and these children's parents are no longer with them anymore," Retno said in the statement.

She also urged the government to protect as well as fulfill the children's basic rights as stipulated in Law No. 35/2014 on child protection. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/25/hiv-positive-orphans-in-north-sumatra-must-be-allowed-to-go-to-school-kpai.html

State railway company to evaluate cigarette ads at stations

Jakarta Post - October 25, 2018

Jakarta – State-owned railway company PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) will evaluate cigarette advertisements, including billboards, at train stations nationwide, the company's spokesperson said on Wednesday.

"We will evaluate the existing contracts with our partners," KAI spokesperson Agus Komarudin said as quoted by Antara on Wednesday.

According to Agus, the company only allocated commercial space for its partners, which needed to obtain a permit from the local government before installing any advertisements. The permit needs to be included in a working contract, with the company allowing for the installation of ads only after all permits are secured.

"So far, cigarette ads are only found in the Yogyakarta and Surakarta stations. The one in Surakarta had already obtained a permit from the authorities, while the one in Yogyakarta hasn't," Agus said, adding that the ads at Yogyakarta Station would soon be taken down.

Previously, Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) chairman Tulus Abadi criticized KAI for allowing cigarette ads to be displayed at several railway stations across the country. (dpk/swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/24/state-railway-company-to-evaluate-cigarette-ads-at-stations.html

Students & youth

Youth Pledge celebrations filled with politicians telling 'youths' what

Jakarta Post - October 29, 2018

Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta – In commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Youth Pledge, politicians seemed full of ideas about what youths, soon to be the largest part of the electorate, should do.

"Youths" and "millennials" are the holy grail of Indonesian politics – Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data suggests that more than 80 million people between the ages of 20 and 39 will be eligible to vote next year, making up nearly half of the electorate, putting the generation at the top of every political party's target demographic list.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo went the traditional route of asking today's youths to "bring Indonesia forward" and emulate those of 1928, who sparked the movement that eventually brought about independence.

Jokowi's challenger in the presidential race, Prabowo Subianto, called on youths to maintain their "idealism, nationalism, patriotism and leadership", adding that the younger generations were the nation's engines of change.

Despite pushing 50, Prabowo's running mate Sandiaga Uno seemed to consider himself one of the nebulous "youths" and used his message to reinforce the Prabowo-Sandiaga campaign theme of "justice and prosperity".

"It is time for us as the young generation to move and contribute to creating a just and prosperous nation," he tweeted.

Democratic Party executive Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, meanwhile, used Youth Pledge Day as an opportunity to end his lengthy Twitter hiatus and provide youths with encouragement.

"Sometimes we are on top, and sometimes we are on the bottom of the wheel of life. What's certain is that every struggle is filled with challenges. Young people have to be ready and confident in working toward their goals," he tweeted, having experienced some political ups and downs himself in the past few years, from a failed bid for the Jakarta governorship to an attempt to become Prabowo's running mate. He ended his tweet with "Happy Youth Pledge Day!" and inserting hashtags saying #Don'tGiveUp, #IHaveToBelieve and #JustBeConfident.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/29/youth-pledge-celebrations-filled-with-politicians-telling-youths-what-to-do.html

LGBT & same-sex marriage

Human Rights Watch: Officials must uphold LGBT people's rights

Tempo - October 30, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesian officials should uphold the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the face of renewed anti-LGBT statements and discriminatory policy proposals, Human Rights Watch said yesterday in a letter to Governor Ridwan Kamil of West Java province.

Throughout October 2018, government officials in various regencies of West Java province have publicly called for policies that would target LGBT people for arrest and "rehabilitation." Local decrees and other official documents that Human Rights Watch reviewed propose handing over lists of allegedly gay and bisexual men to authorities, changing school curricula to teach falsehoods about and hatred of LGBT people, subjecting LGBT people to medical intervention in an attempt to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, censoring speech about LGBT rights, and other measures supposedly to combat the "LGBT threat."

"Indonesian officials at all levels need to protect LGBT people from violence and discrimination," said Andreas Harsono, Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch. "West Java's governor, Ridwan Kamil, should unambiguously support the basic rights of all Indonesians, including LGBT people."

On October 18, police in Bandung, the capital of West Java province, raided a private home and arrested two men for allegedly running a Facebook group for same-sex couples. Police confiscated five mobile phones and 25 condoms during the raid, continuing a disturbing pattern of targeting people in private homes because of their suspected sexual orientation, and of using condoms as evidence of a supposed crime.

Indonesia has been engulfed by a government-driven moral panic about gender and sexuality, Human Rights Watch said. Beginning in early 2016, politicians, government officials, and state offices issued anti-LGBT statements – calling for everything from criminalization and "cures" for homosexuality, to censorship of information related to LGBT individuals and activities.

Throughout 2017, police across Indonesia raided saunas, nightclubs, hotel rooms, hair salons, and private homes on suspicion that LGBT people were inside. Militant Islamists often tipped off police or accompanied them during these raids. In 2017, police apprehended at least 300 people because of their presumed sexual orientation or gender identity – a spike from previous years and the highest number ever recorded in Indonesia. The government's failure to halt arbitrary and unlawful raids by police and militant Islamists on private LGBT gatherings has derailed public health efforts to curb HIV in men who have sex with men.

After a February 2018 visit to Indonesia, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, stated that, "The hateful rhetoric against [LGBT Indonesians] that is being cultivated seemingly for cynical political purposes will only deepen their suffering and create unnecessary divisions."

"Vitriolic anti-LGBT rhetoric from Indonesian officials gives social sanction and political cover to violence and discrimination," Harsono said. "Governor Kamil needs to uphold 'unity in diversity' by publicly opposing officials who treat LGBT people as a threat and putting an end to unlawful police behavior."

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/10/30/055922988/Human-Rights-Watch-Officials-Must-Uphold-LGBT-Peoples-Rights

Mayor cancels Color Run event over suspicions rainbow theme might

Coconuts Jakarta - October 30, 2018

The Bekate Color Run was scheduled for October 21 in the West Sumatra city of Bukittinggi, but no runner crossed the finish line because the race event never happened.

That's because the city's mayor, M. Ramlan Nurmatias, cancelled the Color Run for reasons that we can only describe as being based in the most ridiculous of homophobic paranoia.

Speaking to state radio network Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI) earlier this month, Ramlan said he pulled the permit for the event due to suspicions that it was somehow associated with support for the LGBT community.

"As the regional head I rescinded the event permit for the Color Run in Bukittinggi. This decision is based on indications that the Color Run is an activity that contains themes of LGBT support so it could be disturbing to the people of Bukittinggi. This was seen from numerous negative comments [against the event] on social media," he said.

But what exactly about the run made it supposedly synonymous with the LGBT community?

"The Color Run event is an activity that is suspected to be an event to support the presence of LGBT. Because of the rainbow colors that have become the theme of the event, it is indicative of being the logo of the LGBT community," Ramlan said.

The West Sumatra Regional Council (DPRD) also supported Ramlan's move in a statement posted on the province government's official website, but warned the city administration to vet organizers before approving any events to prevent anything like this from happening in the future.

Andreas Harsono, Indonesia researcher for the Human Rights Watch, told Coconuts that this case speaks volumes about the increasing paranoia towards LGBT individuals and communities in Indonesia – fears that are being perpetuated particularly by government officials.

"This moral panic really needs to be stopped. Minangkabao (ethnic group indigenous to West Sumatra) leaders should have the moral courage to educate the public that homosexuality is natural. Many traditional cultures and languages recognize non-binary sexuality," Andreas said.

"We have five words for gender in Bugis. The Javanese and the Sundanese also have long recognized gender minorities. Moral panics will affect economic, social and political development. It is totally negative."

Human Rights Watch also released a report yesterday highlighting a recent rise in persecution against LGBT individuals in Indonesia. One form this has taken is a disturbing number of anti-LGBT statements and policies made by government officials in the last few weeks.

While the Color Run cancellation story was barely reported on by the national media in Indonesia, it did not escape the ridicule of some Indonesian netizens who pointed out the huge flaw in Mayor Ramlan's logic.

"Next I propose the mayor should ban kue lapis (colorful layered soft rice flour pudding) and colorful gulai (Indonesian curry) seasoning because they are indicative of showing support for LGBT," the post above reads.

"That's right, this [kue lapis] is so LGBT. Especially rainbow cake," another replied.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/indonesian-mayor-cancels-color-run-event-suspicions-rainbow-theme-might-represent-lgbt/

Palu mayor denies 'deviancy' in response to Malaysian politician blaming

Coconuts Jakarta - October 25, 2018

Many of us probably expected the more conservative of Indonesia's politicians to rally behind Malaysian opposition leader Zahid Hamidi's attempts to score cheap political points by blaming last month's earthquake and tsunami in Central Sulawesi on the rise of LGBT activities, specifically in the province's capital of Palu.

But that, thankfully, has not turned out to be the case so far. Instead, Palu Mayor Hidayat has come out to debunk Zahid's theory (albeit in his own insensitive way).

"I think deviant activities exist in every region, but I have never seen it in Palu. Maybe there are, but I ask everyone to be introspective, ask for direction from Allah," he told Kumparan yesterday, implying that he still believes in divine punishment regardless.

"Maybe there are different views held by politicians and experts. Some might say it was divine punishment, but then there are also expert opinions from those who performed extensive research."

National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Spokesperson Sutopo, who has tirelessly updated Indonesia and the world with news about natural disasters that have hit the country recently (despite being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer), similarly refused to be brought down to Zahid's level.

"To a geologist the earthquake and tsunami in Palu were initiated by the shift of tectonic plates. To a layout expert the disasters in Palu were caused by lack of disaster mitigation in spatial planning," he told Kumparan today.

"For someone in religion, they may see this as divine punishment and a warning from Allah so people do not sin. Everybody has the right to perceive [the cause] of disasters as they see fit."

On Tuesday, the embattled Zahid, who is currently facing 45 corruption-related criminal charges, said the twin disaster that struck Central Sulawesi was divine punishment and warned that Malaysians could face something similar if they don't forsake their sinful ways.

"If we look at the situation in Malaysia, we are concerned over the incident of the earthquake and tsunami in Palu, Indonesia, recently, where it is believed more than 1,000 of them were involved in [LGBTQ+] activities," he said.

"But the whole area was destroyed as part of God's punishment. I would like to ask, as part of Malaysian Islamic Development Department's (Jakim) task, (for them) to implement the Mukhayyam outreach program to help the LGBTQ+ community, and other steps taken by government agencies and other states, and to state the effectiveness of such program so we can avoid similar punishment from God, including those who clearly reject the LGBTQ+."

The Mukhayyam program mentioned by Zahid has been described by LGBT activists as a "brainwashing" program that attempts to get transgender individuals to change their identities.

Zahid is far from the first to describe the twin disaster in Sulawesi as the result of God's wrath. Hardline Islamic preachers in Indonesia have spread conspiracy theories that they were the result of idolatry and extremist groups have threatened several traditional Javanese cultural ceremonies, saying their animistic origins could anger God and lead to more disasters.

But it is truly appalling to see a politician from another country try to connect the earthquake and tsunami that hit Sulawesi – killing over 2,000 people and displacing nearly 90,000 – with Indonesia's treatment of its LGBTQ+ community.

Although homosexuality is not criminalized throughout Indonesia as it is in Malaysia (not yet at least), the LGBTQ+ community has been increasingly persecuted here in recent years due to politicized moral panics, with vigilante raids, police arrests, and state-sponsored discrimination causing many LGBTQ+ individuals here to be terrified for their safety. To further stigmatize them by asserting that they are the cause of natural disasters is an insult to all logic and humanity.

But Zahid didn't exactly have much credibility in those departments before. Last week he was officially handed 45 criminal charges relating to the former DPM's abuse of power, including criminal breach of trust and money laundering in connection to a charity run by members of his family.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/palu-mayor-denies-deviancy-city-response-malaysian-politician-blaming-disasters-lgbt/

Corruption & abuse of power

House Deputy Speaker Taufik Kurniawan named bribery suspect

Jakarta Post - October 30, 2018

Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has named House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Taufik Kurniawan a suspect in a graft case surrounding the deliberation of the regional budget of Kebumen in Central Java, making him the second House leaders implicated in corruption.

"TK is suspected of accepting bribes pertaining to the allocation of special allocation funds [DAK] in the revision of the 2016 state budget," KPK deputy chairwoman Basaria Panjaitan said during a press briefing on Tuesday, referring to Taufik by his initials.

The antigraft body suspects Taufik accepted at least Rp 3.65 billion (US$239,764), part of the 5 percent "commitment fee" promised by Kebumen regent Muhamad Yahya Fuad after the latter's appointment in 2016, Yahya has since been found guilty of corruption in relation to the case.

The regency eventually obtained around Rp 93.37 billion, which, it was planned, would be used for the construction of roads and bridges in the regency.

Taufik is House deputy speaker in charge of Commission IX overseeing finance and banking. He also oversees the budget committee as the coordinator for economics and finance. The committee itself is tasked with discussing the state budget allocation with the government, including allocations for regions, among other things.

He is the second House leaders that have been accused with corruption during President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo administration after former House speaker and Golkar Party politician Setya Novanto was found guilty of taking bribes in electronic ID (e-ID) project.

The KPK had previously requested the immigration authorities to issue a travel ban for Taufik in order to prevent him from leaving the country, as confirmed by the Immigration Directorate General.

During Tuesday's press briefing, the antigraft body named Kebumen regional council speaker Cipto Waluyo a suspect for allegedly accepting bribes of at least Rp 50 million relating to the regency's budget in the 2015-2016 fiscal year. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/30/breaking-house-deputy-speaker-taufik-kurniawan-named-bribery-suspect.html

Indonesia arrests executives of palm firms in bribery probe

Reuters - October 28, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesia's anti-graft agency has arrested seven people, including a senior executive of palm firm Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology, in connection with a bribery case, an official at the agency said on Sunday.

The Corruption Eradication Commission, known as KPK, named vice president director of Sinar Mas Agro, Edy Saputra Suradja, chief executive of PT Binasawit Abadi Pratama, Willy Agung Adipradhana, and some members of Central Kalimantan parliament as suspects in the case, KPK Deputy chief Saut Situmorang told Reuters.

Both Sinar Mas Agro and Binasawit are subsidiaries of Singapore-listed palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources Ltd.

The people are accused of bribing parliamentarians to avoid an investigation into Binasawit's plantation permits and palm processing waste near Sembuluh lake in the Borneo island, Situmorang said.

Golden Agri, in a statement following the arrest, said: "The company will cooperate fully with the ongoing investigation and hopes that the issues can be resolved as quickly as possible".

It called the case "gravely concerning and regrettable" and stated that its Indonesian operations and subsidiaries must be managed in accordance to the law and regulations in the country.

A statement on behalf of both Sinar Mas Agro and Binasawit said all parties are fully cooperating with the investigation. Reuters could not immediately reach Suradja, Adipradhana or their lawyers for comment.

Indonesia is the world's top producer of palm oil. It has faced pressures from international buyers and environmentalists to make the industry more sustainable.

Central Kalimantan parliament had received complaints from residents that palm waste, allegedly from Binasawit's plantation, had polluted Sembuluh lake, Situmorang said.

During a site visit to investigate the matter, parliament members found problems with Binasawit's permit for use of forest areas, he said. He did not elaborate.

In the operation, KPK confiscated 240 million rupiah ($15,774) authorities suspect had been intended as bribe money, Situmorang said.

[Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Additional reporting by Cindy Silviana; Writing by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Christopher Cushing.]

Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-corruption-sinar-mas-agro/indonesia-arrests-executives-of-palm-firms-in-bribery-probe-idUSKCN1N2097

KPK nabs 14 in bribery case linked to plantation permit

Jakarta Post - October 27, 2018

Kharishar Kahfi & Dyaning Pangestika, Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested 14 people for alleged bribery linked to the issuance of a plantation permit in southeast Kalimantan on Friday.

KPK spokesperson Febri Diansyah said the suspects consisted of eight legislative council members of southeast Kalimantan, five employees from PT Smart Tbk and PT BAP, and a secretary of the council's Commission B.

"Thirteen suspects were arrested [during an operation], while one suspect surrendered themselves to the KPK," Febri told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

The KPK confiscated Rp 240 million (about US$15,000) from the suspects. It is suspected that the company used the money to bribe the council members to secure a plantation permit.

All of the suspects were taken to the KPK office to undergo further investigation.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/27/KPK-nabs-14-in-bribery-case-linked-to-plantation-permit.html

Freedom of religion & worship

Prabowo meets interfaith leaders, talks about diversity

Tempo - October 30, 2018

Budiarti Utami Putri, Jakarta – Prabowo Subianto, the presidential candidate number 02, met with a number of religious leaders at Asshodiqiah Islamic Boarding School, Kaliwage, Semarang, Central Java, on Monday, October 29.

"I express my gratitude for the willingness of the leaders of the Asshodiqiah Islamic Boarding School, Bapak KH Shodiq Hamzah, along with other religious leaders in welcoming me and the group. There are also Indonesian pastors and Christian forums, here," Prabowo said on Monday, 29 October.

Shodiq Hamzah was said as the party who invited the pastors and representatives of Indonesian Christians in Semarang. Prabowo considered that Shodiq Hamzah's decision was very worthy of appreciation.

"I am happy, this is the embodiment of Islam rahmatan lil alamin (mercy to all creation). Pak Kiai invited the pastors to meet here, this is very good and to realize that we are a harmonious society," he said.

Prabowo asked all religious leaders, youth, and people who attended the event to maintain harmony and diversity among religious believers.

"Do not be easily provoked by people who want to divide us, we must guard our nation and state from disintegration and destruction. We must guard this republic with calm and peace," Prabowo said.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/10/30/055922978/Prabowo-Meets-Interfaith-Leaders-Talks-About-Diversity

Government says religious harmony on decline

Jakarta Post - October 25, 2018

Agnes Anya, Jakarta – Indonesia's religious harmony index declined following a rise in negative religious sentiments ahead of the 2019 elections, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto said on Thursday.

Wiranto, along with several other ministers, gave a press conference to evaluate President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla after four years of leadership.

At the event, he referred to data that shows the country's religious harmony index slid to 72.2 points in 2017 from 75.4 in 2016 and 75.3 in 2015.

"This [the decline] is because of the simultaneous elections. Previously, there was [...] no friction [between religious followers]," he said. He said there was a tendency for religion to be a "symbol of contention" during regional elections.

"It [the decline] was also caused by hoaxes, which are new to us," he said. "Nonetheless, such hoaxes cannot be avoided. What we can do is suppress them." The index decline, he added, had yet to significantly affect "Indonesia's harmony as a nation".

According to data from Statistics Indonesia (BPS), despite the decline, it was good that the index had stayed above 70 points throughout the years.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/25/government-says-religious-harmony-on-decline.html

Politics & religion

Police investigate 'HTI flag'-related cases in Palu, Poso

Jakarta Post - October 28, 2018

Ruslan Sangadji, Palu – The Central Sulawesi Police are investigating a recent attack against the Palu secretariat office of GP Ansor, the youth wing of the country's largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), as well as a suspected raising of the Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) flag in Poso.

The two incidents were allegedly connected to a recent brouhaha surrounding the burning of an HTI flag in Garut, West Java, by members of NU's paramilitary group, Banser.

The police have been questioning witnesses and suspected perpetrators in both cases, a senior police officer has confirmed. They are also looking into the motive behind the flag-raising on Friday in Poso.

Central Sulawesi Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Hery Murwono confirmed that the flag that was hoisted at the Poso Regency Council was that of HTI, an organization that has been banned by the government.

He added that the flag had been raised by supporters of the hardline group Islam Defenders Front (FPI). "They were FPI supporters, but they brought an HTI flag instead," Hery said on Saturday.

An angry mob attacked the secretariat office of GP Ansor on Jl. Lasoso in Palu on Friday afternoon, injuring several people.

At the time, members of GP Ansor's Central Sulawesi chapter and Banser were packing aid for survivors of a recent earthquake and tsunami in Palu, Donggala and Sigi. The attackers were reportedly driving a pick-up truck.

"[The attackers] barged in and verbally attacked us, aiming to destroy the office. Members of GP Ansor and Banser fought back, so they clashed," said Adha Nadjamuddin, chairman of GP Ansor's Central Sulawesi chapter. The police have deployed officers to safeguard the secretariat office.

On Thursday, the chairman of the Muslim People Forum's (FUI) Central Sulawesi chapter, Hartono, condemned the burning of what was perceived as a tauhid flag by Banser members. Tauhid is the core of the Islamic faith and the declaration of belief that Allah is the one and only God.

"The tauhid sentences are the core of the Islamic faith [...] It's a matter of life and death for a Muslim," he said. "Those who deny and threaten [the teaching] are infidels."

Also on Friday, a group of people reportedly took down the Indonesian flag at the Poso Council and substituted it with a tauhid flag. (swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/28/police-investigate-hti-flag-related-cases-in-palu-poso.html

Muslim leaders try to ease tensions after Islamic flag burning protests

Jakarta Post - October 27, 2018

Dyaning Pangestika, Jakarta – Following the Islamic flag burning incident that has led to protests by thousands of people around the country, Muslim leaders assembled on Friday night to settle their differences and agreed to put the issue behind them.

Muslims were outraged after the burning of a flag bearing Islamic script by members of the Guardian Troops of Ansor (Banser) in Garut, West Java, who were celebrating National Santri Day on Monday.

The video, which went viral, shows members of Banser, which is part of the Nahdlatul Ulama's youth wing, burned the flag that they think is a symbol of the outlawed organization Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI). Thousands of Muslims and Islamic organizations took to the streets to condemn Banser and demand justice.

Members of the National Movement to Safeguard Fatwas (GNPF), that had called for the prosecution of former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, joined the protests against Banser, along with members of Muhammadiyah, the second largest Muslim organization after the NU.

Banser has been guarding their headquarters in anticipation of attacks by protesters. As of Friday, no attacks are reported. A plan to protest at Banser's headquarters on Jl. Kramat Raya, Jakarta, by the Islamic Students Association (HMI) was canceled after senior members of the group had called on their members to stay calm.

During Friday's gathering at the residence of Vice President Jusuf Kalla, a former HMI activist and current chairman of the Indonesia Mosques Council (DMI), leaders of several Islamic organizations, including the NU and Muhammadiyah, met with the government to address the issue.

The meeting was reportedly inconclusive on whether the flag was an Islamic or HTI flag, but all agreed that any crimes committed during the incident should be handled by the police.

"The Islamic organization leaders regret the flag burning incident in Limbangan, Garut, and agree to maintain peace and efforts to reduce conflicts," the leaders said in a statement that was read out by Kalla after the meeting.

Among those who signed the agreement were Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) chairman Ma'ruf Amin, Muhammadiyah chairman Haedar Nasir, NU chairman Said Aqil Siradj and Islamic Union (PERSIS) advisory council chairman Maman Abdurahman.

The NU and GP Ansor said they regretted the incident and had sanctioned the perpetrators. The police have questioned and then released three Banser members who were allegedly involved in the incident.

Uus Sukmana, who allegedly raised the flag in Garut on Santri Day, is named suspect in the case. He is accused of violating Article 174 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on inciting commotion at a gathering. He was not detained. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/27/muslim-leaders-try-to-ease-tensions-after-islamic-flag-burning-protests.html

Police say group that raised banned HTI flag in Poso actually FPI

Detik News - October 27, 2018

Audrey Santoso, Jakarta – A group of people who were part of a Defend the Tauhid [Oneness of God] action at the Poso regency House of Representatives (DPRD) in Central Sulawesi have taken down the red-and-white national flag and replaced it with a black flag bearing the kalimat tauhid (the Islamic creed).

Police say that it was the flag of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), a fundamentalist Islamic organisation that was banned by the government last year. Police also said that the group that raised the flag were supports of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).

"The protesters were FPI supporters but the flag that they brought was an HTI flag", said public information bureau chief (karo penmas) Brigadier General Didi Prasetyo from the national police public relations division by an SMS message on Saturday October 27.

The flag raising incident took place on the afternoon of Friday October 26. In responding to a question about the party which raised the black flag, Prasetyo gave the same answer. "FPI protesters who supported the HTI by bringing the flag", he said.

As has been reported, the Home Affairs Ministry has stated that it is forbidden to fly the flag of a banned organisation. This prohibition not only applies to government agency offices, but public places as well.

"So the flags that are not allowed [to be flown] at state institutions and public places, are the flags of banned organisations, such as the PKI [Indonesian Communist Party], the HTI, the GAM [Free Aceh Movement] and the OPM [Free Papua Movement]. All of these flags are prohibited by law. It's the police's duty to enforce this", said Regional Autonomy Director General Sumarsono when contacted on Saturday.

An even firmer statement was conveyed by national police Criminal Investigation Bureau Chief (Kabareskrim) Commissioner General Arief Sulistyanto who said that taking down the red-and-white flag and replacing it with the black flag is an insult to the state symbol. This action also tarnishes the struggle the heroes of Indonesia's independence struggle against the Dutch.

Sulistyanto said that such actions are proscribed by Article 24 in conjunction with Article 65 in conjunction with Article 66 of Law Number 24/2009 on the Flag, Language, State Symbols and National Anthem. The perpetrators could face a five-year jail sentence.

"Identify the people who raised the flag and those responsible for the action. This clearly violates Law Number 24/2009 Article 24 in conjunction with Article 65 in conjunction with Article 66", Sulistyanto was quoted as saying in a written statement received by Detik.com on Saturday.

Sulistyanto also called on the Central Sulawesi regional police to immediate investigate the incident so it will not happen again. "In order to make out an LP (police report) modal A, do this immediately. This must be done so that it isn't copied", said Sulistyanto. (jbr/fdn)


Large protests have taken place in Jakarta and other cities in Indonesia following a flag-burning incident on October 22 during the National Santri (Islamic students) Day celebrations in Garut, West Java, when an unidentified individual raised a black flag bearing the tauhid or tawhid – the core of the Islamic faith which expresses the belief in Allah as the one and only God.

Several men, alleged to be members of the Barisan Ansor Serbaguna (Banser) youth wing of Indonesia's largest Islamic mass-organisation, 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.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Polisi: Pengibar Bendera HTI di Poso Pendukung FPI".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita/d-4276139/polisi-pengibar-bendera-hti-di-poso-pendukung-fpi

Uproar over flag-burning reaches new heights

Jakarta Post - October 27, 2018

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Ganug Nugroho and Sri Wahyuni, Jakarta/Klaten/Yogyakarta – The uproar surrounding a recent flag-burning incident reached new heights on Friday, with thousands of conservative Muslims demanding the prosecution of three men who burned a flag bearing an Islamic creed.

Islamic groups took to the streets on Friday, calling the government and law enforcers to take legal action against the members of Banser – the civilian security unit under Islamic group Nahdlatul Ulama (NU)'s Ansor youth wing – who burned the flag bearing the text shahada. The group said the flag belonged to the banned Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) hard-line group.

Shahada is an Islamic creed and the declaration of belief that Allah is the one and only God and that Prophet Muhammad is God's messenger.

The protesters, who staged a rally in front of the office of Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto, carried the black and white flag and chanted the Islamic creed, while decrying the burning, calling it unacceptable and an insult to all Muslims.

Yusuf Martak, the chairman of the National Movement to Safeguard Fatwas (GNPF), which participated in the protest, said before the crowd of protesters that Banser's action had divided the Muslim community.

"If the government doesn't want to appear as anti-Islam or doesn't take sides with ulemas, please prove that [the flag-burning] was wrong and cannot be tolerated," Yusuf said on Friday.

In the past few days, Muslim groups and Islamic authorities, including the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), have criticized Banser for the incident.

Banser, whose members burned the flag after taking it down after an individual had raised it during National Santri Day celebrations in Garut on Monday, refused to apologize for the incident on the grounds that the flag belonged to the banned Islamist group, but the flag burners themselves did apologize, saying the incident was spontaneous and did not reflect their organization's views.

The police questioned the three Banser members but have released them. The man who raised the flag, Uus Sukmana, faces a possible sentence of three weeks in jail for disrupting a public gathering, according to Article 174 of the Criminal Code.

Muchsin Alatas, an executive with the hard-line Islam Defenders Front (FPI), demanded that Ansor chairman Yaqut Cholil Qoumas be prosecuted for the flag-burning incident, while also demanding that Wiranto arrange a meeting among NU chairman Said Aqil Siradj, Yaqut and Banser executives.

Yusuf and Muchsin, along with five other protesters, were received by Wiranto's secretary, Lt. Gen. Agus Surya Bakti. Wiranto was in Palu, Central Sulawesi, to discuss post-earthquake reconstruction with local administrations.

After the meeting, Agus and the delegation representing the protesters addressed the crowd together. However, the participants of the rally expressed disappointment over Wiranto's absence.

Thousands of Muslim groups from Surakarta, Central Java, also held a protest in Klaten, condemning the incident while carrying tauhid flags as they marched to the Klaten Police headquarters. They urged the police to punish the perpetrators.

The incident has sparked fears of sectarian strife in the country ahead of the 2019 presidential election.

Hasanuddin Ali, a political analyst from the Alvara Research Center, said the government had learned from a case in which former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama was convicted of blasphemy followed a string of sectarian rallies that contributed to a divisive Jakarta gubernatorial election in 2017.

Although officials had acted swiftly to prevent the flag-burning incident from spiralling into a major security issue, the government still needed to intensify communications with the different groups that demanded prosecution, he said.

Concerns over hostility against Banser and Ansor resulted in the cancelation of the groups' mass gathering of around 100,000 people in Yogyakarta on Friday.

Ansor secretary-general Abdul Rochman cited security reasons for the cancellation, saying that the group was concerned about unwanted brawls breaking out if the gathering went forward.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/27/uproar-over-flag-burning-reaches-new-heights-muslim.html

Hundreds rally decrying the burning of 'HTI flag' by NU's youth wing

Jakarta Post - October 26, 2018

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – Hundreds of protesters took to the street on Friday against the recent burning of a black flag bearing an Islamic creed written in Arabic, demanding that the government and law enforcement prosecute the actors who had set the flag on fire.

They staged a rally in front of the office of Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto and decried the flag-burning incident, which involved members of Nahdlatul Ulama's (NU) Barisan Ansor Serbaguna (Banser) youth wing and occurred during National Santri Day celebrations in Garut, West Java, on Monday.

Many of them, which include several conservative Islamic groups, carried a black-and-white flag bearing the tauhid and chanted the Islamic creed, the core of Islamic faith and belief, which says that "Allah is the one and only God."

The protesters believed that the actions of the Banser members – who had burned the flag because the latter thought it was the flag of outlawed Muslim group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) – was unacceptable and an insult to all Muslims.

"If the government doesn't want to be seen as anti-Islam or doesn't take sides with ulama, please prove that [the flag-burning] is wrong and cannot be tolerated," National Movement to Safeguard the Ulema Fatwa (GNPF) chairman Yusuf Martak said in his speech before the crowd. The GNPF was the force behind large rallies in late 2016 against former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who was later convicted for blasphemy.

They demanded that GP Ansor chairman Yaqut Cholil Qoumas be prosecuted for the flag-burning incident, while also demanding that Wiranto bridge a meeting between them, NU chairman Said Aqil Siradj, Yaqut and Banser executives.

On Wednesday, Yaqut held a press conference responding to the incident and said his organization would give a stern warning to the flag burners but insisted that the flags were HTI flags.

Yusuf and six other participants were received by Wiranto's secretary, Lt. Gen. Agus Surya Bakti, at the minister's office for a discussion over the protesters' demand. Agus represented Wiranto, who was on a visit to Palu, Central Sulawesi, to discuss post-earthquake recovery with local governments.

After the meeting, Agus and the delegation representing the protesters addressed the crowd together; however, the participants of the rally expressed disappointment over Wiranto's absence as they booed when Agus spoke to them about the meeting at the office.

"We had a good talk and we will convey all of [the protesters'] aspirations to the coordinating minister [Wiranto]," Agus said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/26/hundreds-rally-decrying-the-burning-of-hti-flag-by-nus-youth-wing.html

Stop politicalization of Islam: Yogyakarta Forum

Jakarta Post - October 26, 2018

Sri Wahyuni, Yogyakarta – Participants of the Global Unity Forum (GUF) II, an international interfaith forum jointly hosted by Nahdlatul Ulama's youth wing GP Ansor and the Bayt Ar Rahmah da'wa movement, signed a joint statement on Thursday calling for all people to stop politicizing Islam.

The decree, called the "Nusantara Statement", calls on people of every faith and nation to curtail the spreading of hatred and start building relationships founded upon respect for equal rights and dignity.

"We want to convey to the world that religion should be used as a basis for better civilization and not as a weapon or even norm to engage in conflict," GP Ansor chairman Yaqut Cholil Qoumas told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the forum on Thursday.

Dozens of delegates representing Muslims, Jews, Christians and Catholics from the United States, Europe and the Middle East joined the two-day forum held to coincide with Kirab Satu Negeri, a movement launched by GP Ansor on Sept. 16 to campaign for pluralism and tolerance.

Among the international delegates participating in the forum include Reverend Johnie Moore of the Commission on International Religious Freedom (US), head of the All-India Organization on Mosque Imams Maulana Umer Ahmed Ilyasi (India) and Imam Talib Shareef of The Nation's Mosque (US).

Yaqut said the forum was first initiated last year in Jakarta over concern about the endless conflicts, especially in Middle Eastern countries such as Libya and Syria, for which the fighting parties use religion as a basis.

"In fact we believe that none of the religions in the world, especially Islam, teach that religion can be used as a tool to engage in conflicts," Yaqut said. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/26/stop-politicalization-of-islam-yogyakarta-forum.html

Flag burning: Hundreds stage protest before ministry

Tempo - October 26, 2018

Jakarta – Hundreds of protesters dubbing themselves as the Tauhid Words Defending Action Movement staged a protest in front of the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs against the recent flag burning incident in Garut, West Java.

Among the demonstrators are members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the National Movement to Safeguard Fatwa (GNPF) and the Islamic Defenders Troops (LPI).

"We ask [the government] which flag should be burnt? The Tawhid flag, the PKI (Indonesian Communist Party) flag, the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) flag, or the Communist flag?" said GNPF speaker Yusuf Martak during his oration in front of the ministry building on Friday, October 26, 2018.

Yusuf also called on the police to arrest not only the flag carrier, but also the flag burners and charge the latter with the blasphemy law.

The protest was in response to the recent flag burning incident in Garut, West Java, during the commemoration of the National Santri (Islamic boarding school students) Day on October 22. The police have apprehended the suspected flag burners, who were identified as members of Banser (Barisan Ansor Serbaguna) – the paramilitary wing of Nahdlatul Ulama's Gerakan Pemuda Ansor youth wing.

The police, however, have yet to name the alleged flag burners as suspects, but rather witnesses. The police said they had yet to find any motive behind the flag burning, and that they were still questioning the flag carrier.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/10/26/055922901/Flag-Burning-Hundreds-Stage-Protest-before-Ministry

Indonesia: Rally for moderate Islam halted over fears of violence

Al Jazeera - October 26, 2018

Organisers of an Indonesian movement to promote a moderate brand of Islam cancelled a mass rally after its youth supporters burned the flag of an outlawed hard line Muslim group, sparking allegations of blasphemy.

The rally in Yogyakarta, predicted to draw 100,000 people, was stopped to prevent violence, said Yahya Cholil Staquf, general secretary of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's largest Muslim organisation.

Staquf said Hizb ut-Tahrir "operatives" disrupted the youth wing's celebrations and exploited religious symbols, which led to the flag burning incident. He said the campaign of "provocation and sabotage" was widely believed to be directed by political forces hoping to influence the outcome of Indonesia's presidential election in April.

Some 70,000 members of Ansor, Nahdlatul Ulama's youth arm, had been on their way to Yogyakarta for the rally to coincide with the launch of an interfaith movement that aims to counter extremism globally.

"Further incidents of provocation were planned. Our members would find it difficult to control their anger in the face of such flagrant exploitation of our religious symbols," said Staquf.

The image of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, as being religiously moderate was undermined last year when the minority Christian governor of the capital, Jakarta, was imprisoned for blasphemy following street protests against him that drew hundreds of thousands.

Hizb ut-Tahrir, which seeks a global caliphate, was banned by the Indonesian government last year.

Source: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/10/indonesia-rally-moderate-islam-halted-fears-violence-181026054738978.html

Jakarta protest over flag burning turns into 'Change the President'

Liputan 6 - October 26, 2018

Ika DefiantiIka Defianti, Jakarta – A Defend the Tauhid [Oneness of God] action in Jakarta on Friday by a group of people angered over the burning of the Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) flag because it bore the Islamic creed has turned into a platform for the "2019 Change the President" campaign.

The call to change the president in 2019 was heard after the coordinator of the Defend the Tauhid action said that the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was not serious about investigating the people that burnt the HTI flag in Garut, West Java, on Monday.

The coordinator began by asking the protesters whether it is "haram" [forbidden under Islamic law] or "halal" [sanctioned under Islamic law] to re-elect the tyrannical and despotic (zalim) president. In one voice the protesters answered "haram".

"Do you want to give him an opportunity to serve a second term or not sisters and brothers?", asked the Defend the Tauhid action coordinator through a megaphone atop of the command vehicle on Friday October 26 in front of the offices of the Coordinating Ministry for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs (Kemenko Polhukam).

"No", the protesters answered unanimously. Then the coordinator asked about changing the president.

"If it's haram in 2019 what do we replace?", asked the coordinator. "The President", answered the protesters in unison.

There can be no doubt that the Defend the Tauhid action has also been turned onto a platform for the Change the President (#2019 GantiPresiden) campaign.


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 October 22 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 Indonesia's largest Islamic mass-organisation, 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.

One of the main groups behind the Defend the Tauhid action, the National Movement to Safeguard the Ulema Fatwa (GNPF), was also the driving force behind the 2017 "Defend Islam" protests against incumbent Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama – an ethnic Chinese Christian who lost the election to the Prabowo Subianto backed Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno ticket and was subsequently jailed on trumped up blasphemy charges. Ma'ruf Amin recently resigned as the chairperson of NU to become President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's vice presidential running mate in the 2019 presidential election.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Aksi Bela Tauhid Berubah Jadi Ajang Kampanye 2019 Ganti Presiden".]

Source: https://www.liputan6.com/news/read/3677409/aksi-bela-tauhid-berubah-jadi-ajang-kampanye-2019-ganti-presiden

Muhammadiyah advises 'calm' in response to flag-burning incident

Jakarta Post - October 25, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesia's second largest Islamic organization, Muhammadiyah, has urged Muslims across the country to remain calm over the flag-burning incident that occurred on Monday at a National Santri (Muslim students) Day celebration in Garut, West Java.

In a press release provided on Thursday, Muhammadiyah central executive board chairman Haedar Nashir said he hoped all Muslims would refrain from engaging in public debate over the incident to avoid negative impacts to the nation.

"We believe that Muslims, and all Indonesians, can protect the national unity [...]. We have learned a lot from many bitter experiences before this, and these spiritual lessons are more than enough to grow as a mature people and a nation. Don't let this flag-burning incident divide us and cause us to fight amongst ourselves," he said in the statement.

Haedar also asked everyone to forgive each other. "We all love Indonesia and there is no party that claims they are the most nationalistic," he added.

He advised Muslims, especially Muhammadiyah followers, not to respond en masse to the flag-burning incident. "Instead, let's create an atmosphere of peace and togetherness," he stressed.

During Monday's event, three members of the Barisan Ansor Serbaguna (Banser) youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the largest Muslim organization, took down a black flag bearing an Islamic text in Arabic and burned it, believing that the flag represented the banned Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) Islamic organization.

The incident raised tensions among Muslims. Many argued that the flag burning was offensive, since it was not an HTI flag and instead bore the Shahada, the Islamic creed declaring faith in God and Prophet Muhammad.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Banser refused to apologize for burning the flag, because they believed at the time of the act that the flag belonged to the outlawed HTI.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/25/muhammadiyah-advises-calm-in-response-to-flag-burning-incident.html

HTI flag burners apologize

Jakarta Post - October 24, 2018

Jakarta – Three men who took down a black flag with an Islamic creed written in Arabic and burned it during National Santri (Islamic students) Day in Garut, West Java, apologized on Tuesday for creating an uncomfortable situation.

"I'm here to apologize to everyone, especially Muslims, because this incident might have created an uncomfortable situation [for them]," one of the men, who was wearing a black mask told the media at Garut Police Headquarters, as quoted by kompas.com.

"The flag that we burned that day was the flag that our government has banned – the flag of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia [HTI]," he added.

He also said that the incident was a spontaneous act and the action had nothing to do with the organization that they belong to.

They were allegedly members of the Barisan Ansor Serbaguna (Banser) youth wing of the world's largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU).

Chief of Garut Police, Adj. Sr. Comr., Budi Satria Wiguna, said that the three men had been detained in police headquarters for safety reasons while waiting for the legal proceedings until the situation calms.

"We hope tonight before midnight there will be a certainty [about their status]," Budi said.

The video of the flag burning went viral on Monday and drew outrage from many Muslims who deemed it an insult to Islam. (hol)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/24/hti-flag-burners-apologize.html

Farming & agriculture

No need to import rice: Bulog

Jakarta Post - October 31, 2018

Jakarta – The State Logistics Agency (Bulog) says its rice stock of 2.4 million tons is adequate to meet domestic demand. Therefore, the company assures that the country does not need to import the commodity.

"It indicates that we have strong stock," Bulog president director Budi Waseso said in a statement on Wednesday.

He said Bulog was committed to implementing its main duties – purchasing rice from farmers, carrying out market operations to stabilize prices and maintaining strong rice stocks to assure the availability of the commodity.

The agency is required to maintain between 1 and 1.5 million tons of rice that should be ready to be distributed to Bulog's warehouses across the country at any time.

"As a price stabilizing institution, Bulog continuously carries out market intervention. With it, the commodity should always be available and of good quality," Budi said, adding that since January, Bulog had released 384,328 tons rice for market operations, an average of 2,500 per day. Bulog will continue to monitor rice prices, said Budi.

Bulog purchases 3,000 tons of unhusked rice from farmers every day, he said, adding that with the absorption of farmers' rice, Bulog could also stock up until the end of 2018.(bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/31/no-need-to-import-rice-bulog.html

Land & agrarian conflicts

Minister says 188,000 ha distributed in land reform program

Jakarta Post - October 26, 2018

Jakarta – The Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister has announced that the government's agrarian reform program distributed 188,000 hectares of land to the people over four years.

"In the last four years under President Joko Widodo's leadership, the government has [taken a serious stance] in addressing land and spatial planning issues," spatial planning minister Sofyan Djalil said in Jakarta on Friday as quoted by Antara news agency.

He said the government had also started to address neglected and idle land, including plots with right-to-build (HGB) certificates and those with other land certificates that the property's owner had not utilized.

Sofyan said the agrarian reform program also included redistributing land that had been taken over by large corporations and restoring the property to private ownership.

Through the comprehensive systematic registration program (PTSL), the government aimed to assure legal certainty over land ownership to reduce land disputes and to facilitate smooth infrastructure development across the country, the minister added.

Apart from intensifying its land distribution, the government had also introduced its popular land certification program. The government said it had issued 5 million land certificates last year, and planned to issue 7 million land certificates this year and 9 million certificates in 2019. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/26/minister-says-188000-ha-distributed-in-land-reform-program.html

Jakarta & urban life

Street vendors: When love, hate collide

Jakarta Post - October 24, 2018

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Jakartans have long had a love-hate relationship with street vendors, who encroach on sidewalks and streets but at the same time, provide delicious and affordable meals.

Since taking office in October last year, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has relaxed city regulations on public order that prohibit sellers from occupying streets and sidewalks without a permit.

His stance received a warm welcome from street vendors in certain areas of the capital who can now freely run their business without fear of Jakarta Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) officers.

Pedestrians, however, have criticized Anies, arguing that many Jakarta sidewalks were now too crowded to use.

For example, the city administration has allowed dozens of street vendors to set up their business along Jl. Denpasar Raya in Kuningan, South Jakarta, behind the Immigration Directorate General office, leaving no space for pedestrians. At midday, office employees in the area usually storm the street vendors to buy lunch.

Taufan Yudha, a 27-year-old contract employee of the Law and Human Rights Ministry, is a loyal customer of street vendors. On Tuesday afternoon, he enjoyed a bowl of hot soto (traditional soup) at a food stall located firmly on the sidewalk. He said the food there was cheaper than what was offered at his office's canteen.

"I spend Rp 15,000 [US$1] on lunch from street vendors. The cheapest meal in my office canteen is around Rp 25,000," he said.

His colleague, Restu Deshoma, said he only spent Rp 17,000 on nasi Padang (steamed rice with side dishes from West Sumatra) from a roadside food stall.

Both Taufan and Restu said they hoped the city administration could help the vendors maintain cleanliness in the area by providing more trash cans.

Despite the advantages enjoyed by office workers, Pedestrian Coalition head Alfred Sitorus said the Cooperatives, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and Trade Agency could face lawsuits for allowing vendors to take over streets and sidewalks.

Citing the prevailing Traffic Law, he said pedestrians had the right to walk safely on sidewalks, so the administration should not accommodate hawkers.

Cooperatives, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and Trade Agency head Adi Ariantara said street vendors were in high demand because of the affordable food they sold. Not all employees in Kuningan, for instance, can afford to eat at restaurants every day. "We will communicate with the Bina Marga [road] agency soon to accommodate the interest of pedestrians, as well as workers in search of affordable food."

Adi added that Gubernatorial Regulation No. 2/2018 on markets required new malls to provide space for street vendors. The agency was still waiting for the issuance of a technical guide to implement the regulation, he said.

According to research on the Karet area of South Jakarta conducted by a group of young volunteers calling themselves Rame Rame Jakarta (RRJ), meals offered by roadside food stalls cost an average of Rp 13,000.

A meal at a restaurant, meanwhile, could cost up to Rp 90,000. Workers can save up to Rp 18.5 million per year by buying from vendors, RRJ said.

RRJ cofounder Chris Kelly said the strategy was innovative, focusing on flexibility, efficiency and a connection to the local area. "This is the ideal business model for Jakarta. [Street vendors] are able to offer good products at low prices, exactly when and where they are needed," he said.

Institute for the Development of Economics and Finance executive director Enny Sri Hartati said many companies pay their employees no more than the provincial minimum wage, so the latter can only afford street food. She urged the administration to encourage malls and offices to provide space for street vendors, who could also sell more hygienic dishes if they were well-managed.

"Sometimes street food is not hygienic and it can make the workers sick, which can be a disadvantage for companies. So, they may consider accommodating street vendors," Enny said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/24/street-vendors-when-love-hate-collide-jakarta.html

Transport & communication

Lion Air plane 'flew erratically the day before it crashed'

The Guardian - October 30, 2018

Kate Lamb in Jakarta and agencies – The Lion Air Boeing 737 Max jet that crashed in Indonesia on Monday flew erratically the previous evening and its air speed readings were unreliable, according to an accident investigator and a flight-tracking website.

According to data from FlightRadar24, the jet displayed unusual variations in altitude and air speed in the first few minutes of flight after taking off from Denpasar on the holiday island of Bali on Sunday evening – including an 875ft drop over 27 seconds when it would normally be ascending – before stabilising and flying on to Jakarta.

However, the pilots kept the plane at a maximum altitude of 28,000ft compared with 36,000ft on the same route earlier in the week.

The Lion Air CEO, Edward Sirait, told reporters on Monday a technical problem had occurred on the Denpasar-Jakarta flight but it had been resolved "according to procedure". Sirait did not elaborate and said he had no plans to ground the rest of Lion Air's Max 8 fleet.

The national transport safety committee (NSTC) deputy chief, Haryo Satmiko, told reporters on Tuesday there were technical problems on that flight, including unreliable air speed readings. "The suspected cause of the accident is still being investigated and it is making us all curious what could have caused it," he said. Satmiko gave no further details.

The Denpasar-Jakarta flight landed at 10.55pm local time on Sunday, giving engineers six-and-a-half hours at most for checks before it was dispatched for the Jakarta-Pangkal Pinang flight at 6.20am on Monday.

The plane plunged into the sea minutes after taking off from Jakarta. All 189 people onboard are believed to have died.

FlightRadar24 also reported unusual air speeds and altitudes in the few minutes that Flight JT610 was in the air. Two fishermen who saw the crash from their boat out at sea told Reuters the plane swayed slightly but made no noise as it fell, almost horizontal with its nose slightly down. There was an explosive sound as it plunged nose-first into the sea, followed by a column of smoke.

The weather was clear at the time of the crash at 6.33am on Monday, according to Satmiko, who said the pilots had requested a turnback to Jakarta.

Safety experts said the crash investigation was at a preliminary stage and it was too early to speculate about the cause. But pilot and engineering sources told Reuters the FlightRadar24 data for both flights, while not conclusive, could be a potential indicator of something wrong with the pitot-static systems. Those are pressure-sensitive instruments that feed air speed and altitude information to an avionics computer.

Authorities conducting a round-the-clock search for the bodies of the passengers on Flight JT610 were focusing on several areas off the coast of Java where they believe the body of the plane is located.

Search teams have so far filled 10 body bags. A further 14 bags filled with debris, including handbags, clothing, mobile phones, ID cards and driving licences, have also been collected.

One of those onboard was Bhavye Suneja, who lived in Jakarta with his wife of two years. The rest of his family live in Delhi. Kapish Gandhi, Suneja's cousin, said the family was devastated by the news and had gathered together in Delhi. "We saw it on the television this morning and didn't know whether to believe it," Gandhi said. "We are all speechless."

A second foreigner, a 26-year-old Italian national and former professional cyclist Andrea Manfredi is believed to be among those who were onboard JT-610.

The crash has renewed concerns about the safety of Indonesian airlines, soon after US and European regulators removed prohibitions against them.

The US and the European Union had banned Indonesian aircraft from their skies in 2007 after a string of accidents. The Federal Aviation Administration lifted the ban in August 2016.

In June, European regulators, who had already allowed Lion Air and a few other Indonesian carriers to resume flying to Europe, lifted their ban on remaining Indonesian carriers.

A spokesman said the European commission had no immediate plans to renew the ban on Lion Air, but the Australian government warned its officials and contractors not to fly on Lion Air pending findings from the crash investigation.

[Reuters contributed to this report.]

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/30/lion-air-plane-flew-erratically-day-before-it-crashed-indonesia

Growing questions raised about Lion Air plane's previous flight

Sydney Morning Herald - October 30, 2018

James Massola, Karuni Rompies & Amilia Rosa, Jakarta – The Lion Air flight that crashed into the ocean on Monday, killing 189 people, had suffered problems on the previous day's flight according to technical data.

The Aviation-safety.net website is reporting that data sent from the plane and captured by flight tracking websites Flightradar24 and Flightaware before the plane crashed on Monday "showed erratic values".

The flight lost and then regained altitude more than once before it crashed, according to the data, and something similar occurred on its previous flight from Denpasar to Jakarta on Sunday as the plane "showed similar erratic values in altitude and airspeed immediately after take off".

Gerry Soejatman, an aviation analyst from the Indonesian Aviation Network, confirmed the data had been sent by the Lion Air plane to the flight tracking websites and that it showed "the plane had a technical problem, but that's all we can tell. What it is we can only guess".

"We suspect that it is the Pitot static system, but this is just a guess based on the data," he said.

"We know for certain that that is the data the aeroplane transmitted, whether the data is accurate or not, we need to have a deeper look at it. The ground speed that it shows is accurate. Altitude is subject to further analysis. If there is a problem with the Pitot static steam, the altitude may be erroneous.

"I've seen the Sunday data, it does show a similar kind of problem but again, the airline did say it had technical problems on that flight and it was rectified."

The BBC is also reporting that a technical log from a flight the plane took on Sunday indicated an instrument was "unreliable".

Fairfax Media has obtained a copy of the alleged technical log for the plane's Sunday flight, but has not been able to verify its authenticity. Lion Air has not responded to a series of questions about the logs sent by Fairfax Media.

Mr Soejatman said he had also seen the log in question and it appeared to be legitimate, though he could not say so definitively.

On Monday, Lion Air chief executive Edward Sirait said the plane had had an unspecified "technical issue" on Sunday but that this issue had been resolved.

"If the plane was broken it would have been impossible to clear the plane to fly from Denpasar [in Bali, to Jakarta]... when we received the flight crew's report, we immediately fixed the problem."

The plane that crashed, a Boeing 737 Max 8, was practically new and had only been in service since August. The two pilots had about 11,000 hours of flying time between them.

A total of 189 people, including one child and two babies, were on the plane when it crashed into the ocean about 35 nautical miles north-west of Jakarta early on Monday morning.

Ten bodies have so far been collected from the crashed plane, while another 14 body bags – some containing human body parts, and others containing debris from the crash – have been retrieved from the crash site.

Basarnas (Indonesia's search and rescue agency) chief Muhammad Syaugi said early on Tuesday morning that "we have handed the ten body bags to police for identification. We are working 24 hours a day, except the diver teams," he said.

"We are also using a beam system [sonar] that can detect the presence of an object under water. We hope to find the body of the plane. We hope when we find it, the black box is not far from it. We hope to find more [bodies] today."

Mr Syaugi ducked questions about technical problems with the plane, stating that area of the investigation was "not my responsibility".

A total of about 300 workers, including 50 divers, are working on the retrieval operation on Tuesday, which is focused on finding the fuselage of the plane. A robot underwater vehicle has also been deployed.

Both Basarnas and Indonesian police will provide further updates on the search for the plane later on Tuesday.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/growing-questions-raised-about-lion-air-plane-s-previous-flight-20181030-p50cv2.html

'All dead': Lion Air flight crashes in Indonesia

Sydney Morning Herald - October 29, 2018

James Massola, Karuni Rompies, Amilia Rosa & Jenny Noyes, Jakarta 00 Indonesian authorities have predicted there will be no survivors after a passenger plane carrying 189 people, operated by Indonesian budget carrier Lion Air, crashed into the ocean on Monday morning.

The Boeing 737 MAX 8, flying from the capital, Jakarta, to Pangkal Pinang in Bangka Belitung province, took off about 6.20am Jakarta time (10.20am AEDT) but lost contact with air traffic control at 6.33am.

At a press conference late on Monday afternoon, Basarnas (Indonesian's search and rescue agency) director of rescue operations Bambang Suryo Aji said "my prediction is nobody saved. All dead".

"We found human body parts such as arms, legs, ears. We have brought them to the police hospital in Jakarta."

Mr Bambang added it was likely that the bodies of at least some of the passengers were still trapped, dead, in the fuselage of the plane and underwater. It was likely, he added, that many passengers had died when the plane hit the water, rather than from drowning.

Debris from the tail section of the aircraft had been found not far from where authorities believed the plane was believed to have crashed, Mr Bambang said, and a remotely operated underwater vehicle was on its way to the crash site to locate the main section of the plane, which was still under water.

Tanjung Karawang, where the plane is believed to have gone down, is about 34 nautical miles north-west of Jakarta.

Basarnas initially reported 189 people were on board, but a statement from Lion Air said there were 188 people, including 181 passengers; 124 men, 54 women, one child and two babies. A spokesperson for Lion later confirmed that 189 is the correct figure.

A spokesman for the Indonesian Finance Ministry said 20 of its employees were on the plane.

The Australian government announced on Monday night that it had banned all government officials and contractors from flying with Lion until the findings of the crash investigation were clear.

Basarnas has sent out boats and helicopters to search for the plane and has found wreckage and lifejackets. About 150 rescuers, including 40 divers from Basarnas and the Marines, have been sent to the scene.

Basarnas' deputy head of operations Nigroho Budi Wiryanto had indicated at a second press conference on Monday afternoon that it was unlikely any survivors would be found. "We are waiting for the miracles from God Almighty," he said.

The depth of the water where the plane is believed to have crash landed is 30 to 35 metres. Search and rescue workers have still not found the black box or the main body of the plane.

However, rescuers have turned up ID cards, BPJS (government insurance) cards, driving licences and other personal effects.

The weather at the time of the crash was clear, and Lion Air said the plane's pilot, Captain Bhavye Suneja, had more than 6000 flying hours of experience. His co-pilot Harvino had more than 5000 hours of flying experience.

The Boeing plane was new, having been manufactured in 2018 and operated by Lion Air since August 15. It had clocked up just 800 hours of flying time. It's believed the emergency locator transmitter (ELT) on the plane was inactive.

Basarnas chief Muhammad Syaugi said early on Monday, soon after the crash was reported, that Indonesia had checked with Australian authorities to see if any signal from the ELT had been intercepted, but it had not.

In a statement, Boeing said it is "deeply saddened by the loss of Flight JT 610". "We express our concern for those on board, and extend heartfelt sympathies to their families and loved ones. Boeing stands ready to provide technical assistance to the accident investigation."

Families of passengers on the plane flocked to the airport at Pangkal Pinang, where the plane was supposed to land. Distraught friends and relatives prayed and hugged each other as they waited for news.

At the National Search and Rescue Agency headquarters in Jakarta, family members turned up, hoping desperately for news. Feni, who uses a single name, said her soon to be married sister was on the flight, planning to meet relatives in Pangkal Pinang.

"We are here to find any information about my younger sister, her fiance, her in-law to be and a friend of them," Feni said.

"We don't have any information," she said, as her father wiped tears from reddened eyes. "No one provided us with any information that we need. We're confused. We hope that our family is still alive."

It's not known if any Australians were on board the flight. A spokesman for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said "the Australian embassy in Jakarta is making urgent inquiries with local authorities to determine if any Australians were affected". Poor safety record

Lion Air, which flies to 126 destinations in Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and China, is the second largest low-cost carrier in south-east Asia (after Malaysia's AirAsia), and is growing fast.

The low-cost carrier had a poor safety record for many years. It was banned by the EU from flying over European airspace along with other Indonesian airlines in 2007, and the ban was only lifted in 2016.

Since 2002, Lion Air has had more than a dozen major incidents or accidents. The most deadly was in 2004 when a plane overshot the runway and crashed into a cemetery in Surakarta, killing 31 people.

In 2013, a Lion Air flight with more than 100 people on board crashed into the water off Bali's Ngurah Rai airport. All on board survived, despite the fuselage breaking in half, but 46 people were injured, four seriously. That crash was blamed on pilot error.

Lion pilots have tested positive to methamphetamine on a number of occasions since 2011, leading to concern of a culture of drug use among Indonesian pilots. The most recent case was in December 2017 when a senior pilot was arrested for crystal meth possession after a hotel room raid, and tested positive for the drug a day before he was due to fly.

Despite that case, Lion Air appeared to have recently lifted its game, and was rewarded with a top safety ranking by the International Civil Aviation Organisation in January 2018 and was upgraded to the top safety tier by AirlineRatings.com, the global airline rating agency.

This latest crash is likely to undo any trust the airline had gained in recent times.

– with Fergus Hunter and AAP

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/all-dead-lion-air-flight-crashes-in-indonesia-20181029-p50cmu.html

Literature & the arts

From MeToo to deforestation: Indonesian writers on their country's

The Guardian - October 30, 2018

Brigid Delaney – The 15th Ubud Writers and Readers festival wrapped up on Sunday, after five days of panels featuring more than 150 speakers. Established by Ubud businesswoman and writer Janet DeNeefe to invigorate the economy after the devastating Bali bombings, the festival has grown to be a vibrant cultural event.

This year's festival featured a number of prominent international writers, such as Hanif Kureshi and Geoff Dyer, but it was Indonesian voices that provided some of the most compelling stories. Guardian Australia spoke to four young Indonesian writers and activists at the festival about their perspectives on some of the most urgent global issues.

Saras Dewi – poet, academic and activist

There's been a spike in reports of sexual violence in Indonesia. The most recent figures show 348,000 complaints were made last year. Not all women in Indonesia have the power to report, so we have to imagine a larger amount of violence.

The largest amount of violence occurs in the private sphere – in courtship and marriage. In Bali, divorce is considered very shameful for women. A lot of this is from a religious perspective, so if you get divorced, you won't get to heaven. As a result, the numbers for divorce are very low.

There was a recent case of domestic violence in Bali that was very shocking. A woman's feet were cut off by her husband who accused her of cheating. [The woman, a domestic worker for an Australian family in Canggu, told the Daily Mail: He came in a little drunk and angry at me. He hit me and then took a machete [to] my legs in bed.'] That happens a lot in Indonesia.

There is a law against domestic violence. We fought for it for 12 years. My generation is fighting for the recognition of sexual violence.

Our legal system is very male and very patriarchal. If you are making a complaint about sexual violence you have to go to a male policeman and go before a male judge. They say "what were you wearing? Why were you out at night?'" So people are not opting to go public. There are changes happening to laws, but they are not happening systematically.

After 20 years of celebrating our freedom in Indonesia, we need to explore equal rights for men and women. There's a gender pay gap in Indonesia and there's also a lot of discrimination and harassment of women that are pregnant. Women must dress in a certain way and while birth control is legal, abortion is not. I think our culture is the single biggest issue right now. How men – and women – view women and how a woman's body is the social body. It's not her own. When you are a child, you are your father's daughter, then you are your husband's wife.

Norman Erikson Pasaribu – writer and poet

In Indonesia, being queer is often said to be unnatural, to be westernised, or to be un-Indonesian. However, pre-colonial Indonesia is actually more inclusive in terms of sexual and gender diversity. One example is the Bugis society that acknowledges five genders. Sadly, most Indonesians have ignored and even maybe forgotten [since] the impacts of European colonialism on our society.

The Family Love Alliance (Aila) is a conservative, family-values group in Indonesia that have been pushing for homosexual criminalisation [currently, in most regions of Indonesia, the law is silent on this]. The constitutional court of Indonesia rejected their proposal in December 2017. It's a small win, but we are still pretty much unsafe. It turns out some people in legislative bodies have been trying to criminalise sex outside marriage, including same-sex couples [who can't get married in Indonesia] via the revision draft of the criminal code.

There's also an issue of privilege. I once read about a gay from a privileged background who said that there's no violence against LGBTQ+ in Jakarta. If it's not visible to you, that doesn't mean it won't happen to anyone else. Much violence against queer individuals starts at home, from the beating of effeminate boys, or sending them to pesantren [Islamic boarding schools], or even "corrective rape" of queer women, by forcing them into a marriage.

The most disappointing part about this is some people who would label themselves as "straight allies" do not speak up when the queer communities in Indonesia are put under fire. They only speak when it is convenient for them and stay silent when things can put them in an uncomfortable position. Support can go in many ways and forms, but silence is never a support.

Doni Marmer – environmentalist, poet, LGBT community member

The LGBT issue has become intertwined with religion. Every fight for rights is concerned with religious issues and when straight friends say they have a problem with LGBT, they say it's because of their religion. They say they can't accept us.

In this past decade, there has been a campaign to criminalise gay people from religious groups. The problem is right now, say, in West Java, your neighbour can call the police and say "there are two men next door and they are having gay sex", and get them arrested. The evidence might be a condom they find. So then there is an incentive not to practice safe sex.

The governor of Cianjur is trying to set up an institution for gay conversion therapy. They treat us like drug addicts. The media is also at fault. If a gay spa gets raided, they will print photos of people naked, no censoring their faces.

Indonesia is primarily an agricultural country but industrialisation hit us hard because nothing is centralised. Trying to educate people about climate change is very hard. We have 81,000 km of coastline, with 80% of Indonesian people living in coastal areas. A rising sea level is becoming our biggest threat. Species extinction in Indonesia is also an issue – a lot of animals are in danger because of illegal logging and excessive use of fertilisers.

The best solution to conserve our environment is actually to... work with [people], helping them to help themselves is one of the most sustainable ways of preserving the earth. Unfortunately, most environmental protection programs offered by many are only touching small pieces, and sometimes unable to include local or indigenous communities. By engaging closely with their lives, livelihood, culture, and developing their knowledge, I'm sure we can do better in protecting the earth.

In Indonesia, environmental protection initiatives mostly use imported narratives, designs and thinking, but neglect local wisdom... within the community most connected with the protected area. 'My people in Kalimantan are breathing in polluted air'

Emmanuela Shinta – Dayak activist, filmmaker and environmentalist

There are two great environmental challenges facing Indonesians right now: palm oil expansion, which causes rapid deforestation; and forest fire. The two are related to each other. Forest fires have been happening in the province of Kalimantan since 1997. The policy to clear 1m hectares of peat land by [former president] Suharto has really changed the face of Kalimantan, once dubbed as the lungs of the world.

Carbon emissions released by forest and peat fire in 2015 in Kalimantan exceeded the carbon emissions from the entire EU economy in the same period. More than 1.5m hectares of forest is lost in the region every year. The fires keep coming back every year, and even now, my people in Kalimantan are breathing in polluted air and the local firefighters are working hard to extinguish hotspots.

Kalimantan has lost at least 30% of its rainforests since the 1970s and between 60% and 90% of orangutan habitat is gone. Indonesia is the biggest producer of palm oil in the world with most companies operating in Kalimantan and Sumatra.

We need to involve indigenous people in the solutions to environmental problems. The Dayak people are the first people of Kalimantan, and indigenous people have been guardians of the forest for thousands of years. Now we are too busy with technology to fix what we have broken, and forget that we always have to come back to the roots.

We need to strengthen grassroot community movements, because sustainable solutions can only come from the ground up. I will do what I can do and fight to save my home, my people, my mother earth.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2018/oct/31/from-metoo-to-deforestation-indonesian-writers-on-their-countrys-biggest-challenges

Police & law enforcement

NGO requests police investigate bystander death in Palembang

Jakarta Post - October 27, 2018

Yulia Savitri, Palembang – The latest death toll allegedly by the hands of police officers prompted non-governmental organization the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) to urge the South Sumatra Police to take serious measures in about 10 other recent deaths.

Kontras responded to the death of Ariansyah, 23, allegedly by an officer from Pamulutan Police in Palembang. The police were pursuing a murder suspect on Oct. 8 in Tujuh Ulu subdistrict. Led by Adj. Comr. Zaldi, one of the members of the police team allegedly launched a warning shot to the suspect. However, the shot hit Ariansyah, a resident in the area.

Kontras' head of human rights protection division, Arif Nur Fikri, said from July 3 to July 12, they recorded at least 10 civilians that were shot dead by the police.

"We urge the South Sumatra Police chief to investigate the Tujuh Ulu case objectively and thoroughly," Arif said Thursday.

Arif suspected the police officer was not careful when he fired the warning shot. "We ask the police to take responsibility and to ensure they give the victim's family compensation," he added.

Earlier, South Sumatra Police Insp. Gen. Zulkarnain Adinegara confirmed that a police officer had accidentally shot a civilian. He said he instructed internal affairs to question the officer. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/26/ngo-requests-police-investigate-bystander-death-in-palembang.html

Foreign affairs & trade

Saudi Arabia still hasn't paid compensation to victims of Mecca crane

Coconuts Jakarta - October 25, 2018

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir met with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on Tuesday in Jakarta to talk about a number of issues but almost all of the coverage focused on their discussion regarding the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Indonesia's call for a transparent and thorough investigation.

One of the issues overshadowed by the grisly murder scandal was Retno's request to Adel that Saudi Arabia immediately follow through on its promise to provide compensation funds to all of the Indonesian victims of the crane accident that took place in Mecca on September 11, 2015.

The accident, which happened when a construction crane toppled over into a crowd inside the Grand Mosque in Mecca, killed 111 people and injured 394. Eleven of those killed and 42 of those injured were Indonesians.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia ordered that a million Saudi riyal (US$266,000) be distributed as compensation to the families of those who died in the crane collapse. He further ordered a million Riyals to be paid to those victims of the collapse who suffer permanent disability and half a million riyal to be paid to as compensation to victims without lasting injuries.

According to the Indonesian government, the Saudis have never made any of those promised payouts to any of the Indonesian victims.

"To Minister of Foreign Affairs Jubeir, I also ask for your attention regarding the handling of issues of protections for Indonesian citizens that have not been completed such as the handling of compensation for victims of the crane collapse in 2015 and the Saudi bin Laden Group company (the crane contractor company)," Retno said in a press statement with Adel after the meeting as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

The Saudi government's position is that the payments haven't been made yet because they still have not received complete data on all of the victims.

However, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs insists that all such data had already been collected and handed over to the Saudi government long ago.

In August 2017, the Indonesian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Agus Maftuh Abegebriel, said he had received word from the Saudi government that they would be making the payments soon, but obviously that was not true either.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/saudi-arabia-still-hasnt-paid-promised-compensation-funds-indonesian-victims-2015-mecca-crane-accident/

Economy & investment

Investment down 1.4 percent in Q3: BKPM

Jakarta Post - October 31, 2018

Rachmadea Aisyah, Jakarta – The Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) has recorded Rp 173.8 trillion (US$11.4 billion) in investment in the third quarter, 1.4 percent lower than investment in the second quarter.

Investment has continued to decline, as the figures represented a 4.9 percent quarter-to-quarter decline in the second quarter, which was recorded at Rp 176.3 trillion.

BKPM head Thomas Lembong attributed the decline to the dull investment policies introduced by relevant government organizations since 2017. "I think it has become really urgent to issue [investment friendly] policies and breakthroughs," Lembong told a press conference on Tuesday.

He explained that investment inflows in the period between 2016 and 2017 were a result of regulatory reform in 2015, including the tax amnesty in 2016. He added that as of the first quarter, the country was still enjoying significant investment inflows.

"Regrettably, in 2017, there was no breakthrough in regulatory reform. It meant investment inflows were less optimal in the following year," Lembong said.

He added that external factors were having a negative impact on the investment climate. "But we should not always blame external factors. We should admit – and apologize – that we lag in implementing the vision and guidance of the President," Lembong added.

According to BKPM data, investment as of the third quarter stood at Rp 535.4 trillion. The BKPM has revised down this year's investment target to Rp 730 trillion, from Rp 765 trillion. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/30/investment-down-1-4-percent-in-q3-bkpm.html

Taxation & state budget

House approves 2019 state budget

Jakarta Post - October 31, 2018

Jakarta – The House of Representatives passed on Wednesday the 2019 state budget bill into law in a plenary session led by House Deputy Speaker Agus Hermanto, after minor interruptions from opposition parties' lawmakers.

In 2019, the government is projected to spend Rp 2.46 quadrillion (US$161.84 billion) – comprising Rp 1.63 quadrillion by the central government and Rp 826.8 trillion by regional administrations – with the deficit projected at Rp 296 trillion, or 1.84 percent of gross domestic product. Meanwhile, the government is expected to collect Rp 2.16 quadrillion in revenue in 2019.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani pledged to spend prudently as the country was expected to continue facing global uncertainty. But the minister stressed that the government would still support programs that improve welfare.

The macroeconomic assumptions in the 2019 state budget include 5.3 percent economic growth, 3.5 percent inflation, Rp 15,000 per US dollar exchange rate, 5.3 percent three-month treasury bill rate, US$70 per barrel of oil, 4.8 to 5.2 percent unemployment and an 8.5 to 9 percent poverty rate.

Meanwhile, oil lifting and gas lifting is projected at 775,000 barrels oil per day and 1,250,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day respectively. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/31/house-approves-2019-state-budget.html

Analysis & opinion

Indonesia's president unscathed by currency woes

Nikkei Asian Review - October 31, 2018

Indonesia's currency woes have not tarnished its president, so far. Joko Widodo's popularity is at a record high, strengthening the likelihood that he will win a second term when the country goes to the polls next April.

FT Confidential Research's survey of 1,000 urban respondents shows the approval rating of Widodo, who is popularly known as Jokowi, at 59.5%, its highest level since FTCR began tracking it in early 2015.

Asked about which pairing they would vote for if the election were held today, 50.7% of respondents picked the Widodo-Ma'ruf Amin ticket, comfortably higher than the 32.9% who opted for Prabowo Subianto, whom Widodo beat in 2014, and his running mate Sandiaga Uno.

Polling may be an imperfect guide to electoral outcomes but, with only 16.4% of respondents undecided, there may be limited room for a surprise from Widodo's challenger.

Widodo's appeal may seem counterintuitive, given Indonesia's sluggish growth, ballooning current-account deficit and a currency that is languishing at levels last seen during the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

There is still six months to go before the election, and the outlook for regional and global growth is increasingly clouded by the slowing Chinese economy, monetary policy tightening by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the threat of a worsening trade war between the two economic giants.

But for now, Indonesian consumers remain upbeat about the economy and politics, the latest survey results show. The findings are in line with Bank Indonesia's latest survey in September showing strong consumer confidence arising from optimism about jobs and incomes.

Consumer borrowing, which tends to reflect spending appetites, also improved marginally, the survey shows. As well as jobs and incomes, low inflation is underpinning the positive mood. Widodo's administration has so far been able to manage prices of key household commodities, particularly transport fuel, through the state-owned oil and gas company, Pertamina.

A weak rupiah and high crude oil prices forced Pertamina to raise fuel prices last week, and the rate of consumer inflation may pick up from this month. However, any rise will leave inflation within the central bank's target range of 2.5% to 4.5%.

Widodo's unexpected and controversial decision to pick Amin, a 75-year-old cleric, as his running mate does not appear to have turned off young voters.

Despite some fluctuations since 2015, there has been an overall upwards trend in Widodo's approval ratings among the three age groups from 18 to 35. Support for the president rose among all three groups in the third quarter. FTCR's latest survey shows that support for the Widodo-Amin ticket is strongest among the 18-24 age bracket, the group that makes up the largest number of eligible voters.

FTCR attributes this jump in support to the feel-good factor after Indonesia successfully hosted the 2018 Asian Games in August. Indonesian athletes performed above expectations, while a slick video of Widodo – helped by a stunt double – evading Jakarta's notorious gridlock on a motorbike to open the games became an instant social media hit in Indonesia and regionally.

The Asian Games bounce is unlikely to last. Widodo will have to perform well on issues such as the economy, inequality and poverty that voters care about most when picking a president.

While Widodo has made great progress in reducing poverty and unemployment, Indonesians are bracing for tougher times as the weak rupiah means higher lending rates and higher prices for household appliances, electronics, motor vehicles and property.

Consumers will also have to deal with the government's decision at the start of September to impose up to 10% tariffs on more than 1,000 imported consumer goods as part of measures to curb a yawning trade deficit.

Official data also suggests that Indonesia's current-account deficit will remain under pressure after expanding to 3% of gross domestic product in the second quarter from 2.2% in the previous quarter, adding to the rupiah's woes.

The faltering currency provides an opening for the opposition to attack the government's economic competence. However, the odds appear stacked against Subianto. Provided that Widodo's campaign runs smoothly in the coming months, a second term is looking increasingly likely.

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Editor-s-Picks/FT-Confidential-Research/Indonesia-s-president-unscathed-by-currency-woes

Personal freedoms on back foot in Indonesia

UCA News - October 29, 2018

Keith Loveard, Jakarta – The local government in West Java's Cianjur regency told mosques in the region that their Friday sermons on Oct. 19 should rail against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

They were to be given a template on what to say that originated with the Religious Affairs Ministry and the Cianjur chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).

While there were no indications that other mosques across Indonesia were advised to adopt the theme, there are fears this is the start of a national program to control the content of sermons.

Initially mooted by the central government as a means of controlling radical preachers, it is now seen as a bid to further cement increasing intolerance and denial of the country's constitutional freedoms.

LGBT groups have been a favorite target of officials at all levels of government over the past three years. The Minister for Research, Technology and Higher Education Muhammad Nasir was the first to decry the emergence of LGBT groups on campus, declaring at the beginning of 2016 that there were moral standards to be maintained.

Universities have been at the forefront of discriminatory efforts, but the police have also been active in breaking up 'immoral' activities.

The constraints now encompass groups criticizing Indonesian rule in Papua, leftists of all persuasions, and the recent refusal to grant a permit to a group that wanted to criticize the policies of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which held their annual meetings in Bali earlier in the month.

Papuan separatist sentiment is a popular topic that earns censure from officials and pro-government elements in the community.

In the most recent case, an evening of music and theater performances, poetry readings and orations about conflict in the region ended on a low note with the arrest of four youths when people forcibly dispersed the event at a Papuan student dormitory in Makassar, South Sulawesi on Oct. 13.

In Bali, the "Peoples' Global Conference against IMF-WB" was given approval by local police to hold an "anti-globalization conference" as the multilateral agencies met on the island, but National Police insisted the event be canceled.

Organizers said police intelligence personnel had infiltrated the event's planning team as volunteers, subjecting them to intimidation and constant surveillance. Hoax banners of the event carrying logos of terrorism-linked organizations as co-sponsors also reportedly appeared around the planned venue.

The repressive actions come as tension rises in Indonesia ahead of next April's presidential elections. With both candidates – incumbent President Joko Widodo and challenger Prabowo Subianto – promising an end to inequality, the issue could be stirred up by hot-headed students and provocateurs.

Perhaps aware of the "Battle of Seattle" that marred the IMF-WB meetings in the West Coast U.S. city in 2000, the police weren't allowing potential protesters to gain any sort of foothold in Bali.

Anti-government student groups have already conducted several violent rallies protesting the government's handling of the economic situation and more students and activists could jump on the bandwagon if the authorities are perceived as using repressive actions against activists.

Other popular subjects for bans include any discussion of the attempted 1965 coup that brought former dictator Suharto to power, or the slaughter of communists that took place afterward.

While that subject has been taboo for decades, the current crackdown on freedom of speech brings fears that Indonesia could be heading for a return to social controls like those that limited public discussions during Suharto's New Order.

While the government is restricting individual freedoms, students in schools starting as young as kindergarten age are being exposed to Islamist brainwashing, according to a new survey.

The study, released by Jakarta's Syarif Hidayatullah Islamic University on Oct. 16, found that 53.06 percent of teachers at primary and secondary schools in the country have intolerant views. Conducted from Aug. 6 to Sept. 6, it questioned 2,237 Muslim teachers in more than 2,100 state-run and private schools.

The level of intolerance was assessed by several questions related to the establishment of minority houses of worships, religious schools or willingness to work for non-Muslim school principals. The study found that 56 percent of the respondents opposed the establishment of houses of worships other than mosques near their homes; 29 percent would petition against principals of different faiths; and 34 percent would reject non-Islamic religious schools.

Around 29 percent of the teachers agreed with the concept of the Islamic state and 27 percent were willing to wage jihad (holy war) to establish it.

"Moreover, 13.3 percent of teachers agreed to target police officers deemed to be enemies of Islam," said Saiful Umam, head of the university's Center for Islamic and Society Studies (PPIM), which carried out the survey.

Meanwhile 32 percent of the teachers in the survey were considered moderately tolerant, while only 3.93 percent were "very tolerant." Alarmingly, levels of intolerance tended to be higher in pre-school institutions such as kindergartens and Islamic kindergartens, which are managed by the Religious Affairs Ministry.

The survey adds to the concerns over the shrinking public space for critical opinion. It suggests that if no action is taken by the government and civil society to defend open public discourse, the next generation of Indonesians is in danger of adopting their teachers' intolerant and prejudiced worldviews.

Hopes that the end of the Suharto regime in 1998 might bring a more relaxed attitude to issues such as religion and social behavior have largely been dashed. Conservative communities are emboldened to take vigilante efforts to stifle freedom of speech and association and are tolerated by the police in applying pressure on critical voices.

The country appears inevitably heading back to the constraints of the Suharto era, but with conservative Islam setting the rules, just as the old dictator feared, leading him to keep a tight lid on its proponents. Twenty years on, with the lid on conservative Islam well and truly lifted, some are wondering whether any gains have been achieved.

[Keith Loveard is an Indonesia-based journalist and analyst.]

Source: https://www.ucanews.com/news/personal-freedoms-on-back-foot-in-indonesia/83696

The human cost of Indonesia's blasphemy law

Human Rights Watch - October 25, 2018

Andreas Harsono – Last month, I visited Meliana, an Indonesian woman jailed for blasphemy, in a prison in Medan, North Sumatra. The security was tight. No mobile phones. No pens. No money. We could only bring some cakes.

I went there with Musdah Mulia, a prominent female Muslim scholar, who challenged the Blasphemy Law (Law 1/PNPS/1965) at Indonesia's Constitutional Court in 2009-2010, but lost. Mulia gently hugged Meliana, telling her she did nothing wrong and should not be in prison. Meliana sobbed.

Meliana shares a cell of about 30 square metres with about 15 women. It's crowded. There is enough room to sleep but not to move around.

Meliana is one of an increasing number of people caught up in the Blasphemy Law in what has historically been considered one of the world's most tolerant Muslim countries. People who want to keep it that way, including Mulia, need the help of supporters in other countries, including Australia.

Meliana's journey to prison began one Friday in July 2016 when she complained about the volume of the call to prayer from a neighbouring mosque, privately asking the mosque caretaker's daughter if it could be lowered. Rumours quickly spread that she was demanding that all Muslims stop their calls to prayer in her hometown, Tanjung Balai, about a five-hour drive from Medan.

A week later, Muslim mobs attacked her house, and because she's Buddhist, burned and ransacked at least 14 Buddhist temples. Her two sons fled with their parents. "A pedicab driver, who was Muslim, helped my sons escape," Meliana said.

Afraid of returning to Tanjung Balai, Meliana and her family relocated to Medan. They left their house, their salted-fish business, and their schools. A local militiaman filed a police report against her.

Police apparently tried to slow down the case, hoping that it would go away when tensions eased. But some Muslim groups continued to pressure the police and prosecutors to charge her under the Blasphemy Law. Prosecutors arrested and detained her on 30 May 2018, almost two years after she moved to Medan. On 24 August, the Medan District Court sentenced her to 18 months in prison for blasphemy.

The Blasphemy Law punishes deviations from the central tenets of Indonesia's six officially recognised religions – Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism – with up to five years in prison. It was only used in eight cases in its first four decades but convictions spiked to 125 during the decade when President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was in power, from 2004 to 2014. Another 23 people have been sentenced since President Joko Widodo took office in 2014.

Indonesia's Constitutional Court rejected three petitions to revoke the Law between 2009 and 2018, declaring that religious freedom was subject to certain limitations to preserve public order. Those limitations, the court stated in its 2010 decision, were to be defined by "religious scholars".

This year, Indonesian courts have convicted six people, including Meliana, on blasphemy charges and sentenced them to between one and five years in prison. They include councillor Riano Jaya Wardhana, over a Facebook comment defending Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Purnama, Wardhana – a Christian who faced a smear campaign, a street vendor, Firdaus, for writing the words "Allah" and "Mohammad" on his sandals, goat herder-cum-spiritualist Arnoldy Bahari, Christian priest Abraham Moses, and student Martinus Gulo.

The highest profile person convicted under the law is undoubtedly former Jakarta Governor Ahok, sentenced to two years in prison in May 2017. Islamist militant groups made his blasphemy prosecution a centrepiece of their ultimately successful efforts to defeat him in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election.

Islamist militant groups have pushed hard for these trials. Blasphemy cases are effective tools to mobilise and agitate Muslims. They seek to expand political power via mass rallies and they promote the use of shari'a, or Islamic law, in Indonesia.

The blasphemy cases against religious minorities, as well as state-sponsored discrimination against women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, have contributed to the continuing decline in Indonesia's reputation as a tolerant Muslim country.

In Medan, Lian Tui, Meliana's husband, told us that the family had lost their salted-fish shop and had to abandon their house in Tanjung Balai. Their oldest son did not continue to university. They have had to use their savings to keep their youngest son in a private school in Medan. Lian Tui visits his wife almost every day, bringing her lunch.

Musdah Mulia, who is also a senior member of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's largest Muslim social organisation, is committed to keep fighting against religious discrimination in Indonesia. "We need Islam ramah [friendly], not Islam marah [angry]," she said.

But people like Meliana and Ahok need support from Indonesian authorities and from abroad.

The Indonesian government should promptly revoke the Blasphemy Law and drop the cases against those charged under it. And countries like Australia that espouse religious freedom should keep up the pressure on Indonesia to revoke the law and send their diplomats and political leaders to visit prisoners like Meliana and Ahok.

[This article was originally published in The University of Melbourne. Andreas Harsono is Human Rights Watch's Indonesia Researcher.]

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/10/25/human-cost-indonesias-blasphemy-law

Casting a vote for human rights in 2019

Jakarta Post - October 24, 2018

Michelle Winowatan, New York – The upcoming presidential election is looking bleak for the human rights camp. After the two presidential candidates announced their running mates last month, it became clear that none of the candidates will prioritize, let alone defend rights for all Indonesians.

Which leaves those who deeply care about freedom and justice with a tough decision when the time to cast their ballot comes. Who to vote for, if we decide to vote at all?

Let's weigh in our options.

In the 2014 election, the now-incumbent President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was the clear choice for human rights advocates for two reasons. First, he was branded as a clean politician, a fresh face in Indonesian politics who could bring progress for the country. Second, rights advocate would die before they vote for Jokowi's opponent at the time, Prabowo Subianto, a New Order ex-general with a questionable human rights track record.

Jokowi did not have a strong human rights stance in his previous campaign nor did he make a meaningful stride to resolve past rights abuses or improve rights commitment during his presidency. He showed small gestures such as making a statement in defense of the rights of the LGBT community, loosening journalist access restriction to Papua, and hosting a meeting with victims of past rights abuses. None of these translated into meaningful actions to improve human rights in the country, but at the very least, it showed his intention of not making it worse.

That is until Jokowi shocked his progressive base by announcing Ma'ruf Amin as his running mate. As the chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), Ma'ruf played a role in advocating many discriminatory policies. He played a key role in lobbying for the "religious harmony" regulation which led to restrictions of religious freedom for minorities.

Under his leadership, MUI issued fatwas declaring Ahmadi Muslims as deviant, which led to the government banning the Ahmadi Muslims from proselytization apart from calling for the criminalization of homosexual activities. He contributed to putting former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Purnama, a Chinese-descent Christian, in jail after issuing a declaration that Ahok conducted blasphemy against Islam.

Many of Jokowi's supporters interpret his picking Ma'ruf as a political strategy to secure conservative Muslim voters to ensure his re-election. Others are more skeptical, as it signals Jokowi's unwillingness to spend his political capital on the human rights cause.

Prabowo, on the other hand, decided to give his presidential candidacy another try. He is still trying to convince the populace that his military strongman brand will make Indonesia better.

The son-in-law of former autocratic president Soeharto, he was dishonorably discharged for his involvement in the abduction and torture of pro-democracy activists in 1998. He was also accused of ordering the mass killing of hundreds of East Timorese in the 1980s. For human rights groups, Prabowo is a clear threat to democracy and the rule of law.

His running mate is Sandiaga Uno, a businessman and former deputy to Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan. It is still fresh in our minds how they ran on a racialist agenda, swaying voters to choose a leader based on religion and ethnicity.

Both Prabowo and Sandiaga's track records should be warning signs of what could happen if they were elected to the most powerful office in the country.

So what should human rights advocates do come election 2019?

Whether we decide to vote or not, we should be bracing for more assaults on freedom and justice. The issue of human rights in Indonesia has always been treated like the "step kid" compared to other issues such as the economy, jobs, welfare, and infrastructure development, among others. Today, it has become more like a "plague" that each candidate avoids for fear of either losing voters or losing face.

Clearly we cannot rely on the government to fight for our rights. Therefore, civil society needs to consolidate and step up their game, by getting more involved in direct advocacy.

In addition to keeping up the work at the grassroots level, activists should allocate more resources in lobbying for pro-human rights legislation, preventing anti-rights bills from being passed, and overturning anti-rights laws. Rights groups should send a message that whoever becomes Indonesia's next president, should be aware that resistance against discriminatory and abusive policies will continue to grow.

[The writer is an advocate for human rights and social justice. A Fulbright awardee at New York University, she co-produces and co-hosts a podcast that talks about identity and politics in Indonesia called "KentangPanas".]

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2018/10/23/casting-a-vote-for-human-rights-in-2019.html

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