Home > South-East Asia >> Indonesia

Indonesia News Digest No 22 - June 10-16, 2002

Democratic struggle

Labour struggle Aceh/West Papua East Timor Neo-liberal globalisation 'War on terrorism' Government & politics Corruption/collusion/nepotism Regional/communal conflicts Local & community issues Human rights/law Focus on Jakarta News & issues Environment Armed forces/Police International relations Economy & investment

 Democratic struggle

'July 27 tragedy' victims reject Sutiyoso

Jakarta Post - June 12, 2002

Ahmad Junaidi, Jakarta -- At least 100 members of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) branded chairwoman Megawati a traitor for her endorsement of the nomination of the incumbent Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso for the next governor.

The group, calling themselves victims of the July 27 bloody tragedy, deplored Megawati's decision, as Sutiyoso is believed to have been involved in the bloody attack on the party's Central Jakarta headquarters on July 27, 1996. He was the Jakarta Military commander at that time.

"Do not betray us and souls of other victims by nominating Sutiyoso," the group's coordinator, Sandra Fertasari, said in the rally held at the City Council.

Sandra, along with 123 party supporters, were jailed at Salemba Penitentiary after the attack by the party's splinter group, which was backed by the government under former authoritarian president Soeharto.

At least five people were killed and dozens of people later went missing. Mass riots followed the incident.

Sutiyoso, along with several military, police and civilian personnel, were declared suspects in November 2000. But the investigation into the case has not produced any results.

Former deputy chairman of PDI Perjuangan Dimyati Hartono also regretted Megawati's support for Sutiyoso's nomination. "The case has not been settled yet. It would hurt the families of the victims," said Dimyati, who earlier resigned from the party and the House of Representatives and formed a new party.

PDI Perjuangan's city chapter chairman Tarmidi Suhardjo revealed on Monday that Megawati who is also the country's President, asked the party's councillors to give their vote to Sutiyoso in the gubernatorial election which will be held on September 17.

During a meeting at Megawati's residence on Jl. Teuku Umar, Central Jakarta last Friday evening, Tarmidi, who was nominated by the party's city branches as a gubernatorial candidate, was asked by Megawati to concede to being just a deputy governor.

Vice President Hamzah Haz, who is also chairman of the United Development Party (PPP), has also asked his 12 city councillors to elect Sutiyoso and gave the deputy governor post to PDI Perjuangan.

However, not all PDI Perjuangan's 30 councillors believe that Megawati has endorsed Sutiyoso. Councillor Binsar Tambunan doubted Megawati's stance. "There is no final decision on the matter," Binsar told reporters on Tuesday. The election will be determined by the City Council's 83 councillors.

Meanwhile at least 36 forms had been filled out by individuals and mass organizations by the second day of registration for candidates at the City Council on Tuesday.

A man acting on behalf of the West Nusa Tenggara Governor Harun Alrasyid who is also a former Jakarta deputy governor, tried to obtain a form for Harun, but was rejected as he was not carrying a letter of authorization. Former legislator Ridwan Saidi also asked for a form for himself on Tuesday.

 Labour struggle

New fares introduced following driver protest

Jakarta Post - June 14, 2002

Apriadi Gunawan, Medan -- Mayor Abdillah of Medan, the North Sumatra capital, introduced new fares for public minivans on Thursday following a protest by hundreds of minivan drivers grouped under the Association of Medan Public Minivan Drivers/Owners (Kesper) earlier in the morning.

With the mayor's ruling, drivers can now charge Rp 1,100 (12 US cents) per passenger per route, up from the previous Rp 900. Meanwhile, the special fare for students remains unchanged at Rp 500 per passenger per route.

The new fares were announced by Medan's Administration Affairs Assistant Aslan Harahap to a delegation of protesting Kesper drivers at the municipality office.

The drivers' protest, which began at 7:30 a.m., left thousands of office employees and students stranded between Jl. Jamin Ginting and Jl. Pancing in Medan. But the protest only lasted for one-and-a-half hours as it failed to win the support of the majority of public minivan drivers in Medan.

Most drivers, members of the Medan Public Minivan Cooperative (KPUM), were clearly opposed to Thursday's protest.

An executive with the KPUM, P. Samosir, said there were a lot of students still sitting their final examinations on Thursday. "I also have kids. How would we feel, as parents, to see our children unable to sit their exams due to the minivans being off the road?" Samosir asked.

With police escorts, the KPUM drivers managed to serve the stranded passengers until 9 a.m.

Previously, a minor clash erupted in the morning between Kesper drivers, who insisted on going ahead with their protest, and KPUM drivers, who opposed the protest.

Officials of both drivers' organizations even traded blows at the municipality office prior to the meeting with Aslan Harahap. But, the clashes were quickly brought under control by the police.

Kesper chairman David Sitorus defended the protest as an expression of disappointment against the Medan municipality's failure to respond to the drivers' demands that it take action to deal with the increasing number of public minivans operating in the city, the overlapping of routes and the protection money demanded by the city's hoodlums. He said the fare hike was not the solution to the drivers' demands, but rather they were seeking a reduction in the number of minivans operating in the city.

"There are a total of 15,000 public minivans operating in Medan, which is excessive if you consider that there are only 100 routes. Ideally, one route should be served by 80 minivans, but currently there are about 130 minivans serving each route," he said.

Aslan Harahap said the Medan municipality had agreed to the demand for a reduction in the number of minivans, saying that the Medan municipality, in cooperation with the Medan Land Transportation Agency, would review the licenses already issued to the minivan owners and conduct raids against the illegal operation of public minivans.

"In the future, we'll issue permits for new minivans on a more restrictive basis," he said, while indicating that nine new applications for public minivans had recently been received by the municipality.

Meanwhile, Medan Baru District Police Chief Adj. Comr. Wira told reporters that the police had arrested dozens of protesters, believed to be provocateurs during Thursday's protest. "We're questioning them. If they are later proven not guilty, we'll release them," Wira said.

Government plans concerted move to save child workers

Jakarta Post - June 12, 2002

Debbie A. Lubis, Jakarta -- Astri, 14, from Bunga Sari Japatan village, Indramayu West Java, has spent the past seven months of her life working in a Jakarta brothel.

She dropped out of elementary school four years ago when she was in the fourth grade and decided to earn money for her poor family.

"My parents do not mind me working as a hooker because it is commonplace for girls in my village but I do not want to work like this forever. I will quit this job after I can buy some farmland or if there is someone wishing to marry me," she said.

Astri's tragic story portrays the country's child labor condition. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, as of the year 2000, there were around 2.3 million children aged between 10 and 14 working at filthy, sleazy and dangerous places throughout the country.

Warsini, head of the Child Labor section at the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration said that those children would soon secure protection from the country as next month President Megawati Soekarnoputri would issue a decree prohibiting the worst forms of child labor.

"As soon as the decree takes effect, we will launch a national action plan which includes a program to save child laborers, especially those who work on fishing boats, in prostitution, mining, the footwear industry and drug trafficking," she said.

Speaking at a discussion held by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Indonesian Child Welfare Foundation (YKAI) on Monday, Warsini said that the success of the program, which will run for five years, relied much on solid cooperation among related ministries, non-governmental organizations, prominent figures and businesspeople.

Sharing her view, Pandji Putranto, the national program coordinator at the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC), suggested that the child labor saving programs be linked with other social programs implemented by other ministries, such as poverty eradication, compulsory education, the social safety net (JPS) and legal protection for children.

Pandji attributed child labor to poverty. "Some of the children have to work in order to survive while some others are the family breadwinners. Most of them drop out of school since they cannot afford to pay the school fees." ILO recorded in 2000 that some 8 million Indonesian children between the ages of seven and 15, were doing adult jobs. Data from the Ministry of National Education showed that 17.7 million children aged between seven and 15 had dropped out of school in the same period.

Pandji suggested that the Ministry of Social Affairs should insist that parents who received social funds from the JPS program must also send their children to school and the government impose severe punishment to parents or businesspeople who exploited children in industry.

He said that children who worked in their early stages of life would have problems with their health, social interaction and emotional stability. "Child labor will extend to the country's poverty cycle and the country will produce an abundance of unskilled and uneducated human resources," Pandji said.

The House of Representatives is deliberating upon a bill on children protection which stipulates a punishment for anyone who discriminates against children under 18 or treats them unfairly, neglects them, practices violent or bad manners toward them, or exploits them economically, physically or socially.

The draft says that such a person could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and fine of Rp 200 million.

 Aceh/West Papua

Five Acehnese arrested in Kupang for fake papers

Jakarta Post - June 15, 2002

Yemris Fointuna, Kupang -- Police in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, have detained five Acehnese people, allegedly members of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), for having falsified identity cards and passports.

The Acehnese people, among the 27 Acehnese people whose presence was detected at the border between East Timor and Indonesia, were detained at the local police's detention cell in the city.

"They have been in the province for one month, we are investigating why they are here. The important thing is that they have falsified identity cards and passports.

"We have a suspicion that they have a special mission in the province. It is strange that they could get their identity cards and passports within a month. Even more unbelievable is that they left their hometown in Aceh to seek work in this least-developed province," Kupang Police precinct chief Adj. Sr. Comr. F.F. Jeremias Mirah told The Jakarta Post here on Friday.

Jeremias said the police would focus their investigation on the detainees' purpose for being in East Nusa Tenggara. "We are coordinating with the police in their hometown to check whether they are true job seekers or members of GAM," he said.

He added the five were arrested on Thursday after police received reports from local people alerting them of their presence in the city. The five were identified as Ah, Bh alias Jn, L, Af and Bs, all from Beringin Village, Bureauleuk Subdistrict, Central Aceh Regency.

Three others identified as Br, Am and Gn were believed to have escaped police arrest. "We are chasing the three," said Jeremias.

He said further the eight were among 27 Acehnese people whose presence in Atambua was detected by the military in Belu Regency last week.

The Acehnese detainees said they arrived in Kupang from Atambua in mid May with the main purpose of seeking work in the city. "We are not criminals. We came here to seek work," Bh said in his cell at the police precinct.

He said he and his colleagues returned from the border areas to Kupang after they were refused entry into East Timor because they were using fake passports. "We are here on our way home to Aceh. We need to stay here for some months to make money because we have no more money for the trip home," he said.

Asked why they changed their name on their identity cards, Bh said they did not want the security authorities to know their true identity because Acehnese were often branded as being associated with GAM.

Meanwhile, East Nusa Tenggara Governor Piet A. Tallo said it was quite strange that Acehnese people would came to a poor province to seek work.

"The reason is baseless because the province is poor and has no industries where they could work. It is very strange that they left their rich hometown in Aceh which has many industries where they could seek work," he said, adding that he believed that the Acehnese people came to the province with certain political motives.

Col. Moesanip Moeswarno, chief of the Kupang Military District, said he suspected that the Acehnese people were members, or supporters of GAM and they were trying to enter East Timor to learn how the new country fought for separation from Indonesia.

One more Aceh councillor killed

Jakarta Post - June 15, 2002

Banda Aceh -- Security uncertainty in the NanggroeAceh Darussalam province has taken its victim again with anotherprovincial councillor of the United Development Party (PPP), Nasri Zamzam, 43, was shot to death on Thursday evening, a report said on Friday.

A resident in the neighborhood, who asked to remain anonymous, said Nasri was shot by two unidentified men in front of his house at Alue Glong village of Sukamakmur subdistrict in Aceh Besar regency, some 15 kilometers away from the provincial capital of Banda Aceh.

The witness, however, said it was obvious that Nasri knew his murderers as they had been involved in a brief talk before the two men shot him at about 6:15 p.m. Thursday.

Soon after the killing, Tengku Maksalmina, spokesman of the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) for Aceh Besar region refused any responsibility, saying that "the series of killings had been set by the Indonesian security personnel in an attempt to stop the GAM's struggle for an independent nation."

But, local police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Dade Ahmad defended the allegation that the killing was committed by GAM because many local councillors had rejected to support the separatist movement.

Nasri was the 11th Acehnese figure to be killed in the province during these past two years.

Earlier on Monday evening, Aceh provincial legislative councillor from the Crescent Star Party (PBB), Taslim A. Jalil,was killed at his residence at Meunasah village, Lhoknga regency,also in Aceh Besar regency.

Meanwhile, the situation in Lhokseumawe, North Aceh, heated on Friday following the burning of four schools by unidentified armed men at relatively the same hour, at 8 p.m. on Thursday. Witnesses said there were explosions prior to the burning of the schools.

The four schools were the 4th State Vocational High School(SMKN 4), the 2nd State Vocational High School (SMKN 2) and the3rd State High School (SMU 3), all located in Ulee Jalan area,some two kilometers away from the town center; and the 7th Junior High School (SLTP 7), which is located some 50 meters from the Medan- Banda Aceh-Lhokseumawe inter-city road.

Ilias, a security guard at SMKN 4, said he and his family members were cleaning the teachers' room while watching the World Cup 2002 game on TV at 8 p.m. when three armed masked men threatened them to get out of the room.

"We were moving out of the room when suddenly we heard broken glass windows and saw flames from the school's laboratory," Ilias said.

"And the firefighters, who arrived about an hour later, failed to put out the fire as several rooms had already been burned down," he added.

Five more killed in Indonesia's Aceh

Agence France Presse - June 15, 2002

Five more people, including two separatist rebels, have been killed in Indonesia's troubled Aceh province, the military and residents said.

Soldiers shot dead a suspected member of the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in a gunfight at Indrajaya in Pidie district on Friday, said local military chief Colonel Supartodi.

Another GAM rebel was killed by troops in an encounter near the provincial capital Banda Aceh Friday, said an Aceh military spokesman, Major Ertoto, on Saturday.

In another incident, a gunman on motorcycle killed a businessman at his shop in the city of Lhokseumawe in North Aceh on Friday night, residents said.

Also on Friday, two bodies bearing gunshot wounds and torture marks were found at Simpang Ulim in East Aceh, said a local GAM spokesman, Ishak Daud.

Violence between GAM, which has been fighting for a free Islamic state in Aceh since 1976, and government forces has claimed more than 10,000 lives, including more than 500 this year alone.

The rebels and the government have held a series of peace talks in Switzerland over the past few years but truces have always broken down.

Seven killed in Aceh violence

Jakarta Post - June 14, 2002

Banda Aceh -- Two Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel, two alleged members of the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and three civilians died in armed conflict here on Wednesday and Thursday, a military officer said on Thursday.

TNI spokesman in Aceh province Maj. Zaenal Mutaqin said Sgt. Maj. Teuku Amir of Banda Sakti Subdistrict Military Command was shot by two armed men in front of a bank in Lhokseumawe, North Aceh, on Thursday morning. He died later in the day at LilawangsaMilitary Hospital in Lhokseumawe.

Another soldier, Corp. Sukri, died in a clash with GAM members at Lhong village in Aceh Besar regency, some 40 kilometers southeast of Banda Aceh on Wednesday. Two colleagues of Sukri were wounded by gunshots, said TNI spokesman in Banda Aceh Maj. Ertoto.

Ertoto claimed that two GAM members died in a clash with TNI troops at Panga village in West Aceh, some 160 kilometers southeast of Banda Aceh. One of the two victims was identified as Tengku Hasbi, 40. But, a GAM leader in the Lhong and Panga area said the two victims in Panga were not GAM members, but civilians.

Also in West Aceh, armed men launched an attack on the residence of Blang Teungoh village's chief in Kuala subdistrict, killing the village chief Kechik Zulkifli, 50. Meanwhile, two of Kechik's daughters -- Hasnizar, 25, and Farjani Nelisa, 2 -- are in a critical condition and are now being treated at Cut Nyak Dhien Hospital in Meulaboh, an activist with the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) said.

In North Aceh a contractor for state gas company PT Arun NGL Co., identified as Usman Yusuf, 26, died after being shot by two unidentified men on Wednesday. Zaenal believed the two were GAM members. Local GAM spokesman Tengku Jamaika accused the military troops of having killed Usman.

Meanwhile, in Bireuen regency, a male corpse was found with neck wounds at the roadside in Gandapura subdistrict on Wednesday, a PMI activist said.

Papua drops student fees, hikes teacher salaries

Jakarta Post - June 13, 2002

R.K. Nugroho, Jayapura -- With new powers under the special autonomy laws, the provincial legislature in Irian Jaya (Papua) has dropped all fees for elementary and high school students as of the 2002/2003 academic year to give children more of an opportunity to receive a quality education.

Jerry Haurissa, chief of the local education office, said financial issues had been one of the main problems preventing school-age children from attending school.

"With the new policy, all Papuan children aged between six and 18 are expected to go to school in attempt to improve the human resource quality in the province," he told The Jakarta Post here on Tuesday.

He admitted that various political and military conflicts had affected schools, by causing many teachers to return to their home provinces while many students chose to stay home.

"We will hire more and more teachers from other provinces with higher salaries and interesting incentives to encourage them to work in remote areas," he said.

Haurissa hailed the 2002 budget which gives a top priority to the education sector, saying the high budget was expected to be able to finance all development planning in the education sector.

"The provincial administration has allocated 30 percent, or more than Rp 183 billion, of the 2002 budget totaling Rp 1.9 trillion for the education sector," he said, saying that in addition to pushing for the nine-year development planning, that the local administration would also provide scholarships for Papuan people to study at home and overseas as well as to establish vocational training centers for high school graduates who decided not to go to university.

The province's budget endorsed by the provincial legislative council on April 24, 2002, increased by more than 300 percent to Rp 1.9 trillion this fiscal year from the previous Rp 618.5 billion in 2001.

Under the special autonomy, the province was able to retain some Rp 1.3 trillion, mostly from its profits from exploitation of natural resources, including the copper and gold mines controlled by PT Freeport Indonesia, in the province. Previously, Jakarta kept more than 80 percent of that revenue.

Of the figure, the provincial administration now receives some 60 percent or Rp 760 billion while the remaining Rp 621.9 billion was distributed among the regency administrations. The province will also receive some Rp 600 billion from other sources such as taxes and the state budget to pay civil servants and servicemen employed in the province.

The chairman of the Papua provincial legislature, John Ibo, confirmed that the province would give a top priority to the education and health sectors in efforts to improve the quality of human resources.

"Besides the education sector, we've allocated Rp 91.5 billion, or 15 percent of the budget for the health sector while a total of Rp 152.6 billion is to be allocated to help develop the land transportation networks connecting all regencies and cities in the province, which is three times the size of Java Island," he said.

He added that 15 percent, or Rp 122 billion of the budget, was allocated to develop small- and medium-scale enterprises to strengthen the province's economy.

Four factions, including the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle and the National Mandate Party (PAN) had opposed the budget's draft but, later, accepted it after negotiations among the factions at the provincial legislature. The draft budget was prepared in line with the fiscal balanced budget law, but the special autonomy stipulated by Law. No 11/2000 has yet to be implemented fully.

Gunmen shoot dead parliamentarian in restive Aceh

Agence France Presse - June 11, 2002

Two gunmen shot dead a district parliamentarian at his home in Indonesia's restive province of Aceh, police said.

Taslim Jalil was shot dead in Lhoknga near the provincial capital of Banda Aceh a few hours before dawn on Tuesday, Adjunct Senior Police Commissioner D. Achmad told journalists.

The gunmen, who wore military fatigues and were armed with a rifle, were believed to be members of the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM), he said. No one has so far claimed responsibility for the murder.

GAM has been fighting for a free, Islamic state since 1976. More than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in the conflict, including over 500 this year alone.

20 alleged GAM members arrested in East Nusa Tenggara

Jakarta Post - June 12, 2002

Kupang -- Police officers in East Nusa Tenggara province have arrested 20 of 25 alleged Free Aceh Movement (GAM) members trying to sneak into East Timor, Belu regent Marsel Bere said on Monday.

"I was informed by the police that 20 of 25 alleged GAM members were arrested in Kupang, while the remaining five are still at large," Marsel told The Jakarta Post at his office on Monday.

The police however, had failed to seize any evidence to prove that they were involved in the drug trade as previously alleged, Marsel said.

East Nusa Tenggara's Wirasakti Military Command chief. Col. Moeswarno Moesanip claimed earlier that a total of 25 Acehnese in West Timor were selling drugs in the area to buy weapons and finance the struggle for independence in Aceh.

He also claimed that the 25 Acehnese were possibly on their way to East Timor, to study how the East Timorese achieved their independence from Indonesia.

East Timor separated from Indonesia in 1999 through a United Nations-sponsored referendum, 23 years after it was integrated into Indonesia in 1976.

Military, police hunt 25 Acehnese in Atambua

Jakarta Post - June 10, 2002

Yemris Fointuna, Kupang -- Local military intelligence has confirmed the presence of 25 members of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) separatist group in Atambua near the border with East Timor, an officer claimed on Saturday.

East Nusa Tenggara's Wirasakti Military Command chief Col. Moeswarno Moesanip said that intelligence had found that the Acehnese were trading marijuana for weapons with former East Timorese pro-integration militia members who were now residing in Belu regency. The GAM members were also distributing fake rupiah and US dollar banknotes.

"We failed to capture the GAM members as some of them managed to slip across into the East Timor. But we are still hunting down the rest," Moesanip said.

Separately, Belu Police chief, Adj. Sr. Comr. Agus Nugroho, told Antara on Saturday that 17 of the Acehnese were married. The Acehnese were believed to have stayed at the Nusantara I Hotel in Atambua. The police said that the group was led by Abu Bakar Sulaiman.

Nugroho revealed that only two of the Acehnese had Indonesian passports. "We have to prevent further problems [with East Timor] due to their presence in our jurisdiction, let alone their plan to enter East Timor even though only two of them hold Indonesian passports," he said. He added that East Timor security officers were also hunting the Acehnese.

Atambua is the capital of Belu, the Indonesian regency which borders East Timor. Some 250,000 East Timorese took refuge in the regency to escape the violence which swept the former Indonesian province following the independence ballot in September 1999. Among the refugees were armed civilians from pro-Jakarta militia groups.

Recently, the Udayana Military Commander Maj. Gen. Willem T. da Costa, who oversees Bali, West Nusa Tenggara and East Nusa Tenggara, said the militia members' weapons were buried in many locations on Timor island.

He told a hearing with East Nusa Tenggara councillors that a satellite photo revealed underground arms dumps, but the security forces had as yet failed to find the precise locations where the weapons were buried.

Belu Police chief Agus told Antara on Saturday that his officers would continue to monitor the Acehnese. "We'll keep an eye on whoever wants to cross the border to East Timor to find a job. As regards security and public order, we believe it's important to stay vigilant," he added.

GAM has been fighting for independence in Aceh province on the northern tip of Sumatra island for decades. More than 9,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in armed clashes between GAM and the military.

Reversing former president Abdurrahman Wahid's policy of peaceful efforts to solve the Aceh problem, President Megawati Soekarnoputri has taken a more violent approach with more troops pouring in to the province since she took office last July.

 East Timor

Indonesia drops probe into Dutch reporter's killing

Associated Press - June 13, 2002

Jakarta -- Indonesian prosecutors dropped their investigation into the killing of a Dutch journalist in East Timor that took place in 1999, a spokesman said Thursday.

Dutch authorities have carried out their own investigation into the murder of Financial Times reporter Sander Thoenes and identified a serving Indonesian soldier as a prime suspect. The Netherlands said it was disappointed and confused by Indonesia's decision.

"We don't think there is any reason to drop this case," Bart Jochem, a Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman, told The Associated Press. "We know what the evidence is, and we think there is more than enough reason to bring this case to court."

Attorney General's Office spokesman Barman Zahir said investigators had determined there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute. "In the meantime, we will not be continuing the case," said Zahir told the AP. "Later, if new evidence or suspects come up, it can be continued."

Zahir said that a witness identified by the Dutch police as key to the investigation was unreliable and continually changed his story. Zahir also said there were conflicting autopsy reports on the state of Thoenes' corpse. Australian doctors said it bore gunshot wounds, while Indonesian physicians found stab marks. Zahir said the discrepancy was unexplained.

Thoenes was forced off his motorbike and killed in East Timor's capital Dili soon after he arrived in the city to cover the arrival of an international peacekeeping force and the withdrawal of Indonesian troops in 1999.

Peacekeepers were deployed in East Timor after the Indonesian military went on a rampage following a UN-sponsored vote for independence. Hundreds of people were killed and much of the territory was left in ruins.

Indonesia had pledged to prosecute Thoenes' killers in cooperation with UN investigators in East Timor. Dutch police have been conducting a separate investigation but have shared their findings with Indonesia. Dutch police said earlier this year several eye witnesses had told them that Second Lieutenant Camillo dos Santos was Thoenes' killer. Dos Santos has denied any involvement.

At the Hague, Dutch officials said Thursday they weren't sure what to believe. They said Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Hassan Wirayuda assured them during a visit to the Netherlands last week that the case wasn't closed.

The Dutch Embassy in Jakarta received a letter Thursday from Indonesian Attorney General Muhammad Abdul Rachman stating the case was closed.

"These two communications are contradictory," said Jochem, the Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman. "We'd like to know what is really happening on this case. Is this a misunderstanding or what? That is what we are trying to find out."

Jakarta, Dili has out remaining issues

Jakarta Post - June 16, 2002

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, Jakarta -- Indonesia and East Timor have identified a number of residual problems that they will attempt to resolve following the new country's independence which was finally declared on May 20, 2002.

The remaining unresolved problems since East Timor's decision to separate from Indonesia were discussed in a day-long parallel meeting between the two countries' high-powered officials in Dili on Saturday.

Indonesian representative in East Timor Kristio Wahyono said that Saturday's meeting was not planned to conclude anything but simply to identify a number of problems that were expected to be resolved during the incoming visit of East Timor President Alessandro Xanana Gusmao to Jakarta.

"This meeting is just more informal and personal than formal because we had a lot of problems that need to be dealt with soon to allow the two countries to enter a new phase of their good ties," he told The Jakarta Post by telephone after the Indonesian delegation's meeting with East Timor leaders in Dili on Saturday.

Kristio cited problems that needed to be urgently solved were Indonesia's assets in the province, the pension of former East Timorese servicemen, the two countries' border areas, East Timorese taking refuge in West Timor and East Timor students studying in Indonesia with scholarships from the government.

The three Indonesian ministers -- Minister of Home Affairs Hari Sabarno, Minister of Industry and Trade Rini Soewandi and State Minister for Social Affairs Bachtiar Chamsyah -- returned to Jakarta late on Saturday.

Kristio said further that East Timor officials welcomed, with a warm greeting, the Indonesian delegation and President Xanana Gusmao even delayed his visit to Australia until Sunday to meet the Indonesian delegation.

Assets remain as one of the contentious issues in the meeting between Indonesian delegation led by Minister of Home Affairs Hari Sabarno and President Xanana, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.

"We will set up a joint committee to look into the issue of assets in more detail," Hari, a former army general, told reporters after meeting Alkatiri, adding that Indonesia will abide by international conventions on the issue.

East Timor Parliament Chairman Fransisco "Lu Olo" Guterres hailed the Indonesian delegation's visit as a "milestone" marking a good start in the two countries' relations.

"We are looking forward to cooperation with Indonesia. After independence good relations with Indonesia are all the more important," Guterres said as quoted by Agence France-Presse after the meeting.

Despite the negative impacts of the violence that followed the 1999 self-determination vote, in which residents of the then Indonesian province voted for independence, both sides yesterday expressed positive gestures and a willingness to discuss many of the lingering problems.

Rogerio Lobato, East Timor's home affairs minister, said his country's position on the asset issue would be in line with the constitution and the joint committee would probably be established as soon as possible.

On the talks, the two sides agreed that they will finalize the discussion of the joint committee during the planned state visit of Xanana to Jakarta later this month.

"On the planned visit of President Xanana, there will be more talks and hopefully more issues will be concluded," Kristio said.

Australia will be the first country President Xanana visits as the new head of state, after Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri failed to find time for Xanana to come to Jakarta.

Indonesia sends olive branch to East Timor

The Australian - June 15, 2002

Don Greenlees, Jakarta -- Indonesia is sending a delegation of three ministers to East Timor in a signal that it wants a co- operative relationship with its former possession, declared independent on May 20.

The delegation, due to arrive in Dili today, will hold talks on economic co-operation with President Xanana Gusmao and Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, an Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

The visit by the ministers for Home Affairs, Trade and Industry and Social Affairs was authorised by President Megawati Sukarnoputri, despite continuing point-scoring in parliament over her attendance at the independence celebrations.

Mr Gusmao had planned to make Jakarta his first overseas stop as President two weeks ago but the visit was postponed at the last minute because of what Indonesia claimed was a scheduling problem. He and Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta are planning a three-day visit to Canberra and Sydney, starting on Monday.

Indonesia's willingness to send a senior ministerial delegation to Dili so soon after independence is a welcome sign the Government does not want relations to be impeded by domestic politics.

But public statements by certain members of parliament, and private grumbling by senior military officers, indicate it will not be easy for Ms Megawati to establish the kind of friendly and stable relationship she would like.

Moreover, foreign analysts point to troubling signs that the goodwill evident in the ministerial visit does not extend to prosecuting civilians or military officers guilty of orchestrating a campaign of violence in East Timor during the 1999 independence referendum.

Reflecting concerns Ms Megawati might seek compromise with the armed forces, the International Crisis Group said in a May 8 report that prosecution indictments for human rights trials were inadequate and portrayed the 1999 violence as individual criminal negligence on the part of military officers rather than a premeditated campaign.

Indonesian prosecutors also have dropped an investigation into the murder of Dutch journalist Sander Thoenes in East Timor in September 1999.

Government funded militias in East Timor: witness

Associated Press - June 13, 2002

Jakarta -- Indonesia paid for anti-independence militias responsible for much of the violence in East Timor in 1999 when it voted for independence, a former government official told a court Thursday.

Rajakarina Brahmana, who was provincial secretary in East Timor in 1999, said between 10% and 20% of the provincial government's budget went to anti-independence efforts, including paying for militiamen. He didn't say how much this amounted to.

Brahmana's testimony at the trial of former East Timor police chief Timbul Silean strengthens the prosecution's case that Indonesia trained and set up the militiamen.

Indonesia has admitted to organizing what it terms "civilian security guards" to safeguard the independence ballot, but denied it was responsible for their actions.

Silaen, along with 24 other Indonesian officials, is charged with crimes against humanity for failing to prevent the killings that swept the territory when it voted to break from Jakarta rule.

Up to 1,000 people were killed in the rampage, which stopped only when international peacekeepers arrived.

Rights activists say most of the victims were murdered by militia gangs the local government allegedly hoped would intimidate people into voting for continued union with Indonesia.

Brahmana didn't link Silaen directly to the violence. But he said a defendant in a separate trial -- the territory's former governor Abilio Soares -- addressed a crowd of armed militiamen in Dili on April 7, 1999. Hours later, militiamen attacked the house of prominent independence leader Manuel Carrascalao, killing 12 people.

When asked by the judge why the government didn't take action against the militia after the massacre, Brahmana said the gangs were needed to ensure security in the capital.

Jakarta has been under intense pressure to punish those responsible for the rampage in East Timor. Critics are skeptical, however, that any of the defendants will see justice in Indonesian courts, which are known to go easy on well-connected defendants.

The trials have been marked by numerous prosecutorial missteps. Several East Timorese witnesses have refused to testify, saying they are too scared to travel to Indonesia.

Former district chief says militias often paid by state

Agence France-Presse - June 12, 2002

A former district chief in East Timor during Indonesian rule said that provincial authorities had often paid the pro-Jakarta militias who launched an orgy of violence against independence supporters in 1999.

"They are sometimes paid by the state but not routinely. When they are put to work, they receive a salary and rice," said Martinho Fernandes, whose own son died in the violence at unknown hands.

He told a human rights trial at Central Jakarta district court that the money came from the provincial budget and was given to the district chiefs by the governor.

Fernandes, asked what type of work the militiamen were given, said they were often paid to provide guard duties at public events such as rallies and meetings. "The work had no military nature," he said. He could not say how many militiamen were on the payroll.

Fernandes said he did not know who formed or sponsored the militias because they were already there when he became head of Viqueque district in 1999.

There have been widespread allegations that the militias were formed and armed by elements of the Indonesian security apparatus to try to sway the August 1999 independence vote in the territory. Military witnesses at the rights court have depicted the violence as spontaneous.

Fernandes also said there were only minor cases of violence in Viqueque in the runup to the UN-held independence ballot. "If not mistaken, there was only one small incident that led to three people injured, but I do not remember the details," he said.

Fernandes said he was sent to Kupang, the main town in Indonesian West Timor, on the day the ballot took place. He was told later that his 19-year-old son, Jose Fernandes, had been murdered in Viqueque some time after the ballot.

"I was only told that he was killed and had both slash and gunshot wounds, but up to now I have no information on who did this," Fernandes said, adding that he believed they were certainly not pro-Indonesians.

The militiamen waged a campaign of intimidation before East Timor's vote to separate from Indonesia and a violent scorched- earth revenge campaign afterwards.

Fernandes was testifiying in the trial of Jose Osorio Abilio Soares, a native East Timorese who was Jakarta's governor of East Timor when the UN held the ballot. Soares is one of 18 military, police and civilians now facing or due to face trial.

They are accused of responsibility for "crimes against humanity" by failing to halt five massacres of civilians in which more than 100 died.

The trials are being watched closely by the world for proof that Jakarta will punish those behind the violence. But international rights groups are sceptical that the rights court will deliver justice.

Witnesses say Suai church attacked

Jakarta Post - June 12, 2002

Jakarta -- Witnesses testified before the human rights ad hoc trial for the 1999 East Timor atrocities on Tuesday that pro- Jakarta militia groups attacked proindependence supporters taking refuge in the St. Ave Maria Church in Suai town, Covalima regency, East Timor, on September 6, 1999.

Ludo Ficus Ulu, an East Timorese member of the Suai military district command, told the court that the prointegration camp and militia groups were standing outside the church grounds armed with military-issue weapons, home-made weapons, bows and arrows, and machetes.

He was one of 20 soldiers deployed to the church to "protect the public" after more armed men started to arrive at the church after 8 a.m. on September 6, 1999. The attack began around 1:30 p.m. on the same day, or two days after the result of the independence ballot was announced.

But neither he nor the other civilian witness, Julio Gusmao, who was one of the pro-independence refugees, witnessed the massacre in the church that claimed 27 lives, mostly women and children, including three Catholic priests.

Both Ludo and Julio were testifying in defense of former Covalima regent Col. Herman Sedyono, former Suai military commander Col. Sugito, Sugito's predecessor Lt. Col. Liliek Koeshadianto, Suai military command chief of staff Capt. AchmadSyamsudin, and former Suai Police chief Lt. Col. Gatot Subiakto, who are being charged with gross human rights violations.

But Julio, who claimed to be pro-Jakarta and now resides as a farmer in Betun, East Nusa Tenggara, was not of much help to the defendants as he claimed he could not see what was happening from where he had taken refuge under a yellow truck which was parkedto the left of the church.

"I took refuge with the other villagers to escape from the prointegration violence ... I got out from under the truck at 5:30 p.m. when there was no longer any shooting going on. I saw a man clad in military fatigues carrying the dead body of a woman. I don't know from where the corpse was taken," he said.

 Neo-liberal globalisation

Government makes new pledges to IMF as Cabinet cracks

Jakarta Post - June 13, 2002

Dadan Wijaksana, Jakarta -- Coordinating Minister for the Economy Dorodjatun Kuntjoro-Jakti and Minister of Finance Boediono have made a new economic reform agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), despite signs that the Cabinet is cracking due to a disagreement on key economic policies sponsored by the fund.

Under a new letter of intent (LoI) to the IMF, the government promised to push ahead with several reform measures, including the sale of a number of banks before the end of this year. The LoI was also signed by Bank Indonesia Governor Sjahril Sabirin.

The signing of the new LoI would pave the way for the disbursement of the IMF's next US$340 million loan tranche to the country, according to a media statement issued by Dorodjatun's office. The fund is making a three-year $5 billion packaged loan to Indonesia.

The IMF board of directors in Washington is scheduled to convene within a few weeks to approve the new LoI.

The new reform commitment comes in the light of intensifying disagreement between Cabinet members, particularly between Dorodjatun, on one side, and State Minister of National Development Planning Kwik Kian Gie, on the other.

Kwik, former chief economics minister under the previous administration of Abdurrahman Wahid, has recently started a campaign to persuade the government to discontinue the IMF program here when it expires in November this year.

He argued that IMF programs were dangerous to the country, adding that the fund was acting more like a new colonial master. Reports said that several Cabinet members and top politicians, such as People's Consultative Assembly Speaker Amien Rais, supported Kwik's stance.

But the government, through Boediono, has already extended the IMF program here for another year, to the end of 2003. The extension was part of conditions set by the Paris Club of creditor nations in exchange for a sovereign debt rescheduling facility. The government obtained in April a rescheduling facility covering some $5.4 billion in sovereign debt due to mature this year and next.

Kwik, via the mass media, accused Boediono of not consulting the Cabinet when extending the IMF program.

Dorodjatun, however, said the plan had been discussed at a Cabinet meeting. He also gave a lengthy explanation to the media that the IMF was still needed to help the country find its way out of its current economic difficulties.

Meanwhile, Kwik repeated his criticism of the IMF on Wednesday when he spoke at a forum to review Indonesia's commitment to the Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI). He charged that the IMF had broken several agreements such as that on the plan for a transparent and open tender for the divestment of banks, including Bank Central Asia.

"Mr. Hubert Neiss, in the name of Deutsche Bank, lobbied to assist the Farallon consortium to win (in the BCA divestment) and this worked," Kwik was quoted by Antara as saying, referring to the former IMF Asia Pacific director. He said Indonesia's economic recovery would continue without the help of the IMF.

He argued that the fund's bailout assistance could not be used to finance anything before the central bank had run out of foreign exchange reserves.

The presence of the IMF, whose loan goes to the central bank to supplement the country's foreign exchange reserves, is seen as important to help revive the confidence of foreign investors and creditors in the country, the economy of which was badly hit by a combination of the 1997 regional economic crisis and political crisis at home.

LoI contains a set of reform targets under which the IMF measures the country's economic reform progress, with failure to comply leading to a halt in its lending program. The new LoI is the country's sixth.

In the letter, the government said all the end-of-March quantitative performance criteria had been achieved, with the exception of the targets for the state budget deficit, as the implementation of fiscal policy had remained prudent under the program.

The budget deficit in the first quarter of this year was higher than predicted, totaling Rp 5.6 trillion, or way above the target of Rp 2.7 trillion, due to lower-than-expected revenues as a result of the massive flooding that took place in the first two months of the year.

Nevertheless, the government would remain resolute to bring the budget deficit back on track within the target of 2.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), as revenues from dividends and other nontax incomes were expected to increase in the remainder of the year.

On the monetary policy front, it said that the central bank would maintain a cautious stance in the period ahead, to be consistent with its main objective of bringing inflation down to single digits.

The government also reaffirmed plans to sell majority stakes in Bank Danamon next month and Bank Lippo by the end of the year. The sale of a 30 percent stake in state-owned Bank Mandiri would be made in the third quarter. The government will also sell a stake of up to 71 percent in Bank Niaga by mid-September.

The LoI also said that tough action would be taken against former bank owners who had refused to repay billions of dollars in bailout funds.

Thousands support cement firm reshuffle

Jakarta Post - June 13, 2002

Kasparman, Padang -- Thousands of protesters expressed on Wednesday their support of a government plan to dismiss the current management of state cement maker PT Semen Padang, lending fresh backing to the company's privatization efforts.

Grouped under the Forum for the People of Padang (FPM-KP), the demonstrators said the current management was corrupt and lacked commitment to the local community.

The massive protest followed a three-year dispute between Jakarta and local politicians opposing the sale of Semen Padang. Efforts to sell Semen Padang to Mexican cement company Cemex SA since 1998 came to nothing largely because of local opposition.

The government plans to replace the management at Semen Padang amid suspicion they silently back anti-privatization protests. "Semen Padang's management is dividing our people, pitting them against one another," said FPM-KP chairman Zaharman.

FPM-KP refrained to state its support or opposition in the planned sale of Semen Padang. However its protest marked the first to support Semen Padang's reshuffle.

People from three regencies, Lubuk Kilangan, Lubuk Bagalung and Puah, rallied in front of the provincial legislature to call on politicians to back their demands.

Last month however Padang's legislature saw thousands rallying against the planned reshuffle and the privatization of Semen padang. The government has yet to decide when it would replace the company's directors as the move calls for an extraordinary general shareholders meeting.

Semen Padang and PT Semen Tonasa are units of the publicly listed Semen Gresik Group in which the government owns a 51 percent stake. In 1998 it sold Cemex a 24 percent stake in Semen Gresik with the promise to sell off another 51 percent stake by October last year.

Cemex' deal however fell through amid threats by locals to take over Semen Padang, and Semen Gresik workers throwing their weight against the privatization plan. Reasoning that Semen Padang symbolized the province's pride, protesters urged the government to first spin off Semen Padang from Semen Gresik if it wanted to sell the latter.

Last month, 15 mayors and regents lent their support to the spin off call in a letter to President Megawati Soekarnoputri. But critics warned of vested interests hijacking the protests by stirring up anti-foreign sentiments.

They said state companies were prone to becoming cash cows of political parties and said Semen Padang was no exception. The company is believed to be suffering financial losses because of alleged corruption. A letter signed by Semen Padang's president Ikhdan Nizar this year said the company had to cut payment of its employees to finance the spin off campaign.

 'War on terrorism'

Aussie military warns US about 'allies'

Straits Times - June 13, 2002

Jayandra Menon, Perth -- Senior Australian defence officials are worried that the Bush administration's war on terrorism is being exploited by some of its "supposed allies" for their own domestic political gains.

Indonesia and Malaysia have drawn praise from Washington for joining in the war against terror. But Australian officials say both countries are using the war as a screen for domestic political crackdowns while doing little to combat terrorism, according to a commentary in the Los Angeles Times.

"They worry that President Bush is being sold a bill of goods by some other supposed allies in the region," said Mr William Arkin, a noted military affairs analyst and author of the commentary.

It quoted a former Australian intelligence analyst as saying that "some of the evidence from Malaysian and Indonesian security agencies appeared to have been manufactured for domestic political and diplomatic purposes".

"The emphatic anti-terrorism policy" pursued in Washington was exploited by the security services "to justify draconian steps against alleged terrorists, thereby running the risk of alienating an already sceptical Islamic community", said Mr Greg Fealy, who is now a research fellow on Indonesia at the Australian National University.

"People being arrested in Malaysia are just part of the Islamic opposition," another analyst was quoted as saying.

Mr Arkin said Australian officials also believed that Washington was not taking advantage of Canberra's insight into the region, gained from its long association with predominantly Islamic neighbours.

He said that many officials believed Mr Bush -- and American leaders in general -- were in the habit of looking to Australia for troops and diplomatic support but not for analysis and advice. "They think Washington takes too little advantage of this insight," he said.

Mr Arkin, a former US army intelligence analyst who has written extensively about military affairs, spent a week with the Australian Defence Force recently.

He said senior Australian military leaders resented what they saw as an imperious US attitude but were frustrated by the fact that any kind of open break with Washington was unthinkable.

He wrote of strained relations between the defence forces and the government of Prime Minister John Howard, who has displayed unquestioning support for Mr Bush.

"I worry about Mr Bush going over the deep end," one of Australia's highest-ranking military officers was quoted as saying in the commentary.

The officer recalled Australia's costly participation in the Vietnam War and drew a blunt parallel with its mechanical political allegiance in the war on terrorism. "I'm not sure 'All the way with LBJ' is best for the nation," he added. LBJ refers to former US president Lyndon Baines Johnson who was responsible for the sharp escalation in US involvement in Vietnam.

The Los Angeles Times commentary was published on Sunday even as Mr Howard was telling reporters in Washington that Australia's alliance with the US was "far and away our most important".

Mr Howard, who is in the US to make up for an official trip cut short last year by the September 11 terror attacks, yesterday became the first Australian leader in 14 years to deliver a joint address to Congress. He is due to meet Mr Bush today.

 Government & politics

Jakarta's aspiring envoys see postings as holidays

Straits Times - June 15, 2002

Marianne Kearney, Jakarta -- Indonesia's potential ambassadors perceive the job as a chance for a vacation and have little idea of how to promote the country overseas, a parliamentary commission claims.

The candidates lacked general knowledge about the countries they wanted to be posted to and could well tarnish Indonesia's international image, said Foreign Affairs and Defence Commission members who are currently assessing the candidates.

"Most of the candidates' papers are just like travel guides," said Mr Djoko Susilo, a member of the commission, referring to a mandatory 20-page proposal which candidates were required to present to the commission.

The candidates' lack of detailed plans for developing diplomatic and trade relations between Indonesia and the foreign country suggested they saw the job as a type of holiday, he said.

In one case, a candidate applying to go to Sri Lanka "forgot" to mention in his proposal the violent conflict there and how that would affect political and economic stability, complained one commission member.

Nominees from the Department of Foreign Affairs suffered from a bureaucratic style of thinking left behind from the Suharto era and appeared unprepared to work in a democratic country, said Mr Djoko.

"Seventy per cent of the candidates failed to give a clear picture of how they will cooperate with the local media. They had no idea how to introduce Indonesia to the host country, because during the New Order they never thought the media was important because it could be controlled," he said, referring to the Suharto era by its well-known name.

Commission member Ibrahim Ambong pointed out that an envoy's public relations efforts were more important than ever as Indonesia's image had been badly tarnished by reports of the numerous conflicts across the archipelago and by the financial crisis. The poor calibre of the candidates has been blamed on the Department of Foreign Affairs' long-standing practice of promoting "loyal" rather than capable foreign envoys.

However, department spokesman Marty Nata Legawa said the department only nominated individuals who were considered competent and had sufficient expertise in the country for which they were chosen.

Diplomatic envoys are selected from the Foreign Affairs Department and from individuals recommended by the president. The parliamentary commission is currently screening 27 diplomatic candidates.

But Parliament's criticisms of career diplomats might be motivated by politicking rather than real concern for Indonesia's foreign policy, warned a former ambassador to Australia who is now an editor with The Jakarta Post.

"I just hope the commission's hearings are done in a spirit of objectivity aimed at improving the performance of candidates and not to opening certain positions to non-career diplomats so their friends can be there," said Mr Sabam Siagian.

Election bill will limit parties to less than 10: analysts

Jakarta Post - June 15, 2002

Muhammad Nafik, Jakarta -- Analysts predict that less than 10 political parties will be eligible to contest the 2004 general election should the proposed bill on general elections be enacted.

They include the six parties that obtained 2 percent of the seats in the 500-strong House of Representatives in the 1999 elections, political observers told The Jakarta Post on separate occasions.

Nazaruddin Syamsuddin, an academic from the University of Indonesia who chairs the General Elections Commission (KPU), said the stringent requirements in the bill would effectively filter out most of the 160-odd political parties registered so far with the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights.

Ramlan Surbakti of Surabaya's Airlangga University, who is also a KPU member, said 10 parties was not an ideal number, but it would not be more than that.

Based on the experience of past elections since 1955, he said, the 10 parties would naturally be polarized into Islamic and nationalist groupings.

"The polarized parties will also be dichotomized respectively into traditionalist and modernist groupings," Ramlan said.

The bill stipulates that a party must have branches in at least two-thirds of the country's 30 provinces, and in two-thirds of the number of regencies or cities in one province.

The bill, recently submitted to the House of Representatives, also requires election participants to have at least 1,000 members in each of its branches.

Politicians and analysts are divided over the stringent requirements. Those against the bill say only major parties will benefit from it, while those in support of it say the move is realistic.

Ramlan demonstrated his support for the bill when he said that the establishment of any political party had to obtain "basic support" from people across the country. "This will require politicians to have capital to establish a party," he added.

The prerequisite has been set according to the political system of "moderate pluralism", he said, which was in line with the country's heterogeneous conditions.

Hadar Gumai, deputy executive director of the Center for Electoral Reform (Cetro), said the tight criteria for parties contesting elections was needed to prevent politicians from making "experimental maneuvers" in engaging in practical politics.

Ikrar Nusa Bhakti and Satya Arinanto said the new requirements were too stringent for minor parties.

They said the existing electoral threshold system should be tightened instead of requiring them to establish branches in two-thirds of the 30 provinces. "The bill gives small parties no chance to take part in elections and benefits only the big parties," Ikrar said.

Under the prevailing political law, only parties with at least 2 percent of the seats in the House are allowed to contest the 2004 elections.

Legislator Amanullah Abdur Rohim of the National Awakening Party (PKB), the fourth largest faction in the House, called for a review of the requirements, arguing it was "undemocratic and unfair" to small parties. "Not only will it block minor parties, but also kill them," he said.

Arnold Nicolas Radjawane of the Love the Nation Democratic Party (PDKB) also dismissed the new perquisite as undemocratic, saying that any party, no matter how small, has the right to contest the elections. "Even if it gets only one seat in the House, its existence should be accommodated. That's democracy," he said.

According to Amanullah and Radjawane, it would be fair to require each party to have branches in only half of the 30 provinces.

Leaders lazy, weak, not serious: Nurcholish Madjid

Jakarta Post - June 14, 2002

Bernie K. Moestafa, Jakarta -- How do we explain the sight last Wednesday of the Indonesian delegation shopping in one of Rome's most expensive arcades while attending a world summit on hunger?

Bad timing maybe, but a note by prominent Muslim scholar Nurcholish Madjid that Indonesians were not serious about running the state, could be nearer to the truth.

Speaking at a seminar on the nation's leadership and morality on Thursday, Nurcholish took issue with the way Indonesians are running their nation.

"There is this moral lenience which is weakening our nation," Nurcholish told participants at the seminar held by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).

Once dubbed one of the Southeast Asian little dragons, Indonesia fell from grace when the 1997 economic crisis struck the region. While other nations recovered, Indonesia was left battered thanks to sweeping political and social changes that followed the crisis.

Over the past five years three different governments have had to cope with an ailing economy, widespread security problems and flagrant corruption. Progress in any of these areas has been slow at best, and analysts have heaped the blame on the notion that Indonesia was undergoing a period of transition.

But Nurcholish said the problem was more endemic, marked by the nation's lousy work ethic. "This is a nation that isn't serious about running the state. Indonesians want to take it easy, they don't care about working hard." Consequently, he said, the country had been administered by people who indulged themselves in pleasures they did not yet deserve.

His statement came as some began to question President Megawati Soekarnoputri's frequent overseas trips. Megawati is on a two- week tour of Europe, which comes after she visited Asian countries in April. The President attended the opening ceremony of the United Nations world summit in Rome on global hunger, with other stops including the Vatican, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

In her absence, fresh violence hit conflict-torn Aceh and a bomb exploded in Jakarta for the first time under her government.

Megawati's predecessor Abdurrahman Wahid was, despite his impaired vision and fragile health, another frequent traveler.

Elsewhere, legislators have shown a disappointing lack of discipline by maintaining their poor attendance record at sittings despite persistent public criticism.

"Indonesia is a soft state. Here the difference between right and wrong isn't clear," Nurcholish explained. The question of right or wrong, he said, was more dependent on which interest it served rather than on morality.

Putting morality on the backseat in favor of vested interests was further evidence that the nation is being run by short-sighted people, he added.

Rector of the Jakarta-based State Islamic University Azyumardi Azra also noted the lack of discipline within the country's leadership.

"What indicates this lack of morality is widespread corruption, collusion and nepotism (KKN)," he told The Jakarta Post by telephone. Azyumardi attributed this to the absence of strong political will and a civil society to push for a change.

Despite attempts toward good governance, he said, by the end it was vested interests that dominated political decisions. The 2004 general election also meant that political interests would continue to interfere.

He said that improving the country's political system might reduce such vested interests, but awareness should come from individuals within the government. "However, don't expect the government to change by itself, there must be pressure".

He added that public apathy over their own rights slowed attempts to generate pressure. To end this malaise, public education is the answer, he said.

House members remain stubbornly undisciplined

Jakarta Post - June 12, 2002

Jakarta -- Despite strong criticism of their performance, members of the House of Representatives (DPR) remained stubbornly undisciplined on Tuesday, skipping a scheduled plenary meeting for reasons known only to them.

Only 122 of the 500 legislators in the DPR were present on Tuesday when the House was about to approve the nominations of Bunbunan Hutapea and Aslim Tadjuddin as Bank Indonesia deputy governors.

The plenary meeting, chaired by Deputy House Speaker Soetardjo Soerjogoeritno of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), endorsed their nominations anyway despite the apparent poor attendance of DPR members.

Later, their numbers went down to just 87 when the meeting endorsed a proposal on the establishment of four regencies in North Maluku province.

Staff members of the House Secretariat reported earlier that 251 legislators had signed the attendance list, prompting Soetardjo to open the plenary meeting. The legislators' poor performance reminded the public of a similar scene last March when only 49 legislators were around to give their final approval to the crucial money laundering bill.

The low level of discipline of legislators was to blame for the House's failure to meet its legislation target in the previous session. Of 24 bills put forward as a priority, the House only finished three bills.

It has become a common habit among legislators to sign the attendance list and leave immediately for their personal business. This habit has worried House leaders who, based on the House's internal rules, have no authority to impose penalties.

Soetardjo acknowledged on Tuesday that House leaders had issued five petitions to party and faction leaders to impose penalties on undisciplined members. "We have cautioned the parties and factions five times, but nothing has happened," Soetardjo complained.

House Speaker Akbar Tandjung, a suspect in a Rp 40 billion graft scandal, echoed Soetardjo's concerns, but was uncertain about penalties that could be meted out against undisciplined legislators.

A similar concern was voiced by PDI Perjuangan's legislator Panda Nababan, who said that it was hard for each commission or plenary meeting to reach a quorum for a meeting to commence. "This is terrible. But I don't know why," Panda said.

Djoko Susilo from the National Mandate Party (PAN) raised an excuse, saying that various duties assigned to legislators were to blame for their poor attendance in plenary meetings. "It is impossible for legislators to attend all the legislative meetings," said Djoko, one of the legislators who signed the attendance sheet but did not join the plenary session.

He argued that he had to skip the plenary meeting to attend a meeting of a 12-strong team to verify documents of Presidential Aid Funds provided by State Secretary Bambang Kesowo and the deliberation of the broadcasting bill.

Soetardjo and Akbar said the situation could possibly force legislators to revive the "recall" system which was misused during the New Order regime to remove government critics from the legislature. The recall system, Soetardjo added, would give authority to executive boards of each party to dismiss undisciplined legislators.

Observers hail bill on donations to political parties

Jakarta Post - June 10, 2002

Kurniawan Hari, Jakarta -- A significant increase in the level of donations allowed for political parties has won the support of political observers and a politician, who see the increase as a positive measure to help prevent parties obtaining money from illegal sources.

The increase, proposed in the political bill, however, should be enforced with stricter regulations, compelling political parties to provide regular audits, they said.

"It's better to expand the limit of the donation, otherwise political parties will continue taking money from illegal sources," Director of the Center for Electoral Reform (Cetro) Smita Notosusanto told The Jakarta Post here on Sunday.

Law enforcement was needed because Cetro had noticed that none of the 48 parties contesting the 1999 election had disclosed the mandatory annual report and audit result, she said.

She added that the failure of political parties to submit an audit report was apparently due to violations against the limit of personal and institutional donations.

Deputy chairman of Golkar, the second largest political party, Fahmi Idris agreed with the expanded limit, saying the requirements of Law No. 2/1999 on political parties was unrealistic.

"It's better to make regulations than limitations. It can also curb violations to the law," he said, without elaborating. The 1999 law stipulates that each party may not receive personal donations exceeding Rp 15 million (US$1,666) per year, while donations from an institution or enterprise must not exceed Rp 150 million.

In the revised law drafted by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the amount of personal and institutional donations has risen to Rp 100 million and Rp 500 million, respectively. Each individual that donates more than Rp 100 million faces a maximum fine of Rp 250 million or 90 days in detention.

Fahmi said that each political party relies on donations to run various party programs, because revenue generated by membership fees alone was not enough.

Fahmi acknowledged that all parties would need huge amounts of cash to fund various agendas, including regional visits, congresses and administration.

"It is now more realistic," Fahmi told the Post, adding that the old regulation had halted Golkar from collecting more cash from its supporters in 1999.

Law No. 2/1999 stipulates that each party is required to provide the Supreme Court with a list of donors and donations, and a financial audit report 15 days before and 30 days after the election and for each year after that.

Cetro advocacy director Hadar N. Gumay revealed that of the 48 political parties, only seven had provided their annual report in 1999 and only one had presented the report in 2000. No parties submitted reports in 2001.

The seven parties that had complied with the law in 1999 were the Love the Nation Democratic Party (PDKB), the National Mandate Party (PAN), the Indonesian Peoples Party (PARI), the Justice Party (PK), the People's Democratic Party (PDR), the Peace Loving Party (PCD), and the Justice and Unity Party (PKP).

According to the law, the Supreme Court can impose penalties in the form of cutting government funding to a political party which violates the ruling on mandatory financial reporting. It can also ban an offending party from contesting the next election if they are found guilty of breaking the maximum limit of personal and institutional donations. So far, no action has been taken by the Supreme Court.


Attorney general under fire over daughter's lavish wedding

Agence France Presse - June 16, 2002

Two Indonesian legislators have criticized Attorney General Muhammad Abdurachman for organizing a lavish wedding reception for his daughter while the country was combatting corruption and a crippling economic crisis.

Parliamentarians also called on the government to check whether such exhibition of wealth by an official ran counter to the law.

"No matter what, simplicity is important at least as a form of solidarity to the people who are still facing the crisis," Susono Yusuf of the National Awakening Party told the Antara news agency.

He called on President Megawati Sukarnoputri, and the minister for the state apparatus, to investigate whether any laws had been violated.

Rachman on June 8 threw a lavish wedding reception attended by some 5,000 invitees that included bankers who were currently facing the law for past banking offences, Antara said. The parliamentarians estimated the cost of the wedding at some 500 million rupiah (57,147 dollars).

Yusuf said that a decree of the minister for state apparatus from December 2001, as a follow up of a 2001 decree of the national assembly, set up requirements for government and state officials to live simply both as individuals and in their duty.

The decree included bans on officials holding official and personal feasts that can be classified as "luxurious and excessive." "This regulation on simple living for ministers and state officials appears not to have been enforced, and therefore the president and the minister for state apparatus should act, because state officials should set an example for the society," another MP, Sutradara Ginting was quoted by Antara as saying.

Ginting, of the Indonesian Unity and Nationhood faction, said the source of funding for the party should be investigated, adding that even if Abdurachman used personal funds he showed insensitivity to the people's plight.

Critics of Megawati's government, who took power from former president Abdurrahman Wahid, say she has failed to keep her pledge to fight corruption.

 Regional/communal conflicts

Rights activists slam team to probe Maluku conflict

Jakarta Post - June 15, 2002

Jakarta/Ambon -- Skepticism loomed on Friday over the neutrality and capability of the newly established team to investigate human rights abuses in Maluku because it is run by the government, human rights activists said on Friday.

Asmara Nababan, secretary-general of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), expressed concern on Friday that the team would meet a similar fate with the government-backed investigation team to probe the murder of Papuan leader Theys Hiyo Eluay.

"The team to investigate Theys' case failed to obtain public trust as there was no clear mechanism or transparent public report. Learning from that, the government should first consult conflicting communities in Maluku before appointing members of the team," Asmara told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

"Should the public have any doubts about members of the team, the government should be ready to replace them," he added.

President Megawati Soekarnoputri issued Decree No. 38 on June 6, establishing an independent team to investigate human rights violations in conflict-stricken Maluku as stipulated in the government-initiated Malino II peace deal signed on February 12.

The team comprises 14 people of various backgrounds -- such as government officials, religious figures and politicians -- and is led by Deputy to the Coordinating Minister for Security and Political Affairs Maj. Gen. (ret) I Wayan Karya, with Komnas HAM member Bambang W. Suharto as his deputy.

Bambang led a Komnas HAM fact-finding team on the Maluku conflict in 2001, but nothing came out of the investigation.

The team is assigned to probe at least nine major cases, including the clash between a resident and a public transport driver on Jan. 19, 1999 which triggered prolonged conflict between the Christian and Muslim communities.

It will focus on the separatist movement which has been led by groups linked to the South Maluku Republic, the presence of the Muslim extremist group Laskar Jihad and their Christian rivals Laskar Kristus, as well as reports of human rights abuse, including alleged forced conversion in Maluku.

According to Ori Rachman, coordinator of the Commission on Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), the team should instead focus on why the incident sparked widespread sectarian conflict, and on whether the presence of the security personnel there has worsened the clashes.

"The presence of the separatist movement or militia groups is merely the public's reaction to the government's inability to meet the public's needs and to control the military and police there, because most of the conflicts are related to competition between the security forces," he told the Post.

Coordinating Minister for Social Welfare Jusuf Kalla, the author of the Malino peace agreement, said the team was given six months to complete the task, but its members could not start working until Megawati installs them.

Jusuf also said the team has no legal authority and should report their findings directly to the President. "If they discover any violations of the law then the judicial apparatus will follow up the findings," Jusuf told reporters.

He added the decision to pick a Balinese as the leader of the team was to ensure an impartial investigation. "It is part of the Malino agreement that the team members are not Ambonese and that the team is led by people of a different religion to the warring communities."

Separately in Ambon, representatives of both warring groups who had signed the peace deal urged the team to start working, saying the team was a supporting factor for the promotion of law and order which was the key to ending the Maluku conflict.

 Local & community issues

Jakarta's takeover bid of Batam ports fails

Straits Times - June 13, 2002

Robert Go, Jakarta -- In a triumph over the central government, the Batam authorities have successfully lobbied Parliament to block Jakarta's efforts to take over the island's sea and airports.

Both Batam administrators and members of Parliament in the capital confirmed the decision during interviews with The Straits Times.

They argued that Batam's ports were best managed by local hands, and not by executives of allegedly corrupt and inefficient Jakarta-controlled firms.

"MPs doubted the ability of state-run firms to perform," said Mr Fathullah, who heads public relations at the Batam Industrial Development Authority (Bida). "Those who visited here saw no problem whatsoever with the way Bida has run these assets."

In Jakarta, Mr Akhmad Muqowam, a member of Parliament's commission on transportation matters, agreed. "When we considered the competence factor, state-run firms Pelindo II and Angkasa Pura I simply do not inspire enough confidence," he said.

He also said Jakarta's takeover attempt was a move that could have violated the country's regional-autonomy regulations, which gave more powers to regions to manage their own political and economic affairs.

But the tussle, first reported in The Straits Times last month, is not fully resolved yet. MPs indicated that Bida might have to accept some form of joint operations with Jakarta in the future.

Analysts have pegged the case as yet another example of the ambiguity of Indonesia's decentralisation laws, which open up avenues for politicking and corruption. The laws granted regions more economic and political powers beginning last year.

Parliament's decision to allow Batam to manage its ports is not without reason. Bida has managed to make the small island, barely 20 km away from Singapore, into a key investment destination in problem-ridden Indonesia. Its administrators hope that it would be home to more than 800 foreign firms by 2005.

Bida officials also maintained that Batam's ports could attract more investors and become major export centres for Indonesian companies, which now use Singapore's port for their cargoes extensively.

The Batu Ampar Seaport is now being floated as a potential alternative to Singapore. Bida is preparing a scheme to increase its cargo-handling capacity by threefold to 500,000 tonnes per year.

Free-Trade-Zone status, which Batam has lobbied aggressively for, could become a reality soon, making the island and its ports more attractive to foreign investors.

Mr Fathullah said: "We are open to working together with Jakarta, but our own programme for these ports is sufficiently comprehensive and could help the country's economy."

Meanwhile, both local officials and legislators denied that the decision to keep the ports in Bida's hands took place after "non-transparent" closed-door discussions.

But a business consultant who specialises in decentralisation issues said: "What is clear now is that the way to get things done remains approaching the right people and 'persuading' them. Indonesia's laws failed to establish black-and-white rulings on disputes, and therefore encourage these kinds of lobbying and potentially undemocratic practices."

 Human rights/law

Indonesian courts scaring investors away, IFC warns

Jakarta Post - June 15, 2002

Jakarta -- The International Financial Corporation (IFC), the investment arm of the World Bank, warned on Friday that the country's weak legal system was scaring away badly needed foreign investors, after the Central Jakarta Commercial Court declared Canada's Manulife Financial Corp's local insurance unit bankrupt.

IFC regional representative Amitava Banerjee said he was "extremely concerned" at the effect on potential and existing investors.

It showed that, "a well-capitalized and professionally run company can be brought down by the machinations of malicious interested parties and there is no protection under a court of law."

"Indonesia has to be a nation based on law," Banerjee was quoted by AFP as saying. He said the unpredictable legal system was holding the IFC back from extending a greater level of support to Indonesia.

The IFC, a World Bank subsidiary, lends to and invests in private companies in developing countries.

The Commercial Court on Thursday ruled PT Asuransi Jiwa Manulife Indonesia (AJMI) bankrupt after a receiver of the now defunct PT Dharmala Sakti Sejahtera (DSS) filed a bankruptcy petition over an unpaid dividend in 1999. DSS, which was owned by the Dharmala Group, was a one-time partner of Manulife in AJMI.

The court ruling was the latest round in a two-year legal battle between Manulife and Dharmala. Manulife Indonesia, which has temporarily suspended business following the judgment, reacted angrily to what it called an "outrageous" ruling.

AJMI said only the shareholders and not the company had the right to declare or withhold dividends and the annual shareholders meeting in 2002 decided not to declare dividends for 1999.

"In our view this is a completely absurd and ridiculous decision," Philip Hampden-Smith, president of AJMI told AFP.

"We firmly believe this court decision ... is tied to our legal struggle with our ex-partner the Dharmala organization and the Gondokusumo family [which controlled Dharmala before the 1997/98 financial crisis]."

Meanwhile, Manulife was quoted by Dow Jones as saying Jakarta Commercial Court judge Hasan Basri, "received significant financial enticement to make this ruling". It said the DSS receiver, Paul Sukran, was closely associated with the Gondokusumo family. Manulife said AJMI "is not insolvent". It noted that it has more than a 10 percent share of Indonesia's life insurance market, with over Rp 3.1 trillion in assets.

"Manulife remains proud and committed to our business in Indonesia," it said. "We are doing everything we can to ensure that our 320,000 customers and 3,500 employees in Indonesia will not be negatively impacted by these criminal acts." It added that, "Manulife has no intention of leaving Indonesia now or in the future".

The life insurance company said it will protest the ruling, "to the highest levels available".

Indonesia poses test for US on human rights

Christian Science Monitor - June 13, 2002

Howard LaFranchi, Washington -- The outrage was global in the late 1990s when Indonesia's military and goon-like militias associated with the army ran roughshod through independence- seeking East Timor. The human rights abuses were so wanton that the United States cut all cooperation with the Indonesian armed forces.

Now just three years later, the Bush administration wants to reestablish assistance to Indonesia's military -- arguing the world's fourth-largest country and largest majority-Muslim nation is too important to the fight against international terrorism to hold at arm's length.

The idea is sounding alarms among human rights activists and some members of Congress, who fear Indonesia is one more example of how concern for human rights is suddenly taking a distant back seat to national security interests.

"The environment has got much tougher for human rights principles," says Michael Ignatieff, a human rights expert at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Citing a list of countries to which the US has extended aid or sent military advisers to help fight a terrorist threat -- including Afghanistan, the Philippines, Georgia, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan.Mr. Ignatieff adds: "Does the focus on national security really justify ... supplying arms to anyone who waves a flag in our face?"

To these critics, the new era of played-down human rights concerns is alarmingly reminiscent of the cold war. Just as the cold war caused the US to place a premium on friendly regimes over governments that respected democratic rights, the international battle with terror is shrouding human rights concerns.

"During the cold war, anyone who said they were anti-communist got our support, and we often ignored their repressive, corrupt practices, or their involvement in other illegal activity," says Tim Rieser, an aide to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) of Vermont, one of the US Senate's top human rights watchdogs.

A similar trend is advancing now, he says. Amnesty International places a spotlight on the waning of human rights concerns in its 2002 international report, saying the "gains of many years" have been "set back" by curbs on civil liberties and a resurgence in the power of militaries.

Supporters of military assistance in cases like Indonesia's say that in addition to helping hit terrorism in its cradles, aid also gives the US leverage -- including in demanding improvements in respect for human rights -- where it wouldn't otherwise have it.

American leverage with both Pakistan and India in their conflict over Kashmir is as strong as it is because of the military and other ties the US has with both countries, supporters note.

Sounding a similar argument on Indonesia, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is aware of the kinds of problems in Indonesia that raise human rights groups' antennae. "The military's problems are significant," he says, noting they have been guilty of "abusing their own people." But Mr.

Wolfowitz, a former ambassador to Indonesia, says the risks are too great to leave the sprawling archipelago country without close US involvement helping it along the right path.

"Indonesia's experiment with democracy ... could be a very important model for the rest of the Islamic world," Wolfowitz told a Washington audience last week. "But if it degenerates into conflict ... it could have a severely negative impact on the world."

The US cut off military cooperation in 1999 over abuses during East Timor's fight for independence. Groups monitoring human rights in Indonesia say that not only do military officers involved in past abuses enjoy impunity, but new abuses are also mounting in several provinces.

Wolfowitz, however, says that the government of President Megawati Sukarnoputri is "eager to work with the United States to reform" the military. Working from that premise, the administration earlier this year asked Congress to approve $16 million in antiterrorism assistance to Indonesia: half to create a rapid-reaction force for the remote provinces, half to train the National Police in counterterrorism. The administration also wants to allow military officials eligibility for counterterrorism fellowships.

Congress approved the funding for the national police, but is so far balking at renewing ties to the military. At the same time, two influential senators, Lincoln Chafee (R) of Rhode Island and Russell Feingold (D) of Wisconsin, are calling for both "robust" assistance to the newly independent East Timor and maintaining all restrictions on relations with the Indonesian armed forces.

The Asia director of Human Rights Watch in Washington, Mike Jendrzejczyk, says his work on Indonesia suggests that while the military under President Megawati is "more confident and assertive than ever," there has been little meaningful reform or pressure from the US. One problem, he says, is a "split" in the Bush administration over how much cooperation is warranted, with the State Department less willing than the Pentagon and some White House advisers to overlook human rights abuses.

Others say the issue of assistance to Indonesia will sharpen further as the general debate over human rights and security intensifies. In the case of Uzbekistan, for example, the US continues to be criticized for stepping up military cooperation to a regime that the State Department, in a report released in March, says violently represses political dissidents.

Others question some aspects of the US role in Afghanistan. Harvard Professor Ignatieff pinpoints the dilemma for the US as being how far to cooperate with and encourage some of Afghanistan's local warlords.

"The approach that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' is growing, though it's proven to be a poor guide to foreign policy in the past," he says. "It's a recurrent temptation that always gets us in trouble."

 Focus on Jakarta

'Bad boy' Sutiyoso still a front-runner

Straits Times - June 16, 2002

Devi Asmarani, Jakarta -- Despite his unpopularity and lacklustre performance, Jakarta's Governor Sutiyoso is likely to be picked by Parliament to head the city administration for a second term.

With clear support from the influential political parties of President Megawati Sukarnoputri and Vice-President Hamzah Haz, the former Jakarta military commander is slated to beat dozens of other contenders for the coveted post.

Officials from Ms Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) said their chairman felt Mr Sutiyoso was capable of maintaining security in the capital as a result of his military background.

Legislators in Mr Hamzah's United Development Party have also confirmed that they were told to vote for Mr Sutiyoso when Parliament chooses Jakarta's next governor in October.

Analysts said Ms Megawati's backing for Mr Sutiyoso in spite of his poor track record indicated a growing mutual dependence between her government and the military.

"Megawati needs him to maintain stability in the capital, which is what Mr Sutiyoso has been doing," said political analyst Arbi Sanit. "Sutiyoso is also a good fund-raiser -- having been Jakarta's military commander -- and his administration has been subsidising the police and the military with a lot of money to maintain security."

But protests have been mounting against Mr Sutiyoso's plan to run for re-election due to his poor track record since his appointment five years ago in 1997.

In his handling of the devastating floods that inundated the capital earlier this year, rescue work was slow and many victims have yet to receive compensation promised by the administration.

Instead of allocating money to build flood canals and other public facilities, he has spent enormous amounts of money beautifying city landmarks.

Moreover, despite claims that he has reined in mass demonstrations in the capital, crime levels are on the rise and a spate of bombings has rocked the city.

It has also been alleged that Mr Sutiyoso employed thugs to assault women and children taking part in protests against his controversial policies earlier this year.

His "clean up the city" campaign has also been seen as heavy- handed. He allegedly sent thugs with bulldozers to destroy the homes of illegal squatters in the middle of the night and conducted raids on pedicab drivers despite court orders prohibiting him from doing so.

The Indonesian media has urged Ms Megawati to rethink her support for Mr Sutiyoso. The Jakarta Post daily said in its editorial on Friday: "It would be most unfortunate and against the spirit of reform if Megawati were to try and impose her will and ignore the wishes of the majority of the leaders in her own party who oppose Sutiyoso's renomination."

Jakarta administration fails to understand poverty causes

Jakarta Post - June 15, 2002

Muninggar Sri Saraswati and Ahmad Junaidi, Jakarta -- Poverty remains a major problem in Jakarta because the city administration's programs fail to address its underlying causes, according to an activist.

"The policies are not effective and obviously useless, because the administration fails to understand the root of the problem," J. Sudrijanta of the Jakarta Social Institute said on Friday.

The administration continues to deploy "old, formal methods", which are not suited for the current situation, he said, referring in particular to the administration's policy of excluding people without ID cards from its poverty alleviation programs.

No matter how poor people are, if they fail to show an ID card proving they are Jakarta residents, they are not eligible to receive aid from the administration.

The administration has applied this policy in an effort to curb the flow of migrants to the capital, which an estimated 250,000 people enter annually.

According to the Jakarta Statistics Office, in 2000 more than 340,000 people in Jakarta, with a population of 8.38 million, were officially classified as poor. Of this number, more than 100,000 did not have city identity cards.

Many people who have lived in the capital for years do not have a city identity card, most of them working in informal sectors, including as street vendors.

"The administration should provide them with ID cards and give them space for their businesses instead of evicting them," Sudrijanta told The Jakarta Post.

Sudrijanta, as well as Azas Tigor Nainggolan of the Jakarta Residents Forum, criticized the city administration for not recognizing the informal sector, which could play an important economic role in the capital.

Last year, the informal sector division at the Jakarta Cooperatives and Small Enterprises Agency suggested registering some 600,000 street vendors in the city and taxing them Rp 800 to Rp 1,000 per day.

But Governor Sutiyoso played down the suggestion, saying it was only an idea, adding that the statistics bureau showed there were fewer than 200,000 street vendors in the city.

Even though they are not formally recognized, people in the informal sector, especially street vendors, are often required by city officers to pay illegal fees.

Tigor urged the city administration to scrap its discriminative policies in the handling of the poor. He warned that the unfair treatment received by the poor would create future conflicts.

The chairwoman of the City Council's Commission E for social welfare affairs, Wasilah Sutrisno, said the city administration should give preferential treatment to poor residents trying to obtain ID cards. "They should be given free identification cards, especially those who have been living here for years," Wasilah said on Friday.

However, she defended the policy of requiring those wishing to benefit from poverty alleviation programs to have ID cards, saying it was an effort to discourage unskilled people from flooding into the city.

Squatters left untouched by government welfare programs

Jakarta Post - June 14, 2002

Bambang Nurbianto, Jakarta -- Imagine a squalid three-by-four- meter house under a large water pipe on the Western Flood Canal in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta. Its walls consist of used plywood and rough concrete that supports the pipe. It has no kitchen or toilet.

Here is where Sukanta, 43, and his family have lived for more than 30 years, almost without any improvement to their living conditions. He was born and grew up in Jakarta but was never registered as a citizen of the city.

Sukanta works as a trader of charcoal made from coconut shells, which he makes after collecting the shells from coconut traders in Tanah Abang market. "I can earn only Rp 10,000 per day on average. If I'm lucky I can earn more, but sometimes I earn nothing," he told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Sukanta is an example of more than 100,000 neglected poor people in the city. As he and his family had not been registered at the Petamburan subdistrict office in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta, he was not entitled to be included in the government's program of poverty eradication.

City programs aimed at eradicating poverty have always been directed at residents with official status, who have identity cards.

He said that he had never received any benefits from the government to improve his welfare. "What I receive from the government is not assistance, but notice to quit by public order officials. They simply ask us to leave without providing us with any alternative location to live," he told the Post.

He noted that nobody from the government social affairs agency had visited the place to give advice or console him since he had lived there in the late 1950s.

A person like Sukanta is unlikely to receive an identity card as he is poor and lives illegally as a squatter on the West Flood Canal. However, he could obtain an identity card by bribing an official at the subdistrict office, as some others in the area have done. But, of course, he could not afford the Rp 100,000 "cost" of the card.

Such a sum of money would be more useful for feeding the three members of his family or for buying books, school uniform or other necessities for his only daughter, who is a fourth-grader at an elementary school in the area.

There are hundreds of people living in illegal huts along the banks of the West Flood Canal. A similar sight can be observed at many locations, mostly along the many rivers of the city.

Sukanta said most of his neighbors were newcomers to Jakarta. There were also many people like him, born or at least raised in the capital, but very often evicted from their dwelling place. And due to their status as squatters, they will probably never benefit from government programs designed to improve their welfare.

Poverty alleviation programs exclude those without IDs

Jakarta Post - June 14, 2002

Bambang Nurbianto, Jakarta -- There are many theories to explain why the government's various programs to eliminate poverty have been futile. In Jakarta, one problem is clear: Over 100,000 poor do not have ID cards, which make public services unavailable to them.

Many of the impoverished Jakartans do not have access to free health services, cannot buy cheap rice, cannot obtain soft loans or receive other aid from the government because they cannot show the card that proves that they are "legal" residents.

Head of the City Health Agency Abdul Chalik Masulili, for example, admitted on Thursday that the various health programs in the capital were only for those who had Jakarta ID cards.

"All health facilities for the poor are only for those who have the health cards [kartu sehat], while the cards can only be obtained by those who can show their city identity cards," said Chalik at a discussion on poverty elimination at a five-star hotel here.

People without ID cards are excluded from the city health programs, for other reasons as well. Chalik said that the policy was taken in order to curb the flow of migrants into the capital. "If we give them the health cards, many more people will flock to Jakarta," he added.

Overpopulation is one of the serious problems in the capital. The city administration estimates that every year, about 250,000 people migrate to the city.

Governor Sutiyoso, who has failed to curb the influx of the impoverished masses, earlier said that he planned to make Jakarta a closed city. But the idea received strong criticism from human rights activists. In an effort to discourage unskilled people from entering the city, the administration periodically launches controversial door-to-door raids to arrest people who fail to show their city ID cards or other documents.

In Thursday's seminar, Jakarta Statistics Office presented its results from 2000 which found that the total population in the capital was 8.38 million or some 2.23 million families. While the total of absolute poor was some 340,000 people. It also revealed that 32,983 poor families or over 100,000 people did not have identity cards.

Other data presented by the National Family Planning Coordinating Board (BKKBN) showed that early this year, the number of poor families, which it divided into three levels, reached 360,641, more than one million individuals.

There are many government programs to combat poverty and to improve the welfare of the poor, including the social safety net (JPS), which is applied nationwide. Jakarta also has the Subdistrict Society Empowerment Program (PPMK) and various other schemes for family business development.

Under the PPMK program, which started last year, each of the 167 subdistricts in the city received Rp 250 million (US$28,400) in soft loans, which was handled by each subdistrict council. But in some areas, the implementation of the program was reportedly marred by the practice of corruption due to the lack of transparency.

Commenting on the city's policy in dealing with the poor, M. Berkah Gamulya of the Urban Poor Consortium (UPC) said that the city administration should treat everybody equal. "It is really unfair if the poor who do not have ID cards are not helped. All those people need similar help. If the government does not give a hand, who will help them? In any city in the world, such groups of people always exist and the authority has the responsibility to help them," he told The Jakarta Post.

He said that the first thing which should be done was that the city administration had to recognize the presence of the squatters as a reality in all urban societies.

"Only after the city administration recognizes their informality, then we can talk about how to help such a group of people," Gamulya said.

"What the city authority has done so far to them is to destroy the places where they live and the places where they do business, without giving them any choice," he added, referring to the evictions conducted by the city public order officers against the poor.

Paulus Wirutomo, an urban social affairs observer from the University of Indonesia, also stressed the need for the city administration to take responsibility for the fate of all people living in the city.

Criteria of poor families:

  1. Area of home is less than 8 square meters
  2. A dirt floor
  3. No access to clean water
  4. No toilet
  5. No furniture
  6. No meat, fish or eggs for one week
  7. Not able to buy new clothes for one year.

A family is categorized as poor if it meets three of the above.

It's bomb paranoia in Jakarta

Straits Times - June 14, 2002

Devi Asmarani, Jakarta -- Is that a rice cooker or a bomb in the shopping bag? Bomb paranoia has struck Jakarta and other major cities as residents are scared stiff at the sight of unattended bags, boxes and odd-looking items after the latest spate of explosions to rock the country.

With two explosions and two foiled bombing attempts at busy nightspots here on Sunday, Indonesians are not taking chances anymore.

Mr Muhtamil, 24, found this out the hard way. He lost his newly bought Magic Jar cooking appliance to a panic-stricken mob minutes after he left it in the care of a cigarette kiosk owner.

Kiosk owner Yusuf said: "All of a sudden, people were panicking and didn't dare to open the box even though it says 'Magic Jar'." Fearing the box would explode, the mob tied it to the end of a long pole and carried it nervously across the busy Gajah Mada street before dumping it into the Ciliwung river. When Mr Muhtamil returned to the kiosk, he was taken to the police station for questioning.

Several similar "bomb discoveries" have also been reported. Most of the items were either thrown into a safer place -- a dumpster or a creek -- as quickly as possible, or dissected by the bomb squad.

One "suspicious-looking" black suitcase found in front of a house in Pulogadung, East Jakarta, on Tuesday night was blown up by the bomb squad. Instead of bomb fragments, officers found pieces of documents and car keys. The suitcase appeared to have been stolen and later abandoned by thieves.

Mr Roni, a parking attendant at a Central Jakarta shopping centre, said: "I have become very nervous when I stand near a parked car. Often, I wonder if there is a bomb somewhere inside or under it."

The bomb paranoia may have been encouraged by the police themselves. On Monday, they told the public to "report any suspicious items, especially petrol containers painted in stripes". The explosives found on Sunday were crudely assembled and placed inside such containers.

The police said the paint was an effective way to conceal fingerprints on the container. Over the last two years, explosives have been disguised in many ways. Some were in biscuit tins which were sent to churches as Christmas parcels.

A pastor at a Pentecostal church in Central Jakarta said: "We're very strict about accepting packages or parcels now -- nothing gets opened inside or near the church." But not all recent "bomb discoveries" were false alarms.

Yesterday, a grenade was found in a vacant house in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta. On Wednesday, residents in North Surabaya found similar grenades in a waste disposal near a busy market. All the grenades were defective.

Police are calling on the public to remain calm, saying they have deployed 100 extra patrol cars in Jakarta for added security.

'Becak' drivers attack officers

Jakarta Post - June 14, 2002

Jakarta -- A fight broke on Thursday between North Jakarta public order officers and around 200 becak (pedicab) drivers in Sungai Bambu subdistrict in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta.

The clash at midday left a car destroyed by fire and another car damaged, while three officers were injured.

"The public officers were doing their routine job to raid becak drivers but some drivers opposed the raid so the clash broke out," said Raya Siahaan, head of the City Social Disturbances Monitoring Center.

The incident began when around 100 public order officers were raiding becak on Jl. Gadang, Jl. Pelita and Jl. Tawes in Sungai Bambu subdistrict and were confronted by around 200 becak drivers. No fatalities were reported during the one-hour incident.

Three officers -- Dian Syafril, Purwanto and Noval -- were taken to hospital. There no reported injuries among the becak drivers.

North Jakarta police chief, Sr. Comr. Andi Chaerudin, said police had been deployed to the scene after the brawl erupted. "The condition has returned to normal," Andi said.

He said police were yet to detain any suspects in the incident. However, he said police would continue to investigate. "The damaged car belonging to the public order office was taken to the North Jakarta police headquarter as evidence," he said.

Criminal gangs may be behind latest Jakarta blast

Straits Times - June 12, 2002

Devi Asmarani, Jakarta -- Sunday's bombing in the Indonesian capital may be the work of criminal gangs and not rogue elements of the military who have been blamed for previous bombings, say police and analysts.

Jakarta police, who have interviewed scores of witnesses, have still not been able to identify the group responsible for the bombing, the first attack since a grenade went off on New Year's Eve.

The bomb, which exploded in the parking lot of the Eksotik disco in the Chinatown district of Central Jakarta, injured five people, two of them seriously.

Another bomb was found and defused near the 1001 discotheque in West Jakarta. The third was found in the parking lot of the city centre's Sarinah department store complex, which also houses nightspots.

Only one suspect has been detained -- a parking attendant who spotted a plastic bag containing a bomb under a car in the carpark of the Eksotik Discotheque and took it to a nearby food stall where it later exploded.

Police investigators and other analysts believe the bombing was motivated by economic reasons and involved organised criminal groups operating in the Chinatown area.

The low-explosive bombs with simple detonators used on Sunday were assembled crudely and put inside petrol containers. Said a police source: "In the past, the bombs were targeted at churches and commercial or business areas. This is the first time entertainment spots are targeted."

A Muslim militant group led by suspect terrorist Hambali has been blamed for the bombings of churches and a shopping centre last year, although the actual perpetrators have never been revealed.

University of Indonesia criminologist Ronny Nitibaskara said: "Seeing the targeted areas, money could be the motive for the bombings, especially because these areas are the locations of numerous illegal gambling spots."

Even human rights activists who are normally quick to accuse the military of involvement in violence are finding it hard to pinpoint the army as the usual suspect in the latest terror acts, which they said were notably different from previous blasts in the capital.

Human rights activist Munir said rivalries between professional crime groups linked to certain gambling operators could be behind the blasts.

A source who has had past dealings with gambling operators said it was possible that some security personnel were involved in the bombings. The motives could be both economic and political.

"These gambling operators are naturally backed by elements in the military or police force who receive money in exchange for security," he said.

"The bombers might be trying to convey a message to the nightclub operators with the blasts -- perhaps more protection money -- while at the same time showing to the public that the current government has failed to maintain security in Jakarta."

Police say more bombs likely in Jakarta

Agence France Presse - June 10, 2002

Police in the Indonesian capital have warned that more bombings are likely in the city following a blast outside a discotheque early Sunday which injured five people.

"We are suspecting that they may plan another series of bombing terror and therefore we call on the people to step up their alertness and report any suspicious incidents to the police," the city's police spokesman said.

Investigations showed the same group was behind the bombing and two other bombs which were found elsewhere and defused, said the spokesman, Senior Commissioner Anton Bachrul Alam.

He said police believed the bombers would strike again because two of their devices were found in time and defused. He declined to give more details.

The bomb which exploded in the parking lot of the Eksotis disco at Mangga Besar in Central Jakarta injured five people, two of them seriously.

Another was found and defused near the 1001 discotheque in West Jakarta. The third was found in the parking lot of the city centre Sarinah department store complex, which also houses night spots.

Alam said the parking attendant outside Eksotis disco was being investigated for suspected negligence. He failed to report a suspicious package which he found under a car and moved it to a noodle stall, where it later exploded. He could face up to five years in jail if convicted.

"From his questioning, he knew that the package was suspicious but he did not report [it to the police]. But he has no links with the perpetrators," Alam said.

Defence Minister Matori Abdul Jalil said the bombing redoubled the government's determination to fight terorrism.

"So if the government of Indonesia is acting firmly in dealing with terrorism, it is not because of pressure from the US government but because that is a need of the Indonesian nation itself," he said.

Jalil told journalists that bombings, irrespective of the mastermind, were an act of terror and not only threatened security but democracy and reforms as well.

Police and the military in Indonesia's second largest city Surabaya, in East Java province, have also stepped up security.

The bomb was the first in the city for months after a spate of blasts between 1999 and 2001 in Jakarta and elsewhere.

Clean river campaign is a total failure

Jakarta Post - June 10, 2002

Bambang Nurbianto, Jakarta -- It is called the office of the Clean Ciliwung Campaign -- which is supposed to conduct activities to clean Ciliwung and other rivers in the city, but the two-story building is quiet.

Two homeless people were seen having a nap on the verandah of the two-story building when The Jakarta Post visited last week. There was no one else but Husein, a cigarette vendor who was in charged of the office.

"I am the only one who is here while the officials rarely come here, not even once a week," Husein told the Post on Thursday.

The office is located in a strategic place on Jl. Penjernihan in Tanah Abang district, Central Jakarta. Just behind the building flows the Ciliwung River. The building itself is in a poor condition. There are holes in the roof which allows the rain to pour in. The telephone does not work.

The office of the Clean Ciliwung Campaign was constructed in 1994 on land belonging to the City Cemetery Agency and opened by then city governor Surjadi Soedirdja in 1996, according to campaign coordinator Rahmat Salam.

He told the Post, who called him at his house, that the office was built with aid from Japan, but he could not remember the cost.

The Clean Ciliwung Campaign is part of the clean river campaign launched in 1989 by the then minister of environment Emil Salim.

At the city level, the program is under the coordination of the Environment Management Body (BPLHD) which involves several agencies like the Public Work Agency, the Park Agency and the Sanitation Agency.

Despite the campaign, Ciliwung and 12 other rivers flowing through the capital remain heavily polluted, not only with household garbage but also with industrial waste.

Rahmat said that Clean Ciliwung Campaign was supported by 64 organizations in the capital, including the University of Indonesia's (UI) environmental studies department and various non-governmental organizations.

Each of the 64 organizations used to voluntarily pay Rp 120,000 a year to cover the daily operational costs of the campaign, said Rahmat, who is from the UI's environmental studies department. Two years after the campaign was launched, however, they stopped giving the donation.

The city administration does not make any donations to the Clean Ciliwung Campaign, Rahmat said. "As there is no fund, our joint campaign is stagnant now. But each organization does their activities individually," he said.

Fetri Mayandi of Jakarta-based Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), said on Saturday that almost all NGOs had withdrawn their support because they believed the campaign was not independent.

"NGOs withdrew support after Jakarta's deputy governor for development affairs was appointed in 1994 as the man responsible for the campaign," he said.

Fetri said in 2000 they held a meeting in an effort to restructure the Clean Ciliwung Campaign, but they failed to reach an agreement because UI refused to remove the deputy governor from the position.

"So far we have not seen any serious, concerted campaign under the deputy governor's control. There has been no significant action taken against major polluters of the city's rivers," he added.

 News & issues

Opinion: When Indonesia's unity is no longer voluntary

Jakarta Post - June 11, 2002

Max Lane -- The persistence of the movement for a self- determination referendum in Aceh, the emergence of the Papuan Peoples Council and the troubles in Ambon have all raised concerns about whether Indonesian unity can be maintained.

Indonesia's process of achieving a national unity during the first six decades, and especially the first four decades, of the 20th century is somewhat unique. There are indeed very few countries where the national unification of a multi-ethnic territory occurred without war.

Of course the territorial boundaries and basic economic structure -- taxes, treasury, customs, a single currency etc -- were created by the Dutch. But the fundamental components of a national language, a national culture and a common perspective for an independent Indonesia was created in the face of extreme hostility from the Dutch.

Dutch policy fostered local tradition over any new national political or general Indonesian culture. Dutch policy suppressed the main instruments of national unification: The political movements and political parties. Finally when the Dutch realized in 1949 that independence was inevitable, they insisted on a federal structure and tried to carry out a divide and rule policy.

A unitary state, reflecting a state based on a nation building process aimed at completing the creation of a single Indonesian nation was voluntarily accepted by the vast majority of all the independence movement, from Sabang to Merauke.

Maintaining the voluntary character of struggle to establish an Indonesian state, build a single Indonesian nation and all the associated political institutions meant one thing: Democracy. Democracy was Sukarno's reply to Muslims who called for an Islamic state. He called on them to win majority support. Relations between center and province also required open and democratic processes, reflected in the open competition between political parties for influence in the provinces as well as in the national parliament.

The emergence of self-determination movements in Aceh and West Papua have been caused by the escalating violation of the principles of democracy and voluntary unity since the 1950s, but most particularly during the repressive years of the New Order regime. Any violation of the orginal voluntary character destroys the original basis of unity.

In West Papua, the original Act of Free Choice was a manipulation which completely violated the principle of voluntary unity. In Aceh, the period of military operations in the 1980s, reactivated in a new form today, also completely broke the the principle of voluntary unity. The early calls for independence were not answered in the way that Sukarno, or first Mohammad Hatta, or Mohammed Yamin or other nationalist leaders would have answered such calls.

They would have answered with argument and visions for a democratic future for Indonesia. All the early nationalist leaders were able to take that approach because most of them were indeed democrats.

Soeharto was a militarist with no convincing vision of a democratic future. The New Order's dictatorship contradicted all talk of "Panca Sila" democracy. Soeharto used coercion by arms almost immediately any sign of a desire for independence surfaced.

And so it became inevitable that popular commitment to the vision of Indonesia, began to diminish in Aceh and West Papua. Acehnese and Papuan nationalism developed -- these were not realities in 1945.

The New Order also weakened nation building everywhere. The essential engines of nation building since the 1920s have been the political parties and political movements. These parties and movements, representing different interests in society, were divided sharply by ideological outlook, from left to right. They fought and struggled hard. But they fought and struggled hard about the future of Indonesia, about their vision of how an independent Indonesian nation and state should develop.

They involved tens of millions of people in this great battle for the future of Indonesia. It may have been a bitter struggle but it was based on participation and commitment and a passion about the future of the new country.

When Soeharto destroyed the political parties, by crushing the left-wing parties and by "simplification" of the center and right-wing parties. All the old parties of the 1950s, except for the left, have resurfaced in one form or another today but they are all bankrupt of their ideological commitment.

They are infected with all the diseases of the New Order: Self- seeking and only looking for the immediate gain. Only the genuinely new formations, like the Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) and some worker, peasant, student and women's organizations are free of the New Order political culture.

There are no more vehicles that provide for genuine mass participation in determining the future. The economic crisis means that Indonesia's very future is being redefined. But mas commitment to "Indonesia" weakens, hence the many demands for special treatment for provinces and regencies. Autonomy has become an excuse for localism. The political elite, created by the New Order, cannot solve this problem.

The peoples of the archipelago decided to unite in the 1920s to build a new nation and state as an answer to colonialism. The cry "From Sabang to Marauke" was a cry for unity against a marauding and oppressive Western colonialism. Marauding and oppressive Western colonialism is still here. Now it is not the Dutch, but the United States, the IMF and the "War against Terror".

The IMF now wages economic war against the Indonesian people in the interests of US and Western businesses greedy for cheap assets and minerals and access to the Indonesian mass market.

Unity from "Sabang to Merauke" is still needed. But, as in the 1920s, it can not be achieved by force but only voluntarily. But today there are also new realities: Acehnese nationalism and Papuan nationalism. A democratic approach to this reality cannot avoid the holding of self-determination referendums. Of course, this carries the risk that the Acehnese and Papuan people may choose independence -- a decision which must be accepted.

But this does not mean that the struggle for voluntary unity must stop. There can be many forms of unity: Federation, confederation, even alliances between independent states. Perhaps in Aceh, agreement could be reached for a second referendum in 10 years time to confirm whatever decision the people made after experiencing the new reality.

But the strongest and most effective unity that can help the people in their fight for sovereignty against the IMF marauders is one based on a voluntary acceptance and commitment to both the idea of unity itself and the form of that unity. Unity can only be achieved if all forms of coercion stop.

[The writer is the translator of the Buru Quartet series of novels by Pramoedya Ananta Toer and of the plays and poems of W.S. Rendra.]

Ethnic Chinese still trapped in citizenship net

Straits Times - June 10, 2002

Marianne Kearney, Jakarta -- If you are an ethnic Chinese in Indonesia, you need to be a star to get your citizenship papers. And even then it is not easy.

This is the bitter lesson learnt by international badminton star Hendrawan, who got his papers just a few days before leaving Indonesia to win the Thomas Cup in China.

He was feted by the whole of Indonesia for winning the third deciding singles match against Malaysia on May 19. His victory gave the Indonesian team the Thomas Cup. It was also a world record because Indonesia had won the Thomas Cup for the fifth consecutive time.

Hendrawan, who did not expect to win, told The Straits Times: "For me the pleasure of winning the Thomas Cup was that it means I am part of Indonesia's most historic team, the team that won for the fifth time." But, it took a while for the 30-year-old badminton star to be "officially" accepted as a citizen of the country where he is a household name.

Hendrawan spent almost a year getting his citizenship papers despite being born in Malang, East Java, to ethnic Chinese who both have Indonesian citizenship papers.

His case is another example of how arcane rules are exploited by corrupt bureaucrats who prolong the process of obtaining official documents, usually to get bribes.

What makes Hendrawan's case more bizarre is that the law requiring ethnic Chinese or ethnic Arabs to get citizenship papers, known by the acronym SBKRI, was revoked by then president B. J. Habibie in 1998.

But many departments still demand SBKRI before issuing other documents. They still refuse to issue vital documents such as passports, identity cards, land deeds and house titles without the citizenship papers.

In Hendrawan's case he was issued a passport when he was a child on the basis of his parents' citizenship papers. But still he wanted to play it safe and get his papers to ensure that his baby daughter would get hers, he said. He feared that she would not be accepted into schools or would not be able to inherit her parents' house without the papers.

It was only after the Indonesian press publicised how he had spent months waiting for his papers and President Megawati Sukarnoputri personally intervened that the Department of Justice and Human Rights speeded up the paper work.

"One day I complained to the journalists, the next day Ibu Mega telephoned the Justice Department and the day after that the papers were ready," he said.

Prior to the presidential intervention, he had even obtained recommendation letters from the Indonesian Badminton Association and the Indonesian Olympic Committee to prove that he was a member of Indonesia's badminton team. But even that was not enough.

"They just said 'We've never heard of you. We can't say how long it will take to process your papers'," recalled Hendrawan, referring to the Justice Department officials.

"If it wasn't for Ibu Mega, I don't know how long it would have taken to get the papers." Hendrawan said he did not personally suffer racial discrimination from native Indonesians, but he wondered how those who were not well connected or famous dealt with the bureaucracy.

"I don't know how people who don't have anything or have the President to help, survive," he said.

Justice Department officials pass the buck, saying that although the citizenship papers were not required, other government departments often demanded them.

"By law, SBKRI is no longer necessary. But in practice, many institutions face the dilemma of either being prudent or abusing someone's rights," said Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra. The Justice Department was now drafting new laws on citizenship, said the minister.

After his Thomas Cup victory, Hendrawan was asked by journalists about the citizenship controversy and not how he felt after the game.

"They also asked me now that I have Indonesian citizenship would I consider immigrating, say to Singapore. But I am Indonesian, all my family is here, so I don't want to move," he said.


Burning coal seams threaten East Kalimantan

Jakarta Post - June 13, 2002

Jakarta -- More than 200 burning seams of coal could threaten huge areas of forest in East Kalimantan province, an environmental official said on Wednesday.

"According to our inventory, of the 300 fire spots only 87 have been extinguished. The rest, a total of 213, are still active," the head of the East Kalimantan Environmental Impact Management Agency, Kaspul Basran, said as quoted Antara.

Basran said the fires were all burning in exposed coal seams. With the possible arrival of the El Nino phenomenon they could lead to forest and ground fires if extremely dry conditions prevail.

Efforts to extinguish the seams are time-consuming and costly, Basran said, with the ground having to be excavated first. The extinguishing of the 87 hot spots was conducted in cooperation with the US Office for Surface Mining.

Basran said his office had trained 350 local people to anticipate the threat of widespread fires during the dry season. Some 150 others have also been trained to fight coal seam fires.

Burning coal seams have been a major cause of forest fires in Kalimantan during the dry season. In 1997 and 1998, fires on Kalimantan and Sumatra, which wereoften started to clear land for cultivation, led to months of choking smoke and haze over the region.

Sea pollution forces Lampung fishermen to tie up boats

Jakarta Post - June 10, 2002

Oyos Saroso H.N., Bandarlampung -- Thousands of fisherman in the Lampung provincial capital of Bandarlampung are still unable to go to sea due to serious pollution in Pelabuhan Panjang waters, which has been blamed on local sugar cane plantation firm PT Gunung Madu Plantation (GMP).

The pollution from the plantation has led to a drastic drop in the fishermen's catch since last month, reports said.

Fishermen said on Saturday that the waste resulting from the production of molasses by the plantation company had caused the deaths of many fish in Pelabuhan Panjang waters, with the surviving fish being forced to move out into deeper water.

M. Sanip, one of the affected fishermen from Telukbone village in Bandarlampung, said he had tried to cast his nets but had only caught a few fish, enough only for his own family's needs.

To survive, he has been forced to temporarily become a construction worker. "Unlike many of my fellow fishermen, I am lucky because I can do carpentry work," Sanip said.

He said he could not say when he and the other fishermen would be able to go back to sea again. It could take around six months before the situation in the contaminated waters returned to normal, he said.

Sanip said some fishermen had been forced to go fishing in the polluted Lampung Bay because they had run out of food. Usman, another fisherman, said some of his friends had to borrow money from local moneylenders to survive.

Secretary-general of the Lampung Fishermen's Association (SNL) Joko Purwanto said on Saturday that PT Gunung Madu Plantation had promised to pay Rp 900,000 (US$100) in compensation to each of the 300 affected fishermen for their loss of livelihood over the last 30 days.

But, none of the fishermen had yet to receive the money, he added. Purwanto said the amount was based on the company's policy of compensating each fisherman with Rp 25,000 per day for one month. "That's not enough because the fishermen have not been able to go to sea for at least two months," Purwanto said.

According to Purwanto, thousands of other fishermen in nearby areas were also demanding compensation from the company.

He said that based on the SNL's observations, the pollution had spread up to five nautical miles from Terminal D of Pelabuhan Panjang harbor, where a waste pipeline belonging to the company had sprung a leak, thus discharging the polluted material into the sea.

"Within a radius of five miles from the leaking pipeline, many fish have been found dead," he said.

Purwanto demanded that a legal settlement be made to resolve the issue based upon prevailing environmental law.

GMP's Business and Finance Manager Gunamarwan admitted that his company was responsible for the pollution and said that ways were being sought to remedy the problem.

He said that while molasses, a product of the company, were not noxious in themselves, the leakage of waste products could reduce the oxygen content in the water. "As a result of the lack of the oxygen, many fish have died," he said.

 Armed forces/Police

TNI's political neutrality a myth: Analysts

Jakarta Post - June 14, 2002

Muhammad Nafik, Jakarta -- The bill on general elections, which provides that members of the military will be able to vote and be elected in the 2004 general election, is a good start but on its own is insufficient to take the military out of politics, say observers.

"As long as the generals still have their own interests in the national political constellation, the TNI cannot be neutral," Arief Budiman, a lecturer in the University of Melbourne, was quoted by Antara as saying in Canberra, Australia.

Military leaders here who objected to the bill have said that once it was passed into law, the military would not be able to remain neutral in politics.

Arief, an expert on Indonesian politics, dismissed the Indonesian Military (TNI)'s claim of neutrality as a myth.

George Aditjondro, an expert on Indonesian politics from the University of Newcastle, said the draft law was a "progressive step" in nurturing democracy.

There was nothing to worry about if soldiers were allowed to vote and to be elected in an election as it was common practice in many countries, George said.

Even so, he said that affording the TNI electoral rights was not enough on its own to tame the powerful military, but needed to be followed by "total reform" within the military itself, including the abolition of its much-criticized dual function.

"The TNI/National Police faction in the House should be dissolved and the TNI's dual function scrapped, particularly as regards socio-political affairs, including the roles of the socio- political directorate chiefs both at the central and regional levels. "Without all this, reform will remain elusive as the military's domination in practical politics over civilians will increase," George told Antara.

No other country had such a massive military presence as represented by the TNI's territorial commands at all administrative levels from the provinces right down to the regencies, he said. In fact, the TNI's local political structure was a carbon copy of the structure of the home affairs ministry.

Arief said a military's neutrality could normally be measured by its loyalty to the legitimate government headed by the president. But the reality experienced by former president Abdurrahman Wahid revealed that the TNI had defied his order as the supreme commander to dissolve the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) when it started the process of ousting him.

"In this case, the TNI sided with the political decision made by the legislature. In this case, can the military be considered neutral?" Arief asked.

The campaign to rid the TNI of its political role, he said, remained "unrealistic" because in reality many of its senior members were supporters of mass organizations, such as Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, both of which were closely linked to politics. The TNI's partiality was also influenced by the fact that many of its leaders held strategic positions in the decision-making process, he added.

Minister of Home Affairs Hari Sabarno, who drafted the bill, reiterated on Thursday that military and police personnel would have to resign completely from their respective organizations if they wanted to contest legislative seats.

Another analyst, Nurcholish Madjid, also backed efforts to swiftly remove the TNI from politics so that it could focus on its defense and security duties.

A neutral stance on the part of the military in politics would boost its credibility and reputation among the people as the move would make it more professional, he told journalists here on Thursday.

Nurcholish said TNI and police personnel should quit their respective forces and become civilians if they wanted to vie for seats in the Regional Representatives' Council (DPD), which along with the House will make up the MPR starting from 2004.

Separately, Egyptian constitutional law expert Mohamed Ershad questioned Indonesia's political system for accommodating the TNI in its legislative bodies.

"I don't understand why the military institution in Indonesia has official legislative representatives, while it is part of the government apparatus, and whose status is similar to that of other departments," he was quoted by Antara as saying in Cairo.

Agus Widjojo, chairman of the TNI/National Police faction in the House, has voiced his full support for any move to strip the military and the police of their political roles before the 2009 deadline set by MPR Decree No. 7/2000.

Soldiers questioned after attack on police post

Jakarta Post - June 13, 2002

Medan -- The Military Police in Pematang Siantar, North Sumatra, are questioning three Indonesian Military (TNI) soldiers for their alleged role in an attack on the Serbelawan Police subprecinct post on Monday night.

Bukit Barisan Military Command spokesman Lt. Col. Nurdin Sulistiyo said on Wednesday that Second Sgt. Tigor Marbun, First Sgt. Hotma Tunggul Samosir and Chief Sgt. Arif had been arrested for allegedly inciting their comrades to attack the police post. The attack left an officer, Second Brig. Marudut Panjaitan, severely injured with stab wounds.

Nurdin was quick to add that the soldiers were acting outside of the chain of command. "It's purely the soldiers' own doing, and there were no orders from their superiors directing them to commit the violence," Nurdin told The Jakarta Post at his office in Medan.

He said Bukit Barisan Military commander Maj. Gen. Idris Gassing, who is responsible for military affairs in North Sumatra, Riau, Jambi and West Sumatra, had vowed to be transparent in dealing with the incident.

The attack followed a security check in Genjing Kahean village conducted by a Military Police officer, First Sgt. Sukamto, on a truck driven by Hotma that was carrying oil palm coconuts. Tigor, who was following Hotma in his own car, intervened as Sukamto was about to ticket the truck after Hotma failed to show the necessary documents for transporting thecoconuts.

Hotma claimed that the coconuts belonged to his father-in-law. When Sukamto insisted that the truck be detained, a group of local people came along to prevent the seizure.

Sukamto called for help from the local police, who managed to disperse the crowd and helped the Military Police officer arrest Tigor and Hotma.

Nurdin said that a TNI soldier called Arif then came to the Military Police post along with some 30 comrades from the 122nd Battalion. By the time the soldiers arrived, rumor had it that their two comrades had already been moved to the SarbelawanPolice subprecinct office.

Duty officer Marudut received the soldiers and tried to explain to them that the police were not detaining their colleagues.

But the angry soldiers ran amok and vandalized the police subprecinct office. Marudut put up a fight but was stabbed by one of the attackers, who also destroyed three motorcycles and two cars belonging to the police. Nurdin said the Bukit Barisan Military Command would pay for any losses caused.

Spokesman for the North Sumatra Police Adj. Sr. Comr. Amrin Karim said he was shocked by the incident, saying that good relations had long existed between the military and police in the province.

TNI will leave politics ahead of schedule

Jakarta Post - June 12, 2002

Jakarta -- Members of the Indonesian Military (TNI) and National Police will have to leave politics ahead of schedule as the newly proposed bill on general elections states they will no longer be represented in the legislative bodies in 2004.

Despite a negative response from the TNI, the government insists that servicemen who wish to pursue a political career play by the new rules.

Minister of Home Affairs Hari Sabarno said on Tuesday the draft bill dismissed the TNI's political role as an institution, but assured soldiers of their political rights as citizens.

The bill on general elections gives soldiers the right to vote even if they are still in active duty, a practice made effective in the 1955 general election.

The TNI and police have been barred from elections over the past three decades, but they were assured reserved seats in both the House of Representatives (DPR) and People's Consultative Assembly (MPR). MPR issued Decree No.7/2000 which stipulates that the TNI presence at the House will be accommodated until 2004 and at the Assembly until 2009.

Hari said the only route for military individuals to enter politics will be through the Regional Representatives Council (DPD), which along with the DPR will make up the MPR.

He underlined that servicemen had to resign from the TNI as soon as they won DPD seats. "It doesn't matter if the TNI considers this [the bill] as a means to corner them, it's all for the sake of democracy," Hari said after the meeting on security and political affairs.

The bill which grants the military and police the right to vote but withdraws their right to hold seats in the legislative bodies has sparked dissenting opinions between government officials.

It is quite a surprise that Hari, who is a retired three-star general, along with Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a retired four-star general, supported the bill.

Earlier, Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra said that he was not aware of the articles, while TNI spokesman Maj. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoedin said the military had never been involved in the drafting of the bill.

Sjafrie also suspected that the right to vote for TNI personnel would only hamper the institution's internal reforms, which suggests it distances itself from politics.

Commenting on the criticism, Hari defended his presentation of the bill in front of the President, Vice President, related ministers and the TNI chief before submitting it to the House last week.

"Some of the ministers may not have attended thepresentation, or spent any time reading the bill. Perhaps that's why they are not aware of the articles," he said.

In response to TNI's objection to the bill, Susilo said there were ways for the institution to express their position, particularly through their representatives in the House.

"Should Maj. Gen. Sjafrie repudiate it, he should talk to the TNI faction members at the House, because the bill is still under discussion," Susilo asserted.

The government expected the deliberation of the bills on political parties, general elections and the status and position of the House and Assembly legislators to finish ahead of the general election in 2004.

Only the election bill, which is to replace the old law passed in 1999, has been presented to the House so far.

The making of the bills has been impeded by the slow amendment process of the 1945 Constitution, which remains unfinished, especially on the issue of the presidential election system.

The Assembly plans to endorse the amendments in the next annual session in August.

 International relations

Six countries agree to set up Southwest Pacific Forum

Agence France Presse - June 9, 2002

Jakarta -- Six countries have agreed to set up the Southwest Pacific Forum and will hold a first annual meeting in Indonesia in August, reports said Sunday.

"This forum creates room for cooperation between countries of the Southwest Pacific," said the Director General for Asia, Pacific and Africa at the Indonesian foreign ministry, Makarim Wibisono, according to the Kompas daily.

Speaking in Bali at a meeting of senior officials from the six states -- Australia, East Timor, Indonesia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines -- Wibisono said the forum's first annual get together will be held in Indonesia, possibly in Timika, a town in Indonesia's easternmost province of Papua.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Hasan Wirayuda, speaking at the same occasion, was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying that he believed the forum will bring benefits to each member country.

"The geographic reality tells us that we live with our neighbours and there is a need to closely interact with each other regarding certain issues of mutual concern," Wirayuda said according to Jakarta Post.

He said the main issues to be addressed by the forum will be cooperation in security, border issues, transnational terrorism and crimes, economy and culture between the member states.

The idea for such a grouping was first floated by former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid during a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2000, as a forum to accommodate cooperation with states in the southeast, and east of the region.

Two members of the Southwest Pacific Forum, Indonesia and the Philippines are members of the 10 state ASEAN.

Opinion: Don't arm 'thugs in uniforms'

Australian Financial Review - June 12, 2002

Dewi Anggraeni and Syafi'i Anwar -- There is something unnerving about Singapore senior minister Lee Kwan Yew's call last week that the world (read the United States) should rely on the Indonesian military to keep the nation from disintegrating because of Muslim militancy.

His conclusion cannot go unchallenged, especially because the US is showing increasing single-mindedness in its "war against terrorism", enlisting bodies left, right and centre to assist it.

There are militant Muslims in Indonesia; the Laskar Jihad is one of the more internationally known. The memberships of these groups are relatively small, though adept at making their voices heard and their presence felt.

And it is true that they could cause considerable damage to the fabric of Indonesia's emerging civil society. The question is, how big is this threat and is the army the answer?

Lee, it seems, was concerned by the recent report of Vice- President Hamzah Haz's visits to Laskar Jihad's leader, Jafar Umat Talib, in detention, and Jamaah Islamiyah's Abu Bakar Basyir in Central Java. Hamzah's actions have been widely criticised, inside as well as outside Islamic circles in Indonesia.

His actions smacked of political motives as well as interference in the legal process. For a Muslim leader, being regarded as politically motivated is tantamount to having his moral authority degraded. That some leaders feel the need to seek the support of Muslim fundamentalists is of concern; it does not indicate that Indonesia is becoming an Islamic state.

The 1999 election results made it clear that most Indonesian Muslims did not support Islamic parties. The 20 Islamic parties managed to secure only 37.1 per cent of the total votes. Of the 20 Islamic parties, only four (PPP, PKB, PAN and PBB) met the required minimum of parliamentary seats.

In the meantime, President Megawati Soekarnoputri's PDI-P and the old ruling party, Golkar, both seen as "secular nationalist" parties, amassed 33.76 per cent and 22.46 per cent respectively. There are doubts that the Islamic parties will be able to gain more votes in the 2004 general election.

The majority of Indonesian Muslims, including their political leaders, are moderates who do not support any kind of Islamic radicalism. The leaders of the two main Islamic organisations, NU and Muhammadiyah, KH Hasyim Muzadi and Syafii Maarif, have strongly criticised the actions of the radical groups, denouncing them as contrary to the spirit of Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance.

US re-engagement with the military would be welcome, provided it was not linked with the fervour of the "war on terrorism" because in Indonesia, combating terrorism should be seen in the context of the country's history. During President Soeharto's rule, the military were known to take advantage often of the issue of Islamic radicalism, by alleging that those opposed to policies imposed by the authorities in some regions were propagating radical Islam.

There was even evidence of instances where some agents provocateurs infiltrated nominated groups to promote radicalism, just to be caught later and reveal their identities as military intelligence officers. The objectives of such operations, it appeared, were to create political instability and a semblance of political legitimacy only the military was able to uphold national security and integrity.

It is worth noting, however, that some military officers openly admit to having close relationships with militant Islamic groups. These sorts of friendships do not necessarily mean that the military officers were in league with the radical Islamic groups. The popular opinion is that they may keep them up their sleeves in case they need to mobilise supporters in the streets, the most common manner of political campaigning in Indonesia.

Reformists in Indonesia are working very hard building a civil society and developing a democratic system, where militaristic coercion on the general population is a thing of the past. Where is the pride of a military force regarded by the people as thugs in official uniforms?

A move, on the part of the US, to re-engage with the military, would be most useful if it could help the Indonesian army rebuild its original raison d'e ACI tre, of being a true and professional defence force defending the nation, not being a tool of the political elite, or itself part of the political elite.

[Dewi Anggraeni is Australian Correspondent For Tempo Magazine And Syafi'i Anwar is The Former editor of Ummat weekly.]

 Economy & investment

Jakarta economic reforms bearing fruit

Straits Times - June 13, 2002

Jakarta -- Indonesia told international creditors yesterday that its efforts to turn around the sickly economy were bearing fruit, and the creditors largely agreed.

This took place a day after Indonesia promised the International Monetary Fund in a new letter of intent that it will push through reforms in return for a US$340 million loan.

Top economics minister Dorodjatun Kuntjoro-Jakti said yesterday that the economy has improved markedly since President Megawati Sukarnoputri came to power last July.

"I think we can truthfully say that we are now seeing the first fruits of the changes that this government has been able to implement over the past ten months," he said in remarks to open the mid-year review of the Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI), the country's major international creditors. Last November, the CGI pledged US$3.14 billion in fresh loans for the cash-strapped country's 2002 Budget.

Mr Kuntjoro-Jakti said economic growth rose to 2.5 per cent in the first quarter of this year from 1.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2001 and inflation continued to fall.

The rupiah has strengthened by more than 17 per cent since November and almost 28 per cent from the last days of the government of president Abdurrahman Wahid. Non-oil exports and imports in April also rose by 6 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.

Foreign debts hamper access to food: Megawati

Jakarta Post - June 12, 2002

Jakarta -- President Megawati Soekarnoputri told a United Nations summit on food and agriculture that the burden of foreign debt on poor nations restricted access to food and undermined poverty reduction efforts.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) summit in Rome on Monday, Megawati said that efforts to achieve food security should imply an assurance of food accessibility.

Indebted poor nations cannot afford to buy food when foreign debt repayments continue to burden national budgets, according to the President.

"The absence of financial and physical access to sufficient food will only make food security part of the problem, not the solution," Megawati said in her speech at the FAO world summit, the second since 1996.

Delegates at the four-day summit are hoping to produce an action plan to halve the number of starving people by 2015. The UN estimates that around 800 million people go hungry, almost all in developing countries.

Efforts since the 1996 FAO summit to fight starvation have shown little progress despite a growth in world food supply.

Claiming to have achieved self-sufficiency in rice in 1986, Indonesia has now become one of the world's biggest rice importers.

Tariffs on food, agricultural commodities to be raised

Agence France Presse - June 11, 2002

Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri has agreed to increase import tariffs on all food and agricultural commodities in the near-term, a report said.

"We must adjust our stance by implementing higher tariffs for all food and agricultural commodities and the president has already agreed to this to ensure our food products are more competitive," Agriculture Minister Bungaran Saragih was quoted in Tuesday's Kompas daily as saying.

Saragih who was in Rome with Megawati to attend an international food conference said the country currently had low import tariffs and other countries were providing hidden subsidies to protect their farmers.

Indonesia currently has tariffs of 30 percent for rice and sugar and five percent for raw sugar, while there are no tariffs for soybeans and corn, he said.

Indonesia does not provide any subsidies, while Europe and the US generally set high import tariffs and give export credit subsidies to their farmers, he added.

Home | Site Map | Calendar & Events | News Services | Resources & Links | Contact Us