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Indonesia News Digest 44 – November 24-30, 2018

Demos & protests Aceh Criminalisation & political violence New order & militarism Sexual & domestic violence Labour & migrant workers Political parties & elections Blasphemy & hate speech Nationalism & state ideology Social organisations & NGOs Internet & social media Environment & natural disasters Health & education LGBT & same-sex marriage Corruption & abuse of power Terrorism & religious extremism Freedom of religion & worship Religion & politics Civil service & bureaucracy Jakarta & urban life Transport & communication Retail & service industry Armed forces & defense Foreign affairs & trade Mining & energy Economy & investment Banking & finance Analysis & opinion

Demos & protests

'Bajaj' drivers demand more gas stations

Jakarta Post - November 30, 2018

A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil, Jakarta – Dozens of bajaj (three-wheeled taxi) drivers staged a rally in front of City Hall on Friday morning, demanding the administration provide more compressed natural gas (CNG) filling stations (SPBGs).

The drivers of the CNG-powered vehicles complained there was a lack of SPBGs in the city. "In the worst case we have to wait [in line] for up to six hours [to refill the bajaj]," driver Narsudi, 35, said during the protest.

He said he usually worked around ITC Mangga Dua in North Jakarta, but because of the lack of an SPBG, he frequently had to refuel his vehicle on Jl. Daan Mogot in West Jakarta, on Jl. Pramuka in East Jakarta or in Pulo Gadung, East Jakarta.

One of the coordinators of the demonstration, Nasikin, said that over the past week, several gas stations had malfunctioned and the drivers had to compete with gas-fueled Transjakarta buses despite bajaj being more consistent in using the environment friendly CNG.

According to the Jakarta Transportation Agency, 10,955 bajaj use CNG with only 86 not having yet switched to gas. Meanwhile, 22 angkot minivans and 2,360 taxis have switched to gas. Of the total 2,150 Transjakarta buses operating in the city, only 370 use gas.

There are currently 18 SPBGs operating in the city, they are managed by PT Pertamina Retail, a subsidiary of state-owned gas company PT Pertamina; state-owned gas company PT Perusahaan Gas Negara (PGN); PT Jakarta Utilitas Propertindo (JUP), a subsidiary of city-owned PT Jakarta Propertindo; and a private gas company PT T Energy.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/30/bajaj-drivers-demand-more-gas-stations.html

Hundreds protest over Prabowo's remarks on 'ojek' driver job

Jakarta Post - November 24, 2018

Aman Rochman, Malang – Hundreds of app-based ojek (motorcycle taxi) drivers staged a protest on Friday in Malang, East Java, condemning presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto for his remarks on their profession, which he called a "cruel reality" young Indonesians have to face.

The Gerindra Party chairman showed a meme from the internet on a young Indonesian going from elementary school to graduating from high school, and then becoming an ojek driver.

"I'm not happy with this kind of career path. I want young Indonesians to become entrepreneurs, technicians, pilots, to own a cafe, a company, a plantation, not [just be low-skilled] labor in their own country," he said at a seminar.

The coordinator of the online ojek drivers group, Wibby Kristanto, called Prabowo's statements derogatory and demanded an apology.

"In a political year like this, we hope Prabowo can release good, encouraging statements to the public. Don't look down on people's economic conditions. Because of this profession, we can feed our families," he said while leading the rally in front of the Malang Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu Malang) offices. The group also reported the case to the elections watchdog.

Ride-hailing companies like Go-Jek and Grab have led the rise of the digital economy in the country by employing millions and connecting small businesses to customers. The success of Go-Jek has made it one of just four so-called unicorns in the country, startups worth more than US$1 billion.

There has also been some criticism of the firms over what some say is a lack of benefits for the drivers and over reports of crimes, including theft and murder.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/24/hundreds-protest-over-prabowos-remarks-on-ojek-driver-job.html


Aceh official afraid of regency getting cursed after runners wore

Coconuts Jakarta - November 27, 2018

Aceh is the only province in Indonesia given special autonomy to implement sharia-based laws. Leaning towards the conservative side of Islam, Aceh enforces a strict dress-code, with women usually being on the receiving end of discriminative laws that require them to wear hijab (headscarves) and prohibits clothing such as jeans.

For the recent Aceh Provincial Games, which was held in Jantho City, Aceh Besar Regency, one event attracted a bit of a fashion-related religious controversy.

The Games, which ended last Sunday, featured a race in which athletes wore regular running attire. But that didn't go well with Aceh Besar Vice Regent Waled Husaini, who branded the athletes' attire as too revealing as they revealed the women's aurat (parts of the body that should be kept covered for the sake of modesty in Islam).

Husaini, who seems to be someone who's really hardcore when it comes to implementing the region's conservative laws (this is a guy who recently stormed into food stalls during lunchtime, screaming at patrons who chose to have lunch instead of doing the dhuhr prayer first), said he's afraid the runners' revealing clothing might draw God's wrath.

"Please keep the purity of this sharia region, we don't want our regency to be cursed because of the Games," Husaini said to the media, as quoted by Liputan 6.

The "curse" Husaini was referring to was likely divine punishment in the form of natural disasters. There has been quite a bit of paranoid talk about God's wrath in Indonesia since the deadly Palu earthquake-tsunami in late September, resulting in several instances of religious groups and government officials talking about putting an end to traditional rituals they fear could be considered shirk (idolatry) that could result in divine judgment and disaster.

Husaini added that he was disappointed because he had put out instructions regarding modest clothing for athletes at the Games.

Ridwan Jamil, a member of the Games' organizing committee, conceded that they weren't able to supervise every sporting event but the organizers responsible for the race were already given warnings. He added that organizers did not have any intention to tarnish the reputation of the Aceh Besar regency.

This is not the first fashion controversy for a running event in Aceh. Earlier this year, few people wanted to sign up for the Aceh International Marathon after rumors emerged that female runners would have to wear hijabs while male runners would have to wear turbans. Aceh's governor publicly denied the rumors in order to attract more participants.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/aceh-official-says-hes-afraid-regency-getting-cursed-runners-wore-revealing-clothes-sporting-event/

Suspended Aceh governor indicted in three graft cases

Jakarta Post - November 26, 2018

Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta – Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) prosecutors indicted suspended Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf on Monday in three separate corruption cases.

In the indictment presented at the Jakarta Corruption Court on Monday, KPK prosecutors accused Irwandi of accepting bribes from Bener Meriah Regent Ahmadi totaling Rp 1.05 billion (US$72,480) in exchange for a number of infrastructure projects in the regency.

"The defendant, through his aides Hendri Yuzal and Teuku Saiful Bahri, allegedly directed Aceh's procurement unit to give a number of projects in Bener Meriah funded by the 2018 provincial special autonomy funds to certain companies in the regency," KPK prosecutor Ali Fikri read out the indictment.

In 2018, Aceh received Rp 8 trillion in special autonomy funds to be used for the region's development, around Rp 108 million of which was allocated for Bener Meriah.

Apart from the bribery case, prosecutors also accused the former Free Aceh Movement (GAM) leader of allegedly accepting unlawful gifts in two separate cases. One of the cases alleges the governor accepted between Rp 8.7 billion between May 2017 and July 2018.

Another case pertains to unlawful gifts in connection to botched pier construction in Sabang's free-trade area. Irwandi, along with businessman and right-hand man Izil Azhar, is suspected of accepting illegal gratuities totaling Rp 32 billion in relation to the project between 2006 and 2011, while serving his first term as Aceh governor.

The governor allegedly failed to report the unlawful gifts to the KPK. Irwandi and his legal team did not raise any objections to the indictment. (swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/26/suspended-aceh-governor-indicted-in-three-graft-cases.html

Aceh village leaders issue circular on Wi-Fi ban at cafes

Jakarta Post - November 26, 2018

Apriadi Gunawan, Medan – Village leaders of Curee Baroh in Simpang Mamplam district, Bireun regency, Aceh, have issued a circular that calls on all cafes to remove access to free Wi-Fi, which they have blamed for distracting children from their studies and Quran recital sessions.

The circular, the sharia-abiding province's first, was issued on Nov. 13 as a result of discussions among village officials who have attributed the low interest in studying and reciting the Quran to the fact that more young people are crowding such hangout spots.

"We have delivered the circular to the cafe owners so that they can cut the Wi-Fi connection," said Curee Baroh village head Helmiadi Mukhtaruddin.

The village leaders said they found that children and teenagers in the area went to cafes during school hours and claimed some opened sites containing pornography.

"There is a growing concern about Wi-Fi access. We have six cafes in the village and it is getting harder for parents and teachers to control the children," said Helmiadi.

He said children often left home telling their parents that they would attend Quran recital sessions at mosques or musholla (prayer rooms), but they actually went to cafes and surfed the internet.

Despite upholding regional autonomy principles, sharia implementation in Aceh has been condemned and criticized over alleged human rights violations.

Previously, the Bireun administration was criticized for issuing a circular asking coffee shops, cafes and restaurants to ensure that male and female customers who are not married or related to one another do not sit at the same table together.

The circular is meant to serve as a guideline for business owners to abide by sharia, which prohibits khalwat (physical displays of affection between unmarried couples).

Bireun Communications and Information Agency head M. Zubair said many cafes in the regency now provided Wi-Fi access to visitors, and only in Curee Baroh was it now denounced. He said the regency administration respected the village's decision.

"We support the Wi-Fi ban as long as it benefits the young generation," Zubair told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

He said the village regulation did not contravene higher law in the regency and allowed other villages to follow suit. He, however, said there would be no legal consequences for ignoring the circular.

"[The circular] has no legal consequences. But, ideally, residents should comply with the circular," said Zubair.

The circular came along with the village leaders' statement conveying their commitment to eradicate drug trafficking, especially for crystal metaphetamine and marijuana.

Bireun Sharia Agency head Jufliwan said he had yet to receive the village circular, but he said he basically supported any regulation that was in line with sharia implementation in Aceh. "But it does not benefit [the residents]; there is no need to issue the ban," he said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/26/aceh-village-leaders-issue-circular-on-wi-fi-ban-at-cafes.html

Indonesian village yanks Wi-Fi after kids caught viewing porn

Straits Times - November 26, 2018

Banda Aceh (AFP) – A village in a conservative region of Indonesia is pulling the plug on wireless Internet after children were caught accessing porn sites instead of going to Quran study class, officials said on Monday (Nov 26).

Curee Baroh village in Aceh province has ordered half a dozen local cafes to shut their cheap Wi-Fi service immediately.

It is located in the district of Bireun, which made headlines this year when it banned men and women from dining together unless they were married or related.

Officials defended the new edict by saying the service, which cost the equivalent of 21 US cents (28 Singapore cents) for five hours' use, was damaging local children's morals.

"In the past, kids would recite the Quran after evening prayers, but since Wi-Fi has become available, they're hanging out in these shops instead," village head Helmiadi Mukhtaruddin told AFP. "They're accessing pornographic images and other sites, which is very damaging to their morals."

The village of 900 people has not yet decided on a punishment for cafe owners who refuse to comply with the order, which was announced last Friday.

Aceh province – the only region in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country that imposes Islamic law – has drawn fire in the past for publicly whipping people found guilty of a range of offences including homosexuality, gambling and drinking alcohol.

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/aceh-village-yanks-wi-fi-after-kids-caught-accessing-porn-sites

Criminalisation & political violence

Supreme Court sentences anti-mine activist to 4 years for 'spreading

CNN Indonesia - November 27, 2018

Jakarta – The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) says that a Supreme Court (MA) verdict increasing the sentence against an activist who protested a mine in East Java and was charged with spreading communist ideas is an example of the law being used to silence activists or SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation).

There were a number of weaknesses in the MA verdict, one of which related to video recording of a demonstration against the mine which was not submitted in accordance with procedures.

Environmental activist Heri Budiawan alias Budi Pego was involved in protests by local people opposing a goldmine. He was later accused of putting up a protest banner with the symbol of the banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

The Banyuwangi District Court and the East Java High Court sentenced Budiawan to ten months in jail. The MA upheld the verdict and increased the sentence to four years in jail.

"The incident involving Heri Budiawan can be said to be a form of SLAPP, because [the government] is using a criminal legal instrument to silence an activists opposing a gold mine", said ICJR Executive Director Anggara in a press release on Monday November 27.

Meanwhile Article 66 of Law Number 32/2009 on Environmental Management Protection (UU PPLH) protects human rights defenders and environmental activists. "People who fight for the right to a clean and healthy environment cannot be charged under criminal or civil law", reads the article.

Quoting from the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) website, Budiawan's case began when local people protested against mining activities at the Tumpang Pitu Mountain in Banyuwangi, East Java, which were being carried out by the companies PT. Bumi Suksesindo (PT. BSI) and PT. Damai Suksesindo (PT. DSI) since 2012.

As a result of the mining activities, a mud disaster occurred in 2016 damaging the coastal area and coral reef at Red Island beach resulting in farmers and fisherpeople suffering a decline in income and a drop in tourism.

On April 4, 2017, residents from Sumberagung and nearby areas in Banyuwangi put up banners reading "reject the mine" along the length of the Red Island beach road between Sumberagung and the Pesanggaran sub-district offices.

Local police then declared that they found a logo resembling a hammer-and-sickle on one of the banners opposing the mine. Yet according to local residents, none of the banners had such a logo.

Four people were subsequently declared suspects and charged under Article 107 Paragraph (a) of Law Number 27/1999 on Revisions to the Criminal Code (KUHP) related to Crimes Against State Security. This article relates to the spread of Communist, Marxist and Leninist ideas which is synonymous with the PKI.

On January 23 the Banyuwangi District Court sentenced Budiawan to 10 months in jail. The East Java High Court upheld the sentence which was then increased to four years by the MA.

Anggara says that there were a number of weaknesses in the MA verdict. First, there is no exact definition in the verdict of how exactly Budiawan spread communist ideas. According to Anggara, Budiawan would not have done this even if he had indeed put up banners with the hammer-and-sickle logo.

"In the ICJR's view the phrase 'spreading' in the formulation of the offence in Article 107a of the KUHP refers to efforts or actions which through propaganda proclaim in a continuous and repeated manner with full awareness the intent to impart Communist, Marxist or Leninist teachings", he explained.

Second, the electronic evidence presented in court in the form of a video of a demonstration against the gold mine was not presented based on the correct steps and procedures for examining electronic (digital) evidence.

Video evidence, said Anggara, must be corroborated by testimonies by a forensic digital expert on the authenticity and integrity of the video. The examination itself must be done in four forensic digital stages, namely collection, maintenance, analysis and presentation.

"Basically the recorded evidence of the hammer-and-sickle symbol in the form of a video which was presented at the hearing should not have been done by those in authority and it should not have been used as legitimate evidence in a court of law", he said.

Third, said Anggara, the MA has a tendency to overstep its authority. The MA should not, he continued, have the authority to reexamine evidence which has already been examined at the judex factie stage or examination of facts (which is done by district and high-courts). The MA's authority is judex juris or examining a case dossier.

"Based on the above notes, the ICJR is urging Budi Pego to submit an appeal (PK) as the next step in obtaining justice", asserted Anggara. (sur)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Aktivis Penolak Tambang Disebut Dibungkam dengan Pasal PKI".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20181127080058-12-349467/aktivis-penolak-tambang-disebut-dibungkam-dengan-pasal-pki

New order & militarism

Berkarya Party chairman triggered by statement degrading Soeharto

Tempo - November 29, 2018

Budiarti Utami Putri, Jakarta – Berkarya Party's central executive board [DPP] chairman Badaruddin Andi Picunang requested PDIP's Ahmad Basarah to clarify his statement that called former president Soeharto a 'teacher of corruption'.

"Berkarya Party's legal aid (LBH) is studying it. [Ahmad's statement] can be reported by the LBH Berkarya or by the Cendana family," said Badaruddin who urged Ahmad to clarify his statement.

The Cendana family mentioned by Badaruddin refers to the popular term used to describe Soeharto's family members.

Previously reported, Ahmad Basarah issued his statement as a reaction to Prabowo Subianto's claim during an economic event held in Singapore on November 27, where Prabowo mentioned that corruption among Indonesia's elites is cancerous. Even though, according to Ahmad, Prabowo was part of Soeharto's corruptive New Order administration.

Furthermore, Badaruddin said that Berkarya Party' Chairman and son of the late Soeharto, Hutama Mandala Putra, popularly known as Tommy Soeharto, was offended by Ahmad's statement and urged for the PDIP politician to immediately clarify his statement.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/29/055923852/Berkarya-Party-Chairman-Triggered-by-Statement-Degrading-Soeharto

Sexual & domestic violence

Despite rampant body-shaming culture, police warn that it's actually a

Coconuts Jakarta - November 29, 2018

Many Indonesians still see body-shaming as a non-issue. Making derogatory comments about a person's physical appearance is normalized since many think it's a harmless and acceptable thing to do to others.

But now, thanks to increased awareness about body-shaming generated by media reporting and activism, the police have decided to raise awareness about the dangers of body-shaming, specifically that there are existing laws to prevent and punish it.

Indonesian National Police Spokesman Brigadier General Dedi Prasetyo yesterday said those who body shame may be charged with either one of two criminal violations.

"If the body-shaming occurred via social media, the suspect would be charged with criminal defamation under UU ITE (Law on Information and Electronic Transactions) and could face up to six years in prison," Dedi said, as quoted by Tempo.

Offline, Dedi added, they could still be charged with criminal defamation and could possibly face up to nine months in jail.

"Body-shaming on social media has more severe punishment because millions of people can potentially see it, and it could cause more damage for the victim," Dedi explained.

Dedi claimed that police have handled 966 body-shaming cases this year alone, 374 of which were resolved either through criminal charges or mediation between the perpetrators and victims.

One of the most viral recent body-shaming cases involved a motorcycle taxi driver who fat-shamed his female passenger by secretly taking a photo of her and uploading it on social media with humiliating commentary.

While the driver lost his job afterwards, it's quite indicative of Indonesia's general permissiveness towards body-shaming that many netizens defended him because they thought his passenger's weight could damage his motorcycle.

There are no reports on whether the driver in that case was criminally charged for his action.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/despite-rampant-body-shaming-culture-indonesia-police-warn-actually-crime/

Contesting culture of sexual violence against Indonesian women

Tempo - November 29, 2018

Marisa Kuhlewein and Rachel Octaviani, Jakarta – They were the happiest days of her life. She was building memorable teenager moments until he broke her dreams. A survivor, a warrior, and a fighter, Shera Rindra will never forget the ordeal she went through after she was raped by someone she thought she could trust.

"I felt so scared because I didn't know what I would face, what were the steps to be taken, who would I see, and that feeling of hesitation. Would there be someone who trusted my story?" Shera says.

Upon arriving at the police station to report the incident, she was handed over to a male police officer to recall the incident.

"Since my mental and physical state wasn't in a good condition due to the incident, I fainted repeatedly. During the interrogation process, the male police officer intimidated me and made me feel as if I was the criminal."

The male officer became angry with Shera for fainting, "You are the reason why I have to stay up late to do this report," he told her, and made her type it up for him.

Unlike many women in Indonesia who suffer sexual violence but are too afraid to come forward, Shera chose not to be silent and went through a daunting court process to eventually see the perpetrator sentenced to a prison term.

More than 10 years have passed since and now a growing number of activist groups and volunteers like Shera are emerging to expose Indonesia's problems with sexual violence and push for change in the way society and the law treats victims.

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign – starting from the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25 to Human Rights Day on December 10 – recognizes that sexual violence is a daily reality for many Indonesian women.

"The statistics show every two hours, three women in Indonesia experience sexual violence – but those are only the reported ones. They are the tip of the iceberg," says clinical psychologist Wulan Danoekoesoemo, who is the Executive Director of Lentera Sintas Indonesia, an organization that counsels sexual violence victims.

A survey conducted by Lentera Sintas Indonesia in 2016 with more than 25,000 respondents found that six percent said they had been raped. Out of those who had experienced rape, only one percent of the victims followed the legal process through to the end of a completed court case.

Indonesian activists estimate that millions of sexual violence incidents go unreported each year, usually out of fear of reprisal from their abuser, social stigma, victim blaming and because the police do not take violence against women seriously.

"It's the combination of legal, social and psychological factors as to why women don't report sexual violence," Wulan says.

The legal process of reporting sexual violence requires victims to provide evidence such as samples of DNA of the perpetrator from their body. However, as Wulan notes, in the example of a rape situation, one of the first things a victim will want to do is to take a shower and clean themselves, trying to purge the memory. Although this would be one of the first steps survivors take in coming to terms with the trauma, this is tampering with evidence and can make the process of reporting the incident difficult.

"Psychologically speaking, it's never easy to revisit traumatic events, especially when you're still under duress. Sometimes the sensitivity from the police department can be lacking. Quite often it's a male officer filing the report. They are not well equipped with understanding traumatic experiences, so they're probably like 'Come on, I'm losing sleep over this. Hurry up, I want to go home,'" Wulan says.

"We understand that police officers must be skeptical, to maintain objectivity, however, the way they approach cases involving traumatic events can be improved. Much more training around gender sensitivity is needed," Wulan says.

Many women would rather stay quiet rather than endure the degrading experience of reporting to police, says commissioner of the National Commission on Violence against Women, Irawati Harsono.

"Women have to be brave to report sexual violence. Usually, the perpetrator of the violence is male, so it is difficult for the victim to speak with a male officer about what happened," says Irawati, who is also a former Police Colonel.

"The police should first think about the victims' welfare, and their rights, not about how to complete the report," Irawati says.

Irawati has played a key role in pushing for Parliament to improve the legislation on sexual violence. The draft law on the Eradication of Sexual Violence has been debated in Parliament since 2014 and has been dramatically reduced in scope numerous times. Currently, the bill proposes nine types of offenses for sexual violence, however, the government wants to cut this down to only four.

The culture of sexual violence across Indonesia is pervasive. Female circumcision remains a norm amongst various cultural groups, and child marriage and polygamous marriages continue to violate women's rights. Rape, sexual assault and harassment are common experiences. Virginity testing of female recruits under the guise of sexual health tests is reportedly practiced by the police.

Despite the multitudinous types of sexually violent acts women may suffer, the current law does not recognize many of these as being criminal offenses, lawyer Dr.Ir. Albert Kuhon says.

"The current law only covers unwanted sexual acts from penis-in-vagina penetration and sexual harassment where there has been physical touching. The new law would cover things like oral sex, forced marriage, sexual exploitation and more," he says.

The Indonesian Criminal Code is framed with the perpetrators' rights in mind, so this new proposed law is quite different in how it acknowledges the rights of victims and defends their interests.

There is not also a need for legal change, but also cultural change. The way Indonesia regards female police officers is crucial in increasing protection for women against sexual violence. Since 2007 each police district has established a special women and child protection unit as an initiative to establish greater safety and sensitivity for women when they report sexual violence or other gender-related issues.

However, within sub-district areas and more remote regions, there are no female police officers, meaning women reporting cases in these areas will deal exclusively with men. They have the option of referring their case to a district area where there are female officers, but this is often a costly and difficult process as it means they have to leave their area to travel to the district area to make the report.

Retired police commissioner Brigadier General Sri Rumiati explains that even though the number of women and men in Indonesia is equal, the opportunities for women to join the police force are limited.

"The number of female police officers in Indonesia is still very few because the academies for female police officers are very limited. More career opportunities should be opened for policewomen," she says.

There are currently some 30,000 female police officers out of a total 461,000 police officers in the country, meaning a victim of sexual violence has less than a seven percent chance of having a woman handle their case.

Violence towards women and children is increasing – the stark figures of women experiencing violence, most often at the hands of men, speak for themselves. Brig. Gen. Sri Rumiati calls for an increase to a minimum of 10-25 percent female officers in the police force to assist the victims.

Anindya Restuviani, co-director of Hollaback! Jakarta, a website dedicated to stories of sexual harassment or violence experienced by women in public spaces, agrees there should be more female officers and equal opportunity for women to enter the police force.

"Considering the severity of sexual violence against women in Indonesia, and the limited numbers of women reporting, it is important for there to be more female officers. When a woman is raped by a man, and then has to face another man that seems to be more powerful than her, this is a problem," she says.

However, these policewomen should be given training in how to deal with victims who have gone through traumatic experiences, Anindya adds.

"It's important to remember that if you file the report with a female police officer, it won't guarantee that she is sensitive to gender issues. Just adding more women won't just fix the issue. There need to be more female police officers with training and education on gender issues."

Wulan Danoekoesoemo of Lentera Sintas Indonesia says that instead of asking victims why they don't report sexual violence we should be making it safer for them to report and ask ourselves "What are we doing to listen and understand the victims instead of blaming them?"

The top two reasons as to why women are afraid of reporting are shame and fear of being blamed, she says. "Who blames them? It's us that blame them – so what needs to change is us, and how we view and treat the victims of these cases," she says.

[Marisa Kuhlewein and Rachel Octaviani are Tempo interns from the Queensland University of Technology and Universitas Pelita Harapan.]

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/29/055923858/Contesting-Culture-of-Sexual-Violence-against-Indonesian-Women

16 days of anti-violence against women campaign #HearMeToo

Tempo - November 28, 2018

Friski Riana, Jakarta – The National Commission of Anti-Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) and the United Nations Women's Organization (UN Women), conducted a joint campaign to stop violence against women in commemorating the Day of Non-Violence Against Women.

The Programme Management Specialist of UN Women, Lily Puspasari, said this year, the 16 days anti-violence campaign against women uses the #HearMeToo tag.

"Because the victims, until now, when we see the phenomena, instead of being dealt with, they are told to be quiet," Lily said at the American Cultural Center, South Jakarta, Tuesday, November 27.

According to Lily, throughout the world, women and daughters still experience violence and the voices of survivors are not heard. "That's what we want to change. People around them who witness must speak up. Let's speak up," he said.

The Director of the Apik Legal Aid Institute (LBH), Siti Mazuma, said that most of the cases handled by her institution were violence against women and children.

"The highest average cases every year are domestic violence, in 2017, LBH Apik handled 648 cases of violence against women in the Greater Jakarta area," she said.

Based on data from Komnas Perempuan, the number of violence against women is increasing every year. In 2017, there were 348,446 reporters listed. This number increased significantly from the previous year which was only 259,150 cases.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/28/055923804/16-Days-of-Anti-Violence-Against-Women-Campaign-HearMeToo

LBH APIK: Government fails to make regulation to handle sex abuse cases

Tempo - November 26, 2018

Francisca Christy Rosana, Jakarta – In recent weeks, the Indonesian public were baffled by the cases of sexual abuse in the academic world that gradually came to light.

The cases span from the suspected rape experienced by a Gadjah Mada University student and the criminalization of the former honorary employee of the SMAN 7 Mataram high school, Baiq Nuril.

The Legal Aid Foundation of Indonesian Women's Association for Justice (LBH APIK) stated that the government has failed to produce a regulation that specially handles sexual abuse cases in academic environments.

The association's coordinator of legal reform Veni Siregar maintained that the Criminal Law (KUHP) that had been used all along could only accommodate cases of obscene behavior.

"Based on the data that we have, there are no regulations provided by the Education and Culture Ministry that protect victims of sexual abuse in schools or campuses," said Veni in a press conference on 'sexual abuse in academic environments' on Sunday, November 25.

Veni's concerns were echoed by Danu Pratama Aulia, University of Indonesia's Student Executive Agency Socio-Politics Coordinator.

Danu's study failed to find any specific mechanisms provided and conducted by Indonesian campuses that regulate sexual abuse cases or facilitate victims to such cases, namely a crisis center.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/26/055923729/LBH-APIK-Govt-Fails-to-Make-Regulation-to-Handle-Sex-Abuse-Cases

'In Bali, a woman's feet were cut off': #MeToo time for Indonesia?

South China Morning Post - November 25, 2018

Devana Senanayake – Earlier this year, at a march for women's equality in the Indonesian city of Bandung, university lecturer Saras Dewi and her fellow marchers were almost run over by a man on a bicycle. They escaped unscathed – as did the perpetrator.

At a similar event in Jakarta, male bystanders heckled them as they marched to the National Monument, a popular meeting spot in the capital. On social media, they were called horrible names. But the women ignored the abuse and focused instead on their goal of calling attention to gender discrimination in Indonesia.

Saras, 35, who teaches philosophy at the University of Indonesia, is among the growing number of young women stepping up and speaking out against gender-based violence in Indonesia, fuelled by the momentum of the #MeToo movement that has rapidly spread since last year.

"Women are realising that there is a huge issue," Saras says. "We are stubborn. With the issue of sexual violence, we have to be stubborn."

Women say violence is perpetrated by continued gender discrimination in the country of 260 million. This is a society that has a deep-rooted culture of victim blaming and is quick to judge survivors of abuse and violence. Claims of domestic violence are also hastily dismissed.

This month, Gadjah Mada University responded to a female student's sexual assault by blaming her for the incident, asking her to "repent" and even discouraging the student press from calling her a victim, implying that she had consented to the assault.

Saras has helped rape and sexual abuse survivors, both male and female, by personally counselling them and then supporting them if they choose legal action. She helped one student by accompanying her to the police to testify after her rape.

"Since Indonesians are still biased, they tend to blame the victims of sexual abuse, making it even harder for them to seek justice. Solidarity is the key to change the tide to a gender-sensitive society," Saras says.

Indonesia's National Commission on Violence Against Women cited 348,446 reported cases of gender-based violence in 2017. The commission reported a 25 per cent increase in violence from the year before.

An online survey from 2016 by a support group for victims of sexual violence and their partners in Indonesia found more than 90 per cent of respondents had kept silent about their rape because they feared repercussions.

One of the darkest stains on modern Indonesian history happened in May 1998, when the Indonesian economy collapsed, leading to anti-Chinese riots in several cities and the downfall of dictator Suharto. There were mass rapes and killings of Indonesian-Chinese women – an investigation by an Indonesian fact-finding commission found at least 52 women had been gang-raped.

Saras is among the activists who have advocated for a bill to protect victims of sexual violence and strengthen sentencing options for perpetrators.

"We need sexual offenders to be criminalised. We still live in a society where culture, customs and religion are very permissive towards predators," says Saras, who teaches philosophy of literature, ecological philosophy and eastern philosophy at the University of Indonesia.

Last month, she appeared at the annual Ubud Writers and Readers Festival to share her thoughts about violence in the private sphere, courtship and marriage.

"In Bali, divorce is considered very shameful for women. A lot of this is from a religious perspective, so if you get divorced, you won't get to heaven. As a result, the numbers for divorce are very low," she says.

"There was a recent case of domestic violence in Bali that was very shocking. A woman's feet were cut off by her husband who accused her of cheating. That happens a lot," she says of violence against women accused of infidelity.

The bill for the Elimination of Domestic Violence has been stuck in Indonesia's national legislature, the House of Representatives, for 14 years. This bill to promote human rights, achieve gender equality, protect survivors of violence and punish offenders has clearly not been a top priority for the government.

Researchers say families and communities privately tackle domestic violence complaints. Cases that progress to the courts result in divorce rather than the treatment of the perpetrator as a criminal offender.

Saras, whose activism extends to local environmental causes such as protesting against reclamation in South Bali, believes Indonesia's academics and scientists, armed full of facts and research, must do more to highlight the voices of people ignored or silenced.

"We have to try to, at least, voice the injustice. I think the academic and scientific communities have a social responsibility to the public," she says.

It will be an uphill battle to reduce sexual violence cases in Indonesian society, Saras says, and the government's role is key. "We need the government to side with the fight on sexual violence by listening to survivors and listening to cases."

Source: https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/people/article/2174642/bali-womans-feet-were-cut-metoo-time-indonesia

More universities call for safe campuses

Jakarta Post - November 24, 2018

Karina M. Tehusijarana and Bambang Muryanto, Jakarta/Yogyakarta – Twenty-year-old University of Indonesia (UI) law student Salsabila's voice shook with emotion as she told the story of a friend who had been sexually assaulted by an older student.

"When she told me about what happened, I couldn't stay silent, so I confronted the perpetrator about what he had done," she said. "Of course he was defensive and denied it, claiming that it was all 'hearsay'."

But what frustrated her more was the reaction of their mutual friends. "I asked them, are you just going to let him get away with it? They said, 'That's just the kind of guy he is'," she said.

Her story was just one among many shared by UI students at a rally in front of the UI railway station on Thursday to show solidarity with Agni, the pseudonym of a female Gadjah Mada University (UGM) student who was allegedly sexually assaulted by a fellow student in 2017.

The case surfaced after UGM student publication Balairung interviewed Agni, who told them how she was blamed by campus officials after the case.

Manik, a 21-year-old public health student who was one of the organizers of the rally, said Agni's case was just one of many that had happened on campuses across the country, including UI.

He cited a case from 2013, when noted poet and then-UI lecturer Sitok Srengenge was accused of raping an UI student identified by the initials RW. The report is still being processed by police to this day, while Sitok remains free to hold exhibitions and make public appearances.

He pointed to a culture of victim-blaming that was still prevalent on campuses and in society as a whole as one of the reasons such cases still occurred.

Nje, a 22-year-old political science student from Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN) Jakarta, said persistent action from students could make a difference in how sexual assault cases were handled on campus.

"For example, in 2013, there was one lecturer at UIN who would often make body-shaming comments aimed at female students in class. He would say things like: 'Your ass is shaped like a globe,'" she said. "After a while, we all got fed up and rallied for days inside the campus and in the end he was transferred from the campus."

Nje added that campuses tended to consider sexual assault cases shameful incidents that they needed to cover up, citing her experience advocating for a fellow student in 2017.

"The student was sick and an older student took her to her room and then suddenly kissed her. When we reported it to university officials, they said, 'Oh, he kissed you because he cares for you,'" she said.

"That was baffling. And that's the type of logic we need to counter. We need to show that standing up for victims actually makes the campus look better rather than shame it."

Saras Dewi, a lecturer at UI's cultural studies department who has counseled several students in sexual harassment and assault cases, said she hoped the peace protest would help push for better regulations to create safer spaces for female students on campus.

"Since 2013, the law department has been pushing for the creation of a crisis center for sexual assault victims. I hope that can be realized soon," she said.

Ikhaputri Widiantini, a fellow philosophy lecturer and student counselor, said that while UI had general regulations about assault, they did not specify what actions should be taken against perpetrators.

"Often the decision about what to do is just left to each department," she said. "There is still a mindset that [the perpetrators] are one of us, so they only need to be reminded."

Meanwhile, activists in Yogyakarta were stopped from holding a planned rally in support of Agni in front of graduating UGM students.

UGM spokesperson Iva Ariani said an ethics team had been formed to decide on a punishment for HS and was set to hold a meeting on Friday.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/24/more-universities-call-for-safe-campuses.html

Labour & migrant workers

Trade union says surrendering wages to market forces is impoverishing

CNN Indonesia - November 25, 2018

Jakarta, CNN Indonesia – The Confederation of United Indonesian Workers (KPBI) says annual minimum wage increases under the President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo administration has continued to decline every year.

Jakarta KPBI coordinator Abdul Hafiz says that this has occurred because minimum wage increases have been surrendered to market mechanisms because it is now set in accordance with the national inflation rate and economic growth.

"As a result, annual wage increases have declined from 11 percent in 2016 to 8.25 percent in 2017, 8.7 percent in 2018 and 8.03 percent in 2019", said Hafiz in an official statement received by CNN Indonesia on Sunday November 25.

On the other hand, Hafiz believes that the mechanism for setting minimum wages does not take into account increases in the daily cost of living. "As a result workers' purchasing power is progressively declining and what has occurred is systematic impoverishment", he said.

Hafiz also rejects the mechanism for setting wage increases and labour relations which refer to Government Regulation Number 78/2015 (PP 78/2015). According to Hafiz wages increases should be set based on the reasonable living cost index (KHL) in accordance with Law Number 13/2003 on Labour (UU 13/2003).

The setting of provincial and municipal minimum wages (UMP/UMK) however is set based on the PP 78/2015. Moreover the Labour Office has even issued a circular to regional heads threatening that if the UMP/UMK is not set based on the PP 78/2015 they could face dismissal.

"Workers are urging that the mechanism for setting wages return to the price survey (KHL) and wage councils negotiations in accordance with the UU 13/2003", said Hafiz.

According to the UU 13/2003, minimum wage increases are based on a recommendation from regents and mayors along with wage councils after a market survey is conducted on the KHL.

Hafiz believes that the government through the PP 78 is creating fertile ground for outsourcing, contract labour and exploitative apprenticeship practices. This is making it increasingly difficult for workers to become permanent employees.

"The government has allowed market mechanisms to dominate labour relations through the PP 78/2015 on Wages and is closing its eyes to contract labour practices", said Hafiz.

According to Hafiz, this system is unjust for workers because it is full of uncertainties. He says the system provides many ways for companies to safeguard themselves when they face difficulties but by sacrificing workers.

"Contract [labour], outsourcing and [exploitative] apprenticeships are distancing permanent workers from the majority of workers. As a result companies can carry out arbitrary sackings and obstruct the growth of trade unions", said Hafiz.

Hafiz emphasised that giving workers the status of apprentices is often misused by companies in order to pay them less than the minimum provincial wage.

"[Their] employment status is transformed into apprentice workers and wages replaced by pocket money. Not only that, apprentice workers can be sacked at any time", said Hafiz. (jnp/ayp)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Buruh Kritik Jokowi Soal Persentase Kenaikan Upah".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20181125140202-20-349083/buruh-kritik-jokowi-soal-percenttase-kenaikan-upah

Political parties & elections

Presidential contender Prabowo wants peaceful transfer of power

Jakarta Post - November 28, 2018

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – Presidential contender Prabowo Subianto said on Tuesday that Indonesia, which has a majority moderate Muslim population, was a role model for democracy, expressing hope the upcoming presidential could be carried out peacefully.

As the only challenger to incumbent President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in the April poll, the Gerindra Party chairman said Indonesia could learn from Malaysia and South Africa that had successfully held peaceful elections.

"I want to be very open. In a peaceful transfer of power, Indonesian people will be heard and our democracy will be proven to be successful," Prabowo said in his speech during The World 2019 Gala Dinner held by The Economist in Singapore on Tuesday evening.

He also said that the majority of Muslims in Indonesia were moderate and had "grown tired" of being associated with radicalism, adding that it was important for a leader to educate people and clerics so they would not lose their way and become radicalized. "The responsibility of a leader is to teach," he said.

Prabowo pledged that if he was elected president, one of his main priorities would be to establish a clean government. "If I am elected, my biggest goal will be to create a rational and modern bureaucracy, a clean democracy, a clean governance. That will lead to a good atmosphere for investment," he said.

He claimed that today, many foreigners preferred to live in Singapore because the country offered a good and mature legal system and bureaucracy.

"There's legal certainty [for people in Singapore]. That's why many people feel comfortable living in Singapore. I think these [a good legal system and bureaucracy] are what Indonesia need," Prabowo said.

Indonesia's upcoming presidential election, which will be held on April 17, will see a rematch between Prabowo and Jokowi, who also competed for the country's top post in the 2014 election.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/28/presidential-contender-prabowo-wants-peaceful-transfer-of-power.html

Tycoon Tomy Winata supports Jokowi-Maruf pair

Jakarta Post - November 27, 2018

Jakarta – The campaign team of incumbent President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and running mate Ma'ruf Amin has confirmed that tycoon Tomy Winata has thrown his support behind the ticket in next year's presidential election.

"It is true that [Tomy] supports presidential candidate pair number one," said the campaign team's deputy secretary, Verry Surya Hendrawan, on Monday, as quoted by tempo.co, referring to the Jokowi-Ma'ruf ticket's ballot number.

Speculation was rife that the Artha Graha boss had endorsed the Jokowi-Ma'ruf pair after a photo of him holding a shirt emblazoned with "Jokowi-Amin 01" went viral on Sunday. Tomy apparently was attending a walk initiated by Artha Graha in the Sudirman Central Business District (SCBD) area in Jakarta on that day.

Verry said he did not know whether the tycoon would donate money to the campaign, but he ensured that all donations would be managed transparently and in accordance with election regulations.

"All of the donations will be transferred to a bank account designated [to pool] campaign funds, which will be audited regularly," Verry said.

Separately, the campaign team of rival candidate Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno lauded the Jokowi-Ma'ruf pair for receiving support from the tycoon. "I congratulate the pair for receiving support from big businessmen," said Prabowo-Sandiaga campaign team deputy chairman Priyo Budi Santoso.

He added that, although Prabowo had not received an endorsement from a tycoon, a fast number of small enterprises were supporting the candidate. (vny/swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/27/tycoon-tomy-winata-supports-jokowi-maruf-pair.html

Prabowo irked by political correctness, fears ban on laughing

Tempo - November 26, 2018

Francisca Christy Rosana, Jakarta – Presidential hopeful from Indonesia's opposition party Prabowo Subianto said that he is concerned by his words that are being twisted out of context ever since his unintentionally offensive "Boyolali look" statement became controversial not too long ago.

"I'm afraid that merely laughing would be banned. I could no longer use the term 'emak-emak' (slang upon describing housewives), and commenting on s certain look would also be a problem," said Prabowo Subianto in a press release that was published by his campaign team to multiple national media on Monday, November 26.

His concern was voiced in his campaign held at the Dome headquarters in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, on Sunday, November 25. At this event, he described the looks of his supporters as people that are highly loyal and bear the looks of people that would fight for a cause.

He ended his speech during the campaign by stating that he receives no money to make a speech, rather he is glad to see his people laugh and happy. Prabowo promised to return to East Kalimantan and reminded his supporters to not trust in pollsters since he argues that pollsters are biased toward groups with sufficient funding.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/26/055923735/Prabowo-Irked-by-Political-Correctness-Fears-ban-on-Laughing

PP Muhammadiyah undeterred by Amien Rais' political pressures

Tempo - November 26, 2018

Pribadi Wicaksono, Jakarta – Haedar Nashir, the chairman of the country's second largest Islamic organization Muhammadiyah, said that in facing the 2019 presidential race the organization would not deviate from what it had stood for since it was established in Yogyakarta in 1912 by Kiai Haji Ahmad Dahlan.

"Nothing has changed from Muhammadiyah and there never will be any change, Muhammadiyah will continue to stand on its initial identity and [what it stood for]," said Haedar.

His statement is a response to Amien Rais' statement that the latter would strongly warn Haedar if Muhammadiyah failed to make a clear political stand.

Haedar maintained he would safeguard Muhammadiyah's vision in refraining from practical politics and maintaining its neutrality. "Muhammadiyah will always keep its distance from the realm of practical politics and that is a principle that cannot be changed," said Haedar.

Earlier reports suggest that Amien Rais, an advisor of Muhammadiyah, has seemingly pressured the current Muhammadiyah leader to pick a side in the 2019 presidential election.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/26/055923750/PP-Muhammadiyah-Undeterred-by-Amien-Rais-Political-Pressures

Blasphemy & hate speech

Musician Ahmad Dhani could face two years behind bars for alleged hate

Jakarta Post - November 26, 2018

Jakarta – Prosecutors are seeking two years of imprisonment for musician Ahmad Dhani over alleged hate speech.

"We prosecutors demand that the judges declare the suspect guilty beyond reasonable doubt of inciting hatred against a certain group and [sentence him to] two years in prison," the prosecution side read out its statement at the South Jakarta District Court on Monday, as reported by tribunnews.com.

Dhani was named a suspect for posting on his Twitter account messages that allegedly contain hate speech, one of which reads that "anyone who supports a blasphemer is scum that deserves to be spat on in the face," in a clear reference to former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who was sentenced to two years in prison last year for blasphemy against Islam.

The prosecutor added that there was no mitigating factor that could lessen the sentence and that the suspect had created public disquiet.

The tweets were posted during the Jakarta gubernatorial election campaign season, which coincided with Ahok's blasphemy trial. Members of the BTP Network of Ahok supporters reported the singer to the police in March last year. (fac)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/26/musician-ahmad-dhani-could-face-two-years-behind-bars-for-alleged-hate-speech.html

Nationalism & state ideology

Lawmakers want to reactivate Suharto's era Pancasila indoctrination

CNN Indonesia - November 27, 2018

Jakarta – The People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) – the highest legislative body in the country – has responded positively to plans to reactivate Pancasila Moral Education (PMP) courses in schools.

MPR Speaker Zulkifli Hasan says that the proposal made by the Ministry of Education and Culture (Kemendikbud) is a good one and will revive the values of Pancasila as the state ideology.

"I agree. [But] the teaching methods must be adapted to the current era", he said at the parliamentary complex in Jakarta on Tuesday November 27.

Hasan believes that students have lost the benefits of the Pancasila lessons and the Guidelines for the Internalisation and Manifestation of Pancasila (P4) which were taught during the era of former president Suharto's New Order dictatorship.

Yet, said Zulhasan, as he is known to friends, Pancasila as an ideology must be taught well and take root in society. "Now the lessons have gone. Without it, of course students will look for something else", said the chairperson of the Islamic based National Mandate Party (PAN).

Hasan agrees that the PMP lessons should be taught in primary, junior and senior high school and they should not have disappeared even though there was a change of government.

But, he said, Pancasila lesions can no longer be taught through doctrine as they were during the New Order era and he believes that further study is needed on this.

"With today's young children we must accommodate the developments of this era. So there must be study, sitting down together, the right method, what should it be like. It's about the method, the content will be the same", he said.

The Kemendikbud plans to reintroduce PMP courses in order to strengthen the values of Pancasila which have long existed in school environments.

The PMP is a study course which has been taught in schools since 1975 and replaced the citizenship educational courses which had been part of the school curriculum in Indonesia since 1968.

The PMP courses however were again changed in 1994 to become Pancasila and Citizenship Education (PPKn) and in the reformasi era following the fall of Suharto in 1998 became PKn, losing the word Pancasila, which was seen as a product of the New Order. The PMP contains material on Pancasila as analysed in the P4.

"We will reactivate the PMP because there is much that should be revived, because Pancasila is something extraordinary for our nation, that is perhaps what we will do", said the Director General for Teachers and Educators, Supriano, after attending a commemoration of National Teachers Day at the Kemendikbud building in Jakarta on Monday November 26. (ain)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "MPR Sepakat Pendidikan Moral Pancasila Kembali Dihidupkan".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20181127132950-32-349564/mpr-sepakat-pendidikan-moral-pancasila-kembali-dihidupkan

Social organisations & NGOs

Pemuda Muhammadiyah's new leader vows to maintain nonpartisanship

Jakarta Post - November 30, 2018

Bambang Muryanto and Kharishar Kahfi, Yogyakarta and Jakarta – Sunanto, the newly elected chairman of Pemuda Muhammadiyah, the youth wing of Muhammadiyah, the country's second largest Muslim organization, has said he would tread a different path from his predecessor Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak ahead of the 2019 presidential race.

Sunanto pledged that he would not bring the youth group into politics, nor become a supporter of any presidential candidate.

"We will maintain the neutrality of Pemuda Muhammadiyah and I won't be a part of [any] presidential campaign team," Sunanto said in his victory speech on Wednesday night. "This is my commitment. I am committed to carry on [the duties of] Pemuda Muhammadiyah chairman until the end of my term."

His predecessor Dahnil, whose term ended this year, is currently the spokesman of the campaign team of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and running mate Sandiaga Uno – who are challenging President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in the 2019 election.

Sunanto, already a high-ranking official of the youth wing, was elected by an overwhelming vote in the 1,196-member plenary session late on Wednesday late during the wing's national congress in Yogyakarta.

Sunanto won with 590 votes against rivals Ahmad Labibi with 292 votes and Ahmad Fanani with 266 votes. Three other candidates also ran.

Political analyst Adi Prayitno from the State Islamic University (UIN) Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta predicted that Pemuda Muhammdiyah would likely follow in the footsteps of its parent organization Muhammadiyah, which also recently vowed to maintain political impartiality.

"Sunanto is not part of any candidates' campaign team. Therefore, cadres of Pemuda Muhammadiyah are under no obligation to lend their support, as an organization, to either candidates," Adi said.

"I believe both camps in the presidential election will try to pull Pemuda Muhammadiyah toward supporting them. However, I'm optimistic the youth wing will respect the [organizational] hierarchy and follow the stance of its parent organization."

Muhammadiyah chairman Haedar Nashir recently reiterated that the organization would uphold its philosophy of ummatan wasathon (moderate community) and would not pick sides in national politics, despite an apparent division among some Muhammadiyah elite members and influential figures affiliated with the group. A National Mandate Party (PAN) patron and an adviser to the Muhammadiyah central executive board, Amien Rais earlier urged Muhammadiyah to choose a presidential candidate to support in the upcoming election. PAN is part of the coalition backing the Prabowo camp alongside Gerindra, the Democratic Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

In the 2014 presidential election, Muhammadiyah was also divided.

The former chairman of Muhammadiyah's Students Association (IPM), Raja Juli Antoni, who has assumed the role of a campaigner for Jokowi, lauded Sunanto's decision to follow Haedar's nonpartisan lead.

"Just like Haedar, cak Nanto [Sunanto] will maintain Muhammadiyah free from political intervention," said Raja Juli, who is also the secretary-general of the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), which endorses the Jokowi-Ma'ruf Amin ticket, as quoted by tribunnews.com.

He said he suspected that the low number of votes obtained by Fanani, who is said to have been backed by Dahnil, showed that "This was Dahnil's punishment for being reckless when leading Pemuda Muhammadiyah by trying to drag it into politics."

Both Dahnil and Fanani have been in hot water over alleged involvement in a corruption case related to the use of the Youth and Sports Ministry's 2017 budget. The Jakarta Police questioned them last week as witnesses in an alleged misuse of Rp 2 billion (US$137,888) channeled by the ministry to finance an Indonesian Islamic Youth camp conducted in Yogjakarta last year. The two have maintained their innocence. (ipa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/29/pemuda-muhammadiyahs-new-leader-vows-to-maintain-nonpartisanship.html

Internet & social media

People treated as political tools, UGM sociologist says

Tempo - November 26, 2018

Taufiq Siddiq, Budiarti Utami Putri, Francisca Christy Romana, Jakarta – Gadjah Mada University (UGM) Sociologist Sunyoto Usman said the recent deadly feud triggered by a heated online argument between two supporters of different presidential hopefuls was the result of the unhealthy political climate promoted by politicians that often made allegations against each other.

"The tendency of our politicians that often accuse each other, defame each other, debate in an unhealthy way, is setting an example to their followers and society in general who still lack proper political education," said Sunyoto when Tempo reached him today.

This type of narrative has made people believe that the 2019 presidential election is about a massive battle that must be won, and this dangerous perception can drive a person to engage in physical confrontations.

Sunyoto said the people in general are being used as political tools instead of general election participants. This situation causes people to conduct irrational and egotistical behaviors, which can continue to fuel their emotional aspects and make them easily hate one another.

"There are currently many people that lack the sufficient political education who show their support because of proximity factors and economic factors, making them easily mobilized," said Sunyoto.

The sociologist maintained that the people involved in political elections should position the society in general as political participants so that their support would result from ideas.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/26/055923747/People-Treated-as-Political-Tools-UGM-Sociologist-Says

Social media election challenge ends in fatal shooting

Jakarta Post - November 26, 2018

Jakarta – A challenge on social media related to the 2019 presidential election has led to a death of one man in Sampang regency, East Java.

Suspect Andika allegedly shot Subaidi to death on Nov. 21 with a homemade pistol in a duel, following a heated exchange over a challenge issued in connection with the upcoming presidential election, kompas.com reported.

The duel was triggered by a photo Subaidi's teacher had uploaded, showing the teacher armed with sharp weapons and a caption challenging supporters of the "other" presidential candidate. Andika accepted the challenge in the photo's comments thread.

A few days later, Subaidi uploaded a video accusing Andika of cowardice for failing to meet his teacher's challenge. He also threatened to kill Andika if they met.

The incident occurred when Andika, a dental technician, apparently cancelled a visit to one of his patients in a local village to meet Subaidi in Sampang. Andika arrived armed with a homemade pistol and Sandika with a bladed weapon. Andika allegedly shot Sandika in the chest and killed him.

"Sampang police officers apprehended the suspect [Andika] mere hours after the incident," East Java Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Frans Barung Mangera said on Saturday. It is still unclear which candidate Andika supported.

The Police are charging Andika with premeditated murder, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment or the death penalty. (kuk)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/26/social-media-election-challenge-ends-in-fatal-shooting.html

Environment & natural disasters

Indonesian island clean-up nets 40 tons of rubbish daily

Agence France Presse - November 30, 2018

Jakarta – Residents on a string of coral-fringed islands off Jakarta's coast are battling a tidal wave of trash, with more than 40 tons of rubbish collected daily over the past week, an official said.

Indonesian authorities have deployed an army of staff and a fleet of boats to help clear rubbish-infested shorelines and surrounding waters, underscoring the Southeast Asian archipelago's mammoth marine waste problem.

It is the world's second biggest contributor to marine debris after China, producing about 1.29 million metric tons annually.

This week's clean-up operation is centred on an area known as the Thousand Islands, a popular day trip from the traffic-clogged capital.

Residents of one island have reported dead turtles in the area, although Yusen Hardiman, head of the region's environment department, said it was not yet clear if it was a result of ingesting rubbish.

A sperm whale was found dead last week in a marine park off Sulawesi island with 115 plastic cups and 25 plastic bags in its stomach.

Indonesia's marine waste problem has become so bad that officials last year declared a "garbage emergency" after a stretch of coast in Bali was swamped with rubbish.

Some 264 sanitation officers are involved in the ongoing clean-up of the Thousand Islands, while 13 boats regularly patrol trash-choked areas of the archipelago with another 10 set to be added to the fleet next year.

Most of the rubbish clogging the chain of islands is from elsewhere, flushed into the ocean by bulging rivers or swirling currents during the monsoon season, Hardiman said in a statement late Thursday.

Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, has pledged to reduce marine plastic waste by 70 percent by 2025. But poor waste-processing infrastructure and low awareness among its 260 million inhabitants prove major obstacles.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/30/indonesian-island-clean-up-nets-40-tons-of-rubbish-daily-.html

Over one third of Indonesia's coral reefs in bad state: Study

Agence France Presse - November 29, 2018

Jakarta – More than a third of Indonesia's coral reefs are in bad condition, scientists said Tuesday, raising concerns about the future of the archipelago's vast marine ecosystem.

The precarious state of the country's coral reefs was revealed after a survey of 1067 sites across the sprawling country of more than 17,000 islands.

Scientists from Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) found that just 6.5 percent Indonesia's coral reefs were in excellent condition, while 36 percent are in bad condition. Some 34 percent in sufficient condition with the rest classifed as being in good condition.

"Anthropogenic factors are having more influence on the condition of corals in Indonesia today," Dr Dirhamsyah, head of the institute's oceanographic research centre, said in a statement. "The use of coast has increased which can threaten the ecosystem."

Dirhamsyah, who like many Indonesians has only one name, said greater public awareness was needed "for the survival of marine life" in Indonesia.

Indonesia has one of the most extensive coral reef systems in the world and more people live close to reefs than anywhere else on the planet, according to the Coral Reef Alliance.

But the giant living organisms face a number of threats, including man-made climate change, destructive fishing techniques and nutrient and sediment loading.

Indonesia is also the world's second biggest contributor to marine debris after China, producing an estimated 1.29 million metric tons annually.

Conservation group WWF warned last month up to half of the globe's shallow-water reefs, which support a quarter of all marine life, have already been wiped out.

If humanity fails to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, coral mortality is likely to hit 70-90 percent by the middle of the century, the United Nations warned in a recent report.

Indonesia is part of the Coral Triangle, the most biodiverse marine area on earth which passes through six countries, including the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/29/over-one-third-of-indonesias-coral-reefs-in-bad-state-study.html

Jakarta plans to ban single-use plastic bags

Jakarta Post - November 28, 2018

Jakarta – The Jakarta Administration is currently drafting a gubernatorial regulation that will ban single-use plastic bags.

"The most important point is that we want to ban the use of single-use plastics, such as kresek-kresek [plastic grocery bags]," Jakarta Environment Agency head Isnawa Adji said on Wednesday, kompas.com reported.

He said the policy would be made because plastic waste was dangerous and was piling up too much. It decomposed slowly and posed a health threat if it became pollution.

"Plastics are potentially dangerous for human health because they have carcinogens that can cause cancer. This is important because there is a lot of trash in Jakarta, such as in the gutters, roads and sidewalks," Isnawa said.

He said that Jakartans had already agreed to reduce plastic waste. According to a survey by the Indonesia Plastic Bags Diet Movement (GIDKP), more than 90 percent of the residents of Jakarta agreed to reduce their use of plastics.

He said one of the efforts to reduce plastic use was to limit plastic straws at restaurants, with other places following the example. He said the agency would initially ask for the opinions of stakeholders and citizens in the months before enacting the ban.

"Perhaps there should be incentives and disincentives for retailers [to reduce plastic use]. That's what we would try to discuss with retailers. Not that we hate plastics producers – we want their opinions too. We will discuss it," Isnawa said.

The customs and excise directorate general of the Finance Ministry is also mulling over a plan to enact an excise tax on plastic bags next year to reduce their use. (ami)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/28/jakarta-plans-to-ban-single-use-plastic-bags.html

Little-known dam project 'would destroy Sumatran wonderland'

Asia Times - November 25, 2018

Gregory McCann and Haray Sampurna Munthe – The general public knows about the precarious situation of the world's most recently identified great ape – the Tapanuli orangutan – within the Batang Toru Ecosystem.

There, the construction of a Chinese-backed dam is underway, a questionable development scheme that is already sending orangutans fleeing out of the forest and into nearby farmlands.

This is a highly distressing situation, made all the more so because this forest is also home to other species listed by the IUCN as critically endangered, such as the Sumatran tiger.

But not many people know about another new dam going up in a relatively unknown forest ecosystem not far from Batang Toru – the Hadabuan Hills Ecosystem.

There, amid the jungle walls of tropical rainforest, where Siamang and Agile gibbons cry out and where Rhinoceros hornbills and Black hornbills growl and cackle above the forest canopy, survey work by a Korean hydroelectric company has just wrapped up, and construction is slated to begin in 2020 on a dam called Siborpa Hydroelectric Power Plant.

The dam is named after a beautiful waterfall by the same name – Siborpa – that it will destroy, as it will be built on the Bila River close to the waterfall. This seems like a particularly cruel twist, naming a killer after its victim.

To the best of our knowledge, not a single Western scientist or tourist has ever glimpsed this waterfall, which roars off a narrow and jagged escarpment into the deep and swift Bila River, which flows southeast to the city of Rantau Prabat in North Sumatra province and then glides through palm oil plantations before emptying into the Strait of Malacca.

The Hadabuan Hills area isn't a national park or a wildlife sanctuary; about half of it is considered a hutan desa, or village forest. It is essentially a cluster of steep mountains that were too difficult to cultivate quickly and easily, and were thus spared wholesale conversion to oil palm plantations due to the challenging topography.

The PRCF Foundation, Habitat ID (headed by Gregory McCann), and the local grassroots organization Sumatran Tiger Rangers (headed by Haray Sampurna Munthe), have been carrying out camera trap reconnaissance surveys in the area, as well as occasional forest patrols, for the past three years.

So far, we have confirmed the presence of tigers, clouded leopards, marbled cats, golden cats, Malayan tapirs, sun bears, leaf monkeys, the fast-disappearing Sumatran Laughingthrush, and a plethora of other wildlife. If this place isn't a national treasure, we don't know what is.

It may be a forgotten, leftover land of rare species, but that doesn't mean that the Hadabuan Hills has fallen off the radar of local and international developers.

Construction of the 114-megawatt Siborpa Dam will not only plug up this section of the Bila River and doom the gorgeous Siborpa waterfall, but a series of access roads will likely need to be punched through healthy forests, scattering tigers, tapirs, and hornbills just as the Batang Toru dam is sending the Tapanuli orangutans packing.

In fact, a villager told us that a tiger recently strolled right into the tent camp of the Korean survey engineers, who ran for their lives. It's a picturesque tale, but it is unlikely to repeat – or at least, to result in a similarly benign outcome – when the heavy construction equipment rolls in and sturdy workers' barracks go up.

Thirty or 40 years ago, Batang Toru and the Hadabuan Hills, which are about 70 kilometers apart, were connected by lowland forest, which is one of the reasons why we thought there might be some credence to villager reports that orangutans had been sighted in the Hadabuan Hills in recent years.

For our 2017 expedition, we brought in primatologist Julia Morchen, a PhD candidate from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, to assess the possibility of an orangutan presence.

She found that the high fruit abundance and diversity found in all elevations (more than 93 fruits and flowers documented, from a range of 300 to 2,000 meters above sea level), as well as the abundant presence of at least five different primate species, distinguish the area and fulfill the criteria of being a good habitat for orangutans.

Although we gathered several independent reports of local villagers sighting orangutans and their nests or hearing the "long calls" of males in different locations around the Hadabuan Hills, the short time period of the expedition didn't allow us to gather direct evidence of the great ape's presence. Therefore it becomes clear that we need an orangutan-specific second expedition with a different strategic approach of spending more time in the area with a much smaller number of people, which would allow us to survey the area specifically and in more detail.

Most likely orangutans were present in the Hadabuan Hills decades ago – the question is whether or not a relic population persists or even just some individuals remain. According to Morchen, these individuals will most likely belong to the newly recognized species of the Tapanuli orangutan, Pongo tapanuliensis. However, due to the high elevation, the population density would probably be very low. But, orangutans or not, the Hadabuan Hills area is a biological gem that deserves full protection from the dams, palm oil plantations, and poachers that now threaten it.

This is a place where magic-eyed tigers entice monkeys and gibbons to fall from trees through hypnotism, and so well-known is this "magic" to the primate community that gibbons and monkeys have reportedly taken to sleeping on branches that overhang rivers so that if they fall during the night – nudged off a branch from down below by the tiger's powerful pupils – they'll have at least a fighting chance at survival in the swift-moving rivers.

Tigers, rock carvings

Anecdotal reports also describe tigers stealing recently-gutted fish from evening campsites where fishermen were just an arm's length away, with the big cats either partially submerged in the river or crouching low in the gloom of the nearby foliage. Some tigers, so the stories go, unwilling to creep too close to camp, will swat the ground several times in succession with their mighty paws, demanding a tasty river fish from the human intruders, until those intruders toss a few to harimau, King of the jungle.

And it is not just wildlife, rivers, and jungles that are of interest in this little-known ecosystem. Rock carvings, of possibly ancient, pre-Islamic origin, have been found chiseled into a limestone cliff beside the Bila River. Rock carvings are pretty much impossible to date, so the images have to be compared stylistically to other similar carvings from the region.

Rock carvings of insects and hornbills are somewhat unusual, and probably better pondered by professional archaeologists. It is possible that more carvings will be found, while a couple of thousand feet above the river, in the village of Lobu Tayas, large stone carvings of what are apparently ancient kings or gods have been found and are looked after by villagers. Hadabuan Hills is, therefore, a natural and cultural treasure for Indonesia.

We called it a "leftover land," but Hadabuan Hills has got to be one of the prettiest places in Sumatra, and that's saying something. To see it badly scarred by a hydroelectric dam of questionable use and value would be deeply disturbing. We have seen what dams do in the tropics: it is like some kind of famine has ravaged the biodiversity, leaving behind a dead, broken, and drowned ecosystem. This cannot be allowed to happen to yet another biodiversity hotspot in Indonesia.

Is there any hope? Any plan? We would like to install several camera traps in and around the dam construction site to show the government that nationally protected species such as tigers and tapirs reside in this area, in order to get them to reconsider this project. We have started a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for it.

Big business almost always wins in situations like this; maybe the tigers can work some of their magic for us and stop the Siborpa Dam.

[Gregory McCann is the Project Coordinator for the NGO Habitat ID and the author of Called Away by a Mountain Spirit: Journeys to the Green Corridor. Haray Sampurna Munthe is the founder of Sumatran Tiger Rangers. This story appeared first on Mongabay.]

Source: http://www.atimes.com/article/little-known-dam-project-would-destroy-sumatran-wonderland/

We are not against palm oil, but against deforestation: Greenpeace

Jakarta Post - November 24, 2018

Jakarta – Environmental watchdog Greenpeace Indonesia has responded to a statement from the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) and the Indonesian Oil Palm Farmers Association (Apkasindo) that called on the government to take firm action against Greenpeace, which they said was harming Indonesia's economy.

"To be clear, Greenpeace is not anti-palm oil, it is anti-deforestation," Kiki Taufik, head of Greenpeace Indonesia Global Forest Campaign, said in a statement to The Jakarta Post.

Apindo and Apkasindo made their statement in response to Greenpeace's 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".

The industry group said Greenpeace's campaign had insulted the dignity of Indonesia with accusations of dirty palm oil.

Wilmar earlier urged Greenpeace to take "collaborative action" with the company if it wanted to improve the palm oil industry. It also said in a statement that Greenpeace did not take into account that palm oil was "the most efficient" vegetable oil.

Greenpeace said it was aware that palm oil was an important plantation product for Indonesia and that the crop was a more "efficient crop generally in terms of land use" than soybean or sunflower.

"If palm oil is banned, companies or governments might turn to other crops, which might replace palm oil's role in deforestation [or even worsen it] in Indonesia and elsewhere. We support palm oil from producers or palm oil companies that aren't destroying forests or exploiting people, and there's plenty of palm oil that fits that bill," it went on.

Greenpeace noted that the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) was an example of a multi-stakeholder initiative from the most progressive palm oil producers and NGOs, including Greenpeace.

"POIG represents 'best in class' standards for palm oil production and properly addresses the environmental, social and human rights impacts of palm oil development. Local people shouldn't have to lose their livelihoods over palm oil, but the current situation means the production of palm oil can result in land grabs, loss of livelihoods and social conflict," Kiki said.

Greenpeace argued that the economic benefits of the palm oil boom had fallen to a handful of already-wealthy individuals that control the big plantation companies.

The watchdog also noted that the Oil Palm Smallholders Union (SPKS) had filed a judicial review in April this year on a 2015 government regulation on plantation funds, specifically about subsidies for biofuel products.

The union argued that regulation had failed to increase palm oil productivity as it was supposed to, and only benefited companies receiving biodiesel incentives.

In 2016, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) issued a report on the palm oil industry and showed that from August 2015 to April 2016, 81.8 percent of the biofuel subsidy totaling Rp 3.26 trillion was channeled to four companies: PT Wilmar Bionergi Indonesia (Rp 779 billion), PT Wilmar Nabati Indonesia (Rp 1.02 trillion), Musim Mas Grup (Rp 534 billion), PT Darmex Biofuel (Rp 330 billion).

"Only a fraction of this amount has been spent on smallholders," said Kiki. "It is these practices that insult the dignity of Indonesia, and palm oil traders like Wilmar jeopardize Indonesian palm oil commodities and the state economy in the long run. Greenpeace calls on the government to take firm action against these forest destroyers, and law enforcement is key," said Kiki. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/24/we-are-not-against-palm-oil-but-against-deforestation-greenpeace.html

Health & education

Online cigarette ads affect teens: Study

Tempo - November 30, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – Researcher Lestari Nurhajati from London School of Public Relations (LSPR) Jakarta revealed online cigarette advertisements had significantly affected teenagers.

"The bombardment of online media cigarette ads has significantly affected teenagers' smoking habit up to 31.8 percent," said Lestari in the dissemination of the research's results on the situations and challenges on tobacco control in Jakarta on Wednesday.

The research was conducted on 173 teenagers in a number of major cities such as Semarang, Yogyakarta, Jakarta, Bandung, and Surabaya. According to its results, 100 percent respondents who are active smokers say they will keep their habit after seeing an online cigarette ad.

Meanwhile, 10 percent of the respondents have a tendency to smoke after seeing an online cigarette advertisement.

"As much as 57.8 percent of the respondents were aware of the contents of the advertisements, moreover, 8.7 percent are really aware of it. Other than that, 58 percent of them know what the cigarette advertisements are meant for," said Lestari.

Lestari revealed that 47 percent of the respondents acknowledged cigarette ads were extremely creative and 12.1 percent tended to enjoy online cigarette ads. "Which is why the campaign to curb tobacco and the dangers of smoking among teens must be stepped up in online platforms that can be accessed by teens," she maintained.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/30/055923897/Online-Cigarette-Ads-Affect-Teens-Study

Ministry to disburse funds to cover healthcare agency

Jakarta Post - November 27, 2018

Jakarta – The Finance Ministry has promised to disburse more funds to cover the Health Care and Social Security Agency's (BPJS Kesehatan) deficit because the revenue from premiums paid by clients was not enough to cover healthcare costs.

"The disbursement is being processed and I am required to monitor everything," said Deputy Finance Minister Mardiasmo in Jakarta on Tuesday. He did not mention the amount and disbursement schedule.

Kontan.co.id previously reported that the amount was about Rp 5.6 trillion (US$386 million).

Mardiasmo said the disbursement was based on an evaluation by the Development Finance Comptroller (BPKP) and would be taken from the reserve fund allocated in the 2018 state budget.

In August, the BPKP announced that BPJS Kesehatan's total deficit had reached Rp 10.98 trillion. In September, the Finance Ministry disbursed Rp 4.9 trillion to help cover it.

BPJS Kesehatan administers the National Health Insurance (JKN) program, which has 195.2 million members.

Low-income members' premiums are paid in full by the government, while the difference is split between privately employed workers and employers. Independent workers and non-workers must pay the premium themselves. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/27/ministry-to-disburse-funds-to-cover-healthcare-agency.html

I appreciate what Catholic schools have done for multiculturalism:

Jakarta Post - November 25, 2018

Jakarta – Education and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy said in a statement sent by his assistant to The Jakarta Post on Sunday that he appreciated what Catholic educational institutions have done in spreading values of multiculturalism.

A staff member of the ministry, Nasrullah, said Muhadjir was aware of the negative comments that were made in response to the Post's article on Saturday and that it was a misunderstanding.

The article quoted the minister as saying that all educators should teach tolerance. The minister gave the speech in front of school teachers under the National Board on Catholic Education (MNPK) in Jayapura.

The minister said as quoted by Nasrullah that he attended the event, organized by the MNPK on Saturday, on the invitation of Catholic priest Rev. Darmin, the head of the MNPK. "This is not the first time I attended the MNPK's events," he said in the statement.

"I came because I appreciate and support what Catholic educational institutions have done, especially those under the MNPK," he said.

The event was titled "Strengthening Character Education Based on Multiculturalism Toward a Loving Civilization".

"What Catholic schools have done in teaching multiculturalism is important and should be done by other schools. I support the MNPK's policy in affirming character education by strengthening the multiculturalism dimension. Our educational process has to grow the culture of tolerance, openness and dialogue," the minister said. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/25/i-appreciate-what-catholic-schools-have-done-for-multiculturalism-minister-muhadjir.html

Indonesian minister calls on Catholic school educators to teach

Jakarta Post - November 24, 2018

Dyaning Pangestika, Jakarta – Education and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy said on Saturday that educators should encourage multicultural dialogues with students to teach students to embrace diversity.

At an annual meeting of Catholic educational institutions in Jayapura, Papua, on Saturday, Muhadjir said he supported educational institutions' initiatives to integrate diversity values in their teachings.

"Every educator has a responsibility to create a multicultural environment [at schools]. It should be their responsibility," Muhadjir said in a statement.

Muhadjir cited as an example that accusing other people of intolerance for wearing religious clothing and symbols was not a good thing to do. "We need transparency and dialogue to look for solutions together," Muhadjir said.

Chairman of the National Catholic Education Council Rev. Darmin appreciated Muhadjir's efforts for integrating character-building values in the ministry's programs.

"We believe that character-building should embrace [the country's] reality of multiculturalism. Papua itself is a reflection of diversity. Any form of education that leaves out local culture will soon lose its roots," he said.

The annual National Catholic Education Council working meeting was attended by 300 participants representing Catholic educational institutions from 37 different dioceses nationwide.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/24/indonesian-minister-calls-on-catholic-school-educators-to-teach-multiculturalism.html

LGBT & same-sex marriage

Indonesian city to fine LGBT for being 'public nuisance'

Agence France Presse - November 30, 2018

Padang, West Sumatra – An Indonesian city plans to slap its gay and transgendered residents with a one million rupiah ($70) fine for disturbing "public order", underscoring a marked rise in discrimination against the Muslim-majority nation's small LGBT community.

The country of 260 million is in the grips 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.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia – except in Islamic law-abiding Aceh province – but there has been a backlash against the community in recent years. The shift, led by increasingly powerful religious hardliners, has dented Indonesia's reputation for moderate Islam.

This week, Pariaman city on Sumatra island passed a sweeping regulation banning "acts that are considered LGBT".

The regulation, which has been reviewed by AFP, forbids "immoral acts" between same-sex couples and prohibits residents from "acting as a transvestite", but it offers few concrete examples of banned behaviour.

"Same-sex LGBT and transgender people will be subject to sanctions and fines if they disturb the public order," said Fitri Nora, head of the local legislature.

Pariaman's deputy mayor Mardison Mahyudin said the new rules were born out of "anxiety" about Indonesia's LGBT community.

Anti-LGBT demonstrations have erupted in several cities recently, including the capital Jakarta, while authorities hosed down a group of transgender women in what they called a "mandatory bath".

Several cities in West Sumatra province, including Pariaman, have taken steps to marginalise LGBT groups, and the provincial government called a special meeting Thursday to discuss the issue.

Following the meeting, governor Irwan Prayitno said officials and concerned parties were searching for a province-wide solution to the "LGBT problem"."At a minimum, we're trying to prevent the population from increasing," Prayitno told AFP.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/30/indonesian-city-to-fine-lgbt-for-being-public-nuisance.html

LGBT people in West Sumatra city face Rp1 million fine if they 'disturb

Detik News - November 29, 2018

Jeka Kampai, Padang – The Pariaman municipal government in West Sumatra has responded swiftly to anxiety about deviant behaviour by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people in the city.

The LGBT problem has been officially included in a regional regulation (perda) and LGBT people can now be fined 1 million rupiah (approx US$70) if they create unrest.

The bylaw was enacted during a plenary meeting of the Pariaman Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) on the evening of Tuesday November 27 at the Pariaman City parliamentary building.

The bylaw containing the provisions on LGBT is a revision of the existing Regional Regulation on Peace and Order. There are two articles in the bylaw which regulate LGBT people and transgender women (waria), namely Articles 24 and 25.

Article 24 regulates the activities transgender women and those whose activities disturb public order. Article 25 meanwhile prohibits the activities of women and men who commit immoral (asusila) acts between the same sexes.

"Perpetrators of asusila and same-sex relations in the form of LGBT and waria will incur sanctions and fines if they disturb public order", said DPRD Pariaman speaker Fitri Nora from Prabowo Subianto's Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) when she handed the bylaw over to city leaders.

Violations of these two articles are subject to a fine of as much as 1 million rupiah.

Pariaman Deputy Mayor Mardison Mahyudin claimed that the bylaw was enacted based on the wishes of all parties in Pariaman City. "Many residents are anxious. There have been many reports, so we needed to make a regulation", Mahyudin told Detik.com on Wednesday November 28.

According to Mahyudin, there will be derivative bylaws enacted in the form of regulations at the village and ward level.

"Later there may well be village regulations or ward regulations, whose punishments will not just be a 1 million rupiah fine but there will also be social sanctions", he said.

The social sanctions referred to will be applied in each respective community, where each region applies different customary laws and various kinds of punishments. They could be paying for cement [to build a village structure] or something else. (asp/asp)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Perda Pariaman Sumbar Ancam LGBT dengan Denda Rp 1 Juta".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita/d-4322284/perda-pariaman-sumbar-ancam-lgbt-dengan-denda-rp-1-juta

Two transwomen report being brutally beaten and stripped by gang of

Coconuts Jakarta - November 26, 2018

The moral panic over LGBT rights in Indonesia has risen to alarming levels in recent weeks, with numerous instances of mass anti-LGBT demonstrations led by government officials promising to take more discriminatory action against the villainized minority group. In such a climate, an instance of outright mob violence against LGBT individuals seemed inevitable.

That is what allegedly happened in the Jakarta satellite city of Bekasi last week, where two transgender women filed a report with the police saying they had been the victims of a brutal assault by around 50 young men on the night of Monday, November 19.

The women, who have chosen to remain anonymous out of fear for their safety, have received assistance from a number of activist organizations but so far the police have not announced whether they will be investigating the case.

According to Ryan Korbarri – an activist from the LGBT rights group Arus Pelangi who spoke to KBR about the case – the gang of men beat and stripped the women over the course of a horrific hour-long ordeal during which the assailants berated them for violating God's will.

Ryan said the assault was carried out in the middle of the night at a place where the victims were hanging out with some friends. The assailants allegedly removed their clothes and cut their hair short. One of them was beaten with an iron rod.

The two suffered extensive injuries all over their bodies and are still recovering at a Bekasi hospital.

According to Ryan, there was strong evidence that could be used to catch the perpetrators, specifically CCTV footage at banks and restaurants near the scene of the crime. However, according to the latest reports from KBR and CNN Indonesia, both the Bekasi Police and the National Police have thus far chosen not to comment on the alleged crime or whether any attempt at an investigation would be done.

Fortunately, several rights activist groups have stepped in to do what the government should be – namely helping to protect the women and assist them in their pursuit of justice. Lawyers from LBH Masyarakat (People's Legal Aid Foundation) reported the incident to the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), which noted that Indonesian police did not successfully resolve a single case involving the use of violence against transgender victims in 2017.

Komnas HAM member Beka Ulung Hapsara said the police needed to be more sensitive towards the persecution faced by the LGBT community if they were going to fulfill their purpose of protecting all Indonesian citizens equally.

Beka also said that, according to Komnas HAM's data, the number of reports they've seen of violence or discrimination against LGBT individuals is on the rise, though the number was probably far higher than even they knew about since many victims were too scared to come forward.

In addition to Komnas HAM and LGBT Masyarakat, the Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK) also said they were ready to provide protection to the two victims should they ask for it.

The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) has said that discriminatory regional regulations were the main cause of the rampant violence against the LGBT community, citing more than 400 such regulations across the country, many of which encouraged residents and officials in those area to feel safe in discriminating against minority groups.

Indeed, the ordeal reported to the police by the two transwomen in Bekasi strongly echoes actions in an incident from January in which Sharia Police in Aceh (the only region of Indonesia with special autonomy to enact explicitly sharia-based law) publicly detained a group of 12 transgender women, shaved their heads and gave them men's clothing in an extra-legal act that was criticized by human rights defenders in Indonesia and around the world.

In another incident from earlier this month, three transwomen in the province of Lampung were hosed down using a fire truck by local authorities in order to cleanse their "impurities".

Since January, acts of state-sponsored discrimination against LGBT individuals have increased throughout the country, with politicians in some highly conservative regions such as West Sumatra promising harsh new regulations to curb LGBT behavior, which some speculate is little more than a political ploy to gain favor among the electorate by scapegoating the embattled minority group ahead of next year's elections.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/two-transwomen-report-brutally-beaten-stripped-gang-young-men-bekasi/

Indonesian transgender people fight for rights after attacks

Jakarta Post - November 24, 2018

Gisela Swaragita, Jakarta – A human right activist, who are helping her waria (transgender woman) friends find justice, visited the National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) and National Commission on Human Rights on Friday after her friends were attacked on Monday night.

The activist, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, said finding support to fight discrimination was "imperative because the persecution of waria is on the increase".

She said the election year had led to an increase in attacks on waria – who form part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community – especially by religious groups. "We want there to be no more attacks on waria. As Indonesian nationals, we all have the same rights."

'Beaten and stripped off their clothes'

Dozens of men attacked the two waria in Bekasi, West Java, on Monday night. The activist said one of them had arrived at the scene at around midnight for a gathering with friends, while the other victim had already been waiting there.

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

She added that the men had parked their motorcycles and continued the chase on foot, catching the victims in front of a fast food outlet.

The men then forced one of the waria, who looked more feminine, to strip but then told her to put her clothes back on after seeing her breasts. They assaulted her with a metal rod and cut off her long hair.

The other victim, who wore a short wig and 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 waria]."

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

After the attack, several onlookers, including restaurant employees, assisted the victims and helped them to get dressed. They also advised them to report the incident to the police, but the victims were reluctant to do so. "Fortunately, they still had their mobile phones and money to order a taxi home," she said. "They have bruises around the eyes and chest as well as cuts on their limbs."

Past attacks

Earlier this week, seven waria in East Jakarta were told to leave their boarding house by some of their neighbors. They have lived there for five to 10 years and this is the first time that something like this has happened to them.

The Bekasi activist said the attack against her friends was not the only attack against waria in the area. She said several men had also harassed and pulled another friend's hair. "But she chose not to go to the police because she was too scared."

'What report?'

However, after Monday's incident, she was determined to do something to stop such attacks.

The victims reported the attack to the Bekasi Police on Wednesday. They also went to Bekasi General Hospital to undergo a medical examination to record their wounds and complete the report.

Bekasi Police chief Sr. Comr. Indarto said he had not received any information about the report. "What report?" he asked the The Jakarta Post. "What were they doing on the streets?

Pratiwi Febry, a public advocate with the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta), said a police officer should never ask such questions when a hate crime is reported. "What they did on the streets should never be the focus of the investigation."

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/24/indonesian-transgender-people-fight-for-rights-after-attacks.html

Corruption & abuse of power

KPK names two judges bribery suspects, pushes for judicial reform

Jakarta Post - November 29, 2018

Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has named two South Jakarta District Court judges and a court clerk suspects of bribery in connection with a civil case the judges were handling.

The three suspects – judge Iswahyu Widodo, who presided in the civil suit related to a business acquisition, judge Irwan and Muhammad Ramadhan, court clerk at the East Jakarta District Court – were apprehended during an operation conducted by investigators from Tuesday night to Wednesday early morning, KPK deputy chairman Alexander Marwata said.

"In total, we named five individuals suspects in the case," Alexander told a press briefing on Wednesday night.

Alexander was referring to two other suspects – lawyer Arif Fitrawan and businessman Martin P. Silitonga, who allegedly passed on the bribes to the judges via the clerk, who once was stationed at the South Jakarta District Court.

"The illicit funds in question allegedly were paid to influence the judges handling a certain case at the South Jakarta District Court," Alexander said. Investigators also seized money amounting to S$47,000 (US$34,281) during the operation.

The case comes less than three months after the KPK named judge Merry Purba of the Medan District Court in North Sumatra a suspect of bribery in a corruption case she was handling at the time.

Wednesday's arrests immediately raised public questions on the efficacy of the ongoing judicial reform, which was started by the Supreme Court in the early 2000s, involving civil society groups and aiming to improve the integrity and professionalism of the country's judicial system.

According to data from the KPK's Anticorruption Clearing House (ACCH), at least 18 judges were prosecuted from 2010 to May 2018. One of the cases occurred in October 2017, when KPK investigators arrested Manado High Court Judge Sudiwardono. In June, Sudiwardono was sentenced to six years in prison for accepting bribes paid to influence an appellate bench handling a corruption case related to allowances for village officials (TPAPD) in Bolaang Mongondow, North Sulawesi.

The KPK on Wednesday pushed the Supreme Court on its pledged judicial reform, particularly with regard to improving its case handling system to prevent bribery.

"We expect [the Supreme Court] to carry out an evaluation in the management of the judiciary," Alexander said, revealing that the KPK was collaborating with the Development and Finance Comptroller (BPKP) to help audit and improve the management of some lower courts and high courts.

Kompas.com reported that Supreme Court spokesman Justice Suhadi has said the two South Jakarta District Court judges might soon be suspended. (ipa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/29/KPK-names-two-judges-bribery-suspects-pushes-for-judicial-reform.html

KPK: Daily sting operations possible with enough manpower

Tempo - November 27, 2018

Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta – Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Chairman Agus Rahardjo claimed that if his agency were equipped with enough personnel, it would able to conduct daily sting operations (OTT) against state organizers.

"If the KPK had enough manpower, we would be able to conduct daily OTTs," claimed Agus in discussing the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) review at the KPK headquarters today, Nov. 27.

Despite the many arrests KPK had been conducting for the past years, Agus suspected that a large number of state officials remain corrupt. "Those state organizers might be finished completely if we had the manpower," he said.

Furthermore, Agus said that society's role upon eradicating corruption must be included in the Law for Corruption Crimes (UU Tipikor). He argued that the public must be empowered by the law to assist authorities, including KPK, in eradicating corruption.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/27/055923777/KPK-Daily-Sting-Operations-Possible-with-Enough-Manpower

Terrorism & religious extremism

Kalla urges high-ranking officials to lead govt mosques amid extremism

Jakarta Post - November 26, 2018

Jakarta – Vice President Jusuf Kalla has urged high-ranking government officials who have a deep understanding of Islam to lead government office mosques, following a recent study that found that dozens of mosques at government offices in Jakarta have been promoting extreme Islamic teachings.

Kalla, who also serves as the chairman of the Indonesian Mosque Council (DMI), said the appointment of high-ranking officials would prevent the spread of extreme teachings. At present, low-ranking officials lead most government office mosques in Jakarta.

"These appointments will serve as a filter [of the teachings of each mosque]," Kalla said during the council's meeting in Jakarta on Sunday, as quoted by kompas.com.

Earlier this week, State Intelligence Agency (BIN) spokesman Wawan Hari Purwanto, revealed that imams at 41 places of worship in government offices in Jakarta alone were preaching extremism to their congregations, who are mostly civil servants, AFP reported.

The number was based on a study released in July by the Nahdlatul Ulama's association of Islamic boarding schools and social development (P3M).

According to the report, at least 17 clerics were found to be expressing support or sympathy for the Islamic State (IS) movement, and were encouraging their congregations to fight for the Islamist group in Syria and Marawi, the Philippine city that was overrun by foreign IS fighters last year.

Responding to the report, Kalla said the council would ask for more information from representatives of the mosques. "We will ask each mosque, especially the ones located at government offices, to evaluate [their system]." (kuk)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/26/kalla-urges-high-ranking-officials-to-lead-govt-mosques-amid-extremism.html

Freedom of religion & worship

Fears grow over app to police minorities

Jakarta Post - November 26, 2018

Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta – The launch of a mobile application that allows members of the public to report beliefs they consider to be misguided or heretical has sparked fears that it could lead to increased persecution of minority groups in the country.

The app, called Smart Pakem (monitoring religious beliefs), was launched by the Jakarta Prosecutors Office (Kejati) and includes features such as a list of forbidden beliefs and banned mass organizations, a directory of fatwas issued by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and a form to report complaints or information about religious beliefs or sects.

"If there are reports from the public, we can immediately act on them. Before, people needed to write a letter, which was troublesome. Through this application, we will immediately know where the reports come from," Kejati Jakarta assistant for intelligence matters Yulianto said at the app's launch on Thursday as quoted by kompas.com.

National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) commissioner Choirul Anam said the app could potentially lead to the violation of religious freedom.

"[The app] can result in persecution, violence and criminalization," he told The Jakarta Post on Sunday. "It is contradictory to the government's desire to create a culture of mutual respect and tolerance, which is why I have asked the government and the attorney general to take it down."

Setara Institute researcher Halili Hasan echoed Choirul's sentiments, saying the app further marginalized followers of minority religious beliefs, especially those who adhered to new or indigenous faiths.

"It is not up to the public to decide whether a belief is misguided or not," he told the Post. "The app just serves to widen divisions in communities and legitimizes people who believe it's okay to persecute groups that are outside of the mainstream."

Indonesia has been widely criticized for its failure to protect its minorities, particularly followers of the smaller Islamic denominations considered heretical, such as Ahmadiyah and hundreds of indigenous faiths.

"The launch of the application will make the public more distrustful of one another, increase the potential for horizontal conflict and damage the dialogue about differing religious beliefs that has already started in the community," Ahmadiyah Indonesia Congregation (JAI) spokesperson Yendra Budiana said.

Attorney General's Office (AGO) spokesperson Mukri acknowledged that some might find fault with the app but said it was intended to help educate and inform the public about heretical and banned groups.

"You have to understand the philosophy behind the creation of this app. It is meant to educate the public and it is within the AGO's authority. We want to create an inventory to make it easier for the public to check whether a group is banned or not," Mukri said.

"Also, if someone reports a group through the app, it doesn't mean that it will be destroyed immediately. It just helps the AGO to investigate further."

As of Monday morning, the app is still available on the Google Play Store. A 2004 law gives the AGO the authority to "conduct oversight over religious beliefs that can endanger the community and the country".

A 2015 regulation further specifies that the AGO can form central, provincial and municipal Pakem teams that are authorized to analyze reports about indigenous faiths and other religious beliefs as well as judge the impact that those faiths have on public order and peace.

In recent months, Pakem teams have been formed in Enrekang, South Sulawesi, Brebes, East Java, and Pematang Siantar, North Sumatra, among other places. Choirul said the AGO's role in overseeing religious beliefs should be abolished.

"If the AGO wants to create a peaceful climate, it should not criminalize differences in beliefs and respect the right to be different," he added.

Halili agreed, saying judging a religious belief or sect was outside the government's domain. "What is so wrong about people seeking spirituality in their own way? Pakem teams result in majoritarianism, where the many decide on what is good for the few," he said.

Mukri said he respected the right of people to criticize the teams, adding that they remained within the AGO's authority. "We are only applying the authority that is given to us by the law."

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/26/fears-grow-over-app-police-religious-minorities.html

Indonesian app to report 'misguided' religion 'risks dividing neighbors'

Reuters - November 26, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesia's national human rights agency said on Monday it was concerned about the launch of a mobile application by the Jakarta Prosecutor's Office, which allows members of the public to report religious beliefs they consider "misguided".

Indonesia has no state religion but has traditionally required citizens to register as Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist or Confucian, though last year the Constitutional Court affirmed the rights of faiths outside official religions after a challenge by some indigenous faiths.

Nonetheless, there remain concerns about rising intolerance in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country as well as the use of strict blasphemy laws against minorities and the targeting of Islamic sects such as the Ahmadiyyah.

The app, called "Smart Pakem", features a list of groups including Ahmadiyyah as well as Gafatar, which the country's highest Islamic council considers a deviant sect.

It was not clear what the list represented, but some of the groups such as Gafatar have been outlawed and the app has a link that allows members of the public to report organizations deemed harmful.

The app could have a "dangerous consequence by causing social disintegration", said Amiruddin Al-Rahab, a commissioner at the National Commission on Human Rights. "When neighbors are reporting each other, that would be problematic," Al-Rahab told Reuters.

Despite facing a backlash from human rights groups, the free app was available for download on Google Inc's Google Play store on Monday afternoon.

Al-Rahab said since the app's features were not running in full it was unclear whether the prosecutor's office would include detailed guidance on the kind of organization categorized as "harmful" or beliefs deemed as "misguided".

"Don't leave the people in confusion, if people are confused they will take matters into their own hands," he said, adding that the app could also contravene the Constitutional Court's ruling last year on the rights of devotees of faiths outside the state-recognized religions.

The Jakarta Prosecutor's Office could not immediately be reached for comment. Yulianto, an official at the Jakarta Prosecutor's Office, was quoted as saying by the news site Kompas.com that the app aimed to educate people and to increase the transparency of the reporting process.

Indonesia's attorney general's office has the authority under the law to monitor religions in case beliefs are deemed a threat to the community and can establish teams to examine such claims.

[Reporting by Tabita Diela and Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Editing by Ed Davies and Robert Birsel.]

Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-religion/indonesian-app-to-report-misguided-religion-risks-dividing-neighbors-idUSKCN1NV0YT

Rights watchdog slams launch of 'deviant religious teachings' reporting

Detik News - November 24, 2018

Danu Damarjati, Jakarta – The office of the Jakarta chief prosecutor (kejati) has launched a smart phone application called the "Social Beliefs and Teachings Monitor" (Pengawasan Aliran Kepercayaan Masyarakat) or Smart Pakem for short.

According to the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) the application has the potential to violate human rights, trigger conflicts and goes against the spirit of tolerance and diversity.

"We are urging the kejati and the kejagung [Attorney General] to delete the application", Komnas HAM commissioner Choirul Anam told Detik.com on Saturday November 24.

An application such as this has the potential to restrict the freedom of religion and beliefs. Those who will be most harmed by this, according to Anam, will be those who adhere to indigenous faiths [that are not recognised by the state].

Komnas HAM does not accept the justification for the launch of that the application that it is to prevent persecution.

"This drags the state into managing other people's beliefs. This is a bad president. It adds to the injuries suffered by instillers of [indigenous] faiths. On the question of tolerance, it would be better to leave it up to the instillers", said Anam.

Anam said that the application could threaten human rights and democracy in Indonesia. Yet the government, said Anam, is aggressively trying to build an atmosphere of tolerance and stability in the country.

"This is the first time there has been an application such as this and it threatens human rights as well as democracy in Indonesia. This is counterproductive against the government's own efforts. The Attorney General must take down the application so it does not conflict with the government's efforts to build democracy", said Anam.

The Jakarta chief prosecutor's assistant for intelligence, Yulianto, said that the application named "Smart Pakem" was developed to provide information about social developments and facilitate the monitoring of religious teachings and indigenous faiths. The application is also designed to prevent the persecution of particular ormas (social or mass organisations) or indigenous faiths that are considered to be deviant.

"Looking at the rapid development of indigenous beliefs the importance of the Smart Pakem application is as a tool for communities to communicate with the Jakarta Pakem (Coordinating Body for the Monitoring of Religious Beliefs) team because currently there are many imbalanced developments in religious conflicts taking place so information is need on religious teachings and indigenous faiths", said Yulianto in a statement received by Detik.com on Friday November 23.

The Jakarta chief prosecutor's head of legal information (kasipenkum) Nirwan Nawawi meanwhile explained that the application contains several feature folders on edicts issued by the Islamic Ulama Council [MUI, the country's peak Islamic religious body], religious teachings, indigenous faiths, ormas, information and complaint report forms.

The Smart Pakem application can also provide data on all religious teachings that exist in Jakarta, the areas of particular indigenous and religious faiths, discussion tools and social complaint mechanisms.

"This application receives complaints from people when they find indications of indigenous faith groups or ormas which are deviant", said Nawawi. (dnu/fai)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Komnas HAM Desak Kejagung Hapus Aplikasi Pelaporan Aliran Sesat".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita/d-4314970/komnas-ham-desak-kejagung-hapus-aplikasi-pelaporan-aliran-sesat

Religion & politics

Car Free Day limited, 20,000 security personnel to be deployed for 212

Jakarta Post - November 30, 2018

Gisela Swaragita, Jakarta – Authorities in Jakarta are preparing for the worst when Islamic group 212 Rally Alumni is expected to gather at the National Monument (Monas) square in Central Jakarta, despite previously claiming that the event would not need special arrangements.

The group was named after the Dec. 2, 2016, rally to call for the prosecution of then-Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for blasphemy. The group plan to meet for second-year "reunion" on Sunday.

Jakarta Transportation Agency acting head Sigit Wijatmoko said Sunday's Car Free Day (CFD) event would be restricted as a result.

CFD, organized by the Jakarta administration, is held weekly on the city's main thoroughfares, Jl. Jendral Sudirman and Jl. MH Thamrin.

"After coordinating with the police, [it was decided that] residents will still have a Car Free Day event, but only on Jl. Sudirman," Sigit said on Friday, adding that the agency would deploy 350 of its officers for traffic management.

Meanwhile, some 20,000 personnel from the Indonesian Military (TNI), Jakarta Police and the city administration will be stationed at several locations, Jakarta Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said on Friday.

He said the police were currently preparing a traffic engineering scheme for Sunday. "It will be situational in the field. Officers themselves will decide whether there will be a traffic diversion, contraflow or open-closed policy," Argo said.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo previously said that the 212 reunion rally would be a small event, one that even the Gambir District Police could handle. (gis/ami)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/30/car-free-day-limited-20000-security-personnel-to-be-deployed-for-212-reunion.html

Proponents of 212 movement facing legal woes

Jakarta Globe - November 30, 2018

Sheany, Jakarta – It is nearly two years since thousands of protesters took to the streets of Central Jakarta to demand the arrest of then-Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama on blasphemy charges.

Members of the so-called 212 movement held a "reunion" of sorts at the National Monument on Dec. 2 last year, attended by incumbent Governor Anies Baswedan, to celebrate the anniversary of the 2016 rally. They are set to gather once again for another reunion this Sunday.

The movement, which was formed under the pretext of defending Islam, succeeded in its true objective when it managed to bring down Ahok, an ethnic Chinese Christian, who was found guilty of having committed blasphemy by referring to a Koranic verse during a campaign speech. The controversial trial ended in May 2017 with him sentenced to two years in prison.

However, several of the most vocal proponents of the movement are currently facing legal woes of their own.

Ahmad Dhani

South Jakarta District Court prosecutors sought two years' imprisonment for musician Ahmad Dhani on Monday for alleged hate speech, BeritaSatu.com reported.

Dhani was named a suspect for posts he made on Twitter last year, which were seen as provocation to attack Ahok supporters.

In one of the tweets he made during the Jakarta gubernatorial election campaign, he wrote that "anyone who supports the blasphemer is scum and deserves being spat in the face."

This prompted members of a network of Ahok supporters to report the tweet, which appeared to be an indirect reference to the former governor, to the police, who opened an investigation into the matter.

The musician also faces separate charges for comments he made against President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in 2014.

Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak

Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, former chairman of the youth wing of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second-largest Islamic organization, was questioned as a witness last week amid an ongoing police investigation.

Police are probing the alleged misappropriation of Rp 5 billion ($348,000) allocated by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs to the youth wings of Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama, the country's largest Islamic organization, for a youth development program.

Dahnil has denied any involvement in the technical aspects of the program. "Related to the funds used for that program, I have mentioned from the very beginning that I was not involved," he said, as quoted by state-run news agency Antara.

Ratna Sarumpaet

Actress and activist Ratna Sarumpaet, who was one of Ahok's most vocal critics in the 212 movement, is facing a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if found guilty of having spread false and inflammatory information.

The police declared her a suspect in an ongoing investigation into a political hoax, allegedly masterminded by Ratna, who lied about an assault in Bandung, West Java. This was subsequently used by the campaign team of presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto to attack his opponent, President Jokowi.

She was also among several activists, including Dhani, arrested in December 2016 for allegedly plotting a coup against the Jokowi administration.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/proponents-212-movement-facing-legal-woes/

212 reunion rally to be small this year: Police

Jakarta Post - November 30, 2018

Jakarta – Police say it will be business as usual on Sunday, when Islamic groups are expected to gather again at Monas square in Gambir, Central Jakarta, exactly two years after a large rally against the city's former governor.

"[The gathering] is small. The Gambir Police can handle it," National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said, as quoted by tempo.co on Thursday, adding that the event would not need a significant number of personnel to be deployed.

A group calling itself the 212 Rally Alumni was established to gather people who were involved in the rally on Dec. 2, 2016, to call for the prosecution of then-Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent, for blasphemy.

The Jakarta Police said there would be no special traffic arrangements during the gathering. "There will be no specific things [in terms of traffic management] for the event on Sunday," said the head of the police's traffic directorate, Sr. Comr. Yusuf.

He also said the weekly Car Free Day (CFD) event on the nearby thoroughfares of Jl. Sudirman and Jl. MH Thamrin would run as usual. "Some traffic arrangement is routinely carried out because of the CFD," he added.

The head of the 212 alumni protest group, Slamet Maarif, previously said his group had registered the gathering both with the police and the city administration. (sau)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/30/212-reunion-rally-to-be-small-this-year-police.html

University lecturer accused of promising students A's if they attend 212

Coconuts Jakarta - November 30, 2018

It's pretty much an open secret that the 212 mass protest on December 2, 2016, that saw hundreds of thousands of demonstrators demand the imprisonment of former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for blasphemy against Islam, as well as many protests organized by Islamist organizations since, were heavily politicized. And now there's an allegation that suggests the politicization of these protests has entered the academic world.

As reported by CNN Indonesia yesterday, several students at Universitas Ibnu Khaldun (UIK) in Bogor, a private Islamic tertiary education institution, went public about an alleged text message from one of their lecturers promising they wouldn't have to take their midterms and would receive A's if they attended the upcoming 212 anniversary event on Sunday (dubbed the "212 Grand Reunion").

Not only that, the message also allegedly says that students who don't attend the 212 Grand Reunion will not be graded.

"To us, this is an illogical policy, there is no relationship between academia and the reunion," said UIK Student Council Chairman Yazid Bustomi, adding that they have filed an official complaint to the university.

However, UIK Dean Ending Bahrudin denied that the text message came from one of their lecturers and said that the idea for the midterm being replaced with attendance at the 212 Grand Reunion was actually suggested by some students.

"We already told them (the students) that 212 has nothing to do with academics," he said. That said, Ending said the university is going to look into the allegations against the lecturer regardless.

The 212 Grand Reunion's organizers claim that millions will be coming to attend the anniversary event this Sunday and that they'll be planting 1 million tauhid flags as part of the festivities. The organizers of last year's anniversary claimed the event was attended by 7.5 million people, but the police said only 30,000 people actually showed up.

Police clearly are not expecting millions to show up on Sunday, saying that only a small-scale security detail made up of officers from the Gambir sub-district station have been assigned to handle the event.

One of the leaders behind the original movement, Kapitra Ampera, criticized the planned event by saying that it's "too cruel" as it celebrates Ahok's imprisonment for blasphemy.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/university-lecturer-accused-promising-students-attend-212-grand-reunion/

Rizieq Shihab's former lawyer says 212 reunion is 'too cruel', plans

Coconuts Jakarta - November 29, 2018

This Sunday will mark exactly two years since the massive hardliner-led protest against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for his alleged blasphemy that took place on December 2, 2016 (which is why it is referred to as the 212 protest).

Just like last year, the so-called "alumni" of the original 212 are planning to hold a reunion event at Jakarta's National Monument, but one 212 alumni will noticeably be not taking part.

We're not referring to firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab, the founder of the infamous Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and figurehead of the anti-Ahok protests (though he won't be there either – he's still hiding/stuck in Saudi Arabia). We're talking about Rizieq's former lawyer, Kapitra Ampera, once an influential figure amongst Islamic hardliners who recently left the opposition to join the party of President Joko Widodo, PDI-P.

Kapitra, accompanied by the heads of several Islamic boarding schools in Jakarta, submitted a request to the Jakarta Police yesterday to hold a counter event to the 212 Grand Reunion on Sunday,

The PDI-P candidate said his counter-event would be called "Contemplation Act 212 and Enlightenment of the Nation's Children" and would be held at the same place and time as the main 212 reunion.

Kapitra said he felt the need to organize the counter-event because he thought that "Aksi 212" had deviated too far from the context and teachings of the glory of Islam. According to him, the 212 Grand Reunion was nothing more than an event to celebrate the crimes of a person who is currently serving his sentence for that crime.

"That for us is too cruel. It makes it seem like Islam is filled with revenge and anger," Kapitra said at Jakarta Police Headquarters as quoted by Tempo.

Many believe the anti-Ahok protests, particularly the original 212, were essential in pressuring authorities into prosecuting Ahok on trumped-up charges of blasphemy, leading to his loss in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election as well as his guilty verdict and two-year prison sentence (he's expected to be released in January). Many involved in organizing the original 212 have since admitted that the protests were politically motivated.

Kapitra's statements may indeed also be politically motivated, considering his current party alliance (there are indications that Ahok may join PDI-P after he is released from prison though a party officials say anybody, even Rizieq, is welcome to join them). But it seems like Rizieq's ex-lawyer may be motivated by empathy as well.

"How do the family and children of (Ahok) feel, that every year their father's crime is celebrated? Doesn't Islam teach us to be forgiving?" asked Kapitra.

The 212 Grand Reunion's organizers claim that millions will be coming to attend the anniversary event this Sunday and that they'll be planting 1 million tauhid flags as part of the festivities. The organizers of last year's anniversary claimed the event was attended by 7.5 million people, but the police said only 30,000 people actually showed up.

Police clearly are not expecting millions to show up on Sunday, saying that only a small-scale security detail made up of officers from the Gambir sub-district station have been assigned to handle the event.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/rizieq-shihabs-former-lawyer-says-212-reunion-cruel-plans-counter-event/

Protesters plan to erect 1 million tauhid flags at 212 anniversary event

Coconuts Jakarta - November 27, 2018

December 2, 2016 is a date with huge significance to many of Indonesia's Islamic organizations. Dubbed "212" in accordance with the date, it was the day when a crowd of around 500,000 people (7 million if you believe the organizers) flooded the park around the National Monument (Monas) park in Central Jakarta to protest against then-Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's alleged blasphemy against Islam.

Just like last year, the same groups behind the original 212 are holding an anniversary of the event this year (which they are calling the "212 Reunion"), and while there's no specific politician to protest against this time, it looks like one aspect of the event will involve a show of defiance against a more recent case of perceived injustice against Islam.

Novel Bamukmin, the spokesperson for Persaudaraan 212, an umbrella group of hardline Islamic organizations that formed after the original 212 protest, said that for this year's anniversary, organizers are planning to erect one million flags bearing the tauhid (the core of the Islamic faith, expressing belief in Allah as the one and only God) at Monas.

"We are still preparing for it. As this is a yearly agenda, we want to be truly focused so we can erect one million flags containing the sentence of the tauhid," Novel said, as quoted by Warta Kota yesterday.

The tauhid flag has been the subject of controversy in Indonesia in recent months as the banned Islamist organization Hizbut Tahrit Indonesia (HTI) had a black flag that contained the sacred monotheistic declaration. When members of the comparatively moderate Nahdlatul Ulama youth wing burned an HTI flag in a viral video, a mass protest against the burning was held at Monas – even though the burners had already been arrested and were eventually sentenced to prison.

Rizieq Shihab – the founder of the hardline group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and a de facto leader of Persaudaraan 212 who is currently in Saudi Arabia to escape criminal charges in Indonesia – was also recently questioned by Saudi authorities after a black flag containing the tauhid (reports say it was an ISIS flag) was displayed outside his place of residence. Ironically, Rizieq called on FPI members and supporters to display tauhid flags in response to the burning, but denied that he put up the flag outside his house.

Like in Indonesia, the Hizbut Tahrir movement is banned in Saudi and many Islamic nations. It remains to be seen if the planned display of tauhid flags at the upcoming 212 anniversary could be seen as an expression of support for HTI and therefore be a violation of the group's ban.

As for the huge logistical challenge of erecting one million flags (and the question of whether or not there will even be that many protesters), Novel is calling on all of the protesters to brings as many tauhid flags as possible to Monas.

The 212 anniversary event has reportedly been approved by the city administration and authorities. Organizers of last year's anniversary claimed the event was attended by 7.5 million people, but the police said only 30,000 people actually showed up.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/protesters-plan-erect-1-million-tauhid-flags-212-anniversary-event-monas/

212 Alumni bans members to share mosque with President Jokowi

Tempo - November 26, 2018

Francisca Christy Rosana, Jakarta – Spokesman of the 212 alumni brotherhood (PA 212) Novel Bamukmin called for its members to avert from gathering at the Istiqlal Mosque during the group's upcoming anniversary that will be held on December 2.

The reason for Novel's warning is that he does not want his members to share a location with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo who will be present at Istiqlal on December 2 to attend a commemoration of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (Maulid Nabi Muhammad SAW).

"The event in Istiqlal will be attended by Joko Widodo. We don't want the masses to be in the wrong place. Jokowi is different to us," said Novel to Tempo today, asserting that the group's political position contradicts the views of the president.

Novel added that the PA 212 will focus its mass-reunion activities in the Monas area. He even went as far to prevent masses to conduct prayers at the Istiqlal Mosque and urged people to pray at the open public field at Monas.

Moreover, Novel Bamukmin claims that the reunion will be attended by millions of people that will come from across Indonesian regions. The reunion of the group will be held concurrently with Jakarta's routine 'car-free day' program on Sunday, December 2.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/26/055923731/212-Alumni-Bans-Members-to-Share-Mosque-with-President-Jokowi

Civil service & bureaucracy

Jokowi wants fewer regulations for a quick-thinking government

Jakarta Post - November 28, 2018

Marchio Irfan Gorbiano, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo once again warned ministers and local government leaders on Tuesday not to excessively issue regulations.

"With global changes happening so rapidly, we need policies that allow us to make quick decisions, not issue more regulations," Jokowi said in Jakarta during Bank Indonesia's (BI) annual gathering.

Jokowi expressed his desire to have a government that can swiftly tackle challenges like startup companies, which have been able to experience accelerated growth despite a lack of clear regulations.

"There are a lot of what they would call companies without rules. I also want [a] government without many rules," Jokowi said. He went on to say that too many regulations would hinder the government's response to the latest developments.

Jokowi, who is seeking reelection next year, reiterated his commitment to developing Indonesia's human resources in a scale similar to the massive infrastructure development carried out during his administration while hoping that large-scale human development would give birth to reformists in all levels of the government.

"We hope that the training that we will provide in large-scale will give birth to reformists leaders in villages, subdistricts, cities and in the national [level]," he said. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/28/jokowi-wants-fewer-regulations-for-a-quick-thinking-government.html

Jakarta & urban life

Gerindra questions PKS concerning screening for Anies' deputy

Jakarta Post - November 27, 2018

Jakarta – Mohamad Taufik, the head of Gerindra's Jakarta chapter, has criticized the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) for hesitating to conduct a screening for its deputy governor candidates.

The two parties, which backed Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno during the gubernatorial election last year, had agreed to conduct the screening before submitting the candidates' names to the City Council to replace Sandiaga, who resigned to run as a vice presidential candidate for Gerindra's leader Prabowo Subianto in the upcoming election.

"So what does [the PKS] want? Do they want to directly propose two names? So convenient. We actually agreed to conduct a fit and proper test and the candidates would be from them anyway," Taufik said as quoted by kompas.com on Monday.

The Jakarta's Council deputy speaker also noted that the screening was a normal procedure and that the same mechanism had applied to Sandiaga when he announced his intentions to be a deputy governor candidate. "To us it [the screening] is important,' he added.

PKS faction head at the City Council Abdurahman Suhaimi previously said that such a test was "not important" and it would only undermine the party's capability in selecting the proper candidates to fill the vacant post. (fac)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/27/gerindra-questions-pks-concerning-screening-for-anies-deputy.html

Transport & communication

Crashed jetliner airworthy before taking off: KNKT

Jakarta Post - November 30, 2018

Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta – The National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) is claiming the media erroneously reported that the Lion Air jetliner that crashed into the Java Sea last month was not airworthy.

"We would like to highlight that the KNKT and the head of its Aviation Investigation Subcommittee [Nurcahyo Utomo] never stated that the Lion Air aircraft, the Boeing 737-8 (MAX) registration PK-LQP, was not airworthy," the committee said in a statement on Thursday.

The ill-fated aircraft was flying from Jakarta to Pangkalpinang, Bangka Belitung Islands, when it nose-dived into the sea about 13 minutes after taking off, killing 189 crew and passengers onboard.

It was revealed that the aircraft suffered malfunctions during its previous flight from Denpasar, Bali. The KNKT, however, claimed that the problems had been fixed in Jakarta.

In a separate statement, which was signed by Nurcahyo, the committee said the engineer had signed the Aircraft Flight Maintenance Log (AMFL) for JT610, meaning it was considered airworthy before it took off.

"After landing [from Denpasar], the pilot reported malfunctions experienced during the flight to the engineers, who immediately conducted repairs and testing. After the tests showed positive results, the AFML was signed by the engineer and the aircraft was declared airworthy," Nurcahyo said in the statement.

"Therefore, we stated the aircraft [...] was in airworthy condition upon departure from Bali [to Jakarta], as well as before its next flight from Jakarta [to Pangkalpinang]."

The committee then clarified that its designation as airworthy would have ended if the aircraft had experienced any malfunctions while still in the air. "The decision to continue the flight or land immediately was in the hands of the pilots in command."

Previously, foreign and national news outlets published reports quoting Nurcahyo saying the downed aircraft had been unairworthy since its previous flight from Denpasar to Jakarta the night before the accident.

The media reports were based on a press briefing in which KNKT released the preliminary report of the investigation into the plane crash on Wednesday, 30 days after the accident occurred and took the lives of 189 people on board – eight flight crew and 181 passengers, including three minors. The report consists of facts and evidence gathered by the committee, including the aircraft's latest maintenance record and recommendations from the KNKT to Lion Air.

In the report, the KNKT wrote it found that the aircraft's stick shaker – a device that warns pilots of an imminent stall – was active prior to and during the flight from Denpasar. The pilot also noticed the plane's automatic trim system was pushing the plane's nose down. The cockpit crew reacted by turning off the autopilot and flying the aircraft manually until it landed safely in Jakarta.

"Referring to civil aircraft airworthiness and the operation manual [...], the pilot in command shall discontinue the flight when unairworthy mechanical, electrical or structural conditions occur," the committee wrote in the recommendation section of the report. "This condition [stick shaker problem] is considered unairworthy and the flight should not have been continued."

The committee also found at least six malfunctions in previous flights since Oct. 26.

Lion Air immediately denied the published reports. "Before flying from Denpasar, the airplane was checked for its airworthiness and eventually allowed to fly by our engineers, according to procedure," president director Edward Sirait said during a press briefing on Wednesday night.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/30/crashed-lion-air-JT610-jetliner-airworthy-taking-knkt.html

Indonesia aviation in spotlight after Lion Air crash

Agence France Presse - November 29, 2018

Kiki Siregar, Jakarta – Bumpy runways, hair-raising safety lapses, remote airstrips with no navigation systems and a dire shortage of experienced captains and maintenance crews.

Indonesia is one of the world's fastest-growing aviation markets, but it has come under fresh scrutiny since a fatal Lion Air crash last month as the sector struggles to keep up with its breakneck expansion, putting safety at risk, analysts warn.

"The vast increase in demand and operations has seen more regular accidents or events taking place that are preventable," said Stephen Wright, an aviation expert at the University of Leeds.

On Wednesday, investigators issued a preliminary report that said the doomed Lion Air jet had technical problems that the airline failed to fix before its final flight.

All 189 people on board were killed as the nearly new Boeing 737 slammed into the sea shortly after takeoff.

While officials did not lay blame or pinpoint a definitive cause of the October 29 accident, they said the budget carrier must take steps "to improve (its) safety culture".

Despite a spotty safety record and an avalanche of complaints over shoddy service, the carrier's parent Lion Air Group – which also operates five other airlines – has captured half the domestic market in less than 20 years of operation.

The group now has Southeast Asia's biggest fleet – more than 300 planes – with growth driven by a model built on cheap prices and flights to almost every corner of the vast Indonesian archipelago.

'Worst in the world'

Indonesia's safety record has improved, analysts say, since its airlines including national carrier Garuda were banned for years from US and European airspace for safety violations. Still, the country has recorded 40 fatal aviation accidents over the past 15 years.

The US and EU flight bans have been lifted in recent years, but the industry is still wrestling with outdated infrastructure, accusations of cutting corners and heavy restrictions on hiring pilots and technicians from overseas to plug staff gaps.

"If you want to grow quickly, you have to hire foreigners but here we have regulations which prevent us from easily hiring them," said Jakarta-based aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman.

Lion Air – which captured headlines in 2011 with a then-record $22-billion order for Boeing planes – sits at the centre of a $4-billion-plus sector with double-digit annual growth and 97 million domestic travellers last year alone.

The carrier's chief, Edward Sirait, acknowledged that people may see Lion as a "tacky company" that hires "grumpy" service staff straight out of high school.

But he disputed any suggestion that pilots – including those that fly on international routes – are not properly trained. "They'd never be able to fly abroad if they weren't qualified," he told AFP.

Indonesia's transport ministry said it is pushing Lion and other airlines for safety and service improvements. Some Indonesian lawmakers, however, want the budget carrier's licence to be revoked, a call that may be bolstered by Wednesday's report.

Such punishment is unlikely given the size of the Lion Air Group, a major employer that has ballooned as Indonesia's growing economy and rising incomes have given more of its 260 million people access to air travel.

Its co-founder Rusdi Kirana – who described his own airline as the "worst in the world" in a 2015 interview – is a close confidante of President Joko Widodo, who appointed him to the key post of Indonesia's ambassador to neighbouring Malaysia.

And the firm's growth strategy is crucial to Widodo's infrastructure push, which includes plans for dozens of new airports including a $10-billion hub in the capital, as he seeks re-election next year.

Lion Air is also the only carrier to service many remote parts of a 17,000-island country, where some of the more than 200 airports don't even have proper navigation equipment.

That means pilots have been forced to use their sight alone while landing over perilous terrain and on less-than-smooth runways.

"There are still many runways with uneven surfaces so when the plane lands its feels like you're driving on a potholed road," said Lion Air captain Yusni Maryan.

'No clue'

As a frequent flyer, Indonesian civil servant Amalia Pissano has her share of horror stories, from the Lion Air captain who delayed a flight for two hours so he could have a meal to a terrifying experience aboard a Sriwijaya Air flight on the same route as the crashed Lion jet.

The plane suddenly began shaking violently before it plunged toward the ground, sparking chaos inside the cabin until pilots regained control and landed safely, she said.

The crew never offered an explanation, Pissano said. "It was really scary because the plane was rocking and the crew seemed to have no clue what was happening."

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/29/indonesia-aviation-in-spotlight-after-lion-air-crash.html

Lion Air black box reveals fatal man-machine tug-of-war to save plane

New York Times - November 28, 2018

James Glanz, New York – Data from the jetliner that crashed into the Java Sea last month shows the pilots fought to save the plane almost from the moment it took off, as the Boeing 737's nose was repeatedly forced down, apparently by an automatic system receiving incorrect sensor readings.

The information from the flight data recorder, contained in a preliminary report prepared by Indonesian crash investigators and scheduled to be released on Wednesday, documents a fatal tug-of-war between man and machine, with the plane's nose forced dangerously downward more than two dozen times during the 11-minute flight.

The pilots managed to pull the nose back up over and over until finally losing control, leaving the plane, Lion Air Flight 610, to plummet into the ocean at 450 mph (724 km/h), killing all 189 people on board.

The data from the so-called black box is consistent with the theory that investigators have been most focused on: that a computerised system Boeing installed on its latest generation of 737 to prevent the plane's nose from getting too high and causing a stall instead forced the nose down because of incorrect information it was receiving from sensors on the fuselage.

In the aftermath of the crash, pilots have expressed concern that they had not been fully informed about the new Boeing system – known as the manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system, or MCAS – and how it would require them to respond differently in case of the type of emergency encountered by the Lion Air crew.

"It's all consistent with the hypothesis of this problem with the MCAS system," said R. John Hansman Jr., a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and director of the international centre for air transportation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Boeing has said that the proper steps for pulling out of an incorrect activation of the system were already in flight manuals, so there was no need to detail this specific system in the new 737 jet.

In a statement on Tuesday, Boeing said it could not discuss the crash while it is under investigation but reiterated that "the appropriate flight crew response to uncommanded trim, regardless of cause, is contained in existing procedures."

A fuller account of problems with the sensors on the fuselage, called angle-of-attack sensors, is expected to be part of a full report on the crash by Indonesian investigators.

But one of those sensors was replaced before the plane's next-to-last flight after having transmitted some angle and speed data incorrectly, investigators say.

"The pilots fought continuously until the end of the flight," said Captain Nurcahyo Utomo, head of the air accident subcommittee of the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee, which is leading the crash investigation.

Nurcahyo said that the MCAS system had been activated and is a central focus of the investigation.

Details of the black box data were contained in a briefing for the Indonesian Parliament and were first disclosed publicly in the Indonesian media.

The data was subsequently posted and analysed in a blog post by Peter Lemme, a satellite communications expert and former Boeing engineer.

Much remains unknown about the doomed flight, including why a plane that had encountered problems with the sensors was permitted to fly in the first place.

Investigators have yet to recover the cockpit voice recorder, which could provide further insight into the steps taken by the pilots and whether they followed the correct procedures.

The pilot had handed control of the plane to the co-pilot just before the plane went into its final dive.

Despite Boeing's insistence that the proper procedures were in the handbook, also called the emergency checklist, pilots have said since the accident that Boeing had not been clear about one potentially vital difference between the system on the new 737s and the older models.

In the older versions, pilots could help address the problem of the nose being forced down improperly – a situation known as "runaway stabiliser trim" – by pulling back on the control column in front of them, the pilots say.

In the latest 737 generation, called the Max, that measure does not work, they said, citing information they have received since the crash.

The pilots on Lion Air Flight 610 appear to have forcefully pulled back on their control columns to no avail, before the final dive, according to the information from the flight data recorder.

Captain Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the American Airlines pilot union and a 737 pilot, said he could not comment on any aspect of the investigation.

But, he said, "in the previous model of the 737, pulling back on the control column, Boeing says will stop a stabiliser runaway."

Information provided to American Airlines from Boeing since the crash, Tajer said, "specifically says that pulling back on the control column in the Max will not stop the runaway if MCAS is triggered. That is an important difference to know."

Boeing said in its statement on Tuesday that the existing procedures covered the latest 737 model.

Bulletins from Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States since the crash indicate that pilots could overcome an incorrectly activated MCAS with a series of steps.

First, they would have had to activate switches on the outside of the control columns in front of both the pilot and co-pilot. Those switches are for electrically controlling the trim – the angle of the stabilisers on the plane's tail.

The pilot of Flight 610 appears to have done that repeatedly to bring the nose up, but the MCAS reactivated each time, as it was designed to do, forcing the nose back down, and the pilot had to repeat the process again and again.

The stabiliser is the larger of the two surfaces on the tail wing, and is ordinarily controlled by an electrical motor.

Behind the stabiliser is the elevator, activated by the control columns in front of both the pilot and co-pilot. Both can move the nose up and down.

From there, the pilots should have hit two electrical cutout switches to shut down the MCAS and turn the stabiliser movement over to manually controlled wheels at the ankles of the pilot and co-pilot – wheels connected to cables that would move the stabiliser.

It is not clear whether the pilots of Flight 610 tried that procedure.

It is not clear whether the false data, which was on the pilot's side of the plane, was attributable to a problem with the sensor itself or with the computer that processes the sensor's information.

But hours before the plane took off on its final flight, it had also recorded problems with an angle of attack sensor as it travelled from the resort island of Bali to Jakarta.

On that next-to-last flight, the angle discrepancy between the two sensors was 20 degrees, according to officials from Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee, which has been leading the investigation into the crash. On the final flight, the discrepancy was also 20 degrees, Nurcahyo said.

Plane crashes rarely can be blamed on a single, catastrophic malfunction. More often, a problem spirals out of control as maintenance crews fail to spot or address an underlying issue and then the flight crew takes a series of steps that lead to a fatal outcome.

Lion Air, Indonesia's largest airline, has a notoriously flawed safety record. Government investigators have accused the carrier of ignoring their commands to ground planes with proven problems.

The plane that crashed on October 29 had experienced days of incorrect data readings, according to Indonesian officials. In fact, before the penultimate flight, engineers had replaced one of the angle-of-attack sensors.

Why the plane recorded incorrect angle-of-attack data after the sensor had been changed is not clear. Soerjanto Tjahjono, head of Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee, said that the replacement part was not new but was "serviceable" and had certification from the FAA of the United States.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/lion-air-black-box-reveals-fatal-man-machine-tug-of-war-to-save-plane-20181128-p50ism.html

Lion Air jet was not airworthy on flight before crash, Indonesia

The Guardian - November 28, 2018

Indonesian investigators have said the Lion Air Boeing 737 jet that plunged into the sea, killing 189 people in October, was not airworthy on a flight the day before it crashed.

They further found that Lion Air must improve its safety culture and better document repair work on its planes.

The flight from Bali to Jakarta on 28 October had experienced similar technical issues to the doomed flight the next day from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang, said Nurcahyo Utomo, head of Indonesia's national transport safety committee (KNKT).

The pilot of the 28 October flight chose to press on to Jakarta after shutting down the plane's anti-stall system, Utomo said. "This is the basis of our recommendation to Lion Air. In our view, the plane was not airworthy," he told a news conference in Jakarta.

The Boeing 737 MAX vanished from radar about 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta on October 29, slamming into the Java Sea moments after it had asked to return to the capital.

The transport safety agency did not pinpoint a definitive cause of the accident, with a final crash report not likely to be filed until next year.

But its investigators said that Lion Air kept putting the plane back into service despite repeatedly failing to fix a problem with the airspeed indicator in the days leading up to the fatal flight.

The report also suggested the pilots struggled with the plane's anti-stall system as they radioed in a request to return to Jakarta's main airport.

The findings will heighten concerns there were problems with key systems in one of the world's newest and most advanced commercial passenger planes.

Investigators have previously said the doomed aircraft had problems with its airspeed indicator and angle of attack (AOA) sensors, prompting Boeing to issue a special bulletin telling operators what to do when they face the same situation.

An AOA sensor provides data about the angle at which air is passing over the wings and tells pilots how much lift a plane is getting. The information can be critical in preventing an aircraft from stalling.

Despite a dubious safety record and an avalanche of complaints over shoddy service, the budget carrier's parent Lion Air Group, which also operates Batik Air and Wings Air, has captured half the domestic market in less than 20 years of operation to become Southeast Asia's biggest airline.

Indonesia's aviation safety record has improved since its airlines, including national carrier Garuda, were subject to years-long bans from US and European airspace for safety violations, although the country has still recorded 40 fatal accidents over the past 15 years.

But Boeing has also come under fire for possible glitches on the 737 MAX – which entered service just last year.

The APA, a US airline pilots union, said that carriers and pilots had not been informed by Boeing of certain changes in the aircraft control system installed on the new MAX variants of the 737.

Several relatives of the crash victims have already filed lawsuits against Boeing, including the family of a young doctor who was to have married his high school sweetheart this month.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/28/lion-air-jet-was-not-airworthy-on-flight-before-crash-indonesia-investigators-say

Retail & service industry

Get smart: Indonesia's ramshackle warung stores go digital

South China Morning Post - November 25, 2018

Resty Woro Yuniar – Warung Tiga PutRI is not your typical warung. Although it sells snacks, cigarettes and assorted knick-knacks like countless other ramshackle convenience stores across Indonesia's towns and cities, the tiny bright-yellow kiosk does much more for it is one of Indonesia's growing number of smart warung.

No fewer than five CCTV cameras at the busy Jakarta kiosk collect data on customers, such as their approximate age and sex, which is later analysed to improve marketing, distribution and engagement.

The concept is the brainchild of Warung Pintar, a local tech start-up that has transformed more than 1,000 warung and counting in Jakarta and other Indonesian cities.

"We put in CCTV cameras to know how many people shop there, how many among them are men or women, their ages. Basically we use them to capture the shoppers' demography," Warung Pintar co-founder Harya Putra told This Week in Asia.

"We realised there was a data blind spot in warung. A lot of things were happening there that we didn't know about. There's a lot of opportunities in warung because the community and the economy are there, but there was no technology that empowered them."

Customers at Warung Tiga Putri can also rent power banks, watch television, use free Wi-fi, buy train and plane tickets, charge their mobile phones, and opt for cashless payment via mobile wallets such as Go-Pay and Ovo.

For the kiosk's owner, Junaidi Salad, Warung Pintar has been a godsend. Before the company approached him about turning his 1.5-metre-wide kiosk into the first-ever smart warung, the 32-year-old was worried about being evicted from the roadside he had illegally occupied for several years.

The tech start-up – whose co-founders used to work with Jakarta-based venture capitalist East Ventures – helped Salad gain legal status by moving the kiosk to the car park of one of its co-working spaces, where he doesn't have to pay rent or for electricity.

Warung Pintar also provided him with an Android tablet, installed with an application that allows him to track sales and inventory, as well as order goods. For 100,000 rupiah (US$7) per month, Salad benefits from open-access Wi-fi that regularly attracts ride-hail drivers and others to his shop.

Since the change, Salad has seen his daily profits shoot up to 4 million rupiah (US$274) from 70,000 rupiah. He now owns a car and two other warung, one of which is also a smart warung, and his brisk business pays for the education of his three daughters.

"When [Warung Pintar] approached me I was still cautious, then I decided to try anyway," Salad said. "Now I'm really glad because I can track my sales and expenses. I also have more friends. My warung is now more comfortable so people can spend their time here."

Indonesia is Southeast Asia's largest internet economy. Its value is expected to reach US$27 billion in 2018, a year-on-year rise of 49 per cent, according to a report by Google and Singapore investment fund Temasek. With only 150 million of the country's 260 million people connected to the internet, the potential for growth is enormous.

The evolution of warung from cramped kiosks into technologically powered small businesses follows trends in China, where tech giants such as Alibaba – which owns the South China Morning Post – and JD.com introduced unstaffed and cashless convenience stores and smart shopping trolleys.

Warung have been at the forefront of Indonesia's retail market long before mini markets and department stores took up space in urban and rural areas. Indonesia's second-richest man, Eka Tjipta Widjaja, earned his fortune by selling household items in a warung as he was growing up in the 1930s.

Many warung, however, have struggled to compete with air-conditioned mini markets, which offer more items and other services.

"We want to leverage data to grow the warung business," Putra said. "In 2013 alone there were 57 million micro businesses such as warung, but those which have upscaled to a small or medium business, or even to a large enterprise, are still minuscule in number. There is a missing bridge between micro and small and medium businesses, and we believe that the key to upgrading warung into small businesses is through data."

Warung Pintar isn't alone in its efforts. Wahyoo, another start-up, aims to modernise food kiosks known as warteg that are scattered in Indonesia's big cities. Much like Warung Pintar, Wahyoo is streamlining supply chains: warteg owners can now order bottled water, beverages, eggs, cooking oil, sugar, flour, tea, and coffee through a Wahyoo app. The company now has over 2,000 warteg under its name, up from 50 soon after it was founded in April last year.

"There are only a few warteg that are really clean, and that's what deters people from eating in them. Despite that, warteg are always full," said Wahyoo founder Peter Shearer. "We want to be the biggest digital warung operator in Indonesia. In the future we want to enable a point-of-sale system that will allow us to find out the bestsellers on the menu and identify consumers' profiles."

Digital illiteracy and lack of trust are the biggest challenges the start-ups face when trying to bring technology to warung owners.

Sugiarti, a 46 year-old warteg owner in west Jakarta, does not own a smartphone and struggled to check if customers had paid for their meals via Ovo, a mobile wallet app.

"I was so confused at first," she said. "Here my customers rarely pay with Ovo. Once, a customer told me that he had paid with Ovo, so I had to check with my husband who has the phone, and he's not always here with me."

Start-ups like Wahyoo and Warung Pintar see continuous learning, for their companies and clients alike, as key to expediting the digitalisation of warung in Indonesia. Both firms send an employee once a week to check on warung inventories and address the concerns of owners.

"We need to be fast. As of today, we have over 22,000 warung that have registered with us to be a smart warun g, but we don't have the capacity to process their requests in a prompt manner," Putra said, adding the company is still learning on the go about how best to cater to warung.

Source: https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/society/article/2174769/get-smart-indonesias-ramshackle-warung-stores-go-digital

Armed forces & defense

Luhut projects rp200tn budget for TNI

Tempo - November 28, 2018

Jakarta (Bisnis) – The government said that the budget raise for the National Army (TNI) would be adjusted to the state income growth. Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan said that for the next two to four years, the government will raise the TNI budget up to Rp200 trillion.

Luhut said that the defense budget is currently set at 0.9% of the GDP. Soon, the allocation would be increased along with growing tax revenues.

According to Luhut, taxes contribute 83.1 percent to state revenues. Through fiscal reform, he believes next year's tax revenues will increase with a tax ratio of 11-12 percent.

"With this change, logically the budget for TNI can be increased to Rp150 trillion-Rp 200 trillion in the next two to four years. The budget will be allocated to improve welfare, education, and weapons by building a domestic defense industry," he said in a written statement on Wednesday, November 28.

To support the government's plan, Luhut said domestic stability was absolutely necessary. The minister said that one of TNI's main roles is to maintain national stability while promoting neutrality.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/28/055923825/Luhut-Projects-Rp200tn-Budget-for-TNI

TNI should maintain stability, security: Wiranto

Tempo - November 28, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security Wiranto said that soldiers of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) must maintain the stability of state security while entering the 2019 political year.

"Their main task, except fighting the enemy, is also to help the police to help secure this country," Wiranto stated, when giving a briefing at the Danrem-Dandim in Pussenif, Bandung, on Tuesday.

He noted that the role of the TNI and Indonesian police (Polri) was very central in securing various and important national agendas. The stability of national security has an impact on the smooth running of political activities in 2019.

"We emphasized their role (TNI) in also helping the police deal with national security issues," he added. He claimed to have mapped out areas prone to electoral conflicts. The level of vulnerability varies in all areas that have been identified.

Wiranto gave an example that the vulnerability index in Papua would be different from that in Aceh, as well as in Jakarta. From the results of the mapping, the government seeks to reduce the potential for conflict.

"The vulnerability is there, but we only have to carry out certain operations, so that conflicts can decrease next year," he remarked.

The mapping index is prone to conflict, and its resolution efforts have been applied to the simultaneous regional elections in 2018. The result, he revealed, was that there was no significant political turmoil in an area.

"Last year, there were conflicts, but we could neutralize it, making the conditions very conducive," he pointed out.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/28/055923797/TNI-Should-Maintain-Stability-Security-Wiranto

Jokowi reminds military to maintain neutrality

Tempo - November 26, 2018

Ahmad Faiz Ibnu Sani, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Monday, November 26, appealed to all personnel of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) to maintain neutrality. Jokowi made the statement during the military internal ceremony in the Infantry Training Center (Pussenif), Military Education and Training Command (Kodiklat) in Bandung.

According to Jokowi, the neutrality of TNI was paramount to maintain the stability of politics and security in a bid to support the current, mid-term, and long-term development. "Thus, TNI must keep its neutrality," said the president as quoted from the official site of the Cabinet Secretary.

Jokowi assessed that the world rapidly changes, thus it was fundamental to respond to it and make plans from the changes.

He remarked TNI could study strategies on future security defense, such as relocating its headquarters to other regions. "This requires study and research that we can later make our way," he noted.

Jokowi further demanded TNI formulate a grand strategy regarding its budget as preparations to take on changes in the political and global economic sectors.

During his visit to the military ceremony, Jokowi was accompanied by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, State Secretary Minister Pratikno, and Presidential Special Staff Ari Dwipayana.

Source: http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/11/26/055923751/Jokowi-Reminds-Military-to-Maintain-Neutrality

Foreign affairs & trade

Prabowo touts Indonesia as moderate Muslim country

Jakarta Post - November 29, 2018

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto promoted Indonesia as a safe destination to the Singaporean business community on Tuesday, claiming it is a moderate Muslim nation despite recent developments that might suggest otherwise.

"I am sure the majority of Muslims in Indonesia are moderate," Prabowo said in his keynote speech at the World 2019 gala dinner organized by The Economist in Singapore on Tuesday evening.

Prabowo explained that a lot of ulema had been labeled radical even though most of them condemn radicalism and teach peace.

"They are so tired of being accused of [being in a] radical political group, but this should be the responsibility of the country's leader: to educate the people and embrace the ulema so they won't turn radical," said the Gerindra Party chairman.

"But I am optimistic because I saw a lot of religious leaders in Indonesia condemning radicalism and Islamic teaching has emphasized this."

Prabowo suggested that a good leader was one who could eradicate all forms of radicalism. One way to do that, according to the former military general, was by creating jobs for young people.

"If young people lose hope and are frustrated, feeling pessimistic about their future, then religious demagogues can easily influence them," he said.

Prabowo is known for his close ties to conservative Muslims. He has gained support from Islamic parties, namely the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and National Mandate Party (PAN), and also from the so-called 212 Alumni, an umbrella group for participants of a series of rallies held to demand the prosecution of then Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent, for blasphemy in 2016. Ahok was eventually sentenced to two years in prison. He is to be released early next year.

The country's struggle to rebuild its moderate image has been marred by other such radical actions, like the bomb attacks against three Surabaya churches in East Java in May, which were planned and carried out by radicalized Muslim families.

Political communications observer Hendri Satrio of Paramadina University in Jakarta said Prabowo aimed to paint himself as a moderate leader while insinuating that the current administration led by his rival President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had failed to maintain religious harmony.

"He wants to show that he is open to all Muslim groups, that he is different from Jokowi because he will be able to embrace both conservative and moderate Muslims," he said.

Jokowi has been using similar rhetoric, particularly in global forums, he said. "Jokowi has emphasized moderation and pluralism all the time, probably trying to embrace all Muslim groups. Whether he has succeeded is another question," Hendri said.

Political expert Adi Prayitno of the Islamic State University (UIN) Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta said through his speech Prabowo wanted to show he is a moderate Muslim and was not related to hard-line groups, as many of his critics suggest. "Prabowo is widely supported by hard-line Muslim groups, so his remarks were a paradox," Adi said.

Recent events also suggest that Prabowo has close ties with Rizieq Shihab, an influential leader of the hard-line Islam Defenders Front (FPI), as well as with ulema and activists grouped under the National Movement to Safeguard Ulama (GNPF-Ulama). The GNPF-Ulama was actively involved in the anti-Ahok rallies. Prabowo once met with Rizieq in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where he now resides to avoid prosecution in Indonesia after being charged with violating the 2008 Pornography Law in May 2017.

Adi suggested Prabowo might want to start proving his claimed commitment to being a moderate Muslim by actually promoting moderate ideas to his conservative supporters.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/29/prabowo-subianto-touts-indonesia-moderate-muslim-country.html

Prabowo meets with Singapore's PM Lee

Jakarta Post - November 27, 2018

Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, Jakarta – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday met with Indonesia's presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto, who is in Singapore for The Economist's "The World in 2019" Gala dinner.

Lee in a Facebook post noted that Prabowo, the founder and chairman of Indonesia's Gerindra Party, has been busy campaigning around Indonesia.

"We discussed how Singapore and Indonesia can strengthen our strong ties and take our relationship forward," he said. "I wished him all the best and an enjoyable stay in Singapore."

For the April 2019 presidential elections, Prabowo, 67, will face off once more with his opponent in the 2014 polls, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

The two presidential hopefuls, along with their vice-presidential picks, have been in Singapore for various events over the past month. Prabowo's running mate Sandiaga Uno in October spoke on Indonesia's future economy at an ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute event.

Jokowi had just a few weeks earlier attended the ASEAN Summit and related meetings, while his partner Ma'ruf Amin had been in town in October to deliver the RSIS Distinguished Public Lecture.

Lee had met Ma'aruf, the chairman of the Indonesia Ulama Council, ahead of the talk, and posted on Facebook: "I wished him a successful lecture tomorrow and all the best for his campaign preparations."

Prabowo, a retired army general, will speak at Tuesday's dinner. It will also feature Malaysian politican Nurul Izzah and Anthony Tan, the co-founder of ride-hailing firm Grab.

Prabowo's campaign team's director of foreign affairs Irawan Ronodipuro said Prabowo was invited to give his views on advancing Indonesia and boosting its economic growth.

"The international decision-making community wants to know more about Prabowo's strategic views on making Indonesia a sovereign country that can contribute to the global economy," he said.

Prabowo will speak about Indonesia's natural wealth at the dinner, said Irawan, adding that one focus is how Indonesia is able to produce bioenergy to meet global needs by reprocessing 10 million hectares of degraded land.

– The Straits Times/Asia News Network

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/27/pm-lee-meets-with-indonesias-presidential-hopeful-prabowo.html

Protesters at Australian embassy in Jakarta protest Prabowo's stance on

Coconuts Jakarta - November 27, 2018

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's decision to consider moving his country's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem has had far-ranging political consequences beyond his nation's borders, perhaps nowhere else more so than in Indonesia.

Not only has it led to a major bilateral trade deal between our two countries being placed on hold, it has now become a major point of contention between candidates in Indonesia's 2019 presidential election.

Yesterday, a group of protesters from the Indonesian Muslim League to Save Palestine (PLMI) held a demonstration in front of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. But instead of protesting the Australian government for considering the Jerusalem move, the main target of their outrage was presidential challenger Prabowo Subianto.

Specifically, the protesters were angered by statements made by Prabowo on Wednesday after the Indonesia Economic Forum in Jakarta, when he was asked his opinion on Australia's plan to move their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"Regarding the transfer of the embassy, I have not read much about Australia's decision to move their embassy to Jerusalem. We as supporters of Palestine, we certainly have our own opinions. But Australia is also an independent and sovereign country, so we must respect their sovereignty," Prabowo said.

It may strike some as a relatively benign and reasonable statement to make, but it was very much in opposition to the position of President Joko Widodo's administration (which, as mentioned before, has put a major bilateral trade deal on hold to pressure Australia to reconsider), not to mention the vast majority of Muslim Indonesians who are very much against any official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital due to its implications on Palestine (opposition which could clearly be seen here when US President Donald Trump decided to move the American Embassy in Israel there earlier this year).

Prabowo saying that Indonesia should respect Australia's sovereignty is consistent with his own political philosophy towards Indonesia, with its emphasis on economic nationalism as a means of preventing the destructive influence of foreign powers. But consistent though it may be to Prabowo, there's no doubt that it's an extremely unpopular stance to take in Indonesia as illustrated by yesterday's protest.

In addition to signs with slogans such as "Reject the Australian Embassy being moved to Jerusalem" and "Palestine's Freedom is not negotiable", the protesters also carried signs criticizing presidential challenger Prabowo such as "Prabowo hurts Muslims".

"Now we are gathering because the statements by the presidential candidate, who we were once proud of and who we once revered, still hurts our Muslim brothers in Palestine as he supports the [moving of the] Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," PLMI coordinator Tengku Nazarulloh said during his speech at the protest as quoted by Detik.

"The statement by Prabowo Subianto has hurt our hearts and the hearts of all Muslims who are in Indonesia," he continued.

Prabowo's statement seems especially problematic for his campaign considering he is often considered the candidate of choice for hardline and ultra conservative Islamic factions such as the infamous Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which is officially supporting Prabowo in the 2019 race but has expressed their outrage over the possible embassy move.

Following Prabowo's statement, officials from his campaign have attempted to clarify his views to make them more palatable, saying they do not reflect his views on Palestinian independence, which the former general fully supports.

That explanation may have satisfied some of Prabowo's supporters but, as demonstrated by yesterday's demo, many are still incensed by his non-interventionist stance on this issue.

It's easy to see this controversy as the latest in a long line of major PR mistakes made by Prabowo and his struggling campaign following such disasters as the hoax perpetrated by his former campaigner, Ratna Sarumpaet, and his joke about "Boyolali looks" that went terribly wrong.

We have to admit, we kind of respect Prabowo for the position he has taken if only because it indicates he is more concerned with being consistent about his political philosophy than saying things he doesn't believe in to score points with voters.

But considering how far behind he is in most surveys (with Jokowi showing leads of around 15-20 percentage points in many) Prabowo is going to have to start getting a lot smarter about what he says if he's going to have any chance at the polls in April.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/protesters-australian-embassy-jakarta-demo-prabowos-stance-jerusalem-move-accuse-pro-israel/

Prabowo, Ma'ruf weigh in on Oz's Jerusalem debate

Jakarta Post - November 25, 2018

Jakarta – Candidates in the 2019 presidential race have weighed in on the debate surrounding Australia's recent consideration to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, with each camp standing on opposite sides of the argument.

Vice presidential candidate Ma'ruf Amin condemned the move, saying both Indonesia and its people have officially rejected and protested Israel's plan to move its capital to Jerusalem.

"[Therefore,] we disagree with plans from the United States as well as other countries to move their embassies," Ma'ruf said on Saturday as quoted by kompas.com.

In contrast, presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto said Indonesia should respect Australia's planned move. The Gerindra Party chairman made the statement while talking to journalists on the sidelines of the Indonesia Economic Forum in Jakarta on Wednesday.

"Regarding their plan to move their embassy [in Israel], I have yet to find out why Australia is doing it. As a supporter of Palestine, we have our opinions. However, Australia is an independent and sovereign country, therefore, we must respect its sovereignty," Prabowo said as quoted by tempo.co.

Last month, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was open-minded to proposals to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move his nation's embassy to the holy city.

This raised the ire of many countries, including Indonesia, a strong supporter of Palestine. Last month, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the country was concerned about the announcement and questioned its merits. (kuk)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/25/on-ozs-jerusalem-debate-prabowo-says-why-not-maruf-says-no.html

Mining & energy

Neighborhoods in Jambi live in dark smog to bring light to Sumatra

Jakarta Post - November 28, 2018

Jon Afrizal and Ivany Atina Arbi, Jambi and Jakarta – Residents in four neighborhood units in the Payo Selincah subdistrict in Jambi City, Jambi, have lived for almost a decade with the hazardous impacts of three nearby power plants that have helped electrify Sumatra.

Three power plants – one fired by diesel (PLTD), one by gas (PLTG) and a third by biomass (PLTU) – have surrounded neighborhood units (RT) 23, 24, 25, 26 in the eastern part of the province's capital city and contributed electricity to the third largest island in the country.

A resident of RT 25, Usmiyati, said they have complained about the plants' operations to the city's mayor and Jambi's governor for years. "But until now, we have yet to get feedback from the authorities," she told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

Usmiyati said that none of the power plants were built with the locals in mind. She claimed that they had inhabited the area since the 1960s, while the PLTD only came in 1980, followed by the PLTG in 2010 and the PLTU in 2012. The PLTU burns shells of palm fruits, waste from palm oil production, to produce electricity.

The negative impacts of the plants' operations have been experienced by the residents since 2013. Trucks weighing more than 10 tons that carry palm fruit shells for the PLTU have gone back and forth on roads near the residential areas since then – damaging the roads and causing dust to fly into the air.

Residents also complained that the dark smog emitted from the power plant chimneys has caused respiratory problems. "The trucks make loud noise. To make it worse, dust fills the air," Usmiyati said.

She said the private company that operates the PLTU has promised to limit the trucks' operational hours, but the promise has not been kept.

The PLTG, which uses machines that cause strong constant tremors in the area, has damaged nearby residents' houses. At least 20 houses close to the PLTG have suffered light damage, like cracks in walls. Another 20 houses had to be relocated because of damage.

Another resident, Udin, urged the operators of the three power plants to buy their lands because they were no longer comfortable living in the area surrounded by such "destructive" plants.

The residents had asked them to pay Rp 40 million (US$2,753) for every 100 square meter of land, but the operators offered a lower price of Rp 25 million per 100 sqm. "It's such an outrageous offer," Udin said.

Ahmadi, the supervisor of the Jambi branch of the state-owned electricity company PLN, which receives and manages the power from the plants, said PLN had disbursed some money to compensate for any damage caused to local houses.

"We have paid out some Rp 150 million for repairing houses," he said, adding that nine houses in RT 24 were repaired in August last year.

In relation to the health impacts, Ahmadi claimed the company had made maximum efforts to operate the plants in accordance with the quality standards of the Environment and Forestry Ministry.

The ministry, he said, has issued a "Proper Biru" certificate for the Jambi operations, which means they comply with environmental standards. The Jambi Environmental Agency has inspected the air quality around the power plants and found that it is still healthy for people.

University of Indonesia environmental expert Gabriel Andari Kristanto said separately on Wednesday that the plants, particularly the PLTD, produced hazardous air pollutants like nitrogen dioxide (NO2), nitrogen oxide (N2O), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and small particles that could lead to respiratory problems.

"The release of such chemical compounds into the air, which is a result of the power plants' operations, does affect human respiratory systems and causes coughing," Andari said, adding that SO2 combined with water vapor could also cause irritation to the skin.

The expert urged the power plant operators to properly use adequate air pollution controls to prevent a worsening smog that would harm residents.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/28/neighborhoods-in-jambi-live-in-dark-smog-to-bring-light-to-sumatra.html

PLN admits electricity still too expensive for industry

Jakarta Post - November 28, 2018

Jakarta – State-owned electricity company PLN has expressed its commitment to lowering the price of electricity for industry, as it is still considered too expensive.

PLN corporate planning director Syofvi Felienty Roekman said in Jakarta on Tuesday that electricity prices had become one of the factors behind investors' reluctance to invest in the country.

She said that in the next three years, the electricity price could be lowered. "We hope we can lower the electricity price for industry to boost our economy," said Syofvi as reported by kompas.com.

She stressed that improvements to the country's electricity infrastructure were still progressing, with more and more power plants under construction as part of the 35,000 megawatts electricity program.

Syofvi believed lower electricity prices would support the country's investment climate. She also stressed the importance of maintaining supply quality as certain industries and facilities, such as airports, needed a reliable electricity supply as any blackout would cause serious problems.

To lower the electricity price, PLN said, the company would also prioritize the use of domestic energy resources. "Going forward, we want to develop the power plant industry. We will encourage the Industry Ministry to realize this program," Syofvi. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/28/pln-admits-electricity-still-too-expensive-for-industry.html

Economy & investment

Indonesian government backpedals on relaxed DNI policy

Jakarta Post - November 30, 2018

Marchio Irfan Gorbiano, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has decided to heed the call of businesspeople to maintain restriction on foreign investments in several sectors out of concern that liberalizing them may harm small and medium enterprises (SME), an official has said.

Five business sectors, which were set to be freed from partnerships with local SMEs, would be maintained in the upcoming revision on negative investment list (DNI), said Susiwijono, the secretary to Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution, in Jakarta, on Thursday.

They are postharvest cleaning system for root crops, internet cafes, fabric printing and knitted fabric as well as internet- or postal-based retail trading.

On the existing DNI list, which is regulated by Presidential Regulation 44/2016, the first four sectors is open to foreign investment but have to partner with local SMEs, while foreign investors are only required to partner with local firms if they want to invest in internet- or postal-based retailers.

"As per the directive from the President, we included [the five sectors] in the [upcoming DNI regulation]," Susiwijono told the press at the Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister.

With the inclusion of the five sectors in the upcoming DNI regulation, only 49 business sectors from the proposed 54 will either have a cap on foreign ownership or be freed from having to obtain recommendations from relevant ministries.

On Wednesday, Jokowi told members of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) during a national executive meeting in Surakarta, Central Java, that he would not liberalize the aforementioned sectors.

"I have been contacted by the chairs of Kadin and HIPMI [Indonesian Young Entrepreneur Association] to listen to their complaints," said Jokowi as quoted by kontan.co.id, adding that he would maintain those sectors on the DNI list as the draft regulation had yet to reach his desk.

Contacted by The Jakarta Post on Thursday, Ikhsan Ingratubun, chairman of the Association of Indonesian Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (Akumindo), applauded Jokowi's decision, saying that the move would not only protect the sectors, but also other businesses that were tightly tied to them.

For example, Ikhsan said the move would not only protect the SMEs in the postharvest cleaning system for root crops, but also safeguard other small businesses that manufactured machinery used in this sector.

He added that the SMEs were not allergic to foreign investments as long as the investors partnered with them, arguing that such an arrangement would secure the interests of the SMEs' at a time when they face increasing competition resulting from the liberalization of certain business sectors.

"[The SMEs' partnership requirements] will secure the representation of SMEs [in the partnership]," said Ikhsan.

The DNI revision is part of the newly launched 16th economic policy package, along with the expansion of the tax holiday scheme and tax incentives for export proceeds, which was announced on Nov. 16.

The Finance Ministry has issued Finance Ministerial Regulation (PMK) No. 150/2018 on the expanded tax holiday, which now allows 18 business sectors to apply for the incentive.

The new sectors are the manufacturing industry in agriculture, forestry and plantations as well as the digital economy.

The new tax holiday grants full exemption from corporate income tax (PPh) for a certain period of time according to the investment value.

In addition, the government also introduced a new incentive for investments of between Rp 100 billion (US$6.97 million) and Rp 500 billion in the eligible sectors, namely a 50 percent corporate income tax cut for a five-year period, also known as a mini-tax holiday.

Bank Central Asia (BCA) chief economist David Sumual said the government's move was another policy flip-flop as the authorities and other stakeholders were not on the same page.

He urged the government to create a grand strategy for the local economy's development and to provide a clear long-term road map. "[The government] should first identify what businesses want to do, and then move forward in devising short, medium and long-term strategies."

This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post's print edition on Nov. 30, 2018, with the title "Government backpedals on relaxed DNI policy".

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/30/indonesian-government-backpedals-on-relaxed-dni-policy.html

Bank Indonesia revises down GDP growth projection in 2019

Jakarta Post - November 27, 2018

Jakarta – Bank Indonesia (BI) Governor Perry Warjoyo announced on Tuesday the revision of its gross domestic product (GDP) projection for 2019 to between 5 and 5.4 percent from its initial projection of between 5.1 and 5.5 percent.

The new midpoint projection is 5.2 percent. "Economic growth will be supported by strong domestic spending and investment," Perry said in his speech at BI's annual meeting in Jakarta.

The projection considered the government's efforts to control imports and boost exports as well as increase tourist arrivals.

Meanwhile, inflation is estimated at 3.5 percent in 2019 on account of controllable market demand, volatile food and administered prices and the stable exchange rate of the rupiah.

The current account deficit was projected to decline to 2.5 percent of GDP from the current position of above 3 percent.

Credit growth is estimated at between 10 and 12 percent, while financing through third-party funds was expected to grow between 8 and 10 percent. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/27/bank-indonesia-revises-down-gdp-growth-projection-in-2019.html

Government steps back from new negative investment list policy

Jakarta Post - November 24, 2018

Jakarta – Following protests by business representatives, the government has stepped back from its policy of removing 54 business sectors from the current negative investment list (DNI).

Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution said on Friday the new policy, which was part of the 16th economic stimulus package was still in the discussion stage.

"We will assess together, not [the government] alone. After this discussion stage, we will sit together and the results will be conveyed to the President," said Darmin as reported by kontan.co.id.

He said he would attend the national leadership meeting of the Indonesia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) on Nov. 27 to discuss the new DNI with members of the lobby group.

Darmin's statement followed criticism by Kadin and the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) of the policy.

Kadin had called on the government to delay the implementation of the policy, which was initially to be announced next Monday, while Apindo asked the government to cancel the policy because there was no urgency to introduce it.

Initially, Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto insisted the government would go ahead with the policy, but Darmin said the discussion with all stakeholders in the coming days were expected to produce a decision that benefited all parties. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/24/govt-steps-back-from-new-negative-investment-list-policy.html

Banking & finance

Foreign capital in sovereign debt papers hits year high

Jakarta Post - November 30, 2018

Jakarta – The Finance Ministry recorded that the foreign capital invested in the government's debt papers (SBN) broke this year's record on Nov. 28, hitting Rp 899.19 trillion (US$62.95 billion), surpassing the previous record of Rp 880.2 trillion on Jan. 23.

Bank Indonesia (BI) monetary management department head Nanang Hendarsah said on Thursday that global investors had started to show trust in the Indonesian economy following the strengthening of the rupiah against the US dollar.

The Jakarta interbank spot dollar rate (JISDOR) recorded the rupiah's appreciation on Friday when the exchange rate stood at 14,339 per US dollar, compared to Rp 14,408 per US dollar on Thursday and Rp 14,535 on Wednesday.

"The trust of global investors in the Indonesian economy is growing strong because of consistent monetary and fiscal policies as well as [our] prudent response to global and domestic challenges," said Nanang as quoted by kontan.co.id.

Meanwhile, University of Indonesia macroeconomic and financial researcher Febrio Kacaribu said the inflow of foreign portfolios was also encouraged by a correction of the global financial market perception, particularly related to the interest rates in the US in 2019.

Febrio said other factors included Indonesia's strong economic growth, BI's more aggressive measures than other countries' central banks and the decline of the crude oil price.

Maybank Indonesia economist Myrdal Gunarto added that yields from asset investment in Indonesia were in line with the increase of the BI's reference rate. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/30/foreign-capital-in-sovereign-debt-papers-hits-year-high.html

Analysis & opinion

Rupiah becomes a new battleground for Indonesia's presidential

Nikkei Asian Review - November 28, 2018

Shotaro Tani and Erwida Maulia, Jakarta – The Indonesian government's latest measures to defend the rupiah has drawn a rebuke from the opposition as the economy, rather than religious sectarianism, is taking center stage in campaigns for the next year's presidential election.

Alongside the central bank's cumulative interest rate hike of 175 basis points since May, President Joko Widodo's administration has been busy introducing a slew of measures aimed at narrowing Indonesia's current-account deficit and stabilize the rupiah.

"Amid global fluctuations, Bank Indonesia keeps defending the rupiah. We're fully aware how tough the battle is from day to day, weeks to weeks, months to months," Widodo said during the central bank's annual meeting on Tuesday, praising its latest rate hike. "I saw the market surprised and welcome it positively... BI has been showing its fangs."

To support the central bank's move, the government on Nov. 16 announced three key policies under the tagline Economic Policy Package XVI. They include a tax holiday, a further relaxation of the negative investment list aimed at attracting foreign direct investment, and a policy requiring exporters in the mining, plantation and fishery sectors to deposit their forex earnings in domestic banks – with income tax cuts promised for those who comply.

Government officials said the latest measures are necessary to maintain capital inflow posted in early November following outflow induced by Fed Funds Rate hikes and the U.S.-China trade war since the beginning of the year – causing rupiah to lose 11% of its value against the U.S. dollar at one point. The local currency has been strengthening again since the end of October.

"The government is working on encouraging further foreign capital inflow – including through direct investment," the office of the coordinating minister for the economy said in a press statement last Friday. "An increase in direct investment is expected to cover an increase in the current-account deficit. Also, the government is hoping investors' confidence will soon improve."

Indonesia's current-account deficit widened to 3.37% of gross domestic product in the third quarter, from 3.02% in the previous quarter. That brought the cumulative deficit to 2.86% of GDP in the January-to-September period, inching closer to what Bank Indonesia considers a "safe limit" of 3%.

Meanwhile, foreign direct investment fell 20.2% year-on-year in the July-September period, a second straight quarter of decline following a 12.9% drop in the second quarter – which was the first fall since at least 2010.

But the opposition soon attacked the newly-announced policies, calling the revised negative investment list "very dangerous" as it now allows foreign investors to run or fully control businesses previously restricted to them – some of which used to be consigned to local small and midsize enterprises.

Overall, 54 business lines will be affected based on the government's initial plans currently under revision – ranging from internet cafes and fabric printers, to telecommunications providers and offshore oil and gas drilling.

"If SMEs must compete with foreign [investors], they will suffocate, unable to breathe – all will be defeated," the opposition vice president candidate, businessman Sandiaga Uno, told local reporters.

The government was quick to defend the new policies, with Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution saying there remains a minimum legal limit for foreign investment in a business, namely 10 billion rupiah ($692,000).

The latest policy package follows a series of measures that had been introduced in recent months to curb the fall of rupiah by lowering trade deficit – including delays of some infrastructure projects with high import content, mandatory use of domestically produced biodiesel products and increased taxes on importers of more than 1,000 consumer goods.

The rupiah depreciation has so far not translated into higher inflation, with inflation in October contained at 2.2% year to date and expected to reach 3.2% by the end of the year – mainly due to the government substantially increasing fuel subsidies as well as other policies to keep prices artificially low. The opposition camp, however, has run a campaign claiming prices are rising and squeezing low-income voters.

Government measures and tighter monetary conditions have led to a slowdown in the domestic economy, making Widodo's 2014 campaign pledge to grow the economy by 7% almost certainly unachievable. The government targeted the economy to grow 5.4% this year, but Bank Indonesia revised down this figure to 5.1% earlier this month.

But the president seems fully aware that if the weaker rupiah translates into higher inflation at any point leading up to the election, he would face instant and loud criticism from the opposition camp – thus the priority on currency stability over growth.

"Rupiah [depreciation] won't directly affect election result, but it will if it leads to inflation," political analyst Djayadi Hanan told the Nikkei Asian Review on Friday. "Inflation means increased staples' prices, which would reduce people's purchasing power and widen poverty – these may reduce the incumbent's electability."

The 2019 election will be a repeat of the 2014 race in that Widodo, a former furniture maker, and former Army Gen. Prabowo Subianto will again face off against each other.

But while 2014 saw the rise of religiously and ethnically charged campaigns – with the opposition successfully gaining the support of conservative Muslims by portraying Widodo as being un-Islamic – Widodo's choice this time of elderly Muslim cleric Ma'ruf Amin as running mate has largely fended off the sectarian campaign against him.

As a result, the economy is now "a fundamental factor that will influence the election's outcome," Hanan said.

Several polls from September-November suggested that Widodo maintained a comfortable lead over Subianto with 53-60% vs 29-33% votes. But with the election still five months away and given previous crucial election results that defied pollsters' predictions, there remains a possibility of last-minute shifts.

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Rupiah-becomes-a-new-battleground-for-Indonesia-s-presidential-candidates

When business and government mix too well in Indonesia

Jakarta Post - November 28, 2018

Endy M. Bayuni, Jakarta – Pressure from the business world forced the government last week to back off from its decision to open up more of the Indonesian economy to foreigners, which it had highlighted earlier as part of its latest economic reform package.

How is that possible, one may rightfully ask. In one sense, it is a reflection of the lobbying strength of the business world, as represented by the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Indonesian Employers Association.

In another, it shows how the business world is well, if not thoroughly, represented both in the executive and the legislative branches of government.

Government in a democratic Indonesia has inevitably become more pro-business. Successive administrations in post-Soeharto Indonesia have all been pro-business. It is more a question of how close they are to the business world.

Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, Indonesia's seventh president, is the country's first with a business background. The owner of a small furniture business, however, was elected in 2014 by virtue of his proven leadership and managerial skills in leading the Surakarta mayoralty from 2005 to 2012 and the Jakarta special capital region from 2012 to 2014.

His deputy, Jusuf Kalla, comes from the business world and began his political career in the Golkar Party, historically the most pro-business party going back to the Soeharto years. Kalla, who also served as vice president to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono from 2004 to 2009, built the Kalla family business empire from his home province in South Sulawesi.

The Jokowi-Kalla election in 2014 showed voters have no qualms about businesspeople running for political office. Bidding for his reelection in April, Jokowi chose Islamic scholar Ma'ruf Amin as VP candidate. His lone challenger, former Army general Prabowo Subianto, picked self-made billionaire Sandiaga Uno as running mate.

The intrusion of business into government in Indonesia has gone far deeper in the two decades since Soeharto's departure.

More and more regional governments are now headed by businessmen. Businesspeople outnumber people from a non-business background in eight of the 10 political parties in the current House of Representatives. The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the National Awakening Party (PKB) are the two exceptions.

If Soeharto in the past preferred military men as ministers, Cabinets are now filled more and more by business types. In Jokowi's Cabinet, at least five come from the business world.

There is nothing illegal about the marriage between business and the government. Jokowi used his business knowledge to demand cuts in red tape, including at seaports, which he said was slowing down businesses. Through his insistence, Indonesia improved its ranking in the World Bank's annual Ease of Doing Business index from the 104th to the 73rd position between 2014 and 2019.

But the presence of more businesspeople in the executive and legislative branches of the government raises the question of possible conflicting interests and unethical practices when they use their positions to affect laws and policies that favor their businesses.

Ironically, the potential for collusion between government and business has grown and widened in a democratic Indonesia. Soeharto was forced from power in 1998 precisely because rampant corruption virtually bankrupted the country.

Little has changed since then, in spite of the anti-KKN (which stands for corruption, collusion and nepotism) campaign proclaimed by successive elected presidents.

Soeharto was more subtle, whereby the collusion was confined to a few chosen tycoons, the most prominent of which was Sudono Salim, founder of the Salim Group. This small group was later joined by Soeharto's grownup children, in the 1990s. These groups enjoyed concessions, privileges and lucrative contracts that allowed them to build their business empires.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), set up in 2004, may have netted hundreds of big-time corrupt officials, but it seems to have kept collusion and nepotism practices untouched.

The marriage between business and government is not problematic, as long as there is transparency. More problematic are the illicit relationships that escape detection.

The English word "adultery" hardly describes this relationship, since in the context of the world where the word comes from, it is something that seems to be socially acceptable. The Indonesian word perselingkuhan, on the other hand, not only carries an immoral connotation, but since it is widely practiced nevertheless and people turn a blind eye, it connotes hypocrisy.

There are few winners and many losers in this perselingkuhan. It leads to unfair competition, protectionism for a few players, space for rent-seekers and for long chains of middlemen controlling trade, farmers being squeezed for their products and consumers made to pay higher prices, and a tata niaga, or a trade system that encourages or protects cartel practices.

Next time we elect another pro-business government, we should be more critical and ask the question, whose business exactly?

Business mixing with politics has become a fact of life in Indonesian democracy. We hope people are smart enough to know who they are voting for in every election.

If it's any consolation, Indonesia is not the only one with this problem. The world's oldest democracy has a hotel mogul as president.

[The writer is senior editor of The Jakarta Post. This article is based on his Nov. 8 panel presentation at the "Public Lecture Corporate Political Activities in Emerging Countries" held in Jakarta by Airlangga University and the Indonesian chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales.]

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2018/11/28/when-business-and-government-mix-too-well-in-indonesia.html

Simultaneous Indonesian elections could kill off smaller parties

The Strategist - November 28, 2018

John McBeth – It is finally dawning on Indonesia's political elite that holding presidential and legislative elections on the same day next April could sound the death knell for as many as four of the 10 political parties holding seats in the current 560-seat House of Representatives.

Recent polls show that one of the unintended consequences of the amended 2017 election law is that President Joko Widodo's ruling Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI-P) and the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) of opposition rival Prabowo Subianto now stand to dominate like never before.

'Parliament essentially saw it as a cost-saving venture', says Australian electoral expert Kevin Evans, noting an Indonesian obsession with keeping parties to a minimum. 'The parties would have been exposed to a range of views, but they wouldn't have listened to them.'

Previously, parliamentary and then presidential elections were staged three months apart, allowing parties that cleared the old 3.5% vote threshold to form coalitions ahead of the country choosing a new national leader.

But already under pressure from a new 4% threshold, the remaining 12 parties in the 2019 field (including four newcomers) aren't enjoying the same coat-tail effect; an Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) poll puts PDI-P ahead with 27%, trailed by Gerindra on 20%.

That has left the once all-powerful Golkar Party on 10% – still four percentage points short of its showing in the past two elections – and just three of the other parties hovering on the threshold that permits representation in the newly expanded 575-seat chamber.

'We didn't realise how difficult it was going to be without a presidential candidate on the ballot', admits one senior Golkar official. 'Now we have to try and convince voters that a vote for us is also a vote for Jokowi [Widodo]. Nobody planned for this.'

Golkar has fielded presidential candidates in two of the past four elections, but despite never winning, it has always ended up as the main pillar of the ruling coalition. Next year, it may well find itself with fewer cards to play in securing cabinet posts.

The National Awakening Party (PKB) looks safe, thanks to the support of the mass Muslim organisation Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), whose former supreme leader, conservative cleric Ma'ruf Amin, is Widodo's controversial vice-presidential candidate.

Former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democrat Party (PD) and media mogul Surya Paloh's National Democrat Party (Nasdem) also look out of danger, but the Sharia-based Justice and Prosperity (PKS) and United Development (PPP) parties are both in jeopardy at this point.

Chief political minister Wiranto's People Conscience Party (Hanura), a member of the ruling coalition, is almost certain to fall by the wayside, and the National Mandate Party (PAN), a Prabowo ally, is struggling to stay relevant, with its leaders pulling in different directions.

Electoral experts recall doom and gloom forecasts prior to previous elections, but they acknowledge that simultaneous elections introduce a different dynamic given the way PDI-P and Gerindra appear to be sucking all the oxygen out of the room.

Politicians complain that the country's 191 million eligible voters only have eyes for the presidential race, and most analysts agree that it will take a minor miracle – and a serious economic crisis – for Prabowo to haul back Widodo's commanding 57% to 30% lead in the LSI poll.

It's a much different race from 2014, when Prabowo's late charge had Widodo's supporters on tenterhooks before he emerged with a winning 6.3% margin. This time the challenger seems almost reticent, the money isn't there – and a very focused president has the power of the incumbency behind him.

The LSI survey gives Widodo massive leads in populous East and Central Java and even a slight edge in the hotly contested battleground of West Java, the country's biggest province and one of the four regions in which Prabowo was victorious in 2014.

Prabowo claims his campaign is self-funding, but his running mate, Sandiaga Uno, acknowledged during a recent session with foreign journalists that the money flow has been slow. It's also clear that there's a lack of cohesion among the four parties that make up his opposition coalition, again because of the twin-election syndrome.

Yudhoyono has refused to campaign for Prabowo until the final month, instead focusing on his party's efforts to win 10% of the vote in the legislative elections, roughly the same as in 2014 when the outgoing president was no longer the vote-getting factor he had been five years before.

After failing to team his elder son, Agus Harimurti, with first Widodo and then Prabowo, Yudhoyono had no choice but to stay in the opposition coalition; a party that doesn't endorse a presidential candidate for 2019 can't endorse a candidate for the next election in 2024.

Democrat Party sources say the former president is fixated on positioning Harimurti for the presidency in 2024, when he will be much more seasoned politician. His rivals then could well include Uno, Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan and possibly Puan Maharani, daughter of PDI-P chair Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Prabowo may get some consolation from seeing Gerindra overtake Golkar as the second biggest party. Distracted by his alleged involvement in a power station corruption case, new Golkar chair Airlangga Hartarto will almost certainly be deposed at the party's December 2019 congress if the election goes badly.

The Widodo camp, for its part, appears to have largely shaken off the ill-effects of the president's choice of Amin as his running mate, a move that persuaded the opposition to eschew religion as a weapon and home in instead on a sluggish economy.

'Any time spent away from the economy would be a waste of time', says Uno. 'It [Islam] just hasn't come up in any of our focus group discussions with constituents.'

[John McBeth is a Jakarta-based correspondent.]

Source: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/simultaneous-indonesian-elections-could-kill-off-smaller-parties/

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