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Indonesia News Digest Number 40 - September 27-October 3, 2004
Jakarta Post - October 1, 2004
Banda Aceh -- Aceh civil emergency administrator Insp. Gen.
Bahrumsyah Kasman has questioned the recent Human Rights Watch
reports detailing the systematic abuse of Free Aceh Movement
"They have just created a story which has not been verified yet,"
Bahrumsyah, who is also Aceh police chief, said on Thursday.
Bahrumsyah said police were ready to investigate the alleged
violence against prisoners, provided the rights group formally
asked them to do so. He said police would not give foreign
observers or rights groups access to the province.
"It's totally wrong to interview prisoners who would just say bad
things about security authorities," he said.
Sydney Morning Herald Editorial - October 1, 2004
Indonesia needs to tidy up at home before it seeks membership of
the UN Security Council.
It was an unhappy coincidence. On the same day that Indonesia
launched its bid for a seat on the United Nations Security
Council, a human rights watchdog issued a report pointing to the
routine use of torture by the Indonesian military against
political prisoners in Aceh.
The country's pitch for one of the 10 non-permanent places at the
Security Council table centres on the strength of its transition
to democracy over the past six years. According to Foreign
Minister Hassan Wirajuda, this has "put to rest the debate
whether Islam and democracy can ever mix".
He told the UN General Assembly this week the world's largest
Muslim nation had proven that Islam could be a bastion of
democracy and social justice.
Certainly, Indonesia has undergone a remarkable political
transformation since the collapse of the Soeharto regime in 1998.
Next week, retired army general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will be
certified as the nation's sixth president, the first ever to be
elected in a direct and democratic ballot.
That alone does not qualify it for membership of the body charged
with overseeing international peace and security. Indonesia has
previously served two two-year terms on the council and was most
recently a member in 1996.
Its latest bid comes at a time when the future of the council's
composition is itself under review, with Germany, Japan, India
and Brazil seeking permanent seats along with the five victors of
World War II, namely the United States, Britain, France, Russia
But while Indonesia's transition to democracy and even the
fraught liberation of East Timor from Indonesian rule may work in
its favour, there are other internal issues that could trouble
the Security Council bid.
Not the least of these is Aceh, the so-called "secret war" of the
archipelago in its most fervently Islamic region. The New York-
based Human Rights Watch this week claimed electric shocks,
beatings and other forms of torture are routinely used against
detainees suspected of supporting armed pro-independence rebels.
While Indonesia's police and military deny the torture
allegations, they do admit that more than 2200 rebels have been
killed since an offensive against the Free Aceh Movement was
launched in May 2003 following a stalled international attempt to
broker a durable peace. Human rights groups claim many of the
dead are civilians.
The continuing suppression of dissent in the oil-rich northern
tip of Sumatra is not new, but for the past 16 months it has been
conducted away from the gaze of foreign media and other
observers. By sealing off Aceh to outsiders, the Indonesian
authorities have effectively eliminated the prospect of
international attention being drawn to its treatment of civilians
and rebels alike.
Despite East Timor, the international community has largely
forgotten Aceh. It should be recalled -- along with the
military's role in Papua -- before any inclusion of Indonesia on
the Security Council.
Aceh authorities deny torture reports
Reforms cloud Aceh's struggle
Troops capture rebel governor for Pidie region
Jakarta Post - October 1, 2004
Banda Aceh -- Aceh civil emergency administrator Insp. Gen. Bahrumsyah Kasman has questioned the recent Human Rights Watch reports detailing the systematic abuse of Free Aceh Movement prisoners.
"They have just created a story which has not been verified yet," Bahrumsyah, who is also Aceh police chief, said on Thursday.
Bahrumsyah said police were ready to investigate the alleged violence against prisoners, provided the rights group formally asked them to do so. He said police would not give foreign observers or rights groups access to the province.
"It's totally wrong to interview prisoners who would just say bad things about security authorities," he said.
Sydney Morning Herald Editorial - October 1, 2004
Indonesia needs to tidy up at home before it seeks membership of the UN Security Council.
It was an unhappy coincidence. On the same day that Indonesia launched its bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council, a human rights watchdog issued a report pointing to the routine use of torture by the Indonesian military against political prisoners in Aceh.
The country's pitch for one of the 10 non-permanent places at the Security Council table centres on the strength of its transition to democracy over the past six years. According to Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda, this has "put to rest the debate whether Islam and democracy can ever mix".
He told the UN General Assembly this week the world's largest Muslim nation had proven that Islam could be a bastion of democracy and social justice.
Certainly, Indonesia has undergone a remarkable political transformation since the collapse of the Soeharto regime in 1998. Next week, retired army general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will be certified as the nation's sixth president, the first ever to be elected in a direct and democratic ballot.
That alone does not qualify it for membership of the body charged with overseeing international peace and security. Indonesia has previously served two two-year terms on the council and was most recently a member in 1996.
Its latest bid comes at a time when the future of the council's composition is itself under review, with Germany, Japan, India and Brazil seeking permanent seats along with the five victors of World War II, namely the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.
But while Indonesia's transition to democracy and even the fraught liberation of East Timor from Indonesian rule may work in its favour, there are other internal issues that could trouble the Security Council bid.
Not the least of these is Aceh, the so-called "secret war" of the archipelago in its most fervently Islamic region. The New York- based Human Rights Watch this week claimed electric shocks, beatings and other forms of torture are routinely used against detainees suspected of supporting armed pro-independence rebels.
While Indonesia's police and military deny the torture allegations, they do admit that more than 2200 rebels have been killed since an offensive against the Free Aceh Movement was launched in May 2003 following a stalled international attempt to broker a durable peace. Human rights groups claim many of the dead are civilians.
The continuing suppression of dissent in the oil-rich northern tip of Sumatra is not new, but for the past 16 months it has been conducted away from the gaze of foreign media and other observers. By sealing off Aceh to outsiders, the Indonesian authorities have effectively eliminated the prospect of international attention being drawn to its treatment of civilians and rebels alike.
Despite East Timor, the international community has largely forgotten Aceh. It should be recalled -- along with the military's role in Papua -- before any inclusion of Indonesia on the Security Council.
Antara - October 3, 2004
Banda Aceh -- The Indonesian Military has captured Muhammad Aris, 72, the governor of the Aceh Free Movement (GAM) for Pidie region, in a raid in Pidie district, the military said on Sunday.
A spokesman for the Security Restoration Operation Task Force, Lt. Col. Asep Sapari said the GAM governor was arrested on Saturday in Bandar Baru forest, some 150 kilometers to the east of Banda Aceh.
Asep said an exchange of fire between GAM and the Indonesian Military broke out when 13 soldiers led by Second Lt. Laksono spotted a group of people carrying firearms on their shoulders and an old man in the forest.
The soldiers opened fire after identifying them as GAM members. The separatist group managed to escape, but left the old man behind, who was latter identified as Muhammad Aris, one of GAM's governors.
The soldiers seized 18 bullets, a battery charger for a cellular phone, and some other equipment from the GAM governor, who was detained for further questioning.
Earlier last week, a deputy governor of GAM for Aceh Jaya, Sarbini, surrendered to the infantry battalion in Suak Beukah village in Sampoiniet subdistrict, some 120 kilometers west of Banda Aceh.
Antara - September 28, 2004
Jakarta -- The Indonesian Military (TNI) is ready to punish soldiers found to have tortured detained members of the Aceh separatist movement to extract information, its spokesman, Lt Col Ahmad Yani Basuki, said here on Tuesday.
A recent report by Human Rights Watch said 24 of 35 detained Free Aceh Movement rebels claimed to have been tortured by soldiers or police to obtain information. Yani said his the military would check the report first before sanctioning any erring soldiers.
The government has stationed troops in Aceh to crush the secessionist movement, which has for decades been trying to form an independent sultanate within the oil-rich but underdeveloped province. Yani said the TNI had no objections to the United Nations or other institutions studying the report.
"We have allowed domestic and international humanitarian organizations and other institutions to visit Aceh," he said.
Washington Post - September 27, 2004
Ellen Nakashima, Jakarta -- Indonesian security forces have used torture and inhumane treatment to force confessions from suspected separatists and their sympathizers in the province of Aceh, where the government and rebels have fought a long-running conflict, a human rights group alleges in a report to be released Monday.
The incidents included cigarette burnings, electric shocks and beatings with rifle butts and hammers, Human Rights Watch says in its 56-page report. The group based its allegations on interviews with 33 adults and two juveniles who were convicted of rebellion and sent to five prisons in Java, Indonesia's main island.
"I was processed like an animal," one 30-year-old Acehnese prisoner told Human Rights Watch. "They hit me with a wood beam and a gun butt, and they poured water over me, and every day I was hit ... After fainting, they would pour water over me again and hit me again."
The organization accuses the Indonesian military and police of violating Indonesian law and international standards of fairness and due process in handling prisoners. In most cases, it says, arrests were made without warrants and defense attorneys did not participate in trials. No witnesses or evidence other than the accused prisoners' confessions were produced in court, the report says.
"The scale of torture and the failure of due process documented in this report makes it clear that these are systemic failures, not just the acts of rogue soldiers and police or untrained, poorly resourced judges and prosecutors," the report states, noting that some detainees displayed scars they said were left by the abuse.
"In the Indonesian security forces, there's a real culture of impunity right now," said Sam Zarifi, deputy director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman, Marty Natalegawa, dismissed the allegations as unfounded. "We would not be that stupid and careless and irresponsible to commit the sort of abuses mentioned," he said. "If anything, we have been at pains to ensure at every step of the way the proper legal framework within which authorities can conduct themselves."
The current conflict in Aceh between the separatists and the Indonesian military began in 1976. In May 2003, after peace talks faltered, President Megawati Sukarnoputri declared martial law and the military resumed operations. A security force of at least 40,000 has been fighting a guerrilla force that initially numbered about 5,000.
The military says it has killed more than 2,000 rebel fighters and captured thousands of others. The rebels say most of the casualties have been civilians. Although martial law was lifted after a year, the province remains under a state of civil emergency.
Several detainees interviewed by Human Rights Watch admitted they were members or sympathizers of the Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, or Free Aceh Movement, known as GAM. But a majority said they had no ties to the rebel group, the report says.
Twenty-four of the 35 interviewed said they were tortured so that they would confess to involvement with GAM. Sometimes, the torture lasted for days, they said. The 11 others were severely mistreated, ostensibly to punish them for presumed ties to the rebels, the report says.
In many cases, prisoners said they made false confessions so the beatings would end. "If it was the morning, I was beaten by two men," said a 16-year-old detainee. "If it was the evening, I was beaten by the guard on duty ... I was beaten for three days and three nights ... and we were shocked with electric current."
Human Rights Watch called on Indonesia's incoming president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to condemn the torture, investigate the allegations and discipline offenders.
Yudhoyono, a retired four-star general who tried to broker peace talks with the Acehnese rebels, said last week that he hoped the conflict would be settled fairly and peacefully.
Jakarta Post - September 28, 2004
Tiarma Siboro, Jakarta -- A leading rights watchdog has called on the next Indonesian president to reopen cases of alleged abuse and torture against Acehnese prisoners, saying the military and police were using violence to extract baseless confessions from those accused of having links to the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebel group.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) also urged the Indonesian Military (TNI) leadership to take all necessary measures to immediately end the torture and mistreatment of detainees and conduct thorough investigations into alleged rights abuses committed by its personnel.
The watchdog makes the calls in its latest 50-page report titled Aceh at War: Torture, Ill-treatment and Unfair Trials, which documents how the military, police and judicial authorities perpetrate horrific persecution, arbitrary arrests and unfair trials against Acehnese prisoners, and how the military authorities have maintained impunity for the security services.
"The war in Aceh is an internal conflict and not an international war so that people captured will not be named as prisoners of war. But, laws of war do apply generally in an internal conflict," HRW deputy director for the Asia division Saman Zia- Zarifi said on Monday. Article 3 of the Geneva Convention says that people who are no longer fighting must not be mistreated, and this includes prisoners. "And of course, Indonesia has signed the convention against torture," he said.
Electric shocks, cigarette burns, beatings, skinning and other forms of torture are routinely used by Indonesian security forces on detainees suspected of supporting the secessionist movement in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, says the report, which is based on interviews with 35 adult and child prisoners from Aceh currently being held in five prisons in Central Java.
The watchdog was not allowed to visit Aceh, making it difficult for its investigators to directly interview hundreds of other prisoners currently being held in various places across the province.
"They took me to the Polres [district level police] and before I had got out of the car one of the soldiers straight away hit me. For one week I was beaten and ordered to admit that I was GAM but I did not confess it ... I was accused of a murder, but it was not me ... They were wrong in who they arrested ... I was burnt on my chest and my shirt was taken off and poked with cigarettes. My body was burnt with matches. They also skinned me with a knife. I was also kicked, hit with a gun butt until I was bruised and vomited blood," an Acehnese prisoner is quoted by the report as saying. The military has denied the allegations.
The security forces claim they have killed more than 2,200 GAM members since the military launched an all-out offensive against the rebels in May 2003. Rights groups, however, say many of the dead are civilians.
Hundreds have been tried in martial law courts and convicted mostly on treason charges. According to the 35 prisoners interviewed for the report, none of them was ever shown an arrest warrant or informed in writing of the charges against him/her at the time of arrest.
The watchdog says the scale of the torture and failure of due process makes it clear that these are systematic failures, not the actions of rogue security force members or untrained judicial officials.
It suggests that the government invite both the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers to investigate and report on the alleged abuses in the hope that these could provide recommendations to the newly elected government on how to stop them.
"We are expecting the next president, be it the incumbent, Megawati Soekarnoputri or Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to speak about Aceh and how to move forward on the Aceh issue because it is now the real problem. The number of deaths is still very high, the military operation is not producing clear results and it is a black mark on Indonesia's record in the eyes of the international community," Zarifi said.
Sydney Morning Herald - September 29, 2004
Unless West Papua is granted independence from Indonesia, a time bomb will go off affecting Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand, according to a West Papuan activist.
John Rumbiak fears West Papuans will be embroiled in a bloody war if independence is not granted.
Rumbiak, 42, has been sued by the Indonesian government, received death threats and been under surveillance. He has even had to flee his country in fear for his life.
To help publicise the atrocities West Papuans are facing -- he says more than 100,000 have been killed by the Indonesian military since the 1960s -- Rumbiak started a New Zealand-wide speaking tour this week.
Rumbiak, chairman of West Papua human rights organisation Elsham, said the New Zealand government should put pressure on Indonesia to grant independence to his country.
He told of Indonesian soldiers constantly walking around the country's villages, independence supporters receiving death threats on a regular basis and soldiers increasing tension between the native West Papuans and migrant Indonesians by spreading rumours.
"If this situation is allowed to go on, a time bomb will go off and Papua New Guinea [on the other side of the island], Australia and New Zealand will be affected," Mr Rumbiak said.
While he is forced to live in the United States to preserve his life, Rumbiak says his desire to help his people overcomes his fear. "You do get scared but what keeps me going is you've got to believe in the truth." Mr Rumbiak is in New Zealand for a month.
Cenderawasih Pos daily - September 29, 2004
Jayapura -- In the ongoing trial of five men charged with rebellion, the defence lawyers at a hearing in Jayapura on 28 September, called for the men's release.
In an earlier session, the prosecutor had asked the court to sentence the accused to two years. The five men are: Agus Waipon, Salmon Daka,SE, Maurids Wouw, Yehuda Wandi and Yosep Wow Imfum.
The two members of the defence team said in a 20-page statement, that the accused had told the court that documents presented in court had never previously been seen by them.
The defence lawyers also stated that the prosecution had failed to prove that the accused had committed acts of rebellion. It was clear from the evidence that the meetings and other activities undertaken by the accused, during which a referendum had been discussed, had been done in response to developments within society, and moreover such activities were guaranteed under the Indonesian Constitution which guarantees the right of assembly and the right of expression.
The defence team therefore said that these activities could not be described as being acts of rebellion as alleged in the charges made in court. The defence team therefore asked the court to acquit the five defendants of all charges, to release them and rehabilitate their good names.
Vanuatu Daily Post Editorial - September 30, 2004
Port Vila -- The West Papua freedom fighters are enjoying unprecedented support from the Vanuatu Government.
With the establishment of an office and approval by the government for the freedom fighters to operate in Vanuatu and raise funds for their cause and
the strong ties and support of both Prime Minister Vohor and Minister For Foreign Affairs Barak Sope towards the West Papua cause, the movement has never been in a better position.
Sope is already lobbying the Pacific Forum to put West Papua on the agenda and now in the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday he made a passionate speech raising the issue of West Papua on the UN agenda and calling for action.
In his address Sope stated, "The United Nations must be consistent in its decisions for the recognition and respect of the fundamental rights to self-determination for the people of West Papua. The truth surrounding the
so called Act of Free Choice must be exposed to the Melanesian sisters and brothers of West Papua, and the rest of the international community, the saddest of all is the UN general Assembly resolution on West Papua in 1969.
How can the UN continue to ignore the cries of over 3 million people for justice? "As world leaders, we have time and time again, expressed serious concerns and dissatisfaction that certain decisions and actions by the United Nations or its organs were not consistent with the purposes and intentions of the Charter. However, with case of West Papua absolutely nothing has been done to rectify the gross violation of internationally accepted practice. It is therefore our joint responsibility to address this grey area in history," Sope said.
He continued, "The continuing disputes and concerns raised on the legality of UN-endorsed instruments which have been concluded during those years, such as the New York Agreement of 1962, to govern the UN administration of the so-called Act of Free Choice in West Papua is a clear example challenging the integrity and validity of the UN resolutions at that time.
In our opinion the UN conducted exercises were a total farce conditioned only to suit the geo-political climate of that period.
"The United Nations cannot and must not continue to turn a blind eye on its own past failures. It is morally, politically and legally wrong to do so," Sope said. "The Netherlands, which was the former colonial authority, in particular, should also recognize that they should shoulder some responsibility in helping to resolve the unfortunate situation of West Papua in a peaceful and transparent manner. Why is no one accountable for those unjust decisions affecting the lives of millions today?"
Sope called on the United Nations to establish a Special Commission of Inquiry to review the UN's conduct in relation to the1969 Act of Free Choice.
He asked that the UN send a fact-finding mission to examine the situation in West Papua with regard to human rights abuses and other related issues and asked for the re-inscription of West Papua on the List of Non-Self-Governing Territories.
Jakarta Post - September 28, 2004
Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta -- The House of Representatives and the government have made substantial changes to the much- criticized bill on national social security, which was due to be endorsed on Wednesday.
The House special committee and the manpower minister, in the final minutes of their Monday meeting, agreed not to liquidate state-owned PT Jamsostek, PT Taspen, PT Askes, PT Jasa Raharja and PT Asabri, which provide social security to workers, civil servants, servicemen and public transport passengers, respectively.
"The legislation will function as an umbrella law for all laws that regulate state-owned social security firms and their existing programs," special committee chairman Surya Chandra Surapaty told the press after the committee's last session.
The House is scheduled to hold a plenary session on Tuesday to endorse the bill, which sparked opposition from employers and labor unions alike. They challenged the draft as it proposed that workers insurance firm Jamsostek be merged with the other four and provide cross-subsidized social security to the unemployed and the poor.
Djimanto, secretary-general of the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo), hailed the amendments to the bill, saying Apindo would accept the bill as long as it did not overburden employers and workers.
House special committee member Rekso Ageng Herman said the government and the committee also agreed to insert a special article on the establishment of a non-profit agency that falls directly under the President, tasked with managing trust funds for the social security programs.
"The five companies will no longer be obliged to pay taxes and dividends to the government, and their annual profits will be added to their assets to help improve subscribers' welfare," he said.
The bill also stipulates that the government is to cover the membership of the jobless in social security programs, which will be carried out in phases.
"In the first phase, the government will provide health care for the unemployed, with their premiums to be drawn from the annual state budget," Rekso said, adding that finance minister Boediono had guaranteed that the state would pay the social security premiums for unemployed people.
Under the draft bill, the government is also to issue a regulation that defines the unemployed category, as many people who work less than 35 hours per week or make a monthly income below the subsistence level -- or disguised unemployment -- are included in the open unemployment category.
Muzni Tambusai, director general for labor standards at the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, told The Jakarta Post single unemployed people would be charged a health care premium equivalent to 3 percent of regional minimum wages, while married unemployed people would be charged 6 percent, and their health care benefits would be regulated by government legislation.
B.M. Tri Lestari, Jamsostek director of planning, development and information, lauded the changes to the bill, as employers and workers considered the previously proposed merger unfair: Jamsostek had Rp 33 trillion in assets collected from workers and their employers, while social security for civil servants and servicemen were covered by the government.
Jakarta Post - September 28, 2004
ID Nugroho, Surabaya -- More than 1,500 workers, who were dismissed by shoe firm PT Kasogi Internasional tbk last July, descended again on the East Java legislative council building in Surabaya on Monday, pressing ahead with their demand for severance pay.
They lashed out at the 1999-2004 elected members of the council for not being serious in helping them fight for their rights.
The protesters marched from Jl. Diponegoro to the council building located on Jl. Indrapura, causing traffic jams in several areas.
Arriving at the council, the demonstrators immediately entered the compound and staged a rally against the shoe company located in the neighboring city of Sidoarjo.
The protesting workers demanded that the new legislative council order the Sidoarjo manpower office to summon PT Kasogi president director Riswandi Hendarta in order to pay them severance payments.
"Riswandi has ignored the law. He should therefore be taken to court," shouted a protester.
The demonstrators also urged the council, which was inaugurated earlier this month, to press PT Kasogi to drop its lawsuit against the labor dispute settlement committee of the Sidoarjo manpower office.
The company sued the committee for ordering it to pay the dismissed workers one month's salary in severance pay in addition to 50 percent of the amount of their unpaid salaries for three months since July.
The protesters threatened to occupy the council building, should their demands continue to be ignored by legislators or the shoe company.
They also said they would not hesitate to prosecute the new councillors if they were not serious in helping them overcome their plight.
Monday was the fifth protest by the same workers who have been struggling for severance pay since they were dismissed by PT Kasogi in July.
PT Kasogi officials have said that, due to financial problems, their company could not afford to pay a total of 20 billion (US$2.2 million) in severance pay for around 2,100 dismissed workers.
"It's very difficult to abide by the committee's decision because the company is already bankrupt," Riswandi told a hearing with local councillors, manpower officials and workers' representatives on September 16.
|'War on terrorism'|
Jakarta Post - September 28, 2004
Imanuddin Razak, Jakarta -- Jakartans had just commemorated the 1st anniversary of the JW Marriott Hotel blast in Kuningan business and residential area in South Jakarta last month, when the capital was shaken by another similarly motivated bomb blast near the site of the former on September 9.
Many condemned the Indonesian authorities' failure to anticipate such an attack, and blamed the deadly blast on their inability to take necessary preemptive measures, although a number of foreign governments had issued warnings weeks before.
The government's announcement on Wednesday of its plan to set up a military-backed antiterror task force, which will fall under the auspices of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief, who will coordinate intelligence work between the National Police's antiterror squad, Army's Special Forces (Kopassus), the Navy's Special Forces (Denjaka) and the Air Force's Special Forces (Bravo), was an instant reply to such a demand. Legally and strategic-wise, there is nothing wrong with the establishment of such a task force, as it complies with the 2003 law on antiterrorism and the 2002 presidential instruction on BIN and is meant to coordinate the work of all intelligence bodies in the country to deal with terror acts.
Controversy, however, surrounds the National Police's long-term plan to establish antiterror squads nationwide, which was announced earlier -- days after the Marriott blast anniversary.
The controversial plan was announced just as the police had inaugurated the city police's 75-member antiterror detachment, dubbed Detachment 88 or Den88.
Though the city police cannot solely be blamed for the latest blast, its failure to anticipate the Kuningan blast in the presence of the newborn Den88, has drawn big questions regarding the capability of the antiterror squad, whose members have been recruited from among the police's top officers, to handle such a bomb attack.
The police's antiterror squad is controversial as it will perform tasks already carried out by a number of internal police units. Members of the new squad are trained for the prevention of terrorist attacks -- in intelligence, investigation and crisis management.
The police already have their own counterterrorism task force, known as Gegana, while for intelligence activities, the police indeed have the tasks covered by their Intelligence and Security Directorate (Ditintelpam). The police force also have their own bomb squad to deal with bomb threats and explosions.
And, should the police persist to establish antiterror squads in provinces across the archipelago, the planned number of personnel for the squads would exceed each of those of the three forces of the Indonesian Military (TNI), an unexpected factor that may heighten tension between the police force and its former "big brother" the TNI.
The police force used to be under the same roof as the TNI before they "parted ways" on July 1, 2000.
Once established, police squads nationwide would boast more than double the number of personnel registered with the Army's Special Forces antiterror squads. Many more, also, than the Navy's counterterrorism operations Kesatuan Gurita (Octopus Squad) of over 250 men and the Air Force's Satgas Atbara (Counterterrorism task Force) of about the same number.
Equally controversial is the funding for the establishment of the squads.
While top police officers have chosen to remain tightlipped over the issue, The Associated Press recently confirmed that the detachment had been funded by the United States and trained by US military officers.
"The academy is funded by Washington and is staffed by Americans. It teaches hostage rescue, crime scene investigation and bomb disposal," AP said.
The establishment of the antiterror squads is controversial as the squads' presence proves to be effective in the aftermath of an attack, but not as an early warning system, which an intelligence body should be capable of.
The ineffectiveness of such an antiterror squad to anticipate a bomb attack was indirectly revealed by the police themselves, who recently announced that they had received reports of the whereabouts of the two most-wanted Malaysian bombing suspects -- Dr. Azahari bin Husin and Noordin Moh. Top -- at a rented house in Cengkareng, West Jakarta, days before the Kuningan blast.
If this is the case, the Japan-originated Koban system would likely be the appropriate "formula" to meet the demand for an early warning system, rather than the antiterror squad.
The Koban system is currently on trial at the Bekasi Police. Koban are essentially one-room depots, which were introduced for the first time in 1881 in Japan, to protect officers from the elements. Koban are open around the clock, with police officers working in three shifts, to fight crime and offer assistance. Police duties include patrolling the neighborhood, handling lost and found property, giving street directions, directing traffic and providing help for lost children.
To add to the concept's success story, a Japanese police officer attached to the Bekasi Police helping with the preparation and establishment of Koban in Bekasi, said the concept, to be applied at neighborhood unit (RW) levels, had successfully minimized the crime rate in Japan's big cities. Koban have also been adopted by Singapore, Fiji and Brazil.
With police officers in uniforms in the neighborhoods, it is expected that the hideouts of crime suspects, like Azahari and Noordin, could be immediately detected and the repetition of such a deadly blast could be prevented.
However, the presence of police officers in the neighborhood should not bring a new problem -- creating anxiety among the people -- as citizens experienced when officers of the military's Babinsa were stationed at subdistrict levels in the past.
There must be clear guidelines and regulations for police officers in performing their tasks in neighborhoods.
And to be frank, the police need Koban as a system as it is more suitable to perform preemptive measures, rather than establishing antiterror squads nationwide, which are more post-crime oriented.
Police can retain the already established squads, but they should not necessarily exist in all provinces, and the number of their personnel should be a few hundred only. The squads could not be considered "special forces" anymore, should they have thousands of personnel.
[Imanuddin Razak is a staff writer for The Jakarta Post.]
|Government & politics|
Jakarta Post - September 28, 2004
Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, Jakarta -- President Megawati Soekarnoputri signed on Monday a decree that set the maximum price of a residence for former VVIPs at Rp 20 billion (US$2.22 million).
The decree, which implements Law No. 7/1978, comes almost four weeks before Megawati is expected to leave office. "The decree was signed today to set the price of residences for former presidents and vice presidents," State/Cabinet Secretary Bambang Kesowo told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
Megawati, who sought a full five-year term in the September 20 election runoff, is trailing far behind her former security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the provisional vote-count. Of the over 110 million ballots counted as of Monday evening, Megawati has won only 43 million against Susilo's 67 million. The new president will be sworn in on October 20.
Article 8 of Law No. 7/1978 stipulates that former presidents and vice presidents are entitled to a residence provided by the state, among other benefits.
Bambang denied suggestions that the decree's issuance was connected to Megawati's imminent defeat in the runoff, saying that the decree had been planned since she took office in 2002.
He said according to the law, former VVIPs were also entitled to an official car along with a driver, a personal secretary, a pension in accordance with their last position's basic salary and lifetime medical treatment by presidential doctors.
Law No. 7/1978 drew criticism from the public following the downfall of former president Soeharto in 1998, as he was suspected of massive corruption.
His successor B.J. Habibie granted Soeharto Rp 27 billion for his personal residence in Taman Mini, East Jakarta. Soeharto, however, returned the money to the state due to strong public protests.
Habibie himself received a house in the plush residential area of Patra Kuningan in South Jakarta, where he lived when he was vice president in 1998. Habibie is now living in Germany with his ailing wife. "Only former president Abdurrahman [Wahid] has not received his due, as the former president has yet to decide whether to take cash or a house," Bambang said.
President Megawati currently lives in the state residence on Jl. Teuku Umar, Central Jakarta, while Vice President Hamzah Haz lives in one of five official presidential residences on Jl. Diponegoro.
Jakarta Post - September 28, 2004
Jakarta -- The next government has been told to revise the Law No. 22/1999 on regional autonomy and Law No. 25/1999 on the fiscal balance between regional and central administrations to arrest the widening gap between rich and poor across the country.
North Sumatra's Dairi Regent Master P. Tumanggor, whose regency won an award from the Regional Autonomy Watch (KPPOD) for providing the best institutional environment for investors last year, said for most regencies the autonomy laws were "too much, too fast".
"With the autonomy law, only five sectors, namely national defense, religion, law, and fiscal and foreign affairs, are left to the central government to manage. All other areas have been given to the regencies and provinces," Tumanggor told The Jakarta Post over the weekend.
For rich regencies, such big responsibilities would be less of a problem as they had enough funds to deal with them. But for poor regencies, they were too much to bear, he said. There are about 440 regencies in the country and they are mostly poor.
Tumanggor, who holds a PhD in public finance from the University of Paris Dauphine in France, compared Dairi regency with Kutai in East Kalimantan. Both have more or less the same population of about 300,000 and are the same size in area.
Dairi is a poor regency with an annual budget of about Rp 150 billion, of which more than 90 percent is provided by the central government. Locally generated income only amounts to just over Rp 4 billion a year.
Kutai, meanwhile, is rich, with an annual budget of Rp 6 trillion mostly derived from local sources.
According to autonomy laws, regencies have the right to retain a portion of local income and the rest must go to the central government. The bigger their local income, the bigger funds they can retain.
Such conditions have enabled Kutai to give extra allowances to its teachers and cheap loans to the poor to start new businesses, something regencies like Dairi could only dream of doing.
"I'm afraid [autonomy laws] will widen the gap between rich and poor," he said. "This could easily turn into social upheaval if it is not addressed seriously." He proposed that the autonomy law revision should enable the central government to take back some of its powers to manage certain areas -- education, health and agriculture.
"I think these three sectors are key points in eradicating poverty. While giving some of its authorities in these three sectors to regencies, the central government should maintain other certain authorities, such as providing cheap books and cheap health services," he said.
Under the existing laws, regencies could set development priorities that were contrary to the national interest, he said.
Simalungun Regent John Hugo Silalahi said during the last few years he had found it very hard to make ends meet in developing Simalungun. "I can understand (Dairi's) difficulties, as I've experienced them myself," he said. Only a small number of regencies could generate most of their income from local sources, he said.
Simalungun with a population of 808,000 had an annual budget of about Rp 400 billion, of which over 90 percent came from the central government. Only about Rp 17 billion of the regency's income was generated locally.
Silalahi said the central government should maintain its management of vital sectors that catered for the public good until regencies had the capacity to manage them.
Jakarta Post - September 27, 2004
Dadan Wijaksana, Jakarta -- The government expects this year's non-tax revenue to increase by more than 60 percent from the original allocation in the 2004 state budget, due mostly to the soaring oil prices.
As stated in the revised 2004 state budget, agreed jointly by the government and House of Representatives Budget Committee last week, the non-tax revenue has now been earmarked at around Rp 122 trillion (US$13.35 billion), or 60.6 percent higher than the initial target of Rp 77.1 trillion.
The largest contribution to the extra proceeds was expected to come from the natural resources revenue -- mostly oil and natural gas, which was targeted to generate some Rp 92.4 trillion, almost twice the initial target of Rp 47.2 trillion.
The government decided to revise the state budget chiefly because of significant changes in the oil price. The original state budget assumed an average of $22 per barrel for the year. But with soaring oil prices, the government now assumes a much higher oil price average of $36 per barrel this year.
Last week, world oil prices were closed steady after hitting record highs in London the day before. The benchmark Brent North Sea crude oil dipped 13 US cents to $45 a barrel, a day after reaching a new record of $45.75.
While the high-flying oil prices is causing a headache for the government as it inflates fuel subsidy cost, the increased revenues it obtains as an oil-and-gas exporting country serves as a "positive side" of the current oil market volatility.
Although in the end, the government will still have to split the income with regions as part of a mandated revenue-sharing mechanism.
On income from forestry, it has also been raised by 167 percent to Rp 2.7 trillion from Rp 1.7 trillion. However, on fishery, the income target was reduced by 50 percent from Rp 600 billion to Rp 300 billion.
Revision to 2004 State Budget
Non-tax revenue Rp123.8 t
1. Natural Resources Rp 92.4 t
2. Profit transfer from SOEs Rp 9.1 t
3. Others Rp 22.3 t
Source: The House Budget Committee
SOEs: state-owned enterprises
Reuters - September 27, 2004
Dean Yates, Bogor -- From across Java island they have travelled. Farmers, widows of soldiers, mothers with babies, some seeking a favour from Indonesia's next president or telling him which of the country's problems he should tackle first. Others just want to shake his hand.
Since Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono won the country's first direct presidential election in a landslide on September 20, thousands of ordinary Indonesians have journeyed to his home in a palm- lined luxury housing estate south of Jakarta.
The excited crowds waiting outside each day offer an insight into his popularity and show how many have placed extraordinary hope in the former general after three years of lacklustre rule under outgoing President Megawati Sukarnoputri.
In contrast to Megawati's aloof style, Yudhoyono has emerged each day to meet the crowds while he waits for the election commission to declare the ballot result official.
"I am the victim of injustice," said one man fighting back tears as he grabbed Yudhoyono's hand, one of nearly 1,000 people who lined up amid tight security to do so on Monday afternoon. "I hear you, I hear you," Yudhoyono calmly replied as bodyguards ushered the man along.
One middle-aged women threw her arms around Yudhoyono and kissed him on both cheeks. "I dreamt I would hug you," she said.
A young woman, heavily pregnant, asked Yudhoyono to give her unborn child a name. When Yudhoyono told her to tell him later whether the child was a boy or a girl, she replied: "Please pray that I have a boy, I have only girls."
Several widows of soldiers who died fighting guerrillas in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony that voted to break free of Jakarta's brutal rule in 1999, sobbed as they sought comfort. "God Willing, I will visit Seroja," Yudhoyono told them, referring to a complex on the outskirts of Jakarta for veterans who fought in East Timor.
With nearly 92 percent of ballots counted from the presidential election run-off, Yudhoyono has 61 percent of the vote, an unassailable lead over Megawati who has 39 percent.
People keep coming
The election commission will declare the result valid on October 5. With Megawati refusing to concede defeat until then, that has forced Yudhoyono to keep a low-profile at home, where he has been discussing cabinet choices and policy with advisers.
While Indonesia may be an emerging beacon of democracy, the dominant Javanese culture which puts an emphasis on humility, refinement and caution still determines how many people act.
Andi Mallarangeng, a political analyst advising Yudhoyono's team, said the "open house" sessions had not been orchestrated but became unavoidable when so many people began turning up. "From early morning until late at night, people are coming. From the ordinary, to the political elite," said Mallarangeng.
Few doubt the intelligence or sincerity of Yudhoyono, 55, who has served in several previous cabinets. But many wonder if his penchant for caution and consensus will stop him making the tough decisions needed to tackle high unemployment, corruption, and Islamic militants blamed for several deadly bomb attacks.
The open house sessions have also given an insight into some of the men in Yudhoyono's inner circle. On Monday, three former generals including a one-time military commander in rebellious Aceh stood with Yudhoyono as he patiently shook hands and kissed babies for two hours in a yard next to his house.
Agustin Santoso, a middle-aged woman, gave Yudhoyono a poem called "My Leader, My Idol". In it, she urged the former security chief to make Indonesia safe from terrorists. Imam Syahroni said she had travelled from Bandung, capital of West Java, to urge Yudhoyono to make education cheaper for her 15 grandchildren.
Another visitor, Sarwi, said his four-year-old grandson just wanted to meet Yudhoyono. "He keeps shouting 'Mr Bambang' in his sleep," Sarwi insisted.
[With additional reporting by Telly Nathalia.]
Green Left Weekly - September 28, 2004
Max Lane -- Former Suharto-era general Bambang Susilo Yudhoyono and former Golkar official Yusuf Kalla have been elected as president and vice-president in the second round of Indonesia's first direct presidential election. Yudhoyono won 61% of the vote against outgoing President Megawati Sukarnoputri's 39%. Despite this seeming "landslide", Yudhoyono is likely to experience a very short honeymoon as a prelude to a looming popular upsurge during the course of 2005.
Yudhoyono's win was politically ephemeral. The popular interest in the "campaign" -- often described as a beauty contest -- was weak. Rallies, marches and public meetings were rare, small and often stage-managed. Vox pops in the media with people who voted for Yudhoyono reflected weak hope, rather than conviction, that he would bring economic improvement.
Moreover, approximately 33 million registered voters chose not to vote at all and several million more did not bother to register. This is a very large number given that it was the first direct presidential election, won after a long struggle against the Suharto dictatorship. Activists report absenteeism was concentrated in the cities, reflecting the contempt for the political elite.
The listless response to the election campaign reflects its disconnection from rising social and political discontent. On any given day, usually in more than one city, there are strikes, occupations and demonstrations of one kind or another -- by workers, peasants and villagers, fisher-people, homeworkers, women's groups, doctors -- almost every sector. Every day in the papers there are reports on debates over legislation on the role of the army, domestic violence, privatisation of water, various business scandals, environmental issues, the death of political prisoners in jail or fighting in Aceh. Not to mention the desperate discussions of the state of the economy -- the falling foreign and domestic investment, the looming 2005 due date for debt repayment and massive unemployment.
Neoliberalism -- particularly the removal of industrial and agricultural protection -- is de-industrialising the country and degrading agricultural productive forces. The fall in living standards and security of tens of thousands of rural people has resulted in protest actions by farmers, strikes and protests by workers and big mobilisations of villagers travelling to Jakarta to protest.
Yet neither presidential candidate initiated any serious discussion. There was plenty of rhetoric about solving problems, but no discussion of how. There were two political worlds reported in the media: this surreal all-in-the abstract presidential campaign and the reality of debate, fear and political activity over the unravelling of the economy and society.
Even before Yudhoyono has been sworn in, reality is intruding. A parliamentary commission, made of up of election losers, has called for a reduction in the subsidies on fuel prices, a touchstone issue for Indonesians, because fuel price increases spark kerosene price increases. Yudhoyono has been forced to confirm he will continue with previous policy, to cut the subsidies.
Kalla has already announced that the new government will keep as many ministers as it can from the old cabinet because "everything has been going well". Reports from the Yudhoyono camp indicate that he is finding it hard to juggle the cabinet. Not enough change will expose him immediately to his supporters, but his other main options -- the middle-level army officers who supported him, or members of the right-wing Islamic Star and Crescent Party, won't help either. Instead of the "clean professionals" he promised to appoint, he will end up with a combination of old Megawati ministers and new conservative party and military appointees, perhaps co-opting one or two civil- liberties lawyers for image.
The continued political role of military personnel -- active and retired -- is another problem for Yudyuhono. The army has not beaten back the hostility it engendered during the final years of the Suharto regime, and every attempt to reassert itself has met with resistance. During the election campaign, parliament debated abolishing the military's direct representation in cabinet and establishing civilian supremacy over it. The National Awakening Party even suggested the dismantling of some of the military's territorial command structure. Yudhoyono has been forced to stave off structural change by promising to ensure the military keeps out of politics.
In November, fuel prices will rise. In December, Malaysia is planning to deport to Indonesia 700,000 migrant workers. In January, new World Trade Organisation rules will come into effect, ending quotas on many imports. Unions and Indonesian capitalists agree that 50% of all industrial estates will have to close during the first half of the year, because of Chinese imports.
The indications that a popular upsurge are brewing are there: the low participation rate in historic elections, mounting economic pressure, a president unable to even really pretend to be different, looming explosions in unemployment and price rises and, most importantly, endemic social protest.
Straits Times - September 28, 2004
Derwin Pereira, Jakarta -- Likely president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had little qualms making this promise during his election campaign: There will be no fuel price increase for the poor in Indonesia this year if he takes over office.
It is an issue that will return to haunt him as he aligns his pledges with the difficult task of addressing the country's chronic problems.
Fuel subsidies will be one of the most combustible issues that the former general will have to deal with as he also grapples with a hostile Parliament trying its best to blow up the matter.
Essentially, he is staring at a double-edged sword. He cannot keep the lid on fuel prices at home if oil prices are rising worldwide. He has to cut back on the 63 trillion rupiah (S$11.6 billion) subsidy which is already taking up 20 to 30 per cent of the current state budget. If he does nothing, it will only serve to undermine economic recovery, warn analysts.
Economist Umar Juoro of the Jakarta-based Centre for Information and Development Studies notes: "The Bambang government will face a heavy burden if it allocates too much of its resources to just one sector. It does nothing to improve the confidence of investors ... For them, it is simple: Oil prices are rising. Do something about it or we won't pump money into Indonesia."
But needing to soothe investor concerns and resuscitate a moribund economy is just one side of the problem. If he slashes fuel subsidies, there are likely to be serious political ramifications at home. Legislators are calling on him to raise prices in November, a month after he enters the Merdeka Palace.
November marks the start of the fasting period -- and could potentially stir up unrest if the government goes ahead to raise prices.
Recent history has shown just how powerful the fuel issue can be in destabilising administrations. It triggered the riots in Indonesia that led to Suharto's fall in May 1998. And nearly all three governments since then have had to deal with wide protests whenever fuel price increases came up.
Indeed, it was based on such concerns that Ms Megawati Sukarnoputri put the brakes on any plans to tinker with existing subsidies earlier this year. The fear was that it would generate even greater hostility towards her regime.
There is a curious ironic twist to the tale now. Members of her Indonesian Democratic Party -- Struggle (PDI-P) have backtracked on the issue. Joining forces with Golkar -- which months ago led the charge against Ms Megawati in Parliament to raise prices -- the two juggernauts see this as the "ideal opportunity to get the Bambang presidency off to a bad start".
An aide to Mr Bambang explains: "This is all about politics. There are some legislators who are spoiling for a fight."
Indeed, the head of the parliamentary budget committee is senior Golkar legislator Abdullah Zaini, who is reportedly linked closely with party chairman Akbar Tandjung.
Mr Akbar has declared publicly that Golkar will act as a "loyal opposition" in Parliament. Central to his gameplan is to do everything possible to weaken the incoming administration, with hardliners in his group disclosing privately that they want to topple Mr Bambang within a two-year period.
One of them has told The Straits Times: "We want to give Bambang some shock therapy. He keeps saying that he does not need parliamentary support because he has the backing of most Indonesians. Let us see how he deals with the fuel subsidy issue."
Some argue that Mr Bambang might not have as serious a problem as his predecessors in pushing through with unpopular policies given his widespread popularity and better communication skills.
Economist Chatib Basri from the University of Indonesia says: "It is better that he takes the decision now ... The key is communication. He should educate the public that the decision has an economic rationale, but that it will also not harm the poor."
Some believe Mr Bambang's preference will be to apply a more targeted and "pro-poor" fuel subsidy in order to strike a balance between reducing pressure on the state budget and protecting the less well-off in Indonesia. The thinking here is that the current subsidies favour the rich -- from big companies to car owners. In that light, he might raise prices for bunker oil, premium petrol and industrial diesel oil. But he is unlikely to get rid of subsidies for automotive diesel oil and kerosene, which are used largely by the poor.
So, there might be solutions to ward off potential problems on the streets. But the bigger dilemma for him will be how to deal with Parliament.
Restive legislators from Golkar and PDP-P will be looking to sabotage whatever initiatives he proposes. It looks as if it would be easier for the new president to win on the streets than in Parliament.
Straits Times - September 27, 2004
Jakarta -- Political parties that supported Mr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the Sept 20 run-off poll are accusing him of breaching a pre-election agreement.
Insider sources said the Democratic Party, the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party (PKPI) and the Crescent Star Party (PBB) had agreed to two Cabinet posts each if Mr Bambang and his running mate Jusuf Kalla won the election.
"We also agreed the Prosperous Justice Party should have a single post, since they helped us in the second round, while the remainder of the Cabinet posts would be given to professionals," sources told The Jakarta Post.
These parties are now clamouring for more seats after Mr Bambang hinted at giving a prominent Cabinet post to a senior executive of a minor party that had not campaigned for his presidency bid.
Referring to the New Indonesia Alliance Party (PIB), which did not win a seat in the April legislative election, the source said: "We simply cannot understand why this party gets a Cabinet position. Its leaders did nothing in the campaign." The PIB could not be reached for comment.
Mr Bambang has polled nearly 61 per cent of the 91 per cent of votes counted so far. The General Elections Commission is due to announce the final and binding result of the election on October 5, and the new president will be inaugurated on October 20.
Mr Bambang planned to announce his Cabinet on the same day, the Kompas newspaper reported. One of his early apparent Cabinet choices was his opponent's running mate, Muslim cleric Hasyim Muzadi, who told Reuters he had received an offer to become religion minister but turned it down.
According to PBB chairman Yusril Ihza Mahendra, no pre-election deal had been forged with the three parties that supported Mr Bambang's run-off bid.
He said only three people were involved in the initial discussions with the Bambang camp -- the two candidates and Mr Yusril himself. "Pak Susilo called it the first shareholders," Mr Yusril said. "But this does not mean we will neglect the others." He added that the Democratic Party, the PBB and the PKPI became involved in discussions only at a later date.
He also said the PBB had yet to begin discussing the Cabinet line-up of the next government, pending the official announcement of the election result.
Meanwhile, a number of leading politicians, such as former cooperatives minister Adi Sasono and National Awakening Party executive Ali Masykur Moesa, said they had received SMS messages offering them Cabinet posts. Mr Bambang rejected the telephone text messages on Saturday as misleading.
Jakarta Post - September 28, 2004
Mochtar Buchori, Jakarta -- While the official vote-count may still be ongoing, it is almost certain that the Megawati Soekarnoputri-Hasyim Muzadi pair has lost the presidential race, and Gen. (ret) Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) will become the country's sixth president along with his running mate Jusuf Kalla as vice president.
The contest for the national leadership for the 2004-2009 term has already been settled in a definitive way -- as with Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
How will the party react to this new situation? It will take some time before PDI-P can take a united stand as a political party in facing the new challenges of the future.
It will be better for the party if it concentrates from this point forth on preparing itself to perform better in the 2009 general elections. There are many, many things to do.
It would be very desirable if, among others, the party managed to heal its many internal wounds by 2007.
It should be noted in this respect that the next general elections would probably take place under conditions different from what we have today. The economic condition will be different -- hopefully better, but it could also get worse. The electorate will be different, and we will have a public that is more mature politically. In addition, the security situation will most likely be different from the situation today.
With all these probable changes, it would be very unwise for the PDI-P to enter the major political contest of 2009 without renewing its intellectual arsenal -- it would be utterly impossible to perform adequately in the next general elections using the same political paradigms and tools that proved disastrous this year.
To compete and succeed in a changed political environment, PDI-P will also have to change, and the party must meet certain requirements to change for the better.
First, it must make an honest assessment concerning the main causes for its present defeat. It must ask itself why, within the short period from 1999 to 2004, it lost so much of its popular appeal. Second, it must decide whether it really wants to become a democratic party that is run in a genuinely democratic manner, or whether it wants to preserve its current character as a pseudo-democratic party, run in a semi-autocratic manner.
PDI-P has lost much of its popular appeal through the public perception that it is a corrupt party. In the public eye, corruption appears rampant among PDI-P legislators, both at the national and local levels. In addition, the public believes that members of the party's executive councils -- from the national all the way down to the district levels -- are tainted by corruption.
The public verdict on the PDI-P is thus truly devastating: It is a corrupt lot. The extent to which this allegation is true is inconsequential; this is how the public perceives the party.
It is thus interesting to note in this regard the speculation made by some observers -- that voters flocked to the Susilo camp, not so much because they were convinced that Susilo had the capability to bring about those changes for which the people had been yearning, but more so because of public conviction that the PDI-P under Megawati would not be able -- and probably would not ever try -- to stop corruption.
It is this very image that PDI-P must change. As long as this perception persists, it will never regain the popular appeal it enjoyed in 1999, no matter what it does.
The third imperative is for the PDI-P to affirm itself as a party that upholds democracy as a political system.
As a party member, I often have the impression that PDI-P is embracing democracy in name only. The way it conducts its day-to-day business -- insofar as the central executive council is concerned -- is far from democratic.
What has been carried out in the name of the party has seldom been the decision of the entire party leadership. Rather, they have been decisions taken by mighty personalities within the party. Thus, the ensuing impression is that those decisions were made to suit the interests of a few at the top.
If PDI-P wants to win back the trust of its rank and file, it must change the style of its leadership. Furthermore, if it wants to contribute to the democratization of this nation, it must start adopting democratic practices in its political conduct. Unless this is done immediately, PDI-P will become a burden to Indonesia's blossoming democracy, which has gained enough strength and can now be stopped only by brutal totalitarian force.
Is the PDI-P ready to make this change? Under present conditions, this is rather unlikely.
There is still another argument for suggesting change within the party: It never discusses scenarios for the future. Neither the old guard nor the new guard shows sincere concern in this matter. Its interest seems firmly planted in the present, and the party seems to think that whatever comes in the future is the problem of the next generation -- it has nothing to do with the current generation. Furthermore, there is not the slightest indication that the party leadership intends to change this tradition.
The consequence of this myopic view is that PDI-P has never conducted, as far as I know, serious discussions concerning Indonesia's role in the global dynamics of the present.
For a political party as large as PDI-P, this is a serious shortcoming. While young people from various non-political organizations have begun to talk intelligently about global issues that will affect Indonesia's future, PDI-P politicians mumble incoherently about a vision and mission they do not even understand.
It is against this backdrop that more and more members have started talking about the need for radical changes in the party leadership. The argument is that those responsible for the present disaster must be held accountable.
So whither is PDI-P heading? The writer is a House of Representatives legislator of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) faction.
Jakarta Post - September 28, 2004
Jakarta -- The US Embassy's election observation team said on Monday Indonesia conducted the direct presidential election orderly and peacefully, without disruption to voter access to the September 20 polls.
"Our observers acknowledged significant improvement in electoral logistics and election administration over previous rounds," the observation team said in a statement.
It said its 60 official observers, who were deployed to some 400 polling stations in 22 provinces, witnessed some variations in the procedures outlined by the General Elections Commission (KPU), but it did not consider these variations to have had a significant effect on the integrity of the process.
The team commended the KPU and the spirit of community participation for "the most challenging electoral processes in the history of democracy".
The observers included US Ambassador to Indonesia Ralph L. Boyce and US Agency for International Development mission director William M. Frej.
Jakarta Post - September 28, 2004
Nana Rukmana, Ambon -- After a three-day investigation, the Cirebon Election Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu) has ruled Cirebon Mayor Subardi violated election rules by campaigning for incumbent President Megawati Soekarnoputri.
The local Panwaslu had sent its file on the case to Cirebon Municipality Police Adj. Sr. Comr. Siswandi, so Subardi could face further police questioning, chairman Wasikin Marzuki said on Monday. "We will investigate the case quickly and thoroughly," Siswandi said.
Wasikin said Subardi had failed to take leave while campaigning for Megawati and Hasyim Muzadi on September 16 -- the third day of official campaigning for the presidential election. By backing Megawati, the mayor was also guilty of breaching the law's impartiality principle governing state officials, he said.
Panwaslu said Subardi had violated Article 40 of Presidential Election Law No. 23/2003, which prohibits government officials from making decisions or behaving in a manner during the campaign period that could favor a presidential or vice-presidential candidate. If found guilty, Subardi faces a maximum sentence of six month's jail.
Wasikin said the Panwaslu had decided to charge Subardi in a plenary session on Monday after it questioned him and four other witnesses.
Subardi's case surfaced after the Panwaslu discovered a video compact disc (VCD) showing footage of him participating in a campaign held on September 16. On the VCD, Subardi is shown officiating over the establishment of the Mega-Hasyim Campaign Forum, as well as appealing to people gathered at the meeting to vote for Megawati.
Radio Australia - September 22, 2004
Former general, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono remains on track for a landslide victory in Indonesia's first direct presidential election. After an election campaign characterised more by personalities than politics, the challenges facing Indonesia's first democratically-chosen leader are substantial.
Presenter/Interviewer: Sen Lam
Speakers: Greg Fealy, lecturer and research fellow in Indonesian politics, the Australian National University
Lam: Greg Fealy to what degree was this vote a judgement on the performance of incumbent Megawati Sukarnoputri?
Fealy: I think it was both a rejection of the style of leadership that Indonesians felt Megawati gave over the last three or so years, but also I think it was an endorsement of the alternative that Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono presented. So on the one hand we had Megawati very hesitant, very reluctant to take decisions, giving very little public leadership on debates on very controversial issues, and on the other hand we had Bambang Yudhoyono who seemed to be far more resolute and had much more intellectual engagement with the key policy issues and also seemed to have a more systematic plan for how he would carry these out.
Lam: Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as you say is seen as the more decisive one but if early trends persist and he does becomes president ... would it be an endorsement of SBY's pledges to fight terror and reform government?
Fealy: I think reform government definitely. The public opinion polls have consistently shown that the most important issues in the minds of voters were economic ones, anti-corruption and general reform issues, rule of law, things like that, as well as general domestic security issues, and that includes things such as policies to contain or to fight separatists, violence particularly in Aceh. The terrorism issue there was very little evidence that that was a major part of people's thinking, and really there wasn't a great deal of difference between SBY's policies on this, Bambang Yudhoyono's policies and Megawati's policies. I think probably a lot of Indonesians felt that Megawati had performed quite well on the terrorism issue, whereas they felt that she hadn't really done very well on those other issues, the cleaning up government and industry and also improving the economy.
Lam: In terms of personality and political make-up, do you think SBY has what it takes to fix Indonesia's problems -- to take the hard perhaps more unpalatable decisions?
Fealy: I have some reservations about that. I think he'll provide solid leadership but I don't know whether he will provide bold or creative leadership. He has record in the past of not taking on senior cabinet colleagues, not confronting major forces in politics over policy issues. There's only been a couple of notable exceptions to that, but for a lot of the time he's kept a reasonably low profile and has tendered to go the course of not quite least resistance but certainly not really sticking up for what he's told his staff he believes are the good policy options. Now whether he's different when he is the number one person, when he is the president I suppose we just have to wait and see. But so far on occasions he has lacked resolve and to push through some of the economic reforms that are going to be needed if Indonesia is to return to those sort of high growth levels of seven to eight per cent, he's going to have to take on some very powerful political and economic vested interests. And that will cause a lot of political pain, and I have doubts whether he has the stomach for that particular fight.
Lam: Indeed as you say it remains to be seen how SBY will attack Indonesia's myriad of problems, but to your mind what's the most pressing issue that he has to address should he become president?
Fealy: I think in the minds of the Indonesian electorate more than anything else they are looking for quick progress on the economy. They really want the economy growing at above that sort of five per cent level, and particularly employment growing because at the moment the growth of new employment opportunities and new jobs is not matching the number of people coming on to the workforce, and that has a big impact on people. Also increasing, considerable increase in income levels; I think people are also looking for those kinds of results from SBY. And if he doesn't deliver on that I think it's possible to see a scenario eventuating where he comes under quite sustained criticism from his political opponents.
Lam: So what does this election mean for Indonesia's political system ... this historic direct presidential election?
Fealy: I think it's important in that Indonesia has always in theory had a presidential system, certainly during the Suharto era the executive was where power was concentrated and parliament was a very weak institution. In the years immediately after Suharto's downfall there was some revisions to the constitution, which really delivered a lot more power into the hands of parliament, and in some ways it hamstrung the executive and the powers of the president. And although in terms of checks and balances there are some positives to that it also meant that the ability of the government to respond effectively to all sorts of issues was reduced or circumscribed.
Jakarta Post - September 27, 2004
Umar Juoro, Jakarta -- The early results of last Monday's presidential election clearly show that Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will win the presidency convincingly with about 60 percent of the vote. We see again the overwhelming expression of the voters for change.
Actually, the voters who chose Susilo do not yet even know the details of his programs. In other words, the popularity of the candidate counted more than his manifesto.
Meanwhile, the voters gave the thumbs down to incumbent President Megawati, not because she was unpopular, but due to the disappointing performance of her government.
This clearly shows Indonesian voters behaved asymmetrically towards the presidential candidates. They elected Susilo mainly on the back of his personal popularity and the strong desire for change and voted down the incumbent president for her poor performance.
This same situation is likely to happen again in the 2009 presidential election when voters will reelect or reject the incumbent, Susilo, based on his performance, not his personal popularity. This means his administration's ability to solve the main problems that the country faces, such as the economy, unemployment, and corruption, will determine the fate of his presidency.
The first challenge Susilo faces is to assemble a capable and solid cabinet consisting not only of men and women who are knowledgeable and experienced in their fields, but also who are be able to deal with the political hurdles posed by the House of Representatives, vested-interest groups, and local administrations.
One of the issues is whether Susilo will retain the current Finance Minister Boediono. If Boediono is retained, there is a serious potential conflict in policy approaches as he has been known to favor a consistently conservative fiscal stance, while Jusuf Kalla is known for his expansive fiscal policies.
Similarly, the issue of synergy between ministers with professional backgrounds and who have political party backing should be addressed early on and properly in order to create a well-orchestrated cabinet.
In dealing with the House, Susilo's administration will face a serious problem. His Democrartic Party-led coalition has a minority in the House with the majority of seats held jointly by the newly formed opposition of the Golkar Party and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle or PDI-P.
A comprise solution by accommodating party leaders from Golkar and PDI-P in his cabinet would not guarantee good cooperation and relationships between the executive and the legislative branches. But Susilo could still consider including Golkar in his ruling coalition as this party may drop its current chairman Akbar Tandjung at its national congress in November.
Developing a coalition with Golkar would give the necessary support in the House for the Susilo administration in pushing ahead with its legislative agenda and other strategic policy measures that require the House's endorsement.
Susilo will also encounter many problems in provincial and regional legislatures as they are also mostly dominated by Golkar and the PDI-P.
For example, the alliance of Susilo's Democratic Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), which controls majority seats in the Jakarta legislature, failed recently to make the PKS candidate the speaker of the City Council. He lost to a Golkar candidate from a minority faction in the council.
Susilo's coalition with Golkar, at least in the post-Akbar era, would strengthen support for Susilo's administration in dealing with local administrations, especially with regards to concentrated efforts to create a conducive environment for investment. Susilo will find it much easier in dealing with the business community. The only thing that has to be clarified is the misunderstanding among Indonesian Chinese entrepreneurs that his vice president Jusuf Kalla would implement an affirmative action policy in favor of indigenous-run (pribumi) businesses at the expense of the Chinese.
In regards to labor issues, Susilo should be assisted by a manpower minister capable of convincing trade unions of the importance of flexible labor rules to stimulate businesses and new investments in order to create more jobs. Handling labor issues is a very difficult job in this open political environment.
Finally, Susilo should demonstrate his resoluteness to strengthen law enforcement and combat corruption in order to improve his credibility.
It is better for Susilo's attorney general and chief of police to initially zero in on a carefully selected number of high-profile corruption cases with a high probability of verdicts to build up public's confidence in the campaign against graft.
It is well-advised for Susilo to realize that what is important for the voters is the result. Voters in a direct presidential election system can change quickly from being supporters to detractors if their elected president fails to deliver on his promises early on.
[The writer is a senior fellow at the Habibie Center.]
|Campaign against militarism|
Detik.com - October 1, 2004
Bagus Kurniawan, Yogyakarta -- A demonstration rejecting militarism and demanding the abolition of the military's territorial commands(1) by activists from the National Student League for Democracy (LMND) ended in a clash after it was broken up by members of the Indonesian Anti-Communist Front (Front Anti Komunis Indonesia, FAKI). One of the LMND activist who was caught by FAKI members became a target of their anger while the other students scattered and ran for safety.
The clash occurred at 11.30am on Friday October 1 at the Ngejaman intersection on Jalan Reksobayan in Yogyakarta, Central Java, some 100 metres from the headquarters of the Pamungkas 072 sub- district military command (Koramil). At the time some 50 or so LMND activist had wanted to hold an action in front of Koramil but before it could take place they were intercepted and attacked by around 10 FAKI members armed with wooden clubs, bamboo sticks and iron bars.
When the LMND activist realised they had been cut off the activists scattered and ran for safety. Several FAKI members chased them waving clubs and sticks. One activist who was caught in the southern section of the Beringharjo market parking lot was immediately set upon and repeatedly beaten and kicked until they fell to the ground.
The other activists disappeared in an easterly direction alongside the Beringharjo parking lot and to the south in the direction of the post office on the intersection of Jalan Senopati. Posters, banners and flags with symbols of Jaker (People's Cultural Network) which had been abandoned in front of the March 1 SO Monument were immediately trodden on and torn apart by FAKI members.
Other FAKI members meanwhile continued to chase after activists who were still carrying LMND flags and who had retreated into a shopping centre around 500 metres from the location where the clash occurred.
As they were tearing up and stomping on the posters they expressed their displeasure with shouts of "where are their pictures of the hammer and sickle, there must be pictures of the hammer and sickle". "This is the work of the PKI [Indonesian Communist Party], Jaker is an underbouw of the PKI and must be fought", said FAKI Yogyakarta leader Burhanuddin as they set fire to flags with symbols of Jaker.
Prior to the clash the LMND activists had held an action at the Gajah Mada University roundabout which had begun at 9.30am after which they held a "long-march" towards the intersection at the Yogyakarta Monument on Jalan Mangkubumi followed by speeches at the gates of the Yogyakarta provincial parliament on Jalan Malioboro.
In addition to rejecting militarism, they also demanded the abolition of the military's territorial military commands including Kodam, Korem, Kodim, Koramil and Babinsa along with the repeal of the law on the TNI (armed forces) which has recently been enacted by the People's Consultative Assembly. They also called for the TNI to return to the barracks, the withdrawal of non-organic troops from Aceh and West Papua as well as the unconditional release of all political prisoners.
They also condemned the government of incumbent President Megawati Sukarnoputri and the incoming government of president- elect Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) and vice-president-elect Jusuf Kalla who they said had only created a coalition of the elite rather than a people's coalition(2). "SBY and Kalla are a reflection of an administration which is militaristic and neoliberal so it is already clear that they won't side with the ordinary people", said Hilman Afriandi in a speech. (nrl)
1. The TNI's territorial command structure mandates the deployment of military command posts and detachments at all levels of the civil administration: provincial, district, sub- district and village. This structure provides the organisational framework for the TNI to act as a political security force at all levels of society. The five respective commands are: Kodam - Komando Daerah Militer, Regional Military Command; Korem - Komando Resort Militer, Military Command at a level below the residency; Kodim - Komando Distrik Militer, District Military Command; Koramil - Komando Rayon Militer, Sub-District Military Command (Kecamatan) level and; Babinsa - Bintara Pembina Desa, Noncommissioned military officer posted in villages and wards and affiliated with the civilian administration.
2. In an attempt to bolster her flagging electoral campaign in the lead up to the second-round of the presidential elections on September 20, 2004, incumbent President Megawati Sukarnoputri's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle formed an electoral alliance with the former state ruling party Golkar and several other established political parties called the Nationalist Coalition (Koalisi Kebangsaan). In response, presidential front- runner Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and running mate Jusuf Kalla declared what they called the People's Coalition (Koalisi Rakyat) which they tried to promote as a so-called coalition between the SBY/Kalla team and the ordinary people and their desire for change which was contrasted against the Nationalist Coalition which many saw as little more than an alliance between the political elite to maintain the status quo.
[Translated by James Balowski.]
Jakarta Post - September 27, 2004
Tony Hotland, Jakarta -- Reports of misuse and alleged corruption of state funds by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) last week were perhaps the clearest indication that the die-hard practice of graft could now be called a die-hard institution.
The BPK reported to the House of Representatives last week it had discovered irregularities of Rp 37.4 trillion (US$4.1 billion) in 377 state institutions from 2002 until the first semester of this year. The huge amount is equal to more than 63 percent of the government fuel subsidy this year.
And most shockingly -- but unsurprisingly -- the body responsible for overseeing the nation's judiciary, the Attorney General's Office (AGO), topped the list with the highest percentage of irregularities, about 51.8 percent of Rp 618.7 billion audited within the office.
This is not the first time the office has topped such a notorious list. It was named the biggest "money abuser" last year, with the BPK reporting the misuse of 95 percent of Rp 11.99 billion of non-taxable funds in the office.
The BPK has long been reporting similar findings for years. It disclosed Rp 12 trillion worth of financial irregularities in the implementation of the state budget in 1999.
The agency found 1,076 cases of irregularities in the 2001 state budget with potential losses of trillions of rupiah, mostly in state-owned enterprises. These enterprises were reported to have misused a staggering Rp 87 trillion of state funds in 2000.
Yet, despite the consecutive negative reports by the agency, analysts and officials say no one in power seems to be able or willing to seek solutions to the problem, with investigations petering out and few officials brought to justice.
Agency chairman Satrio "Billy" Joedono has complained during many occasions about the reluctance of the government in following up on the reports, with a sluggish and half-hearted response from the House, National Police and the AGO.
These reports often end up being shelved without proper inquiries or court action resulting. Accused institutions generally refute the BPK's reports and cases stop abruptly.
Billy reported last year that of the 5,881 cases causing over Rp 2 trillion in possible state losses previously reported, only 155 cases worth Rp 6.5 billion had been settled. Many suspects of corruption offenses have also escaped legal sanctions.
Even after anti-corruption demonstrations broke out following the fall of former president Soeharto's regime six years ago and the much-vaunted reform movement came to power, legal enforcement has not improved, analysts say.
Of all the reform agendas steadfastly pledged by Soeharto's successors -- including the likely president-elect Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono -- the willingness to properly follow-up BPK reports, is essential.
A BPK report issued early this year, found irregularities of more than Rp 26 billion in 2003 at the Office of the Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs, led by Susilo at the time.
Lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis said one of the main reasons why many state agencies easily dismissed BPK reports was the difference in auditing methods between those agencies and the BPK.
"The government should seek one standardized auditing method to avoid such a denial and discrepancy of audit results in the future. We can't let such a thing become a reason," he told The Jakarta Post over the weekend.
The reports should be the prime basis for the government in probing leakages of state funds," he said But to effectively do this, there needed to be a shift in the mindset in the government officials.
"The next government must seriously verify and cross-check BPK reports or investigate them and we must never ignore such reports. Making those reports is very expensive," he said.
Detik.com - September 28, 2004
Muhammad Atqa, Jakarta -- Hundreds of people from the Bekasi Social Forum (Forum Masyarakat Bekasi, FMB) and the Islamic Youth Movement (Gerakan Pemuda Islam, GPI) are calling for the controversial draft law on the armed forces (RUU TNI) to be enacted immediately. The strange thing is they admit that they don't even know the substance of the law.
The call was made during a demonstration at the People's Representative Assembly building in Senayan, Jakarta, on Tuesday September 28 by some 70 FMB members and 200 people from GPI.
The two groups arrived at the DPR at around 10am and by 12noon the action was till being held. The FMB action coordinator said that demands for the enactment of the RUU TNI to be delayed only represent the views of an elite group. The general public he said, want the law to be enacted immediately.
Although they are calling for the draft law to be enacted immediately, many of the demonstrators did not enven know the substance of the law. Their call was based on the grounds that the law needs to be enacted because the TNI has given a great service by protecting ordinary people.
"That's just the view of some smart people, that it would be better if the RUU TNI not be enacted. Hey, we don't know anything about the controversy surrounding the RUU TNI. What we do know is that the TNI has given a great service to the people", said action coordinator Agus who declined to give his full name.
The various banners and posters brought by the demonstrators were filled with praise for the TNI. "TNI is the protector of the state, the protector of NKRI(1)" and "Maintain NKRI until death, make RUU TNI a success".
The plan is for the DPR to enact the law tomorrow, Wednesday September 29. The law is still being deliberated by legislators. (iy)
1. NKRI - Negara Kesatuan Republik Indonesia, the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia. A term which is often used in the context of nationalism and the desire to maintain the integrity of the Indonesian nation.
[Translated by James Balowski.]
Jakarta Post - September 28, 2004
Kurniawan Hari, Jakarta -- The House of Representatives and the government finished on Monday deliberating the bill amending the current autonomy legislation, with the final version of the new bill maintaining the ban on independents from freely contesting direct elections for chief executive posts at the local level.
A candidate must be nominated by a political party or a coalition of parties securing at least 15 percent of the seats in the local legislature, or at least 15 percent of the overall popular vote, the bill states.
It adds that individuals wishing to contest elections for the offices of governor, mayor or regent must comply with the internal selection process of a political party or group of parties.
"Political parties or groups of parties should provide opportunities for eligible individuals to run for office, and assess their qualifications transparently before nominating them," legislator Agun Gunandjar Sudarsa told a hearing of the House special committee deliberating the local government law amendment bill.
Minister of Home Affairs Hari Sabarno and Minister of Finance Boediono attended the hearing, which was presided over by Agustin Teras Narang of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
The bill on the amendment of Law No. 22/1999 is slated for endorsement during a House plenary session on September 29, one day before the House ends its five-year term.
The government had proposed that an individual gaining the support of 1 percent of the total number of eligible voters in the respective local government jurisdiction should be able to nominate themselves to run in elections for local offices.
But the proposal was rejected by most House factions, which insisted that all candidates must be nominated by political parties or groups of parties.
Without the support of the political parties in the local legislature, a local administration would not be able to work effectively, they claimed.
The bill stipulates that if none of the candidates win more than 50 percent of the vote, the candidate who has gained more than 25 percent of the vote and more votes than any of the other candidates would be declared the winner.
If two candidates have an equal share of the vote, the one whose support is better distributed than the other will be named the winner.
If none of them gain a 25 percent share of the vote, the two candidates with the biggest shares of the vote will have to face an election runoff.
Ministry of Home Affairs director of regional autonomy Oentarto S. Muwardi said his ministry had prepared government regulations on the procedures for the holding of local direct elections.
There will be around 150 elections for local chief executive posts next year, including those for the governors of Bengkulu and Jambi provinces, he added.
Oentarto said the bill authorizes the president to suspend a governor, mayor or regent who is named a suspect in a crime that carries a minimum penalty of five years in jail.
The home affairs minister can also suspend a mayor or regent in similar circumstances, he added.
Agun said the bill also barred foreign observers from monitoring local direct elections, while campaign donations from individuals and institutions must not exceed Rp 50 million and Rp 350 million respectively.
Key Articles in the bill
[Source: The House Special Committee.]
Jakarta Post - September 27, 2004
Kurniawan Hari, Jakarta -- With only four days to go before the House of Representatives ends its five-year term at the end of this month, it appears most likely that it will be unable to finish deliberating the controversial Indonesian Military (TNI) bill.
The House is scheduled to end its term when the members elected in the April 5 legislative elections are sworn in on October 1, 2004.
Ad interim coordinating minister for political and security affairs Hari Sabarno said on Saturday that the failure to complete the deliberations on the crucial bill would have no serious effect on the military.
"There will be no serious impact. Everything will proceed normally. We can still refer to the current law," he told journalists on the sidelines of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR)'s final session.
The minister, however, said he still hoped the current House could finish the TNI bill before the end of its term.
Whether or not the current House and government would be able finish the bill depended on their ability to achieve a consensus, Hari added.
According to Hari, there were 373 items that had yet to be discussed, with some of them being controversial. The most crucial contentious issues in the bill include the TNI's position vis-a-vis the state administration -- whether it should be under the direct control of the president or the Ministry of Defense.
The future of the TNI's territorial role, which human rights groups oppose, and the retirement age for military officers, are also among the contentious issues.
Separately on Saturday, lawmaker Permadi, who has been deeply involved in the deliberation of the TNI bill, said that the House had made some progress in its discussions. "I would like to express my appreciation for the defense ministry and TNI for their readiness to accept the proposals from the House factions," he told The Jakarta Post in Jakarta. He said the House factions and the TNI had reached understandings on some crucial issues.
Permadi, from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) faction, said that the TNI has agreed to drop its proposal that it be allowed to maintain its territorial role.
Under the New Order government of autocratic president Soeharto, the TNI abused its territorial function to intimidate those who refused to toe the government line.
The territorial role, which means that the military maintains a system of local offices that parallels the structure of civilian local government at all levels, was also used to take control of security matters that were in fact the responsibility of the National Police under the law. Permadi said the House factions and the government had agreed to relocate the military personnel manning the territorial system to border areas and conflict zones. "This is aimed at preventing the military from intervening in political affairs like in the past," he said.
Meanwhile, the Golkar faction called on its members not to attend the House during the plenary session of the five-day annual session of the MPR that ended on Sunday night. "We were told to focus on the final meeting of the Assembly. We will start attending House meetings again only after the MPR has ended its session," Golkar legislator Yasril Ananta Baharuddin said.
Commenting on Golkar's stance, Permadi said that it would not affect the deliberations of the TNI bill, arguing that the legislators involved in the discussions had already secured the approval of their respective faction leaders
|Reconciliation & justice|
Jakarta Post Oped - September 30, 2004
Kornelius Purba, Jakarta -- Who is willing to help a poor woman end her 39-year search for her missing father, and to restore her civil rights, which were taken from her by the state, merely because she is the daughter of a communist?
When a nation is mature enough to democratically and peacefully elect its president, shouldn't it then be civilized enough to determine the truth, as to why brutality colored this peaceful and religious nation 39 years ago?
Until now, Rohana and her five siblings do not know the whereabouts of their father, Sitohang, who was arrested by the military in Pematang Siantar, North Sumatra, shortly after the aborted coup d'etat blamed on the outlawed Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) on September 30, 1965.
Their father never came back, his body was not returned and their house was seized by the military, and ownership of it transferred to another party -- without their consent.
Rohana is only one example. Hundreds of thousands of people -- if not millions -- were butchered throughout the country 39 years ago, because of their alleged PKI membership. We should not forget, however, that the communist party was also responsible for the deaths of a great number of people -- although we have never arrived at an estimated figure. The communists nearly killed my father before the September 30 tragedy, just because he was a teacher and a church activist.
The truth behind the September 30 coup attempt was never revealed. But Sukarno was involved in the coup himself, if you want to believe one government version of events. Soeharto then replaced Sukarno in 1967. People had the courage to talk openly about the communist issue only after Soeharto's fall from power in 1998.
The families of alleged PKI members were treated like pariah during the Soeharto era. Only a few cases were taken to court, as most alleged members were killed or detained for years without trial. Their families were put under the military's microscope. Government doors were virtually closed to them.
Many massacre victims were innocent. They were registered as members of the PKI or affiliated organizations without their knowledge, or they were forced to join by their superiors at work. Farmers could only receive fertilizer when they became PKI members.
Didn't that also happen to many members of the former ruling party Golkar? Many were forced to join the party during Soeharto's tenure.
Only Abdurrahman Wahid, former president and chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama -- members of which were directly involved in the massacre -- had the heart to publicly apologize to the victims and their families. Although, in the words of noted writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer, who was also suspected of being a PKI member, "Immediately after apologizing he started to make jokes."
Should we just ignore the demands of victims of injustice? Many Indonesians have probably forgotten this tragedy, as it happened 39 years ago -- and also because the government has brainwashed them via the "official history of the nation" taught in schools. But many people do remember, and the government has not made any serious effort to rewrite the history books.
Communism collapsed in eastern Europe, and even China has undergone drastic changes -- Indonesia accused China of supporting the September 30 coup attempt and the two countries only restored their diplomatic ties in 1990.
But, in Indonesia, communism has become a ghost or a tool, which is still effective to terrorize citizens. Up until August at least, pamphlets were readily available in many cities of Central Java that warned of "the latent threat of communism".
The House of Representatives (DPR) has recently passed the bill on the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Commission will follow the South African model that was used to resolve cases of human rights abuse during the apartheid era. The Commission has the authority to investigate and settle gross human rights violations that occurred since the country's independence in 1945. Its main goal is to disclose all facts, find the perpetrators, the victims, and then, forge a reconciliation process as a final solution.
But who should be asked first about the September 30 tragedy? The nation needs to reveal its secrets. It is a very heavy task -- if not a Mission Impossible.
But, the Commission can start by inviting people to voluntarily testify about the incidents. Who knows whether Soeharto is willing to talk, because he should have his own version of events.
Every September 30, at least during Soeharto's era, flags were lowered to half-mast to commemorate the tragedy -- without people knowing what really happened.
People are taught that communists are monsters, although, in this day and age, corruptors should be our No. 1 Public Enemy.
Will we just forget the bloody incident? The September 30 tragedy was likely the worst human rights abuse in this country since its independence. There is a long list of human rights violations that occurred during Soeharto's era. In 1984, dozens of people were killed during a clash with the military. In 1989, 30 people (according to the military's version) were killed when the military descended upon a riot in Lampung. Hendropriyono, the incumbent chief of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN), was in charge of security in Lampung at that time. Massive riots also erupted in many cities days before Soeharto stepped down in May 1998. How many people lost their life in East Timor because of the brutality of our soldiers sent to Indonesia's former territory?
We can only make peace with our past when we, as a nation, have the courage to reopen human rights cases, however bitter our recollections of them are. Or, should we treat them like X files?
Rohana -- and many other children of alleged communists -- continues to ask ,"If my father is still alive, where can I find him. If he died, where is his grave so that I might visit it?"
As the daughter of a communist she lost her chance to find the best available man to father her children. So, her father was a communist, why is it up to her to bear such a heavy burden?
Let us forgive the mistakes of the past, but never forget them. We need to learn from them. We will soon have the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We have taken our first steps toward digging up the facts that have been buried these long years. But, in terms of real justice, the journey has just begun.
Rohana, perhaps, will not be thanking the Commission, as, for all its good intentions, there is nothing it can do to help her.
[Kornelius Purba is a staff writer for The Jakarta Post.]
|Focus on Jakarta|
Jakarta Post - September 28, 2004
Bambang Nurbianto, Jakarta -- Dozens of expatriates were shocked by the recent visit of officials of the Jakarta administration to their apartments at Taman Rasuna in Kuningan, South Jakarta. The officials carried forms that they were required to be filled out.
"We were shocked because they came to our apartments in the evening without prior information. They told us to just fill out the forms. They said they wanted to reregister all expatriates in the city," James Davis, one of the foreign tenants, said on Monday.
"I did not know there was a new regulation about expatriates in the city because I have been living in the apartment for two years without any problems," he said, recalling his experience two months ago.
Davis was only one of around 36,000 foreigners in Jakarta, who were surprised by the administration's new policy on foreigners. Only recently they found out that it was the policy of the Jakarta Population and Civil Registration Agency.
Agency head Sylviana Murni explained that the registration of expatriates by the agency was part of the implementation of the newly enacted Bylaw No. 4/2004 on Population and Civil Registration, which stipulates a number of new obligations for foreigners.
"Under the new bylaw, all foreigners are required to register themselves with the agency. The agency will issue a document for each foreigner, depending on his or her status -- temporary visitor, temporary resident or permanent resident," she told the press after the dissemination of the bylaw on Monday.
She said a foreigner with a visitors permit or visa would receive a letter explaining that he or she had reported his or her presence in Jakarta. A foreigner with an temporary stay permit would get a foreigner or visitors identity card (KIP) and a certificate listing family members (SKSKP). And a foreigner with a permanent stay permit will receive an identity card for foreigners (KTP WNA) and card listing family members (KK).
Sylviana said her office would issue a guideline for the implementation of the bylaw next week. The guideline would be used by relevant officials to carry out their tasks, including conducting raids against those who violated the bylaw.
With the implementation of the bylaw, she said, foreigners would be the targets of operasi yustisi (raids against those who live in the capital without ID cards).
In the past, such a raid was only held for local migrant workers, who usually move to the city after the Idul Fitri holidays to work as laborers or in the informal sector. The raids are usually conducted at companies and boarding houses where migrant workers live.
"We will also conduct operasi yustisi at hotels, apartments, as well as boarding and rented houses," she said, adding that those who violated the bylaw could be sentenced to a maximum of three months in prison or pay a Rp 5 million (US$ 549.45) fine.
Sylviana did not clearly say when the raid would take place but stressed that it would be after her office finished drafting the guideline.
Jufri, a staff member at the agency, said there were thousands of foreigners in the city, who had violated their stay permits. He added that many foreigners used tourist visas to work in various sectors. "Many of them are working at karaoke clubs, discotheques or even as prostitutes," he said.
Jakarta Post - September 27, 2004
Urip Hudiono, Jakarta -- Cyclists cruised their way past joggers and pedestrians strolling leisurely along the quiet Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin in the fresh morning air. Here and there, groups of children played soccer, while their parents got in a bit of exercise.
This scene, which would never happen on a weekday, played out on Sunday on the two main thoroughfares in Central Jakarta in commemoration of Car Free Day.
Centered around the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, the event was a call for Jakartans to help reduce pollution by leaving their cars at home for the day. All motorized vehicles were barred from the streets' fast lanes from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
"By not using motorized vehicles, we can enjoy at least one day of clean air," Car Free Day chief organizer Bambang Parlupi said.
The event was organized by the Clean Emission Partnership, comprising several environmental organizations, together with the Jakarta administration.
To add life to the event, organizers held a street fair near the traffic circle, featuring music, plays and a drawing competition for children.
An exhibition of posters promoting the use of bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles was held at the pedestrian bridges along Jl. Thamrin.
Residents could also rent bicycles, provided by the North Jakarta Bicycle Taxi Association. Costing only Rp 2,000 (22 US cents) for two hours, the bicycle rentals were a hit, and customers lined up for a turn. People were given the choice of peddling themselves or using the service of a driver.
Numerous visitors told The Jakarta Post the event was better than a normal Sunday, when both streets are regularly blocked off for joggers and cyclists, and they wanted more such events.
"Make it every day ... It is not every day that we can enjoy fresh air in the middle of the business district," said Rano, a resident of Kebon Jeruk, West Jakarta.
Rano, who came to the event with his brother and daughter, also suggested that for future events the streets be totally closed, including the slow lanes, which were still open to traffic.
"If not, we will still have to breathe in the air pollution from the vehicles passing by in the slow lanes," he said.
Starting at about 10 a.m., cars and motorcycles quickly backed up in the slow lanes of the two thoroughfares. Many motorists, noticing that the traffic police were no longer guarding the restricted lanes, jumped into the fast lanes before the event officially ended at 3 p.m.
Despite the praise, not all Jakartans welcomed Car Free Day. Several motorists complained that they got stuck in traffic when they were trying to enjoy their day off. The management of a restaurant on Jl. Sudirman also complained that the event disrupted its business.
The chairman of the Joint Committee for the Phasing Out of Leaded Gasoline, Ahmad Safrudin, however, said this event benefited all residents.
"During last year's event, the level of pollutants decreased by some 30 percent as compared with a week before the event and a week after," he said. "We expect a similar result this year, which shows the event actually makes the city's air cleaner and healthier." Ahmad said he hoped the public would support the event in the future, including plans to hold it on a weekday.
|News & issues|
FNPBI News - September 28, 2004
Jakarta -- A number of worker, student, urban poor and political movement organisations have come together under the banner of the People's United Action to urge the government and the people's representatives to honour their promises to implement reform.
The alliance is made up of the People's Committee of United Struggle (Komite Perjuangan Rakyat Bersatu) which includes a number of trade unions including the Indonesian National Front for Labour Struggle (FNPBI), the Indonesian Labor Union (GSBI), Aspek (a federation of bank trade unions), the Indonesian Labor Union Confederation (Gaspermindo), the PT Dirgantara Indonesia Workers Communication Forum and the Indonesian Port Transportation Labor Union (SBTPI). Also involved is the United Opposition Front (BOB) which is made up of the People's Democratic Party (PRD), the Action Study Circle for Indonesian Democracy (LS-ADI), the National Student League for Democracy (LMND), the National Mandate Party Youth Front (BM-PAN), the Committee against the Criminalisation of the Press (KAKaP), the Women's Alliance Against RUU TNI (draft law on the armed forces), Jakarta Parliament Watch, Senjata Kartini (Sekar) and the Indonesian National Student Movement (GMNI).
"We want to know whether or not during the first 100 days, they will be able to fulfil [their] promises. We are focusing on four points", said United People's Action spokesperson Lukman Hakim during a press conference which was held at the office of the Committee for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras).
The four points include, firstly, a clean government which can demonstrate that it will clean the corrupters out of the bureaucracy and bring them to trial and try the military generals who have perpetrated human rights abuses.
Secondly, a democratic government which can show that it will repeal the Anti-terrorism Law and the law on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, withdraw non-organic troops from Aceh and West Papua, reject the draft law on the armed forces (RUU TNI) and unconditionally release all political prisoners.
Thirdly, a government which will hold to the concept of a people's economy which will demonstrate this by repealing laws 13/2003 and 2/2004 on labour, repeal the Water Resources Law, reject the draft laws on plantations and health, increase the 2005 state budget for education so that education is free and provide decent low cost housing without land evictions.
Fourthly, a sovereign government which has the courage to free itself from western exploitation by canceling the foreign debt, ending privatisation and protecting domestic industries.
LMND general secretary Gigih Guntoro added that the People's United Action represents a consolidation of a number of movement alliances in Jakarta which it is hoped will be able to offer alternative solutions to the people as it will be extremely difficult for the incoming government of president elect Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's (SBY) government and the new People's Representative Assembly (DPR) to carry through the agenda of reform. If it is to be a clean government for example, this means that SBY must have the courage to investigate his vice- presidential running mate Yusuf Kalla who was implicated in corruption during the government of former President Abdurrahman Wahid and try former president Suharto and his state ruling party Golkar.
And as a warning to the new government and the next DPR, the People's United Action will hold a mass action at the national parliament on October 1 to coincide with the inauguration of new legislative members which will be followed by a mass action on October 20 at the state palace during the inauguration of the new president. These action will be held simultaneously across Indonesia by organisations which have national networks.
[Translated by James Balowski.]
Jakarta Post - September 28, 2004
Ivy Susanti, Jakarta -- Indonesia's success in promoting democracy and peace both at home and internationally has bolstered its confidence in pursuing a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda told the 59th UN General Assembly on late Monday in New York that the country's achievements in the area of international peace and its commitment to democratic values had set a good precedent, not only for other Muslim nations, but also for Western countries.
"A developing world striving not only for social and economic progress but also for democratization must have a voice on the Security Council. Moderate Islam must have a voice on the Council. Indonesia would be that voice.
"That voice will insist, as we now insist, that the fight against terrorism, like the related fight against poverty, can be won," Hassan said in his speech, a copy of which was made available to The Jakarta Post on Monday by the foreign ministry.
Indonesia has joined the group of countries -- Japan, India, Germany, Brazil and South Africa -- vying for permanent membership on the Security Council.
The UN Security Council comprises five permanent members -- China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States -- and 10 other countries on a two-year rotational seats. Non-permanent members have no veto power.
Last year, Australian Prime Minister John Howard proposed to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that the Council revamp itself to include a permanent seat for Indonesia as the world's most populous Muslim nation.
Hassan mentioned last week's successful election as proof that democracy and Islam could go very well together. "As the country with the largest Muslim population, Indonesia has proven that Islam can be a bastion of democracy and social justice. Indeed, our deep sense of spirituality inspired our people to resoundingly reject money politics, corruption, terrorism and all forms of extremism. It was also our beacon toward reform," he said.
He also said Indonesia had continued to strengthen its relations with neighboring countries, particularly through regional groupings like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
In addition, the country's achievements in maintaining peace was evident in its participation in more than 30 peacekeeping operations since 1957.
While condemning terrorism, Hassan said Indonesia, a victim of three deadly terror attacks, was certain that the fight against terror could be won through a global coalition with open membership.
Finally, Hassan called on all nations to join hands in promoting democracy. "Democracy is never a miracle. Never a gift nor something imposed. It is always hard earned, often the fruit of many sacrifices. And its ultimate worth depends entirely upon us, the people -- whether we have the political maturity, the wisdom and the courage to make it work and make it endure. "To that end, we in Indonesia are devoutly committed."
Jakarta Post - September 28, 2004
Abdul Khalik and Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, Jakarta -- American Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce held talks with President Megawati Soekarnoputri and the police on Monday as Washington aired concerns over the detention of five executives of United States- based Newmont Minahasa Raya mining company.
During nearly one hour of discussion with the President at the palace, Boyce said he had expressed concern about the detention of the Newmont employees, including one US national.
"We are worried about why they should be detained and we don't think that's appropriate. But we are working with friends and I am sure we will come out with a good resolution," Boyce told journalists after the meeting.
Despite being cooperative with the police in their investigation into alleged pollution in Buyat Bay in North Sulawesi, the police took American site manager Bill Long, Australian production and maintenance manager Phil Turner and Indonesian external relations manager David Sompie, superintendent of environment Jerry Kojansow and superintendent of waste processing Putra Wijayantri into custody.
Newmont's president Richard B. Ness has also been named a suspect but has avoided detention so far due to health concerns.
Boyce said it was still premature to conclude that the case would drive American business away from the country, saying that Indonesia remained a good and prospective place for industry.
After visiting the five detainees at police headquarters, Boyce told reporters that the embassy did not intend to intervene in the legal process. "There is no intervention of any kind. Obviously, we respect the Indonesian procedure and I am quite sure that as the procedure moves forward, there will be an appropriate outcome," said Boyce.
He added that he came to police headquarters simply to visit the US citizen and employees of the US company.
Boyce said the appropriate action to be taken now was to have the Newmont executives' released from detention. "We do not believe these five are a threat. Newmont has been very actively supporting the investigation into the allegations ... and our view is that there is no real need for the five individuals to be detained," he said.
"And hopefully that will be the ultimate disposition of their formal request that they made through Newmont, that the detention be suspended as soon as possible," According to procedural law, the police may detain a suspect if they are of the opinion that the suspect is not being cooperative, may attempt to destroy evidence, or their are strong indications that he will abscond.
The National Police's director of specific crimes, Brig. Gen. Suharto, said it was easier for the police to question the suspects if they were all detained as they wouldn't have to send out summonses every time they needed them.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Purnomo Yusgiantoro said the President would only receive the report of the joint team investigating the case in the next couple of days.
Purnomo said that there had been no pressure from Washington regarding the resolution of the case.
Laksamana.Net - September 29, 2004
US-based environmental watchdog Sierra Club has criticized the US Embassy in Jakarta for chiding Indonesian police over the detention of five executives of a subsidiary of Denver-based gold mining giant Newmont for questioning over alleged pollution.
Newmont has consistently denied any wrongdoing, pointing out that waste from its mine in Minahasa regency, North Sulawesi province, has been treated in accordance with Indonesian government regulations.
The company also denies using mercury in its operations, but points out the heavy metal is used by thousands of illegal miners who operate with relative impunity in the province.
Conservation and anti-mining groups claim the subsidiary, PT Newmont Minahasa Raya, has dumped deadly amounts of mercury and arsenic into Buyat Bay, causing at least 30 villagers to die from Minamata disease -- a severe form of mercury poisoning, named after a Japanese bay where the illness was first documented in the 1950s.
Indonesian police agree that NMR has contaminated the bay with excessive levels of mercury and arsenic, but the company argues that a series of independently conducted tests show no such pollution.
Cynical analysts and industry sources say the pollution charges against NMR are typical of efforts by NGOs and state authorities to coerce a departing company into paying extortionate amounts of compensation.
Newmont's chief executive Wayne Murdy on Tuesday described the pollution allegations against the company as a "blatant lie".
"We are not polluting Buyat Bay. We meet very stringent [environmental] standards there," he was quoted as saying by Dow Jones. He was speaking to a group of mining analysts and executives at a lunch at the Denver Gold Forum.
Murdy implied the pollution allegations might have been made because NMR has stopped operations and that sources of income would no longer be available to locals.
He further said Newmont officials met with the editors of the New York Times on Tuesday in an effort to get the newspaper to publish a retraction of its September 8 story alleging that Indonesian villagers were suffering health problems because of the company's mining operations.
It remains to be seen whether Newmont will also protest against the Sierra Club's statement, which is reprinted in full below.
Radio Australia - September 28, 2004
A direct appeal to Indonesian President Megawati has been made by the US Ambassador to Indonesia over the jailing of four employees of the Newmont mining company. The four executives were detained without charge five days ago over allegations of pollution causing serious health problems around the company's mine operations in Sulawesi. The case has thrown the community into a rare alliance with the police in its battle against the company.
Presenter/Interviewer: Karon Snowdon, Finance Correspondent
Speakers: Kasan Mulyono spokesperson Newmont Minahasa Mine; Dr Rignolda Djamaluddin from the community organisation Kelola
Snowdon: There have been reports over several years of serious health problems among local communities close to the Newmont Minahasa mine site at Buyat Bay in Sulawesi. The communities blame mercury and arsenic poisoning from the tailings waste dumped at sea.
The US based Newmont, one of the world's largest gold miners is one of only two companies to use an ocean outfall for the dumping of mine waste, its pipeline extends one kilometre from the shore to a depth of 80 metres.
Company spokesperson Kasan Mulyono says Newmont's environmental management has been sound and there are no health problems among the local people.
Mulyono: We believe that our operations have not done anything wrong with our environmental management and we believe there is no pollution in Buyat Bay waters. The water quality is good and the fish is good and fit for consumption and the people are healthy.
Snowdon: There have been numerous conflicting studies -- Newmont's show metal concentrations in the Bay at acceptable levels, others show high levels of arsenic and mercury.
Dr Rignolda Djamaluddin is from the community organisation Kelola based in the regional capital Manado near the mine. He is not a medical doctor but as an agriculutral scientist has been monitoring the health of the 70 families living there. He says skin problems, serious headaches, lumps and paralysis have occured in significant numbers.
Rignolda: And later we found that quite significant numbers of kids in the villages have skin problems and some of them have very bad skin problems.
Snowdon: Dr Djamaluddin says the villages noticed large fish kills soon after the start of ocean dumping of the mine waste in 1996 with health problems appearing in 1998. The loss of fish means a loss of livelihood for the impoverished community.
Rignolda: Newmont has destroyed their own source of life. I mean the Bay.
Snowdon: The mine is closing this month after seven years of operation. For much of that period the community has sent its complaints with little response to authorities.
Indonesia's Environment department is waiting for the results from a Unites States laboratory of a series of recent tests before commenting. The environment minister Nabiel Makarim has been questioned by police over Newmont's record of compliance to environmental saftey standards. The minister was unavailable for comment.
The detention of four of Newmont's staff -- an American, and Australian and two Indonesians is a surprising move as is the involvement of the Jakarta rather than the local police. More usually its the community leaders or their NGO supporters who are arrested.
The police are legally able to hold suspects for 20 days for questioning without laying charges.
The US Ambassador has complained of the detentions to outgoing president Megawati while Newmont says the treatment is unfair. Kasan Mulyono says the company is happy to cooperate with investigators.
Mulyono: We regret the detention, we are very concerned with that because by detaining our employees they cannot work and they cannot be with their family and its a very difficult time for them.
Apart from the police case, a compensation case for 500-million US dollars is planned with the help of a local NGO while Rignolda Djamaluddin says the communityb wants to relocate away from the Bay.
Rignolda: That's what they really need and now they ask the mine to provide them with the basic needs.
Snowdon: So they need assistance just with food and basic health services?
Rignolda: Yes. But even food? .... Yes.
Jakarta Post - September 27, 2004
Jambi -- The fires that burned between 1,000 and 2,000 hectares of the Berbak National Park in Jambi in the past month posed a real threat to many bird species in the area.
The fires burned bird habitats so that they had to seek refuge in other places, which might not be suitable for them. The national park is 162,700 hectares in area. Fire also destroyed thousands of hectares of the national park in 1997.
One of the most endangered birds was the silver dove, which had between 30 and 50 individuals in the area 10 years ago, but now the number of silver doves had dropped to only 10, said Putrina Chandra, an activist with Bird Life Indonesia.
Jakarta Post - September 27, 2004
Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, Jakarta -- Women activists have criticized the state for intervening in people's personal affairs using religion as a justification, which they say has led to discrimination against woman in countries where the majority of people are Muslims.
Ending their three-day international meeting in Jakarta on Sunday, the activists urged Indonesia and other Muslim states to take all legal, social and political measures to stop human rights abuses against women, particularly in relation to their sexual rights.
"In Muslim societies, sexuality, especially a woman's body, is increasingly becoming an arena of intense political and social conflict," said a statement issued during the final day of the meeting.
The forum was attended by around 30 women activists from countries including Egypt, Turkey, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Lebanon, India, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. The discussion focussed on sexuality and human rights in Muslim societies in South and Southeast Asia.
The meeting highlighted that conservative political forces were fiercely trying to reinforce the traditional mechanism of control over women's sexuality in Muslim nations.
"Widespread practices of sexual violence, forced marriages, female genital mutilation, marital rape, unsafe abortion and discrimination based on sexual orientation constitute blatant human rights violations," the statement said. Citing an example, Indonesian activist Musdah Mulia said the world's largest Muslim country enforces many discriminative laws against women, using Islamic law as a reference.
"The most crucial problem in Indonesia is state intervention by making a compilation of Islamic law a positive law through a presidential decree in 1991," said Musdah, who is also the Ministry of Religious Affairs director of religious research and social affairs.
"Indonesia is not an Islamic state, but its interpretations of Islamic law are much more conservative than Islamic states such as Malaysia. We need to revise this compilation," she added.
The compilation of articles under Islamic law, discriminates against women's rights as it allows polygamy for husbands and forbids marriages of couples of different religions, as well as prohibits women from serving as a witness in marriage, Musdah said.
"Another example is the criminalization of adultery. It is a sin, but the state should leave such a [personal] matter to a person's conscience and should not intervene," Musdah added.
She said the conservative perception, wherein women are considered second class believers in Islam, prevails in many countries although it has been refuted by many.
Egyptian activist Amal Abd-el Hadi said that there was also a trend in her country where Islamic law was interpreted in accordance with the current political needs there.
"They use the hadits for political reasons. Some of it we never heard of before," she said during a press briefing held after the international meeting.
Hadits is the traditional collection of stories relating the sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad, which also serves as the explanation of the Koran.
Amal underlined that Islam teaches human dignity, although the interpretation of Islamic instruction could range from very progressive to strictly conservative. "If we are willing to fight for human rights and gender equality, we can also find verses in the Koran on that," she said.
She and other participants of the meeting said every woman should be fully informed about their sexual rights and that strong advocacy for them from non-government organization was necessary.
Detik.com - September 28, 2004
Triono Wahyu Sudibyo, Semarang -- Often you hear the news that the state owned electricity company PT PLN is loosing money. After investigation, it turns out that many people use electricity without paying, that is stealing it. After further study, the highest level of electricity leakage is at military complexes.
Indonesian Consumer Foundation (YLKI) board member, Tulus Abadi, gives the example of Jakarta, where the biggest leakage is in Kramat Jati, a military complex area.
"[Yes that is] correct. Not only in Jakarta, but also throughout Indonesia. Around these military complexes PLN electricity is leaking", said Abadi speaking to journalists following a forum titled "Electricity Consumers Dialogue" at the Dharma Wanita building on Jalan Menterin Supeno in the East Java provincial capital of Semarang on Tuesday September 28.
It is for this reason he said, PT PLN always cooperates with the police when carrying out Operation Thunderclap. Abadi suspects that by themselves, PT PLN would not have the courage to act against residents in and around military complexes.
Furthermore explain Abadi, nationally, the level of electricity leakage stands at around 16 per cent. If calculated at 600 billion rupiah for each 1 per cent the total losses resulting from this theft are as high as 3 trillion rupiah per year. Leakage is the main cause of these losses.
Abadi also acknowledged that PT PLN's performance has not been very good. The company is often sloppy in overcoming limitations of human resources and funds. They are also incapable of maintaining generators because they place Junior Technical School graduates as their operators.
"These generators are only maintained in technical terms. But not managed. As a consequence the machines wear out before their time, and this disrupts the quality of consumer services", he said fierily. (nrl)
[Abridged translation by James Balowski.]
Straits Times - September 27, 2004
Devi Asmarani, Jakarta -- Indonesia's powerful military will bow out of politics for good after losing its reserved seats in the country's top legislative body, armed forces chief General Endriartono Sutarto said yesterday.
He told the National Assembly (MPR): "For the future, we will really leave the arena of practical politics and we will focus ourselves especially on the matter of defence."
The 700-strong MPR concluded its four-day annual meeting last night. The body comprises Members of Parliament as well as non- elected representatives from the military, police and various non-political groups.
Under a series of constitutional changes agreed upon in the 1999 reforms agenda, the military and police will lose their 38 seats in the MPR, and so will all the other non-elected MPR members.
On October 1, a 550-strong Parliament and a new 128-strong Senate body will be inaugurated after the election of lawmakers in April. This year, Indonesians elected their president directly for the first time after decades of leaving the task to the MPR.
Indonesia's powerful military began to take a diminishing role after the resignation of president Suharto in 1998, following widespread opposition against his three-decade rule.
Under Mr Suharto, who is himself a former general, it helped crush his opponents and secure his victory in every five-yearly election for 32 years.
Immediately after his downfall, the military faced mounting calls to withdraw from politics. Some of its power was gradually taken away, including its hold on domestic security, which was handed over to the police.
Although it will not be represented in Parliament any longer, many observers believed it will still play a significant role in politics because of its wide-reaching influence across the archipelago.
In the first round of the presidential election in July, three of the 10 presidential and vice-presidential candidates had a military background, including former military chief Wiranto. This raised fears that the armed forces were staging a political comeback.
Also of some concern was a controversial Bill which had been criticised for leaving the door wide open for the military to become involved in politics.
But Gen Sutarto has repeatedly said he was committed to keeping the military out of politics. He had earlier pledged to keep the military neutral in elections this year, and ordered them not to vote in the parliamentary and presidential polls.
He told reporters that soldiers would vote in 2009 only if the political situation is conducive. "If the political life is already good, democratic life is proceeding healthily and there are no political forces trying to persuade the armed forces to support them, then soldiers will have their voting rights and can vote in 2009," the general said.
|Business & investment|
Dow Jones - September 27, 2004
Heather Draper, Denver -- Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (FCX) isn't concerned about its operations in Indonesia, despite the arrest there last week of executives from rival Newmont Mining Corp. (NEM) on pollution allegations.
"We have established environmental programs in place," Freeport- McMoRan Chief Financial Officer Kathleen Quirk told Dow Jones Newswires on the sidelines of the Denver Gold Forum on Monday. "We don't alter the ore chemically -- we don't use mercury or cyanide."
Freeport-McMoRan operates the giant Grasberg copper and gold mine in the politically and environmentally sensitive Papua region of Indonesia.
Five Newmont executives were detained Wednesday, accused of polluting a bay on the island of Sulawesi with mercury and arsenic-laced waste.
Quirk said Freeport is also not concerned about expected governmental changes in Indonesia after last week's presidential elections. Former general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono appears to have won the September 20 election, but has declined to formally claim victory until October 5, when official results are released.
"We're confident we'll be able to operate under a new government," Quirk said.
The Newmont executives' detention has exacerbated foreign investors' fears about Indonesia, which has long struggled to attract investment because of ongoing social and political unrest there.
Freeport officials have said that investor fears over its large presence in Indonesia have kept its share price undervalued compared with its peers, even in a time of high copper and gold prices.
Freeport CFO Quirk told participants at the Denver conference -- an invitation-only forum for 450 fund managers, analysts and mining executives - that the company estimates its share price at around $40 is undervalued by anywhere from $4 to $19, depending on which valuation method used.
She said the company is "very optimistic" about its financial strength for the remainder of this year and for 2005 because of its strong production levels and historically high copper and gold prices.
"We expect a very strong fourth quarter and full-year 2005," Quirk said. Copper prices at over $1.35 a pound are up 70% from a year ago, she said, and gold at about $410 a troy ounce is up about $19, or 5%, from a year ago and more than 40% from September 2001. Copper makes up about 60% of Freeport's revenue, with gold comprising the remaining 40%, Quirk said.
Freeport's Grasberg operations in Indonesia were disrupted in the fourth quarter of 2003 because the walls of its open pit mine there began slipping. But the company resumed normal operations in June and is now operating its mills at their full capacity, Quirk said.
Jakarta Post - September 27, 2004
Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta -- The likely president-elect Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono must uphold legal certainty and security, and phase out the high-cost economy to encourage investment and create jobs, investors and employers say.
They said the next government must work to restore security and guarantee legal certainty if it wishes to attract foreign investment.
Indonesian Employers Association secretary-general Djimanto said Indonesia was no longer a major destination for foreign investors due to legal uncertainty, security problems, rampant illegal fees and a complicated and corrupt bureaucracy.
He said direct foreign investment in Indonesia had slumped in the first semester of 2004 from the same period in 2003, because the country was no longer considered an attractive investment destination.
"Many foreign companies have suspended investment in Indonesia because of legal uncertainty and security problems, including terror attacks. Worse, many investors have pulled out of the country because of the high-cost economy, which has left them unable to compete with other countries' products," he said.
Apart from legal certainty and security, the next president will also have to deal with the country's poor infrastructure "Repair all damaged the infrastructure in the regions, otherwise more investors will relocate their investments to other countries, causing more layoffs," Djimanto said.
In the latest World Investment Report, Indonesia was ranked 138th out of 164 investment destinations across the globe. The absence of security and legal certainty, damaged infrastructure and a high-cost economy were cited as the reasons for Indonesia's lack of competitiveness compared to other Asian countries.
Former manpower minister Bomer Pasaribu said Indonesia should follow the lead of Vietnam, which has become more competitive than Indonesia in attracting investment by maintaining security and legal certainty, developing its infrastructure and providing incentives for foreign investors.
He said the pledges made by Susilo during the election campaign were a political contract that he had to implement.
In outlining his economic program during the campaign, Susilo said he wanted to develop a employment-friendly economic policy to help resolve the problem of unemployment.
Almost 10 million people nationwide are unemployed, while 35 million are underemployed, meaning they work less than 35 hours per week.
Bomer said Susilo and his Cabinet had to design a new manpower plan that was investment-friendly and encouraged people to create small and medium-sized companies to create more jobs.
Susilo's government will need to raise economic growth to 7 percent annually in order to create about 17,500 jobs annually. If that works, unemployment could be solved within five years.
"But it is impossible for this to occur under such poor political, social and economic conditions," Bomer said.
Djimanto and Bomer were both of the opinion that besides attracting more foreign investors, the next government must develop the informal sector, especially the agricultural sector, spur labor exports and create more development projects that are financed by the state budget.
Jakarta Post - September 27, 2004
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta -- Jakarta stock prices are expected to further consolidate this week as the bullish sentiment stemming from last week's smooth presidential election has already been discounted by the market, according to stock analysts.
Unless fresh leads are given to the market, the Composite Index is expected to be come under pressure and could even fall below the 800 barrier, Arwani Pranadjaja of Mandiri Sekuritas said over the weekend.
"Even last week, when the index was slightly up, it was mainly because of last-minute buying, which means than the underlying sentiment in 'real-time trading' was not that good," Arwani told The Jakarta Post.
Last week, late buying on selected blue chips and secondliners helped reverse the downward trend of the previous three days after the index reached an all-time high on Tuesday, the day after the election took place.
Thanks to the late buying, the index closed the week 0.6 percent higher at 819.82 points. On Tuesday, it rose to as high as 829.57 before closing at 824.86 points. The trading volume averaged 1.90 billion shares valued at Rp 1.1 trillion (US$120 million), compared to 1.423 billion shares at Rp 1.15 trillion the previous week.
Arwani pointed to three reasons behind his rather gloomy prognostication: the vulnerable rupiah, absence of fresh news from Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono -- poised to be the next president -- and the seemingly inexorable rise in global oil prices.
The local currency closed last week at Rp 9,115 per US dollar, a 0.9 percent drop against the previous week's close.
As for the oil price, which is currently hovering at more than $45 a barrel, many fear that it could hit $50 a barrel, which could create shockwaves on financial and capital markets around the globe, including Indonesia, Arwani said.
"As for domestic factors, while the lineup of SBY's Cabinet could well improve market sentiment, I do not think he will publicly announce the lineup before October," he said, referring to Susilo. The new government is to be sworn in by October 20.
Another analyst also predicted that the index would falter as the market applied a wait-and-see stance. "The political euphoria is over, everything is now a waiting game," Kim Eng Securities head of research Baradita Katoppo told AFP.
One positive factor could come be the planned stock split on September 27 by Telkom, the nation's largest telecommunication firm and the firm with the largest market capitalization on the Jakarta bourse.
"It will definitely help. But I do not think it will affect the overall sentiment," said Arwani.
|Opinion & analysis|
Jakarta Post Editorial - September 30, 2004
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's promise this week to put national reconciliation at the top of his government's agenda once he is installed as president on October 20 could not have come at a more opportune moment as, today, history once again comes knocking at the door of the nation's collective conscience.
Though 39 years have elapsed since Indonesia's biggest human tragedy in modern times began to unfold in the pre-dawn hours of October 30, 1965, time, it seems, has done little to expunge the memory of that day, when alleged communist death squads roamed the still-quiet streets of Jakarta, seeking out marked homes in the city's elite residential neighborhoods, killing or abducting targeted army officers for assassination in a remote spot in the city's eastern suburbs.
Six army generals and one lieutenant were killed in what military judges and historians of the time say was a communist-inspired plot to wipe out the entire army leadership and take over the government. Catastrophic as those events may have been, what came in the weeks that followed defies all imagination.
Troops of the then Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI), led by the army, swarmed out across Java's towns and countryside, rounding up known and suspected members or sympathizers of the now-banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). Anticommunist groups, with the encouragement of the Army, took part in the rampage.
No one to this day knows how many "communists" precisely were killed in that orgy of retaliation that swept across the country during those first few weeks of what has since become known as the G30S tragedy. Rough estimates, however, put the number at least 500,000. The tens of thousands of others who escaped the killings were jailed or banished to remote prison camps, including the infamous Buru Island camp in eastern Indonesia. And more: Their kin, close friends and associates were barred from taking government jobs or others that would enable them "to spread their influence". The G30S tragedy eventually led to the ouster of President Sukarno and the establishment of the New Order government under president Soeharto. Sukarno's left-leaning policies abruptly gave way to Soeharto's rightist, dictatorial and corrupt regime. In short, the G30S movement, as it is popularly known, heralded a complete turnabout in policies.
With the known penchant of Soeharto's New Order regime for manipulating or falsifying historical facts, however, doubts have since emerged among many scholars as to the validity of the existing interpretation of this crucial episode of the country's most recent history. As a consequence, not only are calls being aired for a reevaluation of the New Order version of Indonesia's most recent history, demands are rising for the rehabilitation of the good standing of families unjustly punished for their alleged leftist and communist sympathies in the past.
In fact, a first step in this direction was made by president Abdurrahman Wahid, but was never followed up due to the strong opposition he faced.
The president had to see his term cut short by the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), which accused him of incompetence. The emphasis that is being placed on national reconciliation by the man who is most likely to become Indonesia's new president after October 20, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, now seems to offer a new opportunity for such a rehabilitation, and for a redress of injustices committed in the past against tens of thousands of Indonesians.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not a program of reconciliation aimed specifically at compensating for these injustices is deemed acceptable by those who will be in power as of October 20. Nevertheless, the spirit of atonement and conciliation that has been repeatedly conveyed by Susilo, and the prospect of the establishment of a proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission, raise the hope that, at long last, the nation will be able to confront the past before it lets bygones be bygones. What that means is that the Indonesian nation will at least have a better chance to stride forward into a better future -- united and undivided -- in accordance with Susilo's campaign slogan.
Asia Times - September 27, 2004
Gary LaMoshi, Denpasar -- A week after his apparent landslide victory, the policies of presumptive president-elect Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono remain unclear. People still don't know what the former general and cabinet minister known as SBY will do with his mandate to succeed President Megawati Sukarnoputri, but it's becoming clearer how he'll do it.
In his first public speech since the voting, Yudhoyono appealed for unity without clarifying policies to rally around. "Let us all increase our brotherhood, and, more importantly, let us work very hard together to rebuild Indonesia," he told Friday worshippers at a mosque near his home in Bogor.
"Nobody knows Yudhoyono's party, political line, or agenda," University of Indonesia philosophy professor and veteran activist Gadis Arivia said. "It's not about his program; it was, 'Asal bukan Mega' [Anbody but Megawati]."
Leading political commentator Andi Mallarangeng declared, "Yudhoyono is going to do something. He needs to deliver on his mandate. But we don't know what specifically yet."
Mallarangeng added that changes in approach may be more important than specific policies. "Take corruption, for example. The legal framework is there, the infrastructure there. We just need leadership."
Signs of Yudhoyono's leadership style are emerging as he and the country await the final vote count and October 20 presidential inauguration. Yudhoyono has polled nearly 61% of the 91% of votes counted so far. Final election results are due to be announced on October 5.
So far, the newly minted PhD holder -- he defended his doctoral dissertation on agricultural economics during the quiet period before the September 20 run-off vote -- has lived up to his reputation for deliberate decision making, befitting an outstanding military staff officer not known as a battlefield commander. However, Yudhoyono's relationship with his former armed forces colleagues is one of many unknowns about him and his upcoming tenure.
One key feature of Yudhoyono's developing leadership style is floating ideas publicly through allies in the media, allowing him to gauge public reaction ahead of putting himself in the line of fire. Supporters say Yudhoyono won't change his mind if there is a negative reaction to the trial balloons, but that he'll know better how to try to sell the policies.
Last week he floated trial balloons about establishing a national security council and an economic advisory council. The former would bring together top government defense and law enforcement officials, including the armed forces and police chiefs, to focus initially on the separatist conflict in Aceh and the continuing threat of terrorism. The economic council would include government officials and outsiders, such as business leaders and academics, to address the country's sluggish growth, persistent unemployment and anemic investment.
The trial balloon on these two US-style councils, according to a source close to Yudhoyono's inner circle, foreshadows a larger innovation, an executive office of the president modeled after the West Wing of the White House. This new structure would let Yudhoyono "take charge of policy," according to the source. "He's going to have his own body to formulate policies. Before, the president was dependent on the ministers for policies. Now he'll have independent sources."
Some reformers have expressed doubts about the return of a former general to Istana Merdeka, citing numerous Suharto era generals backing Yudhoyono's campaign. But the Prosperous Justice Party, a leading champion of reform, is one of several parties in Yudhoyono's coalition from the generally anti-military Islamic camp.
The source close to Yudhoyono's camp dismissed concerns that a former general consolidating power in his presidential office signals a turn back toward authoritarianism. Trial balloons could deflate that issue. Allies could advance the new structure as Yudhoyono asserting the stronger leadership that anecdotal evidence says Indonesian voters want, even if they didn't expect it to be cautiously test marketed.
Nationhood Coalition in opposition
There is also a case study and an emerging long-term strategy for Yudhoyono to overcome his meager support in the incoming House of Representatives. Yudhoyono's new Democratic Party and its allies have about 90 seats out of 550 in the legislature. The Nationhood Coalition, formed to support Megawati's presidential bid, includes Indonesia's three Suharto-era political parties -- the authoritarian government's ruling vehicle Golkar, Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Islamic- based United Development Party (PPP) of outgoing Vice President Hamzah Haz -- and it holds more than 300 seats in the new House of Representatives.
Even though it would be easier to nail yogurt to a wall than pin down any of Yudhoyono's key policies, Nationhood Coalition leader Akbar Tanjung declared that the group would sit in opposition to Yudhoyono's presidency. In opposition, the group could obstruct the new president's legislative agenda and pursue its own.
But cracks have appeared in both the partnership and the component parties. "The Nationhood Coalition is not a cohesive bloc," Mallarangeng says, forecasting an end to the failed electoral alliance. "The reason for its existence is finished."
Some PDI-P leaders already have called for a break up, partly out of dissatisfaction with Nationhood Coalition efforts on behalf of Megawati, partly because they'd like to see what Yudhoyono offers, policy-wise and politically, before taking sides. Internally, PDI-P faces a struggle between its old guard, which was increasingly sidelined during Megawati's presidency, and newcomers often linked to her husband, Taufik Kiemas. The newcomers will likely take the fall for Megawati's electoral failure.
Kalla change for Golkar?
While trying to keep the alliance intact, Golkar chairman Tanjung has been purging his own party of dissidents who didn't support Megawati. But surveys show the majority of local chapter leaders and more than 70% of Golkar members supported Yudhoyono. Yudhoyono's running mate Jusuf Kalla, a Golkar executive under suspension, is likely to challenge Tanjung for the party leadership in December. A Kalla victory could bring Golkar's 128 House seats into Yudhoyono's camp.
To survive, Tanjung will need to do a better job in Golkar's leadership contest than he did in his first attempt to flex the muscles of the Nationhood Coalition. Last week, the House budget committee reversed its previous decision and voted to cut fuel subsidies in the budget, reportedly on orders from Tanjung.
Those subsidies keep the price of petroleum products for Indonesian consumers well below world levels -- a liter of premium gasoline costs about US$0.50 -- in deference to Indonesia's oil-producer status. However, that production is dwindling and refined products such as gasoline need to be imported, making the subsidy an expensive luxury.
Originally budgeted at Rp14.5 trillion ($1.6 billion) for oil prices under $20 a barrel, the revised budget allocates Rp63 trillion for subsidies. The government pledged not to raise pump prices in order to keep peace during this election year. Previous attempts to trim subsidies and increase fuels costs have been greeted with sometimes violent demonstrations.
So, when the budget committee voted to cut the subsidy, it seemed the Nationhood Coalition had set a trap for the incoming administration: Yudhoyono would have no choice but to make an unpopular fuel price hike one of his first acts. But now the move seems to have backfired, thanks to some clever political jujitsu from Yudhoyono's team.
After the decision, a parade of experts quickly emerged to agree that it is time to cut fuel subsidies on most items, since the middle and upper class enjoy most of the benefits. They cited Yudhoyono's forgotten campaign promise to institute subsidies geared more toward helping the poor. While raising prices could result in some bellyaching from the effected parties, making the tough choice to cut subsidies could gas up Yudhoyono's reputation for strong leadership.
[Gary LaMoshi, a longtime editor of investor rights advocate eRaider.com, has also contributed to Slate and Salon.com. He's worked as a broadcast producer and as a print writer and editor in the United States and Asia. He moved to Hong Kong in 1995 and now splits his time between there and Indonesia.]
Jakarta Post Editorial - September 28, 2004
With extraordinary swiftness the National Police are pursuing the alleged pollution case in Buyat Bay, North Sulawesi. Unswayed by initial dismissals from government officials about the reported pollution, police have conducted their own investigation and within weeks of the final results which -- reportedly -- confirm the pollution, hastily declared five officials of Newmont Minahasa Raya as suspects in the case.
Five company officials are being held in custody, with a sixth -- company boss Richard Ness -- released for medical reasons.
Police thus far seem to have remained faithful to their jurisdiction. Their actions have been conducted in accordance with existing laws regulating the detention of suspects.
The expeditious response of police to this case should be commended. That said, something remains amiss if we compare their diligence in this case to other high-profile investigations.
If only police would pursue other cases with the same persistence they have with Newmont, then many accused of graft still on the loose would now be incarcerated.
If only detectives conducted investigations of crimes in the capital with similar zeal as they have ascertaining evidence of a case in a region more than 2,000 kilometers away, then there would probably be no erosion of confidence in the force.
If only Newmont, then there is something definitely wrong with the police force entrusted to oversee our civil society. The development of the pollution case against Newmont Minahasa Raya borders on the bizarre. When NGOs initially claimed that residents of Buyat Bay were suffering from Minamata disease, many were shocked. The outbreak of the disease would have meant severe levels of mercury poisoning. There were claims that the mercury resulted from Newmont's tailings.
Several ministers dismissed these claims and Newmont repeatedly insisted it did not use mercury in its prospecting or disposal process.
Later tests from a leading university and police found that while residents did not suffer Minamata disease, there were traces of mercury found in the Bay which, allegedly, were above the standard level set by the government for seawater pollution.
One point of contention now is the exact baseline standard of mercury in the water in Buyat Bay and blood levels of victims allegedly suffering from poisoning. Newmont claims that samples tested by third-party laboratories met world standards.
This case is yet another test for our police. We do not wish to impinge or influence their investigations in any way other than to encourage them to conduct themselves in a proper manner. Neither should the police or government be swayed by remarks from high-ranking US officials or suggestions by Newmont's home office that prosecution could deter foreign investment.
Guilty is guilty, foreign or local. Indonesia has a right to uphold its laws. But this must be conducted under the caveat that if there is evidence against Newmont Minahasa Raya it must be irrefutable and presented in the most transparent manner.
Even if Newmont is eventually exonerated, police must get down to who is exactly responsible for the contamination of Buyat Bay. We cannot afford to let the case linger and fade to become another tall-tale of conspiracy.
Failure to resolve the matter openly would only reinforce Indonesia's image as an unsafe country where the sanctity of contracts and the law are not respected, but a place where local officials may get away with attempted extortion.
Rumors of locals trying to extract money before the closure of Newmont Minahasa Raya's operations; illegal miners irresponsibly using mercury and arsenic; or political jostling over potential shares in Newmont's other major gold and copper operation in Nusa Tenggara, should be laid to rest.
Common sense should also prevail in the police's investigation. As noted earlier, police may very well be within their rights to seek the detention of senior Newmont Minahasa Raya officials named suspects, but we question the urgency of their incarceration.
Some of them are recognized individuals in society. It is questionable they would go so far as to flee investigation or attempt to impede investigations by destroying evidence -- the usual grounds for seeking the detention of a suspect.
A major company, Newmont would only do harm to its own reputation if it attempted to foil investigations. We know Newmont is here prospecting in Indonesia for the long haul, and trust management are aware that if criminal proceedings are needed they would cooperate as such.
We only hope the police have the same long-term vision and their investigations are conducted to abet the safety of the environment based on clear evidence, not short-term political gains.
Jakarta Post - September 28, 2004
Harry Bhaskara, Jakarta -- "Change" has been Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's campaign mantra, which brought him into the top position using the tiny and little-known Democratic Party as his springboard.
Coupled with his good looks and "presidential" body language, the former general and his strategists turned that mantra into a missile that penetrated the hearts of at least 60 millions voters.
How could one explain this phenomenon? How did the former top security minister eclipse his boss, the incumbent, President Megawati Soekarnoputri? The strength of broadcast media is one explanation, but there must be others.
Susilo was campaigning in the nation's first direct presidential election, and for that he counted himself fortunate -- and, with good reason. There were some advantages for him in the new system. People were still learning the ropes, after more regimented elections during the Soeharto years. Over time, citizens will learn to be more critical of campaign messages, but not now. People had a lot to learn about how to assess a candidate through the media, especially the broadcast media.
As such, television viewers tended to buy whatever a candidate was saying, almost like when television ads were first aired here in the 1970s and people really fell for companies' claims.
Another reason was the general, yet debatable, perception that the incumbent put in a marginal performance during her three-year rule. Thus, though this may sound contradictory, the most determining factor was the public's vague knowledge of the candidates themselves. In hindsight, this may have given rise to the possible elimination of a better candidate in the first round.
Of great benefit to Susilo was the opaque way in which politics were conducted under the 32-year rule of autocrat Soeharto. From 1967 to 1998, the true qualities of major political leaders were kept in the shadows. As in any authoritarian system, the more unpalatable a leader's qualities were, the more difficult it was to dig up the dirt on them. Soeharto himself would serve as a good example. The extent of his family's shoddy business deals surfaced years later. People did not talk, only whispered.
Today, politics is certainly more open, but there are still things that are whispered of and never really discussed. The legacy of long years of political opaqueness was reflected in the absence of an open political debate in the presidential election. The televised debates were reduced to mere dialogs.
In the absence of opportunities for voters to learn more about the candidates, Susilo needed only to capitalize on his television appearances. It was clear that the reticent Megawati trailed behind Susilo in television appearances.
Certainly, television appearances were not the only reason why Susilo was voted in, but the image created by the media was powerful enough to linger in voters' minds.
Conspicuously missing was a thorough analysis of the candidates' backgrounds through this media -- a must in any democratic country. A limitation that may be a pitfall for the people, as they will only become acquainted with the real Susilo once he is in office.
Like politicians anywhere, Susilo has been good at making promises. So much so, that at times he gave the impression that he was capable of remedying all ills that plague this nation.
But he is dealing with people who have been let down many times in recent history. First, after Soeharto's fall in 1998, followed by Habibie's in 1999 and Abdurrahman Wahid's in 2001. Will the people be disappointed again after Megawati's government? People's expectations for change have never been so high.
Not letting down those who picked him as their leader, will, therefore, be a pitfall that Susilo must be aware of. As change is Susilo's mantra, what changes have been envisaged by the people? Or, what did not change under Megawati Soekarnoputri that deterred the voters from her? Pervasive corruption is one thing that did not change. No big cats have been brought to court, so far. Other chronic illnesses also abound. They range from slack security to poor governance, separatism, slim job opportunities, restive workers, weak laws, corrupt courts, religious militancy, weak economic growth to tension between central and regional governments.
To pick one issue is taxing enough. Some 40 million people are jobless -- or about half the entire workforce. The economy has to grow by 13 percent in 2005 to accommodate it annual new workforce of 2.5 million.
The fuel subsidy that has risen from Rp 14 trillion to Rp 63 trillion will soon absorb his attention. Will he rise fuel prices in November, when the current subsidy -- cut to Rp 59 trillion by the House of Representatives last week -- runs out? On the political front, problems are no less intimidating. When presidential candidates were asked to sign a pledge to accept victory or defeat before the election season kicked off, it was done with a purpose. Defeat is largely seen as a disgrace. Politicians' fondness for (balas dendam) (revenge) once they are defeated is an open secret. This is obvious throughout Indonesian history. One example is the 1965 political earthquake, when millions of people -- communists or suspected communists -- were killed.
Susilo should be prepared for this possibility. An early sign in recent days has been Megawati's seeming reluctance to meet with Susilo, although the latter requested it.
Calls for politicians to bury the hatchet for the betterment of the nation may be plentiful -- but, even so, it is likely that beaten politicians will come back with a vengeance. The root of the problem may lie in traditional political behavior, whereby, in Indonesia's past, kingdoms fought against one another.
Given the enormous challenges that face Susilo, it would be hard to argue against the notion that people are in for another disappointment. Hence, it is important that expectations are not all-consuming. And, one of Susilo's challenges will lie in how to manage the people's expectations.
It is tempting to ask, therefore, why one would want to be a president at this point in time? But, there is no turning back for Susilo. If only he can hold the people together when the going gets tough, he will have made it. A quick fix is out, perseverance is in.
[Harry Bhaskara is a staff writer at The Jakarta Post.]
Jakarta Post - September 28, 2004
Muhammad Qodari, Jakarta -- Victory for presidential candidate Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is almost certain. According to a quick count method by credible institutions and electronically recorded vote counting by the General Elections Commission (KPU), Susilo is likely to win the presidential race with 60 percent of the vote.
This landslide victory lends a high level of legitimacy to the first directly elected president of Indonesia. Such an endorsement is needed by the new president as he will face huge challenges in the future -- the country's economic, legal and political problems along with his minority support in the House (DPR).
One thing Susilo can do to further increase his legitimacy is to set up a cabinet that satisfies public opinion. My institute has not yet conducted a survey to find out criteria of a good cabinet according to Indonesians. However, I assume there are at least three things that affect people's judgment about the cabinet: First, the credibility of cabinet members; second, their competence; and third, their backgrounds.
Due to massive exposure to the media, especially television, the people are now aware of political events and figures in government. While their awareness of a ministerial candidate is generally lower than that of a presidential one, one bad egg can still affect the public perception of the whole group, and Susilo must be very careful in selecting his cabinet.
A ministerial candidate who will most likely get approval from the public should meet three criteria. First, he or she must be a name the public is familiar with. Based on my experience in surveying presidential candidate's popularity, there is interesting tendency in Indonesian people regarding their reaction to unknown candidates. When an Indonesian does not know a name, their attitude toward the candidate is not neutral, but negative.
Second, the candidate must be perceived to have specific competence related to the ministerial post they are assigned to. People associate competence with future success in carrying out a ministerial job. To appoint a prominent lawyer and legal expert as justice minister or attorney general will be more acceptable than installing someone with no legal background. During president Abdurrahman Wahid's administration there was widespread criticism of the appointment of Mahfud MD as minister of defense because public knew Mahfud was a constitutional law professor and not much involved in security issues beforehand.
Third, the candidate must have a clean background and a good track record. One of the people's major concerns now is the promotion of clean and good governance. It is especially true for two kinds of ministerial posts. First, the posts directly related to the enforcement of the law, such as minister of justice and attorney general. Second, the posts associated with financial resources, such as the minister for state-owned companies, the minister of forestry, and minister of oil and energy. If Susilo appoints candidates with bad reputations the candidates will be rejected by the public.
Apart from the professionals likely to be appointed ministers, the composition of cabinet members also affects people's levels of acceptance. The more professionals appointed ministers, the higher the acceptance. However, representatives from political parties in the cabinet are also indispensable. Political parties have supported the presidential candidacy and campaigned for Susilo. They are also instrumental in securing control in the House of Representatives as Susilo is likely to face strong opposition from the National Coalition -- an alliance of parties supporting Megawati Soekarnoputri in the presidential election.
If it is possible, the composition of ministers appointed based on backgrounds -- professional or party representative -- should be 60:40. However, Susilo will likely have to distribute more than 40% of ministerial posts to political parties. Susilo must give ministerial posts to parties which have fully and openly endorsed his candidacy: The Democrat Party, Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), Crescent Star Party (PBB) and the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party (PKPI). He must also give posts to two other political parties that were not fully and openly in support of his candidacy: The National Awakening Party (PKB) and National Mandate Party (PAN). He has to, because he badly needs support from PKB and PAN in the House to balance the power of Nationhood Coalition. As we know, the PKB and PAN are the fourth and fifth largest seat-holders in the legislature.
Apart from considering public opinion in setting up the cabinet, Susilo should also take into account two things: First, the structure of past cabinets, especially the one led by President Megawati Soekarnoputri, and second, the structure of cabinet as outlined by the draft Law on State Ministries.
Megawati's Cabinet consists of 34 minister and minister- equivalent posts (jabatan setingkat menteri). Megawati leads three coordinating ministers, 17 ministers in charge of departments, 10 ministers with no departments, and four posts equal to ministers (Attorney General, chief of police, Commander of the Armed Forces, and State Secretary). Among ministers with no departments, Susilo may want to abolish the minister for the acceleration of development of Eastern Indonesia as this ministry does not function well. Susilo may also want to add another coordination minister to head up legal issues, an idea he expressed a few days ago.
Along with the ministers, Susilo also wants to set up a Council on Security Issues and a Council on Economic Issues. He must be clear in his reasons and purposes for these two councils as past presidents have also established various councils -- council this, council that -- which have not proved their worth.
Finally, although the House has not yet finished deliberating the Law on State Ministries, Susilo may want to take into account the structure of the cabinet as outlined by the draft as it may be implemented in the future. It will be easier for anyone to be elected president in 2009, if the 2004 to 2009 cabinet does not differ too much in structure from what is set out in the law. Even if Susilo does not run or is not reelected in 2009, the next president would benefit from taking this route.
[The writer is director of research at the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI), Jakarta. This opinion is a personal one.]
Jakarta Post Editorial - September 27, 2004
Although slashing fuel subsidies should be at the top of president-elect Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's economic agenda during the first 100 days of his administration, raising fuel prices in November as recommended by the outgoing House of Representatives (DPR) could be political suicide for the new government.
Increasing fuel prices only 10 days after the October 20 inauguration of the new president, and at a time when consumer demand for basic commodities is at its peak due to the Idul Fitri, Christmas and New Year festivities, would surely be the most effective way of causing major socio-economic upheavals. The combination of stronger demand and higher costs could cause inflation to spiral and shatter macroeconomic stability.
We therefore wonder about the true hidden agenda of the House -- which is dominated by the Nationhood Coalition of the losing candidate in the September 20 presidential election runoff -- in deciding suddenly to cut Rp 3.8 trillion (US$422 million) from the Rp 63 trillion budget originally allocated toward fuel subsidies for the 2004 fiscal year.
The House, which will end its tenure later this week, recommended three alternatives last Wednesday for the incoming government to meet the Rp 3.8 trillion shortfall in this year's fuel subsidy, which, actually, is still the responsibility of the current government.
Certainly, none of the three alternative measures -- raising fuel prices in November, cutting down fuel consumption and taking tough efficiency measures -- would be feasible within the short time available for the new government soon after its inauguration.
No one will argue against the economic necessity to cut the huge fuel subsidies, most of which was enjoyed by people of the middle- and high-income bracket. Fuel subsidies also cut into the budget for poverty alleviation and other social safety net programs, and threaten fiscal sustainability.
Yet, even more damaging is that subsidies encourage gross inefficiency in fuel use, while the country has now become a net oil importer.
The new government, however, cannot simply raise fuel prices to market levels, irrespective of the strong political mandate the new president received in the runoff. This painful measure requires a set of preconditions to prepare the people and business community.
The new government needs some time to establish a reliable mechanism for ensuring that the poor are fully protected from the additional burdens to be inflicted by the new fuel-pricing policy -- that is, that the remaining subsidies really reach their target beneficiaries. The government and business leaders also need to sit down and calculate the impact of the new fuel-pricing policy on production costs for goods and services; the central bank needs to design appropriate monetary policies to manage anticipated inflationary pressures.
These preparations are all necessary to prevent a panic in response to such a drastic policy.
At a time when many people are still suffering from the brunt of the economic crisis and millions of others are either unemployed or underemployed, additional burdens stemming from higher fuel prices could easily incite public anger.
A favorable public opinion climate is therefore vital to usher in such a policy. Public acceptance, which is key to the effectiveness of the measure to achieve its objective, will depend on how the general public will perceive the painful policy as fair, necessary and effective.
Raising fuel prices therefore cannot be conducted as a single measure. It must be introduced in a package with other programs to ensure fairness in sharing the burden and its effectiveness in achieving its objective.
But the public perception of fairness also depends on the people's impressions as to whether the government is taking its full share of the responsibility by minimizing waste and inefficiency caused by corruption, and by behaving and acting out of a real sense of urgency and crisis.
It is certainly rather impossible for the new government to build these preconditions for raising fuel prices in November. We think it is better the government to draw on part if its reserves at Bank Indonesia to cover the Rp 3.8 trillion shortfall.
January, the start of the 2005 fiscal year, is the most appropriate time for introducing a new fuel-pricing policy. By then, the incoming government will have had at least one month to finalize the 2005 state budget with the new House in November, and another one month to precondition the general public to the new measure and preparing adequate institutional capacity for its implementation.
|Statements & press releases|
TAPOL statement - September 28, 2004
It is a bitter irony that the first direct presidential election to be held in Indonesia has resulted in another general taking power.
Although the official results will not be made public until 5 October, it is already clear that Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono won comprehensively against Megawati Sukarnoputri. The reasons are not difficult to fathom.
Although she had the advantage of being the incumbent, Megawati was a huge disappointment as president and was surrounded by unsavoury characters, not least her husband, Taufiq Kiemas, a man renowned for corruption and double-dealing. Yudhoyono on the other hand was able to present himself as a clean and incorruptible politician whose demeanour in the run-up to the election on 20 September won plaudits from commentators and the press. There was no civilian politician to match him.
The 2004 presidential election established a new tradition. By and large, voters did not cast their votes in accordance with political party affiliation; they voted according to personal preferences. The decision by Akbar Tanjung, the leader of Golkar, along with the leaders of other parties from the Suharto era, to back Megawati's presidential bid, failed to secure her election. This is likely to lead to a major overhaul in the leaderships of Golkar and the PDI-P, Megawati's party.
However, the presidential election shows clearly that the military continue to play a very significant role in political affairs in Indonesia. In the first round held in July, five teams competed to become president and vice president and of the ten contestants, five were from the military. As none of the contestants broke through the fifty per cent threshold, a re-run was held on 20 September.
While Yudhoyono succeeded in projecting the image of a democrat and has frequently spoken of the need for the reform of the armed forces, his military career reveals him as a man with a strong sense of dedication to the military's role in society.
When he first joined the army, his idol was Sarwo Edhie whom he once extolled as "the epitome of a true soldier". Sarwo Edhie was one of the most ruthless officers to serve under Suharto. He was largely responsible for the massacre of hundreds of thousands of communist suspects in 1965-1966, and later played a leading role in crushing Papuan resistance in the run-up to the Act of Free Choice in 1969. Yudhoyono subsequently married Sarwo Edhie's daughter.
Yudhoyono has served twice in Kostrad, the Strategic Army Command, first as commander of an airborne battalion and later as commander of one of its infantry battalions. He did two tours of duty in East Timor under Indonesian occupation, was commander of the Yogyakarta military command and served for a period in the UN peace-keeping force in Bosnia.
In the mid-1990s, he was chief of staff of the Jakarta military command, a position that he occupied when troops under his command took part in an assault on 27 July 1996 on the headquarters in Jakarta of the PDI (the previous name of the PDI-P), the party chaired by Megawati. The attack resulted in a number of fatalities yet the incident has never been investigated and no one has been called to account. As always, the military have been safeguarded from any accountability because of the impunity they continue to enjoy.
After retiring from the army with the rank of lieutenant-general in 2000, Yudhoyono became Minister-Coordinator for Politics and Security in the government of Abdurrahman Wahid. This appointment was criticised by several human rights organisations; Hendardi, director of the human rights organisation, PBHI, warned that it would jeopardise attempts to investigate the role of the army and of Yudhoyono in the 27 July 1996 attack.
Hendardi was also critical of the presence of a military officer as a top-ranking member of Wahid's government. Even so, Yudhoyono subsequently held the same position in the government of Megawati, after Wahid resigned, facing the threat of impeachment.
Yudhoyono surrounded himself with a number of retired military officers in the kitchen cabinet which assisted him in his presidential bid. They include:
One of the most controversial bills awaiting adoption is the armed forces bill which, as presently drafted, will give the military special powers in conditions of an emergency. Under such circumstances, men like these with experience in both military and civilian posts, could reverse the advances towards democracy that have been achieved since the fall of Suharto.
While Yudhoyono has often spoken of the need for the reform of the armed forces, nothing has come of these intentions although he has had plenty of opportunity as a senior member in two post- Suharto cabinets to put his words into action.
Although Yudhoyono has announced that his government will take action to combat widespread corruption and attempt to reverse the country's economic decline, it remains to be seen whether he can achieve these objectives.
The key issues on which his presidency will be tested are: