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Indonesia News Digest 47 – December 15-21, 2018

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West Papua

TNI-Polri find three bodies of armed group members in Papua

Tempo - December 21, 2018

Andita Rahma, Jakarta – A joint-team consisting of members of the Indonesian Military and the Indonesian National Police continued to chase the armed group that attacked PT Istaka Karya workers in Nduga, Papua. During the operation, the team found three bodies of the armed group members in the mountains.

"During the search, the joint team found three bodies. After being evacuated and identified, it turned out that they were KKB members who participated in attacking the security officers," said the Indonesian National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo at the National Police Headquarters on Friday, December 21, 2018.

The three bodies identified were ML, that was found 300 meters above the attack location; NI, that was found 400 meters above the attack location; and NW, which body was found burned. They were allegedly killed after being engaged in a firefight with security officers.

Dedi said that the armed group applied a standard operating procedure of burning the bodies of their member if the member was killed in an attempt to remove any trace.

The three bodies were found on Monday, December 17, around 9:30 PM local time. They were identified by the Papuan Police Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) unit at Wamena Hospital.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1157738/tni-polri-find-three-bodies-of-armed-group-members-in-papua

Governor of Indonesia's Papua calls for army to end hunt for rebels

Reuters - December 21, 2018

Jakarta – The governor of Indonesia's Papua province has called for an end to a hunt for separatist rebels who killed at least 16 workers this month, saying villagers were being traumatized and should be allowed celebrate Christmas in peace.

The military rejected the plea to suspend the search in the remote, heavily forested province on the western half of New Guinea island, and said the governor could face prosecution if he came out in support of the rebels.

"We ask President Jokowi to immediately withdraw troops," Papua Governor Lukas Enembe told reporters on Thursday, referring to President Joko Widodo by his nickname.

"The presence of Indonesian military and National Police personnel in Nduga has traumatized the community... resulting in them seeking refuge in the forest," Enembe said.

Members of the military wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) claimed responsibility for killing at least 16 people working on a bridge on a high-profile road project, and a soldier, in the Nduga area.

At least 300 villagers were reported last week to have fled into the forest to escape the military sweep.

Papua has been plagued by a separatist conflict since the former Dutch colony was incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticized U.N.-backed referendum in 1969.

Enembe said the community should be allowed to celebrate Christmas in peace. "We pay our respects to the past and present victims, but this is enough. There must be no further civilian casualties," he said.

A spokesman for Widodo was not immediately able to comment on the matter, but the military rejected Enembe's call.

Provincial military spokesman Muhammad Aidi said forces were searching for the remains of four of the victims of the attack on the bridge and they would not leave.

"If the governor, Lukas Enembe, poses in support of the Free Papua Movement struggle and rejects the national strategic program policy, he has violated state law and should be prosecuted," Aidi said.

Enembe did not say what action he thought should be taken against those responsible for the killings, but said in past attacks separatists had fled the area immediately.

The provincial parliament would look in to the incident with the National Human Rights Commission, he said.

The rebels have rejected a call to surrender and have demanded a referendum on the future of the area.

Widodo wants to develop impoverished Papua and tap its resources and has tried to ease tensions and address rights concerns while stepping up investment with projects like the Trans Papua highway.

The OPM has said it views the project workers as members of the military and casualties in their war against the government.

[Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe and Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Fergus Jensen; Editing by Robert Birsel.]

Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-papua/governor-of-indonesias-papua-calls-for-army-to-end-hunt-for-rebels-idUSKCN1OK0H9

Papua leaders call for Indonesia to withdraw troops

Associated Press - December 21, 2018

Jayapura – Leaders of Indonesia's easternmost Papua region are calling on President Joko Widodo to order the withdrawal of troops and national police from an area where separatists earlier this month carried out one of their deadliest attacks.

Papua province Gov. Lukas Enembe said late Thursday that civilians who fled into the jungle are needlessly suffering. He said the pro-independence fighters are unlikely still in the Nduga area, where a Dec. 2 attack on a trans-Papua highway construction site killed at least 17 workers.

After meeting with members of the provincial parliament and church and tribal leaders, Enembe said Nduga should be free of troops and Indonesian police so residents can celebrate Christmas in peace. The provinces of Papua and West Papua are predominantly Christian regions in Muslim-majority Indonesia.

At the meeting, Papuan officials agreed to set up a task force to investigate the Nduga killings and other violence. "This is the wish of Papuan people," said Yunus Wonda, head of the Papua parliament, according to local news site TabloidJubi.

"This team is not just for the incident in Nduga. But also for all violence and conflict incidents on the land of Papua which have caused Papuan civilians to be harmed, traumatized or killed," he said.

An insurgency has simmered in Papua since the early 1960s, when Indonesia annexed the region that was a former Dutch colony. It was formally incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a U.N.-sponsored ballot that many regarded as a sham.

The Indonesian government has rejected rebel demands to hold negotiations on the territory's right to self-determination.

Earlier this week, security minister Wiranto, who uses one name, said there would be no compromise with an organization the government has labeled a criminal group. "They are not a country, but a group of people who are heretical," he said.

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-6518923/Papua-leaders-call-Indonesia-withdraw-troops.html

TNI claims Papua governor 'breaking the law' with request for Nduga

CNN Indonesia - December 21, 2018

Jakarta – Kodam XVII/Cenderawasih Regional Military Command (Kodam) public relations head Infantry Colonel Muhammad Aidi says that Papuan Governor Lukas Enembe (LE) and the Papuan Regional House of Representatives (DPRP) should not be calling for the withdrawal of TNI-Polri (Indonesian military-national police) troops from Nduga regency in Papua.

He says that if the TNI-Polri withdraws their troops, security forces could be accused of negligence because, according to Aidi, gross legal violations have occurred in Nduga and the law needs to be enforced there.

"So I think that it is inappropriate for the governor and the DPR[D] speaker as well as other parties to ask that TNI-Polri security personnel be withdrawn from Nduga in an area where gross legal violations have taken place and the law must be enforced", said Aidi in a written release on Friday December 21.

Aidi asserted that the presence of TNI-Polri troops in Nduga is necessary for them to carry out their principle duty of protecting and safeguarding Indonesia's territory. He stated that separatist groups in Papua have committed human rights violations and oppose the sovereignty of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI).

In addition to this, Aidi notes that there are four PT Istaka Karya construction workers whose fate is unknown and are still missing and that they are still trying to determine the whereabouts of these four victims. Aidi also insists that the TNI will not withdraw its troops from Nduga regency.

"Moreover [how would they feel] if they hear that the TNI-Polri have stopped looking for them because of an order from the governor and the DPR[D]? Where is their conscience as creations of God and moreover as leaders? The Kodam XVII/Cenderawasi will not withdraw its troops from Nduga regency", he insisted.

Aidi believes that the request to withdraw the troops shows that the governor and the DPRP do not understand their basic duties and functions as leaders and representatives of the people.

He said that Enembe should act in accordance with Law Number 23/2013 on Regional Administration in which the policy of regional heads is to defend and maintain the integrity of the NKRI and to implement the national strategic program.

"If Governor LE takes a position of supporting the struggle of Free Papua separatists and rejects the national strategic program policy then LE is breaking the country's laws and should be prosecuted in accordance with the law", he said.

Aidi said that the presence of TNI-Polri troops in Papua is not to frighten let alone kill Papuan people.

"So the people don't need to feel upset about the presence of the TNI-Polri in Mbua and the Yigi Complex. The ones that [should] feel upset are the criminals whose hands are smeared with sin who have slaughtered civilians who cannot protect themselves", he said.

Earlier Governor Enembe asked President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to withdraw all TNI and Polri troops and personnel from Nduga in the lead up to Christmas and the New Year. Enembe made the request after taking part in the 5th plenary meeting at the DPRP in Jayapura city.

"As the governor of Papuan I am asking President Jokowi to withdraw all the troops that are in Nduga, because communities want to celebrate Christmas", said Enembe as quoted by the Antara state news agency on Thursday December 20.

According to Enembe the request has received endorsement from the DPRP leadership and members, the Papuan People's Council (MRP), church and customary leaders, human rights activist, the regency government and the people of Nduga.

"The presence of TNI and Polri personnel in Nduga is not appropriate in the lead up to Christmas celebrations, so it would be best if they are withdrawn from Nduga regency. The people want to celebrate Christmas. It's the Christmas season, the TNI and Polri shouldn't be there [in Nduga]", he said.

Enembe said that in relation to the Trans Papua construction workers killed by the Papuan National Liberation Army (TPN) in Nduga on December 2, the government plans to form an independent team to find out what happened. He hopes that there will be no more violence against the people of Nduga.

"The team will be made up of [representatives] from the DPRP, Komnas HAM [the National Human Rights Commission] and the government, they will be divided up and sent to Nduga, as soon as possible", said Enembe.

DPRP Speaker Yunus Wonda said that the independent team would not involve members of the security forces in the hope that the findings of the investigation can be maximised.

"Security personnel will not be involved in the team. The independent team will work to uncover what happened in Nduga. Particularly in encouraging local people who have fled into the forests to return to their respective homes", he said.

The governor will personally lead the team. They will also involve a team of healthcare workers and psychologies to provide trauma counseling for Nduga residents. (rzr/pmg)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "TNI: Gubernur Papua Tak Pantas Minta Tarik Pasukan dari Nduga".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20181221150202-20-355527/tni-gubernur-papua-tak-pantas-minta-tarik-pasukan-dari-nduga

More arrests of West Papuans demonstrating

Radio New Zealand International - December 20, 2018

There have been more arrests of West Papuans in Indonesian cities for demonstrating on an historical date.

Yesterday's demonstrations were to mark the day in 1961 when Indonesia launched a military campaign to take over the former Dutch New Guinea.

A human rights lawyer representing Papuans, Veronica Koman, said the demos were partly organised by the pro-independence West Papua National Committee, or KNPB. Nearly 50 people were arrested at various points in Papua's provincial capital Jayapura.

Papua Police Public Relations officer, Ahmad Musthofa Kamal, said police conducted inspections and searches of the KNPB headquarters in Jayapura. Items confiscated included a Papuan Morning Star flag, pamphlets, a rifle and fruit.

A spokesman for Indonesia's military said there was no permission given for the demonstrations.

In Timika, in Papua's south, one hundred and thirty people were blocked from demonstrating and unable to leave the KNPB's secretariat. The KNPB's demo in Merauke was also blocked, with four people arrested.

There were also arrests of dozens more demonstrators, including Papuan students, in the Indonesian city of Malang, while dozens were forcibly dispersed in Bali

Meanwhile, Ms Koman reports that in Ternate Indonesian military detained seven demonstrators who were assaulted and made to sing the Indonesian national anthem. "It's just to stifle their freedom of speech, to shut them up," she said.

Today's events follow arrests of 500 people at the beginning of the month after Papuan demonstrations to mark the anniversary of 1961's Papuan declaration of independence.

Ms Koman said the police response to these latest demos was different to the 1st of December demos. "We did see a decrease from 1st of December, I mean the number of arrests, but police were so much more repressive than 1st December.

"There were lots of beatings in Jayapura, lots of bleedings, and at one student dorm in Jayapura hundreds of police came and... not exactly raided, but you know, that's pretty intimidating."

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/378749/more-arrests-of-west-papuans-demonstrating

TNI and police stop Papuan activists in Jakarta from holding rally at

CNN Indonesia - December 19, 2018

Jakarta – A joint unit of TNI (Indonesian military) and police intercepted scores of activists from the Indonesian People's Front for West Papua (FRI-WP), the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) and the Papuan Central Highlands Indonesian Student Association (AMPTPI) at the North entrance to the National Monument (Monas) in Central Jakarta on Wednesday December 19.

The activists had earlier planned to hold a rally in front of the army's headquarters (Mabes TNI AD) to commemorate 57 years since the launch of the Trikora military operation which the group says was illegal.

In speeches the activists also called for West Papuan independence and for an end to the slaughter of people in Nduga where the TNI is conducting military operations following the fatal shooting of Trans Papua road construction workers on December 1 by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB).

"We are always being killed in our own land comrades", said one of the activists in a speech.

Unable to hold the action in front of the Mabes TNI AD, the activists then marched to the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) offices in the Menteng suburb of Central Jakarta.

FRI-WP spokesperson Surya Anta explained that they would continue with the action commemorating Trikora even though the joint unit of TNI and police were deployed to stop them. "After this from here we'll go to Komnas HAM", said Anta.

At around 1pm the activists arrived at the Komnas HAM offices although they were unable to enter the grounds of the building because the front gate was closed. As a result, the activists held the action outside the Komnas HAM offices.

In a speech Anta demanding that the Komnas HAM commissioners meet with them and discuss the alleged human rights violations taking place in Papua. (fir/kid)


Operation Trikora was declared by Indonesian founding President Sukarno in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta on December 19, 1961. It was an Indonesian military operation aimed at harassing and forcing the Dutch out of Netherlands New Guinea in 1961-62 rather than one intended to suppress a nascent independence movement.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Diadang di Mabes TNI AD, Aktivis Papua Berorasi di Komnas HAM".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20181219130236-20-354843/diadang-di-mabes-tni-ad-aktivis-papua-berorasi-di-komnas-ham

Papua Customary Council: Indonesia and Papua Free Movement must sit

Tabloid JUBI - December 18, 2018

Benny Mawel, Jayapura – The president of Papua Baptism Churches Dr Socrates Sofyan Yoman said the Indonesian Government's reaction on the murder of 16 people in Nduga Regency on 2 December is truly explicit and unfair.

"We all disagree and condemn Papua Free Movement's act that killed 16 Indonesians in Nduga on 1 December 2018," Yoman told Jubi reporter on Friday, 14 December 2018 in Abepura, Jayapura City, Papua.

However, the Indonesian Military and Police shouldn't take this as a reason to conduct a military operation in Nduga because it would only cause more causality among innocent people, he said.

Currently, the military operation has been carrying out and already took many lives of civilians. However, the reaction over this killing is a paradox. Papuan people should question the policy of the Indonesian Government.

"Are there shouts and curses (from Indonesian Government) when their military and police massacred hundreds or even thousands of West Papuans for 54 years? Where is the justice? Where is the humanity?" asked Yoman.

Moreover, he said without justice and through the incident that killed 16 people in Nduga, the Indonesian Government has established their image before the eyes of the nation of West Papua, Indonesia and the international community that Indonesia is an imperialist who conquered and colonialized West Papua.

Meanwhile, Dominikus Surabut, the Chief of Papua Customary Council, said the Indonesian Government would never solve the problems in Papua through the task forces. "Indonesia must sit together with the Free Papua Movement," he affirmed.

According to him, both sides must take this conciliation seriously and have a mutual commitment to solving the problems in Papua.

Without conciliation, the violence will repeat. Therefore, Yoman appealed the West Papuans to fight for their primary rights peacefully. They no need to be provoked by the provocative actions of the Indonesian Government.

"In responding the state's violence, I asked the West Papuans to keep fighting for their rights in peaceful, humane and dignified ways," said Yoman. (*)

Source: https://tabloidjubi.com/eng/papua-customary-council-indonesia-and-papua-free-movement-must-sit-together/

Military to continue crackdown on rebels in Papua despite local

Jakarta Post - December 17, 2018

The government is maintaining its security focused approach as it hunts down members of an armed rebel group believed to have been responsible for the killing of dozens of construction workers on Dec. 1 in Nduga Regency, Papua, despite local figures' plea for the government to end the armed conflict in the easternmost province.

"The laws, [even] international law, allow us to do that. When there are people who declare hostility against the government, it is justified to carry out military action [to address the issue]," Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto said in Jakarta on Monday.

The Indonesian Military (TNI) has been accused of killing five civilians as it continues to hunt down the armed rebel group, which is linked to the Free Papua Movement (OPM). The government has denied the allegation.

"We are not trying to violate human rights, we are trying to stop the violations. There will be more victims if we remain calm," he added.

The government will also not negotiate with rebels in Papua. "They attempted to mess with the country, and we don't want to listen," he said.

Local leaders in Papua have accused the TNI of using explosives and firing guns while hunting down the rebels, resulting in collateral damage and putting civilians caught in the armed conflict in greater danger.

Rev. Benny Giay, chairman of the Kemah Injili Church Sinode of Papua, confirmed that five civilians – two in Mbua and three in Yigi – had been killed when security personnel were attempting to retrieve the bodies of the construction workers, who were employed by state-owned company PT Istaka Karya.

"I'm pretty sure that [explosives] were involved. There were seven [explosions] in Yigi and five on Mount Kabo," he told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

He added that hundreds of villagers across Nduga had fled into the forests since Dec. 3 because of the military crackdown. Their precise whereabouts remain unknown.

Odizeus Beanal, the director of the Amungme tribal council (Lemasa) claimed he had been told there was a civilian casualty in Nduga because of a military raid.

"TNI soldiers have also launched attacks outside the war zones. They prefer to remain in the village and torture the villagers or kill innocent people," he claimed.

Wiranto denied the allegations, saying the TNI had never used explosives in Papua. "[Explosives] are expensive. This is their propaganda," Wiranto said. (ggq/swd)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/17/military-to-continue-crackdown-on-rebels-in-papua-despite-local-criticism.html

Bishops from New Zealand and Polynesia issue joint protest on West Papua

Anglican News - December 17, 2018

Bishops from the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (ANZP) have expressed their "deep disappointment" at what they say is the continued suppression of the first people of West Papua.

The political status of West Papua is disputed. In the 1940s, with the collapse of the Netherlands East Indies, Indonesia claimed sovereignty over all of the former colony but the Dutch retained control over West Papua.

In the 1960s, Indonesia invaded the island and a later UN-brokered peace deal resulted in 1,000 "elders" voting to become part of Indonesia in a disputed election.

Last year, the an ecumenical pastoral solidarity group from the Christian Council of Asia visited West Papua and described "grave human rights violations" in the region.

At the end of last week, 11 ANZP bishops and bishops-elect, including the two Primates, Donald Tamihere and Philip Richardson, and the Primate-elect, Fereimi Cama, issued a statement calling for the Indonesian authorities to "halt all state-sanctioned abuse and violation of human rights".

In their statement, they express their "deep disappointment" at the continued suppression of the first people of West Papua, and call on governments within their jurisdiction – New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga Samoa, American Samoa and the Cook Islands – to take a four-fold course of action.

These include putting West Papua on the agenda in international forums, and tracking the sale of West Papuan-sourced goods "which accelerate the marginalisation of West Papuan people from their own land" so that these can be banned as imports.

The bishops say: "we stand with our sisters and brothers in West Papua in their struggle to determine their own political destiny, and we pray that the Indonesian government will halt all state-sanctioned abuse and violation of human rights there."

They call on their governments "to clearly express support for the people of West Papua in the redress of their historical injustices" and to "continue to draw attention to the sustained ethnic violence and ongoing denial by the Indonesian government of the first people's right of self-determination, and the abuse of their natural resources by foreign corporations."

In their letter, they refer to the Oceania regional Primates Meeting – or Fono – that took place in Fiji in March. The meeting bought together the primates from ANZP, Australia, Melanesia and Papua New Guinea, together with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

"The leaders heard harrowing stories of human rights violations in West Papua", the statement said. "At last year's gathering, the Oceania Anglican leaders were moved by the passion of the Archbishop of Papua New Guinea, Clyde Igara, who proclaimed: 'I am West Papua. I am Papuan' – thereby acknowledging the unity and solidarity of all Papuans for the people of West Papua in their quest for independence."

The bishops condemn the transfer of ownership to Indonesia, saying that "the West Papuan people were given no voice in the process" and that the UN-brokered agreement's requirement for a ballot of West Papuans treated with "lip service" by the Indonesian government in an "electoral process [that] was corrupt."

They say: "As a Church we are called to advocate for the integrity of all human life as created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). So, we add our voices to those of our Baptist and Catholic brothers and sisters, and to the voices of other faith and secular organisations who condemn the abuses of humanity and the environment which continue to occur in West Papua...

"We also endorse the resolution by the Pacific Conference of Churches, as the regional ecumenical body, to nominate two Pacific church leaders to visit governments and heads of state in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Nauru, Samoa, and Fiji in the next two years to bring the concerns of the Pacific churches on West Papua to their attention."

The full statement can be read here: http://bit.ly/2EuXwFZ

Source: https://www.anglicannews.org/news/2018/12/bishops-from-new-zealand-and-polynesia-issue-joint-protest-on-west-papua-abuses.aspx

PNG's Parkop pushes for referendum for West Papuans

Radio New Zealand International - December 17, 2018

The Governor of Papua New Guinea's national capital has called for the government to review its policy on West Papua.

The newspaper The National reported that Powes Parkop wants PNG to push for a legitimate independence referendum for West Papuans

He said this was needed because 1969's so-called Act of Free Choice referendum, through which West Papua was incorporated into Indonesia, was fraudulent.

Mr Parkop's comment came amid escalating conflict between the West Papua Liberation Army and Indonesian security forces.

The Liberation Army this month massacred at least 16 Indonesian road workers in the Highlands. Mr Parkop said the crisis would only be solved by a properly supervised and legally conducted referendum in accordance with international law.

PNG's government supports Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua. But the governor said conflict would continue unless West Papuans' unquenchable desire for legitimate self-determination is met.


Call for govt to review position on West Papua

The National (PNG) - December 17, 2018

National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop is renewing his call on the government to review its position on West Papua.

He wants it to support a legally supervised referendum for local Papuans to decide to remain part of Indonesia or become an independent state.

His call comes amid the escalation of conflict 10 days ago in Papua province, which was sparked off by the jungle-camp killing of 16 labourers the West Papua National Liberation Army said were soldiers.

"Only a properly supervised and legally conducted referendum in accordance with international law will solve this crisis or issue," he said. "Any other decision or approach will only prolong the problem and suffering of the Papuan people."

The former Dutch colony, rich in natural resources, declared itself independent in 1961, but Indonesia assumed its control in 1963 on the condition that it was to conduct a referendum. It was annexed six years later through a United Nations-backed vote that was seen as fraudulent.

"The campaign for self-determination won't stop," Parkop said. "Indonesia will never win the war of hearts and mind. They might win some battles, but will lose the war.

"The spirit of independence will never die because the vote in 1969 was never conducted on the basis of universal suffrage and in accordance with the law. As long as Indonesia does not do anything about that the flames of independence, it will escalate beyond their control. The only solution is proper, legally-held referendum."

Source: https://www.thenational.com.pg/call-for-govt-to-review-position-on-west-papua/

Trial of Pole charged for links to Papuan separatists begins

Agence France Presse - December 17, 2018

A Polish man who faces a 15-year prison sentence if convicted for alleged links to Papuan separatists is scheduled to appear in court Monday for the start of his trial, an Indonesian official said.

Jakub Fabian Skrzypski was detained and charged in August for intending to film an arms deal between rebels in Indonesia's restive province of Papua, a prosecutor said.

The trial will be held in Wamena where Skrzypski was arrested, the town's prosecutor Ricarda Arsenius said. "The indictment will be read out on Monday", Arsenius told AFP, adding that Skrzypski is in good health.

Police said they had confiscated from Skrzypski and three Indonesians more than 130 rounds of ammunition and documents detailing the struggle of the Free Papua Movement.

Skrzypski's lawyer Latifah Anum Siregar said the Pole, who was living in Switzerland before his arrest, denied any wrongdoing. "We'll see what the prosecutors' indictment is. We are ready to submit evidence to refute the charges," Latifah Anum Siregar told AFP.

In a letter sent to the Swiss newspaper Le Temps in September, Skrzypski said he was merely a tourist in Papua.

"They (the investigators) are telling stories about ammunitions, but I've never seen or possessed any. They are trying to accuse me of an attempted coup, but all I've done was meeting some indigenous Papuans, who were not armed," he said in the letter.

Papua, a former Dutch colony, declared itself independent in 1961, but neighbouring Indonesia took control of the region two years later on the condition it hold an independence referendum. About 1,000 handpicked Papuan unanimously chose in the UN-backed referendum to be part of Indonesia, though some considered it a sham.

The region, one of Indonesia's poorest, has since experienced numerous attacks on civilians with the most recent one earlier this month.

At least 16 employees of a state-owned company, who were building bridges in a major infrastructure push for the impoverished region, were killed by separatist rebels in early December.

The National Liberation Army of West Papua (TPNPB) claimed responsibility for the killings, describing the workers as legitimate targets for participating in what they said was a military-controlled project.

At least four more workers remain missing, while a soldier was also killed by the rebels, authorities said.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/trial-pole-charged-links-papuan-separatists-begins/

Villagers flee fighting, hide in forest in Indonesia's Papua

Reuters - December 16, 2018

Jakarta – At least 300 villagers are hiding in a forest in Indonesia's Papua province on Friday after they fled fighting between soldiers and separatists who killed a group of workers building a bridge in the area this month.

They are cold and hungry after 11 days in the forest, Pastor Benny Giay, the head of Papua's Gospel Tabernacle Church, told Reuters by telephone.

"They are sheltering right on the slope of Trikora Peak," he said, referring to the 4,750 metre (15,580 ft) mountain in the Nduga area.

Security forces are hunting members of the military wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM), which claimed responsibility for killing at least 16 workers and a soldier in the Nduga area this month.

The military said in a statement it was trying to convince the people to return to their homes and promised security forces would not fire at them.

"We, the Indonesian army, will protect the people. We are all brothers, children of God. Even for the Free Papua Movement, if they want to surrender, we will forgive them," local army commander Colonel Jonathan Binsar Sianipar said.

The rebels have rejected calls to surrender and demanded a referendum on the future of the resource-rich area plagued by conflict since it was incorporated into Indonesia after a controversial U.N.-backed referendum in 1969.

The OPM has said it viewed the workers as members of the military and casualties in a war against the government. Jakarta says they were civilians working on the Trans Papua road project to improve connectivity in the impoverished province.

Pastor Giay urged the government to halt construction on the project which has raised tensions in the province. "I ask in general for construction work of the national road project to be stopped before the trauma that this country has created resurfaces again," he said.

The Protestant pastor said he feared a repeat of a 1996 military operation in which civilians, including children, were killed when security forces attacked separatists holding Indonesian and foreign hostages.

President Joko Widodo has pledged to continue building the highway. Since coming to power in 2014, he has tried to ease tensions in Papua by freeing prisoners, addressing some rights concerns and stepping up investment.

[Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Ed Davies and Darren Schuettler.]

Source: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/villagers-flee-fighting–hide-in-forest-in-indonesia-s-papua-11032742


Construction workers accidentally dig up mass grave of tsunami victims

Jakarta Post - December 20, 2018

Jakarta – Construction workers on a public housing project in Kajhu Village in Aceh Besar, Aceh, were shocked to find 45 body bags bodies believed to be victims of the 2004 tsunami as they were excavating to build a septic tank.

The workers said they did no know that part of the land for the housing project was actually a mass grave.

Kajhu village was one of the worst hit areas when a 9.3-magnitude earthquake triggered a giant tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Aceh on Dec. 25, 2004.

Around 85 percent of Kajhu's residents were killed while those who survived the disaster decided to leave the village.

Aceh Disaster Management Agency head Teuku Ahmad Dadek said the residents managed to identify at least four of the bodies by their IDs.

"The body of Sri Yunida, a Sei Karang resident, will be taken by her family," Ahmad Dadek said on Wednesday, as quoted by kompas.com. The remaining bodies will be moved to the village's graveyard.

Samuel, a local, said that dozens of bags containing human bodies were found buried less than 1 meter underground.

The residents helped dig up the mass grave following the finding of the body bags. "We believe the location of the housing project is a mass grave, but it was unknown because there was no sign of anything," Samuel said.

The construction project, meanwhile, has been suspended. (ggq)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/20/construction-workers-accidentally-dig-up-mass-grave-of-tsunami-victims-in-aceh.html

Banda Aceh bans 'Christian' New Year celebrations, threatens

Viva - December 15, 2018

Banda Aceh Mayor Aminullah Usman says he will revoke the business licenses of hotels in Banda Aceh that provide facilities for people to celebrate New Year.

The municipal government will also issue an appeal to city residents asking them not to celebrate the changing of the year. The appeal has already been agreed to by the local Regional Leadership Communication Forum (FKPD).

"We don't want there to be any exceptions. We will revoke their licenses if they are found facilitating New Year celebrations", said Usman following the opening of a coffee festival at the Sari Park in the Acehnese provincial capital of Banda Aceh on December 15.

The appeal also bans parties, firecrackers and fireworks, things which are deemed not to be accordance with syariah Islam (Islamic law) which is in force in Aceh.

The government said it wants to realise zero New Year celebrations. "A New Year's Eve without fireworks, firecrackers, trumpets, parties or riots. There must be no parties and it must be orderly on New Year's Eve", he said.

According to Usman, the Christian celebration of New Year conflicts with Islamic Law and only the Islamic New Year (1 Muharam) will be celebrated in Aceh. Marking New Year is not in accordance with the culture of the Islamic community.

"We have our own new year namely 1 Muharam which must be revered. The Christian New Year is not part of our culture as Muslims and is not part of Islamic teachings", he said.

The Banda Aceh government and related parties have already begun to publicise the appeal. This will not just be done through leaflets but it will also be socialised through sermons at Friday prayers in all mosques.

The government will organise joint raids in anticipation of the sale of firecrackers, fireworks, squibs and other materials related to celebrations in the lead up to the New Year.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Tolak Tahun Baru Masehi, Aceh Larang Ada Perayaan Sama Sekali".]

Source: https://www.viva.co.id/berita/nasional/1103695-tolak-tahun-baru-masehi-aceh-larang-ada-perayaan-sama-sekali

Children's rights & human trifficing

Firebrand cleric Habib Bahar bin Smith arrested for assault on minors

Coconuts Jakarta - December 19, 2018

Firebrand cleric Habib Bahar bin Smith, who has recently been the subject of huge controversy after he made sexist, racist and transphobic remarks about President Joko Widodo, was arrested yesterday by the West Java Police for physically assaulting two minors, aged 17 and 18.

According to the police, Smith assaulted the underage victims in Bogor regency on Dec 1. Video footage of the assault has gone viral and is being used as evidence against Smith, showing him striking the boys, including using his knee, while they looked like they were being forced to take the beating and unable to retaliate.

The beating, which took place at a pesantren (religious boarding school) run by Smith, was reportedly punishment for the boys for supposedly impersonating Smith and his friend a few days prior. Smith was charged with violation of the Child Protection Act and could face five to 12 years in prison. Five accomplices of Smith have also been arrested in relation to the assault.

While an official complaint for the assault was lodged to the police on Dec 5, the police say they decided to detain Smith after interrogating him yesterday because they had reason to believe that he had plans to run away as he has been using a fake name.

"Based on the information gathered by the team [of investigators], he was no longer using communication devices and had been going by the name Rizal," National Police Spokesperson Brigadier General Dedi Prasetyo said today, as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

Smith, 33, is the founder of a hardline group called the Prophet's Defender Council. The group has been in the news numerous times over the years for conducting raids and forcing the closure of entertainment spots during Ramadan, as well as attacking minority religious groups.

Earlier this month, Smith was named a suspect for defaming the president through very troubling remarks he made about Indonesia's head of state in a sermon, though he wasn't placed under police custody then because the charges made against him would amount to less than five years' imprisonment.

In front of a congregation, Smith said Jokowi was "banci" (a derogatory Indonesian term for transgender) and that if his pants were pulled down one might see that he was having his period.

He also said that "The Chinese, westerners, foreign companies are the ones who are prospering. We pribumi (a loosely-defined term for native Indonesians) in Indonesia are slaves in our own country," which is what the charge of racial and ethnic hate speech is based on.

After he was reported to the police, Smith refused to apologize and said he would rather "rot in prison".

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/firebrand-cleric-habib-bahar-bin-smith-arrested-assault-minors-police-say-going-run-away-fake-name/

Sexual & domestic violence

Jakarta gears up to curb violence against women, children

Jakarta Post - December 21, 2018

Jakarta – The Jakarta administration and the Jakarta Police have signed an agreement on Thursday at City Hall to form a partnership to curb violence against women and children in the city.

The agreement involves the formation of an integrated team by the two bodies to prevent and handle violence against women and children. The coordination would allow for the exchange of information between the two bodies to ensure integration of action.

The agreement emerged in the face of an increasing number of reported cases of violence against women and children, with the Jakarta Integrated Care Center for the Empowerment of Women and Children (P2TP2A) recording 162 cases in November alone. In total, the center has recorded 1,672 such cases since January.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said the rampant number of human trafficking cases in the city had also contributed to the high figure.

The deputy chief of the Jakarta Police, Brig. Gen. Wahyu Hadiningrat, acknowledged that the cases could be just the tip of the iceberg with the many going unreported and untouched.

"As an integrated service, victims would also be provided with psychologists," Wahyu said.

"We will also integrate the emergency number 112 with the police command center," the head of the Jakarta Child Protection and Empowerment and Population Control Agency, Tuty Kusumawati, added.

Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) commissioner Ai Maryati Solihah said women and children who were victims of human trafficking from outside the city were less likely to speak up.

"The police and administration should directly intervene in the working places of these human trafficking victims, which is a challenge to be overcome," she told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the event. (ars)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/21/jakarta-gears-up-to-curb-violence-against-women-children.html

Religion teacher arrested on suspicion of impregnating student

Jakarta Post - December 20, 2018

Jakarta – The Tangerang Police have arrested a religion teacher who allegedly impregnated a 17-year-old Quran recitation student in Solear district, Tangerang, Banten.

The head of Tangerang Police crime division, Adj. Comr. Gogo Galesung, said the arrest was made after the police received reports from residents.

"He confessed [to the crime]," Gogo said as quoted by kompas.com on Wednesday. However, the suspect reportedly told the police that he had married the girl with the blessings of her parents.

He is being detained at the Tangerang Police headquarters to protect him from any backlash from residents. "We're detaining him while we investigate the case," Gogo said. (gis)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/20/religion-teacher-arrested-on-suspicion-of-impregnating-student.html

Supreme Court says teacher 'shamed' principal by recording him sexually

Coconuts Jakarta - December 17, 2018

The Supreme Court's decision to send an Indonesian high school teacher named Baiq Nuril to prison for six months for recording audio of her principal making explicit and inappropriate sexual remarks towards her has been decried as a grave injustice.

It has highlighted the flaws in Indonesia's draconian Information and Electronic Transactions Law (UU ITE), which has been criticized innumerable times as a tool to promote censorship, limit free speech and protect those in power by criminalizing those who speak out against them.

When the Supreme Court came to the decision last month – overturning a district court ruling that found Baiq not guilty of UU ITE violation – it ruled that Baiq was guilty of "distributing and/or transmitting or making accessible electronic information and/or electronic documents that have contents that violate morality."

But when the Supreme Court finally published the official court document pertaining to the case on Friday, it became apparent that the court ignored the sexual harassment aspect of the case, focusing instead on the principal's honor.

"Because of the actions of the defendant, the career of the plaintiff, Haji Muslim, as a principal came to an end, his extended family was shamed and his honor was violated," reads a passage in the document, as picked up by CNN Indonesia today.

Joko Jumadi, Baiq's lawyer, says he and his client are going to start work on filing a judicial review – the only legal avenue left for a defendant in a criminal trial after a Supreme Court ruling – which was pending the release of the aforementioned court document.

"We had expected the [document to read] as such, the ruling and their deliberations did not make sense," he said. "The thing that brought shame to the family is the action of Muslim himself."

A judicial review would require Baiq and her legal representatives to submit new evidence in court. It appeared that they have been preparing for this eventuality as Baiq reported Muslim to the police for sexual harassment soon after the Supreme Court sentenced her to prison, with his possible guilty verdict potentially serving as new evidence to exonerate Baiq.

President Joko Widodo is just one of many Indonesians who have voiced their concern over this controversial case, promising that he would look into giving Baiq a presidential pardon should her judicial review fail.

The recording

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

When the recording was made public (Baiq did not upload the audio online herself – her friend did), the principal lost his post. But in retaliation, he filed a criminal report over the recording that Baiq may now have to spend six months in jail just for violation of UU ITE.

Although Baiq was found not guilty at the district court level in July, prosecutors appealed directly to the Supreme Court, which overturned the lower court verdict and sentenced the teacher to six months in jail as well as a fine of IDR500 million (US$33,500).

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/supreme-court-says-teacher-shamed-principal-recording-sexually-harassing-official-document-reveals/

S. Sumatra police won't investigate 14-year-old's rape due to budget

Coconuts Jakarta - December 15, 2018

Reports of children being raped and sexually abused are unfortunately not too rare in Indonesia, but the case of one girl, who was allegedly repeatedly violated by her own uncle over the course of four years, has been highlighted by activists who say the police only acted to investigate her case after being pressured, deepening the girl's severe trauma.

The case concerns a 14-year-old girl, identified by her initials EL, who used to live in Palembang, South Sumatra. Her family and activists say she her 63-year-old uncle had raped her on multiple occasions since she was ten years old.

Gita Pragati, a volunteer who has worked to help EL, said the girl's psychological state has gotten so bad she's no longer going to school.

"She is traumatized to the point that just hearing the word 'Palembang' invokes the memories again," Gita said at GP Ansor Tolerance House in Central Jakarta on Thursday, as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

Linda, EL's sister, says she did not know about the abuse until it had already been going on for years and when she found out she asked EL to come live with her in Jakarta.

Gita said EL's family, represented by Linda, reported the case to South Sumatra Police Station on April 17. They also reported it to the Women and Children's Services Unit (UPPA) of the National Police on May 18.

As if the situation wasn't horrible enough, Gita said that the police have been slow to resolve her case and that they have made no significant progress in months.

According to Gita, a medical examination already determined that EL had suffered sexual violence and is still experiencing psychological trauma. Despite that, she says the police are still investigating EL and witnesses while the alleged perpetrator remains free.

Susiana Affandy from Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) said police only took action on EL's case after getting pressure from her organizations. According to her, the South Sumatra police didn't even want to handle the case at all because the victim had moved far from the crime scene.

"The South Sumatra police didn't want to do the investigation in Jakarta because they claimed they didn't have the budget, they only did it after getting some pressure from us. This sickens me, why would they only take on the case after being pressured?" she said.

Susiana also pointed out that violence against girls is often carried by those closest to them, as supported by data released by Komnas Perempuan (The National Commission on Women) in March this year. Their records showed that in a large percentage of cases, the perpetrators of sexual violence were the women's own partners, biological fathers and uncles.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/s-sumatra-police-didnt-want-investigate-case-14-year-olds-rape-due-budget-issues-activists/

Labour & migrant workers

Sacked Freeport workers in Papua take case to Jakarta

UCA News - December 18, 2018

Konradus Epa, Jakarta – Tri Puspital's life changed dramatically when mining firm Freeport McMoRan Indonesia "fired" him and 8,000 other workers from its Grasberg mine in Timika, Papua, more than a year ago.

Puspital, 50, has no new income to support his family and the company has not paid him any severance. His health insurance has also been blocked. Many of his former co-workers find themselves in a similar situation and are struggling to find other work.

He said all were fired when they went on strike in May last year to protest against working conditions, such as having to do 12-hour shifts and the laying off of 10 percent of the estimated 30,000 workforce at the world's largest gold mine and second largest copper mine.

"I was shocked and angry that they blocked my health insurance after having worked there for more than 20 years," he said.

Puspital, who worked as a senior smelting operator for Freeport, said at least 35 of his co-workers have died since the firm terminated their health insurance, because they couldn't afford to pay hospital fees.

Now Puspital has to borrow money from neighbors to pay his children's high school fees. Again, his friends have a similar problem, while others have had to pull their children from school.

"About 40 children have stopped going to school because parents cannot pay their school fees. Two people have even committed suicide," he said.

They have tried asking the company to rehire them, but Freeport flatly refused, saying the workers were deemed to have resigned when they went on strike. "If they won't rehire us, they should at least give us severance pay," Puspital said.

Long battle

In desperation Puspital and 40 worker representatives have taken up residence at the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation offices in Jakarta since August. With the foundation's help they are demanding justice from the company and also the Indonesian government, which has a majority stake in the company.

"We came to Jakarta to seek help from the president," said Puspital, adding that he and 70 friends left Timika and travelled by boat for ten days before arriving in the capital on Aug. 1.

While in Jakarta they have sought meetings with government officials, but apart from seeing president's chief of staff, Muldoko, they have been unsuccessful.

"We will not give up until we get assurances from the government, even if it means we have to sleep on the floor for months, for the sake of thousands of our friends in Papua," he said.

"We have held protests three times already in Jakarta, outside the presidential palace, but no-one is willing to listen to us," he said.

They were told their case was being handled by Ministry of Manpower, but the minister, Hanif Dhakiri, has refused to meet them.

Stephen Yawan, 33, another worker dismissed by the company, said he was praying the government will see reason and help them. "We were fired because we fought for our rights. It's not fair," he said.

Their legal adviser, Nurkholis Hidayat of the Lokataru Law and Human Rights Office, said the fight has proved dangerous for the workers. "Ten people were tortured after being arrested at protests, five have been shot and one is still missing," he said.

Freeport Indonesia spokesman, Riza Pratama, said the company has done nothing wrong and has followed all legal procedures. "What the company has done is in accordance with the guidelines and laws on industrial relations," he said.

Ministry of manpower official John Daniel Saragih said his ministry was trying to help the workers. "We are thinking of the best solution that can benefit both parties," the director of the ministry's industrial relations department said.

Source: https://www.ucanews.com/news/sacked-freeport-workers-in-papua-take-case-to-jakarta/84107

Political parties & elections

More party cadres support Jokowi: Golkar

Jakarta Post - December 20, 2018

Jakarta – Golkar Party chairman Airlangga Hartarto was optimistic that more party members would support President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's reelection bid next year.

"Now, the number [of party members supporting Jokowi] stands at over 75 percent and it continues to grow," Airlangga said on Tuesday as quoted bykompas.com.

He added that about 90 percent of Golkar members and cadres would support Jokowi and his running mate, Ma'ruf Amin, before voting day in April. "There are still four months left. We are still working [to meet the target]," Airlangga said.

Muhammad Romahurmuziy, the chairman of the United Development Party (PPP), which also backs Jokowi's reelection bid, previously said the PPP and Golkar faced the biggest challenge to win over party members compared to other parties in Jokowi's coalition.

He said many cadres had the potential to support rival Prabowo Subianto and his running mate, Sandiaga Uno, as a consequence of the last presidential election. In the 2014 race, both the PPP and Golkar endorsed Prabowo who at that time was paired with Hatta Rajasa.

"Other parties [in the coalition], which have supported Jokowi since 2014, have a relatively high number [of cadres supporting Jokowi] that stood at more than 90 percent. The PPP and Golkar have more work to do," Romahurmuziy said.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/20/more-party-cadres-support-jokowi-golkar.html

How price of sugar could swing the election (and it's bittersweet for

South China Morning Post - December 19, 2018

Meaghan Tobin – Last week, a delegation from India arrived in Jakarta to discuss the sale of raw sugar to Indonesia. The negotiation followed President Joko Widodo's announcement last month that he would raise Indonesia's sugar import quotas to stabilise prices.

Keeping food prices low is critical for voter support ahead of April's presidential election, where Jokowi, as the incumbent is popularly known, hopes to win a second term.

But the country is also home to a vocal contingent of sugar farmers who want to sell to the domestic market for higher prices.

Upsetting them could prove a sticky fault line on the campaign trail, likely to be exploited by Widodo's challenger, Prabowo Subianto. The former general has announced big ideas to make Indonesia more prosperous, including achieving self-sufficiency in food and energy.

"It's a balancing game," said Siwage Dharma Negara, senior fellow at Singapore's Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. "The government wants to accommodate the interests of both consumer and producer. The complexity is when politics come into play. Price inflation for staple foods is a key consideration in Widodo's bid for re-election."

Indonesia is already the world's second-largest sugar importer behind China though by some accounts, it is actually first. Raising its import quota would feed growing demand from hungry consumers. Under Widodo, Indonesia's economy has continued expanding by about 5 per cent annually, along with appetites for processed foods.

To keep up, sugar imports have doubled in the past 10 years. Last year, less than half the sugar consumed in Indonesia was grown domestically, and Thailand supplied 94 per cent of imported raw sugar.

Data from state logistics agency Bulog indicates the decision to allow more imported sugar has stabilised the price at about US$1 per kg. This, however, has been seized upon by Widodo's political rivals as evidence his administration will prioritise consumers at the expense of farmers.

More significantly, it highlights Indonesia's failure to achieve its goal of food self-sufficiency. Since independence, the aim of self-sufficiency – and failure to achieve it – has been an enduring political issue, particularly in election years.

The nearly 5 million metric tonnes of sugar imported in 2017 are testament to how far that ambition remains from being realised.

"Of course it is impossible to be self-sufficient in all food commodities, so Indonesia needs to choose," Siwage said. "Most of the time it's just following the demand from constituents. If farmers start protesting, the government will say: 'This is a key commodity'."

Hizkia Respatiadi, senior researcher at Jakarta's Centre for Indonesian Policy Studies, said the goal of self-sufficiency remains critical. "Even though the data shows productivity is fluctuating and not showing meaningful improvement, I don't think the government will concede it's not working," Respatiadi said. "It's not a good political message."

Once a cornerstone of the nation's agriculture system, Indonesia's domestic sugar production has languished for decades. There are currently 63 sugar mills operating, all managed by state-owned enterprises, 11 of which have been modernised to process high volumes of imported raw sugar. There are 40 mills more than 100 years old – relics of the Dutch colonial administration predating Indonesia's independence.

The mills are largely concentrated on Java, the nation's most populous island, and are a constant reminder of the failure to achieve self-sufficiency as the ranks of sugar farmers dwindle.

"The problems of the industry have nothing to do with the imports," said Stefan Uhlenbrock, commodities analyst at FO Licht. "All the mills are operating below capacity. When the government sets a target to reach self-sufficiency, nobody in the sugar industry takes it seriously."

In 2012, the Ministry of Industry sought to revitalise the industry by offering financial incentives for factories to upgrade machinery but few have been willing to suspend production to make the improvements.

The government has also set a minimum price for sugar to ensure a measure of security for domestic producers but farmers demand that minimum price be increased. According to Bloomberg, domestic producers have incurred an estimated US$137 million in losses as sugar prices declined over the past year.

As Widodo seeks re-election, he is in the awkward position of needing to demonstrate his willingness to prop up and protect the inefficient domestic sugar industry while simultaneously taking steps to compensate for its shortcomings.

Widodo said at a food security summit in 2015 he was convinced Indonesia could achieve food self-sufficiency within the next five years, and to that end, has made investments in irrigation projects and agricultural developments throughout his term in office, but the goal has not been achieved.

Respatiadi said both candidates – Widodo and Prabowo – will be obliged to at least pay lip service to the farmers during the election campaign. "It's always good to support domestic farmers but it needs to be done strategically," Respatiadi said. "It's especially important in this kind of political year."

Source: https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2178680/how-price-sugar-could-swing-indonesian-election-and-its

Indonesia could go 'extinct' if I lose election: Prabowo

Jakarta Post - December 19, 2018

Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta – In a speech made at the Gerindra Party National Conference in Bogor, West Java, on Monday, Gerindra chairman and presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto told thousands of his party members that Indonesia could go "extinct" if he did not prevail over President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in the upcoming election.

"We must not lose. If we lose, this country could go extinct," he said. "Because the Indonesian elites are always disappointing, always failing to carry out the mandate given by the Indonesian people."

He said the country had been heading in the wrong direction for decades. "If the same system is continued, Indonesia will become weak. Indonesia will become even poorer, even more helpless and could even go extinct," he said.

The statement was met with criticism and derision from Prabowo's political opponents, who said that the former general's speech was exaggerated and overly negative.

"Pak Prabowo never repents. He's always trying to scare the people," Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) secretary-general and Jokowi-Ma'ruf Amin campaign team spokesman Raja Juli Antoni told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday. "What can be expected from a presidential candidate that can only spread fear and pessimism?"

He added that he did not see a correlation between Prabowo losing and the dissolution of Indonesia. "Indonesia will be just fine or even better if Prabowo loses," he said.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto said the public should not be alarmed by Prabowo's statement.

"If after the election, Prabowo loses and Indonesia remains intact and not extinct, then [Prabowo's] Hambalang house should be given to me," he said jokingly on Tuesday. "If, on the other hand, Indonesia becomes extinct, then my house will be given to Prabowo, because if everything goes extinct, than what would we need houses for?"

Jokowi's running mate Ma'ruf Amin gave a similarly lighthearted take on Prabowo's speech. "Indonesia will not go extinct, it's not an ancient animal," he said on Tuesday as quoted by tempo.co.

This is not the first time Prabowo has expressed a gloomy outlook for the country. In March, he said that Indonesia could fall apart by 2030.

"Brothers and sisters! We are still holding flag ceremonies, we are still singing patriotic songs, we are still using national symbols and the pictures of our founding fathers are still here," he said at the time. "But in other countries, they have conducted studies that say that the Republic of Indonesia will no longer exist by 2030."

Prabowo later admitted that he was referring to techno-thriller novel Ghost Fleet, which was written in 2015 by American political scientist PW Singer.

Prabowo-Sandiaga Uno campaign team spokesperson Dahnil Aznar Simanjuntak said Prabowo's statement was referring to the overconcentration of resources in the hands of a few.

"Prabowo-Sandi wants to develop Indonesia, not just develop in Indonesia," Dahnil told the Post on Tuesday. "The country's sovereignty is being eroded because everything is being controlled by a few large capital owners. This makes the government unable to maintain political, economic and cultural sovereignty. If these conditions continue, that means the country could go extinct."

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/18/indonesia-could-go-extinct-if-i-lose-election-prabowo.html

Does Prabowo have a 'thing', and other awkward questions

Sydney Morning Herald - December 17, 2018

James Massola, Amilia Rosa & Karuni Rompies, Jakarta – He's a controversial former army general, multi-millionaire businessman and failed presidential and vice-presidential candidate.

For decades Prabowo Subianto has been a household name in Indonesia and in 2019, once more, he is seeking the presidency.

But despite being so well known to the public, Prabowo's campaign team has taken the unusual step of releasing a so-called "Blue Book" that, as well as outlining some of the key promises made by the candidate and his running mate, Sandiaga Uno, also includes a lengthy frequently asked questions section.

This section attempts to correct some of the myths that have sprung up around the candidates.

Fair and Prosperous with Prabowo-Sandi examines suggestions that the candidate is in debt – a claim he strongly denies – his marital status, why he likes horses so much ("what's wrong with a horse?") and even whether or not he has a "thing". In Indonesia this will be universally recognised as dealing with a rumour that his genitals were shot off during his army service.

The most serious claims made against Prabowo relate to his time in the military. The candidate served in the Indonesian military, including in East Timor in the 1980s at a time of conflict with the East Timorese rebel army. He rose through the ranks to become commander of Kostrad, or Army Strategic Command.

Over the years, Prabowo has been accused of human rights abuses in East Timor, and of being involved in the kidnapping pro-democracy activists during the 1998 reformasi demonstrations that led to the end of former president Suharto's long rule.

The Blue Book asks the rhetorical question, "if he violated human rights, why is he allowed to freely go to any country?"

"He was even chosen by [the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle chairman] Megawati to be her vice-presidential candidate during the 2009 election."

On the kidnapping claims, the Blue Book states that "it was not kidnapping but securing. And it was not Prabowo who secured [the activists] but Tim Mawar [a team of soldiers]. "Nine people were secured and they are now free and alive and some are Gerindra Party [Prabowo's political organisation] members."

The book is similarly defiant about suggestions he was sacked from the military. He was "not fired, but honourably retired early. If he was fired how could he still receive pension money each month?"

But the expert view on Prabowo's role in Indonesia's relatively recent political and military history is a little more nuanced than the candidate would have people believe. The Australian National University's Marcus Mietzner says Prabowo was never convicted of any crimes.

"He was 'relieved from military service' in August 1998 by an honorary council of military officers for a number of violations, which included the extra-judicial disappearance and arrest of anti-Suharto activists, but also made mention of a number of operations in Aceh, East Timor and Papua. These operations were viewed as being conducted outside of the official command structure. The written verdict of the council avoided the term 'human rights violations'," Dr Mietzner says.

To help him save face, "the presidential decree that discharged him called it an 'honourable' discharge. The honorary council had only recommended a 'discharge'."

Professor Hermawan Sulistyo, a research professor at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, adds that the human rights abuse allegations levelled against Prabowo relate to the 1998 kidnapping of activists.

"What was important at that time was that he resigned from the military. There are several allegations related to human rights abuses in East Timor but he is just one of the accused. There are other actors. Since the East Timor cases were never brought to court we cannot say he committed human rights abuse in East Timor."

The booklet also examines what sort of government a president Prabowo would lead. Specifically it addresses the question of whether he would revive the "New Order", the name given to the 1966-1998 regime of strongman president Suharto which was characterised by authoritarianism and crony capitalism. At also asks whether he would allow the formation of an Islamic State, given his support from conservative Islamic groups.

On the New Order, the booklet states that "every government has positive and negative sides to it. "We will continue the positives, and abandon the negatives."

On the Islamic State, the book says Prabowo "is a TNI [army] general, whose duty is to safeguard the NKRI [the secular Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia]. [His] commitment toward the NKRI is final!"

In the book, Prabowo also denies that he is divorced from Siti Hediati Haryadi, one of Suharto's daughters. The couple separated in 1998, but he argues "he was chased away by the Cendana family [the Suharto family], provoked by generals who were anti-Prabowo".

But Mietzner says "yes, he is divorced. "He wants to create the impression that this was not because they didn't love each other anymore, but because of political reasons".

Perhaps the most delicate question addressed by the Blue Book is the one about his "thing".

"If Prabowo doesn't have 'the thing' how does he have a child? His child is an international designer and designed the most expensive series of BMW cars, with only five cars made in the world," the book states.

Professor Hermawan Sulistyo says he doesn't know if Prabowo does or does not have "the thing", but notes "the rumour about it relates to an accident in East Timor. "The incident in East Timor occurred after he had a child".

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/does-prabowo-have-a-thing-and-other-awkward-questions-20181213-p50m6k.html

Police arrest PDI-P flag, banner vandals in Pekanbaru

Jakarta Post - December 17, 2018

Rizal Harahap, Pekanbaru – The Pekanbaru Police have named two individuals, identified as KS and MW, as suspects of vandalizing campaign material belonging to the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in the capital of Riau province.

Police apprehended both individuals on Sunday after they were found tearing down the party's flags in Tenayan Raya district. Both suspects were immediately detained.

"They were promised Rp 150,000 [US$10.26] for destroying the banners by a person whose identity is still under investigation," Riau Police chief Insp. Gen. Widodo Eko Prihastopo said during a press briefing on Monday.

The police chief dismissed the allegation the suspects were named at the behest of certain parties. "The investigation is still ongoing to find another suspect, the mastermind, in this case and another one related to Democratic Party banners."

KS and MW were apprehended just one day after the Pekanbaru Police arrested Heryd Swanto, 22, who was caught trying to rip up a Democratic Party banner with a box cutter early on Saturday morning.

Also, on Saturday, dozens of the party's flags and banners were found ripped off and torn, on the day party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono visited the city. PDIP Riau branch chairman Rokhmin Dahuri gave an assurance the suspects were not party members or supporters.

Separately, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto said there was no ploy behind the incidents. "We have instructed authorities to investigate the incidents. We don't want this to affect our national democracy index," Wiranto said on Monday in Jakarta. (kuk/ggq/swd)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/17/police-arrest-pdi-p-flag-banner-vandals-in-pekanbaru.html

Ripped Democratic Party banners, flags mar SBY's visit to Riau

Jakarta Post - December 15, 2018

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – Dozens of Democratic Party (PD) flags and banners were found ripped off and torn in Pekanbaru, Riau, on Saturday, just as chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's (SBY) is visiting the city.

Most of the torn flags were found near Pangeran Hotel, where the country's former president is staying with his wife and several other party leaders.

The banners were placed at the same location as dozens of flags from the government's supporting parties, the Golkar Party, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and Indonesia Solidarity Party (PSI). Their officials were present as the city hosted on the same day an event that was attended by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

Their flags were left untouched and remain standing. PD leaders, including SBY himself, condemned the incident.

"For the good of all of us, I order all Democrat flags and banners be removed. That's better than seeing them destroyed and thrown into the gutter," Yudhoyono said.

PD secretary-general Hinca Pandjaitan called on all party members in the region to remain calm and not be provoked. He also claimed that the perpetrator, who had been apprehended, had been paid by a group that intended to stir up conflict.

"He [the suspect] confessed that he was paid Rp 100,000 [US$6.86] only to destroy the flags. We are sure there is [someone else] behind it," Hinca said.

According to Andi Arief, another party executive, the perpetrator claimed that he had been hired by members of the PDI-P but urged caution.

"A perpetrator, who was caught [on Friday night] by the PD's local chapter members, said he was ordered by the PDI-P. It is unwise to rush to conclusion. The police should investigate," he said on his Twitter account @AndiArief.

Yudhoyono is scheduled to visit Pekanbaru from Friday to Monday for the 2019 legislative election campaign.

For the presidential election that will be held concurrently with the legislative polls, Yudhoyono's party has endorsed Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto, the only challenger for Jokowi who is seeking reelection.

PDI-P secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto immediately denied any involvement in the incident.

"To those who accuse that we [the PDI-P] are responsible for the destruction of the flags, we emphasize that we had nothing to do with that. This sort of behavior is not a characteristic of the PDI-P," Hasto said.

Hasto said the party had no issues with the Democrats, adding that the PDI-P only competed with Gerindra in the legislative race.

The PDI-P, which secured more than 23 million votes in the 2014 legislative election, has become the largest party at the House of Representatives, followed by Golkar and Gerindra.

The PD finished fourth in the election four years ago, securing more than 12 million votes.

The Pekanbaru Police have arrested a suspect in the case, Heryd Swanto, 22, who was caught trying to rip up a banner with a box cutter early on Saturday at 1.45 a.m.

"A witness shouted at the alleged perpetrator, who jumped, fell and ran away," said National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen Dedi Prasetyo. The police are still investigating the motive behind the vandalism.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/15/ripped-democratic-party-banners-flags-mar-sbys-visit-to-riau.html

Blasphemy & hate speech

Man convicted for insulting Batak tribe

Jakarta Post - December 20, 2018

Medan – A panel of judges at the Medan District Court sentenced Faisal Abdi Lubis, 27, to 18 months in prison and fined him Rp 20 million (US$1,379) for insulting the Batak tribe on social media.

He was found guilty of violating the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law.

"[The panel of judges] sentences [the defendant] to one year and six month in prison and Rp 20 million in fines," presiding judge Saryana said during the trial hearing on Monday evening. The sentence is lower than the two years sought by the prosecutors.

Faisal said he would not challenge the sentence. "I accept it," he added. He also apologized to the Batak tribe

Daniel Pardede, who reported Faisal for insulting the tribe on social media, said he was satisfied with the decision and had forgiven the defendant.

Lubis' posts concerned the defeat of gubernatorial candidate pair Djarot Saiful Hidayat and Sihar Sitorus. "Batak people, eat that s***!" read one of the postings. Djarot is Javanese while Sihar is Batak.

Edy Rahmayadi, a retired army general and a Malay of the royal Deli house, and his running mate, Musa Rajekshah, won the North Sumatra election in June.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/20/man-convicted-for-insulting-batak-tribe.html

Heavy security planned on Ahok's release day

Jakarta Post - December 20, 2018

Jakarta – The authorities are considering applying heavy security when former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama is released from prison on Feb. 24 next year after serving time on a blasphemy conviction.

"If the situation does not allow regular protection, we will apply heavy security on the release day," the Law and Human Rights Ministry's correction facilities director general spokesman, Ade Kusmanto, said as quoted by kompas.com on Wednesday.

Ade said the directorate would cooperate with the police in the matter. "We expect Ahok's sympathizers will be there. We also predict the anti-Ahok crowd will be there on the day," Ade said.

According to Ade, his office was responsible only for Ahok's safety inside the prison. "After his release, his safety becomes the responsibility of the police," he said.

Ahok was sentenced to two years in prison on May 9, 2017. He is expected to be released on Jan. 24, after receiving a two-month remission in August and another 15 days at Christmas last year. Ahok is expected to be given another one-month remission this Christmas. (gis)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/20/heavy-security-planned-on-ahoks-release-day.html

Environment & natural disasters

Tangerang takes baby steps to ban plastic bottles at offices, schools

Jakarta Post - December 21, 2018

Jakarta – Tangerang Mayor Arief R. Wismansyah has urged people to bring their own tumblers to school or work instead of buying plastic water bottles, in an attempt to reduce plastic waste.

Arief said he wanted all classrooms to have water dispensers so that students could fill up their own tumblers with drinking water.

"The environment agency is designing [the regulation]. They [schools] have made waste banks. So [the garbage in the waste bank] is bartered for water gallons. Therefore, children can bring their own tumblers to school," Arief said as quoted by kompas.com on Thursday.

Arief said he had implemented a plastic reduction policy in his office. "In the office, we have issued a plastic bottle ban. So if we go to a meeting we have to bring our own tumbler," Arief said.

A plastic water bottle ban has yet to be made official through a mayoral regulation. "We have to start with an introduction. If the regulation is implemented, we can then punish the violators," Arief said. (gis)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/21/tangerang-takes-baby-steps-to-ban-plastic-bottles-at-offices-schools.html

In Indonesia, splits emerge over efforts to stem plastic tide

Reuters - December 21, 2018

Gayatri Suroyo, Cindy Silviana, Jakarta – As Indonesia struggles with mountains of plastic waste going into landfill and polluting its rivers and oceans, business groups are pushing to overturn restrictions on importing plastic scrap into Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, is estimated to be the world's second-largest contributor of plastic pollutants in the oceans after China, according to a 2015 study published in Science journal.

To tackle this, the government last year pledged up to $1 billion a year to reduce marine plastic debris by 70 percent by 2025.

But emerging divisions in the government on the issue of waste pose a fresh challenge to these targets. Partly driving this rift is a push by the plastics industry to overturn a halt in scrap imports, which was introduced in June on concerns about a flood of waste from western countries arriving after China barred such imports.

Industry minister Airlangga Hartarto last month sent a letter urging the environment ministry to lift its bar on imports because Indonesia does not currently produce enough suitable plastic waste to feed its recycling industry.

In the letter, reviewed by Reuters, Hartarto argued Indonesia needs 600,000 tonnes of imported scrap a year, much bigger than its usual 110,000 tonnes. He said the country enjoyed about a $40 million trade surplus by exporting recycled plastics.

"This is a potential industry that creates a lot of jobs," said Taufiek Bawazier, director of downstream chemical industry at the industry ministry, cautioning that focusing only on the environmental risks could harm the industry.

'We must not hate plastic'

According to the 2015 Science journal report, almost half of the 3.2 million tonnes of plastic waste Indonesia produces in a year ends up in the sea.

The issue was graphically highlighted in November when a sperm whale was found dead with 6 kg of plastic waste in its stomach on an Indonesian beach.

But the government's waste reduction targets are complicated by a lack of recycling culture or awareness of environmental damage in the developing country of 260 million people.

Poor waste management means plastic trash that goes to landfills is too dirty to feed Indonesia's recycling industry, Bawazier said, adding that business would take more than the annual 1.1 million tonnes of local scrap if it was available.

Plastics lobby groups say downstream to upstream plastic industries employ 130,000 directly, while millions make a livelihood by scavenging for waste like plastic bottles for a small bit of cash.

"We must not hate plastic," said Christine Halim, chairwoman of Indonesia's recycling association, noting that buying foreign scrap was much cheaper than making products with virgin plastic and, as long as the environment was protected, should be seen as a business opportunity.

Safri Burhanuddin, deputy Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs, which overseas the environment ministry, said there were no plans to reopen scrap imports.

Nonetheless, the industry ministry argues there is no legal basis to stop imports, while the plastic industry has successfully lobbied policymakers before.

A 2016 plan to slap excise on all plastic packaging was watered down to only apply to plastic bags and even this has not been implemented yet.

The industry is currently also fighting a ban on plastic bags in supermarkets by some city governments. The Indonesia Olefin, Aromatic and Plastic Industry Association was cited in media saying the move had led to an oversupply of bags.

Burhanuddin of the maritime affairs ministry, however, applauded local action on waste management, pledging to award the best regional performers and shame laggards on social media.

Tiza Mafira, director of the Indonesia Plastic Bags Diet Movement, a group pushing to cut use of plastic, said it was a "ridiculous idea" to import waste. "It is proven that we cannot handle plastic trash. It will end up in the landfill," she said.

[Additional reporting by Tabita Diela, Maikel Jefriando and Jessica Damiana; Editing by Ed Davies and Sam Holmes.]

Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-environment-zero-waste/in-indonesia-splits-emerge-over-efforts-to-stem-plastic-tide-idUSKCN1OK0H3?rpc=401&

Plan to ban plastic bags in Jakarta met with mixed response

Jakarta Post - December 19, 2018

Jakarta – Retail businesses in Jakarta are ready to welcome a regulation banning single-use plastic bags, while business associations are criticizing the move.

Association of Indonesian Retailers (Aprindo) head Roy Nicholas Mandey said the city should only reduce the use of plastic bags instead of banning them.

"Aprindo regrets the ban when it should have only been reduced," Roy said on Tuesday, kompas.com reported. "Article 3[2] of Presidential Regulation No. 97/2017 also said reduced [plastics use], there is no mention of a ban," he said.

He said the result of those regulations were the use of nationally certified (SNI) biodegradable plastic bags recommended by the National Standardization Agency (BSN), in accordance with a recommendation from the Environment and Forestry Ministry.

He said the biodegradable plastic bags had been used in 35,000 retailers. However, the association would still follow Jakarta's single use plastic ban once it was enacted. "We are still ready to eliminate [plastic bags] because it also reduces [business] costs," Roy said.

Separately, Alfamart corporate affairs director Solihin said the company supported the planned policy. "If a regional administration, city administration or regency administration makes such a regulation, we will follow it," Solihin said on Wednesday.

He said a plastic bag ban would benefit the retailer as Alfamart also sold reusable shopping bags for Rp 3,500 (24 US cents).

Jakarta Environment Agency head Isnawa Adji said the planned gubernatorial regulation would stipulate a six month transition period to educate retailers, vendors and consumers about the ban before a total ban by the middle of 2019. (ami)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/19/plan-to-ban-plastic-bags-in-jakarta-met-with-mixed-response.html

LGBT & same-sex marriage

More persecution against LGBTI in Indonesia as election nears

The Global Post - December 15, 2018

Ainur Rohmah – At her age of 51, Yuni Shara has to worry about her safety in Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, all because she is transgender.

In the past months, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexual (LGBTI) community in the country has seen an increased number of attacks.

"It's not easy to live as a transgender [person]... We are persecuted. Especially if we make a mistake, then people will easily drive away or intimidate us," Shara told The Globe Post.

Shara, who friends call "YS", has lived in the city of Yogyakarta in central Indonesia for decades. She once worked as a street singer but left the profession a few years ago to become an activist for marginalized and minority people.

Accustomed to the difficult environment, the transgender community in Indonesia has come together to support each other and establish a security system for themselves.

"The best way is through a cultural approach, which is to contribute and establish familiarity with the communities in which we live," Shara said.

Together with some of her friends, Shara manages an Islamic boarding school for transgender students, where they can freely worship and listen to religious lectures. The school was shut down by a hardline Islamist group in February 2016, but now it's operating again.

"Building a positive image is necessary. Besides, we really want to concern ourselves with positive activities," Shara said.

Shara noted, however, that the political process can break apart the security systems that the community has struggled to maintain. She said a pattern of violence has emerged that has been afflicting LGBTI groups in Indonesia, especially transgender women. It has become especially noticeable as the country's general election is approaching.

Indonesians will elect their representatives, president, and vice-president on April 17, 2019. Incumbent head of state Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is going to face a standoff with retired general Prabowo Subianto. The legislative candidates and the president are currently all involved in the campaign process.

"It is possible that there are parties or politicians who raise anti-LGBTI issues to attract a mass of supporters. The moral issues are very attractive to some people," Shara said.

In November, seven transgender people in East Jakarta were told to leave their boarding house by some of their neighbors.

Another incident happened last month with two transgender women in Bekasi, where they were beaten, harassed, and one of them was stripped off her clothes by dozens of people.

Based on a witness testimony, an attacker shouted, "You are a man, right? And your friend is a waria [transgender]? Don't you know that it's a sin?" The victims cried and called for mercy, saying "Ya Allah [my dear god]!"

"There is no Allah for you. No need to mention God. You don't deserve to have been born," the men said.

The attacks, according to Shara, spread fear among the transgender community, especially those people who were not mentally prepared. "So far, we can still conduct activities as usual, but we never know what the next development will be. Moreover, this is a political year," she noted.

Shara said the attackers of transgender people, who usually belong to hardline Islamic groups, are individuals who are ignorant and are only oriented toward the words of their leaders.

"Indonesia is not a country based on Islamic law, even though the majority is Muslim. Everyone should be protected, regardless of their background," she said.

'Assertive action'

According to Novel Bamukmin, a preacher from the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), transgender individuals must be nurtured and cured because they have "diseases." He further told The Globe Post that he believes that "transgender [people] who carry out similar sex must be sentenced to death."

In Indonesia, transgender people are often associated with natural disasters, such as landslides, earthquakes, and floods. Bamukmin claimed that transgender individuals live in severe violation of the Shari'a (Islamic) law, and invite the wrath of God.

Bamukmin denied that FPI commits violence against transgender people, and has only limited its activities to evicting and canceling their events. That, he said, had been in coordination with the police.

"Assertive action is different from violence. Because there are more and more transgender communities, so it is necessary to take firm actions in coordination with the police," he said.

Bamukmin is not alone. A survey by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) showed that 81 percent of the polled agreed that belonging to LGBTI was prohibited by religion. In addition, 88 percent of Indonesians feel threatened by LGBTI existence, even though the exact form of threat was not explained.

However, negative attitudes toward the LGBTI community were not accompanied by a desire to discriminate against it, because the survey showed that as many as 57.7 percent of citizens stated these individuals still had the right to live in Indonesia, and 50 percent believed that the government was obliged to protect them.

Political situation

In 2015, Yulianus Rettoblaut, also known as Mami Yuli, became the first openly transgender person in Indonesia to achieve a masters degree. She told The Globe Post that transgender people must understand their position as a minority group in the country that is becoming more conservative.

"We have to be smarter in 'reading' the situation. The present conditions are no longer safe for us. It is better that we avoid commotion and try to be low profile," said Rettoblaut, the Chair of the Indonesian Transvestite Communication Forum.

She agreed that the political situation has a lot of impact on the community's security as certain political figures and parties often use moral issues to gain support.

Understanding that it is difficult to fight back openly, Rettoblaut said transgender people must begin to develop strategies to place their representatives in parliament.

"LGBTI people must unite, look for the right people to occupy positions in parliament so they can voice protection for LGBTI. It takes a long time and we must be patient," she said.

Rettoblaut added that most transgender people in Indonesia face alienation from their families and difficulty in finding work, forcing many to seek employment on the margins of society. Unable to find mainstream jobs, many "waria" are forced to work in the sex industry.

A report from the Community Legal Aid Institute (LBH Masyarakat) shows that in 2017, at least 973 people in Indonesia were victims of stigma, discrimination, and violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. The majority (715 people) were transgender, followed by gay (225 people) and lesbian (29 people) individuals.

"Transgender groups are the most vulnerable group to experience persecution. People easily able to recognize them only from their physical appearance," the report, published in May, said.

It noted that since the beginning of 2016, politicians, government officials and state institutions have issued anti-LGBTI statements – ranging from criminalization to "ways to cure" homosexuality, to censoring information regarding LGBTI individuals and positive reporting about their activities.

Naila Rizqy Zakiah, a lawyer from the LBH Masyarakat, told The Globe Post that cases of violence against the LGBTI community have increased partially because of rampant religion-based intolerance. She added that the majority of victims did not report instances of violence because of trauma and fear of being re-persecuted.

Source: https://theglobepost.com/2018/12/15/indonesia-lgbti-persecution/

Marriage & the family

Will Indonesia act to end legal child marriage?

The Conversation - December 21, 2018

Yanuar Farida Wismayanti, Patrick O'Leary, Yenny Tjoe – It's hoped a ruling last week by the country's Constitutional Court (MK) will lead to an end to child marriage in Indonesia where one in four girls marry before the age of 18.

Under the country's marriage law, the legal age to marry is 16 for women and 19 for men. The court ruled that the minimum age of 16 for women to marry is unconstitutional.

The Indonesian Parliament must now follow up on the Constitutional Court's decision by amending the marriage law. In particular, the minimum marriageable age for women needs to be increased to 19 years to ensure children, especially girls, are safe from any abuse. Problems of child marriage

Indonesia is the fourth-most-populous country after China, India and the US. A third of Indonesia's 260 million population are children below the age of 18. Nearly half of them are poor.

Children living in poverty are at greater risk of being married at an early age. And if they do marry early, they risk staying in the cycle of poverty. Girls who marry early have limited education, health and income-earning opportunities.

The Constitutional Court ruling is a good step. But several challenges remain to be to dealt with to really prevent children, especially girls, from being married off.

First, child marriage is often perceived as acceptable in Indonesia and state agencies such as the Religious Affairs Ministry perpetuate this. In some cases, parents may force their child, either girl or boy, into marriage, particularly if the child has an intimate relationship with her or his partner, resulting in pregnancy before marriage. Parents fear that their child commits zina (extramarital sex), which is deemed sinful in Islam.

A Supreme Court spokesperson recently said that getting married is a right, even for children. A Religious Affairs ministry regulation allows children below the legal age to marry by obtaining a marriage dispensation permit from the local religious court. In 2012, district religious courts approved more than 90% of applications for child marriage, and the number of applications has increased in recent years.

Second, laws that stipulate the minimum age for a person to consent to sexual intercourse also have a gender bias. Under the law on child protection, the minimum age for sexual consent is 18 for both boys and girls. However, under the Indonesian Criminal Code, the minimum age for sexual consent is 12 for girls, while for boys there is no specified age limit.

This creates further problems in protecting girls from sexual abuse. Charges of child sexual abuse can be compromised by conflicting laws on child marriage. In addition, once a girl is married, she is not entitled to child protection services. This adds to concerns about gender equity in how sexual abuse among children is addressed in Indonesia.

Due to the contradictory rules across various laws and the use of judicial discretion, many children, particularly girls, in Indonesia are placed in a vulnerable position where they may be sexually exploited and not protected by law. The different age standards and permissible marriage dispensations can be used selectively and not necessarily in the best interests of the child.

Thus, the ruling of MK is on the right track to protect children, especially girls, from any abuse by eliminating the chances of children being married legally due to different age standards. Child protection programs in Indonesia

The Indonesian government has included child protection as one of five priorities to strengthen human resources in the National Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJMN) 2015-2019. The government has launched two pilot programs: PKH (Program Keluarga Harapan, Family Hope Program) in 2007; and PKSA (Program Kesejahteraan Sosial Anak, Social Welfare Program for Children) in 2010. The aim is to protect children by improving their health and education in order to break the cycle of inter-generational poverty.

To support child protection programs at regional levels, the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection designed the Child-Friendly City Program to strengthen the local commitment to child protection. This program was developed in the framework of preventing and responding to all forms of violence against children in the best interests of the child.

Despite these programs, we are still struggling to end child labour, child marriage and other forms of child abuse. Often poverty is a major driver of child abuse and exploitation. What's next?

Protecting children against all forms of abuse remains a challenge for Indonesia. The Constitutional Court is to be commended for its efforts in conducting a judicial review of marriage law. This is an important step towards protecting children in Indonesia, but momentum needs to be maintained.

The ball is now in the hands of members of parliament who must proceed towards real action by amending the marriage law on women's minimum legal age to marry.

[Yanuar Farida Wismayanti is a researcher/PhD Student, Griffith University. Patrick O'Leary is a professor of Social Work, Griffith University. Yenny Tjoe is a lecturer/tutor, Griffith University.]

Source: http://theconversation.com/will-indonesia-act-to-end-legal-child-marriage-109093

MUI: PSI, Komnas Perempuan looking for trouble talking polygamy

Tempo - December 17, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – Cholil Nafis, Chairman of the Da'wah Commission of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) said that the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) and the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) spoke carelessly about the issue of polygamy.

"PSI and Komnas Perempuan do not understand about Islam," Cholil said in Jakarta on Monday, December 17, 2018.

PSI has strongly expressed its disagreement towards the polygamy concept, and has proposed for a ban. Meanwhile, the Komnas Perempuan considered polygamy as a form of violence and does not exist in Islamic teachings.

Cholil confirmed that polygamy does exist in Islamic teachings as a sunnah. Cholil also mentioned that the Prophet Muhammad also practiced polygamy. However, Cholil added, what has stated as sunnah was the marriage, not the number of women married.

"Go ahead if you are not happy with polygamy, but saying that polygamy does not exist in Islamic teachings is [very stupid], parallel stupidity," said Cholil.

Cholil reminded those who did not understand Islamic teachings so that they did not carelessly speak or offend Islam, especially for political interests.

"A sign of the end of time is that the fools will issue fatwa [rulings] while the Ruwaibidhah [dumb people] talk about Islamic issues and nationalities," Cholil said.

Cholil admitted that he was annoyed that there were parties who were still tinkering with Islamic teachings for their own interests. Moreover, they did not understand the teachings of Islam at all. "I am out of words, so annoyed. PSI and Komnas Perempuan are looking for trouble, not resolving national affairs," Cholil said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1156154/mui-psi-komnas-perempuan-looking-for-trouble-talking-polygamy

Indonesian 'millennial' party wants polygamy banned, upsets Islamists

Jakarta Post - December 15, 2018

Devina Heriyanto – The Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) has again ruffled some feathers after announcing its strong stance against polygamy, saying the practice – which is allowed, if not encouraged, in Islam – was not fair to women and children.

PSI leader Grace Natalie, who recently angered several Islamic groups for publicly rejecting religious-based bylaws, delivered the party's antipolygamy stance during a party in Surabaya, on Tuesday, according to kompas.com.

"If we make it to the House of Representatives, we will implement the ban on polygamy for public servants in the government as well as for state civil personnel," she said.

The party, which claims to be the "millennial party", aims to revise the 1974 Marriage Law, which allows polygamy.

In her speech, Grace cited research by the Legal Aid Foundation of Indonesian Women's Association for Justice (LBH APIK), which concluded that polygamy resulted in injustice for women and children. Furthermore, Grace pledged to fight for the sexual violence bill for women's welfare and safety.

The PSI is not the first group to call for an end to polygamy. The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) has also urged the government to revise the law and end the practice.

The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), which has some polygamous leaders, has denounced the PSI's campaign.

The Islamic party's central executive board (DPP) secretary Suhud Aliyudin told kompas.com that polygamy was part of Islamic law. He added that polygamy was not obligatory for Muslims, but it should not be banned.

"If [the PSI] raises the issue as campaign material, it's a setback; it's only useless noise," he said.

Polygamy has long been controversial in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country. Last year, in a three-day national congress of female clerics, expert Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin stated that polygamy was not part of Islamic teachings.

Netizens are divided over the PSI's proposal. Many regretted that the PSI blamed polygamy for domestic violence, while others pointed out that political parties should not interfere with personal matters.

"Polygamy is not a form of violence. What is violent is injustice, having one husband who likes to hit his wife and children, or having a wife who is a cheater," said Twitter user @Garangan57.

Language expert Erlangga Greschinov tweeted that polygamy or monogamy was a personal choice. "A political party does not have the right to interfere. You can be against polygamy, but when it's being politicized, one less vote from me for the PSI," he said.

Some Twitter users have lauded the PSI's move. Comedian-cum-filmmaker Ernest Prakarsa saluted the speech, calling it "an extraordinarily bold statement".

Twitter user Beatrice Manurung, who goes by the handle @Manroeunited, said, "As a woman, I support the PSI. I will vote for and support the PSI so long as it upholds its idealism."

Another user @lookslina said, "Of course. I wholeheartedly agree with @psi_id. Polygamy is a form of violence against women and children. #stoppoligami [#stoppolygamy]"

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/15/indonesian-millennial-party-wants-polygamy-banned-upsets-islamists.html

Corruption & abuse of power

KPK arrests sports ministry officials, KONI members

Jakarta Post - December 19, 2018

Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta – Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigators have apprehended several officials of the Youth and Sports Ministry during an operation in Jakarta on Tuesday night, as they reportedly received kickbacks related to a grant from the ministry to the National Sports Committee (KONI).

KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo confirmed the arrest, saying it took place after graft busters discovered several initial pieces of evidence of the illicit transactions.

"At least nine people were arrested during the operation, consisting of the ministry's deputy, commitment maker and KONI members," Agus said in a statement on Wednesday night, refusing to reveal the identities of the apprehended individuals.

Separately, the ministry's secretary, Gatot S. Dewa Broto, told journalists the ministry's deputy overseeing sports achievement, Mulyana, was among the arrested.

The KPK announced it seized at least Rp 300 million (US$20,767) in cash and a debit card for current accounts amounting to millions of rupiah. Investigators also sealed three rooms in the ministry's building in Jakarta, including the office of the ministry's deputy.

Responding to the arrests, Gatot told journalists the ministry would respect the ongoing legal process. "[These arrests] have caught us by surprise. I have warned every official to not break any laws."

He added that the ministry would be ready to provide legal assistance if any of its officials were named case suspects by the KPK. The KPK is expected to announce their legal status later on Wednesday afternoon. (ggq/swd)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/19/KPK-arrests-sports-ministry-officials-koni-members.html

Former West Bandung regent jailed for corruption

Jakarta Post - December 18, 2018

Bandung – A panel of judges at the Bandung Corruption Court sentenced former West Bandung regent Abu Bakar to five years and six months in prison for corruption. He was found guilty of asking money from a number of West Bandung administration officials, including agency heads, to fund the political campaign of his wife, Elin Suharliah, who ran for the local election in June.

"The defendant has been found guilty of corruption, together [with other parties]," presiding judge I Dewa Gede Suardithan said on Monday. The judges also fined Abu Rp 200 million (US$13,729) and he has to pay Rp 485 million in restitution.

"I accept the country's sanction [imposed on me]. I hope this can be a lesson learned to have a better administration free of corruption and collusion in the future," he told the judges after the verdict was announced. The sentence is lighter than the prosecutors' demand of eight years, Rp 400 million in fines and Rp 600 million in restitution.

In a separate trial, the panel of judges also sentenced Abu's former subordinates former industry and trade agency head Weti Lembanawati to five years' imprisonment and Rp 200 million in fines, and development planning body head Adiyoto to four years and six months' imprisonment and Rp 200 million in fines in the same case. (swd)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/17/former-west-bandung-regent-jailedfor-corruption.html

Terrorism & religious extremism

Indonesia uses tougher anti-terror law to detain suspects for holidays

Reuters - December 20, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesian police have detained about 20 suspected militants as security is stepped up ahead of the Christmas and New Year's holiday season, a commander said on Thursday.

National police chief Tito Karnavian said the detentions were made preventively under a revised anti-terrorism law approved in May, after suicide bombings claimed by Islamic State killed more than 30 people in the city of Surabaya.

"There is no information yet about terror acts over Christmas and New Year's but we are taking proactive steps including these arrests," Karnavian told reporters.

Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country, has struggled to contain a resurgence in militancy and scores of Indonesians have travelled to the Middle East to join the Islamic State group.

Near-simultaneous attacks on churches in the capital, Jakarta, and elsewhere on Christmas Eve in 2000, killed nearly 20 people. Ever since, authorities have stepped up security at churches and tourist spots for the holiday.

Karnavian did not identify any of the suspects but said they were detained in various parts of the country.

Under the revised law, anyone suspected of planning an attack can be held for up to 21 days for an initial inquiry and for up to 200 days for a formal investigation.

[Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Robert Birsel.]

Source: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-indonesia-security/indonesia-uses-tougher-anti-terror-law-to-detain-suspects-for-holidays-idUKKCN1OJ0YE?rpc=401&

Freedom of religion & worship

Yogyakarta governor apologizes for wooden cross incident

Jakarta Post - December 20, 2018

Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta – The Yogyakarta administration has apologized to the family of the late Albertus Slamet Sugihardi after they were prohibited by their neighbors from holding prayers for their deceased relative and placing a wooden cross on his grave.

"Even though the incident was not intended, I, as a leader of the region, apologize to Bu Slamet and her entire family and also the Catholic Church officials in Yogyakarta and Kotagede who have been disturbed by the incident," Yogyakarta Governor Hamengkubuwono, who is also the 10th Yogyakarta sultan, told reporters on Thursday.

"This incident is a lesson to all of us. Yogyakarta leaders and people must uphold tolerance to maintain peace and harmony."

The governor delivered the mea culpa three days after the incident, which sparked national outrage and forced the usually restrained Catholic Church to release one of its strongest statements against the authorities for allegedly failing to protect minority groups.

Slamet, who died on Monday at the age of 63, was buried at a local cemetery in Purbayan. His neighbors, however, demanded that any Christian symbols be removed from his grave as the cemetery would be made exclusive for Muslims.

When the family brought a wooden cross to be put on his grave, the community decided to cut part of it off with a saw.

The governor insisted that Yogyakarta was a tolerant province, claiming that Slamet's family and the local community had made an agreement to maintain harmony. He added, however, that the Purbayan residents acted in ways that were not in line with the Constitution.

"We understand the Constitution and the law. But there is no guarantee that the people understand it. It is possible they are looking for practical solutions. The point is that they looked for a solution to prevent tension."

He lamented that the incident went viral on social media, which he said did not provide a complete picture of what happened.

He said he was informed that the villagers helped Slamet's family with his funeral and that the act of cutting the cross was done to preserve harmony.

"Perhaps the community was only trying to be practical. Meanwhile, there is a constitutional reference on religious symbols. That was ignored."

Previously, the Semarang Catholic Archdiocese claimed the incident in Purbayan was a violation against the state ideology Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution. The church reached the conclusion following an investigation conducted by its commission on peace and justice in Yogyakarta.

"The duty of the security agency and the government is to protect the human rights and basic rights of citizens," Agus Sumartoyo, who heads the commission's investigative team, said in a statement on Wednesday.

The commission claimed Slamet's family had to deal with acts of intolerance despite his efforts to live harmoniously with his neighbors. They were even once physically threatened, Agus said.

The team sent out by the commission also found that a written statement indicating that Maria Sutris Winarni, Slamet's wife, would not make an issue of the incident was drafted and sent to her by seven people representing village officials, the police and the local military command.

Winarni told the church she was told to sign the statement to diffuse tension on social media over the incident.

Father Paulus Christian Siswantoko from the Bishops Council of Indonesia (KWI) said he hoped the local government would be impartial and create a forum where all parties could sit together to get to the root of the problem to prevent it from spiraling into something bigger.

"If there is indeed any indication that this had been planned, then this is a sign that intolerance has become a serious problem in Yogyakarta," he said.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/20/yogyakarta-governor-apologizes-for-wooden-cross-incident.html

Catholic Church warns against rising intolerance in Yogyakarta

Jakarta Post - December 19, 2018

Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta – In a strongly worded statement, the Semarang Catholic Archdiocese has claimed that the incident in Purbayan, Kotagede, Yogyakarta, in which local residents cut the top off a cross-shaped headstone on a Catholic's grave and prevented his family from holding prayers was a violation against the state ideology of Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution.

The church reached the conclusion following an investigation conducted by its commission on peace and justice in Yogyakarta.

"The duty of the security apparatus and the government is to protect the human rights and basic rights of citizens," Agus Sumartoyo, who heads the commission's investigative team. said in a statement on Wednesday.

The commission claims to have found indication that the family of the deceased Catholic, Albertus Slamet Sugihardi, had suffered from acts of intolerance before despite his efforts to live harmoniously with his neighbors.

They were even once physically threatened, Agus said. "Some newcomers with the backing of outsiders had physically and psychologically pressured [the family], directly or indirectly, through some community members."

The team sent out by the commission also found that the written statement showing that Maria Sutris Winarni, Slamet's wife, would not make an issue of the incident was drafted and sent to her by seven people representing village officials, the police and local military command.

Winarni told the church that she was told to sign the statement to shut down the outrage on social media over the incident.

"The duty of the [state] apparatus is to protect the little ones and the weak, and not to pressure the little ones so they budge to create pseudo harmony," Agus said.

The church said there was a serious threat against pluralism in Yogyakarta and that it would monitor the investigation into the case.

Meanwhile, Unity in Diversity Alliance coordinator Agnes Dwi Rusjiati called on the government to do more to fight the rise of intolerance, which has started to influence the grass roots.

"I believe the government is turning a blind eye to the fact that many acts of intolerance are happening," she said.

She argued that the incident in Purbayan was the result of a society that had become increasingly intolerant. It is not enough for the community to recognize a religion, it is also required to respect the rituals and traditions of the said religion, she said. "The cross is a religious symbol that should be respected."

Yogyakarta deputy mayor Heroe Poerwadi said the administration would thoroughly investigate the incident and assured the public that it was committed to upholding the rights of its citizens, particularly in practicing their beliefs.

Father Paulus Christian Siswantoko from the Indonesian Bishops Conference (KWI) said that desecrating the cross was an act of intolerance.

"The cross is the symbol of Catholicism, when it gets cut off then the sense of identity of the related person is disturbed too," he said on Wednesday.

He said he hoped the local government would be an impartial party that could create a forum where all related parties could sit together to get to the root of the problem to prevent it from spiralling into a bigger problem.

"If there is indeed a scenario where this has been planned, then this is a sign that intolerance has become a serious problem in Yogyakarta," he said.

"Yogyakarta is a city of students, culture and tolerance, so the citizens should be progressive in thinking, cultured, and use their rationality clearly."

In Jakarta, the Home Ministry said it was looking into the incident. It called on the local administration to immediately address the problem if there was evidence that there was a violation against freedom of religion in Purbayan. (spl)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/19/catholic-church-warns-against-rising-intolerance-in-yogyakarta–-.html

Damaged Christian cross in Yogyakarta and the decay of tolerance

Tempo - December 20, 2018

Vindry Florentin, Muh. Syaifullah (Yogyakarta), Jakarta – Setara Institute research director Halili argues that the damaged cross symbol on top of a grave of a Christian man that happened in Yogyakarta indicates a weakened social basis in the region upon establishing tolerance.

"The acts done by the majority groups cannot be justified based on the perspective of diversity and constitutional rights equality on religious beliefs," said Halili in Jakarta on Wednesday, December 19.

This case of intolerance, according to Halili, shows that the strengthening religious conservatism has reached the lowest social group. Halili said that it not just bolsters identity politics but also severely increases the fear against a different identity symbol and the eventually written truce is plainly demanding minorities' sincerity.

The case started when a group of locals requested the deceased family to partially cut the cross symbol that was placed on top of the final resting place of Catholic Albertus Slamet Sugiardi at the Jambon cemetery in Kotagede, Yogyakarta.

The basis of their request is that they do not want symbols other than Islamic symbols in the cemetery which they claim would later be turned into an exclusively Muslim cemetery. Not only that, but they also demanded that Albertus' grave placed at the outer area of the public cemetery.

This resulted in the vertical piece of the Christian cross symbol to be cut down and left it resembling more of that a 'T' alphabet.

Despite attracting attention and firm responses from Setara Institute, Indonesian Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo, and Yogyakarta's Commission on Justice for Peace and Integrity of Creation, Yogyakarta's Governor Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X maintained that the region he leads is far from being intolerant and blames the attention toward the destroyed Christian cross symbol on the fact that the case went viral.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1157264/damaged-christian-cross-in-yogyakarta-and-the-decay-of-tolerance

Groups warn Indonesia app 'risks worsening' religious intolerance

Al Jazeera - December 19, 2018

Aisyah Llewellyn, Medan, Indonesia – Indonesian human rights lawyer Ranto Sibarani is trying to remain optimistic.

His client, Meiliana, a double minority in Indonesia as a Chinese-Indonesian and a Buddhist, is awaiting the outcome of her final appeal later this month against a blasphemy conviction. In August, the mother of four was sentenced to 18 months in prison by a court in North Sumatra over a disputed comment about the volume of her local mosque's speakers.

"Meiliana is hopeful that justice will be served and she will be freed," Sibarani told Al Jazeera. "She's surprised that her case even went to trial."

Meiliana's legal troubles began when a neighbour in her hometown of Tanjung Balai claimed that she had asked for the volume of her local mosque's speakers to be lowered, saying that they "hurt her ears".

According to Sibarani, Meiliana only remarked that the volume appeared to have increased in recent years, and made no mention of wanting the speakers to be turned down. No recordings of the conversation were presented at her trial.

But while Sibarani is hopeful about Meiliana, and despite the ire that her case has caused – including an online petition calling for her release – Indonesian authorities appear to be doubling down on reporting cases of perceived religious intolerance or blasphemy.

To that end, a new mobile application released last month by the Jakarta prosecutor's office has made it easier for members of the public to report suspected cases of religious heresy.

The Smart Pakem app takes its name from Bakor Pakem, a division sitting under the umbrella of the Jakarta prosecutor's office that has been "extremely influential" when pressuring the government to ban religious groups, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The app, which can be downloaded for free via the Google Play store and is listed under the "education" label, has sparked fears among rights groups and activists that it will be used to target religious minorities in the Muslim-majority nation.

Smart Pakem enables users to report complaints about issues of "heresy" or "deviant beliefs" online – previously, those had to be submitted in writing and could lead to Bakor Pakem launching an investigation.

Featuring a list of organisations deemed to be "heretical", the app will be used as a resource by the prosecutor's office to collect and store information on groups believed to be practising faiths beyond the country's six officially recognised religions: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism.

It also states the names of the leaders of these organisations groups, including Ahmadiyyah, Gafatar and Shia, along with the addresses of their offices.

This information could be seen as a way of encouraging attacks on these individuals or their places of work, according to activists, and has led to calls for the app to be revoked.

"All Smart Pakem is going to do is exacerbate cases of religious intolerance in Indonesia," says Sibarani. "It's just going to cause more conflict between the religious communities and now all disputes will be settled through making a complaint via the app, rather than between individuals."

'Educate the public'

Baiq Wardhani, a lecturer in politics at Universitas Airlangga, says Smart Pakem needs to be treated with caution.

"How do you define heresy? This will trigger a lot of debate because the definition of the word depends on one's beliefs," she told Al Jazeera. "The app is obviously a violation of the national constitution, so it's stupid that the Jakarta prosecutor's office would allow it to be available on people's mobile because it can be easily abused for people's own interests."

Mukri, the prosecutor's office spokesperson who like many Indonesians only goes by one name, did not respond to Al Jazeera's requests for comment.

Local media have quoted officials at the prosecutor's office as saying that the app was designed to educate Indonesians and improve the transparency of the reporting process.

"The objective is to provide easier access to information about the spread of beliefs in Indonesia, to educate the public and to prevent them from following doctrines of an individual or a group that are not in line with the regulations," Nirwan Nawawi, a spokesperson for the prosecutor's office, told the AFP news agency in a statement in November.

Clash of old and new

Indonesia's blasphemy law, known locally as Pasal 156A KUHP, carries a maximum five-year prison sentence. Introduced in 1965 under Indonesia's first President Sukarno, the law was originally put in place to clamp down on indigenous beliefs across the archipelago, but in recent years it has been increasingly used to jail religious minorities.

According to HRW, the law was only used eight times in its first four decades but saw a spike in sentencing under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (2004-2014), with 125 convictions. Since 2014, under current President Joko Widodo, more than 20 people have been convicted of blasphemy.

Usman Hamid, the executive director of Amnesty Indonesia, warned that the app "will certainly trigger wider, as well as systematic, repercussions against anyone or [a] community deemed as deviant by Bakor Pakem, vigilante groups and hardliners reporting to the app".

Hamid also argued that the release of Smart Pakem is yet another step towards a more conservative form of politics in Indonesia.

"Since Yudhoyono's era, we've seen a series of closures and burnings of houses of worship, banning of organisations, imprisonment of leaders as well as persecution against civilians deemed as 'deviant'. It has been driven by Bakor Pakem as they're the one with authority to name groups or individuals as deviant," added Hamid, urging Widodo to disband the body.

Andreas Harsono, a researcher at HRW, described Smart Pakem as a troubling clash of old and new.

"This app is the combination of an archaic act – a law that is being abolished in more than two thirds of the world – and a modern technology. The combination could be dangerous, more dangerous than using traditional communication means like landline or face-to-face reporting."

The app has so far been downloaded more than 1,000 times, and Harsono said Google is facing a "challenge" in its decision over "how to navigate between Indonesia's blasphemy law and the United Nations' regulations to revoke that toxic law".

Last year, a group of human rights experts from world body called on the country to scrap the crime of blasphemy following the conviction of Jakarta's ex-Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama after comments related to verses in the Quran were deemed to be blasphemous.

"Criminal laws that penalise blasphemy represent an unlawful restriction on freedom of expression, and disproportionately target persons belonging to religious minorities or traditional religions, non-believers and political dissidents," Ahmed Shaheed, special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, said at the time.

For Sibarani, Meiliana's lawyer, the release of the Smart Pakem app risks provoking similar cases like the one of his client's, considering the ease with which members of the public can now report instances of perceived religious intolerance.

"Even without an app, Meiliana ended up in prison. With the release of Smart Pakem, there's a real fear that there'll be even more Meilianas in prison in the future," he says.

Source: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/groups-warn-indonesia-app-risks-worsening-religious-intolerance-181218233832014.html

'This is community consensus': Yogyakarta villagers destroy cross on

Jakarta Post - December 18, 2018

Yogyakarta – Villagers of Purbayan in Kotagede, Yogyakarta, have cut off the cross on a Christian's grave, saying the religious symbol was not welcome in the village.

"This is community consensus. He could be buried here, but there should be no Christian symbol," Bejo Mulyono, a local figure, told reporters on Tuesday.

The deceased Christian, identified as Albert Slamet Sugihardi, was a resident of Purbayan. He worked as a driver for the Red Cross until he died of a heart attack at the age of 63 on Monday. He was buried at the Jambon public cemetery.

Bejo said the majority of Purbayan residents were Muslims, and those buried at the local cemetery were Muslims. Slamet, he said, was allowed to be buried at the cemetery "because of an emergency", but the cross on his grave had to be cut down.

Also, Slamet could only be buried in the periphery of the cemetery, he added. "In the future, this will be a Muslim-only cemetery," he declared.

The residents also did not allow Slamet's mourning relatives and friends to hold a funeral service at the deceased's house, forcing them to hold it at the nearby Pringgolayan Saint Paul Church. "Our village is tolerant, except for religious rituals," Bejo said.

He argued that non-Muslims were prohibited from holding prayers to avoid conflicts with residents who objected to such religious activities.

He claimed that Slamet's family had accepted the rule, showing what he says was a statement from Slamet's wife, Maria Sutris Winarni, that she accepted the rules and would not make an issue of the matter.

Agustinus Sunarto, the local church official, confirmed the incident on Tuesday, saying the mass had been held at the church. Winarni declined to comment on the incident. "I am still sad," she said.

Yogyakarta Interfaith Brotherhood Forum secretary-general Timotius Aprianto deplored the incident, saying religious pluralism was only recognized formally but not substantially embraced by society.

"We will hold a meeting with the Kotagede community," he said. The Yogkakarta Police, meanwhile, said they were investigating the incident.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/18/this-is-community-consensus-yogyakarta-villagers-destroy-cross-on-public-cemetery.html

Religion & politics

Survey shows drop in support for Prabowo among Islamic mass

Akurat.co - December 19, 2018

Muslimin – A survey by the Denny JA Indonesia Survey Circle (LSI) has concluded that Islamic ormas (mass organisations) are beginning to abandon the Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Uno presidential ticket following the 212 Reunion rally in Jakarta on December 2.

This conclusion was based on the results of a Denny JA LSI survey of 1,200 respondents on December 5-12 in 34 provinces. The survey was carried out using a multi-stage random sampling method with a 2.8 percent margin of error.

"Support for Prabowo-Sandi among voters who declare an affiliation with [the Islamic mass organisations] NU [Nahdlatul Ulama] and Muhammadiyah has seen a decline in votes", said LSI Denny JA researcher Adjie Alfaraby when explaining the survey results at the LSI Denny JA offices in Central Jakarta on Wednesday December 19.

Alfaraby said that among NU voters in November, support for Prabowo-Sandiaga stood at 30.2 percent. This however declined to 28.6 percent after the 212 reunion.

Support has also declined among Muhammadiyah voters. In November, support for Prabowo-Sandiaga among Muhammadiyah voters stood at 40.7 percent. Post the 212 reunion it has dropped to 38.4 percent.

Alfaraby said that post 212 there was also a drop in support among voters who are not affiliated to any ormas. In November support for Prabowo-Sandiaga stood at 33.1 percent. After the 212 reunion this dropped to 30.8 percent.

Alfaraby said that while support for Prabowo-Sandiaga has declined among Islamic ormas, support from those affiliated with the Alumni 212 [PA 212, the organisers behind 212] and the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) has increased.

In November support among FPI supporters stood at 68.3 percent. Post the 212 reunion this increased to 74.8 percent. This was also the case within the PA 212 community. In November only 70.4 percent supported Prabowo-Sandiaga. Post 212 this rose to 82.6 percent.

"Support for Prabowo among the PA 212 and FPI community has grown since the 212 reunion", he concluded.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Survei LSI Denny JA, Dukungan Ormas Islam ke Prabowo-Sandi Menurun".]

Source: https://akurat.co/news/id-442213-read-survei-lsi-denny-ja-dukungan-ormas-islam-ke-prabowosandi-menurun

Prabowo camp says if they win election, 212 reunion to become national

Detik News - December 17, 2018

Zunita Putri, Jakarta – Prabowo Subianto's Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) has welcomed a suggestion by the Islamic based Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) for next year's 212 reunion to be held at the State Palace. Gerindra is also proposing that the date December 2 become a "day of solidarity".

"What do we mean by next year? If necessary, we will turn the 212 [reunion] into a day of solidarity, we will make the commemoration of December 2 a day of solidarity", said Gerindra Deputy Chairperson and House of Representatives (DPR) Deputy Speaker Fadli Zon at the South Jakarta district court on Jl. Ampera on Monday December 17.

Zon believes that never in Indonesia's history has there been an event like the 212 reunion which took place at the National Monument (Monas) in Jakarta on December 2. Because of this, he believes that it is appropriate for the date to become a national holiday (hari besar), a day of solidarity.

"It was an event that has no president in the history of the Republic of Indonesia. Even during the era before Indonesia became independent, never have so many people gathered together. So this is a very big event, there has never been an example of an event such as this", he said.

"And it was a gathering of millions of people in one place at the same time, of brotherhood, proceeding peacefully, there wasn't any rubbish [200 tons according to Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan], even the grass wasn't damaged. I think it was great, it was a huge event right", he added.

Earlier, PKS Secretary General Mustafa Kamal spoke about the 212 action at the Gerindra Party's National Conference at the Sentul Convention Center in Bogor, West Java, on Monday December 17.

Kamal said that if Prabowo and vice presidential running mate Sandiaga Uno win the 2019 presidential election, they will give permission for the next 212 reunion to be held at the State Palace.

Kamal then asked the Gerindra cadres, volunteers and sympathisers present whether they wanted the next 212 reunion to be held at the Palace. If they do, added Kamal, he asked them to work to ensure a victory for Prabowo and Sandiaga.

"Do we all want next year's 212 to be held on the Palace grounds? Are you read? Ready, Allahu Akbar [God is Great]", said Kamal during his speech.

"Of course we must ensure victory for the Prabowo-Sandi Number 2 presidential ticket first so we can obtain a permit, not just for Monas, but also on the Palace grounds", added Kamal. (zap/fdn)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Fadli Zon: Kalau Perlu 212 Kita Jadikan Hari Persaudaraan".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita/4347973/fadli-zon-kalau-perlu-212-kita-jadikan-hari-persaudaraan

Pornography & sexual morality

Man makes viral video of couple making out 'to teach them a lesson',

Coconuts Jakarta - December 20, 2018

One Indonesian man's apparent disgust of PDA has landed him in hot water with the law, with him potentially facing imprisonment for filming a couple making out.

Police in the East Java city of Mojokerto on Tuesday arrested a 20-year-old man named Fuad Nur for violating Indonesia's strict anti-pornography law and the draconian Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE), which criminalizes online dissemination of any content deemed immoral.

According to the police, Fuad was at a cafe with his cousin recently when they spotted a couple getting frisky with each other at another table. He claimed he was "upset" that the cafe was being used as a make out spot, so he took out his phone. "I filmed them... I wanted to teach them a lesson," Fuad told reporters, as quoted by Detik.

The "lesson" Fuad had in mind was shaming them by spreading video clips of the couple's PDA through WhatsApp. But Fuad ended up being taught a lesson of his own as the video went viral and the police soon tracked him down as the original uploader.

Though to some, footage of people making out wouldn't be considered "pornography", the law banning it is ambiguously worded and open to interpretation by law enforcement, to the point that people have been arrested merely over sensually suggestive acts like holding an event featuring girls in bikinis dancing.

At any rate, spreading pornography online is a crime which carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/man-makes-viral-video-couple-making-teach-lesson-gets-arrested-instead/

Land & agrarian conflicts

Jokowi distributes 6,000 land certificates in Riau

Jakarta Post - December 15, 2018

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Pekanbaru – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo handed over about 6,000 land certificates to residents during his working visit to Pekanbaru, Riau, on Saturday, as part of efforts to fulfill his administration's ambitious agrarian reform program.

Of the total certificates, 3,000 were part of the land certification program, while the remaining half were certificates of land redistribution under the mechanism of land objects for agrarian reform (TORA).

Jokowi distributed the certificates in a symbolic ceremony to 12 residents representing 6,000 recipients from Pekanbaru, Indragiri Hilir, Siak and Pelalawan.

By owning land certificates, residents would no longer have to worry about getting involved in land conflicts, Jokowi told the recipients who attended the ceremony. "[Certificates] are legal documents proving our rights to land ownership," he said.

The government has set targets to certify a total of 126 million hectares of land in the country and to grant 9 million ha, comprising roughly 4.5 million ha of uncertified plots and 4.5 ha of degraded forests, to citizens under TORA scheme.

Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil said that only 40 percent or 1.4 million of total 3.48 million plots of land across Riau had been certified, leaving more than 2 million plots that still need to be certified.

Sofyan said the government had issued certificates covering 155,000 plots in Riau this year. "God's willing, we will issue more land certificates in Riau next year," he added.

Jokowi's administration said it had issued 5 million land certificates last year and planned to issue 7 million more this year and 9 million in 2019.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/15/jokowi-distributes-6000-land-certificates-in-riau.html

Jakarta & urban life

Jakarta won't have deputy governor until next year, Gerindra says

Jakarta Post - December 17, 2018

The Gerindra Party's Jakarta chapter has expressed doubt that Jakartans will soon have a new deputy governor, following a prolonged dispute between the party and its long-time ally the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) on the matter.

Gerindra and the PKS have yet to meet, let alone agree on the mechanism to select candidates to be proposed to City Council.

"It's unlikely [the names] will be submitted [this year]. It would be impossible in this condition since our plan to have a meeting has never been realized," Gerindra Jakarta chapter deputy chairman Syarif told kompas.com on Monday.

The two parties had agreed to hold a meeting to discuss the mechanism for screening candidates, Syarif claimed.

However, no significant progress has been made although the position has been vacant for around four months, since former deputy governor Sandiaga Uno, who is a Gerindra politician, resigned from the post to become Gerindra's chairman Prabowo Subianto's running mate in the upcoming presidential election.

The PKS, meanwhile, kept its stance to reject the test as it would undermine the party's capability in selecting a proper candidate.

Syarif said he planned to organize the meeting on Thursday. "We will send another invitation letter [for a meeting with PKS] tomorrow," he said.

The Home Ministry previously urged that the selection process be expedited given the crucial position for Jakarta as the capital city. (fac)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/17/jakarta-wont-have-deputy-governor-until-next-year-gerindra-says.html

Transport & communication

'I thought it was an earthquake': Giant sinkhole opens on busy Surabaya

Jakarta Post - December 19, 2018

Wahyoe Boediwardhana, Surabaya – A giant sinkhole has appeared in the middle of a busy road in Surabaya, East Java, on Tuesday night, swallowing part of the four-lane Jl. Raya Gubeng and measuring roughly 30 meters wide and 15 meters deep. The police have cordoned off the area and arranged a traffic detour.

Thousands of vehicles pass the road every day. It usually takes five minutes to travel the entire length of Jl. Gubeng, but now takes roughly one hour.

Rudianto, 47, a resident of Kertajaya subdistrict who was about to drive through the location said he saw trees and lampposts rocking on the roadside just before the incident.

"I thought it was an earthquake. I backed the car and went against the flow. People ran around asking for help, went out of their cars leaving their vehicle," Rudianto said.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the sinkhole was caused by a construction error.

"The retaining wall was not able to withstand the load, especially during the rainy season," he said in a statement, adding that there was no connection between this incident and two active earthquake faults in Surabaya and Waru.

Surabaya Deputy Mayor Wisnu Sakti Buana said the sinkhole was allegedly related to the construction of a parking basement at Siloam Hospital. "This is related to the project on the side of the road. The Siloam Hospital project. They were supposed to build a foundation first, but they didn't," Wisnu said as quoted in an interview with Kompas

Surabaya Development Planning Agency head Eri Cahyadi concurred, saying the incident was purely caused by an error in the project. The police have questioned seven people from the project's contractor, PT Nusa Konstruksi Enjiniring.

"We are still waiting for an expert [opinion] regarding the cause of this incident. We have asked people for information, they are all related to the project," said East Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Lucky Hermawan.

Lucky said 29 people worked on the project every day. He said an expert team had reminded the contractor that water was flowing underground. "We're still looking into whether the contractor has followed up on the warning or not," he said.

He said there had been no reports of any injuries in the incident. However, the search and rescue team and Surabaya Fire Service are still conducting an investigating and searching for possible victims.

Vice president commissioner Romeo Fernandez Lledo of PT Siloam International Hospitals said on Wednesday, "Let me check who is in charge of the incident." (ggq)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/19/i-thought-it-was-an-earthquake-giant-sinkhole-opens-on-busy-surabaya-road.html

Lion Air to resume search for victims of Indonesia crash

Agence France Presse - December 17, 2018

Jakarta – Lion Air announced Monday it was funding a multi-million dollar search effort using a Dutch company for the second black box and missing victims from doomed flight JT-610.

The Boeing 737 MAX vanished from radar 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta on October 29, crashing into waters off the north coast of Indonesia's Java Island and killing all 189 people onboard.

Authorities called off the grim task of identifying victims of the crash last month, with only 125 people officially identified after tests on human remains that filled some 200 body bags.

Following requests from victims' families, Lion said it had allocated 38 billion rupiah ($2.6 million) to hire a Dutch company to continue the search with its ship the MPV Everest.

"The search operation will focus on the latest coordinates of the crash... with an operational time of 10 consecutive days in December," the airline said in a statement.

The MPV Everest, a 142-metre long vessel with state-of-the-art remotely operated vehicles, will arrive near the crash site on Wednesday. Bad weather had delayed its trip from the Malaysian port of Johor Baru.

News that the hunt for the wreckage would continue with the new vessel was welcomed by Evi Syamsul Komar, whose nephew was aboard the flight. "We have heard many promises before, we don't know who to trust anymore, but our family is still waiting," Komar told AFP.

Dozens of family members whose loved ones were killed in the crash protested in Jakarta last week, demanding the search continue. They called on authorities to help retrieve the remaining 64 bodies and pay compensation.

Nearly 30 relatives of the crash victims have filed lawsuits against Boeing, alleging faults with the new model 737 MAX led to the deaths.

The preliminary crash report from Indonesia's transport safety agency suggested that pilots struggled to control the plane's anti-stalling system immediately before the crash.

Investigators also found that the Lion Air jet should have been grounded over a recurrent technical problem before its fatal journey, but did not pinpoint a cause of for the accident.

The planes cockpit voice recorder is yet to be found. A final report is not likely to be filed until next year.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/17/lion-air-to-resume-search-for-victims-of-indonesia-crash.html

Sport & recreation

Corruption-scarred Indonesian football grapples with new match-fix

Agence France Presse - December 20, 2018

Indonesian football's long-running struggle against corruption has been reignited with authorities promising a new crackdown after a senior official was caught trying to bribe a coach, the latest scandal in a league scarred by mismanagement and deadly hooliganism.

But, dogged by years of match-fixing, violence and corruption rife at all levels of the game, analysts say the Southeast Asian country needs to do more than "lip service" to tackle the endemic problems.

Earlier this month an executive member of the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) resigned after a popular television talk show broadcast a recording of him offering the coach of Madura FC a bribe of approximately $10,000 to throw a second division game.

Hidayat, who like many Indonesians only uses one name, has been handed a three-year ban from football and fined by a PSSI disciplinary committee.

"Match-fixing exists everywhere, in league 1, 2 and 3. The problem is that the match-fixing issue has never been solved and (perpetrators) punished properly," football analyst Akmal Marhali told AFP.

The PSSI announced the establishment of a special task force to address allegations of match-fixing following the scandal, promising firm action against cheats.

But critics like Marhali say there needs to be more than just "lip service" to solve a problem that so far seems to be out of the grasp of Indonesian authorities. "Perpetrators feel like they have impunity because there is no law enforcement," Marhali said.

'Open secret'

Allegations of match-fixing have swirled around Indonesian football for decades. Indonesian defender Mursyid Effendi was given a lifetime ban by FIFA after scoring a deliberate own goal in a Tiger Cup match against Thailand in 1998.

The manager of Borneo-based Bontang FC, Camara Fode, received a lifetime ban for ordering his team to lose against PSLS Lhokseumawe, from Aceh, in a Premier League game in 2013. Players from both teams were also suspended.

The following year, several players from both PSS Sleman and PSIS Semarang were banned for life after scoring five deliberate own goals in the final minutes of the match to avoid a playoff clash.

Long-time fans have become so used to mismanagement and corruption in the game that match-fixing is considered an "open secret", Dex Glenniza, managing editor of website Pandit Football, told AFP.

Players, referees, and club administrators are all involved in rigging matches, he said, adding that although gambling is illegal in Indonesia, fans often bet through international gambling websites or local bookies.

Glenniza said funding shortfalls for player salaries and club operations, conflicts of interest within the PSSI and weak law enforcement have all made the game an "easy target" for crime syndicates.

Azwan Karim, who served as secretary general of the PSSI between 2014 and 2016, said the PSSI could not tackle the problem alone.

"The PSSI can only use its football judicial procedures," he told AFP. "To have a deterrent effect in place, the government should be involved – the police especially."

History of problems

While it has a low international profile, Indonesia has attracted some Premier League players, including former Chelsea star Michael Essien and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Didier Zokora.

But Indonesian football has been tarnished on the global stage by a host of problems over the years – including months of unpaid wages and the deaths of at least two foreign players who were left unable to afford medical care.

An explosive row between the domestic association and government prompted FIFA to ban Indonesia from international competition in 2015. The ban lifted last year.

As if to underline the game's struggle with corruption, former PSSI chairman Nurdin Halid once ran the organisation from his jail cell where he was serving time on unrelated graft charges.

Indonesia has in recent years also gained a reputation as Asia's most violent football nation.

In September, 23-year-old Persija Jakarta fan Haringga Sirla was clubbed to death by supporters of arch-rival Persib Bandung outside a stadium in the Javan city of Bandung.

PSSI Vice Chairman Joko Driyono said the association had a zero tolerance approach to match-fixing, and was ready to work with law enforcement authorities on the issue.

Yet, some observers of the Indonesian game are dubious this will result in firm action.

"No more cherry-picking, anyone who breaks the ethical code and integrity of football must be punished," Marhali, who runs football watchdog Save Our Soccer, said.

"The PSSI should no longer shield those who are involved in match-fixing – we know that some of those involved are PSSI people."

Source: https://www.afp.com/en/news/3955/corruption-scarred-indonesian-football-grapples-new-match-fix-scandal-doc-1bp5s43

Retail & service industry

Liquor producers question excise tax hike

Jakarta Post - December 18, 2018

Jakarta – Even as liquor producers are still struggling to recover from the impact of the market limitation that has been enforced since 2015, they question the government policy to increase the excise tax for the products, which they fear would further burden the industry.

The Indonesian Malt Beverage Industry Association (GIMMI) reported that the sales of the products have been going down following the implementation of Trade Ministerial Regulation No. 6/2015 on the limitation of liquor beverage distribution.

GIMMI executive committee Bambang Britono said the contributions to the state budget from excise taxes on group A liquor had declined by 6 percent annually since the implementation of the regulation issued in 2015 that prohibited liquor sales at convenience stores.

The new tariff is stipulated in Finance Ministerial Regulation No. 158/PMK.010/2018 on excise taxes for ethyl alcohol, ethyl alcohol beverages and ethyl alcohol concentrates.

Under the regulation, announced on Dec. 13, excise taxes for group A liquor beverages with an alcoholic content of up to 5 percent would increase to Rp 15,000 (US$1.03) per liter from Rp 13,000 per liter

"So I don't understand what is behind the excise tax increase. Usually, excise taxes are introduced as fiscal instruments to control growth," Bambang said on Monday. "So, the excise tax increase would only add more burden to the [liquor] industry."

Bambang said GIMMI had met with the Finance Ministry's fiscal policy agency to explain the impact of the regulation issued in 2015 that had hampered liquor beverage distribution at the retail level. Therefore, he added, GIMMI called on the government to delay the fiscal policy to give time for the industry to recover.

Koneksi Capital research head Alfred Nainggolan explained the excise tax increase would further affect the liquor producing companies because it would jack up prices and negatively affect sales

"I see that the alcoholic beverage industry would be similar to the cigarette industry, whose growth would only with difficulty reach double digits," Alfred added. (bbn)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/18/liquor-producers-question-excise-tax-hike.html

Armed forces & defense

Indonesia opens military base on edge of South China Sea to 'deter

South China Morning Post - December 19, 2018

Indonesia this week opened a military base with more than 1,000 personnel on the southern tip of the disputed South China Sea, where the territorial claims of China and several other countries overlap.

The base, which opened on Tuesday, is located in Selat Lampa on Natuna Besar Island – part of the Natuna Islands – one of the country's outermost areas and more than 200km off the island of Borneo.

Indonesia is not a claimant state in the South China Sea but Jakarta and Beijing have had several maritime skirmishes in the resource-rich area, including one in 2016 when an Indonesian patrol boat seized a 300-tonne Chinese fishing vessel. Several hours later, a Chinese Coast Guard vessel rammed the fishing boat, resulting in the Indonesian authorities releasing it.

On Wednesday, Indonesian president Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who is seeking re-election next year, stressed the Indonesian government was ready to make clear that the Natuna Islands, with a population of 169,000, are its sovereign territory. "If you want us to fight, yes, together we will do it," Widodo said, according to local newspaper Kompas.

Collin Koh Swee Lean, an analyst at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said the plan for a military hub in the Natuna Islands had been in the making for years. "The March 2016 incident with China gave more impetus to the plan," Koh said.

At an inauguration ceremony for the base, Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said the outpost is designed to work as a deterrent against any potential security threats, particularly on border areas, according to military spokesman Colonel Sus Taibur Rahman.

The military chief said the new base has a hangar for an unmanned aerial vehicle squadron. The base, he said, will also keep being improved in accordance with threat levels, while the personnel there are prepared to join in any military operation.

Hadi did not disclose the exact number of military personnel in the Natuna Islands area, but said the new base is supported by an army battalion, companies of marines and engineers, and artillery. In Indonesia's military, a battalion consists of between 825 and 1,000 personnel, while a company consists of about 100 personnel. "The development of this kind of military base will also be done in other strategic islands," Hadi said.

The South China Sea is home to some of the world's busiest sea lanes and China has overlapping territorial claims with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as Taiwan.

Although China recognises Indonesian sovereignty over the Natuna Islands, it insists the two countries have overlapping claims to maritime rights and interests in the area that need to be resolved – a claim Indonesia rejects.

Last year, the Indonesian government presented an updated national map in which the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) north of the Natuna Islands was renamed the North Natuna Sea. It was previously described as being part of the South China Sea.

In 2002, Indonesia renamed the section of the South China Sea within its EEZ the Natuna Sea, except for the waters north of the Natuna Islands. With the latest name change, the South China Sea is no longer used for any part of Indonesia's territorial waters.

Immediately after the name change, China expressed opposition to the move, saying it would result in complications and the expansion of the dispute. Changing an internationally recognised name would also affect peace and stability, and is not conducive to a peaceful relationship between Jakarta and Beijing, it said.

Indonesia countered, however, that it had the right to name its own territorial waters and that the North Natuna Sea falls within its territory.

But while Indonesia has focused on protecting its own interests around the Natuna Islands, this does not mean it wants to antagonise China, given Widodo's interest in drawing Chinese investment for infrastructure projects, according to a report released earlier this month by Australian think tank, The Lowy Institute.

"Despite Jokowi's resolute rhetoric on maritime rights, Indonesia has sought to ensure its campaign against illegal fishing does not target Chinese vessels; and in regional diplomacy, Jokowi's administration has been eager to ensure it does not offend Beijing," said Aaron Connelly, the report's author.

Source: https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/2178741/indonesia-opens-military-base-edge-south-china-sea-deter

Defense minister Ryacudu opens 'National Defense Run 2018', 3000 take

Detik News - December 16, 2018

Isal Mawardi, Jakarta – Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu has opened the 2018 National Defense Run in Jakarta, an event which was attended by around 3,000 participants representing various stakeholders.

The National Defense Run (Bela Negara Run) 2018, which began at 6am, is being held in concert with National Defense Day (Hari Bela Negara) which falls on December 19.

"The climax of National Defense Day each year is the 19th. Today we run. There are 3,000 or so (participants)", said Ryacudu at the Ministry of Defense (Kemenhan) on Jl. Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat in Central Jakarta on Sunday December 16.

According to Detik's observations, the runners wore the national red-and-white colours with the runner's number printed on their chests. A number of runners have already completed the run with local residents crowed around the finish line.

The runners were divided into two categories. Inexperienced runners and the general public were included in the five kilometre distance category following a route from the Kemenhan to the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle and back to the Kemenhan.

Runners from the TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (national police) in the 12 kilometre category followed a route from the Kemenhan to Semanggi and back to the Kemenhan.

"Defense of the state is an obligation for all of us. Under the 1946 Constitution Articles 29 and 30, Indonesian citizens have a right and an obligation to defend the state. We promoted the spirit of national defense right from the start. I have coordinated with the Mendikbud [Ministry of Culture and Education], Dikti [higher education institutions] since the beginning", said Ryacudu. (nvl/nvl)


The Bela Negara program was adopted in October 2015 through the 2015 Defense White Paper and aims to mobilise 100 million "national defense cadres" comprised of civilian volunteers. Ryacudu, a hardline general known for his xenophobic remarks and criticism of rights activists, is the most prominent advocate of the program, which he sees as necessary to strengthen patriotism in the face of harmful ideologies and "proxy-wars" waged by foreign countries wanting to destroy Indonesia and steal its natural wealth.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Menhan Buka Bela Negara Run 2018, 3000 Peserta Terlibat".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita/d-4345528/menhan-buka-bela-negara-run-2018-3000-peserta-terlibat

TNI seeks evidence on personnel's involvement in mob attack

Jakarta Post - December 15, 2018

The Indonesian Military (TNI) has asked the public to report any involvement of its members in the ransacking of a house that belonged to the parents of a man accused of assaulting two military personnel earlier this week.

Any TNI member found to have taken part in destroying the home of Iwan Hutapea's parents in Cibubur, East Jakarta, will be punished, said Jakarta Military Command spokesman Col. Kristomei Sianturi,

Iwan is one of the five suspects named by the Jakarta Police for allegedly assaulting two TNI personnel men in Ciracas, East Jakarta.

"Anyone involved in the looting did so on their own behalf, not the military," he said on Friday as reported by tempo.co.

Dozens of unidentified men ransacked Iwan's parent's house on Tuesday night. Afterward, the mob attacked the Ciracas Police station, which was handling the assault case.

Iwan's father Oloan Hutapea, 63, told tempo.co that the mob came at around 10 p.m. on Tuesday. He and his family members were terrified because the mob was chanting that they were going to break into the house. They also shouted his son's name, he said.

Oloan asked his daughter-in-law to give a key house to one of the people in the mob, but the mass refused. They asked Oloan and his family members to get into to their neighbor's house.

The mob, who were allegedly carrying sticks and machetes, then reportedly broke into the house and ransacked it, breaking the front windows, television, air conditioner, a motorcycle and a refrigerator. (sau) Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/15/tni-seeks-evidence-on-personnels-involvement-in-mob-attack.html

Police & law enforcement

Mob falsely accuses, kills South Sulawesi student at mosque

Jakarta Post - December 18, 2018

Jakarta – Police in Gowa, South Sulawesi, have arrested 10 people for allegedly beating a man to death on Dec. 10 in the country's latest case of deadly mob violence.

The victim, identified as 23-year-old student Muhammad Khaidir, was attacked by a mob inside a mosque after he was falsely accused of being a thief.

The Gowa Police confirmed that Muhammad was not suspected of any felony. He was a resident of Selayar regency and a student at Makassar's East Indonesia University. He was reportedly in Gowa en route to visit a cousin in Jeneponto, South Sulawesi.

According to the police, the incident began when the victim went to the mosque at around 2 a.m. to observe tahajud, a voluntary night prayer, and found it locked. He then knocked on the door of a nearby resident, identified as YDS, to ask him to open mosque.

YDS reportedly became angry at Muhammad for knocking on his door and reprimanded him. Muhammad, the police said, apparently ignored the admonishment and left.

YDS then rushed to the mosque caretaker, identified as RDN, who announced on the mosque's loudspeaker that a thief was at the mosque, kompas.com reported.

The neighborhood residents started gathering at the mosque in response to the announcement. Muhammad, unaware that he was the accused, also joined the crowd at the mosque, which immediately attacked him. A video of the mob attack has been circulating on social media.

YDS and RDN are among the 10 people the police have arrested in connection with the incident. "All suspects have been charged with Article 170 of the Criminal Code on mob violence, with a maximum punishment of 12 years in prison," National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said, as quoted by kompas.com on Monday.

The victim's family was shocked by the incident and had asked police to investigate, Gowa Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Shinto Silitonga said, as quoted by ntmcpolri.info on Tuesday.

Sunardy Selayar, a Facebook user who claimed to be a family friend, wrote that the young man [Muhammad] had no criminal record and had recently started observing tahajud.

Sunardy questioned the allegations circulating on social media that Muhammad went berserk at the mosque before he was killed by the mob, and accused the allegations as a "false narrative" that the perpetrators had fabricated to justify their "inhumane" violence.

"If anything, taking the law into our own hands without tabayyun [seeking clarification] is utterly forbidden in our country, let alone in Islam,' he posted.

Mob lynching is not uncommon in Indonesia. In August 2017, Muhammad Azahra, 37, was killed by angry residents of Babelan in Bekasi, West Java, after he was accused of stealing an amplifier from a local musholla (small prayer house). The mob chased the electronics repairman as he attempted to flee on his motorcycle, beat him and set fire to him.

The police arrested six people as suspects, who were later tried, found guilty and sentenced to between seven and eight years for the brutal killing.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/18/mosque-mob-kills-south-sulawesi-student.html

Tito Karnavian urges personnel to tackle negative issue on police

Tempo - December 17, 2018

Jakarta – National Police Chief Tito Karnavian demanded all officials of public relations unit settle negative issues related to the police. According to him, this measure is required to raise public trust towards the institution.

"Depress negative issues and highlight positive news about the national police to increase public trust," said Tito Monday, December 17, during a consolidation meeting of National Police Public Relations Unit.

Tito said the public trust could be gained by spreading inspiring stories from the police personnel. For example, news about a member of police accommodates a mobile library, helps the pedestrian, or joins the disaster mitigation.

Public Relations Unit is also urged to highlight achievement and innovation presented by leading officers. With such great news, therefore, Tito opined, it will be easier to improve public trust.

According to Tito Karnavian, the public trust on the police is highly affected by a survey about police integrity conducted by several institutions, while in fact, such determination is an uncountable object. Tito opined that there are many members of police with high integrity.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1156086/tito-karnavian-urges-personnel-to-tackle-negative-issue-on-police

National security & intelligence

After raising allowances, Widodo asks TNI spy network to monitor village

VIVA News - December 16, 2018

On December 16 President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo attended a gathering of TNI (Indonesian military) village supervisory non-commissioned officers (Babinsa) from throughout Sumatra at the Balariung Pinang Masak, Jambi University, in Central Sumatra.

The gathering was attended by some 3,286 TNI soldiers comprising 3,019 Babinsa, 228 danramil (sub-district military commanders), 31 dandim (district military commanders), fifteen representatives of the air force, fifteen representatives of the navy and 33 Polri (national police) personnel.

During the event Widodo said that the performance allowance for the TNI and Polri will be disbursed in January next year and that the administrative process for the disbursement at the Finance Ministry has already been completed.

"Every time I visit the regions there are people who whisper, 'Pak [Mr] President please increase Babinsa's operational allowance'. As a result the performance allowance calculated from this January can already be received", said Widodo in a written release on Sunday December 16.

With the soon to be disbursed performance allowance, Widodo asked that Babinsa take responsibility for monitoring the use of village funds which have already been handed over by the government which have reached 187 trillion rupiah for 74 thousand villages.

"Tell the kades [village heads] that in realising the use of village funds they must be used in the village, don't let them leave the village and benefit local businesses", said Widodo.

Currently, said Widodo, there are already benefits being felt from village funds such as new roads, integrated healthcare service posts, kindergartens, markets and the like. It is hoped that these village funds can create economic equality throughout Indonesia for the sake of social justice for all the Indonesian people.

At the end of his greetings, the president ordered the Babinsa to build unity and prevent conflicts between the TNI and Polri.

TNI commander Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto meanwhile expressed his thanks to Widodo for raising the performance allowance which he said would improve soldiers' welfare. Currently, direct allowances received by and available to Babinsa average at between 900,000 to 1.2 million rupiah a month.

"Likewise in the name of all TNI soldiers, I express my thanks for the increase in performance allowances which as of December 17, 2018 will be received by all soldiers who will get a performance allowance increase averaging 51 to 70 percent", he said.

Tjahjanto said that the participants at the gathering represent the ranks of the TNI who are assigned to territorial military commands and are in direct contact with communities.

"Because of this therefore, the TNI's territorial function is also a bridge for the TNI as an institution with society in the framework of promoting consciousness of national defense", he said.

Tjahjanto also took the opportunity to express his appreciation for the Babinsa which have earned great prestige.

This includes, among other things, discovering a fertilizer formula which has benefitted farmers, succeeding in collecting home-made firearms without incident through community awareness, assisting in teaching at schools located in the interior and together with Babinkamtibmas – village-assigned police officers who act as advisers on security and public order – successfully thwarting robberies by criminals.

"Our hope is that all of the prestige which has been earned can be maintained and even continually improved", he said. (art)


Babinsa or Bintara Pembina Desa, are non-commissioned military officers posted in villages and wards and affiliated with the civilian administration. These officers provide a community level presence for the TNI's territorial command structure which mandates the deployment of military command posts and detachments at all levels of the civil administration: provincial, district, sub-district and village. This structure provides the organisational framework for the TNI to act as a political security force at all levels of society.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Tunjangan Naik, Jokowi Minta Babinsa Kawal Dana Desa".]

Source: https://www.viva.co.id/berita/nasional/1103802-tunjangan-naik-jokowi-minta-babinsa-kawal-dana-desa

Foreign affairs & trade

Nothing to worry about current account deficit: Coordinating Economic

Jakarta Post - December 21, 2018

Jakarta – Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution said on Friday that the current account deficit would reach 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by the end of 2018, but stressed that there was nothing to worry about.

"Yes, it is a bit high, but nothing to worry about. The deficit in 2014 was even higher," said Darmin in Jakarta on Friday as quoted by kontan.co.id.

According to Bank Indonesia's data, the current account deficit in 2014 was recorded at US$27.5 billion or 3.09 percent of GDP, while at the end of the third quarter the deficit was estimated to have stood at 2.86 percent of GDP.

Darmin stressed that there was no need to worry because Indonesia had posted a "high enough surplus" in capital and financial transactions. He did not mention any figure, but according to BI capital and financial transactions stood at $4.2 billion as of the end of the third quarter.

"Don't look at the current account as a stand-alone factor. Look also at capital and financial transactions. We have a high enough surplus," he added.

On Monday, Statistics Indonesia announced that November's trade deficit stood at $2.05 billion, surpassing July's $2.03 billion trade deficit, which was then the highest deficit in the last five years.

Previously, asset management company Samuel Aset Manajemen economist Lana Soelistianingsih estimated the current account deficit would reach between 3.2 and 3.3 percent by the end of 2018. She described the situation as worrying.

Meanwhile, senior economist Faisal Basri called on the government to take the swelling trade and current account deficit as a serious matter because it could negatively affect the rupiah and the country's resistance to external pressures. (bbn)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/21/nothing-to-worry-about-current-account-deficit-coordinating-economic-minister.html

Indonesia to rely on trade agreements to boost exports: Minister

Jakarta Post - December 21, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesia's trade deficit this year, which reached US$7.5 billion in November, has forced the government to find a way to boost exports.

Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said on Thursday the government could not increase exports significantly this year because of various barriers, particularly the high tariffs imposed on Indonesian products that made them less competitive than the products produced by competitors.

"We face high entry tariffs because we have no trade agreements," Enggartiasto said in Jakarta on Thursday, adding that the ministry would accelerate trade negotiations with a number of countries and organizations.

He said the government was now negotiating with Mozambique, Tunisia and Morocco, as well as with the European Union and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to establish trade agreements.

However, he admitted that negotiations with the EU and RCEP were not easy because they involved a large number of countries, but the government would attempt to complete the negotiations next year.

Enggartiasto also said the Trade Ministry had already discussed boosting the export of certain commodities. Although he did not go into detail about what was being done, he made assurances that the government had tried to solve various problems to boost exports.

"Our domain is to immediately complete the trade agreements," he added, as quoted by kompas.com.

On Monday, Statistics Indonesia announced that November's trade deficit was $2.05 billion, higher than the $2.03 billion recorded in July, which was then the highest deficit in the last five years. The November data brought the year-to-date trade balance to minus $7.52 billion, with surpluses recorded only in March, June and September. (bbn)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/21/indonesia-to-rely-on-trade-agreements-to-boost-exports-minister.html

Swelling deficits are serious matter, economists warn

Jakarta Post - December 20, 2018

Jakarta – The swelling trade and current account deficits are a serious matter for the country's economy as it will negatively affect the rupiah's performance and the country's resistance to the external pressure triggered by global economic uncertainty, economists say.

"The US$7.5 billion trade deficit is not a simple thing. Trade deficits occurred in eight out of the 11 months," said senior economist Faisal Basri as quoted by kompas.com on Thursday.

He added that the current trade deficit figure was the worst in history, as the trade deficit had never before reached $7.5 million since the country gained its independence in 1945.

Faisal, a University of Indonesia lecturer, blamed the failure of reform policy during President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration that prevented the country from boosting its exports.

On Monday, Statistics Indonesia (BPS) announced that November's trade deficit reached US$2.05 billion, surpassing July's $2.03 billion trade deficit, which was then the highest deficit in the last five years.

The results have brought the year-to-date trade balance to minus $7.52 billion, with surpluses recorded only in March, June and September. The increase was triggered by a $1.46 billion monthly deficit in oil and gas trade despite declining oil prices.

"The reform in Pak Jokowi's era only occurred in the first year of his administration. After that it only dealt with oil affairs," Faisal said, referring to the government's effort to maintain the current price of subsidized fuels that had contributed to the swelling of the subsidy allocation.

Meanwhile, asset management company Samuel Aset Manajemen economist Lana Soelistianingsih said the widening trade deficit was worrying because it would see the current account deficit swell to higher than 3 percent, although previously, the government expressed its optimism to be able to maintain the figure below 3 percent.

"It is worrying because transactions in goods usually create a surplus, while other transactions produce deficits. However, now our transactions in goods are in deficit," she told kontan.co.id on Wednesday.

Lana said she had not made detailed calculations on the current account deficit in 2018, but she believed it was unlikely the figure would be lower than 3 percent.

"Our estimation is that the current account deficit will be between 3.2 and 3.3 percent of GDP," she said, adding that the payments of foreign debt installments and of dividends, which were usually due at the end of the year, would worsen the current account deficit.

She warned the swelling current account deficit would affect the rupiah's performance. "Even if the rupiah can be maintained around Rp 14,300, the announcement of the current account deficit would negatively affect the currency," she added. (bbn)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/20/swelling-deficits-are-serious-matter-economists-warn.html

Kalla reasserts Indonesia's 'non-interference' stance on Uighur issue

Jakarta Post - December 17, 2018

Dian Septiari, Jakarta – Vice President Jusuf Kalla has reiterated that Indonesia would not interfere in China's handling of Uighur Muslims amid pressure from the nation's ulema council for the government to step in.

"Of course we reject or [want to] prevent any human rights violations. However, we don't want to intervene in the domestic affairs of another country," Kalla told journalists on Monday.

Reports circulated that the Chinese government had conducted a massive crackdown on Uighur Muslims in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang autonomous region.

Previously, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) had condemned China over reports of the crackdown, saying it was not in line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that guarantees religious freedom for every human around the world. China signed the covenant in 1998 but has yet to ratify it.

"The crackdown is an outright violation of basic human rights, as well as international laws," MUI advisory council leader Din Syamsuddin said on Monday, as quoted by Antara.

Din, former chairman of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second biggest Islamic organization, also demanded that the Indonesian government take firm action to advocate for the Uighurs.

The president of the Asian Conference on Religions for Peace also urged the international Islamic Cooperation Organization and the international community to push for the Chinese government to guarantee the Uighurs' civil rights. (kuk/swd)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/17/kalla-reasserts-indonesias-non-interference-stance-on-chinas-uighur-issue.html

Indonesia books $2.05 billion trade deficit in November

Jakarta Post - December 17, 2018

Rachmadea Aisyah, Jakarta – Indonesia's trade deficit reached US$2.05 billion in November, Statistics Indonesia (BPS) announced on Monday.

The figure is higher than the $2.03 billion recorded in July, which was then the highest deficit in the last five years.

The increase was triggered by a $1.46 billion monthly deficit in oil and gas trade despite declining oil prices, both in international indexes and the Indonesia Crude Price (ICP), which set the oil price at $62.98 per barrel in November from $77.56 per barrel the month before.

Month-to-month (mtm) imports decreased 4.47 percent to $16.88 billion, while mtm exports declined 6.7 percent to $14.83 billion, thanks to a 10.8 percent mtm decrease in oil and gas exports to $1.37 billion.

The results have brought the year-to-date trade balance to minus $7.52 billion, with surpluses recorded only in March, June and September.

"As always, we are hoping that the policies established by the government could be implemented faster so as to see faster results," BPS head Suhariyanto said at a press briefing. (bbn)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/17/indonesia-books-2-05-billion-trade-deficit-in-november.html

Mining & energy

Indonesia officially controls 51.23 percent of Freeport shares: Jokowi

Jakarta Post - December 21, 2018

Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo announced on Friday that Indonesia became the majority owner of PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) after increasing its share ownership from 9.36 percent to 51.23 percent through a US$3.85 billion deal.

"This majority ownership will be entirely for the benefit of our people. [....] Our income in tax, non-tax [revenues] and royalties will be bigger and better," Jokowi said at the State Palace as aired live by Kompas.tv.

The President further said he had also received reports about PTFI's commitments in smelter development and solutions to environmental issues as well as the settlement of 10 percent ownership of PTFI shares for Papua's people.

"It means we have settled all [issues] and work can start," said Jokowi, who was accompanied by Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya, Freeport McMoRan (FCX) CEO Richard Adkerson and state mining holding company PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Inalum) president director Budi Gunadi Sadikin.

Inalum as the government's representative holds 51.23 percent of PTFI, which operates the world's second-biggest copper mine, Grasberg in Papua.

According to data from Inalum, the final structure of PTFI's shares after the divestment deal sees FCX owning 48.76 percent, Inalum with 26.23 percent and PT Indonesia Papua Metal & Mineral (PT IPMM) with 25 percent.

In the structure, IPMM's shares will be owned by Inalum and a Papua-owned enterprise (BUMD) with shares at 60 percent and 40 percent respectively. (bbn)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/21/indonesia-officially-controls-51-percent-of-freeport-shares-jokowi.html

Infrastructure & development

Infrastructure group says govt facing development budget shortfall

Jakarta Post - December 18, 2018

Jakarta – The government's attempt to accelerate infrastructure development is facing a financial shortfall of Rp 187.5 trillion (US$12.92 billion), the Indonesian Infrastructure Society (MII) has said.

MII chairman Harun al-rasyid said on Tuesday that under the 2015-2019 National Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJMN), the government's Rp 1.98 quadrillion state budget allocation amounted to only 41.3 percent of the projected infrastructure development budget of Rp 4.79 quadrillion.

Harun, who is also an expert at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), expressed pessimism that state-owned enterprises (SOEs) would be able to fulfill the 22.2 percent (Rp 1.07 quadrillion) they were projected to contribute to the infrastructure budget.

"Pushing the SOEs' limit will carry high risks, because they also need [a healthy] cash flow for [project] operations, even after the projects have been completed," Harun was quoted as saying by kontan.co.id.

Because of the difficulty in filling the shortfall, he added, the government often turned to the private sector for infrastructure funding, which was projected to contribute 36.5 percent, or Rp 1.75 quadrillion.

He added that the private sector was also finding it difficult to meet the government target because the projects were not packaged well. "The prospects [for the infrastructure projects] are not good, while the risks are high for the private sector," Harun said.

He thus suggested the government to sort the infrastructure projects according to their capability in meeting financing needs. He said the government also needed to ensure that the projects would not lead to increased capital goods imports, which would only widen the trade deficit. (bbn)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/18/infrastructure-group-says-govt-facing-development-budget-shortfall.html

Analysis & opinion

Why Indonesia's judiciary ignores Constitutional Court decisions –

The Conversation - December 21, 2018

Muhammad Tanziel Aziezi – In February 2008, Bambang, a surgeon at the Dinas Kesehatan Tentara (DKT) Hospital, an Indonesian military hospital in Madiun, East Java, was reported to police by his patient, Johanes Tri Handoko, regarding his practice permit.

The Madiun District Court acquited Bambang. However, the Supreme Court granted the prosecutor's appeal on October 30 2013.

The surgeon was found guilty of violating Articles 76 and 79 of the 2004 Law on Medical Practice for practising medicine without a practice permit and for not providing medical services in accordance with professional standards and standard operating procedures. The Supreme Court sentenced him to prison for a year and a half.

But Bambang should not have been imprisoned. Six years prior, on June 19 2007, the Constitutional Court (which has the authority to assess all provisions of the constitution) had removed the imprisonment provision on those articles.

The Constitutional Court argued that the provision had caused insecurity and fear as a result of disproportionate criminal sanctions stipulated in the regulation. Therefore, doctors who violate the articles can only be sentenced to a fine, not imprisonment.

Bambang's case is an example of a decision by the Constitutional Court not being enforced. The Law on the Constitutional Court states that the court's decisions shall be final and binding. This means all decisions should be adhered to and applied. But they are not.

What's holding it back?

At least two factors result in Constitutional Court decisions on judicial review not being enforced.

First, law enforcers are not aware of the court's decision. Many legal provisions that have been declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court are not well documented. From 2003 to 2017, 574 provisions were declared unconstitutional.

When a law enforcer is dealing with rules, they need to keep up with the changes. This is not easy because the changes are numerous. For instance, there are 15 provisions in the Criminal Code that have been declared unconstitutional from 2003 to 2017.

One case illustrates this problem. On December 13 2004, the Constitutional Court issued a decision that ruled Article 31 of Law No. 18 of 2003 on Advocates as unconstitutional. The article prohibits someone who is not an advocate by profession from acting as an advocate. However, in 2008, some law enforcers still used that article.

Second, the judiciary at times disobeys the Constitutional Court's decision, as shown in Bambang's case. The Supreme Court argued that not all Constitutional Court decisions have binding force.

But, under Constitutional Court Law, all Constitutional Court decisions are final and binding. All of the Constitutional Court decisions should be enforced by everyone, including the Supreme Court and the Attorney-General.

Another case is when the Constitutional Court issued a ruling in 2013 that a criminal case can be reviewed more than once. The Supreme Court, however, issued a circular in 2014 restricting criminal reviews to once only.

In 2016, the Constitutional Court ruled that a prosecutor can't apply for a review in criminal cases. But the Attorney-General is ignoring this and has stated that prosecutors will continue to apply for reviews.

Regulation with a law is the best solution

The solution to the judiciary ignoring the Constitutional Court is to enact a regulation for every norm the Constitutional Court has ruled upon.

This action has actually been regulated under the 2011 Law on Legislation Formulation. The parliament and the government have the authority to regulate a new law based on a paragraph, article and/or section of the law that has been expressly stated in a Constitutional Court decision. This new law is also intended to prevent a legal vacuum for the norm after the Constitutional Court decision.

However, no new law based on a Constitutional Court decision has been regulated.

Indonesia requires the political will from legislators to release new regulations in response to the Constitutional Court's rulings. Otherwise the highest court will continue to be ignored and unconstitutional norms will continue to be applied to citizens.

[Muhammad Tanziel Aziezi is a researcher with the Indonesian Institute for Independent Judiciary (LEIP).]

Source: http://theconversation.com/why-indonesias-judiciary-ignores-constitutional-court-decisions-and-how-to-fix-that-104970

Peaceful resolution to Papua's war for liberation

Jakarta Post - December 19, 2018

Veronica Koman, Jakarta – While we mourn for the more than a dozen lives lost in the Papuan regency of Nduga recently, we should spare a thought for the thousands of other lives lost in the natural resources-rich territory since this conflict began. We should ask why it is one of the world's longest-running struggles and what can bring it to a close.

On Dec. 13, the speaker of the House of Representatives stated that he would provide support for a "military operation other than war" in Papua. Papuan people have suffered through at least 16 official military operations since 1961. Further operations would only deepen Papua's wounds and make a peaceful resolution more difficult to achieve.

In previous military operations in Papua, civilians made up the largest numbers of victims. Furthermore, military impunity and a weak legal system means there has never been accountability for these civilian deaths. As a first step toward justice, instead of sending more troops, an independent team from the National Commission on Human Rights should be deployed to investigate the conflicting claims in Nduga.

There is a strong movement for peaceful resolution of the Papua conflict via an exercise of the right to self-determination. This non-violent movement is growing fast and not only in Papua itself. Thousands of people, Papuan and non-Papuan, have participated in meetings, public discussions and peaceful demonstrations in dozens of cities across Indonesia in recent years. Of the 537 people arrested for peacefully demonstrating on Dec. 1, alone, 185 were non-Papuans.

If the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) freedom fighters in Nduga are captured or killed in a military operation, we can expect that they would be replaced. Papuan youths who are members of non-violent organizations show tremendous support for the TPNPB. To them, TPNPB freedom fighters are elders making extreme sacrifices. Crushing the TPNPB in Nduga would not solve the conflict in West Papua; it would outrage and radicalize the non-violent wing of the movement.

The same goes for the repressive tactics being used against the non-violent movement. Non-violent activists in Papua's urban areas have been subjected to illegal arrests, harassing surveillance, arbitrary destruction of property and other forms of interference. Many have told their lawyers, including me, that this repression leaves them feeling there is no room for peaceful action in urban areas and that they would do better to take up arms with the TPNPB in the jungle.

Papuan students in Java face additional repression from civil militia groups who threaten violence without fear of arrest. Some of these students have told me that if they have to fight off thuggish militias determined to stifle free speech, they might as well go all the way and fight the Indonesian military by joining the TPNPB.

The origins of the TPNPB show that the Papuan people have long fought to remain independent. In 1942 during the Japanese occupation, Papuans in Biak declared their independence. Tens of thousands of Free Papua Movement members in 1965 resisted Indonesia in the lead-up to the fatally flawed 1969 "act of free choice". This history illustrates the fact that today's TPNPB freedom fighters are continuing a longstanding "war of national liberation".

International humanitarian law recognizes them as combatants and not, as the government prefers to describe them, merely members of an "armed criminal group". Wars of national liberation are addressed under Additional Protocol I of the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Although Indonesia is not yet a signatory to this protocol, combatants on both sides must still respect basic international humanitarian law as a matter of customary international law during the armed conflict.

Until President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo fulfills his long-neglected promise to open access to Papua for foreign journalists, the outside world will cry foul. Free domestic discussion is also imperiled: Police have threatened a Papuan senator with prosecution under the draconian Electronic Information and Transactions Law after he spoke about six civilians who were allegedly killed in a joint military and police operation in Nduga.

Since last year, security forces have made similar threats against ordinary civilians and human rights defenders monitoring military and police operations in Papua's remote areas. Any accounts differing from the biased military line are declared to be "hoaxes".

We must urgently resolve the conflict in Papua once and for all. The government is misguided in its belief that an infrastructure program will placate Papuans' abiding demand for self-determination. As the Indonesian Institute of Sciences has recognized, the root cause of the conflict is the forceful integration of Papua into Indonesia. Indonesian lawmakers would do well to acknowledge this reality.

As a newly elected member of the UN Security Council, Indonesia's stated priority is fighting for the noble cause of the Palestinian people's right to self-determination. It should be no less a priority for Indonesia to democratically address the same fundamental demand being voiced by the Papuan people.

[The writer is a human rights lawyer representing hundreds of activists who rallied on Dec. 1. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.]

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2018/12/19/peaceful-resolution-to-papuas-war-for-liberation.html

Indonesia's year of dithering dangerously

The Diplomat - December 19, 2018

Kevin O'Rourke – While U.S.-China relations dominated attention at the recent G-20 Summit, a little-noticed aspect was that Indonesia President Joko Widodo did not even bother to attend. Vice President Jusuf Kalla represented him instead.

Widodo was the only head of state among the 20 to skip the meeting, but he offered no explanation for his decision – nor did any Indonesian politicians or commentators question the choice. The official presidential campaign that is underway provides an excuse, but election day is still four months away. Widodo has a massive lead and cavorting with world leaders could have provided advantageous photo opportunities.

In Indonesia, ambivalence about engaging in the international arena is even more pronounced than usual, and this may explain Widodo's absence. The president has often appeared indifferent about foreign affairs, but now this attitude increasingly applies to cabinet-level policymaking and the broader political arena.

Ironically, with the trade war prompting manufacturers to shift production bases elsewhere in Asia, a prime opportunity now exists for Indonesia to attract sorely needed investment. But, in fact, the giant of Southeast Asia ranks well down the list of desirable destinations for capital in the region: as a proportion of GDP, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was larger in 2016-17 in Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia. FDI inflows have declined for two successive quarters, according to the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), and they appear likely to fall again in the fourth quarter.

Labor Ministry data shows that work permits for expatriates from key investor nations – Japan, Korea, the United States, the U.K. and Australia – declined by 5 percent from 2012-18. This bodes ill for attracting the capital inflows that Indonesia increasingly needs to fund its current account deficit. With mediocre export performance and heavy dependence on imports (especially for fuel), FDI is essential for preventing yet more currency depreciation in the years ahead.

Nonetheless, foreigners continue to face difficulties in obtaining work permits. The process remains convoluted, expensive, overly rigid and unpredictable. The president ordered investor-friendly reforms in March 2018, but policymakers produced changes that have proven largely inconsequential. (Ministry data shows soaring numbers of work permits for Chinese nationals, but this increase is not commensurate with increased investment flows from China and there is reason to question the value added by the staffing practices of Chinese projects.)

Furthermore, with the adoption of the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI), Indonesia's residency-based system of global taxation serves, in practice, to make the country a highly uncompetitive place for expatriates to work, relative to regional neighbors that are competing for capital. Policymakers are aware of the problem, but Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has made no initiative to address it.

Institutional reforms for better governance could go a long way to improving legal certainty, lowering operating risks and improving investor sentiment. But Widodo has shown scant interest in fundamental governance reform. To fill a recent vacancy in a cabinet post that is crucial for bureaucratic performance, Widodo chose a career police general (Syafruddin) with personal ties to Kalla – hardly a choice that inspires confidence for addressing persistent dysfunctions in the state apparatus.

Meanwhile, a host of policies continue to mitigate against foreign investment. Overly rigid labor regulations prioritize iron-clad job security for unionized workers, who number no more than 10 million from a workforce of approximately 120 million. In practice, strictures on hiring and firing workers deters new investment that might create good jobs for the majority of workers (58 percent as of 2017, according to Labor Ministry data) who still toil in the informal sector, with no benefits or safeguards whatsoever. The pernicious pro-union bias of the regulatory framework has been evident since the Labor Law's passage in 2003, but successive administrations have been too fearful of union demonstrations to broach reform.

In the resource sector, the complacency of policymaking is particularly stark. Foreign mining companies must divest majority ownership within 10 years of commencing operations, while also bundling mines with expensive and highly-polluting smelters – conditions that run directly counter to commercial viability. Widodo's move to nationalize PT Freeport Indonesia (the world's largest gold mine and second-largest copper mine) exacerbates the investment climate, especially considering that the state-owned purchaser, PT Inalum, will struggle to fund its share of the mine's vital $20 billion capital expansion.

The coal-mining sector has benefited recently from buoyant prices, prompting producers to undertake long-overdue investments in their operations. This has apparently propped up levels of fixed-capital formation in the national accounts, while driving an uptick in bank-credit growth (which reached 13 percent year-on-year in October). But this price-induced trend may prove fleeting.

In the oil-and-gas sector, policymakers have repeatedly rejected contract-extension requests by foreign majors, in order to confer production on state-owned Pertamina – despite its weak performance record and inadequate balance sheet. These decisions have exacerbated sentiment that already suffered from an overly cumbersome and inconsistent regulatory framework. Energy Ministry data through the third quarter of this year suggest that upstream oil-and-gas investment is on pace to decline for the fifth consecutive year.

With GDP growth stuck on a plateau of 5 percent per annum, and with a large current account deficit having weakened the currency, reforms to address business conditions in key sectors would presumably be in order. Instead, the latest phase of Widodo's "Economic Policy Package" (previewed in early November and still only partially implemented) is another damp squib.

A key feature is an attempt by Indrawati to boost "pioneer industries," such as tech and heavy industry, by offering income-tax holidays that range up to 100 percent for 20 years. Arguably, this is overly generous. Common-sense reforms for governance and institutions could achieve the same result by lowering country risk, without sacrificing future government revenues. In effect, Indrawati's policy exemplifies how the administration neglects meaningful reform and relies instead on (costly) palliatives.

The other main feature of the package pertains to the so-called Negative Investment List (DNI), which imposes foreign-ownership ceilings on varied sectors. A long-awaited revision has faced delays, and in any event the proposed changes disclosed by ministers constitute little more than tweaks. In particular, there is no meaningful discussion about opening Indonesia's decrepit education system to increased foreign involvement – a change that is needed in order to better equip Indonesia's youth to function in a competitive economy.

To be sure, Indonesia's economy has certain highlights: tourism and e-commerce are robust, while infrastructure development is making real progress. However, state entities dominate the latter and funding constraints loom.

Perhaps the most constructive policy in recent months emanated from the independent central bank: Bank Indonesia (BI) removed debilitating prohibitions on hedging local currency risk. (In the past, skeptics had denounced derivatives as a form of malicious speculation.) BI's introduction of a relatively easy-to-use hedging instrument (the domestic non-deliverable forward, or "DNDF") helps reduce short-term demand for dollars, and this has coincided with a period of improved rupiah stability. However, monetary instruments alone cannot steer Indonesia's economic course.

Widodo's ambivalence applies not just to international engagement and economic policymaking, but also to democratic pluralism. While strident Islamic groups are making shows of strength, Widodo – along with the bulk of the political elite – remain irresolute. In effect, Widodo is applying appeasement: early last year, he sat idly by while police charged Indonesia's most effective reformer, Jakarta Governor Basuki Purnama (known as Ahok), with blasphemy (he is still in jail).

This year, Widodo recruited a staunchly conservative cleric – a chief accuser of Ahok – as his vice-presidential running mate. The president has extended no support to Grace Natalie, chair of the small pro-Widodo Solidarity Party (PSI), who faced police questioning for having declared that her party opposes "Syariah by-laws" (regional-government decrees that enforce religious behavior). Meanwhile, Widodo's presidential-election opponent, Gerindra Party Chair Prabowo Subianto, actively courts sectarian clerics, such as the fugitive leader of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), Rizieq Shihab. The FPI and like-minded groups managed to mobilize approximately one million supporters who descended on Central Jakarta on December 2 – a dramatic show of force that has elevated FPI's status and leverage.

Some may attribute Widodo's stances to electioneering, and argue that he will embark on reforms after winning a likely second term. But this view overlooks the pattern of Widodo's appointments for strategic posts in recent months: The president has persistently favored candidates linked to conventional (or discredited) political elites – including elites whose support is clearly immaterial with regard to re-nomination or re-election. His tendency to avoid reform, appease fringe groups and align with elites has been growing gradually more pronounced over the past two years. The once-enterprising regional head now rarely shows signs of political courage, creativity or inspiration. Rather than an election tactic, this appears to be an intrinsic transformation of his character. Rather than improved policymaking, a second Widodo administration seems likely to offer yet more dithering – which Indonesia can ill afford.

Unfortunately, Indonesia's demographic dividend is expiring and a middle-income trap is rapidly approaching. Widodo seems likely to coast to re-election, and he can at least offer stability, but another five years of erratic policymaking will be costly in terms of opportunities squandered.

[Kevin O'Rourke has been author of the Reformasi Weekly Service on Indonesian Politics and Policymaking since 2003.]

Source: https://thediplomat.com/2018/12/indonesias-year-of-dithering-dangerously/

Room for impunity

Jakarta Post Editorial - December 19, 2018

A week after an angry mob set fire to a police station in the East Jakarta district of Ciracas, nobody has been held responsible, let alone arrested. Several videos of the midnight arson attack have circulated but investigators from both the police and the military have not looked much further into the case.

The Dec. 12 incident is believed to have a link to an assault against a Navy captain and an Army soldier, who is a member of the Presidential Security Detail, by a group of parking attendants outside a restaurant in Ciracas two days earlier.

The police were quick to arrest five of the parking attendants, including a woman, within less than 48 hours after the attendants beat up the military personnel. But they have failed to identify even a single perpetrator of the arson attack after six days of investigation, which unsurprisingly leaves questions unanswered.

Apparently, the police also had no action in mind regarding an incident in which the house of the parents of one of the men who was accused of beating the two Indonesian Military (TNI) members was damaged. The act of vandalism occurred almost at the same time as when the police station was ransacked.

While assault, particularly when resulting in injury or death, is a crime, attacks at police stations and private property are similarly punishable by a jail sentence. The burning of the Ciracas police station is more than just a crime – it is a show of disrespect against the country's law enforcement.

Worse still, the incident constitutes contempt for the national justice system, given the findings that the mob went to the police station to take the law into their own hands against five parking attendants who were in police custody for their roles in the assault case.

It is regrettable that the police have dragged their feet in their investigation into the mob attacks, which brings us to the question about who the people behind the act were that makes it so the police appear reluctant to go after them.

It is true that the military police are involved in the investigation, but this should not prevent the police from upholding their independence and professionalism in enforcing the law. There is a clear mechanism in place in the event military personnel are accused of committing a crime, though it will not always satisfy justice seekers.

The longer the confusion lasts, the higher the possibility that the state lets the practice of impunity persist. There is no room for impunity as it is a blatant violation of the Constitution, which ensures equality before the law for all.

The TNI, too, can help the police speed up the investigation if there is evidence that any of its members were involved in the arson attack. Indeed, collaboration between the two is a must given the TNI's pivotal role in protecting the nation and its citizens.

Failure to cooperate will only confirm allegations of a rivalry between the two ever since they were separated to fulfill the mandate of reforms 20 years ago.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2018/12/19/room-for-impunity.html

Indonesian infrastructure isn't quelling desire for independence in

The Strategist - December 18, 2018

Richard Chauvel – The killing of 16 workers on Indonesian President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's trans-Papua road project shortly after demonstrations and mass detentions that marked the 1 December anniversary of Papua's 'independence day' reminds us that Indonesia's last regional conflict remains intractable.

The killings in the remote district of Nduga were the most significant armed action by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN) in recent years. However, the attack was not unprecedented. Between 2010 and 2014, armed resistance groups were responsible for some 122 deaths, and most of the casualties were members of the security forces. In earlier clashes with the security forces, as in Wasior in 2001 and Puncak Jaya in 2004, non-Papuan employees of timber and transport companies were killed.

Armed resistance against Indonesian rule has persisted since the beginning of Indonesian administration in 1963, although, since 2000, the mainstream of the independence movement has advocated a peaceful struggle. For the most part, the resistance effort has been localised, loosely organised, sporadic and poorly armed. It has never threatened Indonesian control in Papua, but has not been eliminated, despite the deployment of overwhelming numbers of police and personnel from the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI). In the context of the current crisis, the former head of the National Intelligence Body (BIN), Sutiyoso, estimated that there were 25 resistance groups in the highlands, collectively numbering 685 combatants with 232 weapons.

Jokowi has visited Papua more often than any of his predecessors. Early in his presidency, he made commitments to resolve human rights abuses, remove restrictions on the access of foreign journalists and release political prisoners. While political prisoners have been released, little progress has been made on resolving human rights cases, and the pattern of abuses by the security forces is little changed. Foreign journalists still must negotiate Papua-specific regulations. Jokowi's approach to Papua has increasingly been focused on economic development, particularly infrastructure, seemingly in the belief that, if material welfare can be improved, the difficult political, human rights and historical issues will somehow fade away.

The Trans-Papua Highway is the centrepiece of Jokowi's infrastructure ambitions. He has identified the district of Nduga, with its extreme poverty, lack of services and isolation, as the source of his motivation to develop Papua. Nduga is the poorest district in the poorest province. It is also the base of one of the armed resistance groups. Nduga represents the complexity of the problems the Jokowi government faces in Papua.

From the perspective of the armed resistance, the TPN, the targeting of construction workers on the trans-Papua road was not coincidental. When TPN spokesman Sebby Sambom claimed responsibility for the attack, he explained it in terms of the TPN's political objectives. 'We don't need development. What we need is the opportunity to determine our future through a referendum.' He said that the TPN was willing to negotiate with the Indonesian government on the right of self-determination, provided the UN was involved as a third party. He regarded the trans-Papua road project as the work of the military. The construction team had been monitored for a couple of months and the workers were identified as military, he said. 'As long as the TNI is involved we will attack. We are not going to wage war on unarmed civilians.'

Vice President Jusuf Kalla's rejection of negotiations reflected Jakarta's attitude: 'Everything has already been given to the region (Papua), except independence. The budget allocation is much greater than before.'

Marking the 1 December anniversary has become part of the Papuan political calendar and a barometer of the restrictions on freedom of expression and organisation that constrain Papuans but not other Indonesians. Papuans were permitted to celebrate the anniversary in 1999 and 2000. Since then, Papuans observing the anniversary have risked long prison sentences. Most notably, pro-independence activist and government official Filep Karma served 10 years of a 15-year sentence for raising the Morning Star flag on the anniversary in 2004.

The demonstrations and detentions this year in Papua, Surabaya and elsewhere suggests a shift in government tactics away from heavy sentences for the leaders of peaceful flag-raising ceremonies to mass arrests of protesters. This year around the anniversary over 500 protesters were detained by police, nearly half of them Papuan students in Surabaya. The mass arrests confirm a pattern developed during the first two years of Jokowi's administration; 1,083 people were detained in 2015 and 5,361 in 2016.

The arrests of students in Surabaya and elsewhere highlights another aspect of how the pro-independence movement is evolving. Scholars from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences argue that a younger generation of activists has emerged who support independence through a referendum and are less inclined than their elders to cooperate with the government. There have been several incidents, linked to issues of Papuan independence and human rights, involving Papuan students in Yogyakarta and other university towns over several years. These students are the potential elite of their generation. The activism of Papuan students raises the question of whether the experience of studying at Indonesian universities serves to facilitate identification with fellow Indonesians or consolidates a sense of Papuan difference.

Australia's foreign minister, Marise Payne, expressed her condolences to her Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, over the attack in Papua. Perhaps this was all the Australian government could say.

Given the strategic importance and fragility of Papua New Guinea, Australia has an interest in the resolution of the conflict in Indonesian Papua. However, the long shadow of its role in East Timor's separation from Indonesia means that any public expressions of concern are viewed with suspicion and Australia's frequent statements recognising Indonesia's sovereignty in Papua are doubted.

[Richard Chauvel is an honorary fellow at the Asia Institute at the University of Melbourne. Image courtesy of AK Rockefeller on Flickr.]

Source: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/indonesian-infrastructure-isnt-quelling-desire-for-independence-in-papua/

Policing religion? There's an app for that

Indonesia at Melbourne - December 17, 2018

A new app called Smart Pakem was released by the Indonesian Attorney General's Office (AGO) late last month. Available for public download, the app provides a way to report, list and monitor religious groups deemed to deviate from the teachings of the six religions officially recognised by the state.

The app has triggered strong criticism from many human rights organisations because it targets religious heresy, with a focus on unorthodox interpretations of official religions, and indigenous beliefs (aliran kepercayaan).

The development continues the worrying trend of increasing enforcement of the Blasphemy Law (known officially as Law No. 1/PNPS/1965 on the Prevention of Religious Abuse and/or Defamation, which inserted a blasphemy provision into the Criminal Code). But with regard to indigenous beliefs, it also sends mixed signals about how the government handles minority belief communities – especially since it follows a welcome victory of wider civil recognition for indigenous beliefs in the Constitutional Court last year.

Promoting harmony or conflict?

Despite the ongoing controversy, the app (launched on 22 November and last updated on 6 December) is still available for download. It seems to have been launched prematurely, as it is not fully functional. Yet at present, under the "Religion" (Keagamaan) menu it already lists as deviant one Ahmadiyah and three Shi'a organisations, all of them legal and registered, along with a (hypothetical?) organisation called "Wahabi" and two organisations that were banned as deviant in the past: Gafatar and Lia Eden's Kingdom of God. Under "Beliefs" (Kepercayaan) it lists a dozen legal organisations.

The AGO says the app's main function is to educate the public about deviant religious groups, and to prevent them from following unorthodox teachings. It also provides an outlet for people to report what they deem to be heresy or deviancy, rather than taking the law into their own hands. The AGO argues that the app could help it fulfil its duty to more efficiently monitor "deviant" and indigenous belief groups, and help maintain peace and interreligious harmony.

But the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) and the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) say that the opposite is more likely to be the case. Rather than creating harmony, the app, by publicly identifying certain minority groups, labelling them as deviant and raising people's awareness of them, could actually encourage persecution and trigger conflict. Ifdhal Kasim, a member of staff at the President's Office, is concerned that the app lists certain organisations as "deviant" even before a court verdict has been made, thus strengthening the current trend.

Aside from these criticisms, there are a few other peculiarities. One of the features of the app is a menu titled "Fatwa MUI". The MUI (Indonesian Council of Ulama) is not a state institution and it is not the only Indonesian Islamic organisation that issues fatwas – why are none of Indonesia's many other fatwa-issuing bodies featured there?

Moreover, the jurisdiction of MUI fatwas is naturally limited to Muslims, although that has not stopped the body from issuing statements (not always fatwas) pertaining to the beliefs and practices of non-Islamic organisations. For example, in 2007, a group called the Dayak Hindu Budha Bumi Segandhu of Indramayu, a group influenced by Buddhist and Hindu traditions, was labelled deviant by the local MUI. Wouldn't local Hindu or Buddhist religious councils have more of a right to declare the group as deviant in this case?

Control versus recognition in a fragmented state

Special acknowledgment of the authority of MUI in the app's design reflects only part of a larger long-term story of government intervention into the religious affairs of Indonesian citizens, which has improved little, despite the wide-ranging political changes that have occurred since 1998.

The government's narrative is one that acknowledges only a limited number of global religions (Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism), and excludes non-global indigenous religions by definition, categorising them as "culture". While official religions are overseen by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, indigenous beliefs are under the Ministry of Education and Culture.

Further, this narrative also severely restricts non-mainstream ("deviant") expressions of these religions. The AGO's instrument to control minority indigenous beliefs and non-mainstream religious groups is the Coordinating Body to Monitor Indigenous Beliefs (Badan Koordinasi Pengawasan Aliran Kepercayaan Masyarakat, abbreviated as Bakor Pakem – thus the app's name).

Bakor Pakem was established in 1952, initially under the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and was tasked with monitoring the mushrooming of new religions, indigenous beliefs and "mysticism" (aliran kebatinan). In 1961, the institution was moved to the AGO.

With the issuance of the 1965 Blasphemy Law, signed by the first president, Soekarno, to meet the demands of some Muslim groups, Bakor Pakem was given power to control followers of indigenous beliefs and "deviant" groups, as well as those alleged to be defaming religion.

Recently, Bakor Pakem has observed the rise of indigenous beliefs, which it sees as a threat to the nation, and justification to call for the body's reinforcement. That is one of the reasons the AGO Research and Development Centre in 2017 recommended the strengthening of its legal authority (by enacting a new law or presidential regulation on its status and tasks), a rise in its budget, and the development of an "intelligence data bank". The Smart Pakem app seems to be a follow-up to that recommendation.

This development is actually at odds with the trend towards wider recognition of indigenous beliefs under law. In November 2017, the Constitutional Court allowed the inclusion of indigenous beliefs in the "religion" (agama) column of the national identity card. While the decision does not give the same recognition to followers of indigenous beliefs followers as it does to those of the six religions, there are already indications that they have secured more of their civil rights.

In 2016, a decision by the Ministry of Education and Culture allowed children of indigenous belief followers to receive their own religious education as part of their schooling. Administered by the Directorate of Beliefs at the Ministry of Education and Culture, the decision also provided funding for a variety of activities for the groups, which include 187 registered organisations with 12 million members.

In this way, the Directorate's move to provide more services for indigenous belief communities stands in stark contrast to that of Bakor Pakem, with its intel approach to monitoring and control through repressive means. The Smart Pakem app affirms this.

This fragmentation, if not outright contradiction, among agencies urgently needs to be addressed by the government.

As for the other target of the Blasphemy Law, "deviant" religious groups, strengthening Bakor Pakem will not help facilitate peace. A CRCS research report suggests that the Blasphemy Law and Bakor Pakem have provided vigilante groups with legal justification to marginalise, discriminate against, and even attack minority religious groups.

If the Smart Pakem app is not recalled, we may see more cases of persecution. And if religious harmony is the objective, as the AGO argues, there has to be an alternative way of dealing with "deviant" groups, because Smart Pakem will deliver anything but harmony.

Source: http://indonesiaatmelbourne.unimelb.edu.au/policing-religion-theres-an-app-for-that/

Incumbent Jokowi versus Prabowo – who will win Indonesia's

The Conversation - December 17, 2018

Yohanes Sulaiman – Four months out from Indonesia's presidential election, recent surveys by various respected pollsters indicate that incumbent President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo will win.

Survey results from pollsters Indikator Politik, Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC), Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) and Kompas showed more than 50% of respondents would vote for Jokowi. His opponent, Prabowo Subianto, was attracting only 30% of votes.

The question is whether that number will hold true in 2019? What are the risks for Jokowi, and can Prabowo turn the tables and win?

Assessing Jokowi's path to victory

Jokowi has a bigger chance to win the election. He has secured support from more political parties than Prabowo has. A coalition of nine parties supports Jokowi's candidacy. Prabowo has five parties backing him. Jokowi's victory, however, is not at all assured.

Jokowi may have won the hearts of potential voters by building roads, airports and ports. But his opponents can still bring him down with other issues. Among these are religious issues, which foiled the attempt of Chinese Christian candidate Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama to win the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election.

Learning from Ahok's defeat, Jokowi has shifted his strategy. Jokowi, who ran his 2014 election campaign on pluralism and a progressive human rights platform, has chosen the conservative chairman of Indonesia's Ulema Council, Ma'ruf Amin, as his running mate. He has also recruited members of the opposition, such as Muslim politician Ali Mochtar Ngabalin.

When his opponents tried to politicise religious issues with the recent burning of a flag with Arabic writings on it, they failed to gain attention due to the involvement of Nadlatul Ulama, the nation's biggest Islamic organisation. NU has supported Jokowi's candidacy as both share an interest in preventing intolerant Muslim groups from spreading.

As long as Jokowi manages to avoid any personal involvement in any religious-tinged controversy, he could avoid Ahok's fate – and so far he has managed to do so.

The economy, however, is the wild card. Jokowi should win as long as the economy is humming along nicely. But it is influenced by variables beyond his control, including the ongoing trade war between the United States and China, an economic crisis in Turkey, problems in the European Union with Brexit and a budget crisis in Italy.

In early September, the exchange rate of the rupiah against the US dollar surpassed a psychological barrier of Rp15,000 per dollar. By November, the rupiah had strengthened significantly as foreign investments increased, but the currency can still weaken due to global economic and political uncertainties. And this might hurt Jokowi's re-election prospects.

While the weakening of the rupiah didn't increase the price of staple goods, it still weakened people's purchasing power. This may affect Jokowi's chances of winning as the the majority of voters are mostly concerned with bread-and-butter issues.

Measuring Prabowo's chances

Prabowo's path to victory is simple: he has to bring attention to Indonesia's economic weaknesses. But a number of political blunders may have stalled him.

Prabowo's criticism of Jokowi's economic policies have been voiced aggressively by Prabowo's running mate, businessman-turned-politician Sandiaga Uno.

Sandiaga's remarks included questioning why the size of sliced tempeh (fermented soybean cakes that are very popular in Indonesia) in markets had slimmed to the size of an ATM card. His attacks on Jokowi's economic policies also include claims that he could only buy chilli and shallots in the market with a Rp100,000 (US$6.91) bill.

Sandiaga's strategy is to court controversies to attract media and social media attention to his campaign.

First, Sandiaga's strategy has endeared him to the millennials and also presents him as an authentic politician.

Second, and most importantly, Sandiaga has managed to force the attention of the public and Jokowi's administration to turn to economic problems caused by the weakening of rupiah. This could, in effect, erode the electability of Jokowi.

Despite Sandiaga's achievement, Prabowo and his team have made many political blunders that could be disastrous for their prospects.

One of the biggest blunders was a claim that Sandiaga was a student of Islamic boarding schools to justify Prabowo's decision in choosing him. Promoting religious issues, Prabowo's camp said it only supported religious scholars as his vice-presidential candidate.

The fact is Sandiaga, a Muslim, was educated in private Christian institutions, PSKD and Pangudi Luhur, and later in Wichita State University and George Washington University in the US.

As if that was not enough, Prosperous Justice Party politician Hidayat Nur Wahid, who supports Prabowo, upped the ante by declaring Sandiaga a religious scholar.

This achieved nothing more than to make a mockery of Sandiaga's candidacy and show that money could buy everything – including one's self-worth and religious title.

Another big blunder was a hoax spread by an important member of Prabowo's election team, Ratna Sarumpaet. Ratna told media a group of unidentified men had assaulted her in Bandung, West Java. Her assault was greeted with uproar. Opposition members immediately rallied behind her and insinuated that Jokowi's camp was behind this.

It turned out that Ratna's story was a hoax. Her "injuries" were the result of plastic surgery. Prabowo apologised for her acts. Unfortunately for the opposition, Ratna's case has harmed its credibility.

Adding to the list are Prabowo's three most recent blunders. First was when Prabowo mocked people from Boyolali, Central Java. Sandiaga then appeared to disrespect the graves of Islamic major figures by stepping over them. The last was when Prabowo issued a statement belittling online motorcycle-taxi drivers.

These blunders distract the opposition from its main mission as they force Prabowo's camp to keep apologising and play defensive.

If Prabowo keeps repeating his political blunders, there is no way for him to squeak to victory even should he finally get an opportunity such as worsening economic conditions.

The winner is...

At this point, the safest horse to bet on is Jokowi. Barring any global economic upheaval, as long as he plays safe – by avoiding getting dragged into personal or religious controversies – he can simply waltz to victory. He just needs to make sure the people he thinks he can rely on voting for him will actually vote for him.

This means Jokowi needs to assuage the concerns of his long-time supporters, who disapproved of his decision to abandon his pluralistic approach and choose Ma'ruf as his vice-presidential candidate. These supporters will watch very closely what both Jokowi and Ma'ruf Amin do.

Prabowo's road to victory is very narrow, but it is still possible. He needs to reach out more towards ethnic and religious minorities, while tamping down the divisive rhetoric from his supporters. But, more importantly, he needs to run a more disciplined campaign that avoids more blunders.

[Yohanes Sulaiman is an associate lecturer at the Universitas Jendral Achmad Yani. Asrudin Azwar, founder of The Asrudian Centre, co-authored this article.]

Source: http://theconversation.com/incumbent-jokowi-versus-prabowo-who-will-win-indonesias-presidential-election-108338

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