Home > South-East Asia >> Indonesia

Indonesia News Digest 43 – November 15-23, 2018

Demos & protests West Papua Aceh Sexual & domestic violence Labour & migrant workers Political parties & elections Fake news & black campaigns Sharia & discriminatory by-laws Nationalism & state ideology Environment & natural disasters Health & education Animal rights & wildlife trafficing LGBT & same-sex marriage Marriage & the family Corruption & abuse of power Terrorism & religious extremism Hard-line & vigilante groups Freedom of religion & worship Religion & politics Farming & agriculture Jakarta & urban life Transport & communication Armed forces & defense Police & law enforcement Foreign affairs & trade Mining & energy Infrastructure & development Economy & investment Banking & finance Taxation & state budget Analysis & opinion

Demos & protests

Truck drivers protest South Sumatra coal transport ban on public roads

Jakarta Post - November 22, 2018

Yulia Savitri, Palembang – Scores of truck and bus drivers staged a protest in front of the South Sumatra governor's office in Palembang, South Sumatra, on Wednesday, demanding the immediate revocation of a gubernatorial decree that prohibits coal-carrying vehicles from passing public roads.

The drivers, who make a living by transporting coal in and out of the province, bemoaned that the newly passed law had negatively impacted their income.

Strike coordinator Satria DW said around 1,500 drivers participated in the protest to push the South Sumatra administration to revoke the decree since it had reportedly contributed to increased unemployment among drivers.

"I haven't worked since the government passed the law. I have my wife and children to feed," said Andi, one of the drivers who joined the protest.

The South Sumatra administration issued the controversial decree on Nov. 8, stipulating that coal transport must be rerouted from public thoroughfares to alternative roads. The issues of dense traffic, road safety and maintenance prompted the need for such a law.

However, the central government, through the Transportation Ministry's Land Transportation Directorate, has stated its support for the revocation of the gubernatorial decree since the province still lacked alternative roads for coal-carrying vehicles.

The ministry's land transportation director, Budi Setyadi, said he had discussed the matter with several other state departments and private coal companies. The ministry had encouraged the private sector to construct more robust alternative roads exclusively designed for coal-carrying trucks since the existing roads were not up to par, he said.

In addition, Budi said the ministry had also asked the Railway Directorate to expedite the construction of double-track railways meant for coal-carrying locomotives.

"The issue of coal transport is a complicated one. It requires coordination with various parties," Budi told the press last Saturday, adding that the ministry would review the prevailing gubernatorial decree.

Previously, South Sumatra Governor Herman Deru said the lack of alternative roads for coal transport could be supported by a consistent operational schedule on public roads.

"We've been drafting a long-term law that we expect will help ensure road safety and convenience. In addition, we also welcome coal companies to apply for alternative road permits," Herman said. (rfa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/22/truck-drivers-protest-south-sumatra-coal-transport-ban-on-public-roads.html

Protest planned over Prabowo's perceived insult towards motorcycle taxi

Coconuts Jakarta - November 22, 2018

It wasn't long ago that presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto had to deal with the PR nightmare caused by his allegedly demeaning joke about the people of Boyolali, but the Gerindra chairman seems to have upset a whole new group of people – Indonesia's motorcycle taxi drivers (locally known as ojek).

Speaking about the future of the nation's youth, Prabowo said he feels sad about the employment prospects of Indonesian youngsters, a worry he said was encapsulated in a recent viral meme that implied that the natural progression of Indonesian youngsters after they graduate from school is to become ojek drivers.

"There's a meme on the internet regarding the career path of youngsters in Indonesia. From elementary school to middle school and high school and after they graduate they become ojek drivers. It's sad but that's the reality," Prabowo said during a speech at the Indonesia Economic Forum yesterday, as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

"This is my passion. Deep down in my heart, I want Indonesian youths to become entrepreneurs, pilots, or restaurant owners. Have their own enterprises, farms, not just becoming workers."

Prabowo's statement was understandably received coldly by the Two-Wheel Action Movement Presidium (Garda Indonesia), a union representing the interests of ojek drivers across the country, which demanded that Prabowo apologize to them or they would mobilize a "large mass" of people to protest against him.

"The honorable Pak Prabowo, what's wrong with our profession as ojek drivers that made you say you pity us?" asked Garda Indonesia Chairman Igun Wicaksono in a statement today, as quoted by Kumparan.

"You should pity those who steal money from people, representatives who lie to us. And you should pity the online ojek platforms because they drain the drivers who are on the road every day."

Prabowo's campaign team has gone into PR damage control by saying that Prabowo didn't mean to insult ojek drivers.

"He didn't want to humiliate the profession, he just wanted to portray the concerns of young people who cannot find jobs even after finishing school," Gerindra Deputy Secretary General Andre Rosiade said, as quoted by Kumparan today.

Meanwhile, politicians from incumbent President Joko Widodo's camp criticized Prabowo's statement for being insensitive.

"Astaghfirullah, he's a presidential candidate but he mocked his own people again, after that Boyolali 'joke'. Being an ojek driver is an honorable job and they exist around the world," Irma Chaniago, the head of the National Democratic Party's Central Executive Board, said today as quoted by Kumparan.

The boom in ride-hailing services has undoubtedly made many of our lives easier as well as provided hundreds of thousands of Indonesians with work. But clearly it's not an easy living, with ojek organizations constantly staging protests demanding better pay and protections from their companies and the government.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/protest-planned-prabowos-perceived-insult-towards-motorcycle-taxi-drivers/

Villagers block road with wall of trash to protest lack of garbage

Coconuts Jakarta - November 21, 2018

Something stank in Village of Beliung yesterday evening, and it was easy to see what it was. Dozens of local residents blocked the main road running through the village with a wall of trash, forcing vehicles to turn around rather than run through the rotting roadblock.

The reason residents of the village, located in the Central Sumatran city of Jambi, had set up the odorous obstacle was to protest the government sanitation agency ignoring their growing garbage problem.

"The stench has gone everywhere. This garbage has been piling up more and more for days. The officers have not transported this garbage away at all. So the trash is not going anywhere, it's just been accumulating," a local resident named Herman told reporters at the scene as quoted by Detik.

Herman said the village's residents had discussed the garbage problem with officials and reported the problem to sub-district authorities but had yet to receive any response, leading to their frustration and finally the formation of the trash wall road block. He said that barrier would stay put until their village's garbage problem with addressed.

It only took a few hours for the rubbish barrier to get the attention of government officials including the head of Jambi's public works department. They argued that sanitation workers had been dealing with the garbage in the area on their daily rounds but they were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of trash.

Herman and other local residents argued it wasn't coming from them but others who were using their village as a dumping ground because of the large number of dumpsters the city had placed there.

In the end, the officials promised to send enough workers today to get rid of all of the trash and would also remove some of the dumpsters in the area. That's one way to take out the trash.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/villagers-block-road-wall-trash-protest-lack-garbage-pickups-jambi/

West Papua

Government urged to solve human rights violations in Papua

Tempo - November 22, 2018

Devy Ernis, Jakarta – The Papua National Liberation Army of the Free Papua Movement (TPN-OPM) General Coordinator Lambert Pekikir pressured the Indonesian government to immediately solve human rights violations in Papua.

"That is the duty of the government," said Lambert to Tempo on Wednesday, November 21.

Lambert believes that the government has yet offered the opportunity of an open discussion between the government and the people of Papua. He asserts that the government should be able to discuss matters together and formulate a solution.

He maintains that there are a number of human right violation cases in Papua that has yet been resolved. One of the high-profile cases was the alleged assassination of Theys Hiyo Eluay, who's known to be the leader of 250 tribes in Papua prior to his death.

They founded the Free Papua decree and flown the Bintang Kejora flag, which represents the OPM. His death in 2001 is suspected by many to be murdered by Indonesia's Special Command Troops after Theys and his driver Aristoteles Masoka were ambushed in the evening after attending an event at the Kopassus Jayapura headquarters. "That case is yet to be solved," said Lambert.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/22/055923649/Govt-Urged-to-Solve-Human-Rights-Violations-in-Papua

Greens risk infuriating Indonesia with shock policy on West Papua

Daily Mail (Australia) - November 22, 2018

Alison Bevege – The Greens party has broken decades of political silence, directing members to raise the banned West Papuan flag on December 1 in a move sure to infuriate Jakarta.

Australia's third largest political force sent a message to supporters including state and federal MPs to raise the Morning Star to mark their independence day.

'The Australian Greens Global Issues Group (GIG) is asking you for your assistance to bring attention to the on-going oppression of West Papuans by Indonesian police and military,' the request said.

'The people of West Papua have been resisting violent and oppressive Indonesian occupation for 55 years now... Since Indonesian rule, hundreds of men and women have been detained as political prisoners.'

Australia's two major political parties have given bipartisan support to Indonesia's annexation of the territory since its takeover was recognised by the UN in 1969.

For decades all major political parties have been silent over the repression of West Papuan activists, including the 1998 Biak Massacre where Indonesian soldiers shot unarmed villagers gathered around a Morningstar flag raised over a water tower.

Survivors were tortured and killed, and their bodies dumped at sea, according to the findings of a citizen's tribunal held in Sydney and presided over by former NSW attorney-general John Dowd.

A report published by Yale Law School in 2004 found Indonesia had killed roughly one seventh of the 1961 population either directly or through starvation and sickness from forced relocations.

Indonesia is highly sensitive over its claim to the disputed region, which is rich in gold and resources.

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6412907/Greens-infuriate-Jakarta-raising-banned-West-Papuan-Morningstar-flag-December-1.html

Over 100 pro-independence activists arrested in Papua

UCA News - November 20, 2018

Katharina R. Lestari, Jakarta – Over 100 pro-independence activists were arrested on Nov. 19 in Jayapura, the capital of Indonesia's Papua province, as they were celebrating the 10th anniversary of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB).

The KNPB was established in 2008 by a group of NGOs to give the public a platform on which to campaign for political, social and other issues.

Among the 107 KNPB activists and sympathizers nabbed in recent days was Markus Haluk, executive director of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP).

The group was formed in December 2014 as an umbrella organization uniting three movements seeking independence for West Papua.

Police and military personnel detained Haluk and the others at a student dormitory in Pegunungan Bintang Regency, where they were planning to hold a public discussion to commemorate the KNPB's decennial. They were released in the early hours of Nov. 20.

Gustav. R. Urbinas, the chief of police in Jayapura, told ucanews.com they had been apprehended so they could all be properly identified and the reasons for their public gathering clarified.

He said police would continue to crack down on any activities in the region considered potentially treasonous. "As the chief of police for Jayapura I am obliged to know about the goal of such activities," he said.

"I must dismiss anything that is against the national interest. This was one of a number of illegal activities held by an organization that is not registered with the Political and National Unity Office," he told journalists, referring to the KNPB.

All large organizations in the country must register with their local chapter of the Political and National Unity Office, known as Kesbangpol, as the constitution obliges the government to manage their rights and obligations in the interests of peace and order. Currently there are over 390,000 such organizations registered with the Kesbangpol.

Prior to the crackdown on the planned public discussion, police raided the KNPB's secretariat in Waena village and seized two banners advocating the pro-independence movement.

The authorities also took a printer, a T-shirt bearing the motif of the Bintang Kejora (morning star) independence flag, and an unlicensed motorcycle.

Ones Suhuniap, a national spokesperson for the KNPB, said the police damaged the secretariat's facilities and destroyed meals that had been prepared for consumption during the public discussion. "They acted like thugs," he told ucanews.com.

Referring to the planned discussion, he said the aim was to reflect on the KNPB's journey over the past decade and plan activities for the coming year.

"We have always asked the police for permission [for such activities], but they reject our petitions every time," he said. "So there's no point asking for permission, as the answer is always the same."

He said the KNPB has been fighting peacefully for the right to have a say in politics and the right to self-determination, adding the latest spate of arrests has "educated us about how we need to press the fight in a more mature way."

Father Neles Tebay, coordinator of the Papuan Peace Network, called the police's response an attempt to stifle people's freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.

"I would have thought such an assembly would have been fine so long as they didn't pose a threat to [national] security," he told ucanews.com.

"They said it was just a public discussion, even if they harbor different political aspirations from those upheld by the police and military."

Source: https://www.ucanews.com/news/over-100-pro-independence-activists-arrested-in-papua/83911

Police detain 107 Papuan independence activists for questioning

Jakarta Post - November 20, 2018

Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta – Papua Police dispersed on Monday a National Committee for West Papua (KNPB) meeting in Jayapura and held the 107 members in attendance for questioning.

"We were arrested when we were about to hold a discussion commemorating KNPB's 10th anniversary at the Pegunungan Bintang student dorms," KNPB spokesperson Ones Suhuniap said in a statement on Monday. "Police came without showing any search or arrest warrants."

Papua Police chief Sr. Comr. Martuani Sormin denied that the KNPB members had been arrested, saying they were only being questioned.

"Their event was dispersed because they did not inform the Jayapura [Police] about it," Martuani told The Jakarta Post on Monday. "Their event was becoming a separatist political movement, so it was dispersed and they were questioned at the Jayapura Police station.

Jayapura police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Gustav Urbinas said police had received reports that the anniversary celebration was being attended by people from outside the dorms and called the discussion "treasonous".

"Right now, 107 people are still being questioned and officers are in the process of identifying them," Gustav said as quoted by Antara. (kmt)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/20/police-detain-107-papuan-independence-activists-for-questioning.html

Papuan tribes seek support to take back ancestral land

UCA News - November 20, 2018

Ryan Dagur, Jakarta – Indigenous Papuans and activist priests have met Indonesian government officials in Jakarta to seek support in their fight against plantation companies who they say seized their ancestral land.

Representatives from six tribes, accompanied by church and environmental activists, met officials from the agriculture and environment ministries.

Samuel Ariks from the Mpur tribe in West Papua's Tambrauw district said more than 19,300 hectares of their forest land was seized.

He said PT Bintuni Argo Prima Perkasa claims to have a permit giving them control of the land. "From the start we opposed the firm, but it went and cleared our forests," he told ucanews.com.

Police are guarding the place and people cannot access the land anymore. "The Mpur are farmers and hunters. We treat our forest like our mother because it gives us food," Ariks said.

Petrus Kinggo said the Mandobo tribe has a similar problem and is fighting a palm oilcompany over 50,000 hectares. "The government needs to be more open in solving this problem," he said.

The Mandobo tribe resisted attempts to woo them but a license was granted and now people are being forced to accept its consequences, he added.

Father Nico Rumbayan from Merauke Diocese's Justice and Peace Commission, who accompanied the tribal people, said the Papuans did not have a real say before the issuing of the permits. "When they complained, they had to deal with the security forces," he said.

Lidya Monalisa Upuya from the Indonesian Christian Church in Papua said the government should revoke all licenses and rehabilitate the forest. "The intimidation and violence must also be stopped," she said.

Sigit Nugroho from the Environment Ministry promised to evaluate the permits. "The ministry will examine whether the companies are meeting obligations to preserve the environment," he said.

According to West Papua Regional Police spokesman Hary Supriyono, police have been called to plantations to provide security at the request of firms. "People are free to hold demonstrations related to land disputes as long as they remain peaceful," he said.

Source: https://www.ucanews.com/news/papuan-tribes-seek-support-to-take-back-ancestral-land/83901

Jayapura police disbanded KNPB's public discussion, arrest 106 activists

Tabloid JUBI - November 19, 2018

Victor Mambor, Jayapura – Jayapura Police disbanded a public discussions to commemorate the tenth anniversary of West Papua National Committee (KNPB) of which was due to be held at Pegunungan Bintang Student Dormitory, Monday (11/19/2018).

"The 10th anniversary of KNPB is taking place in Pegunungan Bintang student dormitory, Waena Jayapura, West Papua. I was present as a speaker representing the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). Before the activities started, the police came and stopped it, "said Markus Haluk to Jubi regarding the event.

KNPB General Secretary Vero Hubi has also confirmed the disbanded of KNPB public discussion. "Yes, (the discussion on) KNPB's anniversary was dissolved. We are in a prison truck," Vero wrote briefly through a short message.

Based on organising committee information until late in the afternoon, there were three trucks and a police car carrying KNPB activists. It is said about 126 activists have been detained.

Before the police dispersed the activities, KNPB activists also reported that the police came to KNPB secretariat earlier at Vietnam Camp, Waena, and then damaged the door of secretariat. The police also repainted the door that was originally drawn as a Morning Star in blue.

"They (the police) entered KNPB Secretariat without showing a warrant, they also entered with full weapons," said Ones Suhuniap, former general secretary of KNPB.

When confirmed, Jayapura head of police (Kapolresta), AKBP Gustav Urbinas justified the disbanded of public discussion activities.

He also said that some of KNPB activists who were present at the event were taken to Jayapura City Resort Police Station to be asked for clarification regarding the activities.

"Right. They are at the Police station. They are being identified and we will clarify the person in charge of the activity. Everything is in good condition," said Kapolresta Urbinas responsed to Jubi's question.

Kapolresta also confirmed that Markus Haluk, who served as an executive of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), is amonh the detained activists which were taken to the Jayapura Regional Police, (*)

Source: https://tabloidjubi.com/eng/jayapura-police-disbanded-knpbs-public-discussion-then-arrested-106-activists/

Scores of West Papuan activists arrested in Jayapura

Radio New Zealand International - November 19, 2018

Indonesian police have reportedly arrested more than a hundred members of the West Papua National Committee, or KNPB, in Jayapura.

The KNPB said 104 of its members were taken in to custody after police searched a student dormitory in the Papua provincial capital.

A discussion to mark the tenth anniversary of the pro-independence organisation's inception had been about to take place.

The KNPB said the executive director the United Liberation Movement for West Papua Markus Haluk was also arrested.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/376307/scores-of-west-papuan-activists-arrested-in-jayapura

107 people arrested at KNPB anniversary

Tempo - November 19, 2018

Antara, Jakarta – The Jayapura Police arrested 107 people who attended a discussion during the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) Anniversary at the Pegunungan Bintang Student Dormitory in the Waena area, Jayapura city, Monday, November 19.

"107 people are arrested," said Jayapura Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Gustav Urbinas on Monday, November 19. The police also seized 16 motorbikes.

According to Gustav, the police received a tip-off that the anniversary was attended by residents outside of the dormitory. He added the police in tandem with the Armed Forces (TNI) would continue to tackle any effort of treason in the jurisdiction of the Jayapura Police.

KNPB general secretary Vero Hubi confirmed the disbandment. "The KNPB anniversary is disbanded. We are in a prisoner car," Vero wrote in a short message.

Former KNPB general secretary Ones Suhuniap said prior to the disbandment, KNPB activists reported that the police came to the KNPB secretariat in the Vietnam camp, Waena, and damaged the door.

"They entered and raided the KNPB secretariat without showing a warrant, they entered while being fully-armed," said Ones.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/19/055923571/107-People-Arrested-at-KNPB-Anniversary

Leading West Papuan independence fighter dies

Radio New Zealand International - November 17, 2018

A regional commander of the Free West Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka – OPM) has died.

Bernard Mawen was the Southern Commander of the OPM, based in the region abutting Indonesia's border with Papua New Guinea.

He was one of the few remaining Papuan independence fighters who had helped establish the OPM in the 1960s.

Based in the bush, General Mawen's struggle against Indonesian rule continued in the intervening decades, although in recent years it has focussed on non-violent resistance.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/376158/leading-west-papuan-independence-fighter-dies

Border area Papuans press home independence call to APEC

Radio New Zealand International - November 15, 2018

A group of West Papuans based in the area around Indonesia's border with Papua New Guinea have called for APEC countries to support their independence aim.

Hundreds of members of the West Papua Interest Association this month entered PNG's Western Province in a campaign to raise awareness about issues around self-determination and human rights.

However, PNG border police advised the group not to conduct its campaign at this time, saying they wanted no disturbances during the period around this weekend's APEC leaders summit in Port Moresby.

But the Association yesterday proceeded with awareness activities in the remote border province. It has issued a statement saying West Papua and PNG are "one island, one land... one culture, one race and one people", but that PNG is independent and West Papua still under occupation.

As indigenous New Guineans, the Association welcomed APEC countries to PNG for the summit. It has urged APEC's 20 member countries other than Indonesia to support West Papuans' right to self-determination and independence.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/376004/border-area-papuans-press-home-independence-call-to-apec


Aceh village tells cafes to cut Wi-Fi so kids don't get distracted from

Coconuts Jakarta - November 23, 2018

A village in the Indonesian province of Aceh – the only region in Indonesia with special autonomy to enact religious bylaws – is saving its children from the worldly distractions that are coffee and Wi-Fi.

As reported by Kompas, officials at Curee Baroh village in the Bireuen regency recently issued a circular to coffee shops in the area instructing them to stop providing Wi-Fi to customers. The ban has been in effect since November 13.

Village Chief Helmiadi Mukhtaruddin said residents of Curee Baroh had lately observed that children are neglecting their studies and reading the Quran because they have been spending a lot of time on the internet using Wi-Fi at coffee shops.

"Their use of Wi-Fi at the coffee shops had become bothersome. In this village we had six coffee shops that provided Wi-Fi, so it was hard for parents and religious school teachers to control the children," Helmiadi said today.

Helmiadi added that villagers have even caught children using the Wi-Fi to access pornographic sites.

Coffee shops that don't comply with the Wi-Fi ban may be subject to sanctions from the village council, though the exact punishments haven't been revealed.

It must be noted that the village's ban does not extend to mobile data connections, which could prove to be an oversight in the part of the village officials if kids continue to be distracted by the internet at coffee shops or otherwise.

Aceh is no stranger to the implementation of religious-based regulations for cafes. In September, Bireuen also made the news for passing regulations prohibiting cafes from serving women after 9 pm or without male guardians.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/aceh-village-tells-coffee-shops-cut-wi-fi-kids-dont-get-distracted-reading-quran/

Sexual & domestic violence

Women empowerment minister: Baiq Nuril's harasser must be tried

Tempo - November 23, 2018

Friski Riana and Abdul Latief Apriaman, Jakarta – The Women Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Yohana Yembise expressed her outrage following the criminal case that jailed Baiq Nuril after the conversation recording between her and SMAN 7 high school Mataram headmaster spread publically, revealing the headmaster's verbal sexual harassment toward Baiq.

"Don't just sacrifice the woman. Law enforcers have done injustice. The amount of discrimination in this country is still very high," said Yohana to Tempo yesterday, Nov. 22.

The case that implicated Baiq Nuril happened when she was tasked to work at SMAN 7 high school Mataram and often receives harassments from the headmaster and eventually decided to record her conversation with the perpetrator, Muslim.

However, the recording spread without Baiq's consent that drove Muslim to file a police report against Baiq Nuril for violating the ITE Law that prevents people from spreading sexually-related contents. However, Baiq was found innocent by the Mataram District Court but after prosecutors appealed, Baiq was found guilty which eventually had her incarcerated.

Minister Yohana urged her ministry's legal bureau to assist Baiq Nuril as she is considered by Yohana to be the victim in this case.

"The male perpetrator must be faced against the law and be punished for what he did as a sex predator," said minister Yohana. Ever since the case went under public scrutiny, headmaster Muslim refused to be interviewed.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/23/055923681/Women-Empowerment-Minister-Baiq-Nurils-Harasser-must-be-Tried

Ministry wants severe punishment for sexual offenders

Tempo - November 22, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – The Ministry of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection urges law enforcement officials to impose severe penalties for sexual offenders, especially child predators, by referring to Law No. 17/2016 on Child Protection.

"The law needs to be disseminated to the public and law enforcement officials so that the public knows that these criminals will be a harsh punishment," Ali Khasan, the ministry's assistant deputy for child protection against law and stigmatism said in a press release on Thursday, Nov. 22.

Ali said dissemination will also encourage law enforcement officers to give more than basic criminal charges, but additional ones as well as stipulated in Law No. 17/2016.

The law regulates additional penalties in the form of social punishments by announcing the identity of sexual offenders, giving chemical castration, installation of electronic detectors, and sexual rehabilitation.

Ali said the government issued these additional charges and punishment as cases of sexual violence against children continued to increase, often involving parents, teachers, and peers.

"Additional punishment will have a deterrent effect and reduce sexual violence against children in the community," he explained.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/22/055923650/Ministry-Wants-Severe-Punishment-for-Sexual-Offenders

Student rally against sexual violence in Yogyakarta almost ends in chaos

Detik News - November 22, 2018

Ristu Hanafi, Sleman – A protest by an alliance of student organisations calling themselves the Solidarity Action Alliance Against Sexual Violence at the Gajah Mada University (UGM) in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta on November 22 almost ended in chaos.

The action began near the Faculty of Social and Political Science (Fisipol) building with a march towards the Grha Sabha Pramana signature building. The demonstrators however were blocked by a campus security.

The action then shifted to the east side of the rectorate building where the demonstrators gave speeches. They demanded that a perpetrator of sexual violence [with the initials HS] against a UGM student be immediately "dropped-out" (DO) or expelled from the university.

When the demonstrators tried to enter the building in order to meet with the UGM rector, security personnel blocked them and refused give permission for them to enter. As a result an argument broke out between students and security personnel although the situation eventually calmed down.

"We are demanding that the perpetrator of the sexual violence be expelled today, and if the campus [authorities] are unable to take firm action, we will continue holding protests demanding this of the campus [authorities]", shouted one of the protesters during a speech on Thursday November 22.

The demonstrators brought a number of posters with messages such as "Drop Out HS, Drop Out Rapists!", "Shame On You UGM", "Acknowledge that Sexual Violence = A Gross Rights Violation", "Expel Perpetrators of Sexual Violence from UGM", "UGM Sexual Violence Emergency" and "Immediately Sack EH and DO HS!".

Alliance spokesperson Dinda Aurelia said that the action was not just limited to highlight the alleged rape of an UGM student while she was undergoing student community placement program (KKN) at Seram Island in Maluku, but also highlighting an UGM lecturer with the initials EH who was accused of committing sexual harassment several years ago.

"EH has been formally been made inactive, but is still carrying out activities related to academic affairs. We have to ask how serious is the UGM [campus administration] in resolving cases of sexual harassment".

"And in the case of Agni (a pseudonym for the UGM student who was allegedly raped during the KKN), we're not persecuting the perpetrator, never. But we are asking that the perpetrator be expelled from campus because campus is an educational institution. We side with the survivor, don't place survivors in a position that is equivalent to perpetrators of sexual violence", she asserted.

In addition to this, the alliance is calling on the UGM administration to draft clear regulations on the handling of sexual violence cases on campus. (mbr/mbr)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Demo Mahasiswa UGM Tuntut Pelaku Pencabulan di-DO Nyaris Ricuh".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita-jawa-tengah/d-4312261/demo-mahasiswa-ugm-tuntut-pelaku-pencabulan-di-do-nyaris-ricuh

Jokowi won't grant Nuril amnesty

Jakarta Post - November 20, 2018

Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said that he cannot intervene in the ruling concerning Baiq Nuril Maqmun, a West Nusa Tenggara teacher who was convicted of defaming her alleged sexual harasser. Activists have urged Jokowi to grant Nuril amnesty.

"We have to respect the legal process and respect the Supreme Court's cassation ruling. As the head of government, I cannot intervene in that ruling," he told reporters on Monday. He encouraged Nuril to submit a case review to the Supreme Court in order to "seek justice".

"If the case review does not provide justice, then she can apply for clemency to the President," he said. "Once she has applied for clemency, that's where I come in."

The Supreme Court sentenced Nuril to six months imprisonment and ordered her to pay a fine of Rp 500 million (US$34,218) after finding her guilty of defaming the principal of the public high school where she worked.

The 37-year-old mother of three was accused of circulating a recording of a phone call in which the principal related the sordid details of an affair he had with another woman. She claimed she had only taped the phone call and that the recording was distributed by another person.

A group of activists called the Coalition to Save Ibu Nuril has called on Jokowi to grant Nuril amnesty, which would clear her of all charges. Representatives from the coalition met with the Office of the Presidential Staff on Monday to present a written request and a copy of a petition signed by more than 100,000 people in support of amnesty.

"The staff received the letter and the petition and promised to show it to the President," coalition member and Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) executive director Anggara told The Jakarta Post.

Amnesty is one of three powers granted to the President to intercede in legal matters by the Constitution, the two others being clemency and abolition. Abolition would not be applicable to Nuril's case as it would have to be granted before her case went to trial.

"By giving amnesty, the person in question is considered not guilty. Clemency, on the other hand, is given to people who have been proven guilty and admitted their guilt," constitutional law expert Feri Amsari said. "The convicted person has to apply for clemency, but amnesty can be granted on the initiative of the President."

He believed that in Nuril's case, amnesty was the correct step to take, adding that it would not amount to intervention in the legal process.

"The legal process for Nuril's case is already over. The case review is an extraordinary legal measure, so I don't think that the President is intervening by giving amnesty," he said. "As the 'final executor', the President should be able to provide the justice that has been missing from the rigid legal process."

Nuril and her lawyers have been preparing a case review to challenge the verdict, maintaining that she had done nothing wrong.

But even a case review would not stop prosecutors from carrying out the Supreme Court's ruling to jail Nuril, which they are set to do on Wednesday, Feri said.

Anggara said that Nuril's legal position was a precarious one, as any efforts to postpone imprisonment would also prevent her from filing a case review petition.

"So, if the Supreme Court's ruling is not executed, she cannot file a case review," he said. "In our opinion, the ideal outcome is for the execution to be postponed, pending presidential amnesty."

He added that he disagreed with Jokowi's statement about clemency as Nuril had done nothing wrong. "How can the President expect an innocent person to admit guilt for something she hasn't done?" he said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/20/jokowi-wont-grant-nuril-amnesty.html

Nahdlatul Ulama calls on Supreme Court to release Nuril

Jakarta Post - November 18, 2018

Jakarta – The Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) has spoken up to support Baiq Nuril Maknun, a resident of Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, who is facing jail time for defaming a man that allegedly harassed her.

NU legal division head Robikin Emhas said the largest Muslim organization hoped that the Supreme Court would release the 37-year-old after deliberating a case review she planned to file.

"I hope the reputation and dignity of Baiq Nuril Maknun can be restored in the case review verdict, just like the Mataram District Court [that had acquitted her]," he said in a statement as quoted by Antara.

Nuril was sentenced to six months in jail and fined Rp 500 million (US$33,749) after the Supreme Court found her guilty of defaming her alleged harasser, Muslim, the principal of the school where she worked, by spreading a recording of a phone conversation between the two.

Nuril said she recorded the conversation after he shared stories about his affairs with another woman multiple times. He had also asked her to meet in a hotel room for a tryst. The recording later spread to the school circle and local education agency, prompting Muslim's removal from his post. He then reported Nuril to the police for defamation.

Prosecutors have received the court order to jail her next week. If she refuses to surrender herself within a month, she will be arrested.

The case has sparked public debate on the safety of victims of sexual harassment should they choose to report their offenders or take any actions to defend themselves.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/17/nahdlatul-ulama-calls-on-supreme-court-to-release-nuril.html

Nine cities stage protests against jailing of Nuril Makmun

Jakarta Post - November 18, 2018

Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta – Activists in nine cities across the country have deplored the impending imprisonment of Baiq Nuril Makmun, an alleged victim of sexual harassment, who has been sentenced to prison for defamation.

In response to prosecutors' demand for Nuril to be locked up on Wednesday, the activists staged peaceful protests in nine cities on Sunday, namely in Pekanbaru, Riau; Denpasar, Bali; Palembang, South Sumatra; Pontianak, West Kalimantan; Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara; Makassar, South Sulawesi and Jember, East Java.

Activists are also preparing protests in two more locations on Thursday, namely in front of the Central Java governor's office in Semarang as well as in front of the Presidential Palace in Jakarta.

On Friday, the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) said prosecutors had demanded that Nuril start serving her prison time on Wednesday.

The 37-year-old from Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, was sentenced to six months in prison and fined Rp 500 million (US$34,218) after the Supreme Court found her guilty of defaming her alleged harasser, the principal of the school where she worked.

The judges said she had circulated a recording of a phone call in which the principal reportedly boasted about his sexual escapade with Nuril's colleague, overturning a lower court's not guilty verdict.

Nuril and her lawyers are preparing a case review to challenge the verdict, maintaining that she had done nothing wrong. She had only taped the phone call but not distributed the recording, they claimed.

Her principal allegedly called her often and shared stories of his sexual acts. In several conversations, he reportedly asked to meet her in a hotel room for a tryst.

A campaigner, Anindya Joediono, started an online fundraising drive on kitabisa.com to help Nuril pay her fine. As of Sunday morning, donations collected totalled more than Rp 283 million, or more than half of Nuril's fine. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/18/nine-cities-stage-protests-against-jailing-of-nuril-makmun.html

Government has 'circumcised' key points in sexual violence bill: Komnas

CNN Indonesia - November 17, 2018

Jakarta – National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) chairperson Azriana R Manalu says that the government has "circumcised" at least 100 articles in the Draft Law (RUU) on the Elimination of Sexual Violence.

According to Manalu, the 100 articles that have been cut out contain the very "soul" of the RUU.

"There are 152 articles in total, 100 of the articles have been dropped by the government", said Manalu at the offices of the Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers) in South Jakarta on Friday November 16.

Manalu says that Komnas Perempuan is not concerned if a few of the articles are cut as long as they are not related to key elements in the draft law. The problem is that the exact opposite has happened. The most important points that the RUU is attempting to address with in fact the ones that have been cut out.

This includes, among others, the abolition of the phrase "unequal gender relations" in the definition of sexual violence and narrowing down the types of sexual violence from nine to only four.

Other things that have been cut from the RUU are the chapter on procedural law, the chapter on rehabilitation and the chapter on protecting the rights of victims.

Manalu says that the soul of the RUU on sexual violence is providing a legal framework to address crimes which society often deems as being too taboo to discuss.

She gave as an example the importance of the concept of unequal gender relations in sexual violence. Sexual violence often occurs as a consequence of unequal relations of power and gender.

This, she added, was highlighted in the case which befell former honorary teacher Baiq Nuril Maknun, who was recently jailed for defamation by the Supreme Court after reporting her superior for sexual harassment.

"So we included unequal gender relations [in the RUU] so that this kind of thing can be addressed, but it has instead been rejected by the government", she said.

Komnas Perempuan member Sri Nurherwati was reported earlier as saying that one of the obstacles in the deliberation of the RUU was a view that has emerged among some lawmakers that the law will acknowledge the existence of the Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual (LGBT) community.

Nurherwati and her colleagues counter that sexual violence occurs in all kinds of relationships and this is why the state has to play a role in protecting them.

Even though lawmakers are sticking to this assumption, she is asking that the House of Representatives (DPR) Commission VIII continue to deliberate the RUU for the sake of preventing other cases of sexual violence.

"If indeed it is to protect the victims, discuss how to protect the victims. Don't get trapped in a polemic about LGBT because this is urgent, there have already been too many victims of sexual violence", concluded Nurherwati. (bin/kid)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Pemerintah Disebut Sunat 100 Pasal RUU Antikekerasan Seksual".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20181116202510-32-347255/pemerintah-disebut-sunat-100-pasal-ruu-antikekerasan-seksual

Sexual harassment victim ordered to start prison sentence next week

Jakarta Post - November 16, 2018

Gemma Holliani Cahya, Jakarta – Baiq Nuril Makmun, a sexual harassment victim who was sentenced to prison for defamation, has been told by prosecutors that she must start serving her prison sentence, a watchdog has revealed.

The 37-year-old woman from Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, was sentenced to six months in prison and fined Rp 500 million (US$33,749) after the Supreme Court found her guilty of defaming her alleged harasser, the principal of the school where she worked. The judges believed that she had circulated a recording of a reportedly sordid phone call between the two of them, overturning a lower court's not guilty verdict.

The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) reports that prosecutors have demanded that Nuril start serving her prison time on Wednesday.

Although prosecutors claimed that they had received the copy of the verdict on Monday, Nuril's lawyers said they had not received a copy up until the time of writing.

According to Article 270 of the Criminal Code the court decision can only be executed after a copy of the verdict has been received by the prosecutors.

Nuril and her lawyers are preparing a case review to challenge the verdict, maintaining that she did nothing wrong. She only taped the phone call, but did not distribute the recording, they claimed.

Her principal allegedly called her often and shared stories of his affairs with another woman. In several conversations, he reportedly asked to meet her in a hotel room for a tryst. (swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/16/sexual-harassment-victim-ordered-to-start-prison-sentence-next-week.html

Komnas Perempuan says sexual violence bill stalled in parliament over

CNN Indonesia - November 15, 2018

Jakarta – Although it was submitted 10 years ago, the Draft Law (RUU) on the Elimination of Sexual Violence has still not been enacted by the House of Representatives (DPR).

The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) says that the law has been blocked because the parliament sees it as acknowledging the existence of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

Komnas Perempuan member Sri Nurherwati is urging the DPR's Commission IX to stop making an issue over the LGBT content in the RUU because passing the law has become even more urgent following a number of recent cases of sexual violence and harassment.

One such case is that which befell Baiq Nuril, a former honorary teacher from Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, who was found guilty of defamation by the Supreme Court after she reported being sexually harassed by a superior.

"In the DPR right now they have been carried away by the issue of the acknowledgement of LGBT in the RUU on sexual violence. I think we needs to insist that the DPR deliberate the bill immediately", said Nurherwati at her office in the Menteng suburb of Central Jakarta on Wednesday November 14.

Nurherwati said that the perception that the draft law acknowledges LGBT emerged in the DPR's Commission IX because the section in the draft on the protection of victims of sexual violence not only covers heterosexuals, but also homosexuals. Yet what lawmakers are making an issue about and what is regulated in the RUU are two different things.

"Sexual violence isn't just experienced by citizens who are hetero, those who are homo also experience it. But that doesn't mean that we are legalising or supporting LGBT, the context is about sexual violence", explained Nurherwati.

The importance of ratifying the RUU on sexual violence has sprung up again following the rape and murder of Yuyun, a junior high school student from Bengkulu, which emerged in the media in mid-2016.

If the DPR still has a problem with the section that they think supports LGBT, Nurherwati suggests that they continue deliberating the bill in order to prevent discrimination against other victims of sexual violence.

"If indeed it is to protect the victims, discuss how to protect the victims. Don't get trapped in a polemic about LGBT because this is urgent, there have already been too many victims of sexual violence", concluded Nurherwati.

The Draft Law on the Prevention of Sexual Violence should have been included in the 2018 priority national legislation program (Prolegnas). Up until now however, the deliberations have yet to reach an agreement.

Komnas Perempuan' annual report in March showed that as many as 3,528 cases of sexual violence occurred in the public sphere in 2017. The three kinds of violence which were most common were violations with 911 cases, sexual harassment with 708 cases and rape with 669 cases.

In the private sphere meanwhile, Komnas Perempuan noted that there were 9,609 cases. The largest number of cases involved violence against housewives with 5,167 cases, violence against female children with 2,227 cases and date violence with as many as 1,873 cases. (bin/arh)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "RUU Antikekerasan Seksual Disebut Mandek Karena Isu LGBT".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20181115062323-12-346668/ruu-antikekerasan-seksual-disebut-mandek-karena-isu-lgbt

Sexual violence bill stalled in parliament over recognition of LGBT:

Coconuts Jakarta - November 15, 2018

Outrage over the six-month jail sentence recently given to a teacher who recorded her school's principal sexually harassing her has once again put the way the Indonesian legal system handles cases of sexual harassment and abuse under scrutiny.

A bill that could rectify many of the problems that plague these cases was drafted long ago, but its recognition of violence between same-sex partners has become one of its main barriers to passage.

That's according to Komnas Perempuan (National Commission on Violence Against Women) member Sri Nurherwati, who said that the country's current moral panic over LGBT rights was making legislators hesitant to push RUU Penghapusan Kekerasan Seksual (the Draft Law on the Elimination of Sexual Violence) into law.

"In the DPR (House of Representatives), the Bill on Sexual Violence is being held back because of its recognition of LGBT.

I think we have to be firm, the DPR should discuss it immediately," Sri said at her office in Jakarta yesterday as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

Sri urged the lawmakers in DPR Commission IX (in which the draft bill currently sits) to look past the LGBT controversy to pass legislation that was incredibly important to protect all victims of sexual violence in all of its forms.

She also noted that the bill's recognition that sexual violence could take place between same-sex individuals did not need to imply support or "legalization" of LGBT.

Homosexuality and LGBT behavior is not illegal in Indonesia, except in the province of Aceh that has special autonomy to enact sharia-based law. However, anti-LGBT sentiment is strong in many parts of the country and many regional governments are now trying to pass discriminatory legislation targeting the vilified minority.

When the Constitutional Court struck down a judicial review last year that would have effectively made homosexual acts illegal, they were strongly criticized by many for "legalizing" LGBT (even though, again, it was already legal before).

But even if there's a chance that politicians could face similar criticism for passing RUU Penghapusan Kekerasan Seksual, hopefully there are enough who have the courage to recognize that the bill's importance far outweighs that.

The bill, which was drafted in part by Komnas Perempuan, clearly defines the different forms of sexual violence and sets out the responsibilities of the State in dealing with those cases. Crucially, it provides for the protection of victims and witnesses, increases their access to legal solutions, recovery and reparation mechanisms for the victim and rehabilitation of the offender.

While the coverage of and attention paid to cases of sexual violence is improving in Indonesia to some degree, a culture of stigmatization and victim blaming still keeps the country's epidemic of sexual violence largely hidden from the public. If legislators are really serious about tackling these issues and protecting victims, than they need to put identity politics aside and do what is right by passing it immediately.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/bill-curb-sexual-violence-stalled-parliament-recognition-lgbt-relationships-komnas-perempuan/

Defamation convict allegedly harassed multiple times by superior

Jakarta Post - November 15, 2018

Gemma Holliani Cahya, Jakarta – The Supreme Court's decision to find Baiq Nuril guilty of defaming her former superior on Friday has sparked criticism among activists who argue that Baiq is in fact a victim of sexual harassment from her boss, a former headmaster, and should therefore not be punished.

Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) said on its official Twitter account @safenetvoice on Tuesday that H. Muslim, the former headmaster, had contacted Baiq by phone several times.

In their conversations, Muslim allegedly shared vulgar and lewd stories about his sexual affair with his treasurer and asked Baiq to stay in a hotel with him on several occasions.

"Have you ever received a phone call from your colleague but the conversation turned into a lewd conversation that [was a form of] sexual harassment against you and made you feel uncomfortable? That's what happened to Nuril," @safenetvoice tweeted.

Baiq, afraid she would be fired if she filed a report, initially kept mum, but when Muslim called her again, she decided to record the conversation. Her colleague, Imam Mudawin, asked about the recording and reported it to the Mataram Education Agency.

Muslim was removed from the school after the incident, while Nuril was reported for spreading the recording, something that she said she never did.

"Nuril's case will make many women in Indonesia who have become victims of sexual harassment afraid to report what they had been through, because they are afraid they will be a convict like Nuril. Of course, this is a bad example for the protection of sexual abuse and harassment victims in Indonesia," a SAFEnet volunteer, Ike Ningtyas, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid said the court's ruling was absurd since Nuril was only documenting the abuse she received from her employer.

"Unsolicited, sexually explicit and abusive telephone calls would constitute sexual harassment and should be investigated as a priority, with charges brought accordingly. It is a travesty that, while the victim of the alleged abuse has been convicted for recording this call, little if any action has been taken by the authorities to investigate what appear to be credible claims," he said on Thursday.

Usman said the verdict was yet another example of how the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law had been used to repress people.

"Its vague definitions of defamation, blasphemy and, in this case, 'sharing information that violates decency', have routinely been used in abusive ways – often to silence freedom of expression. In this case, it appears a woman was criminalized simply for taking steps to redress the abuse she experienced. Nuril must be freed, and the ITE law must be amended," Usman said.

Nuril must serve a six-month sentence and pay a Rp 500 million (US$33,749) fine, according to the ruling on Friday, which found her guilty of violating Article 27 Point 1 of the 2016 ITE Law.

Meanwhile, a crowdfunding campaign was initiated by the Victims of UU ITE Community (PAKU ITE) on Tuesday evening to raise money to help Nuril pay the fine. As of Thursday morning, the link had been shared 8,900 times on Facebook and more than Rp 89 million had been raised. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/15/defamation-convict-allegedly-harassed-multiple-times-by-superior.html

Netizens start fundraiser for teacher jailed for recording sexual

Coconuts Jakarta - November 15, 2018

The Supreme Court's decision to sentence Indonesian teacher Baiq Nuril for recording her principal's sexual harassment, despite the fact that she was the victim of that harassment, has been decried by many netizens nationwide as a grave injustice and many have decided to take matters into their own hands to give her a ray of hope.

On crowdfunding website Kitabisa, one netizen named Anindya Joediono has started a fundraising campaign to help Nuril pay the IDR500 million (US$33,912) fine the court has ordered to pay as part of her sentence or face an additional 3 months in jail.

It is already quite evident that many in the public are standing by Nuril. Since the campaign's launch yesterday, more than IDR87 million has already been raised as of the time of writing.

"I do not want to remain silent while Ibu Nuril is jailed. I want to ask you to stand by Ibu Nuril and talk about her case in discussions, seminars, or even theatrical stages where you live. Let's together help Ibu Nuril's struggle for justice," Anindya wrote on the fundraiser's page.

Nuril, a teacher from Mataram on the island of Lombok, says she had been verbally sexually harassed with indecent conversation from her school's principal several times before she decided to record him doing so during a phone conversation back in 2012.

When the recording was made public, the principal lost his post. But in retaliation, he filed a criminal report over the recording that Nuril may now have to spend six months in jail just for violation of Indonesia's draconian Law on Electronic Information and Transactions (UU ITE).

Although Nuril was found not guilty at the district court level in July, prosecutors appealed directly to the Supreme Court, which overturned the lower court verdict and sentenced the teacher to six months in jail as well as a fine of IDR500 million.

As the Supreme Court's decisions cannot be appealed, Nuril's only hope for justice now is to file a judicial review, but those require new evidence to be submitted so it is not yet clear if her lawyers will be able to submit one.

You can help Nuril pay her fine by donating to her Kitabisa campaign here.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/netizens-start-fundraiser-teacher-jailed-fined-recording-sexual-harassment-principal/

Labour & migrant workers

Depok minimum wage set at Rp 3.8 million

Jakarta Post - November 23, 2018

Jakarta – The West Java administration has set the 2019 minimum wage for Depok (UMK) at Rp 3.8 million (US$261) per month, as stipulated in Gubernatorial Decree No. 561/2018 signed on Wednesday.

Depok Manpower Agency head Diah Sadiah said most regions in West Java increased their minimum wages by about 8.03 percent. The UMK in Depok for 2018 is Rp 3.58 million.

"Business owners shall comply with the regulation and pay the minimum salary of Rp 3.8 million according to the gubernatorial decree," Diah said on Thursday as quoted by kompas.com.

The determined UMK is lower than the workers associations' expectations. The head of the Depok chapter of the Indonesian Metal Workers Federation (FSPMI), Wido Pratikno, said workers expected an increased UMK of Rp 4.4 million to improve their purchasing power. (cal)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/22/depok-minimum-wage-set-at-rp-3-8-million.html

Police, TNI block labour rally in Banten calling for 20% minimum wage

Detik News - November 19, 2018

Bahtiar Rifa'i, Serang – The Serang city district police (Polres) and the Banten regional police (Polda), with assistance from the TNI (Indonesian military), have blocked workers from various industrial areas in Serang and Greater Tangerang from entering Banten city.

The thousands of works, who were stopped at the traffic lights on Jl. Serang-Jakarta in Parung district, had planned to enter the city and hold a rally at the Banten governor's official residence.

Based on media reports, an estimated 30 thousand workers from across Banten began arriving for the protest from various different areas at around 4pm.

Labour representative Dedi Sudrajat said they were demanding that the Banten governor increase the Banten regency and municipal wage (UMK) by around 20 percent and that the governor meet with worker representatives before setting the UMK on November 21.

"We are demanding a 19.17 percent increase in the UMK, we have yet to obtain a satisfactory result, after this we will reassess our position", Sudrajat told journalists in Serang.

According to Sudrajat, the workers were disappointed because the governor is not listening to their demands. "We have contacted the governor's aide but the reason was because the he's out of town", he said.

"To this day there has been no real intent to meet with the ordinary people", said another worker.

Frustrated, the workers then blockaded the Serang-Jakarta arterial highway paralyzing the flow of traffic in the direction of Ciruas and creating a traffic jam some six kilometers long.

Banten Polda operational head Senior Commissioner Hermansyah said that that they stopped the workers from holding an action at the governor's office because it is located on a main street in the middle of the city.

"If they went into the city, lots of people would be upset. We didn't authorise this because it's on a main street", Hermansyah told journalists in Serang on Monday November 19. He said the workers were given an alternative of holding an action in the area where the Banten regional government is located.

Meanwhile Serang district police chief (Kapolres) Assistant Superintendent Komarudin said that if the protesters insisted on holding the rally in front of the governor's residence, they were conserned that it would paralyze the city.

"It is impossible to do this bearing in mind that the [governor's] official residence is on a main street. We cannot permit the Serang city public to be disrupted. The action is legitimate but can't be allowed to disrupt public order", he said.

Speaking through a megaphone, Komarudin asked the workers to disband and think clearly because they are disrupting access to the road. "Many members of the public need access to the road. We are warning you for a second time, please brother workers, think clearly lest there be victims among us", said Komarudin.

He then asked the leaders of the trade union alliances to disband the rally within 10 minutes. "Remember many members of the public are being disrupted because road access is blocked", he said.

At around 7.30pm the workers finally began leaving the area and the main road near the Parung traffic lights was reopened and traffic began flowing again.

[Abridged translation by James Balowski compiled from three reports by Detik News on November 19. The original title of articles were: Polisi Hadang Massa Buruh yang Mau Demo di Rumah Gubernur Banten, Demo Buruh, Arteri Serang-Jakarta Macet Total hingga Sore Hari and Massa Buruh Bubar, Jl Arteri Serang-Jakarta Kembali Dibuka.]

Source: Three reports by Detik News

Thousands of workers rally in Bandung demanding 20% minimum wage rise

Detik News - November 19, 2018

Mochamad Solehudin, Bandung – Thousands of workers from several different trade unions have rallied at the Gedung Sate building in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung demanding a 20 percent increase in the municipal minimum wage (UMK)

The workers began gathering in front of the governor's office at around 11am on Monday November 19. They brought various kinds of paraphernalia such as banners and posters articulating their demands.

One by one, trade union representatives gave speeches from atop of the command vehicle. The sun's intense heat did not lessen the workers' spirit in fighting for their demands.

Confederation of the All-Indonesian Workers Union (KSPSI) chairperson Roy Jinto said that the action was held to articulate various demands being fought for by workers.

One of these is demanding that the 2019 UMK wage rise not be based on Government Regulation Number 78/2015 (PP 78), which ties annual wages to inflation and productivity.

Jinto said that they are demanding that West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil increase the 2019 minimum wage by 20 percent rather that the 8.03 percent increase that has been set by the central government.

"Because the governor of Jatim [East Java] has already set the regency and municipal UMK at more than 8.03 percent. Moreover in Jatim the UMK wage rise was as much as 24 percent. Meaning there is no prohibition on setting the minimum wage outside of the PP 78", said Jinto during a break in the action.

The KSPSI is calling on the governor to have the courage to follow the East Java minimum wage increase. Don't set the 2019 minimum wage in Jabar (West Java) just based on the PP 78/2015 he said. "The governor of Jabar must have courage", he said.

Jinto also called on the West Java provincial government to issue an official letter revoking Gubernatorial Regulation Number 54/2018 [issued in October on procedures for setting the West Java provincial, regency and municipal minimum wage].

Because, according to Jinto, the recent announcement revoking the regulation was only a political statement which was conveyed by a local government official. "Because it was just a statement, we are asking the governor to draft an official letter", he said.

Jinto said that his trade union wants the governor to issue a circular to all West Java regents and mayors to facilitate negotiations on the 2019 Regency Sectoral Minimum Wage (UMSK).

"[We are] asking the governor to draft a letter to regents and mayors throughout Jabar to facilitate [negotiations on] the UMSK 2019", he said.

Jinto along with thousands of other workers are threatening to continue protesting until their demands are met, and are planning to mobilise even more people if no agreement is reached with the government.

"Today there were 12 trade unions which joined the action. An estimated 5 thousand people. We will continue protesting until the 23rd because we have a [police] permit until that date. We will maintain the rage with even more protesters", he said. (mso/tro)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Buruh Jabar Tuntut Ridwan Kamil Naikkan UMK Hingga 20 Persen".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/jawabarat/4308241/buruh-jabar-tuntut-ridwan-kamil-naikkan-umk-hingga-20-persen

Political parties & elections

Prabowo Subianto asks supporters for financial help

Tempo - November 23, 2018

Budiarti Utami and Dewi Nurita, Jakarta – Presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto personally asks his supporters to reconfirm the final voters' list (DPT) in every neighborhood units (RT) and community units (RW). The Gerindra Chairman also asked for financial help for the 2019 Presidential Election.

According to Prabowo, he is compelled to ask for voluntary funding to his supporters since the political coalition parties supporting Gerindra Party are currently lacking the much-needed logistics for the campaign.

"I appeal to all of you, I'm forced to ask for your help since we are lacking the funding for the campaign," said Prabowo yesterday in the national declaration of the additional group of supporters. "We will only depend on the people," said the former Kopassus Commander.

Prabowo Subianto claims that the funding would most likely be used to pay their voting witnesses across 805,000 polling stations in Indonesia. However, Prabowo admits that he is not ashamed of his coalition party's lack of funding upon election year.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/23/055923673/Prabowo-Subianto-Asks-Supporters-for-Financial-Help

Prabowo contradicts own campaign team on teacher salary hike promise

Coconuts Jakarta - November 22, 2018

Presidential candidate and Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto is seemingly not on the same wavelength as his campaign team, publicly contradicting them regarding one hotly talked about campaign promise.

On Tuesday, senior members of Prabowo's campaign team said that if elected, the opposition leader would increase the salary of Indonesian teachers to IDR20 million (US$1,370) to improve the quality of education in Indonesia, and that doing so would not put a strain on the National Budget.

While the promise understandably drew criticism from incumbent President Joko Widodo's campaign team, who say that such a huge hike is economically unfeasible, Prabowo himself, surprisingly, said that he shares that opinion.

"Increase this, increase that, where are we going to get the money from?" Prabowo said yesterday, as quoted by Suara.

Prabowo added that a salary hike for every teacher in Indonesia would lead to an increase in the country's debt, of which he claims is compounded by IDR1 trillion per day.

"We are always in debt. Everyday we owe IDR1 trillion. So if I make this promise or that promise, that would mean I'm lying to the people," he said.

It's not clear which study that claim – which has been used numerous times by opposition politicians – came from, but it has been evident that ever since President Jokowi took over in 2014, public debt has risen by 40%, leading to promises of economic reforms by Prabowo.

While it's quite commendable for Prabowo to set the record straight instead of getting people's hopes up with false promises, question marks will undoubtedly be raised about the lack of harmony and disorganization within his camp.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/prabowo-contradicts-campaign-team-teacher-salary-hike-promise-going-get-money/

Muhammadiyah student group rejects Amien Rais' call to 'pick' candidate

Jakarta Post - November 21, 2018

Jakarta – Amien Rais has urged Muhammadiyah, the country's second largest Muslim organization, to decide which presidential candidate to support in the upcoming 2019 election.

Amien is the patron of the National Mandate Party (PAN) and an adviser to the Muhammadiyah central executive board. The party is part of the coalition backing the Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno camp alongside Gerindra, the Democratic Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

"If you did that [remained silent], I will pinch your ear. In the upcoming presidential election, you can't just say 'it's up to you'!" Amien said on Tuesday during the organization's 106thanniversary event at the Islamic Center Surabaya in the East Java capital.

Amien's calls for Muhammadiyah to publicly declare its support for a presidential ticket, however, were quickly dismissed by the organization's student grouping.

The central executive board of the Muhammadiyah Students Association (IMM) called on its parent organization to remain "neutral" and unswayed by Amien's calls to support a particular candidate.

"If we did support a certain candidate, how would we be different from a [campaign] success team or a political party?" IMM central executive board chairman Najih Prastiyo said in a written statement on Wednesday.

Najih said that Muhammadiyah should stay true to itself, remain independent and not issue an instruction for its members to pick a side during political events like the presidential election.

"Muhammadiyah is home to all elements of the nation," he said as quoted by tempo.co. "Whoever is elected the President, Muhammadiyah will remain as a critical partner of the government."

Muhammadiyah chairman Haedar Nashir had recently reiterated that the organization would uphold its philosophy of ummatan wasathon (moderates) and would not pick sides in national politics. "Muhammadiyah will maintain its impartiality in politics," Haedar said. (swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/21/muhammadiyah-student-group-rejects-amien-rais-call-to-pick-candidate.html

Berkarya Party 'sells' New Order for Prabowo, SMRC: not salable

Tempo - November 21, 2018

Dewi Nurita, Jakarta – The strategy of the Berkarya (Working) Party that "sells" the Soeharto's New Order leadership in the campaign ahead of the 2019 Election is deemed not salable.

The Executive Director of Saiful Mujani Research & Consulting (SMRC) Djayadi Hanan gave an example, in the 2014 election Golkar Party also used the same narrative. In fact, a photo of Soeharto with the words "It's better in my era" circulated everywhere.

With "selling" the New Order narrative, said Jayadi, Golkar did not win. "In short, the new order issue is difficult to sell," Djayadi Hanan said when contacted by Tempo on Wednesday, November 21.

The party made by Soeharto's youngest son, Hutomo Mandala Putra, said it would "sell" the romance of the New Order to win the 2019 Election.

The joining of Titiek Soeharto and other Cendana families to the party further strengthened the new order narrative in the Berkarya Party.

Titiek said, Indonesia would be like in the New Order era if Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Uno win the 2019 Presidential Election.

"It's enough. It's time for Indonesia to return, as when the era of Soeharto's successful leadership with food self-sufficiency, won international awards and was known to the world," said Titiek.

According to Djayadi, there is nothing that can be sold by the Berkarya Party from Soeharto and New Order. "What do they want to sell?" he said.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/21/055923616/Berkarya-Party-Sells-New-Order-for-Prabowo-SMRC-Not-Salable

Yudhoyono to campaign for Prabowo a month before voting day: Dems

Jakarta Post - November 19, 2018

Jakarta – Democratic Party deputy chairman Rachland Nashidik says party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will go "all out" to campaign for the Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno presidential ticket in March 2019, a month before the presidential election.

"Maybe [the Gerindra Party] does not know this yet, but SBY will be on the field to campaign for Prabowo in March 2019," Rachland said on Sunday as quoted by tempo.co.

Prabowo said in September that Yudhoyono was going to campaign for the ticket, but the former president had yet to appear at any Prabowo-Sandiaga campaign events.

The Dems' commitment to support Prabowo has been called into question recently, with party executives saying that their focus is on winning the legislative elections, which will take place concurrently with the presidential election. Rachland said Yudhoyono's focus on his own party should be understandable.

"Democrats don't have our own presidential or vice presidential candidate, so we don't get a coattail effect from the presidential election. We have no choice but to fight for our own party first." he said. "So please respect our efforts to fight for votes for our party. This is a coalition, not fusion; it doesn't mean that if we support [Prabowo] that we all merge into one."

He added that there were still six months left in the campaign period, which left plenty of time for Yudhoyono to take part. "If we campaign now, people will forget anyway, so we'll take part in the final part of the campaign period instead," he said. (kmt/ipa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/19/yudhoyono-to-campaign-for-prabowo-a-month-before-voting-day-dems.html

Prabowo-Sandi claim to side with the people's economy

Tempo - November 18, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – Presidential and vice presidential candidates pair Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno (Prabowo-Sandi) claimed that they wanted to build the economy by siding with the people's economy.

Candidate for Vice President Sandiaga in Magelang, Saturday, said Prabowo-Sandi would carry out a clear and firm policy in favor of the people's economy.

He conveyed this after visiting the Rejowinangun Market in Magelang City and the center for wood crafts in Pucang, Secang Sub-district, Magelang District.

Sandiaga said that his party wanted to open employment opportunities to the widest extent possible in favor of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), because the MSMEs absorbed employment reaching 97.7 percent.

Furthermore, he noted that his side would also focus on entrepreneurship, because a lot of people's businesses needed training and assistance.

In addition, facilitation assistance from the government cooperates with the business world by providing better access to marketing and capital.

"Based on the data here, we are increasingly convinced that our vision and mission of the economy and stable prices and job creation are the right solutions that are expected by the community," he said.

While visiting one of the wood-based handicraft industries in Pucang, Secang Sub-district, Magelang Regency, MSMEs were the locomotive of development.

Handicraft products in this area are export quality, and they have been exported to Malaysia and this certainly can increase the country's foreign exchange.

According to him, the industry in the area needs to get attention from the government, it needs assistance on financial reports and tax issues because in this growing business the owner does not have the expertise to manage his money.

"How many monthly profits do you not know but have been burdened with taxes, the government and its programs will need to provide training to improve human resources, because of the classic problem of MSMEs, namely human resources," he said.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/18/055923539/Prabowo-Sandi-Claim-to-Side-with-the-Peoples-Economy

Fake news & black campaigns

Prabowo laments accusations of him being ISIS supporter

Tempo - November 21, 2018

Budiarti Utami Putri, Jakarta – Presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto opened up at the Indonesian Economic Forum (IEF) today and lamented about how often he is accused of being an ISIS sympathizer.

He also said that people suspect him of intending to establish a caliphate once he is elected into office at the upcoming 2019 presidential election.

"The fact is that I established a political party under oath adhering to the Pancasila (five national ideologies), my party is multiracial, multiethnic, and multifaith," said Prabowo at the IEF event in Shangri-La Hotel today.

During his second time of publically addressing the multiple 'ISIS accusations' against him, Prabowo said that this public perception would often sadden him and spark worries that it would affect his chances in the upcoming election.

According to Gerindra Party Secretary-General Ahmad Muzani, Prabowo felt the need to clarify his position and openly address the accusations.

"Prabowo is a true [nationalist]. To have him labeled as such is something that is truly impossible," said Muzani at the same location today. He openly said that it is a clear character assassination against Prabowo during Indonesia's political year.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/21/055923634/Prabowo-Laments-Accusations-of-Him-Being-ISIS-Supporter

PSI reports users sharing fake photo of chairwoman Grace Natalie to

Coconuts Jakarta - November 15, 2018

Following accusations of Islamophobia for their opposition to religion-based laws, the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), one of Indonesia's youngest political parties and arguably the country's most progressive, is now facing another attack in the form of an edited "sexy" photo of its founder and Chairwoman Grace Natalie.

As reported by Kumparan, PSI officials filed an official complaint with the Jakarta Metro Police yesterday about the defamatory photo – in which a cropped image of Grace's head was pasted onto the body of an adult film star – which had circulated online recently.

"We are reporting six accounts, consisting of five Twitter accounts and one Instagram account," said Grace's attorney Muannas Alaidid, who also gave the names associated with those accounts.

Muannas accused the people behind the social media accounts of defamation for creating and/or sharing the edited photo of Grace, which is punishable by up to four years' imprisonment under the Law on Information and Electronic Transactions (UU ITE).

Jakarta Metro Police Spokesman Argo Yuwono said they will begin an investigation into the matter, starting with calling up some witnesses soon.

This is not the first instance of Grace becoming the victim of social media hoaxes. In June, she reported one Twitter user to the police for starting the false rumor that she had an affair with former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.

PSI is a new party, founded by Grace in 2014. It is comprised mostly of young members who champion solidarity through religious and cultural pluralism as well as human rights, earning it a reputation, for better or worse, as a liberal party for millennials. While many have praised them for their progressiveness, even some who share their views have questioned their effectiveness and motives.

PSI is participating in its first election in 2019, and will back President Jokowi for his second term in office.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/psi-reports-users-sharing-fake-photo-chairwoman-grace-natalie-police-defamation/

Sharia & discriminatory by-laws

Indonesia's 'millennials' political party draws fire for comments on

Straits Times - November 23, 2018

Jakarta (Reuters) – Police in Muslim-majority Indonesia have questioned the head of one of its newest and most progressive parties, who is battling accusations of "Islamophobia" from rival politicians, after she said her party opposed the growth of bylaws based on religion.

Indonesia is officially secular and has a tradition of pluralism but Islam has increasingly crept into politics in a country home to significant Christian, Hindu and other religious minorities.

Grace Natalie set up the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), often dubbed the "millennials party", in 2014 to offer an alternative for young voters disillusioned by traditional parties often run by an entrenched elite.

In a speech this week attended by President Joko Widodo, Ms Natalie, who is ethnic Chinese, spoke out against intolerance, saying PSI would not support local regulations based on Islamic law or Christian scripture.

"We want to return back to the constitution so that there is a guarantee for all citizens, whatever their background, or religion they believe, or faith they have," said Ms Natalie, whose party is part of a coalition backing Mr Joko's bid for a second term in 2019 elections.

Police questioned Ms Natalie following a complaint filed by Eggi Sudjana, a lawyer and politician of an Islamic party, who told Reuters her comments breached laws on hate speech and attacked religion. He urged her to apologise.

Some rival politicians also accused her of "Islamophobia", while defending the adoption of bylaws based on syariah or Islamic religious values. Jakarta police are still investigating to determine if any law was broken, said spokesman Argo Yuwono.

In a party statement, Ms Natalie said that during six hours of questioning she had told police her speech referred to "a willingness to implement equality and justice for all citizens before the law".

She also said it was based on an academic study showing how religion-based rules could affect women and minority groups.

The only province in Indonesia allowed to enforce Islamic law is Aceh, but other regions have adopted bylaws enforcing elements of syariah.

Such bylaws were divisive, said Muhammad Abdullah Darraz, director of the Maarif Institute, which promotes religious and cultural harmony, who defended Ms Natalie. "We have witnessed identity politics recently emerging and it has the potential to divide the unity of the nation," he said.

Indonesia's state ideology includes national unity, social justice and democracy alongside belief in God, and enshrines religious diversity in a secular system of government.

But religious and political tension has spiralled in the last few years after Islamists led hundreds of thousands in Jakarta protests against the capital's then governor, an ethnic Chinese Christian charged with insulting the Quran.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ally of Mr Joko, lost his bid for re-election in 2017 to a Muslim rival after a radical group, the Islamic Defenders Front agitated against him for months. He was jailed for two years over blasphemy.

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/indonesias-millennials-political-party-draws-fire-for-comments-on-islamic-bylaws

Prabowo's VP running mate Sandiaga Uno defends bylaws based on Islamic

CNN Indonesia - November 21, 2018

Jakarta – Prabowo Subianto's vice presidential running mate Sandiaga Uno says that he and the Just and Prosperous Indonesian Coalition – the coalition supporting the Prabowo-Sandiaga presidential ticket – support the application of regional regulations based on religion such as syariah based bylaws in Aceh.

According to Sandiaga, perda (bylaws) based on syariah (Islamic law) are part of local kearifan (wisdom, learning) and should not be challenged any more.

"There isn't any problem with it, we have already said that it is within the framework of a legal corridor which [we have] agreed represents kearifan", said Sandiaga during a goodwill meeting with Achenese ulama (Islamic leaders) at the Hermes Hotel in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh on Tuesday November 20.

Sandiaga added that syariah based bylaws can promote the application of Islam that is complete or kaffah (to abide by Islamic tenets in their entirety) and also presents key solutions for the economy and good character and behavior or akhlakul karimah (good deeds, proper Islamic behaviour). Sandiaga asserted therefore that there does not need to be any more debate about syariah based bylaws.

"We support them because they are a part of kearifan which we will support in the future. It is something that we don't need to interfere with or challenge any more. We agree with them", said Sandiaga.

Santiago's statement was a response to a request by the Acehnese ulama present at the meeting for the Prabowo-Sandiaga ticket to provide latitude to regional administrations to apply syariah based bylaws. Sandiaga visited Aceh in as part of his first political safari to Indonesia's western-most province.

Religious based bylaws such as those based on syariah or the Bible have become a subject of public debate after Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) chairperson Grace Natalie expressed her opposition to them. The PSI is of the view that bylaws based on syariah or the Bible discriminate against minorities.

In the same vein, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has also rejected bylaws based on religious stipulations such as syariah or the Bible. For the PDI-P, there is no such thing as syariah bylaws because all regulations are derived from the constitution.

As a result of Natalie's statement, the Fraternity of Indonesian Muslim Workers (PPMI) represented by their attorney Eggi Sudjana has reported Natalie to the police for blasphemy.

The PPMI reported her for allegedly spreading hatred with Sudjana saying that Natalie's statement on the emergence of intolerance and discrimination as a consequence of syariah based bylaws was a public lie.


Although the PDI-P claims that it does not support religious based regional regulations, Widodo's vice presidential running mate Ma'ruf Amin contradicted this several days ago by saying that he has no problem with them. Other members of the coalition of political parties backing the Widodo-Amin presidential ticket have also come out in support of religious bylaws with the Islamic based United Development Party (PPP) and Suharto's former ruling Golkar Party both asserting that bylaws based on Islamic law are in accordance with the state ideology of Pancasila. The PSI is also continuing to back Widodo's election bid despite its public opposition to religious bylaws.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Sandi Sebut Perda Syariah Perlu Didukung dan Jangan Diganggu".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20181121065828-32-347978/sandi-sebut-perda-syariah-perlu-didukung-dan-jangan-diganggu

Religious ministry: Sharia regulation is regional authority

Tempo - November 21, 2018

Syafiul Hadi, Jakarta – Expert staff in Religious Affairs Ministry Oman Faturrahman said religion-based regional regulation or sharia perda was the authority of local administration. However, the policies must be first examined.

"For example, on how to prevent such regulations cause persecution against minority groups," said Oman when met in Ayana Mid Plaza Hotel, Jakarta, today, November 21.

According to Oman, sharia perda were drafted based on local wisdom in each region, but it often stuck to limited rules. "This is perhaps what we have to monitor together as to prevent persecution," he explained.

Oman said the ministry would surely monitor the implementation of the sharia perda considering other religious groups must be weighed to fit in the regulation.

Normatively, he continued, the ministry assessed no issue on the religion-based bylaw. However, according to Oman, there was a case related to its implementation that broke certain limits.

"For example, [the bylaw] normatively aims to guard women, but on its implementation, it limits women's rights," he added.

Sharia perda has been widely talked again among the public following the refusal statement conveyed by Indonesia Solidarity Party (PSI) chairperson Grace Natalie. She deemed religion-based bylaw which based on certain party's interest potentially triggered conflict.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/21/055923626/Religious-Ministry-Sharia-Regulation-is-Regional-Authority

Ma'ruf Amin wants to eradicate radicalism in mosques, supports religious

Coconuts Jakarta - November 19, 2018

Since President Joko Widodo chose Ma'ruf Amin, the head of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and one of the country's most influential religious figures, his running mate for the 2019 election, people have been speculating on how his conservative and at times views on religion's role in the government would affect his policy stances as a VP candidate.

Over the weekend he expressed his views on some issues that offer insight into what kind of laws he'd support as the nation's second-in-command.

On Sunday, while speaking at an Islamic boarding school in Banten, Ma'ruf discussed a report from the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) indicating that out of 100 mosques located inside government ministries, institutions and state-owned enterprises that were surveyed, 41 were found to be spreading radicalism

Ma'ruf spoke strongly about "cleansing" these and other mosques featuring radical preachers for the good of the country.

"Those (mosque that have been exposed to radicalism) must be cleansed, returned (to the true path) because radicalism is something that is very dangerous to the integrity of the nation and the continuity of the Republic of Indonesia," Ma'ruf said as quoted by Detik.

The MUI leader said that all forms of radicalism could potentially lead to conflict, so it was important to guard the country from the efforts of a handful of groups that want to change the foundations of the country.

However, Ma'ruf – who also holds the influential position of Rais Aam (Supreme Leader) at Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) – struck a different tone when asked to comment on the controversy regarding Grace Natalie, the leader of the young and progressive Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), and her statement that PSI would reject all religion-based laws.

After the statement she made at PSI's 4th anniversary on Nov 11, Grace and PSI were accused of "Islamophobia" by conservative politicians and she was even reported to the police for blasphemy by Eggi Sudjana, a lawyer who also represents notorious Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab.

When asked about the PSI controversy, Ma'ruf demurred on whether their statement constituted blasphemy (even though he's one of the country's highest authorities on the subject, having signed the blasphemy fatwa against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and testified about it at his trial) but Ma'ruf did say he basically agreed with the idea of religion-based laws being passed at a regional level if that is the will of the people in that area, including laws based on the Bible.

"[About Bible-based law], if the people there have evidence that in that area the Bible entered first, I think that is the right of the region," he also said on Sunday as quoted by Detik.

It's no surprise that Ma'ruf would support laws that favors the religious majority over minorities. As noted in a Human Rights Watch report, "Over the past two decades at the MUI, Amin has helped draft and been a vocal supporter of fatwas, or religious edicts decrees, against the rights of religious minorities, including the country's Ahmadiyah and Shia communities, as well lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people."

However, some have speculated that, as Jokowi's running mate, Ma'ruf would tone down some of his views in the interests of politics. And indeed he has been getting quite a bit of press for the moderate brand of 'Middle-Way' Islam he has been preaching recently.

But if he continues to speak out in favor of laws based on sharia and other religions, how long until he is forced to take a position on, for example, the many regional leaders who are currently clamoring to pass anti-LGBT regulations based on the demands of religious conservatives? Ma'ruf's middle way may say no to radicalism, but will it also stand against equal protections for all Indonesians?

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/vp-candidate-maruf-amin-wants-eradicate-radicalism-mosques-supports-religion-based-regulations/

Political parties clash over sharia-based bylaws

Jakarta Post - November 19, 2018

Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta – Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) chairman Grace Natalie's declaration that her party was against religion-based regulations has reignited the controversy surrounding the proliferation of sharia-inspired bylaws in regions across the country.

"The PSI will prevent the emergence of injustice, discrimination and all intolerant acts in this country. The PSI will never support gospel-based bylaws or sharia-based bylaws," Grace said last week at a celebration of the PSI's fourth anniversary.

Her remarks came as some local politicians in several regions promised to enact "morality" bylaws in what analysts say is an attempt to win votes in the 2019 legislative election, particularly from Muslim constituents.

The statements drew criticism from an Islamist group that has accused Grace of blasphemy and from the older parties within both the ruling coalition and the opposition, which were quick to defend sharia-based bylaws.

"It is fardhu kifayah [a collective obligation] for there to be a political party that is focused on implementing sharia principles in Indonesian laws and regulations," United Development Party (PPP) chairman Romahurmuziy wrote in an Instagram post on Saturday.

"That is why we in the PPP will continue to safeguard sharia bylaws because, for us, adopting sharia principles is a reflection of Pancasila as seen in the spirit of Belief in the One and Only God."

Gerindra Party executive Sodik Mudjahid echoed Romy's statement that sharia-based laws were in accordance with the values of state ideology Pancasila.

"The values of Islamic sharia and those of other religions in Indonesia are the soul and pillars of Pancasila's five principles," he told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

"People who say sharia should be fought because it contradicts Pancasila do not understand the history, essence, philosophy and substance of Pancasila."

Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) executive Suhud Aliyudin also reiterated his party's support for sharia-based laws and regulations, adding that regulations that were considered intolerant could be challenged in court.

"If someone does not agree [with a sharia bylaw] or believes it causes intolerance, then they have to prove it in court through a judicial review."

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker and Jokowi-Ma'ruf Amin campaign team member Eva Kusuma Sundari, on the other hand, said the PDI-P was against "exclusive" religion-based bylaws that could often lead to discrimination.

"We support sharia bylaws that are universal, such as those that fight against poverty and ignorance. We also support specific but optional bylaws such as those on sharia banking," she said.

"But we do not agree with exclusive bylaws that are discriminatory, for example, bylaws that restrict women from being out of the house at night and bylaws that create religion-based segregation."

Golkar Party lawmaker Firman Soebagyo said that the matter was a sensitive one, but that in principle, "regional bylaws should not contradict existing laws and the constitutions". "Bylaws should safeguard our national unity and diversity."

Sharia bylaws are widely popular among Indonesian Muslims, with 90.9 percent of 1,620 respondents in a 2017 Institute of South East Asian Studies survey saying that there were benefits to implementing sharia law.

Research conducted by University of London political analyst Michael Buehler found that 443 sharia-based regulations had been issued at the provincial, regency and municipal levels between 1998 and 2013. The regulations were enacted by regional heads and legislative councils from both secular and Islamic parties.

In his 2016 book, "The Politics of Shari'a Law", Buehler argues that politicians' support for sharia-based bylaws and regulations was more the result of political considerations than ideological or religious ones. "State elites in Indonesia are opportunist Islamizers whose affection for Islamic law is less emotional than transactional," he wrote.

A 2015 survey conducted by the Center for the Study of Islam and Society (PPIM) also found that political interests were primarily responsible for the implementation of sharia bylaws, with most of the bylaws that the study reviewed in Jakarta, Banten and West Java, being passed during local election campaign periods.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/19/political-parties-clash-over-sharia-based-bylaws.html

NU figure says refusal of sharia perda is not blasphemy

Tempo - November 19, 2018

Antara, Jakarta – Nahdalatul Ulama's young figure Akhmad Sahal deems the resistance or refusal of a religion-based regional regulation (Perda) cannot be considered as an act of blasphemy.

"I think it's silly when defiance against a religious Perda is seen as an act of blasphemy," said Sahal in Jakarta on Sunday, November 18. Sahal argues that a Perda based on Islam's Sharia or Christian belief is a product of regional governance, not a religious law.

His statement is a direct reaction of the recent incident where Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) Chairwoman Grace Natalie was reported to the police by the Indonesian Muslim Workers' Brotherhood (PPMI).

Sahal also reminded the group that the idea of a religious Perda was not only rejected by Grace Natalie, but also by established Islamic figures such as the late KH Hasyim Muzadi and Buya Syafii Ma'arif. "You can crosscheck this in news back in 2006 when KH Hasyim Muzadi was adamant against the Sharia Perda," he said.

He maintains that the Islamic law cannot be transformed into a positive law, which is not compatible with a country that upholds the saying 'Bhinneka Tunggal Ika', which directly translates to unity in diversity.

Furthermore, Akhmad Sahal questioned whether PPMI would also report the late KH Hasyim Muzadi or Buya Syafi'i to the police and accuse the men of blasphemy. Sahal personally thinks that Grace Natalie's refusal of such Perda is not against the religious law per se, but against the Perda's content, which she deemed discriminative.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/19/055923557/NU-Figure-says-Refusal-of-Sharia-Perda-is-Not-Blasphemy

Islamic figures showed concern over idea of sharia perda

Tempo - November 19, 2018

Rini Kustianti and Ari Wibowo, Jakarta – Talks of a religion-based regional regulation (Perda) in the form of a Sharia Perda recently made rounds in Indonesia's political realm after Chairwoman of Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) Grace Natalie openly opposed such regulation for the fear of creating public disrupt.

Because of her statement, Grace was reported by the Indonesian Muslim Workers' Brotherhood (PPMI) for an alleged blasphemy by the group's lawyer Eggi Sudjana.

However, former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD said that the Perda Sharia or any regulation within the same corridor is prone to be used as a means of spreading discrimination. He further explained that it should mainly stop at being a civil law.

"Making a Perda for the civil law is a waste of time," said Mahfud MD to Tempo on Saturday, November 17.

Around 12 years ago, two known Islamic figures in Indonesia had voiced their concern and refusal of such regional regulation. The two were the late Nahdatul Ulama Central Executive Board (PBNU) KH Hasyim Muzadi and former PP Muhammadiyah Leader Ahmad Syafi'I Maarif.

Back in 2006, KH Hasyim Muzadi openly refused the creation of a Sharia Perda and maintained that the Nahdalatul Ulama (NU) accepts the Pancasila (five State ideologies) as the sole principle. While Syafii Ma'arif issued a similar statement in 2006 that echoed Hasyim's opinion.

Syafii argued that a Sharia Perda is not needed since Indonesia already has a Criminal Code (KUHP) that has the same principle. Both figures questioned why there is a sense of urgency to create the Sharia Perda and voiced their concern that it is an attempt to disunite Indonesia.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/19/055923552/Islamic-Figures-Showed-Concern-over-Idea-of-Sharia-Perda

Jokowi's running mate Ma'ruf Amin says he doesn't have problem with

Detik News - November 18, 2018

Bahtiar Rifa'I, Jakarta – Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) chairperson Grace Natalie has said that they do not support religious based bylaws such as those based on syariah (Islamic law) or the Bible.

Incumbent President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's vice presidential running mate, Ma'ruf Amin, which the PSI is backing in the 2019 presidential elections, has commented on Natalie's statement. What did he say?

"There are also national laws on shariah banking right, so I don't think it needs to become a polemic", said Amin at the An Nawawi Tanara Islamic boarding school in Serang regency, Banten, on Sunday November 18.

According to Amin, shariah based bylaws are drafted by individual regional governments. If a region wants to have a syariah based regulation, he doesn't have a problem with it, including bylaws based on the Bible in certain areas.

Providing, he continued, the public has evidence that a particular region is where the Bible was first introduced. "On the issue of the Bible, if the public has evidence that it was the area first introduced to the Bible, then I think it's the right of that region", he said.

Amin asserted and has asked that the issue not become a debate. On the issue of bylaws based on shariah or the Bible, he said it doesn't need to become a polemic. "We must be balanced", he said.

Earlier, at the commemoration of the PSI's fourth anniversary, Natalie said that the PSI wants to prevent discrimination and acts of intolerance. In addition to this, according to Natalie, churches should no longer be forcibly closed.

"The PSI will prevent the birth of injustice, discrimination and all [forms of] intolerance in this county", said Natalie at the Indonesia Convention Exhibition (ICE-BSD) in Tangerang, Banten, on Sunday November 11.

"This party will never support perda [bylaws] based on the Bible or perda based syariah, churches can no longer be allowed to be forcibly closed", she added.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "PSI Tolak Perda Keagamaan, Ini Kata Ma'ruf Amin".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita/d-4307239/psi-tolak-perda-keagamaan-ini-kata-maruf-amin

Blasphemy and the polemic on Islamic based bylaws in Indonesia

Tempo - November 17, 2018

Budiarti Utami Putri, Jakarta – Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) chairperson Grace Natalie has been reported to the national police headquarters criminal investigation bureau (Bareskrim Mabes Polri) for alleged blasphemy against religion.

The Fraternity of Indonesian Muslim Workers (PPMI) reported Natalie for alleged religious blasphemy because of a statement she made saying that her party will never support regional regulations which are based on religion such as perda (bylaws) which are based on syariah (Islamic law) or the Bible.

"The statement could be considered an expression of hostility, it also expressed hatred against religion", said PPMI Secretary General Zulkhair at the Bareskrim Mabes Polri building in Gambir, Central Jakarta, on Friday November 16.

PSI General Secretary Raja Juli Antoni says that the charges don't make any sense and that Natalie's statement was related to their party's commitment against corruption and intolerance.

Natalie earlier said that the PSI will never support any bylaws that are based on religion such as bylaws based on syariah or the Bible.

"The PSI will block the rise of injustice, discrimination and all forms of intolerance in this country. The PSI will never support perda [based on the] Bible or perda [based on] syariah. No longer will places of worship be allowed to be forcibly closed", said Natalie during the commemoration of the fourth anniversary of the PSI at the Indonesia Convention Exhibition (ICE-BSD) in Tangerang, Banten on Sunday November 11.

Regulations based on religion have become widespread in Indonesia since reformasi – the political reform process that began in 1998 – in concert with the implementation of regional autonomy.

They have not only been in the form of bylaws, but also in the form of government circulars, instructions or decrees by regents and mayors.

An edition of Tempo Magazine on August 29, 2011 recorded at least 150 syariah based regulation. There are also a number of other bylaws such as Christian based bylaws, although they are few in number.

Out of Indonesia's 34 provinces, the central government has only given special autonomy to the northern province of Aceh allowing it to form an administration based on Islamic law.

In the province known as the "Gateway to Mecca", regulations based on syariah are realised in laws, gubernatorial decrees, court decisions, qanun (bylaws) and gubernatorial regulations and instructions.

The following is a list of regions aside from Aceh which have issued regulations based on syariah and various examples of their policies.

1. West Java

The majority of syariah based bylaws issued by the West Java government regulate immorality, prostitution, clothing for students and civil servants, zakat (alms), infaq (charity), sadaqah (voluntary charity) and prohibitions on the teachings and activities of the Ahmadiyah Islamic sect.

Issued by various different nomenclatures, a number of syariah based bylaws were issued by regional governments in West Java at the regency or municipal level.

The following are some examples of syariah based regulations:

2. West Sumatra

The first syariah based regulation in West Sumatra was issued by the Solok regency, which at the time was led by Regent Gamawan Fauzi – who later became Home Affairs Minister. Bylaw Number 10/2001 regulates the mandatory reading of the Koran for students and couples planning to marry. Fauzi said that the bylaw was proposed by local ulama (Islamic leaders] and social figures.

A year later Fauzi issued a bylaw on Muslim women's clothing although he claimed that both bylaws were moderate and only applied to the Islamic community. The policy also included sanctions although according to the office of religion couples planning to marry that were unable to read the Koran would only have their marriage postponed.

After Solok, other cities jumped on the band wagon to issue syariah based bylaws. According to the Islamic mass organisation Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), by 2011 there were 25 syariah based bylaws in West Sumatra covering mandatory reading of the Koran, Muslim women's clothing, zakat and prohibitions on maksiat (immoral behaviour, violating God's law).

The following are several of these bylaws:

3. South Sulawesi

By 2011 South Sulawesi was one of the most zealous provinces in issuing syariah based bylaws. One such regulation was on obligatory zakat deposits amounting to 2.5 percent of people's monthly income. The bylaw on zakat, infaq and sadaqah was initiated by Golkar Party politician Arief Sirajuddin who was the mayor of Makassar at the time.

Although it was aimed at the general public, it is largely civil servants that pay zakat and according to the Amil Zakat Agency 70 percent of civil servants do this.

The following are some of the syariah based bylaws in South Sulawesi:

4. Banten

Several syariah based bylaws have been issued by Banten province following its separation from West Java:

In addition to the four regions above, a number of other provinces also have syariah based bylaws. They include the provinces of Riau, Bengkulu, South Sumatera, Lampung, Central Java, East Java, West Nusa Tenggara, East Kalimantan and Gorontalo.

In addition to these provinces, the city of Manokwari in West Papua once attempted to adopt a bylaw based on the Bible. Agreement on the plan however was unable to be reached and in its place Manokwari was designated as a "Kota Injil" (Bible City).

– Andita Rahma, Tempo Magazine

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski for the Indoleft news service. The original title of the report was "Pelaporan Grace Natalie dan Polemik Perda Syariah di Indonesia".]

Source: https://nasional.tempo.co/read/1147167/pelaporan-grace-natalie-dan-polemik-perda-syariah-di-indonesia

PPMI reports PSI chair Grace Natalie to police

Tempo - November 16, 2018

Andita Rahma, Jakarta – The chairwoman of the Indonesian Solidarity Party, Grace Natalie, has been reported to the National Police's criminal investigation division (Bareskrim) for alleged blasphemy related to her recent statement against the creation of a religion-based regional regulation (Perda).

Grace was reported to the police by the Indonesian Muslim Workers' Brotherhood (PPMI) as the latter deemed her statement contained elements defying the Holy Quran.

"Her statement could be considered as an expression of hostility and hate speech against a religion," said PPMI secretary-general Zulkhair at the Bareskrim headquarters today.

During PSI's fourth anniversary at ICE BSD in Tangerang on November 11, Grace Natalie underscored that the party would never throw its weight behind a Perda that is based on any religion, be it Islamic or Christian, in a bid to refrain from creating injustice, discrimination, or any other form of intolerance in the country.

"PSI will prevent the birth of injustice, discrimination, and any other form of intolerance in this nation. PSI will never support any regional government regulation that is based on the Bible or Sharia," said Grace.

According to Eggi Sudjana, who accompanied PPMI during the filing of the police report, Grace Natalie's statement is far worse compared to a similar case surrounding the heated 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial race. At the time, former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama was put behind bars for blasphemy.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/16/055923521/PPMI-Reports-PSI-Chair-Grace-Natalie-to-Police

Nationalism & state ideology

Be brave in defending Pancasila, Jokowi tells Nahdlatul Ulama youths

Jakarta Post - November 23, 2018

Suherdjoko, Pekalongan – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has urged GP Ansor, the youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia's largest Islamic organization, to be brave and to be on the front line in safeguarding the state ideology of Pancasila and national motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity).

The President also said that he expected GP Ansor to protect the state from terrorist threats and separatism.

"GP Ansor has shown that our country's heritage is the spirit of warriors and the sincerity of heroes. GP Ansor can't be easily threatened, and that's our spirit as a nation," Jokowi told thousands of GP Ansor members at a commemoration of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, known in Islam as Maulid Nabi, in Pekalongan, Central Java, on Thursday evening.

GP Ansor was recently in the spotlight after a division in the group, Barisan Ansor Serbaguna (Banser), was involved in the burning of a black flag bearing the Islamic creed written in Arabic.

The incident occurred during National Santri Day celebrations in Garut, West Java, on Oct. 22, and led to several rallies in various cities accusing Banser of insulting Islam.

Ansor said the Banser members burned the flag because they thought it was the flag of outlawed group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI).

Jokowi said GP Ansor should insist that Pancasila could not be replaced by any other ideology and its members should be patient in facing all problems and challenges, and put the interests of the nation first.

"I want all GP Ansor members to safeguard and maintain our unity and brotherhood as the country with the largest Muslim population. Our biggest asset is us our unity and harmony. We should keep our Ukhuwah Islamiyah [Islamic brotherhood] and Ukhuwah Wathaniyah [brotherhood of the nation]," Jokowi said. (foy)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/23/be-brave-in-defending-pancasila-jokowi-tells-nahdlatul-ulama-youths.html

Environment & natural disasters

6 kg of garbage found in dead whale's stomach in Wakatobi

Jakarta Post - November 20, 2018

Jakarta – A team from Wakatobi National Park found on Monday about 5.9 kilograms of garbage inside the stomach of a dead whale that had beached on Kapota Island, Southeast Sulawesi.

The team, assisted by researchers from the Academy of Marine and Fisheries Community in Wakatobi, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and locals, identified the animal as a sperm whale. It measured 9.5 meters in length and 4.37 wide, according to a release from the Environment and Forestry Ministry made available on Tuesday.

The head of the park, Heri Santoso, said when his team found the whale on Sunday, it had already begun to decompose. A tweet from the WWF explained that due to its condition, the team could not confirm whether the garbage had been the cause of the whale's death.

The body will be buried on Tuesday on Kolowawa Beach in North Kapota village, he said.

Researchers opened the animal's stomach and found 115 plastic cups (750 grams), 19 hard plastic pieces (140 grams), four plastic bottles (150 grams), 25 plastic bags (260 grams), six wood splinters (740 grams), two rubber sandals (270 grams), one nylon sack (200 grams) and more than 1,000 pieces of plastic rope (3,260 grams). The total weight of the wet garbage was 5.9 kilograms.

A picture from WWF of the stomach's content showed that the whale had swallowed what looked like a piece of melamine dining plate. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/20/6-kg-of-garbage-found-in-dead-whales-stomach-in-wakatobi.html

Palm oil industry calls on govt to take 'firm' action against Greenpeace

Jakarta Post - November 19, 2018

Jakarta – The Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) and the Indonesian Oil Palm Farmers Association (Apkasindo) have called on the government to take firm action against environmental watchdog Greenpeace, which they say harms Indonesia's economy.

The statement was in response to Greenpeace activists staging a rally on a Wilmar International-owned tanker transporting crude palm oil from a refinery in Dumai, Riau, to Europe. The ship was in the Bay of Cadiz in Spain when the activists boarded and unfurled banners that read "Save Our Rainforest" and "Drop Dirty Palm Oil".

Greenpeace campaigners have said they believe the palm oil industry could use methods that did not destroy the environment. "Palm oil can be made without destroying the forests," said Kiki Taufik, Greenpeace global campaigner on forests, in a statement on the group's website.

"The state has to side with the palm oil industry that is being threatened by Greenpeace, because the state has profited from the foreign currency [palm oil brings in]," Apindo trade division head Benny Soetrisno said, as quoted by Antara, adding that palm oil exports had reached US$22.97 billion in 2017.

"[Greenpeace's] actions have been let go for too long. The result is, now palm oil exports are prevented from entering Europe he said. Apkasindo deputy chairman Rino Afrino said Greenpeace's campaign had insulted the dignity of Indonesia with accusations of dirty palm oil.

In a report released in September, Greenpeace claimed that 25 palm oil producers had cleared 130,000 hectares of Indonesian rainforest since 2015, 18 of which supplied palm oil to Wilmar. Wilmar disputed the report, saying, "Greenpeace's allegation that Wilmar is failing at monitoring our supply chain is based on a wilful lack of understanding of our work on the ground."

"Can Greenpeace prove that the palm oil sold by Wilmar damages the environment?" Rino said. "Their campaign destroys the image of Indonesian palm oil."

Meanwhile, in a separate occasion, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo threw his support behind the industry, saying universities should have "palm oil departments" given the importance of the commodity for Indonesia's economy.

"We have 14 million hectares of palm oil [plantations], but we don't have any palm oil departments [in universities]," he said in Lamongan, East Java, on Monday. (kmt/evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/19/palm-oil-industry-calls-on-govt-to-take-firm-action-against-greenpeace.html

Six activists detained for staging rally on board palm oil tanker:

Jakarta Post - November 18, 2018

Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta – Six Greenpeace activists have reportedly been detained by the captain of tanker Stolt Tenacity for staging a rally against forests destruction, particularly in Indonesia, the world's largest producer of palm oil.

The ship was transporting crude palm oil, owned by the world's biggest palm oil trader Wilmar International, from a refinery in Dumai in Riau to Europe.

According to a statement released by Greenpeace Indonesia on Saturday, six Greenpeace activists from Indonesia, Germany, Britain, France, Canada and the United States staged the peaceful rally in the Cadiz Bay near Spain.

They managed to unfurl banners that read "Save Our Rainforest" and "Drop Dirty Palm Oil" on board the tanker before being detained by its captain.

"We have informed the tanker's captain through VHF marine radio channels about the peaceful and antiviolence action [...] and asked him to free the activists and let them continue the peaceful rally," said Greenpeace campaigner Hannah Martin.

She further said that Wilmar was the main supplier of palm oil to food giant Mondelez. Based on Greenpeace's recent investigation, palm oil suppliers to Mondelez had allegedly destroyed roughly 70,000 hectares of forests across Southeast Asia in the past two years. Mondelez is the producer of Oreo cookies, among others.

Greenpeace, therefore, urged Mondelez to stop its trading with Wilmar until the later managed to produce palm oil without destroying forests.

Mondelez has dismissed such allegations, saying the company had been prioritizing suppliers that meet sustainability criteria that allow retailers and customers to trace their products back to the mill.

"We're asking our direct suppliers to call on their upstream suppliers to map and monitor the plantations where oil palm is grown, so we can drive further traceability. We're also excluding 12 companies from our supply chain as a result of breaches," the company said in a statement last week, refusing to reveal the 12 companies.

Wilmar had earlier urged Greenpeace to take "collaborative action" with the company if it wanted to improve the palm oil industry. In its statement concerning Greenpeace's similar rally in September in Wilmar's refinery in Bitung, North Sulawesi, Wilmar said the protest was a criminal act of trespassing and vandalism as well as a safety risk to the activists as well as Wilmar staff.

"No organization is above the law and we urge Greenpeace to adopt a collaborative mindset and work with the palm oil industry to take genuine and positive action."

Wilmar also disputed Greenpeace's claims about the companies it sourced palm oil from. "It must be clarified that, out of the 25 companies listed, Wilmar is buying from 13 supplier groups, not 18 as alleged in the report," the company said, adding that 11 of the 13 companies have been put on Wilmar's grievance list.

"Greenpeace's allegation that Wilmar is failing at monitoring our supply chain is based on a willful lack of understanding of our work on the ground."

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/18/six-activists-detained-for-staging-rally-on-board-palm-oil-tanker-greenpeace.html

Activists in Spain board tanker from Indonesia in 'dirty palm oil'

Agence France Presse - November 18, 2018

Greenpeace said Saturday six of its activists boarded a tanker off Spain loaded with "dirty" palm oil to protest against a Nature-damaging commodity found in everything from soap to biscuits.

The activists, from countries including Indonesia, the scene of mass deforestation for palm oil plantations, were held by the captain of the ship after they boarded at sea, the NGO said in a statement.

Prior to that, "they unfurled banners reading 'Save our Rainforest' and 'Drop Dirty Palm Oil'," it added.

The ship was traveling from Indonesia, the world's top palm oil producer, to Rotterdam in the Netherlands, the NGO said. The captain has turned the ship around and is heading to Spain, it added, where he intended to hand the activists over to authorities.

When contacted by AFP, the Guardia Civil police force said it had no knowledge of the matter.

According to Greenpeace, the ship is carrying "dirty palm oil" products, or those linked to mass deforestation.

Palm oil is a key ingredient in many everyday goods. Growing demand for the commodity has led to an industry boom in Indonesia. Green groups have long accused palm oil companies of rampant environmental destruction.

Many firms have made "no deforestation" pledges after coming under pressure, but activists say such commitments are hard to monitor and frequently broken.

As well as the destruction of rainforest, clearing peatland to make way for palm oil plantations causes enormous environmental damage.

Huge amounts of carbon are released when peat is drained or burnt, exacerbating climate change, according to environmentalists. Peat fires are also difficult to put out and a key factor in outbreaks of toxic smog which choke Southeast Asia almost every year.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/activists-spain-board-tanker-indonesia-dirty-palm-oil-protest-greenpeace/

Palm oil supplier to PepsiCo, Mars, and Hershey resumes deforesting in

Mongabay - November 15, 2018

Loren Bell – A palm oil supplier to PepsiCo, Mars, Hershey and Johnson & Johnson has resumed clearing intact forest in West Papua, Indonesia, despite pressure by other major companies, many of which have since severed ties with the producer.

The deforestation triggered a series of automatic alerts by Global Forest Watch, a satellite monitoring system operated by the World Resources Institute (WRI).

PT Permata Putera Mandiri (PPM), a subsidiary of Austindo Nusantara Jaya Tbk (ANJ), has cleared 4.5 square kilometers (1.7 square miles) of intact forest since May. While this may seem like a relatively small area (in 2017 Indonesia lost 13,000 square kilometers, or 5,000 square miles, of tree cover), it is significant for the location, ANJ's previous history, and the fact that this action violates the well-publicized commitments many of its customers have made to not deforest, not develop on peatlands, and not exploit indigenous peoples, also known as NDPE.

PPM first began clearing forest in 2014. In response, palm oil giants GAR and Wilmar dropped ANJ from their supply chains, and Cargill followed in 2016. Facing a global boycott, PPM temporarily suspended forest clearing, but resumed operations again in late 2017.

The Forest Trust (TFT), a nonprofit organization that helps businesses establish sustainable sourcing policies, has worked with many of the above companies on their NDPEs. In 2014, TFT engaged with its members and ANJ to address the deforestation issue, but reached an impasse when the company said it had to clear the forest for plantation to remain profitable.

"ANJ's stated need to clear a significant proportion of their concessions to establish an economically viable operation led to stalemate," Mark Sanderson, communications director for TFT, told Mongabay. "TFT felt there was little more we could offer to resolve this situation; one in which we regard ANJ, an otherwise well-run palm oil business, to have made a catastrophically bad business decision."

Nestle, Mars, Hershey and Johnson & Johnson are all TFT member companies that listed ANJ as a direct or indirect supplier at the beginning of the year. Of these, only Nestle has confirmed it is actively working to remove ANJ from its supply chain. PepsiCo is not a TFT member, but does belong to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a nonprofit sustainable certification group. PepsiCo continues to source indirectly from ANJ, also an RSPO member.

Nestle owns more than 2,000 brands, including Gerber baby food, DiGiorno and Tombstone frozen pizzas, Haagen-Dazs ice cream and Purina pet food. It says that while it doesn't source directly from ANJ, it's aware that oil from the company is still entering its products.

"Most of our suppliers have already removed ANJ from their supplier base, and we are working with those remaining to ensure that ANJ is removed from Nestle's supply chain," a spokesperson told Mongabay.

The company has set a deadline for 2020 to ensure it is meeting its NDPE commitments, and to that end is working with TFT to implement the Starling satellite monitoring system to directly watch every concession in its supply chain. The system will be in place by the end of the year, and Nestle will make the findings publicly available by March 2019.

In May, Nestle also published a blacklist of 10 suppliers it has already removed or is actively removing from its palm oil pipelines. Although ANJ is not on that list, the company spokesperson detailed the steps taken in response to ANJ's continued deforestation.

"We have been in contact with Fuji Oil" – which sources palm oil from ANJ – "to ensure ANJ is removed from their mills list," Nestle's spokesperson said. "While the exit procedure can take up to six months, we are working with all our suppliers to ensure that blacklisted suppliers/plantations are completely removed from our entire supply chain... We recognize there is more work to be done, but we are committed to ensuring the responsible sourcing of our palm oil."

Mars Incorporated is best known for its candy, but also produces food under several labels including Tasty Bites and Uncle Ben's, and manufactures several pet food brands including IAMS, Pedigree and Whiskas.

Mars, a TFT member, lists ANJ as a direct supplier, despite having a robust NDPE commitment. Mars did not respond to Mongabay's requests for comment.

While the NDPEs are seen by many as a step in the right direction, a lack of accountability and a 2020 deadline has raised concerns about whether these commitments are more than just greenwashing. A recent Greenpeace report details several hotspots of deforestation from oil palm plantations that sell to companies with NDPEs.

Satellite monitoring by initiatives like WRI's Global Forest Watch are making it harder for companies to deny knowledge of forest clearing by suppliers. But how aggressively each company responds is ultimately up to them, and is often directly linked to how much pressure they receive.

"TFT expects its members to pursue their NDPE implementations as quickly as possible, in other words ASAP and ideally before 2020," Sanderson said. "However, it is not within the remit of TFT's member relationships to instruct our members to remove any company, which we regard as a business decision that is theirs alone."

PepsiCo still sources palm oil indirectly from ANJ through Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Felda-IFFCO – despite its published NDPE commitment requiring direct suppliers to "adopt high standards for palm oil sustainability throughout their systems."

When asked how PepsiCo was responding to the deforestation, a spokesperson for the company initially said, "ANJ is not a direct supplier... PepsiCo does not directly or indirectly source from West Papua."

This statement was later amended to add, "[W]e first learned of the alleged ANJ violation from Greenpeace's September report. As such, we are currently evaluating the relevant information and may choose to take further action."

PepsiCo's sustainability plan does not indicate that it actively monitors its supply chain via satellite or on-the-ground verification. The company does, however, accept grievances via email from third parties with potential concerns regarding PepsiCo's sourcing of agricultural commodities.

"PepsiCo takes a holistic, inclusive and collaborative approach to the entire value chain of which monitoring is one piece," the company spokesperson said. "As such, we have not yet committed to one satellite monitoring system as it will take a broad range of stakeholders to work collaboratively to better understand how on-the-ground action can be taken when violations do occur."

Several other major suppliers have taken active measures to separate themselves from ANJ in recent months, include Unilever, which suspended trade with Felda-IFFCO (which purchases from ANJ). Bunge Loders Croklaan, a palm oil processor and member of TFT, suspended dealings with ANJ in May.

ADM, another TFT member, has logged a grievance by the watchdog group Mighty Earth concerning ANJ and reported that it has "intensified dialogue with suppliers" in response.

Mongabay did not contact Johnson & Johnson and Hershey, both TFT members, for comment. J&J includes ANJ mills in its list of potential indirect suppliers, and Hershey indicates it purchases from Fuji Oil.

The 4.5 square kilometers of rainforest cleared by ANJ's subsidiary in West Papua was highlighted in WRI's quarterly bulletin "Places to Watch." The list is drawn up using GLAD (Global Land Analysis and Discovery) alerts that identify deforestation throughout the tropics by comparing weekly Landsat satellite images. GLAD automatically detects tree cover change with a 30 meter (98 foot) resolution.

Since several million GLAD alerts are triggered each month, WRI further filters that data by calculating the frequency and density of alerts within 100-square-kilometer (39-square-mile) cells weighted by their protection status and the "intactness" of the forest they contain.

WRI told Mongabay that although the algorithm identified four different areas of active deforestation within concessions in Papua, it chose to focus on ANJ's subsidiary both for its history and because it hadn't highlighted it before. Historical satellite imagery indicates the company previously cleared around 15 square kilometers (5.9 square miles) of forest between 2014 and 2017.

The September alert also included 140 square kilometers (54 square miles) in Brazil threatened by pasture expansion, and 5 square kilometers (1.9 square miles) cleared in a national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Editor's Note: This story was powered by Places to Watch, a Global Forest Watch (GFW) initiative designed to quickly identify concerning forest loss around the world and catalyze further investigation of these areas. Places to Watch draws on a combination of near-real-time satellite data, automated algorithms and field intelligence to identify new areas on a monthly basis. In partnership with Mongabay, GFW is supporting data driven journalism by providing data and maps generated by Places to Watch. Mongabay maintains complete editorial independence over the stories reported using this data.

Source: https://news.mongabay.com/2018/11/palm-oil-supplier-to-pepsico-mars-and-hershey-resumes-deforesting-in-indonesia/

Health & education

Prabowo to raise teachers' salary to IDR20 million, Jokowi says 'don't

Coconuts Jakarta - November 21, 2018

Teaching is among the most under-appreciated professions in Indonesia, with many public school teachers earning below minimum wage in their respective regions while others work under the "honorary" (contractual) system that pays even less.

Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto's campaign team says, if elected, Prabowo will raise teachers' salary to IDR20 million (US$1,370) in order to improve their welfare and, consequently, the quality of education in Indonesia as well.

As reported by CNN Indonesia, Mardani Ali Sera, deputy chairman of Prabowo's campaign team, says education is one of their key focuses. He argues that a high salary for teachers will not only benefit local teachers, but attract the best teachers from around the world to Indonesia as well.

"That's why, whether you want to or not, teachers' salary must be raised to IDR20 million. We will be able to carefully select the best teachers," Mardani said.

Andre Rosiade, a campaign spokesperson for Prabowo, told Kumparan that the salary hike – which would also be given to police and military officers – would not put a strain on the National Budget.

Presidential Palace spokesperson Ali Mochtar Ngabalin were among those from President Joko Widodo's camp to criticize the salary hike plan, arguing that implementing such huge raises without straining the National Budget is highly unrealistic.

"Don't use narratives and stories like you're singing lullabies to teachers," Ngabalin told Kumparan today. "That's if they get into power. Even before they get into power they're already lying, imagine if they're actually in power."

While any attempt to improve the quality of education and teachers in Indonesia is commendable, whether or not it's reasonable to raise teachers' salaries by such a magnitude remains to be seen. A survey in 2016 showed that Indonesian public teachers, on average, earn IDR2.1 million to IDR3.32 million per month, with pay at the higher range of that average usually going to public university professors.

A recent CNN Indonesia article also found that teachers on contracts, especially in less developed regions of the country, can earn as little as IDR250 thousand per month.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/prabowo-campaign-promises-raise-teachers-salary-idr20-million-elected-jokowi-campaign-says-dont-sing-lullabies/

Christian school rumor leads to closure of vocational academy in Batam

Jakarta Post - November 17, 2018

Fadli, Batam – Dozens of residents of a housing complex in Batam, Riau Islands, and members of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) attacked on Friday a vocational school building, forcing the school's closure.

Suryadi, a community unit (RW) head in the Merlion complex in Batu Aji district, said the residents claimed the vocational school, recently opened by the Suluh Mulia Pioner Foundation, was built on an area designated for social and public facilities.

"We want [the local administration] to build a state elementary school here, not the [vocational] school," he said. The residents also reportedly complained that it was a Christian school.

Clashes occurred when a mob attempted to enter the school after it was discovered that Batam city administration had not sealed the school following earlier protests.

They attempted to enter the building while another group of people inside the school, some believed to be carrying weapons, prepared to meet them. The residents smashed the school's signboard before dozens of police personnel on duty at the school stopped them.

Batam One-Stop Integrated Licenses Service Agency head Gustian Riau said the agency decided to revoke the school building's construction permit (IMB) following the incident, but he was at a loss as to why the residents were only now expressing opposition. "We have revoked the IMB, but during the building's licensing process, no one objected," he said.

Nixon Sihombing, a lawyer who represents the foundation, said the protest was a result of incitement by outsiders. He said there had been no opposition to the school construction because it was planned as a regular vocational school.

"It is also wrong for residents to accuse us of land grabbing. The housing developer has granted the land to us. They should have complained to the developer," he said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/17/christian-school-rumor-leads-to-closure-of-vocational-academy-in-batam.html

Animal rights & wildlife trafficing

Animal cruelty: Pet dogs stolen and slaughtered in Bali meat trade

9News - November 17, 2018

Tom Livingstone – Every year in Bali thousands of dogs are snatched in the middle of the night and sold for meat in what is known as the "dogma" trade.

The practice is brutal – in many cases the dogs are hung by their neck and left to slowly bleed out as it's believed the adrenalin makes them taste better.

According to Bali Animal Welfare Association, there are an estimated 450,000 dogs in Bali – made up of both local and imported breeds – thousands of which will end up served on a dish.

Why is consumption of dog meat still accepted?

"There is technically no national law or regulation that explicitly outlaws the preparation and sale of dog meat," BAWA's Janice Girardi told 9news.com.au.

Regulations exist covering animal cruelty and safe food preparation; however, it is difficult to enforce them, allowing groups to continue operating the dog meat trade.

In 2017, after an extensive investigation by animal welfare group Animals Australia, the then Bali Governor, I Made Mangku Pastika, issued a Surat Edaran (Official letter) advising local police and regions that the sale of dog meat was not safe due to risk of rabies contamination and exposure to other potentially deadly side effects as the dogs are commonly caught after they've been by poisoned.

Bali's head of Animal Husbandry and Health Bapak Madriana told 9news.com.au, while the government was against the capture and consumption of dogs, it was difficult to police it even with last year's Surat Edaran.

"There is no criminal sanction for people who ignore the letter discouraging dog meat sales, however there are serious criminal penalties for stealing the dogs," Mr Madriana told 9news.com.au.

While the letter instructed regions to collect data on where dog meat was being sold and to educate – through schools and community programs – that consumption of dog meat was dangerous, those in the industry soon moved their businesses underground.

"Signs have been taken down, some stores try to run their businesses by selling meat without promoting it out the front," Jakarta Animal Aid Network's Femke den Haas told 9news.com.au.

Rabies returned to the popular holiday island in 2008, when a rabid dog from a fisherman's boat jumped on to the island.

Since then, BAWA has confirmed over 100 human deaths from rabies and as a result the government has allowed mass culls in regions where it has been reported.

Vaccines against rabies are available and not-for-profit groups like BAWA and Bali Pet Crusaders have spent countless hours trying to immunise the dog population against the disease, but poachers use the virus as an excuse to hunt dogs then sell what they collect in the dogma trade.

In those instances, a highly toxic pesticide called strychnine is often used to poison the dogs.

"It's been very disheartening to see so much energy spent on treating, sterilising and vaccinating dogs that end up being culled and poisoned by individuals in the dog meat trade," Ms Girardi told 9news.com.au.

Last year, an Animals Australia investigation found evidence of poisoned dog meat being served to humans, sometimes under the guise of other dishes.

How are dog meat traders operating?

"Stray dogs aren't the only ones being used for their meat," Ms Girardi said.

"Unwanted dogs are often sold into the trade as well as dogs exclusively bred for food and family pets which are stolen and poisoned."

Dogs in Bali are free to roam the streets and often sleep on the footpath out the front of their compounds, with locals giving them food and water. This is when poachers strike.

"The dogs are also taken with metal slings and then hung from a rope around their necks to have more adrenaline inside the meat before they are killed with a knife," Ms den Haas said.

"The dogs are then burned to get rid of the hair. During this process, the dogs are often still conscious."

9news.com.au spoke with *Khan, a local who asked to remain anonymous, who had tried dog meat. "It was awful. They served it as a satay. I had one stick and couldn't eat anymore," he said.

"People want to buy it because it is an affordable choice for the poor. They also believe it is good for their health. I would tell those wanting to try it, don't eat it. The dog is not a food, it's a friend. Dog meat is not a good taste."

The most popular methods for serving the meat is to cook it in a satay, fry it up or add it to a soup.

What is being done about it?

So far, of the 76 outlets which were known to be serving dog meat in Bali, 33 are reportedly no longer operating courtesy of authoritative action.

"Indonesia has some strong animal welfare laws, but these have not been well enforced," Animals Australia's Dr Jennifer Hood told 9news.com.au.

Because modern Indonesian law doesn't classify a dog as food, animal cruelty laws policing how they are killed and how much pain they are subjected to is the strongest defence.

Mr Madriana said that the Balinese government would like to see dog meat consumption outlawed one day, but because different villages are under different leadership, having uniform rules is a slow process.

He said even if future regulations are put in place, there will not be criminal sanctions attached to them.

"There is no criminal sanction for people who ignore the regulation of selling dog meat, however there are serious criminal penalties for stealing the dogs," he said.

Under Indonesian law, if you are caught stealing a dog you can be sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in prison. If someone is caught beating or using a weapon on a dog, they can be sentenced to a maximum of 12 years.

While change is slow, recently members of BAWA were able to meet with National Parliament which is revising its criminal code in an effort to strengthen the existing animal cruelty laws.

Animals Australia is also working with the law faculty at Udayana University, in Denpasar, to address different laws and regulations in different districts.

Sanur Kaja, in Denpasar's south, is the only village so far to develop a Perdes (village regulation), ruling against eating dog meat.

"Village leaders can make cultural regulations for banning the dog meat trade and they would apply to all community members regardless of faith," Mr Madriana said.

Bapak Asrama, the sub-head of Animal Health for the Badung region, reiterated the importance of getting the different villages on the same page.

"It needs process and time because it is related to people's preferences," Mr Asrama told 9news.com.au.

"With the amounts of tribes and cultures in the community, this makes it hard to stop. The government will aim to stop the sale of dog meat first, then stop the consumption."

Source: https://www.9news.com.au/2018/11/16/14/53/animal-cruelty-dogs-still-being-stolen-and-slaughtered-in-bali-meat-trade

LGBT & same-sex marriage

'Waria' face growing hostility from neighbors amid increasing anti-LGBT

Jakarta Post - November 22, 2018

Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta – Nirmala, not her real name, recalled how easy it was to mingle with people of the community she was living in despite being a waria (transgender woman).

The 23-year-old used to casually talk with her neighbors in Jakarta, where she has been living since migrating from her hometown in Wonogiri, Central Java, five years ago. But she feels the growing prejudice against her and has become more isolated.

"They don't even accept our monthly garbage fees now, so I just give them directly to the garbage collector on duty," she said.

The rejection and hostility against members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community are worsening in the Muslim-majority country, where they often become objects of persecution and state-sponsored raids, though no laws have been made against them.

A survey commissioned by Jakarta-based pollster Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) revealed in January that 87.6 percent of more than 1,200 respondents consider the LGBT community a threat, while 81.5 percent believe it goes against their religion.

Regional administrations and government officials often issue regulations and statements that strip LGBT people of their rights. The Depok administration in West Java, for instance, has issued an anti-LGBT task force in what they claim to be an attempt to "cure" the minority group.

In Jakarta, seven transgender people in Sumur Utara, Klender, East Jakarta, have been told by residents to leave a boarding house they have lived in for years.

"We, Kampung Sumur residents, reject the presence of LGBT groups," reads a banner raised in front of the boarding house. Similar signs can be found in other parts of the area.

Some 200 residents from four neighborhood units (RT) have signed a petition to support their expulsion. The signatures have been submitted to the subdistrict head and residents are demanding that the official take action.

RT 13 head Mamat said the protest had been initiated by officials from a nearby Mosque Welfare Council (DKM) in an attempt to prevent residents from resorting to vigilantism. The transgender women have been accused of prostitution, he added.

"This is our attempt to settle the issue. We take this step because we want to do things legally," he told The Jakarta Post.

A resident of RT 13 who accompanied Mamat during his interview with the Post on Sunday, added: "If I was younger, I would have suggested to just burn the house down. But because I'm older now, such an idea didn't cross my mind."

The area is known as a strong base of the hardline Islam Defenders Front (FPI).

A transgender woman residing in the boarding house, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, denied accusations that the women were prostitutes.

"We have not broken any rules. We always abide by regulations set in the neighborhood, including not receiving any guests," she said, adding that her landlady, who defended them, had been called an atheist and blamed for stirring up tension.

She has lived in the boarding house for five years; some of her friends have lived in the area for 10 years or longer and have never been threatened until now. "We have not been physically abused so far, but we do not know what will happen," she said.

The landlady, who also requested anonymity and is known as a devout Muslim, said she defended them because she knew they would be rejected elsewhere.

"What am I supposed to do? People say that my reputation is ruined, but I feel the need to protect them because they will not be welcomed anywhere else. It's not about money. They are not punctual when it comes to paying their rent anyway," she said, adding that she had developed a strong bond with them and considered them her own family.

"I know how hard their lives are and one thing's for sure: they never forget to send money to their family," she added.

Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono said the residents could not trespass onto the women's private lives, as long as the landlady did not mind their presence.

Yulianus Rettoblaut, a well-known rights activist who leads the Indonesian Waria Communication Forum (FKWI), attributed the threats to rising anti-LGBT sentiment in the country, particularly ahead of the presidential and legislative elections next year, as anti-LGBT statements have been employed by politicians to get votes.

"Our [state ideology of] Pancasila guarantees equal justice for all, but we all know transgender people always face discrimination," she said. "Transgenders are the most vulnerable of the [LGBT] group as our physical appearance makes us easily noticeable."

She said that when caught in raids, they were often treated harshly and even had to pay money to be freed from detention.

Growing anti-LGBT sentiment has also forced the annual Miss Waria beauty pageant to be conducted in secret, when it used to be held out in the open.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/22/waria-face-growing-hostility-from-neighbors-amid-increasing-anti-lgbt-sentiments.html

Religious leaders want to exorcise 'female genies' from gay men

Gay Star News - November 22, 2018

Shannon Power – Authorities in major Indonesian cities want to exorcise LGBTI people of their behaviors using some unconventional methods.

Indonesia's almost three-year long crackdown on the LGBTI community has intensified over the past couple of months, especially in the West Java region. Police have detained 16 people there since October. Earlier this week, a gang of dozens of men brutally assaulted two trans women in West Java.

Even though homosexuality or being transgender is not illegal in Indonesia authorities are labelling them as 'social sickness' which give police powers to arrest LGBTI people. Once arrested, people must agree to training to 'cleanse' them of being LGBTI.

Female genies and exorcism

But now authorities in cities such as Padang, want to use exorcism as a way of expelling LGBTI behaviors from people.

'Usually these (gay) men are possessed by female genies, this is what many of us have found with LGBT perpetrators,' said Lucky Abdul Hayyi, a member of Padang's Majelis Mujahidin (Mujahidin Council).

He told Indonesian news outlet Covesia that he was one of two ormas (exorcists) the local government was working with.

'In addition, the waria (trans women) will also be fostered by the military. Hopefully in the near future this program can implemented in the city of Padang,' he said.

Padang's Social Service Agency, Amasrul, had handed over 16 suspected LGBTI people to psychologists for treatment. But that is not better than facing exorcism because the Indonesian Psychiatrists Association classified homosexuality as a mental disorder. Amasrul also commissioned Lucky and other ormas to perform the exorcisms.

The concept that female genies posses LGBTI people is steeped in Islamic Indonesian lore. The female genies (djinn) are seen as supernatural beings in Islamic mythology. Religious organizations offer cures for the LGBTI behavior according to Coconuts Jakarta.

Often these 'cures' involve being beaten, bathed in holy water, being prayed over and read verses from the Quran – the Islamic holy book.

Source: https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/religious-leaders-want-to-exorcise-female-genies-from-gay-men/

Transgender people assaulted by dozens of men in Bekasi

Jakarta Post - November 21, 2018

A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil, Jakarta – Dozens of men attacked two waria (transgender people) near Komsen Jati Asih in Bekasi, West Java, on Monday night.

Activist Titin Wahab, who knew the victims well, said one of them had just arrived at the scene at around midnight for a gathering with fellow transgender people, while the other victim had already been waiting at the scene.

"Not long after that, around 50-60 men in white clothing on motorcycles chased the two waria to a place where fellow transgender people had gathered," Titin said in a written statement on Wednesday.

Titin said the men had parked their motorcycles and then chased the victims on foot near a gas station and caught them in front of a Hoka Hoka Bento fast food outlet.

Titin said the men had forced one of the waria that looked more feminine to strip but then told her to put her clothes back on upon seeing her breasts, while continuing the assault with a 50-centimeter long metal rod and cutting off her long hair.

Meanwhile, the other victim, who wore a short-hair wig and therefore appeared more masculine, was stripped naked, hit on the chest and had the wig removed by force, while the men shouted, "You are a man, right? And your friend is a banci [transvestite]? Don't you know that it's a sin [to be transgender]."

Titin said the victims cried and called for mercy, saying "Ya Allah", but the men said, "There is no Allah for you. No need to mention Allah. You don't deserve to have been born."

Titin said the men who assaulted the victims were still very young, with those aged 14-20 years continuing to attack the victims even though the older ones, around 25 years of age, had told them to stop.

Titin said the men returned to their bikes after that and left the scene. Several onlookers, including restaurant employees, came to help and clothed the victims and advised them to report the incident to the police, but the victims were reluctant to do so.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/21/transgender-people-assaulted-by-dozens-of-men-in-bekasi.html

Indonesian city says it'll work with exorcists to 'cure' LGBT behavior

Coconuts Jakarta - November 21, 2018

Sunday saw a huge anti-LGBT rally in the West Sumatran capital of Padang led by the city's own mayor, the latest in a series of state-sponsored demonstrations against the scapegoated minority that many speculate is fueled by political interests.

Officials in Padang and other cities have promised regulations to "cleanse" LGBT elements from their communities, but homosexuality and LGBT behavior are not criminal acts in Indonesia (except in sharia-enforcing Aceh).

So instead of being arrested by the regular police, gay and transgender individuals in those cities are classified as a "social sickness" so that their Civil Service Police (Satpol PP) can detain those they "suspect" of being LGBT.

Satpol PP In Padang, have detained 16 individuals in anti-LGBT raids in recent weeks, after which they handed the "suspects" over to the city's Social Services Agency to receive bina ("guidance").

So what exactly does this guidance for LGBT individual consist of? The head of the Padang's Social Service Agency, Amasrul, said that the 16 were given bina by both psychologists (the Indonesian Psychiatric Association has been criticized by the international medical community for classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder) as well as religious figures.

Amasrul said that after being sent home, Social Services would follow up at the home of the "perpetrators" to make sure they did not repeat their actions.

But most disturbing of all, Amasrul said that the government had agreed to work with certain civil society organizations (ormas – short for "mass organization" and often associated with hardline Islamic community groups) to perform ruqya ("exorcism" in Islam) on LGBT people in the area.

So how are exorcisms related to LGBT behavior? Well, here's the explanation from Lucky Abdul Hayyi, a member of Padang's Majelis Mujahidin (Mujahidin Council), which is one of the ormas the government is working with:

"We have prepared ruqyah experts for [the Social Services Agency]. Usually these men are possessed by female genies, this is what many of us have found with LGBT perpetrators. In addition, the waria (female transgender individuals) will also be fostered by the military. Hopefully in the near future this program can implemented in the city of Padang," he said as quoted by West Sumatran news portal Covesia.

The concept that gay men or transgender women are inhabited by female genies (aka djinn, supernatural beings in Islamic mythology) can be found in many parts of Indonesia with many religious organizations offering ruqya as a "cure" for LGBT behavior.

New Naratif has a great article on the subject in which they interview a gay man who endured one such ruqya (as well as many other "cures"), which he described as involving being read verses from the Quran, being prayed over, getting pummelled, massaged, and bathed in holy water – "But it had no effect whatsoever," the interviewee said.

While the idea that djinns can cause mental disorders and that ruqya can "cure" them is accepted by many Indonesians (there is even a whole TV show dedicated to the subject), this is the first time we can recall seeing a government institution validate the concept by saying they would use it as a means of treating LGBT "suspects" detained by the police.

It seems that no state-sponsored exorcisms have taken place, but if nobody speaks up against them, we suspect it's only a matter of time.

Politicians in places like Padang and several other cities in West Sumatra and Indonesia say they will continue to push for anti-LGBT legislation from the national government but some have also suggested using customary law punishments, such as parading "suspects" through the street and exiling them from their villages, as another possible alternative.

The recent increase in anti-LGBT hysteria, the worst the country has seen since the height of the last LGBT moral panic 2016, has been attributed by some to election year politics and cynical leaders looking to score easy electoral points with increasingly conservative voters by scapegoating the vulnerable minority group.

Their non-religion based arguments for persecuting LGBT individuals generally focus on the spread of HIV/AIDS, but studies have shown that the country's attack on the gay community have driven them further underground in fear, preventing them from accessing medical outreach programs which is the actual cause for the country's worsening HIV/AIDS infection rates.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/indonesian-city-says-itll-work-exorcists-remove-female-genies-men-cure-lgbt-behavior/

'Hiding in fear': What is life like for LGBTI Indonesians?

Gay Star News - November 20, 2018

Rik Glauert – In the last few weeks, regional authorities in Indonesia have launched a slew of anti-LGBTI measures.

Gay sex is not illegal in Indonesia. But, since early 2016, 'government-driven moral panic' over LGBTI Indonesians has engulfed the nation, according to rights groups.

And it only seems to be getting worse in the run-up to elections in the Muslim-majority country next year. Depok in West Java this weekend said it is preparing to issue a regulation to restrict LGBTI movement. It follows protests last week in Bogor demanding that the city ban all LGBTI people. Last month, Cianjur regency sent a memo to mosques in the region, requesting they conduct sermons warning of 'The Dangers of LGBT, Sodomy, and Abuse'.

But how does it feel to be part of the embattled LGBTI community? Gay Star News spoke to three people across the country to find out. What is happening?

Filmmaker Lucky Kuswandi told Gay Star News that public shaming, anti-LGBTI rhetoric from officials, police crackdowns and even demonstrations had become the new normal for LGBTI Indonesians.

'This is a successful attempt in vilifying and creating moral panic and hatred towards the community' he told Gay Star News.

LGBTI rights campaigner Dede Oetomo said anti-LGBTI action had been most severe in Aceh, West Sumatra and West Java.

Ayu Bagaoesoekawatie, a gender-fluid individual based in central Java, said even an innocent 'pocky challenge' at a shopping mall had created anti-LGBTI hysteria.

The game, which simulated same-sex kissing, lead to police interrogating organizers and contestants for hours. 'Of course, the crackdown began in 2016, but it has become worse now' Ayu told Gay Star News.

What is the effect on the community?

Oetomo said some LGBTI organizations and individuals had gone underground. 'Many events have had to be canceled, or organized in such a way that only trusted members of the community can know and attend', he said.

By crippling LGBTI networks and organizations, Indonesia runs the risk of fueling its HIV epidemic, Kuswandi warned.

'The victims of persecution are not only my friends who are gay' said Ayu. 'But people in general. You can feel it. People are living with a background of fear'.

What's more, many LGBTI Indonesians have moved to safer parts of the country or migrated.

Why is it happening?

The rise of militant religious movements threaten Indonesia's diversity and secularism, Kuswandi warned. 'This has not just affected the LGBTI community, but other minorities such as women and religious minorities' he said.

Since 2016, politicians have used the LGBT issue to garner voter support in the run-up to the 2019 elections, explained Oetomo. He said the US's legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015 may have contributed to the crackdown.

Ayu blamed homophobic Muslim leaders taking the word of the Quran literally to stir anti-LGBTI feelings. The LGBTI community have been fighting back, Oetomo said.

Organizations have challenged the government on its new Penal Code draft through petitions and lobbying. The community has also been informing society on LGBTI issues through media and education.

But, 'the community cannot fight this alone' warned Kuswandi. He urged international corporations to show support for LGBTI Indonesians.

The LGBTI community is building a strong, integrated, and inclusive support system, Ayu said. The international community and the United Nations can also help by pressuring the government to respect LGBTI rights, Ayu said.

'The government must have a firm attitude to revoke all discriminatory regional regulations rather than looking for the 'status quo' ahead of elections' Ayu urged.

Source: https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/hiding-in-fear-what-is-life-like-for-lgbti-indonesians/

Mayor of Padang leads thousands in anti-LGBT declaration march

Coconuts Jakarta - November 19, 2018

Another week, another large state-sanctioned demonstration of hatred and fear towards Indonesia's vilified LGBT minority. Following recent anti-LGBT actions the Jakarta satellite city of Bogor and the West Sumatran city of Payakumbuh, Sunday saw another massive protest in the West Sumatran capital of Padang, led by the city's own mayor.

The Sunday morning protest was called "Aksi Long March Tolak LGBT Sumbar and Deklarasi Padang Bebas Maksiat" (Long March Action to Reject LGBT in West Sumatra and Declaration of Sin-Free Padang) and local media estimated several thousand people participated in the demonstration.

The long march part of the event involved a 2 km walk from the protest's starting point to the West Sumatra Governor's Office. Upon arriving at the destination, Padang Mayor Mahyeldi, a member of the Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), issued his warning to the "sinful"LGBT community and those who would try to defend them.

"To the perpetrators of sin, let them repent and those who protect them immediately be aware because they will face opposition from all parties and communities in Padang as well as security forces," Mahyeldi said as quoted by state-run news agency Antara.

Mayor Mahyedi promised that the number of Civil Service Police (Satpol PP) officers would be increased in 2019 to keep the city clean of LGBT elements.

Mahyedi and several other government, religious and education officials that participated in the protest signed a three-point declaration saying they would take steps to make Padang free from adultery, alcohol, drugs, LGBT and other sins, appeal to the public to not commit acts of immorality and maintain the city's unity and safety by purging it of immorality.

Politicians in Padang, like several other cities in West Sumatra and other parts of Indonesia, are promising to issue regulations prohibiting LGBT behavior but many have acknowledged that since there are no national laws criminalizing homosexuality or discrimination against LGBT people such laws are likely to be struck down as unconstitutional. Those politicians say they will continue to agitate for anti-LGBT legislation from the national government but some have also suggested using customary law punishments, such as parading "suspects" through the street and exiling them from their villages, as a possible alternative.

The recent increase in anti-LGBT hysteria, the worst the country has seen since the height of the last LGBT moral panic 2016, has been attributed by some to election year politics and cynical leaders looking to score easy electoral points with increasingly conservative voters by scapegoating the vulnerable minority group.

Their non-religion based arguments for persecuting LGBT individuals generally focus on the spread of HIV/AIDS, but studies have shown that the country's attack on the gay community have driven them further underground in fear, preventing them from accessing medical outreach programs which is the actual cause for the country's worsening HIV/AIDS infection rates.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/mayor-padang-leads-thousands-anti-lgbt-declaration-march/

'Waria' told to leave their home in Jakarta amid anti-LGBT campaign

Jakarta Post - November 18, 2018

Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta – Seven transgender people in Sumur Utara, Klender, East Jakarta, have been told by residents to leave a boarding house they are currently staying at.

"We, kampung Sumur residents, reject the presence of LGBT groups", states a banner put up in front of the boarding house on Saturday. The neighborhood unit (RT) head, who is reportedly a member of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), was collecting signatures from residents to expel the waria, said Rere Ayu Wulandari, 23, one of the seven people affected, using a local term for transgender people. Rere said they had been accused of prostitution.

The boarding house is home to eight people; the eighth room being occupied by a midwife, Rere said, adding that many more transgender people resided in the area.

"We have never broken any rules. We always abide by the regulations set in the neighborhood, including not receiving any guests," Rere told The Jakarta Post on Sunday. "Our landlady defends us, but now she is being called an atheist and disgusting and [blamed for] stirring up social tension."

Rere has stayed in the boarding house for the past five years; some of her friends have lived there for 10 years or longer and have never been threatened until now. "We have not been physically abused so far, but we do not know what will happen," she said.

Yulianus Rettoblaut, a well-known rights activist that leads the Indonesian Waria Communication Forum (FKWI), lamented the situation. She attributed the threats to rising anti-LGBT sentiment in the country particularly ahead of the presidential and legislative elections next year, as anti-LGBT statements have been employed by politicians to get votes.

"Our [state ideology of] Pancasila guarantees equal justice for all, but we all know transgender people always face discrimination," she said. Yuli suggested that Rere and her friends seek assistance from rights groups, such as the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) or Human Rights Watch (HRW) to make sure they got justice.

HRW researcher Andreas Harsono said the local residents could not trespass onto their private lives, as long as the landlady did not mind their presence. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/18/waria-told-to-leave-their-home-in-jakarta-amid-anti-lgbt-campaign.html

'It never used to be this bad': Moral panic targets LGBT community amid

Agence France Presse - November 18, 2018

Indonesian Budi Ahmad used to live openly as a gay man without fear of becoming a target for violence in the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation. Not any more.

The country of 260 million is in the grip of a moral panic, with critics saying the vulnerable LGBT minority is being used as a political punching bag in the run-up to 2019 elections.

Hardline rhetoric and a string of arrests have raised fears among the community. "There could be more persecution and we're scared that the public might become vigilantes," said Ahmad, who agreed to speak to AFP using a pseudonym.

The 29-year-old, from a small town in the province of West Sumatra, said family and friends in the tight-knit area have long been aware of his sexual orientation. But he said the public mood was turning increasingly ugly and he was now confronted with deepening hostility.

"People look at me wherever I go these days. Some avoid me," said Ahmad of his non-traditional masculine image. "Now when I go to withdraw money from the ATM, for example, there are people staring at me. It never used to be this bad."

Indonesia's LGBT community has always been vilified as immoral. But the recent police crackdown – including authorities hosing down a group of transgender women in what they called a "mandatory bath" – comes against the backdrop of a recent lurch toward religious conservatism.

The shift, led by increasingly powerful hardliners, has dented Indonesia's reputation for moderate Islam.

Last week, thousands of anti-LGBT demonstrators marched outside the capital Jakarta, as some local politicians called for carte blanche to detain and "rehabilitate" members of the minority.

Several mosques in West Java were recently urged by the local government to conduct sermons on the dangers of homosexuality.

And Indonesia's biggest Muslim organization – the 80-million-member Nahdlatul Ulama – has called for a clampdown on same-sex relations.

'Cynical political gain'

Concerns have been aggravated by President Joko Widodo selecting a conservative cleric, known for his disparaging views of the gay community and other minorities, as his running mate for next year's elections.

A poll this year showed nearly 90 percent of Indonesians felt "threatened" by the LGBT community, while a 2013 Pew survey said 72 percent of Indonesian Muslims supported replacing the secular code with Islamic law, which bans gay sex.

"(The elections) could mean an uptick in politicians scapegoating... people for cynical political gain," said Human Rights Watch researcher Kyle Knight. "The verbal threats politicians issue can quickly metastasize into physical attacks."

Police arrested at least 300 suspected LGBT people last year – a record – mostly under an anti-pornography law as homosexuality and gay sex are legal in Indonesia.

This month, 10 people described as "suspected lesbians" were arrested in West Sumatra, following the detention of another eight lesbians and transgender people in October.

"This situation is alarming as the hateful abuses by law enforcement bodies... are seen as a normal practice by many people," said Usman Hamid, Amnesty International Indonesia's Executive Director.

'Eradicate LGBT'

Officials are unfazed by the criticism. "We're being consistent in our efforts to eradicate LGBT (behavior) because it's very destructive," said West Sumatra deputy governor Nasrul Abit, adding that thousands of people were having "deviant sex" in the region.

Parliament is considering a move to criminalize sex outside marriage – including gay couples – while the health ministry previously announced plans to release a medical guide classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder.

The UN human rights chief and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have criticized the proposed legal overhaul.

Authorities have also taken aim at social media, arresting two men for links to a LGBT community Facebook page. Google in January pulled one of the world's largest gay dating apps from the Indonesian version of its online store in response to government demands.

'This is wrong'

The latest crackdown can be traced back to 2016 when Indonesia's higher education minister Mohamad Nasir called for LGBT student groups to be banned from universities, and the defense minister criticized gay and trans rights activism, Human Rights Watch said.

Since then, police have raided nightclubs, saunas, hair salons, hotels and even private homes in pursuit of LGBT people.

Gay people have been publicly flogged in Aceh under the province's Islamic legal code. Local police there made global headlines when they arrested a dozen transgender people and publicly humiliated them by chopping off their long hair and forcing them to wear men's clothes.

But there are few hopes that Widodo or other senior officials vying for re-election will protect a widely hated minority, said HRW researcher Andreas Harsono. "We need leaders who have the courage to say this is wrong."

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/never-used-bad-moral-panic-targets-indonesias-lgbt-community-amid-2019-elections/

Activists slam anti-LGBT declaration in Padang as 'institutionalising

Tirto.id - November 18, 2018

Fadiyah Alaidrus – The mayor of Padang, Mahyeldi Ansharullah, has led a declaration attended by thousands of people rejecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) in the West Sumatran city.

The event, which was held at the Haji Agus Salim Sports Arena on Sunday November 18, was part of the "Padang Free from Immorality" (Padang Bebas Maksiat) declaration.

Ansharullah declared that he was ready to fight perpetrators of maksiat (immorality, the violation of God's laws) who do not immediately mend their ways. Ansharullah is a leading member of the Islamic based Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) and has served two terms as Padang mayor.

"To the perpetrators of maksiat come repent and those parties which support them realise that they are facing [opposition from] all parties and society in Padang as well as the security forces", Ansharullah was quoted as saying by the Antara state news agency.

The declaration took up three issues. First, supporting steps by the Padang municipal government to make Padang free from maksiat, adultery, LGBT, narcotics and alcohol. Second, it contains a plea to the public, organisations, government and private institutions to refrain from behaviour which smacks of maksiat. Third, an invitation to safeguard unity in order to create a situation which is conducive, safe, comfortable and orderly as well as being free from maksiat.

The text of the declaration was printed on a billboard. In addition to Ansharullah, the declaration was also signed by Padang Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) speaker Elly Thrisyanti from Prabowo Subianto's Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra).

The participants of the action then listened to a sermon by the great leader of the New York Great Mosque, Muhammad Shamsi Ali. In addition to this, prominent Islamic leader Zulkifli Muhammad Ali – who has been declared a suspect by the national police criminal investigation bureau (Bareskrim Polri) on charges of spreading hatred, discrimination and SARA (ethnic, religion, race and inter-group inspired conflict) – also presented a sermon.

Following this they held a march through the city from the Padang State Senior High School 2 to the West Sumatra governor's office. During the march they shouted protest slogans against LGBT and carried posters with messages such as "Blessed is a Country without LGBT", "Save Padang City from LGBT", "LGBT Invites Natural Disasters", "Expel Them! LGBT groups are not People of Minang" [referring to the West Sumatra ethnic group] and "LGBT You Have no Place in West Sumatra".

"[The number of people at the action] was seven thousand people", claimed action coordinator Lucky Abdul Hayyi when contacted by Tirto.

Earlier, Hayyi was also the action coordinator for a "Defend the Tauhid" action which was held at Limbangan regency in Padang on Thursday October 25. He led the protest over the burning of a flag bearing the Islamic declaration of faith by members of the youth wing of the Nahdlatul Ulama in the West Java city of Garut on October 22.

State sponsored hate crimes

ASEAN SOGIE Caucus advocate Lini Zurlia, who focuses on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning (LGBTIQ) individuals, said the declaration by the Padang mayor represents a state supported crime.

"This is hatred and is a hate crime which is organised and systemic. Not just once, but again and again, repeatedly. Spreading from one region to another and sponsored by the state", she said to Tirto.

Indonesian Human Rights Watch (HRW) researcher Andreas Harsono says that gender and sexual minorities should not be something to be frightened of. In many Indonesian cultures there are indigenous words to describe gender minorities.

"For example, wandu in Javanese from the figure Kenyawandu, the caretaker of monsters in [traditional] wayang stories. The word bissu in the Bugis language, a person who is not a man, not a woman. The Bugis have five words for sexuality including bissu", he told Tirto.

According to Harsono, minority gender people have become frightened by the anti-LGBT sentiment that is being promoted by politicians and regional heads. They are people who were born with a LGBT sexual identity who may, because of this, begin to question why there were born with such a sexual orientation.

"The Indonesian state should help them, treat them the same as other citizens. Not create fear and loathing", said the author of the HRW report "Scared in Public and Now No Privacy: Human Rights and Public Health Impacts of Indonesia's Anti-LGBT Moral Panic".

Harsono also quoted from an old proverb: "When a politician plants a seed of hate, the seed will grow into violence and blood".

Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy deputy chairperson Bonar Tigor Naipospos meanwhile is of the view that opposition to LGBT is often influenced by certain religious preferences. Although he asserts that the state must stop treating LGBT people as a social illness or people who are deviant.

"What's important is that the state protects and fulfills the rights of all of its citizens without discrimination. The state must not criminalise and prosecute LGBT people", said Naipospos when contacted by Tirto.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Deklarasi Anti LGBT di Padang Dianggap Upaya Melembagakan Kebencian".]

Source: https://tirto.id/deklarasi-anti-lgbt-di-padang-dianggap-upaya-melembagakan-kebencian-dafH

Depok preparing regulation to control spread of LGBT 'social deviance'

Antara - November 16, 2018

Feru Lantara, Depok – The Depok municipal government in West Java says that it is preparing to issue a mayoral regulation (perwali) on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) which has proliferated in the city.

"In order to overcome these social deviances a perwali represents a quite effective measure as a regulation to prevent LGBT social deviance", said Depok Mayor Mohammad Idris on Friday.

He said however that in issuing the perwali on LGBT it must have the support and a legal basis from the central government because regional governments must take the same position as the central government.

Idris asserted that if national regulations are already clear then his government will draft a perwali on LGBT social deviance.

He is concerned that if it takes the form of a bylaw (perda, regional regulation) it could be challenged in court because there is no legal basis under national laws and it could be seen as violating human rights.

"Of course if there is a lawsuit it will all be for nothing. So the government and legislator are waiting for some sort of legal support. At the minimum a presidential regulation (perpres) which can become the bases for a perda specifically on LGBT", he said.

Idris added that the Depok government has already ordered all related offices to collect data on the LGBT social deviance in the city.

According to Idris, the government does not yet have any valid data. The information which is currently available is not data on LGBT but data on the spread of and people living with HIV/AIDS (OdHA).

"The Depok municipal government (Pemkot) doesn't have any valid data on LGBT. The information we have is on the spread of or HIV/AIDS infections which is from RSUD [public hospitals] and reports to the Dinkes [Healthcare Office]. They don't want to hand over the data and have referred us to hospitals in Jakarta and other areas. Those who are infected with AIDS are not necessarily LGBT", he reiterated.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Depok siapkan peraturan LGBT".]

Source: https://www.antaranews.com/berita/768847/depok-siapkan-peraturan-lgbt

Marriage & the family

Children have right to marry: Supreme Court

Jakarta Post - November 23, 2018

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – A Supreme Court justice and spokesman has said the court could not prohibit people from getting married, including minors who wish to be exempted from the national regulation regarding the minimum age of marriage.

The 1974 Marriage Law sets the marriageable age for women at 16 and for men at 19, even though the 2002 Child Protection Law defines children as anyone "under the age of 18".

Religious courts, however, have been granting minors as young as 15 years old dispensation to be legally married, especially in regions where child marriage is considered the norm. The court's discretion to give dispensation is stipulated in Article 7 of the Marriage Law.

"Each individual has the right to get married. That's a human right. We can't prohibit them as long as they are not violating any laws," Supreme Court justice and spokesman Suhadi told The Jakarta Post on Thursday. "If the children wish [to marry] then you can't prohibit them."

Concerns about child marriage have been raised once again after a girl in Indramayu, West Java, who got married at 15, died about two years into her marriage allegedly as a result of domestic abuse.

The girl was legally married to her husband, then 16, at a local religious court. Their families decided to marry them off out of concern they might have premarital sex, so they requested that the Indramayu religious court grant their children a marriage dispensation.

Secretary-general of the Indonesian Women Coalition's (KPI) West Java chapter Dariwinih criticized Suhadi's statement, saying that children could not be legally held responsible for their choices.

"The dispensation request is made by the parents. Children are prohibited from getting married, as their reproductive organs, particularly girls, are not ready. We recommend that the government abolish the policy of legalizing child marriages," she said.

While activists have been fighting campaigns against child marriage, religious courts have been permissive in giving marriage permits to minors.

In 2016, the Indonesian Coalition to End Child Marriage (Koalisi 18+) conducted a study on marriage permits at religious courts in the three regencies with the highest number of child marriages: Mamuju in West Sulawesi, Tuban in East Java and Bogor in West Java. The study found that the judges approved 97.6 percent of a total 377 marriage permit requests filed at the courts.

UNICEF data from 2017 ranked Indonesia as having the second most cases of child marriage of all ASEAN countries. Data from Statistics Indonesia (BPS) in 2016 showed that 17 percent of Indonesians got married before 18 years old, 1.12 percent of whom were under 15 when they tied the knot.

A researcher from the University of Indonesia's Judicial Watch Society (MaPPI), Dio Ashar Wicaksana, said judges should have gender perspective when reviewing marriage permit requests. "[Child marriages] can also happen when the girls are forced to get married. Most of the time, our patriarchal culture leaves women with no choice. The judges must also consider that."

Suhadi acknowledged that the court had released a circular advising justices to consider the psychological and physical impacts of their rulings on women, but justices usually cite cultural norms when considering marriage permit requests.

"There are still many regions that tolerate early marriages. That can be one of the considerations of the judges in giving approval," Suhadi said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/23/children-have-right-to-marry-supreme-court.html

'She could have been saved': Indramayu child bride dead after alleged

Jakarta Post - November 21, 2018

Sita W. Dewi, Jakarta – A teenage girl in Indramayu, West Java, has died after allegedly being a victim of domestic abuse in what appears to be a court-approved child marriage, a local advocacy group reports.

Yeni (not her real name) died of her injuries at Indramayu Public Hospital on Sept. 21, said the Indonesia Women Coalition's (KPI) Indramayu chapter, adding that she had multiple head injuries and wounds all over her body. The post-mortem results have not yet been released.

The coalition alleged that the girl's husband, identified as D, was responsible for the injuries that led to her death.

"[The post-mortem examination report] isn't out yet. We'll continue to check the progress of the case with the police," KPI Indramayu secretary Yuyun Khoerunisa told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

"[The husband] was held in police custody for 24 hours but was released due to a lack of evidence," she said. A 2012 national survey showed that more than 220,000 girls aged between 15 and 19 had been married at least once in West Java. The number was the second highest after East Java, which had more than 236,000.

In 2011, Plan Indonesia and Gadjah Mada University researched early marriages in eight areas including Indramayu and found that 44 percent of child brides were subjected to frequent abuses in their marriage.

Early marriage to avoid 'zina'

Yeni was only 15, while D was 16, when their families decided to marry them off out of concern that the lovebirds might commit zina (extramarital sex), which is deemed sinful in Islam.

Their families proceeded with the plan by requesting a marriage dispensation from the Indramayu Religious Court in 2016. The 1974 Marriage Law sets 16 and 19 as the minimum age for females and males to marry, respectively. The panel of judges approved the request.

The newly married couple subsequently lived with the groom's family. Yeni had lived with her grandmother since she was seven months old. Her father was dead while her mother worked overseas as a migrant worker.

Five months into the marriage, Yeni found out that she was pregnant. In the seventh month, she had to have a caesarian section, but the baby died less than a month after the procedure was performed.

Over the past two years, Yeni often complained to her grandmother about the alleged domestic violence she had suffered throughout her marriage. "Domestic violence often occurred throughout their marriage but they somehow made up," Yuyun claimed.

On the the ill-fated day, her grandmother was informed by relatives and neighbors about D's latest Facebook post, which showed a battered and bruised Yeni. "Do you want to check it out? It's really bad!" D said in the post as quoted by KPI Indramayu.

Yeni's grandmother rushed to her in-laws' house, only to find that her granddaughter had been taken to Indramayu Public Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 8 p.m.

Her body was immediately taken to her grandmother's house, where village officials and local police officers waited to take it to the Indramayu Police Hospital for an autopsy. Yeni was laid to rest the next morning.

Indramayu Resort Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Yoris Maulana Marzuki said the police were still investigating the case. "We will provide an update as soon as we have one."

'The state failed her'

The KPI lamented what appeared to be a systemic failure to protect Yeni from violence that allegedly resulted in her death.

"She could have been saved if she was sent to school and got to play with her friends instead. Not only did the adults fail her, the state also failed her," KPI West Java chapter secretary Darwinih told the Post.

Child marriage rates in Indramayu remain high. The Indramayu Court granted 287 marriage dispensations last year and 354 in 2016. Most families used religious concerns to justify early marriages.

"In child marriages, the girls are prone to suffer from domestic violence, particularly when they are uneducated and lack knowledge about gender equality," Yuyun said.

Advocacy groups have called for the revision of the minimum age to marry that was stipulated in the outdated marriage law, believing that child marriages might potentially lead to more complicated issues, including domestic violence.

The Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) recorded 95 cases of violence related to child marriages in the past eight years, but believed that the reported cases were merely the tip of the iceberg.

"The government should protect our children. We urge the President [Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo] to speed up the discussion of Perppu [government regulation in lieu of law] on child marriages," Darwinih said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/21/she-could-have-been-saved-indramayu-child-bride-dead-after-alleged-abuse.html

Corruption & abuse of power

AGO continues hunt for Soeharto family foundation's assets

Jakarta Post - November 22, 2018

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – The Attorney General's Office (AGO) will continue to track down assets owned by the now-defunct Supersemar Foundation, which was set up by former president Soeharto, to ensure it will fulfill its obligation to pay trillions of rupiah in penalties to the state in relation to a misuse of funds.

Yogi Hasibuan, director of legal counsel at the Deputy Attorney General for Civil and State Administrative Court Affairs (Jamdatun), said his office would track down all assets, including those overseas until it collects the Rp 4.4 trillion (US$320 million) in fines the foundation is required to pay.

To date, the government has only been able to confiscate around Rp 242 billion from 113 bank accounts owned by the foundation, Yogi said.

"We will seek other [assets] to [collect] the penalty as stipulated in the court's verdict," Yogi said on Wednesday. "We also involved the AGO's Assets Recovery Center to find the assets."

The case dates back to 2008, when the AGO filed a lawsuit at the South Jakarta District Court accusing the Soeharto clan – also known as the Cendana family in reference to their home address – and the foundation of misusing scholarship funds by diverting them to family-owned companies, including Bank Duta in 1990 and airline PT Sempati Air from 1989 to 1997.

The court found only the foundation guilty and ordered it to pay a penalty. The Supreme Court upheld the decision in 2010 and demanded that the foundation pay $315 million and Rp 139.2 billion, which had a combined value of Rp 4.4 trillion at that time.

The South Jakarta District Court, which is authorized to seize the foundation's assets if it failed to pay the fine, recently seized the Granadi Building in South Jakarta following the confiscation of an 8,120-square-meter plot of land in Megamendung, Bogor, West Java, both in relation to the case.

Anton Arifullah, the AGO prosecutor who handled the Supersemar Foundation case, said the office was currently awaiting an assessment on the value of the building and the land on which it stands by a team of independent appraisals.

The AGO has also requested the South Jakarta District Court to seize six cars owned by the foundation. "It's the court's authority to decide on which assets to be confiscated, as it has its own procedures. The AGO only tracks down and proposes the assets to be seized," Anton said.

The Granadi Building is reportedly being used as the office of shipping firm PT Humpuss Intermoda Transportasi, a company owned by Soeharto's youngest son Hutomo Mandala Putra, popularly known as Tommy Soeharto, who is also chairman of the Berkarya Party.

Soeharto, the country's longest-serving president who ruled Indonesia for more than three decades, stepped down amid riots in 1998 and accusations of vast corruption and nepotism benefiting his cronies and family.

Tommy's lawyer, Erwin Kallo, defended his client, saying that Tommy did not have any involvement with the foundation case and thus the confiscation did not affect him at all.

"Pak Tommy's status is that of a renter [of office space at the building] and the Berkarya Party does not have its headquarters in the building," Erwin said, "Even if the building got confiscated, it has nothing to do with [Tommy]."

Members of the Cendana family, particularly Soeharto's children, are not obliged to fulfill Supersemar's obligation, because the court only named the foundation in its verdict, he added.

Erwin also questioned the court's decision to confiscate the building, because it had several owners – in which the Supersemar Foundation has about 20 percent ownership – and there might be a legal problem if the court decided to auction the building.

"I suspect that this case is politicized," Erwin said, pointing out to the fact that critics had linked the Supersemar Foundation's case to Tommy and the Berkarya Party, while the AGO is led by HM Prasetyo, a politician from the NasDem Party.

NasDem is a member of the ruling coalition backing the current administration and reelection of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in the 2019 presidential election, where the incumbent will face rival Prabowo Subianto, whose election bid is supported by the Berkarya Party. Yogi has denied the accusation.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/22/ago-continues-hunt-for-soeharto-family-foundations-assets.html

Aceh administration tops KPK integrity index, Papua in last place

Jakarta Post - November 21, 2018

Jakarta – The Aceh administration has reportedly received the highest score in the Corruption Eradication Commission's (KPK) 2017 Integrity Evaluation Index, while the Papua administration ranked at the bottom of the survey.

The regional evaluation of state institutions operated on a scale of 0 to 100, according to KPK head of research and development Wawan Wardiana. The survey was conducted across 36 ministries, state departments and regional administrations.

Wawan explained that a high ranking suggested a lower probability for corruption, in addition to a robust system that restricts and prevents graft.

Both external and internal respondents in the 2017 survey were evaluated based on their understanding of and experience in antigraft culture, their management of the state budget, as well as their handling of human resources.

As many as 2084 internal respondents – comprising state officials and administrative staff – and 2142 external respondents, consisting of state service customers, participated in the survey.

"The Aceh administration is the highest-ranking institution in the 2017 survey, with a score of 77.39. In contrast, the Papua administration is among the lowest-ranking respondents with a score of 52.91," Wawan said in Jakarta on Wednesday as quoted by kompas.com, adding that the average score was 66.

Other highest-ranking institutions included the Bandung administration in West Java with a score of 77.15, the Customs and Excise Directorate with 76.54, the Health Ministry with 74.93, the Madiun administration in East Java with 74.15 and the Transportation Ministry with 73.4.

Meanwhile, among the lowest-ranking institutions included the North Maluku administration with a score of 55.29, the National Police with 54.01, the Banten administration in West Java with 57.64, the Bengkulu administration with 58.58 and the West Papua administration with 59.1.

However, Wawan noted that a score approaching 100 did not guarantee a completely graft-free institution. "High scores do not necessarily indicate a totally graft-free institution. As we all know, even the most fool-proof systems have loopholes that could be abused by criminals," he said. (rfa/swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/21/aceh-administration-tops-KPK-integrity-index-papua-in-last-place.html

Court confiscates Cendana family building as part of Rp 4.4t fine

Jakarta Post - November 20, 2018

Jakarta – The South Jakarta District Court has seized the Granadi Building, owned by the family of former president Soeharto, also known as the Cendana family, in relation to a misuse of funds under the now-defunct Supersemar Foundation.

The confiscation is part of efforts to execute a Supreme Court verdict that ordered the foundation, set up by the country's former ruler, to pay a fine of Rp 4.4 trillion (US$320 million) after it was found guilty of misusing scholarship funds.

"[The building] has been officially confiscated," South Jakarta District Court Spokesperson Achmat Guntur said as quoted by tempo.co on Monday.

The court is currently awaiting an assessment on the value of the building by a team of independent appraisals, Achmat said.

The building, which is located in South Jakarta, was reportedly the office of Soeharto's youngest son Hutomo Mandala Putra, popularly known as Tommy Soeharto, who is also chairman of the Berkarya Party.

The Supersemar Foundation's case dates back to 2008, when the Attorney General's Office (AGO) filed a lawsuit at the South Jakarta District Court accusing the Soeharto family and the foundation of misusing scholarship funds by diverting them to family-owned companies, including Bank Duta in 1990 and airline PT Sempati Air from 1989 to 1997.

The court found the foundation guilty and ordered it to pay a penalty. The Supreme Court upheld the decision in 2010 and demanded that the foundation pay $315 million and Rp 139.2 billion, which had a combined value of Rp 4.4 trillion at the time.

The South Jakarta District Court, which is authorized to seize the foundation's assets if it failed to pay the fine, has already confiscated several assets belonging to the Cendana family, including an 8,120 square meter plot of land in Megamendung, Bogor, West Java.

So far, the government has been able to confiscate Rp 243 billion in assets from the foundation.

Separately, Berkarya Party executive Badaruddin Andi Picunang emphasized that Tommy was not involved with the Supersemar Foundation's case, adding that the Granadi Building was not being used as the Berkarya Party's headquarters. (afr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/20/court-confiscates-cendana-family-building-as-part-of-rp-4-4t-fine.html

KPK grills Boediono in new probe of Bank Century case

Jakarta Post - November 15, 2018

Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has started a new investigation into the alleged corruption surrounding the 2008 Bank Century bailout, the antigraft body has confirmed.

"It is a new investigation into the case after [the conviction of] Budi Mulya," KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah said on Thursday, referring to the first and only suspect named in the case.

Budi, who served as Bank Indonesia (BI) deputy governor during the time of the case, was found guilty of abusing his authority by channeling short-term financial assistance (FPJP) worth Rp 689 billion to keep Bank Century afloat and by falsely claiming that the bank posed a systemic threat to the country's financial industry, making it eligible for Rp 6.7 trillion from the Deposit Insurance Corporation (LPS).

Although he had repeatedly claimed during his trial that it was a collective decision of the monetary authorities under former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the panel of judges was not convinced and sentenced him to 10 years in 2014.

Febri said the graft busters have questioned 23 witnesses for the new case. One of the 23 witnesses was former vice president Boediono, who served as BI governor in 2008. He was questioned by KPK investigators for four hours on Thursday, but he refused to talk to journalists upon leaving the KPK headquarters.

The interrogation took place only two days after the KPK questioned former BI deputy governors Miranda Goeltom and Wimboh Santoso – the latter is currently serving as the chairman of the Financial Services Authority.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/15/KPK-grills-boediono-in-new-probe-of-bank-century-case.html

The Habibie Center: Indonesia permissive about corruption

Tempo - November 15, 2018

Ahmad Faiz Ibnu Sani, Jakarta – The Habibie Center director board chairman Sofian Effendi said that socially, Indonesian people permissively responded to corruption cases committed by state officials. Thus, this act became one of the drivers on the rising number of corrupted regional heads.

Sofian touched on the Supreme Court (MA) verdict which granted a lawsuit filed by ex-corruptors against KPU Regulation (PKPU). The law regulated that graft convicts were prohibited to propose themselves as a legislative candidate.

"That is a permissive act," said Sofian during his speech as a keynote speaker in a national seminar on corruption acts in Le Meridien Hotel in Jakarta.

He recalled times he questioned MA officials regarding the verdict. "That is clearly contradictive to moral, they [ex-corruptors] must be blacklisted. But how come MA annul KPU regulation?" Sofyan said.

At that time, MA's officials said the decision was based on the consideration on law and constitution. Sofyan disproved the statement. According to him, people have to consider ethics and moral above all regulations.

"But in our [country's] system, ethics was kept under a written policy, while in fact, ethics and morals are generally a source of the legal. This system provides tolerance in corruption acts," said the commission head of State Apparatus Civil.

In addition, Sofian continued, permissive behaviors on corruption issues were evident from light sentences issued by the court that ex-corruptors could still make use of their graft after being freed.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/14/055923448/The-Habibie-Center-Indonesia-Permissive-about-Corruption

Terrorism & religious extremism

Study: Radicalism prospered at mosque in governmental environment

Tempo - November 23, 2018

Syafiul Hadi and Arkhelaus W., Jakarta – Nahdalatul Ulama's Association of Islamic Boarding School and Society Development (P3M) released a report on a study which found 41 mosques in the government areas are currently exposed to radicalism.

P3M researcher Agus Setia Budi said the percentage of sermons that consists elements of hate speech were measured at 73.6 percent. "Hate speech was the most popular topic of radicalization," said the researcher on Thursday, November 22.

P3M recently studied 35 mosques within state ministerial environments, 37 mosques at state-owned enterprises, and 28 mosques in state agencies. The research was conducted from September 29 to October 21, 2017, by collecting samples of audio and video recording during Friday prayers.

Popular elements of radicalism, according to Agus, range from urging for the rise of a caliphate state, negative attitudes toward minorities, negative views against other religions and female leadership, and hatred against certain minority groups.

At its most severe level, the radicalism consists of hate speeches and provocative words made against a non-Muslim leader. There were also talks of threats against Muslims from people considered infidels (kafir).

"The government should place more care toward mosques that carry the state symbol such as these," said Agus.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/23/055923679/Study-Radicalism-Prospered-at-Mosque-in-Governmental-Environment

BIN criticized over mosque infiltrated by radicalism

Tempo - November 21, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – Deputy Speaker of People Consultative Assembly (MPR) Hidayat Nur Wahid responded the statement issued by the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) that as many as 41 mosques in governmental offices were infiltrated by radicalism. He demanded BIN not to worsen the situation by delivering doubtful validity of information.

"BIN should not add more negativity by spreading information which its validity must be questioned because issues on a certain number of mosques that are infiltrated by radical teachings have been refuted by the deputy chief of police," said Hidayat Wednesday, November 21 in the Parliament Complex in Jakarta.

BIN earlier stated a total of 41 mosques in governmental offices were infiltrated by radical teachings based on the report submitted by the Islamic Boarding School and Community Development Association (P3M). The study also showed as many as 50 lecturers spread radicalism materials. BIN spokesman Wawan Hari Purwanto said his agency was currently approaching dozens of Islamic clerics who allegedly spread radical teachings.

Hidayat opined that usually information belong to BIN was not released to the public, but reported to the President as the user. According to him, should a serious problem arise, it must be soon covered without announcing it to the community.

"Don't release [the information] to the public, but show the evidence and hold a discussion with all authorities to deal with the matter," he noted.

The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician considered making a statement, let alone providing invalid information, was not the duty of BIN. He expected information issued by BIN would not cause terror among the public.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/21/055923620/BIN-Criticized-over-Mosque-Infiltrated-by-Radicalism

Indonesia mosques spreading radicalism to government workers: official

Agence France Presse - November 19, 2018

Dozens of Indonesian mosques that cater to government workers are spreading radicalism and calling for violence against non-Muslims, the country's intelligence agency said Monday.

Its findings come six months after Indonesia's second-biggest city Surabaya was rocked by a wave of suicide bombings at several churches during Sunday services, killing a dozen people.

They were the deadliest terror attacks in about a decade and once again put religious tolerance in the world's biggest Muslim majority in the spotlight.

The Indonesian State Intelligence Agency said Monday it has probed about one thousand mosques across the Southeast Asian archipelago since July and found that imams at some 41 places of worship in one Jakarta neighbourhood alone were preaching extremism to worshippers – mostly civil servants who work at nearby government ministries.

The Agency found about 17 clerics expressed support or sympathy for Islamic State and encouraged parishioners to fight for the jihadist group in Syria and Marawi, the Philippine city overrun by foreign IS fighters last year.

Some clerics also called on the faithful to commit violence on behalf of IS – which claimed the May bombing attacks in Surabaya – and spread hatred or vilify Indonesia's minority religions, which include Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism.

"The majority of people who go to these mosques are government workers so that's why this is alarming," intelligence agency spokesman Wawan Purwanto told AFP. "These are people who are running the country."

The agency did not release details about what it found at hundreds of other mosques covered by its probe. But it said that it also found worrying signs of radicalism at seven university campuses among several hundred it spot checked as part of the probe.

The spy agency's investigation was sparked by an independent anti-terrorism expert's report last year that found imams at dozens of mosques across Indonesia were expressing intolerance and support for IS.

"We have to avoid this because we don't want people in Indonesia fighting against each other – that will lead to (bad) things," Purwanto said.

Indonesia has beefed up its anti-terror law to give authorities more power to arrest suspects in the wake of the Surabaya attacks. But Purwanto said the agency would take a soft approach to dealing with radical imams by trying to convince them to spread a more peaceful message.

Jakarta-based terrorism expert Sidney Jones said the agency should go beyond just talking with clerics about their sermons.

"Generally it's not enough to talk to the preacher – you have to get to the mosque development committee and look at (who is behind) the financing," she said. "And you have to understand why there is support from the local community."

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-6405449/Indonesia-mosques-spreading-radicalism-government-workers-official.html

Police beef up security in Bogor mosque despite cancelled Islamic

Jakarta Post - November 17, 2018

Theresia Sufa, Bogor, West Java – An Islamist gathering set to take place at the Az Zikra Mosque in Sentul, Bogor regency, West Java, was canceled on Saturday, but nearly 1,000 personnel from the Bogor Police and Indonesian Military (TNI) remained to stand guard over the location.

They were deployed to maintain security on Friday. The event, called Indonesia: The Starting Point for the Rise of Islam in the World, was canceled because organizers had failed to obtain a permit from the Bogor Police, who claimed the gathering was part of the Islamic caliphate movement that aims to replace the country's political system.

Local mass organizations and university student groups have also opposed the event. Bogor Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Andi Mochamad Dicky cited residents' rejection as the basis of police's decision to withhold a permit.

Hadi Salam, a local cleric who chairs the gathering, said organizers had decided to cancel the event after it had to secure permission from the police. "We urge participants to remain calm and present good manners," he said in a statement on Friday.

He also urged participants from various regions who had arrived in Jakarta to visit local mosques and perform I'tikaf (seclusion in a mosque). The organizers scheduled all participants to meet in the National Monument (Monas) for a gathering on Sunday.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/17/police-beef-up-security-in-bogor-mosque-despite-cancelled-islamic-caliphate-gathering.html

Hard-line & vigilante groups

Prabowo Camp: Rumour of Rizieq Shihab's arrest is vile slander

Tempo - November 15, 2018

Ryan Dwiky Anggriawan, Jakarta – The Prabowo-Sandiaga Uno National Campaigning Agency (BPN) spokesman, Andre Rosiade said the rumor of Rizieq Shihab's arrest by Saudi Arabian police in Mecca was an attempt to slander.

"Someone intentionally wanted to destroy Habib Rizieq ahead of the 2019 presidential election, this is a very vile slander," Andre said in a written statement received by Tempo, Wednesday, November 14.

The Saudi Ambassador to Indonesia Osama bin Mohammed Abdullah Al Shuaibi, said Andre, had stated that the black flag bearing the Tawheed words at Rizieq's residence was not a problem.

"Obviously, this is an intention of certain parties to defile Habib Rizieq's name because he was arrested by the Saudi Arabian police," Andre said.

Andre asked the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to give an explanation of the incident experienced by Rizieq. "It must be immediately explained, why did it happen like this?" he said.

The Prabowo's Campaign Team regretted that the party clarified that Rizieq Shihab was not involved in the legal activity and did not violate the law, was the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Indonesia. "Not our ambassador in Saudi," he said.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/15/055923463/Prabowo-Camp-Rumour-of-Rizieq-Shihabs-Arrest-is-Vile-Slander

Freedom of religion & worship

Ahmadi, Sunni Muslims live in peace in Wonosobo

Jakarta Post - November 15, 2018

Dyaning Pangestika, Wonosobo – The atmosphere was convivial in Wonosobo, Central Java, when 18-year-old Fikri Darmawan ordered three cups of kopi joss, the city's signature coffee that contains a burning lump of charcoal, for him and his friends, Miftahul Choir and Muhammad Aldo.

The sight of the three boys hanging out together may seem ordinary, except for the fact that Fikri has been raised in an Ahmadi household, a religious minority that is often persecuted. But for Aldo and Miftahul, who are devoted Sunnis, Fikri is nothing more than their best friend.

"I have lived here since I started junior high school, and I never experienced any conflict related to my religious background here. In fact, I don't think such conflict exists here," Fikri told The Jakarta Post. "We only argue over soccer because we support different teams," Fikri added.

Known as a transit point for tourists before they commence their trip to the popular Dieng Plateau, Wonosobo is home to people with different religious backgrounds, including the Ahmadis. Around 6,000 live in Wonosobo, making it the city with the largest Ahmadi population in the country.

According to Maulana Nurhadi, an Ahmadi preacher and community leader, the city had welcoming the Ahmadis since they first arrived in the early 1920s. He added that the Ahmadis were introduced to Wonosobo by Pakistanmubaligh (preacher) Mirza Wali Ahmad Baig in 1920.

Later that year, a young Ahmadi figure in Wonosobo named Sabitun, was sent to Lahore, Pakistan, to learn more about Ahmadiya. He later returned to his hometown and built a pesantren (Islamic boarding school) to spread Ahmadi teachings.

"The local administration has also been supportive of the Ahmadis. The previous regent, for example, initiated regular interfaith meetings," Maulana said, referring to former Wonosobo regent Abdul Kholiq Arif.

Meanwhile, in the neighboring regency of Banjarnegara, the Ahmadis are banned from organizing pengajian (Islamic study groups) following a protest by local Sunnis.

Ahmadiyah Congregation Indonesia (JAI) spokesperson Yendra Budiana told the Post recently that persecution against the Ahmadis often occurred after provocation by certain groups.

"Lombok is also an area where Ahmadis face persecution. However, it is also important to note that this only occurred in several areas on the island," Yendra said.

In 2005, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued a fatwa declaring the Ahmadis heretics, though it did not recommend a full ban.

In 2008, then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's administration endorsed a joint ministerial decree that effectively restricts Ahmadiyah activities in the country.

Several regions across the country also followed suit, but Wonosobo regency instead issued a bylaw declaring "Wonosobo a human rights friendly regency", which has been attributed to its relative success in ensuring minorities' rights to practice their beliefs.

Article 28 of Bylaw No. 5/2016 stipulates that everyone has the right to follow their beliefs free of interference.

Ari Kristyanto Nugroho, who is a member of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) the largest Muslim organization in the country, said he failed to understand why minority groups such as the Ahmadiyah needed to be restricted.

"We are all family here. They are Muslim, and I'm a Muslim as well. Our religion teaches us to love and respect each other. Isn't banning them from practicing their religion defeating the purpose of Islam?" Ari said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/15/ahmadi-sunni-muslims-live-peace-wonosobo-java.html

Religion & politics

Vigilante leader warns 'you'll burn in hell' if you don't vote for pro

CNN Indonesia - November 22, 2018

Jakarta – The Secretary General of the Islamic Community Forum (FUI), Muhammad Al Khaththath, says that it is haram to vote for candidates – whether they are running for the executive or legislative in the 2019 general elections – that do not fight for the interests of Islam.

Khaththath also reminded the public about the Indonesian Ulama Council's (MUI, the country's peak Islamic religious body) fatwa (edict) on Voting Rights which was issued on 2009.

Khaththath said that the MUI fatwa regulates seven points on the character of leaders that must be elected by the Islamic community. This includes, among other things, leaders who devout and pious, honest, trusted, active and inspiring, have leadership abilities and fight for the interests of the Islamic community.

"So it is legally haram [forbidden under Islamic law] for the Islamic community to vote for a leader who does meet these seven criteria", said Khaththath at an event titled "A Study on Islamic Thought" at the Baiturrahman Mosque in Setia Budi, Jakarta, on Thursday November 22.

Khaththath continued by saying that leaders who are incapable of fighting for the Islamic community should be characterised as leaders who are zalim (cruel and despotic) and that it is haram to vote for them.

He was reluctant however to be precise about which figures or cite the names of leaders who are zalim or haram that are running in the 2019 legislative and presidential elections.

Nevertheless, he gave as an example former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama who was deemed to have been cruel and despotic towards the Islamic community.

"What kinds of acts are zalim? Take Ahok for example, he once said that articles in the constitution are higher than the holy verses [of the Koran], meaning that verses in the Koran should be ignored and should not exist and aren't valid, that's [the words of] an infidel", he said.

Khaththath then appealed to the public to be more astute in deciding which leaders are fighting for the Islamic community. If they do not vote [for such leaders], he said, the consequence will be that in the afterlife they will burn in the fires of hell as it is written in Article 113 of the 11th Chapter of the Koran.

He said that candidates who do not fight for the Islamic community will most certainly harm broader society if they are elected and hold government posts.

"Those who are even slightly inclined [to vote for such candidates] will burn in the fires of hell, especially if they become volunteers, become timses [campaign team] members, now will the timses be burnt just a little or a lot by the fires of hell? They will burn the most, because they are timses", he said.

Khaththath asserted religious teachings and politics cannot be separated in social life. He insisted that if there are parties that want to separate these two aspects then they are people who are sesat [deviant and misguided].

"So it seems that the reasons for being supported and supporting have a relationship with the fires of hell. Yes this is certain. Because religion and politics can't be separated. Those who say there is no relationship between politics and religion, they are misguided people", he said. (ain)


The FUI, which is best known for attacking minority religious groups and events which they deem as promoting LGBT or communism, was one of the groups involved the so-call "Defend Islam" actions against former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama – a ethnic Chinese Christian – who ran afoul of conservative Islamic groups after a doctored video circulated on social media that appeared to depict him insulting the Koran, when in fact he was warning the public not to trust politicians who quote from the holy book to convince them not to vote for non-Muslims.

In December 2016 Islamic groups under the banner of the Alumni 212 (of which Khaththath is a leading member) with the financial and political backing of sections of the political elite mobilised hundreds of thousands in series of mass protests in a successful effort to force police to charge Purnama with blasphemy. Purnama – who had been the clear favourite to win – subsequently lost the election to the Prabowo Subianto backed Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno ticket and in May 2017 was convicted of blasphemy and jailed for two years.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Al Khaththath Ingatkan Kembali Fatwa MUI Memilih Pemimpin".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20181122195743-32-348554/al-khaththath-ingatkan-kembali-fatwa-mui-memilih-pemimpin

Reunion of 212 group that brought down Ahok 'purely for political

CNN Indonesia - November 21, 2018

Jakarta, CNN Indonesia – Indonesia Madani Circle (LIMA) director Ray Rangkuti believes that the planned reunion of the Alumni 212 on December 2 is purely a political activity and has no relationship with religion.

The movement, he said, has lost is relevance because former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama – who was the trigger for the 212 actions in 2016-17 – has already been jailed for religious blasphemy.

"Politics, it's clearly political, there's no longer any relationship with religion, there's no relationship with proselytising, and the target of their demands has already been jailed. What use is it", he said in Central Jakarta on Wednesday November 21.

Rangkuti said that the event will become a platform to capitalise on religion for the sake of political interests. If it was indeed purely for proselytising, the agenda for event would be filled with speeches and sermons which could cool down the current political situation.

"I think they just want to capitalise on religion. Keep on capitalising on religion for political interests. There's no relationship with proselytising. It should be that in a situation such as this that we use proselytising to make things calmer because we understand that the [political] atmosphere has again already begun to get tense", he explained.

Although he doesn't oppose the 212 reunion event as such, Rangkuti is asking that the organising committee not hide behind the guise of religion.

"So, please go ahead with the 212 meeting, it doesn't need to be linked with religion, all kinds of things that are unclear, that's the problem, the politics, because the 212's fight ended with Pak [Mr] Ahok being jailed", he said.

"Don't bring in religion like that, it's a pity that religion keeps getting brought in, yet its goal is clearly political, the target is political", he added.

Rangkuti claimed that the concept of a 212 reunion is odd given that a protest action or demonstration should end after its goal has been achieved. He even compared it with the much bigger 1998 reformasi movement which has never held a reunion such as this.

"It was huge, the 98 struggle, but yes it ended in 98. When [Suharto] fell, when he fell. That its members when on to form different groups, that's fine. There hasn't been a reunion of the 98 [movement] which brought down Suharto, it hasn't happened", he said.

Earlier, Alumni 212 Fraternity attorney Eggi Sudjana, stated that the 212 reunion would be held as evidence of the unity of the Islamic community.

Sudjana has denied that there is any political motivation behind the event bearing in mind that this is a political year. According to Sudjana, political support for a certain candidate is a citizen's right, not an obligation. (SAH/arh)


Former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama – a ethnic Chinese Christian – ran afoul of conservative Islamic groups after a doctored video circulated on social media that appeared to depict him insulting the Qoran, when in fact he was warning the public not to trust politicians who quote from the holy book to convince them not to vote for non-Muslims.

In December 2016 Islamic groups organised by the Alumni 212 with the financial and political backing of sections of the political elite mobilised hundreds of thousands in series of so-call "Defend Islam" actions in a successful effort to force police to charge Purnama with blasphemy. Purnama – who had been the clear favourite to win – subsequently lost the election to the Prabowo backed Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno ticket and in May 2017 was convicted of blasphemy and jailed for two years.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Reuni Aksi 212 Dinilai untuk Kepentingan Politik".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20181121204654-32-348254/reuni-aksi-212-dinilai-untuk-kepentingan-politik

West Sumatra MUI calls on Muslims not to vote for parties that reject

Kumparan - November 18, 2018

West Sumatra Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI) chairperson Buya Gusrizal Gazahar has forbidden (mengharamkan) the Islamic community from voting for leaders who reject bylaws (perda) based on Islamic law.

The call was in response to a recent statement by Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) chairperson Grace Natalie saying that the party rejects perda based on religion, including perda based on syariah (Islamic law).

"If the reports are true then in surrendering myself to Allah, I Gusrizal Gazahar say to the entire Islamic community in this country particularly in the Land of Minang [an ethnic group in West Sumatra]: it is haram [forbidden under Islamic law] to vote for this party or anyone who is backed by this party", said Gazahar on his Facebook account on Sunday November 18.

Gazahar explained that syariah based bylaws create reform in a better direction. According to Gazahar, there is nothing in the Constitution which prohibits this and are no other religious communities are harmed by these bylaws.

"Making regional regulations which contain Islamic provisions is one of the steps we are attempting in order to revive the values of akhlaq [the practice of virtue, morality and manners in Islam] in this nation", he added.

"All of this is being done because of [our] love for Allah SWT [Almighty God] and Rasulullah SAW [the Prophet Muhammad] which is realised by developing the souls of this nation's children. All of this is being done within the framework of the united Indonesian Republic", he said.

When sought for confirmation about the Facebook status, Gazahar confirmed that this is his position as West Sumatra MUI chairperson. "This is [the position] I have conveyed", he said when contacted by Kumparan.

Based on Kumparan's records, the first syariah based bylaw in West Sumatra was issued by the Solok regency in 2001 which regulates the obligation for students and prospective married couples to be literate in reading the Koran. There are also several West Sumatran bylaws on the eradication of maksiat [immorality, violating God's law] and obligatory clothing for Muslims in Padang City.

Earlier, PSI chairperson Grace Natalie explained that the opposition to syariah based bylaws represented one of her party's campaign pledges. For her, there are a number of perda which restrict democratic freedoms such as those on clothing for students in certain schools.

"Because from the very start Indonesia has been diverse. If we don't provide a [legal] umbrella and safeguard our diversity then we will become like Syria, Iraq and no one will benefit", she said on Sunday November 12.


The PSI is backing incumbent President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in the 2019 presidential election so calling on Muslims "not to vote for this party or anyone who is backed by this party" is also a call not to vote for Widodo.

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski for the Indoleft news service. The original title of the report was "Ketua MUI Sumbar Haramkan Muslim Pilih Partai yang Tolak Perda Syariah".]

Source: https://kumparan.com/@kumparannews/ketua-mui-sumbar-haramkan-muslim-pilih-partai-yang-tolak-perda-syariah-1542519597780038923?ref=bcjuga

Farming & agriculture

Rainy season blamed for increase in vegetable prices

Jakarta Post - November 22, 2018

Jakarta – The rainy season has caused prices of vegetables to increase in markets. At Cisalak Market in Depok, West Java, the price of cauliflower, cucumbers, carrots, long beans, broccoli, pumpkin and several other vegetables have increased.

"It's been a week since prices have doubled," a merchant named Anis said on Wednesday as quoted by kompas.com.

According to Anis, a kilogram of cauliflower had increase from Rp 6,000 (41 US cents) to Rp 12,000, while a kilogram of carrots had increased from Rp 7,000 to Rp 15,000.

The price of a kilogram of cucumbers has also surged from Rp 600 to Rp 1,000, while lettuce from Rp 4,500 to Rp 12,000. Tomatoes, which had been sold for Rp 8,000 per kg previously, were now priced at Rp 12,000 per kg. The price of shallots had also increased from Rp 26,000 per kg to Rp 30,000 per kg.

"The high prices have caused customers to hesitate from coming to my shop. My shop was usually packed with buyers in the morning. But today, I've only been visited by three buyers," she said that afternoon.

Another vegetable seller, Fadli, said the rainy season had not only affected prices but also the quality of vegetables. "Sometimes it's sunny, and then suddenly it's rainy. This creates many holes in lettuce leaves and spots on cucumbers," he said.

Merchant Siti Aishyah said the increasing prices along with lower quality had resulted in fewer purchases. "People who usually buy a kilogram of chili now only buy half a kilogram. Some have even stopped buying raw vegetables in the market and opted for eating cooked food at stalls," she said. (vla)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/22/rainy-season-blamed-for-increase-in-vegetable-prices.html

Jakarta & urban life

Anies responds to Prabowo's remarks on Jakarta sinking

Jakarta Post - November 23, 2018

Jakarta – Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said the city administration and central government had taken measures to prevent the capital from sinking.

Anies was responding to presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto's prediction that seawater from the city's northern coast would reach the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta by 2025 on account of climate change. Prabowo's Gerindra Party backed Anies during the Jakarta gubernatorial election in 2017.

"The central government is working on National Capital Integrated Coastal Development [NCICD] in Jakarta Bay and we will finish it," Anies said on Wednesday as quoted by tempo.co.

Anies said Jakarta was supported the central government's giant seawall project, which aimed to protect and secure the city.

He added that he would also intensify efforts to anticipate land subsidence by installing vertical drainage. With the method, rainwater would be directly absorbed by soil, thus preventing land subsidence.

Prabowo talked about the impact of climate change while giving a speech at the Indonesia Economic Forum in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Prabowo, citing United Nations data, said the sea level on Jakarta's northern coast had risen each year, and that the water would reach the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle by 2025. (cal)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/23/anies-responds-to-prabowos-remarks-on-jakarta-sinking.html

Wake up and smell the pee: Public urination rampant in Jakarta

Jakarta Post - November 19, 2018

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Jakarta is a city that never sleeps, and while it's awake, many residents spend their time on the streets, where public toilets are scarce. Hence, a urine stench often greets Jakartans in busy places.

Informal-sector workers like ojek (motorcycle taxi) drivers and street vendors spend much time outside without access to proper sanitation facilities, forcing some of them to practice public urination.

The odor of urine is particularly strong in some busy areas, such as train stations and bus stops.

The sight of a man urinating on a plant, open sewer or wall is quite common in parts of the city, especially at night. Public urination is actually forbidden under a Jakarta bylaw.

Putri Anisa, 27, a resident of Depok who works in Jakarta, said she always smelled a strong urine odor while walking to the Sarinah Transjakarta bus stop on Jl. MH Thamrin in Central Jakarta. The area under the pedestrian bridge smelled so awful that she had to cover her nose and mouth with her hand while passing by.

To her great annoyance, Putri said one day she came across a man who was about to pee under the bridge in the middle of the day. She walked fast to avoid that man. "It was so embarrassing and awkward. I still don't understand how he had the nerve to pee in public at noon," Putri told The Jakarta Post.

Zhahrah Qamaranii, 25, an employee of a private company in Slipi, West Jakarta, said she smelled the urine odor every time she walked under a pedestrian bridge at the Palmerah train station in Central Jakarta.

Easier in the sewer

Conventional and app-based ojek drivers usually wait for their passengers on streets and sidewalks around Palmerah Station. Numerous street vendors that have set up shop on the sidewalks add to the area's crowdedness.

Ojek driver Mugiono, 35 admitted that a lot of ojek drivers relieved themselves in the station area, frequently under the pedestrian bridge or inside the open sewer near the railway tracks. Mugiono said the sewer was quite deep, so no one would see if someone jumped in there to urinate.

However, he said, it was not only the drivers who urinated there, but also rail passengers who were going to work. He said he could actually go to the nearby mosque or gas station, but they were just too far.

Using the station's toilet is not an option for him, because to get there, he would have to pass the ticket gate. He also cannot use toilets at supermarkets, because the storekeepers usually do not allow noncustomers to do so.

"They often use the pretext that the toilet is broken or clogged. I also can't use the toilet in buildings near the station, because to do that I have to show my ID card, which is so troublesome," Mugiono said.

Sisyphean task

It falls upon public facility maintenance agency (PPSU) workers to clean the mess every day. Because besides cleaning the area of trash, they also have to get rid of the urine smell.

The workers recruited by the Gelora subdistrict clean the sewer with disinfectant to alleviate the smell every two days. However, it is a Sisyphean task, because the spot will be smelly again soon.

From 2015 to 2018, city authorities have received 83 complaints about public urination through complaint-handling app Qlue, mostly from Central and West Jakarta.

The low number of complaints does not reflect the real conditions, since a lot of users may be reluctant to report public urination, as they have to attach a photo as evidence in their reports.

On Jl. Matraman Raya, East Jakarta, for instance drivers of angkot (public minivans) and bajaj (three-wheeled motorized vehicle) often urinate in public. Back in December last year, a video of a member of the Matraman Police throwing a brick at an angkot driver who was peeing went viral on social media.

The police officer, chief Brig. Sugino, who retired last October, said he could catch about 10 men urinating on the street every day. He said he had lost his temper and thrown the brick because the driver frequently urinated in the area despite being reprimanded.

"Sometimes, I asked them to do push-ups or sing national songs like "Garuda Pancasila" or "Indonesia Raya" to punish them. However, they felt no remorse," Sugino recalled his experience.

Women go the extra mile

Public urinating seems to involve more men than women. An owner of a small kiosk on the sidewalk of Jl. Kebon Sirih in Central Jakarta, Ani, 42, said she always went back to her boarding house if she wanted to pee. As she was befriended with a security officer of an apartment building in the area, she could also go there to use the toilet, she said.

Aris Cahyadi, the head of the Public Order Agency in Tanah Abang, an area also blighted with public urination, said it was very challenging for his officers to catch people peeing on the streets, as they usually fled quickly after doing their business.

According to the city's public order regulation, public urination and defecation is punishable by fines ranging from Rp 100,000 (US$6.77) to Rp 20 million or up to 60 days in jail.

Even though his personnel preferred a soft approach, by only reprimanding people caught peeing in public, Aris said, the officers were committed to enforcing the regulation. "If someone is caught red-handed peeing on the street, we will punish him according to the regulation," Aris said.

City's plan

To tackle the problem, the Jakarta Environment Agency is set to procure 36 portable toilets in December to serve people working in areas that do not have sufficient public toilets.

The agency says it is still mapping out the area by considering the needs of the people, the size of the area and the agency's capability in supplying the water and cleaning the toilets. The residents will be able to use the toilets for free.

Agency head Isnawa Adji said he hoped that, no later than 2020, the city administration could develop some eco-friendly public toilets in crowded areas to serve the people. He added that the procurement might be conducted in cooperation with private companies.

Isnawa claimed people could actually find the nearest toilet to urinate but had just grown accustomed to the "bad habit".

Many cities in the world, in fact, have a similar problem. Residents of New York City, for example, have relied on the toilets inside Starbucks coffee shops. In 2011, The New York Times published a story about Starbucks "mutiny" against people using their toilets as a public good because of the rampant practice. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/18/wake-up-and-smell-the-pee-public-urination-rampant-in-jakarta.html

Transport & communication

Lawmakers tell authorities to get tough on Lion Air, following fatal

Straits Times - November 23, 2018

Jakarta – Lawmakers on the House of Representatives Commission V overseeing transportation and infrastructure have called on the government to act firmly against private airline Lion Air Group following last month's deadly crash.

The Commission held a hearing on Thursday (Nov 22) on the crash, scrutinising relevant parties and the ongoing investigation process.

Lawmaker Bambang Haryo Soekartono of the Gerindra Party called on the government to revoke Lion Air Group's licence, citing its "proven poor safety track record".

"Lion (Air) has shown its poor commitment (to safety standards) and that could tarnish the image of our Transportation Ministry," Mr Bambang said.

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker Rendy Lamadjido also encouraged the ministry to impose stricter sanctions on the company, pointing out that the government had been lenient in monitoring pilots.

He also suggested that the ministry establish a council tasked with auditing and producing recommendations for all pilots in all airlines operating in the country.

"There are a lot of pilots who need to be evaluated. I suggest that we establish a council for pilots. When an incident occurs, the council should examine the pilots. This is for the sake of our safety," Mr Rendy said.

The hearing was attended by officials from the Transportation Ministry, National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) and the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT).

A representative of the KNKT revealed that the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft that was used on flight JT610 from Jakarta to Pangkalpinang, Bangka-Belitung Islands, which crashed into the Java Sea on Oct 29 killing all 189 people on board, had experienced recurring problems during its last few flights.

A preliminary investigation revealed that the plane had produced faulty airspeed readings during its last four flights. The aircraft in question had only been in service with Lion Air since August.

"But the pilot who flew the airplane from Denpasar managed to handle it and was able to change to an anti-stall system," KNKT head Soerjanto Tjahjono said during the hearing.

"The pilot on the crashed plane might have failed to understand the problem. Each individual has different (reactions)," Mr Soerjanto said after the hearing.

The KNKT has also stated that Boeing failed to alert airlines and pilots about the system to prevent the aircraft from stalling.

Only after the crash did Boeing issue an operational manual bulletin that directs all airlines operating the Boeing 737 MAX to follow existing flight crew procedures to address circumstances where there is erroneous input from an angle of attack sensor.

The KNKT has also analysed the flight data recorder (FDR), which records variables like airspeed, altitude, heading and vertical acceleration, and found that from when the airplane began to stall until it crashed, the pilot attempted to trim it up, but he failed to reach the standard height.

The committee will announce the details of the analysis results next week, a month after the accident took place.

Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said his ministry had been conducting special and comprehensive examinations of a number of Lion Air aircraft.

To date, the authorities have yet to find the downed plane's cockpit voice recorder (CVR). The CVR records verbal communication between crew members within an aircraft's cockpit.

KNKT investigator Ony Soeryo Wibowo said the lack of advanced equipment had hampered the search team's efforts to cope with the thick mud under the surface.

"Sophisticated vessels (needed in the search efforts) are very expensive. We need a vessel that can remain stationary without anchoring. The existing equipment is not that advanced."

– The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/indonesian-lawmakers-tell-authorities-to-get-tough-on-lion-air-following-fatal-crash

Union dreams of making 'becak' worthy of modern Jakarta

Jakarta Post - November 21, 2018

Jakarta – For decades, the Jakarta Pedicab Drivers Union (Sebaja) has been fighting for permission to work in certain neighborhoods in North and West Jakarta in peace, without risking raids.

After Governor Anies Baswedan gave them the green light to operate in limited areas in January this year, the drivers now face an unexpected enemy in Jakartans who look down on them and their pedicabs as embarrassing relics of the past.

Last month, City Council Speaker Prasetio Edi Marsudi vowed to never approve the revision to a bylaw prohibiting becak (pedicabs), saying they would "downgrade Jakarta residents".

People in Jakarta should be encouraged to use "good quality" mass public transportation, such as the Transjakarta bus, commuter line and later MRT, Prasetio said.

The Jakarta administration has prohibited becak from operating on its main roads since 1970.

Needed in lower-income areas

But in the back alleys in certain neighborhoods, about 1,600 becak drivers have still been operating for years, risking raids every day. When leaving Pejagalan Jaya traditional market in West Jakarta with bags full of groceries, just call out "becak" and pedicabs will come pedaling up to take you to your destination.

The Pejagalan Jaya traditional market has one of the few official shelters for becak in Jakarta, situated at the market's entrance on Jl. Pejagalan 2. More than five pedicabs can be seen waiting for passengers on the 15-meter square shelter on Saturday morning.

The pedicab drivers, mostly in their 60s, who gathered at the shelter told The Jakarta Post that it was their morning routine to go back and forth from the market to transport passengers. Most of their customers are housewives carrying groceries. Some are regulars who hire becak to pick up their children from a school nearby.

Solar-powered pedicabs

Sebaja chairman Rasdullah said the group had engaged with a team at the University of Indonesia (UI) to discuss the development of becak, which led to the idea to develop a solar-powered becak. "Some [drivers] are not as strong as they used to be to pedal their becak," he said.

To solve the issue, a solar-powered, environmentally friendly alternative was proposed. Sebaja, UI and the Urban Poor Consortium (UPC) have been working together to realize the idea.

Herlily, a lecturer from UI's school of architecture who is involved with the project, told the Post that modifying the becak was part of a bigger improvement in the becak's operation. Her team has been working to collect data on Jakarta's becak and becak drivers, improving the route and now providing an ergonomic vehicle.

"We will still keep the classic vintage form of the becak. Its mechanical operation will be modified," she said. Gugun Muhammad of the UPC said the innovative becak would be powered by solar cell panels attached to the roof.

"[The solar-powered becak] aims to show the City Council that pedicabs can be more humane," he said, adding that the installment of solar cell panels would be optional for the drivers.

Anticipating accusations that the new models would swarm larger roads and be speeding, he emphasized that the solar panels would help the old drivers, not increase the speed of the vehicle.

Becak drivers, who were in the hundreds of thousands in Jakarta during their heyday, had been accused of causing traffic jams and disorder.

Herlily, however, said solar power was only one option; the modification could be as simple as attaching a dynamo, like those on electric bicycles.

Rasdullah joked that he had already thought of the name for the vehicle: Becak Online Cepat dan Irit (fast and economical app-based becak), or Be'ol Cepirit for short, which can also be loosely translated as excreting.

The name became viral after his joke was picked up by several online media platforms last week. Gugun has since clarified that there were no plans to actually call the new becak that. But he did express the hope that the modified becak would fit the modern image of the capital.

"[Hopefully], the becak can operate within tourist areas such as Ancol Dreamland Park [North Jakarta] and Monas [The National Monument], where passengers can order becak through an app," he said.

Rasdullah said he always envisioned modern-looking pedicabs in Jakarta to silence critics and convince the City Council to allow them to operate.

He said Sebaja was trying to push for legal certainty, which could only be achieved by the revision of Jakarta Regulation No. 8/2007 on public order. The city administration submitted a draft revision to the City Council on Sept. 13. Until now, there has been no progress on the deliberation.

Improving drivers' behavior

In an attempt to combat the stigma attached to the becak and its drivers, Rasdullah said Sebaja was trying to improve how they worked. "We want to show that we are organized, behave in an orderly fashion and can be trusted," the 54-year-old said.

Therefore, he said, Sebaja has locked its registered members at 1,685 drivers across 16 subdistricts, obliged them to attach to their becak a joint-agreement letter signed by the union and the Jakarta Transportation Agency and wear a green vest as part of their uniform.

"Some people still need becak, especially in disadvantaged places and lower-middle income residents. Becak drivers in pangkalan [base] or within neighborhoods are always there when needed," he said, recalling his midnight experience when he pedaled some neighbors to the hospital.

Jakarta resident Fadila Paramitha, 28, said she opposed becak for being old-fashioned and nearly obsolete as a mode of transportation.

However, she supported having becak in tourist areas, citing countries like Japan that had implemented a similar idea. "Becak powered by solar energy sounds cool. I think it would be great for our tourism," she said. (sau)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/20/uniondreams-of-making-becak-worthy-of-modern-jakarta.html

With freedom to break law on roads, comes deadly accidents

Jakarta Post - November 15, 2018

Riska Rahman, Jakarta – Every year, at least 1 million new cars and about 6 million new motorcycles hit the roads in Indonesia with the drivers having the freedom to break traffic regulations.

Motorcyclists driving without helmets or against the flow of traffic are an omnipresent sight in cities. Some of them are too young to drive. Meanwhile, motorists exceeding the speed limit on toll roads are able to do so without being pulled over by the police.

The result is more than 105,000 traffic accidents – an average of 287 accidents per day – in 2016, killing 25,589 people and injuring a further 22,939, according to data from the National Police. In 2017, the number decreased slightly to 98,414 accidents, killing 24,213 and injuring 16,410.

A recent traffic law enforcement operation that lasted two weeks, called Operation Zebra, showed that the more the law is enforced, the lower the number of traffic accidents. On the final day of the operation, Nov. 12, the police recorded only 33 traffic accidents throughout the country. This is far lower than the number recorded on Oct. 16, two weeks before the operation began, when 278 incidents were recorded nationwide.

The Jakarta Police traffic unit's law enforcement division head, Adj. Sr. Comr. Budiyanto, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that the laws being enforced mainly concerned road safety, such as the use of helmets for motorcyclists and seat belts for motorists, traffic light violations, driving on the wrong side of the road or using phones while driving.

Freedom to break the law

Even though Indonesia has a fairly strict traffic law that covers almost all the dos, don'ts, and details punishment for violators, many still choose to disregard the rules altogether, so long as they do not see any police in their vicinity.

This lack of desire to abide by the law has prompted adults and teenagers to try their luck by driving motorcycles without licenses, as was the case with five teenage girls who were apprehended after going for a joyride without their parents' knowledge.

Last Sunday, a group of underage teenagers was apprehended by the West Jakarta Police after they were hit by a car on the Tomang toll road when they tried to turn around after realizing they had gone the wrong way.

The World Health Organization's (WHO) latest study on road safety in 2015 showed that 1.25 million traffic deaths occur every year. About 90 percent occur in low and middle-income countries in Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Asia.

The number is higher than the average number of AIDS-related deaths recorded globally each year of 1 million.

The third Sunday of November – Nov. 18 this year – marks the annual World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (WDR). The day is intended to remember the many millions killed and injured on the world's roads, together with their families, friends and many others who are also affected.

Bed bound for two months

Not only are traffic accidents one of the main causes of death around world, including in Indonesia, they are also one of the major causes of serious injury.

Intan Andyani, 27, is one such victim. After an accident in 2016, Intan was left bed-bound and was heavily dependent on her family for help eating, drinking and bathing. "Both of my arms were broken after the minibus I was riding in was hit by a truck," she recalled.

At the time, Intan, who was finishing up her studies at Padjadjaran University in Sumedang, West Java, was returning to her home in Serpong, South Tangerang, Banten, to collect documents she needed for her undergraduate thesis defense.

However, only an hour into her journey on the Cipularang toll road, which connects West Java with Jakarta, her minibus was hit by a truck. The truck driver claimed that his brakes failed, meaning he was unable to avoid hitting the minibus and another vehicle before coming to a halt on the road separator.

Intan was lucky to only suffer broken arms, as one passenger died on the scene and another was left in a coma for several weeks.

Intan, the other passengers and the driver, were rushed to a nearby hospital in Purwakarta, West Java, however they were moved to hospitals in Jakarta as the hospital lacked the facilities to treat them.

"Despite the fact the hospital is one of the major receivers of traffic accident victims in the area, a hospital official told me they couldn't perform the surgery to fix my arms because they didn't have the necessary equipment," she said.

She has now fully recovered from her physical injuries, but said she would never forget the trauma of that fateful day, and that she was now afraid to take long journeys by car or bus.

"Every time I ride in a bus, the memory of being thrown around in the crash still haunts me even two years after the accident," she said. (evi)

This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post's print edition on Nov. 15, 2018, with the title "Lawlessness main cause of deadly road accidents".

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/14/with-freedom-to-break-law-on-roads-comes-deadly-accidents.html

Armed forces & defense

Indonesian activists attack Widodo over new army chief pick

UCA News - November 23, 2018

Konradus Epa, Jakarta – Right activists have questioned Indonesian President Joko Widodo's commitment to settling human rights abuses carried out by the military with the appointment of a traditionalist as the new army chief.

General Andika Perkasa is not concerned about reforming the military, they say. Perkasa, 54, formerly the Army Strategic Reserves commander, assumed his new role on Nov. 22 following a ceremony at the Presidential Palace. He replaces General Mulyono who has retired.

"He [Perkasa] is not a reformist and has obstructed moves to settle rights violations," Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, told ucanews.com.

Hamid also said it would be difficult for Perkasa to revise military tribunal laws that have victimized many civilians because he is considered close to and one of those thought to have committed violations in the past.

"Civil leaders need military support to settle human rights issues. Without military support, it will be difficult," he said, adding that Perkasa is not capable of doing that.

Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy, said Widodo had ignored warnings from the institute and other rights groups not to appoint Perkasa as the army chief of staff.

"He [Perkasa] was allegedly involved in human rights violations, particularly the murder of Dortheys Hiyo Eluay in 2001 in Papua," he told ucanews.com. "The killer admitted [Perkasa's involvement] during a tribunal."

Eluay was chairman of the Papua Presidium Council, a tribal organization in Papua. He was allegedly abducted and murdered by members of the army.

Catharina Sumarsih, a Catholic woman whose son was allegedly killed by the military during anti-Suharto protests in May 1998, said Perkasa should at least ensure the military does what it is supposed to do. "Perkasa has to make sure the military protects and not threatens the lives of civilians," she said.

Lucius Karus, a Catholic political analyst, said the president had made a tactical error in appointing Perkasa as army chief of staff. "The president should listen to the people and not ignore human rights abuses," he said.

Source: https://www.ucanews.com/news/indonesian-activists-attack-widodo-over-new-army-chief-pick/83946

Jokowi appoints son-in-law of key ally as army chief of staff

Jakarta Globe - November 23, 2018

Joy Muchtar & Iman Rahman Cahyadi, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo inaugurated Gen. Andika Perkasa as new Army chief of staff at the State Palace in Central Jakarta on Thursday.

The former special forces battalion commander is the son-in-law of A.M. Hendropriyono, former chief of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) and current chairman of the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party (PKPI). Hendropriyono served under Megawati Sukarno Putri – Jokowi's main backer – and remained her close adviser after leaving the post.

His party, which barely passed the legal requirement to compete in next year's legislative election, has also announced its support for Jokowi's re-election bid.

Still, Andika who is replacing Gen. Mulyono, who has retired, said he would strive to keep the Army out of politics.

"If people want to say anything, go ahead. I don't have to comment on unnecessary things. Everything has been decided by the president and I don't know what was included in his assessment," he said.

Andika has several academic accomplishments, having earned a master's of science degree and a doctorate from Harvard University in Massachusetts. He was the best graduate of the Army Command Staff School in 2000.

Andika, who will turn 54 next month, worked his way up from a rookie second lieutenant to becoming a lieutenant general over a span of 31 years, a normal period to reach such a senior position in the armed forces.

He started his career by joining the Special Forces Command (Kopassus) as a platoon commander. This was the first of many leadership roles he has taken since graduating from the infantry branch of the Military Academy in 1987.

He had a short stint as commander of the Presidential Guard, or Paspampres, in 2014, while his most recent position was as commander of the Army Strategic Command (Kostrad), which he occupied for only four months.

Susaningtyas N.H. Kertapati, a military and intelligence observer and member of the People's Conscience Party (Hanura), said Andika faces a challenge to maintain the Army's neutrality in the run-up to the presidential and legislative elections in April next year.

Members of the Indonesian Military (TNI) and National Police do not have voting rights, but play a key role in securing political campaigns and polling stations across the country.

Susaningtyas said the upcoming elections are causing sharp divisions between Jokowi's supporters and those of his rival, Prabowo Subianto, and that these could easily escalate into open conflict.

"This must be anticipated in advance. The parties that can prevent and overcome this are the police and the armed forces," she said.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/jokowi-appoints-son-in-law-of-key-ally-as-army-chief-of-staff/

Police & law enforcement

Indonesia's vigilante mobs deliver brutal 'justice'

Agence France Presse - November 16, 2018

It was just after dawn prayers when the caretaker at a Jakarta mosque noticed a man stealing from the donation box, prompting a furious mob to beat him to death – for taking the equivalent of $130.

The lynching was one of hundreds of vigilante killings across Indonesia in recent years, highlighting a brutal trend driven by rising religious conservatism and low faith in a corruption-riddled justice system.

Mob violence has also been aggravated by rapid urbanisation that brings together strangers from across the Southeast Asian nation in often poor, overcrowded neighbourhoods, raising stress levels and fuelling mistrust, observers say.

The lynching had echoes of the grisly 2017 murder of 30-year-old Muhammad al-Zahra who was set ablaze for allegedly stealing a mosque's amplifier in the hardscrabble Jakarta suburb Bekasi, as onlookers cheered and filmed the scene on mobile phones.

As the electronics repairman pleaded for his life, insisting he was not a thief, the frenzied mob poured gasoline over him and took his life.

His widow, who miscarried their second child days after his death, told reporters that her husband often fixed damaged equipment – including amplifiers – before reselling them.

Half a dozen people were sentenced to between six and seven years in prison over the attack, as doubts about his guilt lingered.

'Lack of trust'

Stealing from a mosque is seen by some as an attack on Islam itself, and helps explain the eruption of such violence in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country, according to Heru Susetyo, a law professor at the University of Indonesia.

"(Many vigilantes) are Muslims who aren't necessarily that devout, but they are easily provoked by these incidents," he said. "They are even willing to commit violence for the sake of 'defending' Islam."

In the neighbourhood where the more recent attack happened, one man said he understood the desire to punish those who steal from a place of worship. "(But) thieves should be caught and handed over to police," said Sahanan, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

Few in Indonesia, however, espouse any faith in the graft-riddled justice system. "The main problem is a lack of trust in the authorities," said Agustinus Pohan, a law professor at Indonesia's Parahyangan University.

"Those with power or money get special treatment. That's why people refuse to trust the police and decide to take matters into their own hands."

Another factor is the disproportionate impact of theft on the poor, who lack insurance or a cushion of savings – coupled with the relatively light sentences handed out to many petty criminals.

Culture of impunity

Indonesia's government does not release figures on mob violence. But according to World Bank data, the country recorded nearly 34,000 vigilante attacks involving serious injury or death between 2005 and 2014.

The eye-watering figures – including over 1,600 killings – were based on local media reports drawn from regions which are home to only about half of Indonesia's 260 million people, suggesting that the real numbers could be even higher.

Sana Jaffrey, a University of Chicago doctoral researcher who led the World Bank team, said a range of factors were responsible for stoking mob violence, including poverty and a lack of trust in police.

But she rejected the notion that such attacks were spontaneous bursts of violence by a wild-eyed mob, saying they usually involved an element of planning and sometimes a powerful local figure.

In July, a gun-toting village leader in East Java reportedly encouraged seven men to attack a suspected motorcycle thief with sticks and rocks before his gasoline-soaked body was set on fire.

"The police only take action against vigilantes when the victim of the mob does not fit the profile of a criminal and the family protests or when there is an ethnic angle... and they fear escalation into a larger, communal conflict", Jaffrey said.

Although mob violence usually rises in lockstep with social and political chaos, Indonesia, which has transitioned to stable democracy over the past two decades, has bucked the trend, Jaffrey said.

"More institutional stability and more (violence) – these two things don't go together in most parts of the world."

'Cooperation and respect'

Suspected criminals are not the only victims of mob justice in Indonesia. This year, half a dozen men beat and stripped a young couple before parading them naked around their neighbourhood over suspicions the pair had premarital sex.

In Aceh province, which is ruled by Islamic law, public humiliations by citizen groups – and sometimes even police – have become increasingly common.

A viral video in April showed a young, unmarried Aceh couple being doused with raw sewage after they were seen alone – an offence punishable by caning in the conservative province. None of the young men who attacked them were punished.

Authorities say rising vigilantism is a grim indictment of Indonesian society rather than a reflection of their failure to deliver justice.

"These incidents show that the social system isn't working well," said Jakarta Police spokesman Argo Yuwono. "We need to promote a sense of mutual cooperation and respect."

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-6396307/Indonesias-vigilante-mobs-deliver-brutal-justice.html

Foreign affairs & trade

DPR slams Prabowo's comment on Australian Embassy move

Tempo - November 23, 2018

Dewi Nurita, Jakarta – House of Representatives (DPR) member Meutya Hafid criticized Prabowo Subianto's statement that seemingly suggests Indonesia would not mind Australia's decision to move their embassy to Jerusalem.

"Pak Prabowo's statement highly contradicts the spirit of our constitution," said Meutya Hafid in a written statement today, Nov. 23.

Prabowo Subianto's arguably controversial statement was an answer to a foreign journalist's question related to Australia's move to transfer its embassy from Israel's Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This encounter happened after Prabowo spoke at the Indonesia Economic Forum 2018 in Jakarta on Wednesday.

"In terms of moving their embassy, I have not read Australia's decision to move their embassy to Jerusalem. As Palestine's supporter, we surely have our own opinion. But Australia is an independent and sovereign state, and we must respect their sovereignty," Prabowo answered the foreign journalist.

Meutya Hafid said that the Australian Embassy's relocation to Jerusalem is the same as acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel's capital city, which she argues is a form of modern colonialism exhibited by Israel.

"Indonesia should strongly protest any country's plan to move their embassy to Palestine, which includes Australia," said the legislative member from the Golkar Party faction.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/23/055923685/DPR-Slams-Prabowos-Comment-on-Australian-Embassy-Move

Indonesian presidential candidate says Jerusalem move no problem

Sydney Morning Herald - November 22, 2018

James Massola, Jakarta – Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto says it won't be a problem for his country if the Morrison government presses ahead with a plan to move Australia's embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

And he has stressed that Indonesia must respect Australia's sovereign right to make a decision on the issue – even if Jakarta disagrees with it.

In his first public comments on the matter, which has become a source of much tension between Canberra and Jakarta and delayed the signing of a new free trade deal, Prabowo took a sharply different line to Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Prabowo's comments are significant because he is Joko's direct opponent in the April 2019 election and they signal that he is less likely to use the embassy move as a political wedge against the President.

They do not, however, preclude him from campaigning against the Indonesia-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA), or free trade deal, agreed by Canberra and Jakarta.

Joko and his Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi have been critical of the embassy move proposal and stressed their opposition to it both publicly and privately to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other senior members of the Australian government.

Retno has linked a delay in signing the free trade deal to the proposal and according to leaked WhatsApp messages she sent to Foreign Minister Marise Payne, described the decision to review the location of the embassy as a slap in Indonesia's face.

Last week, politician Dian Islamiati Fatwa – a parliamentary candidate for Prabowo's Gerindra (Greater Indonesia) party – predicted a negative reaction in Indonesia if the embassy move went ahead.

But speaking at the Indonesia Economic Forum at the Shangri-La hotel in Jakarta on Wednesday, Prabowo struck a more conciliatory tone. "I don't see it [the embassy move] becomes a problem for Indonesia," he said.

"Regarding the moving of the embassy, I haven't read about Australia's [final] decision on moving its embassy to Jerusalem. As Palestine's supporter, we of course have our own opinion. But Australia is also an independent and sovereign state so we must respect their sovereignty."

Mr Morrison has said a final decision on whether to move the embassy is due by the end of the year.

There have even been suggestions that Indonesia has sought a guarantee from Australia the embassy move will not go ahead before signing the free trade deal.

Lowy Institute non-resident fellow Matthew Busch told Fairfax Media he was "not terribly surprised" by Prabowo's comments.

"I think both this time around and last time around [when he ran for president in 2014] Prabowo, from a foreign policy perspective, has made it very clear that although he has strong opinions on Indonesian sovereignty, when it comes to foreign policy he takes a much more moderate line and is not too exercised about how other states carry out foreign policy," he said.

"People hear his anti-foreign investment and protectionist rhetoric and think that applies to his views on other countries' foreign policy, but I don't think that's quite right."

However, Busch said that the candidate could still campaign against the free trade agreement, even if he left the embassy issue alone.

"He could say he has no problem with the move – but what he does have a problem with is that Australia got such a good deal. What is not off the table [in the election campaign] is criticism of the FTA itself."

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/indonesian-presidential-candidate-says-jerusalem-move-no-problem-20181122-p50hmy.html

Oil palm tree growers hit hard by price decline

Jakarta Post - November 21, 2018

Jakarta – Oil palm tree growers in Indragiri Hulu, Riau province have been experiencing losses amid declines in the price of oil palm fresh fruit bunches to only Rp 600 (4 US cents) per kilogram, from Rp 1,300 per kg in previous months.

Growers are reportedly only keeping around Rp 250 per kg from sales after paying workers to harvest the commodity.

"If we sell the fresh fruit bunches to collectors, the price will only be between Rp 600 and 700 per kilogram. But if we sell directly to palm oil manufacturers, prices could be up to Rp 930 per kilogram," said Emy Rosyadi, one of the farmers, as quoted by tribunnews.com on Tuesday. Emy said the price decline had occurred in the last two months.

Joni Sigiro, also a farmer, said he had been selling fresh fruit bunches to collectors because palm oil manufacturers were no longer buying the fruit. "The price is low because palm oil manufacturers in this area are not buying the fruit because they still have stock," Joni said.

With such low prices, Emy said, growers were not able to consider ways to improve productivity because they had no money to buy fertilizer. "It's difficult for us to even buy food for ourselves," said Emy, who criticized negative campaigns against the commodity.

Previously, the Trade Ministry has issued a crude palm oil (CPO) reference price for September of US$603.94 per metric ton (MT), which is 4.46 percent lower than the reference price in August, which was set at $632.17 per MT. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/21/oil-palm-tree-growers-hit-hard-by-price-decline.html

Indonesia records US$1.82 billion trade deficit in October

Jakarta Post - November 15, 2018

Rachmadea Aisyah, Jakarta – Indonesia has booked another monthly deficit in October after it enjoyed a $230 million surplus in the previous month, Statistics Indonesia (BPS) announced on Thursday.

The October deficit was recorded at US$1.82 billion, the second-highest deficit this year after a five-year high deficit of $2.03 billion in July.

BPS head Suhariyanto said global price fluctuations in several commodities had affected the trade balance, where prices of copper, silver, zinc and gold had increased, whereas the price of palm kernel oil, crude palm oil (CPO) and coal decreased.

"Between January and October, there was a 9.9 percent decline [year-on-year] in CPO price due to negative campaigning in Europe as well," he said.

Overall, exports rose 5.87 percent month-to-month (mtm) to $15.80 percent in October, but unlike in many of the previous months, the increase in oil and gas exports was far higher than that of non-oil and gas.

A sharp 49.3 percent increase in gas exports was able to offset a 9.87 percent decline in crude oil exports, leading to 15.18 percent mtm, said Suhariyanto.

On the other hand, overall imports totaled $17.62 billion, up by 20.60 pct mtm, thanks to a 26.97 percent increase mtm in oil and gas imports to $2.91 billion and a 19.42 percent increase mtm in non-oil and gas imports to $14.71 billion.

With the result, Indonesia's year-to-date trade deficit in 2018 has amounted to $5.51 billion, with surpluses only seen in March, June and September. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/15/indonesia-records-us1-82-billion-trade-deficit-in-october.html

Mining & energy

Large amount of oil and gas import is needed: Minister

Jakarta Post - November 16, 2018

Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman, Jakarta – Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan said on Thursday that the large amount of oil and gas imported in October was needed for manufacturing industries to produce more export-oriented products.

"[The problem], I think, is that we exported less, especially from the non-oil-and-gas sector," he said on Thursday in response data from Statistics Indonesia (BPS) showing a trade deficit in October.

BPS announced on Thursday that, nominally, oil and gas imports rose 31.78 percent in October to US$2.91 billion compared to the same period last year.

However, in volume, oil and gas imports declined 4.47 percent on October to 4.29 million tons from 4.49 million tons in the same month last year.

Jonan explained that other countries were different. "Do you know that Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and China have higher imports of oil and gas in volume than us? But their exports are much greater than ours. That kind of achievement is what we must take as an example," he added.

The deficit was $1.82 billion in October, the second-highest deficit this year after a five-year high deficit of $2.03 billion in July. With the latest data, Indonesia's year-to-date trade deficit in 2018 amounted to $5.51 billion, with surpluses only seen in March, June and September. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/16/will-always-import-oil-and-gas-minister.html

Infrastructure & development

Indonesia offers infrastructure projects to French investors

Jakarta Post - November 16, 2018

Jakarta – Head of the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) Bambang Brodjonegoro said on Thursday the government had offered a number of infrastructure projects to the French government and investors through government-to-business (G2B) schemes.

He expressed the hope that French businesspeople would be interested in investing, particularly in the transportation sector because that country had long experience in developing transportation infrastructure in large cities like Paris.

"We have admitted that we lag far behind by Thailand, most of its people rely on public transportation," said Bambang in Jakarta as quoted by kontan.co.id when revealing the offered projects.

Therefore, the government wants to accelerate the construction of more transportation infrastructure, particularly, rail-based infrastructure like the light rail transit (LRT) project in Medan, North Sumatra, and a conventional railway project from Makassar to Pare-Pare in South Sulawesi.

Bambang also revealed several seaport projects that would be offered, including Petimban seaport in West Java, Baubau seaport in Southeast Sulawesi and Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara.

For the road projects, the government is offering the Yogyakarta-Bawen toll road, Jakarta-Cikampek, southern toll road, Probolinggo-Banyuwangi toll road and Semarang-Demak toll road, while non-toll road projects include the trans-Papua highway and road construction in Riau and North Sumatra, he added.

In water supply, Bappenas is offering at least four projects in Bandar Lampung, Lampung; Jatiluhur, West Java; West Semarang, Central Java; and Pekanbaru in Riau. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/16/ri-offers-infrastructure-projects-to-french-investors.html

Economy & investment

Apindo calls on government to cancel negative investment list policy

Jakarta Post - November 23, 2018

Jakarta – The Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) has called on the government to cancel its revision of the negative investment list (DNI), which is part of the 16th economic policy package announced on Monday.

"It would be better to review the DNI policy because there is no urgency. If we don't need it, it is should be withdrawn," Apindo chairman Haryadi Sukamdani said on Thursday as quoted by kontan.co.id.

The 16th economic policy package excludes 54 business units from the DNI to attract more investors. Under the policy, the government would allow foreign investors to have full ownership in 25 business units.

Previously, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) called on the government to delay implementing the new policy.

Haryadi said foreign investors were not interested in running business units that were removed from the DNI because those businesses had been implemented by local businesspeople.

He also expressed his disappointment that the government would not cancel the new DNI. He said it indicated that the government did not want to listen to businesspeople's aspiration.

He further argued that in 2016, the government had removed 67 percent of the business units on the negative investment list. "I think this policy is enough," he added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/23/apindo-calls-on-government-to-cancel-negative-investment-list-policy.html

Government to go ahead with revised negative investment list amid

Jakarta Post - November 22, 2018

Jakarta – Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto has said the government would go ahead with its plan to launch a new negative investment list (DNI) policy on Nov. 26, despite protests from the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin).

Previously, Kadin chairman Rosan P. Roeslani said the government did speak to businesspeople before introducing the new DNI policy. He said Kadin particularly questioned the decision to allow foreign investors to own 100 percent shares in 25 business units in the country.

Airlangga denied that the government had not consulted businesspeople about the policy, which is part of the 16th economic policy package announced by Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution on Monday.

On Thursday, Darmin and Airlangga met with Rosan, who sought an explanation about the policy. Previously, Rosan also called on the government to delay the implementation of the policy, because Kadin would meet with businesspeople to discuss the issue.

"We have disseminated the policy; [they] only want an explanation," Airlangga said after Thursday's meeting as quoted by kompas.com. He did not explain to journalists what was questioned by Kadin during the meeting.

Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) deputy chairman Shinta Widjaja Kamdani also expressed concern about the withdrawal of 54 business units from the negative investment list, saying that it would negatively affect small and medium enterprises.

She said the government had made a unilateral decision. "The government's mistake was that it did not communicate with Kadin and Apindo, so that the policy wouldn't trigger a debate," Shinta added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/22/government-to-go-ahead-with-revised-negative-investment-list-amid-protest.html

Foreign investors allowed to own 100% shares in 25 business units

Jakarta Post - November 21, 2018

Jakarta – The government will allow foreign investors to have full ownership in 25 business units, among the 54 business units that were removed from the Negative Investment List (DNI) stipulated in the 16th economic policy package announced earlier this week.

"So, the withdrawal of [54] business units from the negative investment list was not to invite foreign investors to take control [of the businesses]," said Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution as quoted by kompas.com on Wednesday.

The policy, which was aimed at boosting foreign investment, was introduced amid the government's efforts to narrow the current account deficit and trade deficit, which had placed the rupiah in a weak position against foreign currencies, particularly the US dollar.

Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister secretary Susiwijono said the removal of the 54 business units from the DNI was aimed at attracting foreign investors.

He said the final DNI would be included in the revision of Presidential Regulation No. 44/2017, expected to be issued this week. Among other business units, foreign investors will be allowed to take full ownership in communication and information sectors. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/21/foreign-investors-allowed-to-own-100-shares-in-25-business-units.html

YLKI criticizes withdrawal of cigarette industry from negative

Jakarta Post - November 20, 2018

Jakarta – The Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) has criticized the government for withdrawing the cigarette industry from the negative investment list (DNI), which was part of the economic stimulus package announced by the government on Monday.

YLKI chairman Tulus Abadi expressed concern that foreign investors would invest large amounts of money into the country's cigarette industry to maximize profits at the expense of people's health.

"It is a counterproductive policy," Tulus said in Jakarta on Tuesday as reported by tribunenews.com.

On Monday, the government announced its 16th economic stimulus package, which among others, revises Presidential Regulation No. 44/2016 on the DNI. The cigarette industry is one of the 54 sectors that will be liberalized to boost foreign capital inflows.

Tulus said the acquisition of several Indonesian cigarette companies by foreign companies had meant foreign companies already enjoyed large profits.

Meanwhile, Industry Ministry beverage, tobacco and refreshment industry director Abdul Rochim said the withdrawal of the cigarette industry from the negative investment list would help Indonesia export more cigarettes.

He claimed the new policy would not fully open the cigarette industry to foreign investment, but he did not elaborate further.

Tulus, however, believed more acquisitions of cigarette factories by foreign investors would take place after the introduction of the new policy. "Don't sacrifice the people because of the [government's] failure in managing the country's economy," Tulus said as quoted by tempo.co. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/20/ylki-criticizes-withdrawal-of-cigarette-industry-from-negative-investment-list.html

Indonesia launches 16th economic package

Jakarta Post - November 16, 2018

Rachmadea Aisyah, Jakarta – The government launched on Friday its 16th economic policy package to ensure the nation's economic resilience through policy relaxations.

The package comprises three main points: an expansion of the tax holiday program, adjustment of the negative investment list (DNI) and the provision of tax incentives for the newly mandated conversion of export earnings to rupiah.

"We would like to maintain and keep encouraging investors to trust the Indonesian economy [through these relaxations]," Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution said during the launch at the Presidential Office as quoted in a press statement.

The government recorded Rp 14.4 trillion (US$986 million) in foreign capital entering Indonesia through government debt papers between January and November.

This has been taken as a sign of foreign investors' confidence in Indonesia despite external pressures sparked by the United States' monetary tightening, which had prompted investors to move their money to the country and pull their capital out of developing markets, the statement says. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/16/ri-issues-policy-package-to-narrow-trade-current-account-deficits.html

Banking & finance

Only 1.7% of Indonesians covered by insurance programs

Jakarta Post - November 19, 2018

Jakarta – Only 1.7 percent of about 265 million Indonesians have some form of insurance, a low rate the Indonesian Insurance Council attributes to a lack of awareness about the benefits of coverage.

"That is great opportunity for the insurance business," the industry group's chairman, Dadang Sukresna, said in the West Java capital city of Bandung over the weekend, as quoted by kompas.com.

He was speaking at Insurance Day, an event organized by insurers to explain the importance of insurance both to protect people against unexpected negative events and as part of their long-term investment plan.

"Our major target group is the millennials. Therefore, we disseminate insurance programs to university students, among others," Dadang said, adding that events related to Insurance Day were held in 18 cities across the country, involving 6,065 people.

The event was recorded in the Indonesian Records Museum (MURI) as the largest such event, he added.

Meanwhile, the Financial Services Authority's (OJK) nonbank financial industry executive supervisor, Riswinandi, said the penetration of insurance coverage was still far behind the penetration of banking products.

He said insurance companies needed to follow the trends of the millennials so that they were interested in signing up for insurance.

"Millennials have a different lifestyle. They tend to [prefer] quick services and easier procedures for purchasing certain items. They are also familiar with the digital world," Riswandi added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/19/only-1-7-of-indonesians-covered-by-insurance-programs.html

Private sector foreign debt exceeds government's in September

Jakarta Post - November 19, 2018

Jakarta – The figures shows that it is for the first time since March 2017 that private sector debt has exceeded government debt.

In the third quarter, private sector debt grew 6.7 percent year-on-year (yoy), higher than the previous quarter's 5.8 percent, the central bank data shows. The debt derived mostly from the financial and insurance sector, the manufacturing industry, energy sector and mining sector.

BI also recorded that nearly all segments of the private sector saw debt increases in the third quarter, with most of the debt incurring in production activities, which were expected to help boost economic growth.

Debt for investment increased 12.63 percent to $12.63 billion in September, while debt for financing grew 1.13 percent to $20.20 billion, the central bank says.

BI deputy governor Dody Budi Waluyo said private sector debt was a bit volatile, but he assured it was still in safe territory.

"BI has a mandatory measure for private sector debt – both for banking and other sectors. We have the authority to guard hedging, liquidity and ratings," he said over the weekend as quoted by kontan.co.id. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/19/private-sector-foreign-debt-exceeds-governments-in-september.html

Taxation & state budget

Prabowo plans Singapore-like taxes for Indonesia

Bloomberg - November 15, 2018

Karlis Salna, Jakarta – Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto will slash corporate and personal income taxes if he comes to power, part of a plan to compete with low-tax neighbors like Singapore in luring more investment to Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

Tax reform is one of the key economic programs that Prabowo, as the former general is known, will outline in his election campaign against President Joko Widodo ahead of the April vote, according to Dradjad Wibowo, a politician from the National Mandate Party who is helping to formulate policy for the Prabowo camp.

The plan, which may be rolled out over 10 years, is yet to be finalized, Wibowo said. While he didn't disclose possible tax rates, he said the aim is to lower them "on par with Singapore."

Indonesia currently has a top personal income tax rate of 30 percent and a corporate tax rate of 25 percent. Singapore has a corporate tax rate of 17 percent and a top individual rate of 22 percent for residents.

"Our nominal tax rate is too high," Wibowo said in an interview in Jakarta on Wednesday. Tax reform is needed to attract more foreign business as well as to encourage compliance, he said.

Voter support

Neither side has released a detailed economic policy plan yet. At a briefing on Friday, Wibowo said a Probowo government would seek to raise the non-taxable income threshold and reduce income tax, beginning with rates that apply to individuals. Wibowo said tax reform would be "one of the keys to our policy in the future."

Both contenders faced each other in the 2014 election. While campaigning for next year's vote is not yet fully underway, early polls show Widodo, known as Jokowi, with a significant lead. A survey by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting published in October showed Jokowi with 60.2 percent support versus 28.7 percent for Prabowo.

Indonesia has one of the region's lowest tax-to-GDP ratios of about 11 percent and a poor record of tax compliance. The Jokowi government has been trying to improve both measures, including undertaking a successful tax amnesty that unearthed more than $360 billion of undeclared assets held in Indonesia and abroad.

That's helped to boost government income, with authorities forecasting 1,903 trillion rupiah ($129 billion) in revenue this year, up from 1,784 trillion in 2016, the year Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati took office and pledged to catch tax dodgers. The government has targeted a tax-to-GDP ratio for this year of 11.6 percent.

An emerging market rout and sluggish economic growth has made Jokowi's job more complicated. The economy is growing at about 5 percent, well short of the 7 percent the president pledged when he came to power. Jokowi will set "more realistic" targets if he returns to office, a senior party official said this month.

Prabowo is targeting growth of 6 percent to 6.5 percent by the end of his first term. He'll aim to boost manufacturing in the food, agriculture and fisheries sectors to help Indonesia "become the giant food bowl of Southeast Asia and, at the least, feed Indonesia's rising population," said Wibowo.

"Our policy will be more pro-growth, more pro-business and also take stability, equity and sustainability very seriously," he said. "The current climate is very bad for growth and business."

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/15/jokowi-challenger-plans-singapore-like-taxes-for-indonesia-.html

Analysis & opinion

'Spend the minimum': How Lion Air hid equipment failures and beat

New York Times - November 22, 2018

Jakarta – The government safety inspector had spent all night at the Makassar airport, in eastern Indonesia, several years ago, poring over a Lion Air jet that suffered a hydraulic failure.

Telling airline employees that the plane was to be grounded until the problem was fixed, the inspector went back to a hotel for a quick shower. When the inspector returned, the plane was on the runway, about to take off.

Furious, the inspector demanded that the passengers disembark. But a supervisor with Lion Air explained how the airline had gone over the inspector's head: Federal transportation officials in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, had given permission for takeoff. The plane was in the air minutes later.

The notorious safety record of Lion Air, Indonesia's largest carrier and one of the world's fastest-growing airlines, is back in the spotlight after the crash of Flight 610, which hurtled nose-first into Indonesian waters with 189 people on board just minutes after takeoff on Oct 29.

Investigators are trying to figure out what deadly alchemy of factors caused a new Boeing jet to plunge into the water at more than 640kmh.

They are examining whether Boeing failed to adequately explain modifications to the plane, a new 737 Max 8 model; how Lion Air handled repeated failures with the plane's data readings for days before the crash; and how pilot training or confusion may have come into play in a case where only seconds may have been available to save the plane and its occupants.

But even as the mystery of Flight 610 is still being pieced together, one thing is clear, investigators and aviation experts say: Few airlines were less prepared to deal with crisis than Lion Air.

Interviews with dozens of Lion Air's management personnel and flight and ground crew members, as well as Indonesian investigators and airline analysts, paint a picture of a carrier so obsessed with growth that it has failed to build a proper safety culture.

As Lion Air Group, which owns several carriers including Lion Air, expands aggressively both at home and abroad, new questions are being raised about the company's stunning rise.

Lion Air ranks as one of Indonesia's highest-profile companies, but it remains shadowed by accounts of opacity and incompetence from former employees and industry regulators.

Even as Lion Air Group signed the two biggest aircraft deals in aviation history in recent years, its flagship carrier has suffered at least 15 major safety lapses, including a crash that killed 25 people, and hundreds more episodes that have escaped the public eye, aviation experts said.

Government safety investigators say the company's political ties have allowed it to circumvent their recommendations, as in the episode in Makassar, and to play down instances that would cause alarm elsewhere.

Lion Air became adept at passing malfunctioning equipment from plane to plane rather than fixing problems, former employees said.

Lion Air did not respond to repeated requests for comment regarding specific instances in which former employees and government investigators said the company had breached safety standards.

Mr Frank Caron, who was brought in as Lion Air's safety manager from 2009 to 2011 on orders from insurance firms, said the carrier had an average of one major engineering issue every three days, even though most of its fleet was new.

"Buying all the latest-generation, state-of-the-art engineering will be in vain if you don't have systems in place that prioritise safety," he said.

Mr Caron said that in his first month at Lion Air, insurance companies were shown logbooks that drastically understated the number of hours pilots worked.

"What I saw was a company, from the top down, that made saving money a motto – so spend the minimum on pilot training, salaries, management, everything," Mr Caron said.

Mr Edward Sirait, Lion Air Group's president director, denied that the company cut corners or dissembled in logbooks. In an interview in his sparsely furnished office, he said the company had twin priorities: growth and safety.

"When we expand, we think about all the markets we have to get," he said. "But we always develop in accordance with our fleet, human resources, crew and also the maintenance facilities."

Mr Sirait added that Lion Air pilots were "professional" and would not keep dual logbooks. "If he was caught, his licence would get revoked," he said.

Political power

Lion Air, Indonesia's first low-cost private airline, was founded in 1999 by Mr Rusdi Kirana, a former typewriter salesman and pastry chef whose sole experience with the aviation industry was running a travel agency.

Today, Lion Air Group is South-east Asia's largest carrier in terms of fleet size, according to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, a consultancy, and the airline has 458 planes on order.

To cater to some of its 30,000-strong workforce, the company built its own suburb on the outskirts of Jakarta, called Lion City.

Yet from the start, the airline was shrouded in secrecy. Lion Air Group released few financial details. It paid for all those jets by borrowing heavily from foreign banks and aircraft leasing companies. Lion collected so many creditors that some banks were leery, even before the crash of Flight 610.

"A lot of the banks have full exposure or overexposure on them and are reluctant to lend more," said Mr David Yu, the managing director of Inception Aviation Holdings, a European aircraft leasing and investment company.

Back at home, the company tended to its political connections. By 2014, Mr Kirana had ascended to the deputy chairmanship of the National Awakening Party, the largest Islamic political party in the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation. It was a curious position for an ethnic Chinese Christian businessman.

Mr Kirana, who declined to be interviewed, has served as an economic adviser to President Joko Widodo. Last year, Mr Kirana successfully lobbied to become the Indonesian ambassador to neighbouring Malaysia, where Lion Air Group is stepping up its competition with AirAsia, the region's other big low-cost carrier.

Indonesia's fortunate geography between India and China shaped Lion's ambitions, Mr Sirait said.

"We look at the radius between China and South Asia, and it will keep growing with extraordinary economic growth," he said. "That is our dream. That's why we bought the aircraft."

For airplane manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus, low-cost carriers in the developing world are a boon, despite worries about lax safety standards.

"This is an example of a win-win situation where the people of the region are going to be able to benefit from an outstanding airline," then United States President Barack Obama said in 2011 when Lion Air Group signed a US$22 billion (S$30.2 billion) order for Boeing planes, the largest single order in the manufacturer's history.

Yet for all the ribbon-cutting jubilation, aviation experts worried the company had grown too fast for its own good.

Members of its flight and maintenance crews, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid losing their jobs, say they were pressured to keep double logs to hide overwork and inattention to safety. Pilots said they resorted to using methamphetamine to survive the gruelling hours.

Over the years, Lion Air planes have collided with a cow, a pig and, most embarrassingly, one another. Two days in a row in 2011, Lion planes skidded off the same airport runway.

In 2013, a Lion Air flight landed in the ocean rather than at the Bali airport. Official accident reports accused the 24-year-old first officer of lacking "basic principles of jet aircraft flying" and advised Lion Air to "ensure the pilots are properly trained".

"There are so many bad stories about Lion, it's hard to know where to start," said Ms Ruth Simatupang, a former investigator for Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee.

In the days since the crash of Lion Air Flight 610, Lion Group planes have been involved in two more episodes: one in which a plane's wing clipped an electricity pole and another in which a jet experienced a hydraulic failure. Yet Lion has kept on growing.

"Everything that's bad about Indonesia, you can see in Lion," said Mr Alvin Lie, Indonesia's official ombudsman and an aviation expert. "Do we want this company representing us, making us look like just another third-world disaster?"

Danger signs

Captain Hasan Basri, a pilot for Lion Air, said that two years ago, he checked the logbook to find that the weather radar nestled in the nose of the plane he was to fly wasn't working.

The problem should have been fixed within 10 days. But Capt Hasan said the carrier had a habit of simply moving the faulty radar to another plane.

As the clock wound down on the next 10 days, the radar would then be switched to another plane, he said, in a dangerous game of hot potato.

Not being able to depend on the plane's hardware caused unnecessary stress on pilots, who were already overworked, former pilots for Lion Air said. Twenty-two-hour shifts weren't unusual.

Lion Air's pilots are hired on two-year contracts – a questionable practice under Indonesian labour law – and must pay the company large fines if they choose to leave the company.

Even by its own admission, Lion Air has skimped on pilot training compared with other airlines. When pilots for Garuda, Indonesia's national carrier, train to fly the Max 8, the same new model that crashed last month, they travel to Singapore to practice on a Max simulator. Lion Air pilots, by contrast, take a three-hour online-learning programme.

"For the aviation industry, safety should be No. 1," Capt Hasan said. "But the way the pilots and maintenance crews are treated, the overwork and the fatigue and the worries about the poor management of the airline, it creates an unsafe environment."

For two days before its final flight, the Lion Air plane that crashed into the Java Sea registered inaccurate data readings. Each one on its own might have seemed surmountable. But as the anomalies piled up, the plane kept on flying.

"As long as the priority is getting airplanes in the sky rather than safety, then you're going to have problems," said Ms Simatupang, the former government investigator.

Mr Sirait, Lion Air Group's president director, declined to discuss specifics of the crash of Flight 610.

Ms Laura Lazarus became a Lion Air flight attendant at 19 years old, breezing through a month of training even though she was supposed to undergo three. She flew up to six routes a day, she said.

In 2004, Ms Lazarus said, she was involved in her first accident, when a plane overshot the runway in the city of Palembang. Four months later, a jet landing in Surakarta again misjudged the runway and ploughed into a cemetery, killing 25 people. Ms Lazarus fractured her arm, leg and hip. A chunk of her calf was ripped out.

For years, she wrangled over compensation, but she says she is done fighting. "I have no more tears to spill over how Lion Air treated me," Ms Lazarus said. "It's best to leave all that in the past."

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/spend-the-minimum-how-lion-air-hid-equipment-failures-and-beat-regulators

Indonesia's elections: Jokowi-Ma'ruf appeal to middle ground

The Interpreter - November 19, 2018

Greta Nabbs-Keller – Observers of Indonesian politics would be forgiven for predicting that Indonesia's presidential election campaign would be highly divisive, based on the Gerindra opposition's highly effective exploitation of religious and ethnic schisms to defeat incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election contest.

Yet this has not been the case to date in the lead up to 2019 elections. In fact, the relationship between President Joko (Jokowi) Widodo and his presidential rival, Prabowo Subianto, has been surprisingly cordial.

In August, Jokowi and Prabowo were a picture of unity at the highly successful Asian Games. When Indonesia's gold medal pencak silat (martial art) athlete, Hanifan Yudani Kusumah, leapt into the VIP stand to embrace both within Indonesia's Merah Putih flag. Kusumah's seemingly spontaneous act resulted in rapturous applause from the Jakarta audience, symbolising national unity between the key protagonists of the Jakarta election contest.

This was followed by another symbol of propinquity between the presidential rivals two months later when Jokowi characterised Prabowo as his "friend" in an Instagram post on the occasion of Prabowo's 67th birthday.

The choice of running mates by Jokowi and Prabowo had raised concerns about the tenor of the presidential election race.

Prabowo's running mate, wealthy businessman Sandiago Uno, had purportedly bankrolled the large protests that led to the defeat and ultimate imprisonment of Ahok in a campaign marked by ugly identity politics.

Meanwhile, Jokowi's choice of a deeply conservative Islamic cleric, Ma'ruf Amin, as his vice presidential candidate rang alarm bells in international and domestic political circles – with concern about Indonesia's social harmony and religious pluralism.

But even Ma'ruf, who sealed Ahok's fate by issuing a fatwa characterising his reference to the Koran as blasphemous in his previous capacity as Chair of the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), seems to be appealing to Indonesia's middle ground.

Mar'uf has reinvented himself as a proponent of moderate Islam, a disposition more palatable to the international community and Indonesia's economically influential Christian minority.

On 17 October, Ma'ruf made a keynote speech to the Singapore-based Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) – something of a rite of passage for Indonesia's aspiring presidential candidates. His speech, entitled "The Emergence of Wasatiyyah Islam: Promoting 'Middle-Way' Islam and Socio-Economic Equality in Indonesia," reaffirmed the key tenets of Indonesia's 1945 Constitution and the unifying ideology of Pancasila as the basis of the Unitary State (NKRI).

In his speech, Ma'ruf posited democracy and religious pluralism at the heart of Indonesian Islam and rejected theocracy and extremism. Islam Wasattiyah, Ma'ruf explained, was a consensus which underpinned harmony between the Muslim and non-Muslim community. It could be understood as a "middle way" between the poles of right and left, synonymous with "balance, tolerance and egalitarianism".

Interestingly, given MUI's deeply conservative reputation, Ma'ruf committed the Council to Islam Wasittiyah, instructing its boards and councils to adhere to and propagate this "theology of tolerance". In a historically significant reference point, he supported the controversial amendments to the 1945 Jakarta Charter by nationalist leaders, who removed a seven-word phrase obligating Indonesian Muslims to observe shariah law.

The Jakarta Charter would go on to form the preamble of the country's 1945 Constitution. The amendment, Ma'ruf asserted was a mark of "consensus and fraternity" between religions. Given the contested place of Islam in the Indonesian state since independence and the omission from the Jakarta Charter – to this day still a source of ire in sections of Indonesia's Islamic community – Ma'ruf's statements were significant.

In the conclusion to his speech, Ma'ruf signalled a policy shift from the prioritisation of hard infrastructure so evident in Jokowi's first term, to the development of Indonesia's human capital, particularly through vocational education. He stated that national economic development should reduce disparity both between poor and rich and between different regions of Indonesia. The dilemma as Ma'ruf couched it was: "how to strengthen the weak without weakening the strong" and "give maximum utility to human and natural resources".

Mar'uf has reinvented himself as a proponent of moderate Islam, a disposition more palatable to the international community and Indonesia's economically influential Christian minority. Through such keynote speeches, the Jokowi campaign team, led by the urbane 48-year-old former Chair of the Asian Games Organisation Committee, Erick Thohir, and backed by influential former Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) officers, has positioned the government at the political centre.

Even Ahok, who has cause to feel greatly aggrieved by the role of MUI in his political defeat and imprisonment, has pledged his support for the Jokowi-Ma'ruf bid.

Ma'ruf's policy emphasis on economic disparity and development of human capital may serve to partially erode the advantage of Prabowo and Sandi Uno, who until now, have indicated their election campaign would be focussed principally on the economy – levels of state debt, economic growth, employment and the price of essentials.

It seems Jokowi's choice of Ma'ruf as his running mate, despite being controversial, has somewhat diminished the utility of religion as a viable weapon for the Gerindra-led opposition and, as other analysts have highlighted, served to split the conservative Islamist opposition mobilised against Ahok. Providing the Jokowi government continues its prudent management of Indonesia's economy in the face of the destabilising effects of the US-China trade war and deftly manages wedge issues around religion, Jokowi's re-election appears increasingly likely.

Unfortunately for Jokowi, Canberra's announcement on the possible relocation of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and its inevitable linkage to the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) has introduced an unexpected variable into Indonesia's election mix, the potential of which has not gone unnoticed by the Prabowo-Sandi opposition.

Source: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/indonesia-elections-jokowi-ma-ruf-appeal-middle-ground

Indonesia should promote restorative justice and send fewer people to

The Conversation - November 15, 2018

Rinaldi Ikhsan Nasrulloh – Indonesia has an opportunity to deliver a criminal justice system that is modern, substantive and ultimately fairer to its citizens.

The current Criminal Code (KUHP), the foundation of the criminal justice system in Indonesia, was adopted from the Dutch colonial administration and has never been substantially modified in the 73 years since.

A draft revision, the RKUHP, now sits before the national legislature (DPR). The RKUHP has provisions aimed at reducing short-term imprisonment, including alternatives to incarceration such as supervision and community service. The government and lawmakers should put greater focus on these alternative means of punishment.

Currently, the number of people in detention is around 250,000, up from 160,000 in 2013, according to data from the Directorate General of Corrections. The increase means the country's prisons are 47% over capacity, according to the Center for Detention Studies (CDS) in 2017.

Almost 60% of detainees in Indonesia are in prison for drug offences. It would be better to treat people with drug addiction in health-care facilities instead of putting them in prison.

As for the rest of detainees jailed for petty crimes, rather than putting them behind bars for their crimes, training offenders in the skills needed to be productive would allow them to contribute more to society.

An alternative to penal punishment involves mediation between the victim and the offender, and sometimes representatives of the wider community. It's called restorative justice. The idea is to redress crime, while at the same time ensuring offenders can reintegrate into the community.

Studies show restorative practices not only promote healing but also reduce repeat offending. A 2008 study in the UK shows that restorative justice reduced recidivism by an average of 27%. Victims found the process helpful and positive. Some offenders have described the meetings as "traumatic" as well as life-changing.

Restorative justice can also help identify offenders who need special treatment, such as rehabilitation for drug users. Indonesia's experience

Restorative justice has taken a more prominent role in Indonesia's criminal justice system since the Child Protection Law was amended in 2014. Although meant at first to be applied only to children and young persons, it has sparked a discourse around the Indonesian justice system.

Since 2017 the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) has been talking to academics and non-governmental organisations to discuss strategies for implementing restorative justice more broadly in Indonesia.

In researching this issue, Bappenas has looked at the implementation of restorative justice in Aceh, Sumatra. Aceh has special autonomy and has established a cultural institution, gampong, to settle disputes.

The gampong adjudicate a wide range of matters, including family and neighbour disputes, adultery allegations, property disputes, theft, assault, harassment, libel and defamation, land and forest burning, customary violations regarding cattle, farms and social forests, and others.

Aceh's alternative to penal punishment is not without criticism, as it allows caning as a punishment. I am not promoting the use of Sharia-based punishment but the process of dispute settlement by community institutions. This type of mediation allow for disputes to be settled in a way that brings together victims and perpetrator in the same room.

This system does not need police intervention and can prevent petty crimes from having to be processed through the formal justice system. A new criminal justice system

The deliberation of a new Criminal Code is an opportunity for Indonesia to rebuild its criminal justice system. Yet the bill still includes imprisonment as the main method to punish many offences.

For example, someone spreading communist ideology or insulting the president can be imprisoned under the RKUHP. Another controversial point is the expanded definition of adultery to apply to unmarried persons. This effectively makes any kind of pre- or extra-marital sex a crime.

Since the RKUHP will serve as the foundation of our criminal justice system, it will also have a major impact on corrections reform in Indonesia. As the RKUHP currently stands, the new offences will pose a challenge to Indonesia's already overwhelmed prisons.

CDS research estimates the standard living cost of prisoners in the Greater Jakarta area is about Rp59,000 rupiah per day, or about US$4. Funding from the government covers only half this amount.

The gap means the Directorate General of Corrections faces many problems in ensuring the human rights of prisoners. Managing a prison involves dealing with various factors. Prison buildings, for example, need to meet certain quality standards. To achieve these and other standards, prisons need good administration with high-quality resources.

Restorative justice can provide a solution to the state of Indonesia's prisons. It may take time to implement a strategy towards a restorative justice system. But it's not impossible. Many countries have started to implement this system and reap its benefits.

As the government and lawmakers deliberate on the country's Criminal Code, they should consider restorative justice as a way to minimise overcrowding and to ensure offenders are truly rehabilitated and can be valuable members of society.

[Rinaldi Ikhsan Nasrulloh is a researcher with the Center for Detention Studies.]

Source: http://theconversation.com/indonesia-should-promote-restorative-justice-and-send-fewer-people-to-prison-101276

Home | Site Map | Calendar & Events | News Services | Resources & Links | Contact Us