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Indonesia News Digest 7 – February 15-21, 2013

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News & issues

SBY: Don't cry for me, Indonesia

Jakarta Post - February 21, 2013

Bagus BT Saragih, Jakarta – President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is telling the nation's regents to stop whining and follow his example of endurance following eight years of humiliation as Indonesia's chief executive.

Responding to the salary complaints of regents, Yudhoyono reminded the regional leaders to be careful when discussing the issue with journalists, citing his own bitter experience when he raised questions about his salary two years ago.

Yudhoyono, a retired four-star general, was referring to statements he made in January 2011, when he told a forum of senior military and police officers that he had not had a salary increase in seven years.

The remarks sparked a nationwide controversy that Yudhoyono has apparently yet to forget. The presidential litany of ails did not end there, however.

"I have been subject to constant criticism, insults and judgment from the public during my entire presidency that have continued for more than eight years now," Yudhoyono said when opening the ninth National Working Meeting of the Association of Indonesian Regency Administrations (Apkasi) and the 10th National Working Meeting of the Indonesian Agricultural Extension Workers (Perhiptani) in Jakarta on Wednesday.

"If I have been able to be strong, you must be too," Yudhoyono told the 300 regents in the audience. "In the past, some of you have complained that you were harshly criticized during your three or four years as local leaders. I have been in that situation for more than eight years."

The President then addressed journalists who at the ceremony, chastising the media for failing to quote him accurately on his salary complaint. "My statement was previously incompletely quoted and taken out of context in 2011," Yudhoyono said.

The President's was responding to Apkasi chairman Isran Noor, who, in a speech made just before Yudhoyono spoke, complained about the central government's failure to fulfil a three-year-old promise to increase the salary of the nation's regents.

"It is difficult for me to discuss this matter, but I carry a mandate from my fellow regents, as well as from some mayors and governors, who asked me to remind you that we haven't had a salary increase, even though the promise was made three years ago," Isran, who is also the regent of East Kutai, East Kalimantan, said.

According to Government Regulation (PP) No. 59/2000 and Presidential Decree No. 68/2001, regents receive fixed monthly salaries of Rp 5.88 million (US$607.23).

The presidential paycheck, meanwhile, has remained unchanged at Rp 62.5 million a month since Yudhoyono first entered office in 2004, according to a press release from the Presidential Palace in 2006. The presidential household also receives a monthly Rp 2 billion stipend.

However, governors, regents and mayors and can take home several times their fixed salaries due to incentives and operational allowances that vary based on local revenues (PAD).

The President ended on an upbeat note for the assembled officials. "When the state budget's posture is strong enough, [raises will be] implemented as soon as possible, for the sake of justice," Yudhoyono said to prolonged applause.

Police defend use of tear gas at chaotic book launch

Jakarta Post - February 19, 2013

Jakarta – Police have claimed the firing of tear gas during a book launch by reggae musician Ras Muhamad at the Tee Box Cafe in South Jakarta on Sunday evening was justified.

"The cafe management requested police to help disperse the crowd as the venue was so overcrowded they could not handle the situation," Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto told reporters on Monday, dismissing allegations that officers had acted unprofessionally.

He said that 12 South Jakarta Police personnel were immediately deployed to the scene as backup.

According to police, the Negeri Pelangi book launch, in which the Foreign Ministry was also involved, was due to be held in a room that could only accommodate around 100 people.

However, as the event also included performances by several reggae musicians, the number of people trying to get into the event swelled to approximately 450.

Rikwanto said that 200 people had already forced their way into the 100- people-capacity room, with around 250 more trying to get inside.

"There was a glass door separating those inside and outside," he said. "People outside were already tossing things here and there, and were pushing each other. Somebody could have been hurt if we hadn't stop them."

He said police had tried to persuade the crowd to disperse and go home as the cafe management had decided to postpone the show. "However, the mob became even uglier. Police then decided to use tear gas to avoid any casualties," Rikwanto said.

Police have questioned three people in connection with the incident, including members of the cafe management and the book launch committee.

Cafe marketing manager Dessi Tobing said at the South Jakarta Police precinct that her team thanked the police for their swift response. "Otherwise, the glass doors and windows would have been broken, and many people would have got hurt," she said.

Dessi acknowledged that the committee had not requested beforehand a mass- gathering permit from the police that is required to hold such an event. Police have confirmed the absence of the necessary permit. Dessi said the cafe management did not anticipate that the audience would be so large.

In response to the police's actions, Indonesia Police Watch have called on the National Police to dismiss the South Jakarta Police chief and make a public apology over the incident.

The watchdog chairman, Neta S. Pane, said in a press statement that police had acted unprofessionally and brutally on the night. (fzm)

West Papua

Eight soldiers killed in Papua attacks

Jakarta Globe - February 21, 2013

Banjir Ambarita – Three more soldiers have been killed, after an unidentified group exchanged gunfire with soldiers in Papua's Puncak Jaya district on Thursday, bringing the total number of casualties to eight.

The three soldiers were identified as Private Edi, Private Jojo and Private Idris.

Lieut. Col. Jansen Simanjuntak, a Papua province military spokesman said that the armed groups first attacked the Puncak Jaya military post and then attacked a group of soldiers traveling to Mulia, Puncak Jaya, one hour later.

"In an attack on the military post in Tingginambut, two soldiers were shot and one of them died," Jansen said. Jansen said that First Private Wahyu Wibowo died instantly when he was shot in the chest, while First Lieut. Reza's was wounded.

The assailants killed four soldiers who were traveling from Sinak in Puncak Jaya to the Ilaga Air Base, just three kilometers away.

"They [group of soldiers] were taking a communication device sent by Kodim 1714 [Puncak Jaya military district command], but [they] were intercepted when going up and they were shot from the top of the hill," Jansen said.

The four soldiers who were killed in transit were identified as First Sergeant M. Udin, First Sergeant Frans, First Sergeant Ramadhan and First Private Mustofa. "Two civilians were shot when the soldiers shot [the assailants] back, their condition is not yet known," Jansen added.

Jansen said that the military had not been able to identify the assailants, but claimed that the group had big enough resources to attack the soldiers.

Papua peaceful after gubernatorial election

Jakarta Globe - February 16, 2013

Farouk Arnaz – Police said on Thursday that Papua was calm and peaceful a day after the local electoral commission named Lukas Enembe and Klemen Tinal as the province's governor and deputy governor.

"Thank God, everything is secure," said Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian, the Papua Police chief.

The statement came after concerns that riots would hit the conflict-ridden province as some residents did not accept the official results announced by the General Elections Commission (KPUD).

Fears of possible clashes were exacerbated on Wednesday after three of the six Papua gubernatorial candidates staged a walk-out during the KPUD's plenary meeting to announce the landslide victory of Lukas and Klemen, a pair of candidates backed by the ruling Democratic Party.

Tito's deputy, Brig. Gen. Paulus Waterpau, confirmed separately that since the situation was calm, most of the officers deployed across the province to secure the election had been called back to headquarters. "However, we are still standing by to monitor all possibilities," he said.

While Lukas and Klemen were announced the victors, Paulus noted that quarrels could still erupt among the supporters of the other candidates.

Based on the KPUD's count, Lukas and Klemen secured 52 percent of the vote, with all other candidates trailing far behind. In second place were Habel Melkias Suwae and Yop Kogoya with 18 percent, followed by M.R. Kambu and Blasius Pakage with 13 percent of the vote.

The other three gubernatorial candidate pairs obtained less than 10 percent of the vote each.

Lukas said that the losing candidates were still considering filing a lawsuit with the Constitutional Court to appeal the results. "If there is no appeal... within the next three days, the provincial legislative council will send the results to the home affairs minister," he said.

Another ojek driver shot, wounded in Papua

Jakarta Post - February 15, 2013

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura – Yet again the streets of Papua were left bloody after another violent incident occurred at Kampung Pugo, East Paniai district, Paniai regency on Thursday. The victim was identified as Warigan, 48, an ojek (local motorcycle taxi) driver.

The incident happened at around 2 p.m., local time, when Warigan was transporting a passenger from Kampung Kopo in Bibida district to Kampung Pugo in East Paniai district. Upon arrival at the destination, the unidentified passenger dismounted and tried to stab the ojek driver.

Warigan tried to avoid the attack by running away and abandoning his motorcycle but another unidentified man shot at him from behind.

"It is believed that the assailant was hiding at the final destination, lying in wait for Warigan's arrival. The victim sustained gunshot wounds to his back and left arm," Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr. I Gede Sumerta Jaya said on Friday.

The victim was rushed to Paniai General Hospital in Enarotali, the capital of Paniai, and he is still undergoing treatment as of Friday afternoon.

Warigan's shooting is the most recent episode in a series of gunfire incidents by unidentified people over the last several months in Papua. (hhr)


Villagers condemn mosque protester

Jakarta Post - February 19, 2013

Hotli Simanjuntak, Banda Aceh – A lawsuit filed by a Muslim named Sayed Hasan, 75, against a local mosque for the excessive use of its public address (PA) system in Kampong Jawa, Banda Aceh, has been met with condemnation by the local community. They have gone so far as to threatened to evict Sayed from the village if he continues with the lawsuit.

"If he remains determined in filing the lawsuit against the use of the loudspeaker at Al Muchsinin Mosque, he will face the local community and the risks or be evicted from the village," said Kampong Jawa village chief Ridwan AR.

According to Ridwan, Hasan's behavior goes against the Aceh provincial administrations' policy of developing Banda Aceh as a civil and Islamic city, especially since Aceh is the only province that imposes Islamic law in everyday life.

The local community also uses the loudspeakers at mosques to convey messages regarding people's activities, from religious to social activities. "This is a shameful case and offends members of the Acehnese community that adhere to Islam," said Ridwan.

The case came to light after Sayed filed a lawsuit against caretakers of the Al-Muchsinin Mosque, the Banda Aceh municipality, the sharia office and Aceh Ulema Consultation Council (MPU) for the excessive use of PA systems at mosques.

Sayed previously said that the loudspeakers could be used as a form of bullying by mosques and certainly had disrupted his daily prayers. "I feel very uncomfortable with the volume they set," Sayed said. "My illness just makes it worse."

Sayed had asked representatives of the Al Muchsinin Mosque, the Banda Aceh city administration, the sharia office and the MPU to ask local mosques to turn down the volume of their loudspeakers.

Sayed vowed to find a way to make himself heard by the authorities, citing the example of Malaysia, where mosques can be instructed to turn down the volume of their loudspeakers.

Villagers consider Sayed's excuse of having a heart condition irrelevant, because he was the only complainant, while residents who live close to the mosque said they had no objection to the sound emitted by its loud speakers.

Banda Aceh Deputy Mayor Illiza Sa'aduddin said the lawsuit filed against the mosque was in line with the law. The Banda Aceh municipality has no plan to issue a bylaw on the use of PA systems at mosques because it is regarded the domain of the MPU.

The MPU deems Hasan's lawsuit to be baseless and lacking strong arguments despite his claim of suffering ill health. "Actually, he [Sayed] once approached the MPU requesting the issuance of an edict related to the use of PA systems at mosques, but we considered it unnecessary in Aceh," said Aceh MPU head Ghazali Muhammad Syam.

According to Ghazali, several regions and villages in Aceh have a special regulation on the use of PA systems at mosques, so it is not necessary for MPU clerics to issue an edict.

In 2012, Vice President Boediono criticized the high volume of speakers used to broadcast the call to prayer, saying he would prefer that the call be made at a lower volume. The call to prayer is made five times a day.

Boediono also asked council members to begin discussing a policy to limit the volume of loudspeaker broadcasts at mosques in the country. His request has received mixed reactions from various groups.

Muslim receives death threats after asking Aceh mosques to turn down volume

Jakarta Post - February 18, 2013

Hotli Simanjuntak, Banda Aceh – A Muslim resident of Banda Aceh says he has received death threats since he made a series of requests that local mosques turn down the volume of their loudspeakers.

Sayed Hasan said that the loudspeakers might be used as a form of bullying by mosques and certainly had disrupted his daily prayers. "I feel very uncomfortable with the volume they set," Sayed Hasan told The Jakarta Post recently. "My illness just makes it even worse."

Sayed had asked representatives of the Al Muchsinin Mosque, the Banda Aceh city administration, the Islamic Syariah Agency and the Aceh Ulema Consultation Council to asks local mosques to turn down the volume of their loudspeakers.

Al Muchisinin Mosque caretaker Didik said that he had been surprised by Sayed's request. "Of dozens of people who live in the area, why is it only he who feels disrupted by the sound?" he said. "Local residents need the loud noise to tell them the time to do their daily prayers."

Sayed, who said he had been forced to retract his complaints, vowed to find a way to make himself heard by the authorizes, citing the example of Malaysia, where mosques could be required to tone down their loudspeakers. (dic)

Human rights & justice

Orchestrated infighting threatens to leave Komnas HAM toothless

Jakarta Post - February 18, 2013

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – The internal schism between commissioners of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) seems to have weakened the body and allowed outsiders to capitalize on the conflict to further reduce the authority of the agency.

Both the government and the House of Representatives are now making moves to strip the agency of its power.

Responding to demand from Komnas HAM for an amendment to Law No. 39/1999 on human rights, which grants immunity from legal prosecution, House Commission III on law and human rights is preparing to do the exact opposite.

"These continuing squabbles between the agency commissioners tell me that Komnas HAM can no longer be trusted to choose its own leader. We are considering assuming the authority to select the leaders from commissioners. We're looking into an appropriate amendment to the law on human rights that would give us such powers," Martin Hutabarat of the Great Indonesian Movement (Gerindra) told The Jakarta Post.

If the political factions agree on the proposal, the House would have the authority to select a Komnas HAM chairman for a five-year term and not the 2.5-year tenure system currently in place or the one-year term currently proposed by the commissioners themselves.

The five-year-tenure is the latest proposal by the House to ease tension within Komnas HAM.

Last week, during a House session with the commissioners, lawmakers threatened to cut the already meager budget of Rp 40 billion (US$4.1 million) if the rights body failed to resolve the dispute by early next month.

Bickering in the rights body erupted early last month when nine of the 13 commissioners decided to change an internal regulation and allow annual turnover of the commission's leadership.

Rights activists suspect that the proposal was orchestrated by politicians who want to interfere with the internal process within the commission ahead of the 2014 elections.

Some activists go so far as to suggest that many commissioners themselves are mere stuffed shirts: appendages political parties, if not actual government agencies including the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the State Intelligence Agency (BIN).

Various groups with considerable vested interests in emasculating the Commission on Human Rights have coalesced to form a movement with the objective of impeaching the current chairman Otto Nur Abdullah, well known for his tireless struggle to uncover past human rights abuses.

A coalition of the country's human rights watchdogs, consisting of among others, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Imparsial and the Institute for Research and Advocacy (Elsam) want Komnas HAM to reject the proposal on internal regulation outright.

"The discussion is a waste of time and energy. It's better to focus on resolving the growing number of cases of human rights abuse. Just let Otto and his deputies Sandrayati Moniaga and M. Nurkhoiron finish their terms in 2015 as was previously agreed," the coalition told the Post on Sunday.

The Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI), a human rights network of 28 rights watchdogs from 17 countries in Asia, also made similar appeal, suggesting Komnas HAM focus on more substantial issues, declaring "ANNI agrees with the spirit of collective and collegial leadership, but we remain unconvinced that the shortened term and rotation of the chairmanship contributes to the realization of this goal.

"ANNI appreciates the autonomy and diversity in the leadership of Komnas HAM, however we are concerned that such changes may prevent as sense of continuity in Komnas HAM's ongoing and long-term work plans."

Women's rights

Social media gives Indonesian women new voice

Associated Press - February 18, 2013

Niniek Karmini, Jakarta, Indonesia – A judge being interviewed for a Supreme Court job jokes that women might enjoy rape. A local official takes a 17-year-old second wife, then quickly divorces her by text message.

Both cases reflect attitudes toward women's rights and safety that have persisted for years in this Southeast Asian archipelago nation of 240 million people. The difference now: Both officials are at risk of losing their jobs.

Women in this social-media-obsessed country have been rallying, online and on the streets, against sexist comments and attacks on women. The response is seen as a small step for women's rights in Indonesia, where the government is secular and most people practice a moderate form of Islam.

"We are living in a different era now," said Husein Muhammad of the National Commission on Violence Against Women. "... Now we have supporting laws and social media to bring severe consequences and social sanctions."

Still, rights groups say the country remains far behind on many issues involving gender equality and violence. Rape cases often are not properly investigated, and victims are sometimes blamed.

And although it is rare to divorce by text message, as Aceng Fikri did last summer, unregistered polygamous marriages such as his are common.

Fikri, chief of Garut district in West Java province, called it quits four days after marrying his teenage bride in July. He claimed she was not a virgin, which she denied.

A photo of the couple posted on the Internet slowly began to stoke chatter – and then rage. The outcry spread by local media and on Twitter, blogs, Facebook and popular mobile phone networking groups such as BlackBerry and Yahoo Messenger.

Thousands of people took to the streets in December to protest. Students and women's rights activists in Garut demanded that he resign, trampling and spitting on photos of his face before setting them ablaze outside his council building.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono responded by issuing a rare public condemnation of the 40-year-old official and his illegal marriage. The Supreme Court late last month recommended that the president dismiss Fikri for violating the marriage law, and police are investigating the case because it involves a minor.

Outrage also erupted in social media in January after Judge Muhammad Daming Sunusi told a parliamentary selection panel for Supreme Court positions that it could be a mistake to impose the death penalty for rape because both the attacker and the victim "might have enjoyed" it. The remark reportedly drew laughter from panel members. Sunusi later apologized and said he been joking.

"Enough is enough!" said Muhammad, of the commission on violence against women. "Our officials should no longer mess around and issue ridiculous statements even as a dumb joke."

Not only was Sunusi rejected for a job on the Supreme Court, but the country's Judicial Commission has recommended that he be dismissed from his position on the South Sumatra High Court. But the Supreme Court would have to agree, and it has said such punishment would be too severe because he made the remark in an interview, not during a trial.

Sunusi is hardly the first in Indonesia to be criticized for his comments about rape.

In 2011, after a woman was gang raped on a minibus, then-Jakarta governor Fauzi Bowo drew protests after warning women not to wear miniskirts on public transportation because it could arouse male passengers. Bowo lost his re-election bid last year.

A sex-trafficking case involving a 14-year-old girl prompted Education Minister Mohammad Nuh to say last year that not all girls who report such crimes are victims: "They do it for fun, and then the girl alleges that it's rape," he said. His response to the criticism he received was that it's difficult to prove whether sexual assault allegations are "real rapes."

Growing concern in Indonesia over women's rights reflects that in India, where a brutal and deadly New Delhi gang rape in December has drawn nationwide protests and demands for change. That case also resonated in Indonesia.

"Let's imagine the suffering of women who are treated badly by their husbands and the rape victims. What if it happened to our own families?" said Ellin Rozana, a women's rights activist in Bandung, capital of West Java province. "We need government officials who will be on the front line to protect women, and judges who can see that violence against women is a serious crime."

In the West Java official's case, it was the text-message divorce that prompted outrage more than his unregistered second marriage, though such weddings raise issues about women's rights. They are regularly performed for Indonesians ranging from poor rice farmers to celebrities, politicians and Muslim clerics.

Polygamy remains common in many Muslim countries, based on Islamic teachings that allow men to take up to four wives.

In Indonesia, men are allowed to marry a second wife only after the first gives her blessing. Since most women refuse to agree to share their husbands, unregistered ceremonies, or "nikah siri," are often secretly carried out by an Islamic cleric outside the law.

Some of the marriages are simply a cover for prostitution. A cleric is paid to conduct "contract marriages" as short as one night in some parts of Indonesia, usually for Middle Eastern tourists.

Practices differ slightly elsewhere, with men in places such as Malaysia sometimes marrying outside the country to avoid informing existing spouses and seeking permission from an Islamic court. Ceremonies in Iraq are often held in secret for the same reason. No approval is needed in the Palestinian territories, but contract marriages are banned.

Without a marriage certificate, wives lack legal rights. Children from the marriage are often considered illegitimate and are typically not issued birth certificates, creating a lifetime of obstacles ranging from attending schools to getting a passport.

However, in another sign of Indonesia's changing attitudes, the Supreme Court this month ordered all judges to obey an earlier Constitutional Court ruling granting rights such as inheritance to children born out of wedlock, and to punish fathers who neglect them.

The women's commission on violence is now pushing for a revision of Indonesia's 1974 marriage law to grant more protections to women and children.

"I hope Indonesian women can take a lesson from Fikri's case," said Ninik Rahayu of the commission. "At least it has awakened their awareness to not marry in an illegal way."

[Associated Press writers Ibrahim Barzak in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Sameer N. Yacoub in Baghdad, Iraq and Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, also contributed to this story.]

Sexual & domestic violence

Child abuse cases reach record high

Jakarta Post - February 20, 2013

Yuli Tri Suwarni, Depok – An 18-year-old girl from Ciracas, East Jakarta, has been systematically raped by her biological father since she was 13 and now is one-and-a-half-months pregnant.

It took five years for the girl to summon up the courage to tell her grandfather and file a report with police.

"The father admitted that he had raped his daughter some 60 times over the past five years," National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas PA) chairman Arist Merdeka Sirait said on Tuesday during a hearing with the city administration at City Hall. The commission plans to transfer the girl from her house to a shelter for victims of abuse.

What has happened to this girl may call to mind a similar tragedy, where an 11-year-old girl from Cakung, East Jakarta, was allegedly raped by her biological father on Oct. 16 and 19 last year in their home.

The rapes allegedly took place at home while the mother was in hospital receiving treatment for cancer. The girl died last month after being in a coma for over a week. Her father is the prime suspect.

These two horrific incidents are only the tip of the iceberg. In Greater Jakarta last year, 2,637 child abuse cases were reported – 1,075 of these cases incorporate some sexual dimension.

In Depok, police have arrested a 38-year-old man for allegedly molesting at least 15 boys living around his neighborhood in the Melati sector of the Kota Kembang housing complex in Jatimulya subdistrict, Cilodong.

Depok Police deputy detective chief Adj. Comr. Purwadi said police made the arrest on Sunday after a report from one of the victim's parents.

The boys, who were almost all under 9 years old, remained silent because they were afraid, he said. "The parents claim their boy was kissed and fondled all over his body," Purwadi said on Tuesday.

The suspect would apparently allow boys to take things from his stall without paying. In return, he asked the boys to come back to his home where they watched adult films or played pornographic games on his cell phone.

Some of the boys did not resist at all when the suspect took off their clothes and molested them because they were not aware that what he was doing was wrong. "We arrested him as he was trying to escape when [suspicious] neighbors came to his house," Purwadi said.

Arist said Komnas PA found that around 80 percent of child sexual abuse was conducted by people who had close personal relationships with the children concerned. These include relatives, biological parents, step-parents, neighbors and teachers. The abuse is almost without limit. Crimes range from sodomy, to rape, molestation and incest, he said.

Arist said the high number of such cases can be attributed to a common belief that child abuse was an internal, domestic problem, and only the concern of the family involved. Neighbors and others who may be aware, or have suspicions, of a situation tend to look the other way.

"For example, how is it possible that the girl could be raped for five years, and her mother, relatives and neighbors know nothing about the matter?" he said.

Arist believes that the police have not done much for these cases either, with more than half of the cases failing to even reach the courts, with the law enforcement agencies complaining of a lack of hard evidence. Only 18 percent of the cases that made through to court were ever resolved, he added.

He said poverty was a factor in the high number of child abuse cases. Mothers are often afraid to lose the breadwinner if they report their husbands to police for sexual violence.

"Over 80 percent of the child abuse cases occur in the lower strata of society," he said. The tragic rapes cited above both concern girls growing up in slums.

But psychologist Ratih Andjayani disagreed, declaring: "It happens in every level of society." "People need to realize that sexual violence is a very serious crime, and those committing it must be severely punished, both legally and socially," she said. (cor)

Activist says police 'sluggish' in cleric molestation case

Jakarta Post - February 19, 2013

Jakarta – National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas PA) chairman Arist Merdeka Sirait says the Jakarta Police have wasted too much time in investigating a molestation case involving cleric Hasan Jafar Assegaf despite testimony from all the victims and evidence they have collected.

"We have sent a letter to them to support the investigation, but also to remind them that they are very slow," Arist told The Jakarta Post on Monday. "No one is immune when it comes to law enforcement, even if the alleged suspect is a prominent individual."

Arist said the courts would decide later whether Hasan was guilty or not, calling on police not to be afraid of the effects their investigation might have.

He said police had to remain impartial and proceed faster with the case, for the sake of the children involved, as well as to save Hasan from false accusations.

The Jakarta Police's head of the teenager, child and women division, Adj. Sr. Comr. Hando Wibowo, said the police were being "careful" in handling the case. "We should consider the fact that he is a group leader, so we don't want to rush. So, please give us time," he said on Monday.

Hando said police were still investigating the case. "We never stopped," he said, adding that police had summoned 12 people, including the victims, their families and people in Hasan's circle, to gather more information.

Hasan, an influential cleric, was accused of sexually abusing some of his male students in December 2011. He is alleged to have abused students since 2002.

Hasan allegedly groped his disciples and performed oral sex on them in what he claimed was part of an alternative healing therapy. The victims filed reports with the Jakarta Police in December 2011. (fzm/dic)

Spritual guru Anand Krishna finally arrested

Jakarta Globe - February 16, 2013

SP/Erwin Sihombing – The South Jakarta Prosecutors Office have finally arrested spiritual guru Anand Krishna, after the convicted sexual harasser refused to turn himself in to authorities three times to serve his two-and-a-half-year jail term sentenced by the Supreme Court last August.

Setia Untung Arimuladi, the Attorney General's Office spokesman, said on Saturday that Anand, who was arrested in his house in Ubud, Bali, would be taken by the executors to the Cipinang Penitentiary in East Jakarta.

Setia said that when the team from the prosecutors officer and 50 police officers from Bali went to arrest Anand, his followers from the "Anand Ashram Lovers Community" tried to prevent them from taking him.

"Inside [his house], around 50 followers from the Anand Ashram Lovers Community led by Anand's son Prashant had been waiting," Setia said. "There were arguments because they did not want him [Anand] to be taken."

Police officers from Bali managed to take him to their station after a religious leader from Ubud mediated the conflict. "So, he was taken to Jakarta from Ngurah Rai International Airport [Bali]," Setia said. "He's on the way."

The South Jakarta District Court acquitted Anand in November 2011 of his sexual harassment charges, but the Supreme Court overturned the decision last August, handing him a two-and-a-half-year jail term as he was proven guilty of sexually harassing three of his students.

The charges were a major blow to the self-styled guru, who for 17 years had spread spiritual messages about health and education to millions of Indonesians through his radio and TV shows, books and workshops held at his meditation centers in Jakarta, Bogor, Yogyakarta and Bali.

Saying 'No' out loud against violence

Jakarta Post - February 15, 2013

Indah Setiawati, Jakarta – Neither the scorching heat nor angry bosses could stop over 300 people from attending the One Billion Rising Indonesia flash mob dance at the National Monument (Monas) Park in Central Jakarta on Thursday.

While others were looking for flowers and chocolate to celebrate Valentine's Day, these people showed their solidarity with female victims of violence. For them, enough is enough.

American award winning playwright Eve Ensler, who created The Vagina Monologues, initiated the One Billion Rising movement last year as a call to mobilize people to walk out of their daily activities on Feb. 14, and transfer their energy to the plight of making violence against women unacceptable.

The movement is based on the statistic that as many as one in three women, or 1 billion women, will be raped, beaten or face violence in their lifetime. That is equal to approximately 14 percent of the world population of 7 billion.

In Indonesia, according to the National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan), the number of reported cases of rape, domestic violence and other forms of brutality against women reached 119,107 in 2012.

"I am annoyed that cases of rape and harassment are not taken seriously. Recently, a 7-year-old girl in my neighborhood was molested. The policewoman who dealt with the case asked for money to continue with the case, which made me so angry!" Yaya Haryadi, 36, told The Jakarta Post.

Yaya, who skipped work in a shipping company in North Jakarta in the afternoon, often witnessed sexual harassment on public buses. She said she armed herself with a long decorative pin that she put on her head scarf, which she would use to poke men who tried to take advantage of her on the crammed bus.

Elena Williams and Ashley Breckenridge were among participants who skipped work to join the global movement, which was also celebrated by a total of 11 cities in Indonesia and over 200 countries worldwide.

Wearing white T-shirts over their red outfits, the two Australian expatriates working in Menara Thamrin were more than animated when they joined the flash mob. "I am sick of rape being treated as a joke and as a funny word. I want people to stand up, to be angry, but I also want people to say we can change it," said Elena.

She was referring to judge Muhammad Daming Sunusi who caused national uproar last month after making the statement that some rape cases might involve consensual sex and may require more lenient sentences.

One Billion Rising in Jakarta began with a rehearsal of the flash mob dance, followed by a poem reading and a spirited music performance from Simponi, who composed "Sister in Danger" especially for the movement.

At around 3 p.m., participants of the event, which included men, women and children, danced the choreographed and free-style movement piece energetically. Their faces turned red and their shirts were wet, but nobody cared.

During the break, singer Kartika Jahja sang songs that spoke about filtering unimportant information from the media, love without gender boundaries as well as her famous "Mayday" song.

Valentine's Day was co-opted and shortened to V-Day by gender activists 14 years ago, in reference to the other "V" that is considered taboo in polite conversations.

Women join global anti-violence movement

Jakarta Post - February 15, 2013

Bambang Muryanto and Ainur Rohmah, Semarang/Yogyakarta – Women's activists, university students and housewives in Yogyakarta and Semarang, Central Java celebrated Valentine's Day on Thursday with a campaign against gender-based violence.

In Yogyakarta, some 200 activists, university students and street art community members joined the global One Billion Rising (OBR) movement along the city's legendary Jl. Malioboro, to say no to sexual violence against women.

OBR Yogyakarta coordinator Emma said the movement held activities in nine cities across Indonesia. "This is a movement to commemorate the 15th Vagina Day," Emma said, referring to the annual commemoration launched by playwright Eve Ensler's (The Vagina Monologues) to call for the protection of women and girls.

Despite heavy rain, participants danced away to dangdut music while carrying posters calling for a stop to violence against women.

Emma said the musical genre was deliberately chosen because women were frequently subject to sexual harassment when they danced to dangdut music. "Now we want to show that women can also dance, accompanied by dangdut music, without experiencing sexual harassment," she said.

"While people around the globe are celebrating Valentine's Day, we call on everybody who cares to dance, to rise and to demand a stop to violence against women," Emma said.

The dancing do-gooders also distributed leaflets bearing the addresses of institutions in Yogyakarta that people could turn to when experiencing or witnessing violence against women and girls.

In Semarang, the campaign was staged along Jl. Pahlawan and in the Simpanglima area. Activist Witi Muntari said the OBR event also honored V- Day by walking, dancing and delivering speeches.

V-Day, she added, aimed to end violence against women and girls, to promote creative activities for increasing such awareness, to donate and to revitalize the spirit of anti-violence organizations.

Data at the Legal Resource Center for Gender Equality and Human Rights (LRC-KJHAM) Semarang showed that in 2012, there were 407 cases of violence against women across Central Java, involving 928 women victims, 26 of whom died.

Labour & migrant workers

Workers protest bills on mass organizations, national security

Jakarta Globe - February 19, 2013

Bayu Marhaenjati & Dessy Sagita – Hundreds of labor union members demonstrated in front on the House of Representatives' building on Tuesday, demanding that the controversial bills on mass organizations and national security be dropped from the legislature's docket.

"We demand the mass organizations and national security bills to be dropped because the existence of both regulations would put us, the laborers, in a very difficult position, just like in the New Order era," said Baris Silitonga, the demonstration's coordinator.

Baris said the Wednesday protest was just a "warm-up" before a much bigger demonstration planned for the end of the month, in which thousands of protesters were expected to rally.

Said Iqbal, president of the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Union (KSPI), said a mass strike was also being considered if the government and the House ignored the protesters' demands.

A nationwide strike in October 2012, protesting the practice of outsourcing, involved more than five million workers and crippled production at 1,000 factories, causing an estimated Rp 1 trillion ($103 million) in losses.

Said said the union would plan an even bigger strike this year if the House pushed ahead with the legislation. Said said the bill on mass organizations threatened democracy and citizens' freedom to be involved in an organization or to express an opinion.

He said the bill distinguished between two kinds of mass organizations: those with a legal body and those without. The bill would classify workers unions as mass organizations without a legal body, obliging them to register for the "legal body" status with the Ministry of Home Affairs.

"This bill makes it impossible for a workers union to fight for workers' rights and welfare, as well as to organize a mass strike, which has been guaranteed in our Constitution," he said.

Said said that for the May Day labor commemoration on May 1, the union would mobilize 500,000 protesters from the Greater Jakarta area to demand that the bills be dropped.

Housemaids rally for domestic rights bill

Jakarta Post - February 18, 2013

Jakarta – Hundreds of housemaids rallied at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta on Sunday, demanding that the government and the House of Representatives protect their rights.

The coordinator of the Domestic Workers Advocacy Network, Lita Anggraini, said the protesters wanted the House to pass a bill to protect domestic workers during the current legislative session.

She also urged the manpower and transmigration minister, the foreign minister, the women's empowerment and child protection minister and the law and human rights minister to endorse the bill and the ratification of International Labor Organization Convention No. 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, tribunnews.com reported.The bill was drafted by several NGOs.

The House has suspended deliberation of the bill since 2010. Lawmakers have been divided on requiring that domestic workers be paid the regional minimum wage and the Javanese ngenger custom, where a child stays in the house of a distant relative or family associate in exchange for housework.

"Hopefully, the House and the government of Indonesia will fulfill their responsibilities to respect, protect and ensure the rights of domestic workers," Lita said.

House urged to pass law to protect domestic workers

Jakarta Post - February 15, 2013

Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta – Domestic workers and activists staged a protest in the center of Yogyakarta City, on Friday, urging the House of Representatives to immediately pass the draft law on domestic workers.

"We [domestic workers] will only receive the Idul Fitri holiday bonuses (THR), health coverage and other protection schemes other workers are entitled to if there is a law on domestic workers," said Arsih Suharsih from the Domestic Workers Protection Network (JPRTT) on Friday.

"Today, we are staging a nation-wide demonstration to urge [the House of Representatives] to immediately pass the draft law on domestic workers," she added.

On Friday, rallies were held simultaneously in several cities across the country as domestic workers honor Feb. 15 as the National Domestic Workers Day. They chose Feb. 15 because on that day six years ago, Sunarsih, a child domestic worker in Surabaya, East Java, was tortured to death by her employer.

On the crossroad, the protesters stood in front of stationary motorists while the lights were red light. Many protesters had wooden trays, locally known as "tampah", decorated with messages such as "Menstruation leave", "Eliminate child domestic workers", "Stop violence against domestic workers", "THR" and "Health coverage".

Meanwhile, twelve activists lined up on the sidewalk, each held a wok that had singular letters and together they created the message "Sahkan RUU PRT" (Pass the draft law on domestic workers).

Arsih said domestic workers needed a specific law to protect them as their profession was different to the industrial sector. Their working times, for example, were upwards of eight hours. They also had to live in their employers' houses.

"The draft law on domestic workers protection has been deliberated by the House since 2010 [...] it has yet to become law," said Arsih.

The demonstration coordinator, Sayuti, said many countries such as India or the United States acknowledged National Domestic Workers Day and had a Domestic Workers Law.

"Speaking in front of an International Labour Organization (ILO) meeting in Geneva in 2012, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono promised that Indonesia would have a Domestic Workers Law. He has yet to realize this promise," said Sayuti, who is also a domestic worker. (ebf)

Political parties & elections

Democrats close ranks, for now

Straits Times - February 21, 2013

Zakir Hussain – When Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono took direct control of his Democratic Party's reins a fortnight ago, many cheered the fact that the former general was now in command. Now, they grudgingly back his hesitation to push for a leadership shake-up.

The mission remains the same: How best to restore the Democrats' rapidly declining image while holding the 12-year-old mothership together amid shrinking popularity ratings.

As Yudhoyono took the helm, expectations were high that a leadership shake-up was imminent and that chairman Anas Urbaningrum, facing allegations of graft many blame for tanking the party's fortunes, would be unseated.

But in what is now seen as a tactical retreat forced by supporters of Anas, Yudhoyono, who chairs the Democrats' high council, on Sunday quashed speculation that Anas would go.

Several days on, party elders have closed ranks once again. But expect tension to roil the party in the months ahead as aspirants to leadership combat for greater say, as the Democrats still enjoy the advantage of incumbency in next year's elections for Parliament – the real battlefield – even as Yudhoyono cannot run again.

The calculation among those in the President's circle, it seems, was that while removing Anas might help the party – a recent survey that prompted this round of conflict gave it only 8 percent of votes, down from 2009's 21 percent – such a move is still premature as it would alienate the grassroots where he is popular, harming the Democrats further.

"This is a bit of an anti-climax. But the President is taking a peaceful way out," political observer Salim Said of the National Defense University told The Straits Times.

"There's apparently resistance from people considered to be Anas' supporters, so the President concludes that if he does something to Anas now, it will break the party."

As the latest round of tensions surfaced, Yudhoyono said his taking charge would give Anas time to focus on legal matters, amid leaks that the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) would soon indict the chairman.

The President summoned all 148 party legislative members two weeks ago to his home to sign an "integrity pact" to declare their wealth, be honest, and agree to resign if named suspects. Anas, who left the House in 2010 to focus on party work, was absent and said he was ill. Several emboldened party leaders called on him to resign as chairman.

But some in his camp saw his absence as a sign of protest at the President's move, and called it high-handed and autocratic.

It did not help that last Thursday, Yudhoyono's son and party secretary- general, Edhie "Ibas" Baskoro Yudhoyono, resigned as a lawmaker to focus on party matters.

With tensions running high ahead of a meeting of branch leaders across the country on Sunday, Anas embraced Yudhoyono, who said, "The press and many commentators have pitted me as chief patron against Anas as chairman. Yet we both still sit together in the high council. I head that, Anas is my deputy.

"Led by the chairman alone, it would not have been effective," he added of the bid to lift the party's prospects. "That is why I came down to help overcome this crisis."

Said Anas, "There's no need for further interpretation." It remains to be seen whether the KPK will indict him. Democrats' lawmakers and branch leaders dismiss reports of conflict between a pro-Yudhoyono faction and a pro-Anas faction as a problem of perception, but analysts say the camps are too blatant to ignore.

History is one guide to how things may shape up: It is an open secret that party leaders were dismayed that Anas, a former student leader, beat Parliament Speaker Marzuki Alie and former youth minister Andi Mallarangeng to the chair's post in 2010, and these feelings linger. Mallarangeng resigned in December after being indicted for graft.

Ambition is another. Marbawi Katon of Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting told The Straits Times, "If the conflict between the [Yudhoyono] and Anas factions fails to be managed, it will be harder for the Democrats to raise their electability. What's happening internally is not just about this dynamic, but a power struggle for positions in 2014."

Said analyst Hanta Yuda, "The potential for greater turbulence in the months ahead is high."

Government candidates duck religious intolerance issue

Jakarta Post - February 21, 2013

Arya Dipa, Bandung – Candidates in the West Java gubernatorial election seem to have ducked the question of religious intolerance and radicalism despite the province's poor reputation on the matter.

The Wahid Institute recorded that the number of cases of intolerance and violations against religious freedom have increased from 57 cases in 2010 to 128 in 2011. There were 102 cases in 2012.

The institute's head of monitoring and advocacy, M. Subhi Azhari, said that West Java had the highest number of violations of religious freedom and intolerance.

The candidates have not offered many solutions during the current campaign period, which ends Wednesday. Intolerance and violations of religious freedom are not staple campaign material to attract votes from the West Java population, which is predominantly Muslim.

Incumbent Deputy Governor Dede Yusuf Macan Effendi said he would build communication with religious leaders to solve the problems. "Staying in West Java means staying in an area that is peaceful, harmonious and conducive for investment," he said.

The former actor said he had mapped the potential for religion-related conflict in the province. "The key is good relations," he said. Dede is part of the provincial administration that issued West Java Gubernatorial Decree No. 12/2011 banning Ahmadiyah propagation activities in the province.

His competitor and boss, incumbent Governor Ahmad Heryawan, said the policy was made to prevent arbitrary or violent actions against Ahmadiyah followers.

Heryawan said the police should help to maintain religious tolerance. Another way, he said, was to maximize the Interfaith Communication Forum (FKUB). "Most of the problems are about the construction of houses of worship. If all parties understand the prevailing law, there will be no problem," he said.

Many of the problems of constructing churches, for example, are related to building permits, which such establishments have yet to acquire before starting their worshipping activities. The incumbent governor added that it was also important to increase the school participation numbers and people's welfare.

Meanwhile, House of Representatives member Rieke Diah Pitaloka said that there should be a multiple-pronged approach to solve the problem. It includes communication to build understanding between religious groups through to improvement of the people's economic condition.

Rieke said that she would build food security in West Java by maximizing all potential. "If the people reach a satisfactory welfare level, they will not conduct outrageous actions," said the only female gubernatorial candidate.

Deputy governor candidate Tatang Fahanul Hakim said that the problems of intolerance and radicalism in West Java could be solved if society understood their religions.

Political observer and dean of the School of Social Sciences at the Indonesian Education University, Karim Suryadi, said the issues would haunt every governor in the province.

"Because there is a difference of understanding between the public and the media," Karim said Monday. The public may not consider such debates in the media as a problem, he added.

So, according to him, West Java leaders should be firm in responding to the differences in understanding. He deemed that all candidates had yet to provide a clear understanding on how to resolve the cases of religious intolerance.

"Every one of them say they will accommodate all the differences, but concrete actions remain unclear," said Karim.

Religious intolerance cases in West Java 2012-2013

Minor parties engage in horse trading ahead of 2014 poll

Jakarta Post - February 20, 2013

Bagus BT Saragih, Jakarta – The hope of getting into the House of Representatives by politicians from parties deemed ineligible to run in the 2014 general elections have been kept alive by deals struck with established parties.

While some minor parties have filed suits in the State Administrative Court over the General Election Commission's (KPU) decision to disqualify them, others have been in talks with major parties about the possibility of building alliances. In a few cases, parties have made the two efforts simultaneously.

The fact that the KPU declared only 10 political parties to be eligible to contest the 2014 election – fewer than the 38 parties in 2009 and 24 in 2004, has heightened the bargaining position of eligible parties in recruiting parties seeking a merger.

For eligible parties, absorbing minor political parties provides additional "logistics" in contesting the elections.

Some eligible parties with massive resources but lacking support could begin looking for disqualified parties to access voters in the country's rural areas. The scramble for minor political parties has created what many have called "a political market".

Many parties have appointed special teams tasked to scout potential merger partners. The People's Conscience Party (Hanura) is one of the parties on the hunt for minor parties.

Hanura's recent decision to recruit media mogul Hary Tanoesoedibjo looks to have improved the party's electability, not only because of Hary's financial resources, but also his massive media empire, which could significantly boost the party's media campaign.

Hary also agreed to bring his newly-founded mass organization Indonesia United (Perindo) under Hanura's umbrella.

Hanura chairman Gen. (ret) Wiranto has also claimed that he has received proposals from many disqualified parties which have expressed interest in merging with his party.

Among the parties were the National Care for People Party (PPRN), the Democratic Renewal Party (PDP), the Indonesian Democracy Vanguard Party (PPDI) and the National Republic Party.

The Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), is also looking for minor parties to join its coalition.

Capitalizing on the party chief patron Lt. Gen. (ret) Prabowo Subianto's stature as one of the most popular presidential candidates, it recently succeeded in wooing the Muslim-based National Ulema Awakening Party (PKNU).

The National Mandate Party (PAN), an established party with 46 seats at the House, has also been on the lookout for disqualified parties in a hope that they would bring in more resources.

A source close to the party said that PAN, like other established political parties, had attempted to win the support of minor parties by offering financial assistance.

"PAN has a strong party structure down to local levels but they need logistics to run in 2014," the source said.

PAN chairman Hatta Rajasa said at least seven disqualified political parties had agreed to join the party. Among them were the Star Reform Party (PBR) and the Freedom Bull National Party (PNBK).

Siti Zuhro, a political analyst from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said that some political parties were now getting more assertive in marketing themselves.

"We have been seeing that as we move closer to the 2014 polls, parties are getting more aggressive in promoting themselves. Eligible parties want to make sure of what is in it for them, and conversely, whether there are any drawbacks posed by the parties merging?" she said.

Joko a favorite in 2014, but Megawati could spoil the party

Jakarta Globe - February 20, 2013

Carlos Paath – While convincingly leading two recent surveys on possible candidates for the 2014 presidential election, Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo appears unlikely to run.

Analysts contend that Joko will have to be content to remain as governor as long as Megawati Sukarnoputri, a former president and the chairwoman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), of which Joko is a member, decides to run for the nation's highest seat.

Megawati has several times hinted at a run in 2014 despite losing twice in a row to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2004 and 2009, while a number of PDI-P officials were quick to say that Joko should concentrate on solving Jakarta's problems.

"It's very difficult for Joko to run, if not impossible," said Aleksius Jemadu, dean of Pelita Harapan University's School of Social and Political Sciences. "I think he will be a candidate, and win it all in 2019, though."

A survey by the Jakarta Survey Institute (LSJ), published on Tuesday, showed that Joko topped other candidates with 18.1 percent of respondents voting for him if the election was held now. The survey, which polled 1,225 respondents nationwide from Feb. 9-15, put Prabowo Subianto, a retired general previously considered the top contender, a distant second with 10.9 percent, and Megawati sixth with 7.2 percent.

The survey put Wiranto, the chairman of the People's Conscience Party (Hanura), and Jusuf Kalla, the former vice president, in third and fourth place with 9.8 percent and 8.9 percent respectively. Tycoon and Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie was in fifth place with 8.7 percent of respondents voting for him.

A poll by the United Data Center (PDB) conducted from Jan. 3-18 and surveying 1,200 respondents in 30 provinces also found that Joko topped a list of 33 possible candidates by receiving support from 21.2 percent of respondents.

In second place was Prabowo with 17.1 percent. Third was Megawati with 11.5 percent, followed by Rhoma Irama, a dangdut singer turned conservative cleric, with 10.4 percent.

While legislators are still negotiating the threshold required for parties to nominate a presidential candidate, many say the current figure of 20 percent will be maintained, meaning anyone intending to run needs support from a party or coalition of parties that have won at least 20 percent of the popular vote in the legislative election, which is scheduled for April 2014.

Aleksius said that as Article 6 of the Constitution obviates the possibility of an independent candidate, there was no other way for Joko to run for president without getting support from the PDI-P.

He said that with Joko effectively ruled out because of Megawati's ambition, this paved the way for Prabowo to win in 2014, and pointed to the high popularity of Prabowo's Great Indonesian Movement Party (Gerindra) in the survey.

The LSJ's survey on how political parties would perform in 2014 put Gerindra in third place with 10.3 percent out of 10 parties eligible to run, with Golkar and the PDI-P coming first and second with 18.5 percent and 16.5 percent respectively.

"With his party now getting double digits in the survey, Prabowo will be able to run by gathering support from small parties to reach the required 20 percent. I think it will be a three-horse race between Megawati, Aburizal and Prabowo in 2014.

If this is the case, then Prabowo has the biggest chance to win the presidency," Aleksius said.

Other analysts have expressed doubt that Prabowo will be able to drum up the necessary political support from small parties, saying Gerindra ideally needs the backing of a major party like the PDI-P or the Democrats, who have no clear figurehead to nominate in 2014 once President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono steps down.

But Islamic parties like the United Development Party (PPP) and National Awakening Party (PKB) may flock to support Prabowo, said political analyst Fadjroel Rachman of the Soegeng Sarjadi Syndicate.

Prabowo also met recently with Hatta Rajasa, the coordinating minister for the economy and chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN), in a move seen as lobbying for a partnership with the PAN and its close ally, the Democrats.

"If Prabowo can show he is the strongest candidate and can win, then the president will support him," Aleksius said.

Angelina Sondakh ousted from House and Democratic Party

Jakarta Globe - February 19, 2013

Markus Junianto Sihaloho – The high assembly of the Democratic Party has agreed to oust graft convict Angelina Sondakh from the House of Representatives and the party, after the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court handed her a four-and-a-half year prison term last month.

House of Representatives speaker Marzuki Alie said that the decision was made in a bid to clean up the party.

"Though it is not in kracht [a final and binding decision], this is politics," Marzuki said. "Politics is a different domain with law. So we have to also consider that a political sanction must be different with legal sanction."

The party had previously said that it would only fire Angelina if there had been a final and binding decision from the court, whereby an attempt to appeal was no longer possible.

"But on this [Angelina] case, our society wants something concrete," Marzuki explained. "If she was involved and has been convicted, just let it go. If she doesn't want to step down, it means she is being ousted. It's clear that we have taken steps to clean [the party]."

The former beauty queen was found guilty in January over her roles in two corruption cases, believed to have cost the state $3.6 million in losses.

Angelina was accused of taking some Rp 12.5 billion in kickbacks from disgraced Democratic Party treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin's Permai Group to steer a host of contracts to Nazaruddin's shell companies. She was also accused of receiving $2.3 million in a separate graft case involving the National Education Ministry.

Marzuki said the party's chairman, Anas Urbaningrum, and the secretary general would begin the process to replace her.

Dems urged to open coffers to public gaze

Jakarta Post - February 19, 2013

Hans David Tampubolon – As graft and accusations of graft drag down the Democratic Party's top politicians, questions are springing up about the party's fundraising for the 2014 campaigns.

The seven-year prison term for Muhammad Nazaruddin, the corrupt former chief treasurer of the party, has raised innumerable speculations about the source of party funds.

Although Nazaruddin's case broke in May 2011, the party did not name a replacement until November last year, when President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the party's founder, pleading absolute commitment to transparency, appointed his cousin Sartono Hutomo.

Sartono owns numerous international hotels in Bali and is the former chairman of the party's Bali branch. He was not a supporter of Anas Urbaningrum during the 2010 congress to the new party chairman.

At that time, Sartono supported then youth and sports minister Andi Mallarangeng, who resigned recently; yet another suspect in another graft case.

Sartono, along with legislator Mirwan Amir and businessman Handoyo Mulyadi, were Nazaruddin's deputies in the party's treasury division. Mirwan and Handoyo still hold these positions.

Mirwan is a former deputy chair of the House of Representatives budget committee. This committee is well-known as an epicenter of graft. Many former members of the committee are now behind bars.

Mirwan's record in raising money for the party has recently come under the microscope. He resigned from his position on the budget committee when the KPK started asking unwelcome questions about the regional infrastructure fund his committee approved. Nazaruddin has occasionally mentioned Mirwan's name in court.

Mirwan is now a member of House Commission I for defense, intelligence and information. While Mirwan is unlikely to contribute much to party coffers, the party is expected to rely more on Handoyo's family.

The family controls Tempo Group, Indonesia's pharmaceutical giant, whose portfolio includes healthcare brands such as Bodrex and Hemaviton. The family has been steadily contributing to the party since the 2004 election.

"There's no doubt about ability to finance our campaigns in 2014 through legal means. Aside from contributions from businessmen, our legislators have more than enough wherewithal to finance their own campaigns," Sartono told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Rumors are legion that there is not enough in the Democrat's kitty to finance campaigns for the election. A party source said that at least Rp 9 billion (US$930,000) is needed each month just to keep the party ticking over. This excludes campaign funds, donations and advertising costs.

Aside from losing Nazaruddin's unmatched ability to raise funds from unexpected quarters, donations have slumped following the conviction of crooked deputy secretary general and legislator Angelina "Angie" Sondakh, and the shadow over Andi.

Nazaruddin, Angie and Andi are still entangled in further graft scandals in various Youth and Sports Ministry projects. The KPK has revealed how the party used ill-gotten funds to finance not only legislators but also local-leader candidates during the elections.

Nazaruddin repeatedly testified during his trials that his conduct was well-known to, and approved by the Democratic Party's top officials.

Mirwan, however, denies the allegations. "What Nazaruddin and his accomplishes did was only to benefit themselves, not the party. It is not true that our finances depended on them," Mirwan said.

Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) recently submitted a request to the Public Information Committee (KIP) to require the party to fully disclose its finances, and the KIP ruled in favor of the ICW.

However, ICW coordinator Abdullah Dahlan said that the party had shown no intention of complying with the ruling. "The Democratic Party has not given us the requested data on its finances.

"The party has been campaigning about the importance of integrity to clean up its tarnished image. What better way to campaign about integrity than to fully reveal the party's finances?" Abdullah said.

In response to the ICW request, Mirwan said that the party intended to fully cooperate, and the financial report would be released publicly.

Mirwan also promised that the Democratic Party would only use legal funding sources to finance their election campaign. "Those sources include fees paid by members and donations. All of these will be fully audited and will be open to public scrutiny," he said.

SBY outfoxed by Anas, left with few options at hand

Jakarta Post - February 19, 2013

Hans David Tampubolon – In terms of political survival skills, Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum may have few peers.

Since he took the chairmanship from Hadi Utomo, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's brother-in-law, in 2010, he has emerged relatively unscathed from numerous attempted coups.

Anas' leadership has deepened the divisions within the party over time, igniting infighting and rivalries between factions.

Party sources have repeatedly said that Yudhoyono, the party's founder and chief patron, thought of Anas as the "unwanted leader" and had a preference to see Andi Mallarangeng lead the party instead.

Attempts to unseat Anas started when Muhammad Nazaruddin, a member of his inner-circle, was implicated in a graft case. Nazaruddin, who joined the party in 2008, was then the party's chief treasurer.

As pressure mounted against the graft case, Nazaruddin accused Anas of receiving money from the construction of the SEA Games athletes' village in Palembang, South Sumatra, and from the construction of the Hambalang sporting complex in Bogor, West Java. Anas has repeatedly denied the accusations.

Factions within the party, such as the supporters of Andi, Marzuki Alie and senior politicians who contributed to the founding of the party have pressured Yudhoyono to dismiss Anas.

The pressure culminated in a coordinating meeting in July 2011 that concluded with the party's new code of ethics instead of a demand for Anas' resignation for appointing party officials with dubious backgrounds.

The code of ethics, which says that party members charged in graft cases will be suspended, was widely thought to be a tool for ousting Anas in the future.

However, because the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has yet to charge Anas in connection with any graft cases, his opponents have been left with few other avenues.

Yudhoyono's delicate approach toward Anas is thought to be rooted in concerns that Anas would receive a great deal of public sympathy and the risks associated with potentially alienating the widespread support he enjoyed among the party's regional members.

Political analysts said that it would be hard to topple Anas from the chairmanship due to his extensive networks and close relationships within the party's grassroots.

"Anas, as a chairman, regularly visits the regional branches to maintain communications. His style is more suitable to forging loyalty," Charta Politika political analyst Yunarto Wijaya said.

Efforts to oust Anas were revived early this month. Anas' rivals pointed to a survey by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) that found the party's electability rate had nose dived from 20 percent to a mere 8 percent.

Concerned by the survey, Yudhoyono told the KPK to immediately clarify Anas' legal status because a lag in the investigation of the graft case might affect the party's image just one year ahead of the election.

Yudhoyono then decided to take over some of Anas' party responsibilities during the party's high assembly meeting so that embattled chairman could fully focus on his legal problems.

The infighting, however, came to an anticlimactic on Sunday when Yudhoyono insisted during the party's national leadership meeting that he never had any intention of ousting Anas.

University of Indonesia political analyst Arbi Sanit said that Anas would remain in his position because he had managed to keep regional branch leaders "well-fed and happy" during his tenure.

Arbi also highlighted Anas' background as former chairman of the prestigious Islamic Students Association (HMI) as another reason his seat was safe. Most of the party's regional branch leaders had past affiliations with the HMI.

Power struggle within Dems looms over candidates

Jakarta Post - February 19, 2013

In spite of a peaceful finish to the Democratic Party national leadership meeting on Sunday, the chairmanship of Anas remains in peril. The contentious issue confronting him is the party's selection of legislative candidates for the 2014 election. The Jakarta Post's Hans David Tampubolon explores the issue.

Knowing that pragmatism and lust for power are the two main characteristics of his Democratic Party, it will be very difficult for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to keep his firm grip on the party's reins, unable as he is to extend his 10-year tenure as head of state and government.

The most urgent party business demanding SBY's attention is ensuring he is fully in command of preparation of the candidate list for next year's national and regional legislative elections. If he loses control of this process, his legacy for the nation may also be lost.

Even if the party were fully solid and there was no infighting at all, he would still have the problem of ensuring that all members remained fully faithful to him. Now this is much more difficult than ever. The party faces a leadership and even identity crisis following the detention and conviction of several iconic party figures.

Allegations remain allegations and no charges have been brought yet, but for the public, it is apparently just a matter of time until party chairman Anas Urbaningrum follows his comrades in to jail for his involvement in at least one mega-scandal.

Many people, including the upper echelons of his own party, are disappointed with Yudhoyono's hesitance to dismiss Anas. They believe this is the only way to regain public confidence, which continues to plummet following the seemingly endless trail of corruption that follows the party elite.

The Democratic Party, which Yudhoyono set up in 2001, was skyrocketing after just two elections. Just like any other world leader or politician it is natural that he hopes to leave an eternal legacy for the country and that he, or his family, will remain in control of political party he founded and fostered.

In the 2004 legislative elections the party won 7.45 percent of the vote and Yudhoyono squarely defeated his former Cabinet boss, the then incumbent president Megawati Soekarnoputri.

Five years later, in 2009, the Democratic Party became the largest faction in the House of Representatives (DPR) with 20.8 percent of the popular vote.

Yudhoyono knows all too well that he cannot repeat his political "blunder" during the party congress of 2010. Yudhoyono's inaction, or perhaps complacency, resulted in a landslide victory for Anas in the chairmanship contest, against all of the President's wishes.

So far, Yudhoyono has chosen the safest strategy: wait until the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) declared Anas a suspect. At that time, the integrity pact Anas signed last week will require him to resign.

Nevertheless, questions remain on how long the cease fire between Anas and Yudhoyono will last in the run up to the 2014 elections.

One of the most crucial items on the agenda for the Democrats is formulation of the candidate list. According to the law, the list must be signed and endorsed by the party chairman and secretary-general.

Despite of the fact that Anas is still the official Democratic Party chairman, most of his authority has been delegated to Yudhoyono, who is also head of the high assembly, the highest authority in the party.

Yudhoyono took over most of Anas' power following a general assumption that Anas was about to be named a suspect by the KPK in the Hambalang sports complex case.

Charta Politika political analyst Yunarto Wijaya reckons that Anas and Yudhoyono will definitely go head-to-head once again when it comes to the final formulation of the candidate list.

"Legislative candidates are recommended by the party's regional branches and most of them are loyal to Anas, but on the other hand, the high assembly led by Yudhoyono has a veto over candidates for the House of Representatives. The power struggle between Anas and Yudhoyono is still far from over," he said.

"Both Anas and Yudhoyono have different vested interests for 2014. Anas will be thinking about his own future while Yudhoyono will be thinking about how to secure his own position when he is no longer in power," he added.

Senior Democratic Party politician Achmad Mubarok believes that Anas has definitely changed the policy-making mechanism in the party. It is now less centralized and with greater participation from regional branches in determining crucial issues, like the legislative candidate list.

"Before Anas became chairman, legislative candidates were determined by the central executive board [DPP] and then were approved by the board of patrons. Now, regional branches nominate candidates directly to the DPP," Mubarok said.

Mubarok, however, does not acknowledge that Anas and Yudhoyono are heading for another showdown over final authorization of the list.

"The high assembly is now involved to protect us from legal problems with candidates in the future. The assembly will check their backgrounds to ensure we have the best candidates. The chairman is part of the assembly, so there will be no rifts over the list," he said.

If the high assembly secures dominance over the list, then it seems very likely that regional representation will become a secondary priority and the candidate list will be dominated by the DPP.

Democratic Party Banggai branch chairman Ever Kusganda expects the high assembly to properly formulate the candidate list based on regional representation.

"You cannot nominate someone from Java to represent a region in central Sulawesi. We need a representative that knows about his or her region. If the DPP dominate the list, regional branches will surely file objections," Ever said.

Anas saga to cost Democrats at ballot box

Jakarta Globe - February 19, 2013

Yeremia Sukoyo – The Democratic Party's popularity will continue to crumble as long as graft-embattled Anas Urbaningrum remains chairman, a polling analyst says.

Refly Harun, executive director of the Center for Electoral Reform (Cetro), said that by retaining Anas, the party gives the public the impression it is reneging on the strong antigraft rhetoric that helped it win the 2009 national elections.

"As long as Anas continues to play a public role, it will be hard for the Democrats," he said on Monday. "Politics is all about perception. Regardless of whether the allegations against Anas are true, the voters already perceive him as being involved [in corruption]."

Anas has been implicated, though not charged, in bid-rigging in connection to the construction of the Rp 2.5 trillion ($260 million) Hambalang sports center.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), which has already named another Democrat, former Youth and Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng, a suspect in the case, is expected to charge Anas soon.

The Democrats won 20.9 percent of votes in the last legislative election, but polls in recent months indicate they will struggle to break double digits in 2014.

Refly said the only way to reverse their slide, to about 8 percent, was for Anas to go. That, he said, could happen in two ways:

"First, the party could wait for an announcement by the KPK on Anas's legal status," he said, adding that if Anas was named a suspect, the party could easily justify replacing him. "The second option is for Anas himself to step down and make way for another leader who is perceived as being less tainted by corruption."

He added that the party could not afford to waste time addressing the problem, given that the election is just over a year away and it will take a lot of time and effort to reverse the damage caused by graft scandals involving not just Anas but also other senior party members.

"The bottom line is that as long as Anas remains the chairman, things won't get better. And the Hambalang scandal is a boon for the other political parties to use against the Democrats ahead of the election," Refly said.

However, party officials claim the party can bounce back if the KPK decides it will not name Anas a suspect.

Sutan Bhatoegana, a senior Democrat, said the party was "praying that he isn't named a suspect." "If the KPK decides he wasn't involved [in the Hambalang case], then our poll numbers will shoot up," he said.

[Additional reporting by Carlos Paath.]

Hanura gets new lease on life after media magnate joins party

Jakarta Post - February 18, 2013

Jakarta – Media mogul Hary Tanoesoedibjo's decision to join the People's Conscience Party (Hanura) has renewed hopes for the party and the presidential ambitions of its chairman, Gen. (ret) Wiranto.

Analysts said that Wiranto, who was formerly the chief of the Indonesian Military (TNI), would have unprecedented access to the airwaves in the run-up to the election in 2014. Wiranto will also likely benefit from a host of supporters who will follow Hary to Hanura from the NasDem Party, from which he resigned.

"Wiranto has been obsessed with becoming the nation's president," Siti Zuhro, a political analyst from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, told The Jakarta Post on Sunday. "Hary is believed to be able to help Wiranto gain more votes by harnessing his power in the media."

Hary told reporters that his decision to join Hanura had been carefully weighed. "Since resigning from NasDem in January, I have been thinking about a number of options, including establishing a mass organization, joining another party, establishing a new party or combining these three alternatives. I was invited into several discussions by almost every party and I thought carefully about it."

The media mogul said that he joined Hanura since he shared Wiranto's vision to develop the country and respected the party's strong opposition stance.

On supporting Wiranto's presidential ambitions, Hary said, "The question is whether I will contribute in supplying logistics to the party, I have to say that the answer is that I will give my all."

Wiranto, meanwhile, said that the party would appoint Hary as its chief patron, declining to discuss his plans for 2104 in more detail. "We should not talk about a presidential candidate yet. Our main focus now is attempting to develop the party," Wiranto said.

Contacted separately, Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) analyst Burhanuddin Muhtadi said that Hary might have a positive effect on Hanura's ailing fortunes.

A recent public opinion poll conducted by the Saiful Mujani Research & Consulting (SMRC) group said that Hanura's prospects for 2014 were hovering at an abysmal 1 percent.

"Hanura's electability rating will improve significantly, because Hary would provide the party with strong financial and media support," Burhanuddin said.

According to Burhanuddin, Hanura would also get an infusion of energy from Hary's loyalists who would defect to Hanura along with their patron. "This will be bad news for NasDem." Burhanuddin also said that Hanura would likely provide a platform for Hary's own political ambitions in the future.

"Hary might have arranged a deal with Wiranto. The fact that he [Hary] was appointed as the chief of the party's board of patrons indicates that he has intentions of taking over the party after the elections in 2014," Burhanuddin said.

Burhanuddin said that by giving Hanura access to its media outlets, Hary would basically be campaigning for himself. "Hary will give Hanura access to media campaigns, although the main intention is clearly campaigning for himself," he said.

Siti said that Hanura could also benefit from a new mass organization, Indonesia United (Perindo), that was recently founded by Hary. "Even though Hary has failed to admit it, Perindo will clearly be Hanura's appendage, and that will give Hanura access to more voters," Siti said. (nad)

Hary Tanoesoedibjo appointed Hanura chief patron

Jakarta Globe - February 17, 2013

Carlos Paath – The People's Conscience Party (Hanura) named media mogul Hary Tanoesoedibjo as its new chief patron on Sunday, following his recent resignation from the National Democratic Party in the wake of a leadership rift.

At an event marking the occasion, Hanura secretary-general Yossi Iskandar Prasetyo said Hary's appointment as chief patron was specified in a party decree following a party leaders' meeting on Friday.

"The decree ... specifies Hary Tanoesoedibjo's appointment as Hanura's chief patron [until 2015]," Yossi said on the sidelines of the event at Hanura's headquarters in Menteng, Central Jakarta.

Hary, meanwhile, said on Sunday that he had decided to join Hanura because he shared the "same vision" with party founder and chairman Wiranto concerning the nation's need for changes. He said he also respected Wiranto, whom he described as a cool-headed figure open to discussion.

Hary further said Hanura was a clean party that was ready to accommodate former members of the National Democratic Party (NasDem) who left it along with him. "For Hanura, I'm ready to go all out," Hary told the audience.

Hary, who owns the Media Nusantara Citra Group, announced his resignation from the National Democratic Party (NasDem) on Jan. 21 in light of a decision to name NasDem founder Surya Paloh as the party's chairman.

Surya is a fellow media tycoon who owns Metro TV and Media Indonesia newspaper. In splitting with NasDem, Hary said he preferred that the party be led by young people.

Hary announced earlier this month that he would launch his own mass organization, United Indonesia (Perindo), on Feb. 24, which would be empowered by young people.

Hanura and NasDem are among 10 political parties that the General Elections Commission (KPU) has declared eligible to contest in the 2014 legislative elections. NasDem was established in 2011, while Hanura was founded in 2006 by the former Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Wiranto.

Earlier on Sunday, Hanura deputy secretary-general Saleh Husin called Hary's appointment a "special and historic moment that will prompt this party to run at high speed." "Pak Hary is strongly determined to bring about changes to advance this country using conscience," he added. (Suara Pembaruan, JG)

Democrats' weekend caucus decides that Anas stays

Jakarta Globe - February 17, 2013

Carlos Paath – The Democratic Party's caucus concluded anticlimactically on Sunday, making no mention of the previously anticipated dismissal of chairman Anas Urbaningrum following his implication in a major bribery case.

The national leadership meeting (Rapimnas) was held in Jakarta on Sunday, just over a week after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, party founder and chief patron, said he was taking over the reins of the party's leadership so that Anas could focus on his legal troubles.

Yudhoyono said in a Feb. 8 speech that Anas would nominally remain chairman, but pressure has continued to mount since the speech, with some analysts expecting his dismissal to be announced following the Sunday caucus.

But Yudhoyono made clear that an ouster was not forthcoming. "The press has been probably waiting for big news from the Rapimnas. So what I'm saying now is probably disappointing," Yudhoyono told a press conference after the meeting.

He said the caucus was aimed at shoring up the party, bogged down by a string of corruption scandals implicating some of its top officials that has marred the Democrats' reputation, especially over the past two years. The president mentioned nothing about Anas's dismissal.

Anas's case is the latest in a string of cases involving Democrats, with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) having recently indicated that it is on the verge of naming him a suspect for bid-rigging in connection with the Hambalang sports center project.

Yudhoyono on Sunday lamented what he said was excessively harsh treatment of his party.

"I admit to mistakes committed by Democratic Party cadres related to corruption, but what we're experiencing now [as an impact of that] is just too much," he said. "The Democratic Party hopes for justice and fair and balanced treatment. Nevertheless we'll keep cleaning ourselves from bad elements."

Yudhoyono added that all party cadres had signed an integrity pact, as he had recently requested, hailing it as part of the party's commitment to restoring its image.

"We'll continue to engage in political struggles in the coming weeks because developing opinions concerning the Democratic Party are really detrimental to the party's reputation. After that, we will resume our work for the people," he said. (Suara Pembaruan, JG)

Ibas' resignation fuels rumors that first family plans putsch on Dems

Jakarta Post - February 15, 2013

Margareth S. Aritonang and Ina Parlina, Jakarta – The resignation of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's second son, Edhie Baskoro "Ibas" Yudhoyono, from the House of Representatives on Thursday has fueled speculation of a possible attempt by the first family to seize control of the ruling Democratic Party.

Ibas said he had to resign from the House to focus on doing his job as the party's secretary-general. "I hereby announce my resignation as a lawmaker to focus all of my time and energy on the Democratic Party," Ibas told a press conference at the party faction's office at the House.

"There is no way I can carry out my duties as a lawmaker while at the same time serving as the secretary-general of the Democratic Party. I hope I can save the party from sinking ahead of the 2014 elections."

Two days before tendering his resignation, Ibas was caught on camera skipping a House plenary meeting after he signed the attendance list. The incident drew criticism from the public and fellow lawmakers and came as the first family is the subject of even closer than usual scrutiny following the leak of the family's tax returns.

President Yudhoyono said the initiative to resign came from Ibas himself after discussing it with family members, including First Lady Ani Yudhoyono and the family's eldest son Agus Harimurti on Wednesday evening.

Yudhoyono said the decision was not easy, but necessary following recent media reports on Ibas' absence from a House meeting. "I may be subjective, but as a father I am proud of Ibas for taking responsibility [by resigning]," Yudhoyono said.

While the President cited the incident as the pretext for Ibas' resignation, speculation has arisen as to whether it paves the way for Ibas to act as interim party chairman, should Anas be charged by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) or removed by the national congress.

Democratic Party lawmaker Ruhut Sitompul suggested some three weeks ago that Ibas would be chosen to lead the party should Anas fall from grace. Ibas may only lead the party until Yudhoyono's in-law Gen. Pramono Edhie Wibowo, the Army chief of staff, retires from the military in June.

Anas has refused to heed calls for him to resign and focus on extricating himself from his legal quagmire, saying that he is still the chairman of the party and will continue to do his duties, even though the President, as chairman of the party's general assembly, has told him that he is no longer in charge.

On Thursday, Anas finally signed the integrity pact required by the party assembly to try to salvage the party, a move seen as showing the pressure he is under.

The integrity pact, the President's idea, includes a pledge that the signatory is willing to resign from the party at all levels if named a suspect for any criminal act including corruption, drug abuse and terrorism.

Anas, as the deputy head of the party's general assembly, should have signed the pact along with other assembly members at Yudhoyono's residence in Cikeas last Sunday. According to the President, Anas failed to show up in Cikeas because he was ill.

Party patron Amir Syamsudin revealed that Anas has not signed the mandate to launch the so-called "the initiative to save the party" that allows Yudhoyono, as assembly chairman, to take over some of Anas' responsibilities as party chairman.

"Anas was present when the assembly came up with the 8-point party salvation plan in Cikeas on Friday but refused to sign it," Amir, also the Law and Human Rights minister, said. Amir did not know the reason behind Anas' refusal.

Surveys & opinion polls

Jokowi could be game changer in 2014

Jakarta Post - February 20, 2013

Bagus BT Saragih – Another public opinion poll found that Jakarta Governor, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is the most electable political candidate for the 2014 presidential election, beating Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) chief patron Lt. Gen. (ret) Prabowo Subianto and former vice president Jusuf Kalla.

The survey, conducted by the little-known Jakarta Survey Institute (LSJ), was released on Tuesday.

Jokowi topped the list of the 12 most electable politicians for the presidential election with 21.2 percent of respondents saying they would vote for him if the election was held today.

Trailing behind Jokowi was Prabowo with 10.9 percent, People's Conscience Party (Hanura) chairman and former Indonesian Military commander Gen. (ret) Wiranto with 9.8 percent, and Kalla with 8.9 percent.

Jokowi, a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), was more popular than the party's chairperson, former president Megawati Soekarnoputri, who had the support of 7.2 percent of the respondents.

LSJ researcher Rendy Kurnia said Jokowi was popular among respondents because of the media attention he received long before he was elected Jakarta Governor in October last year. "Jokowi appears to met the people's high expectations of a new figure who could lead the country," he said.

Responding to the survey, Jokowi said, "I don't want to think about it." The Surakarta native said that he wanted to focus on tackling Jakarta's problems.

The LSJ study also predicted that the Golkar Party would come out on top in the 2014 legislative election 18.5 percent of the respondents saying they would vote for it. The PDI-P came in second place with 16.5 percent, followed by the Gerindra Party with 10.3 percent.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party is in distant fourth place with 6.9 percent, lower than the 8 percent predicted by the Saiful Mujani Research & Consulting (SMRC).

Public thinks president's focus on party is at nation's expense

Jakarta Globe - February 18, 2013

Yeremia Sukoyo & Markus Junianto Sihaloho – President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's focus on retaking control of his scandal-hit Democratic Party has many Indonesians worrying that he is neglecting duties of his office, a poll suggests.

The results of the poll released by the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) on Sunday showed that of 1,200 respondents questioned, 68 percent said they were concerned that Yudhoyono was paying more attention to the party than to his presidency. Only 24 percent believed that he was not overlooking his responsibilities as president.

The poll, conducted nationwide from Feb. 11 to 14, also found that 78 percent of respondents disapproved of the president getting personally involved in the management of his party, while only 16 percent approved.

Barkah Patimahu, a senior LSI researcher, said the results of the poll, conducted just days after Yudhoyono's announcement on Feb. 8 that he would be taking over the running of the Democratic Party amid mounting corruption allegations against the chairman, Anas Urbaningrum, highlighted a legitimate fear that national interests were being sacrificed for party interests.

He added that the sacrifice could prove in vain, with 60 percent of respondents saying Yudhoyono's intervention would do nothing to reverse the Democrats' declining popularity ahead of the 2014 legislative election.

I Gede Pasek Suardika, a senior Democrat, conceded that the LSI poll highlighted "some very legitimate public concerns."

"The people are afraid that Yudhoyono isn't paying attention to the country, but I can assure you that this isn't the case," he said on Monday. "Yudhoyono will always prioritize the interests of the people and the nation above all else."

Max Sopacua, a Democratic Party deputy chairman, argued that all former presidents going back to Suharto were also responsible for running their respective parties while still in office. "I think it's perfectly OK. Yudhoyono is one of the party's founders so he has a big responsibility," he said, as quoted by Okezone.com.

Mass organisations & NGOs

Groups rally against mass organization bill

Jakarta Post - February 20, 2013

Hundreds of activists from various mass organizations gathered at the House of Representatives on Tuesday to protest the controversial mass organizations bill, which is slated to be passed into law next month.

The rally's participants, which included members of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Imparsial, the Institute for Research and Advocacy (Elsam) and the Prosperous Labor Federation (KSB), claimed the bill would deny the right to freedom of assembly and expression.

"The bill will undermine the country's flourishing democracy. We already have legislation to use as legal basis to act against violent groups," Kontras director Haris Azhar, representing the protesters, told House deputy speaker Priyo Budi Santosa and members of a special committee charged with the bill's deliberation.

The groups said the current draft bill lacked a precise definition of mass groups that would avoid the multiple interpretations used by government officials to serve their political interests.

Committee chairman Abdul Malik Haramain told protesters that the bill's deliberation would continue, arguing that the bill was no threat to freedom.

"We already arranged discussions with several groups including the National Commission on Human Rights [Komnas HAM] before making the draft bill. So, this is the best we have," Malik of the National Awakening Party (PKB) said.

Meanwhile, Priyo emphasized that the bill on mass groups was necessary to replace the existing Law No. 8/1985, which according to Priyo, is repressive.

Bill poses threat to freedom

Jakarta Post - February 16, 2013

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – The House of Representatives is set to pass the bill on mass organizations that will allow the state apparatus to halt the activities of organizations, ignoring protests from human rights activists who say the bill, if enacted, will deny the right to freedom of association.

Chairman of the House's special committee deliberating the bill, Abdul Malik Haramain, said the committee had resolved nearly all the contentious issues in the bill and expected to bring it to the House's plenary session for approval.

"We are now only discussing whether we must freeze the operations of problematic mass organizations through a district court ruling or a legal opinion from the Supreme Court. But it appears that most of us prefer the second option," he said.

The lawmaker added that he expected the bill, which will replace the 1985 Mass Organizations Law, to be approved by early March at the latest.

Malik said he was aware of criticism of the bill, but added that the state needed to "discipline" problematic groups or organizations operating in the country. The government, he argued, must have the authority to dissolve groups that run counter to the state's ideologies and interests.

The move to revise the 1985 law was triggered by public frustration at the perceived impunity given to mass organizations, such as the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) that often resorts to violence in many of its activities, especially during the holy month of Ramadhan.

Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi said that the 1985 law was out of date and made it difficult for his ministry to take swift action against violent groups like the FPI. He said the measures against violent mass organizations in the current law were "too complicated, time-consuming and inefficient".

Human rights groups feared the bill would target groups accused of spreading ideologies deemed dangerous by the state, such as Marxism and atheism.

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) called on the House on Friday to suspend the passage of the bill, which it said granted the government excessive authority to control civil society groups and would eventually destroy the nation's democracy.

Komnas HAM chairman Otto Nur Abdullah cited that the lack of a clear definition of mass groups offered in the bill would enable the government to crack down on groups deemed to be against the state's philosophy of Pancasila as well as the notion of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI).

Articles 2 and 3 of the latest draft, for example, stipulate that all mass organizations must conform to the 1945 Constitution and the principles of Pancasila. This regulation also applies to foreign organizations operating in Indonesia.

"Excessive power vested in the government will bring back an authoritarian regime to this country," the commission said.

Concerned about the latest development in the bill's deliberation, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) warned the House and the government to adopt international human rights values that guaranteed the freedom of assembly and association in the bill.

A group of independent experts with the UN's human rights body said the current bill would threaten Indonesia's democratization.

UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Heiner Bielefeldt said the requirement that the founding of associations should not contradict Pancasila (which consecrates the belief in the One True God) would violate freedom of religion or belief.

"Freedom of religion or belief has a broad application, covering non- theistic and atheistic convictions," Bielefeldt said in a statement.

Contentious articles in the bill

Article 2: Mass organizations, including foreign groups, must uphold the 1945 Constitution, Pancasila and the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI).

Article 3: Mass organizations can adopt other principles as long as they are in line with the 1945 Constitution.

Article 21: (c) Mass organizations are obliged to maintain the unity of the state, uphold morality and ethics and nurture the country's religious and cultural norms.

Article 61: Mass organizations are prohibited from:

1. Adopting national and international state symbols as well as symbols that resemble those of separatist groups.
2. Conducting activities that promote racial conflict, blasphemy and violence.
3. Receiving or giving illegal support from and to foreign agencies.
4. Promoting teachings that are against Pancasila.

Indonesia's bill on mass organizations curtails rights, UN experts say

Jakarta Globe - February 15, 2013

A group of United Nations independent experts has warned that Indonesia's bill on mass organizations threatens to curtail rights to freedom of association, expression and religion.

The group called on the House of Representatives on Thursday to amend the bill to keep it in line with international human rights norms.

"The state must ensure that any restriction on the rights to freedom of association, expression and religion is necessary in a democratic society, proportionate to the aim pursued and does not harm the principles of pluralism, tolerance and broad-mindedness," said Maina Kiai, the UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

He noted that the bill ran contrary to Indonesia's progress toward democratization and a flourishing civil society.

The bill on mass organizations states that associations may not contradict Pancasila, the official state philosophy that consecrates the belief "in the One and Only God." It stipulates that organizations must maintain religious values.

"These provisions can violate freedom of religion or belief," said Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief. Freedom of religion or belief has a broad application, covering also non- theistic and atheistic convictions."

Associations are not only restricted to limited categories of activities by the bill, but also subjected to vague prohibitions, including bans on conducting activities that "endanger the unity and safety of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia" and "embracing, instigating and propagating beliefs and religions conflicting with Pancasila."

"I am dismayed by these provisions; they are illegitimate and must be amended accordingly," Kiai said, noting that Jakarta had also proposed to further ban "activities which are the duty and jurisdiction of the law enforcers and government," which could prevent associations from uncovering instances of bad governance, including corruption cases.

"Associations should be free to determine their statutes, structures and activities and to make decisions without state interference," Kiai said, warning that the bill threatened associations with burdensome administrative requirements.

The bill also significantly curtails the activities of foreign associations, which must obtain a permit from the Foreign Ministry to operate and are mandated not to disrupt the "stability and oneness" of Indonesia, carry out "practical political activities" or fund-raising or activities "which disrupt diplomatic ties."

In addition, foreign nationals willing to co-found an association may face discrimination as they must have lived in Indonesia for at least seven consecutive years and places Rp 10 billion ($1 million) of their personal wealth in the association.

"I am concerned that certain provisions in the bill will hamper the legitimate human rights work of civil society in the country, in particular of foreign societal organizations," said Margaret Sekaggya, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

House committee refuses UN intervention on mass organizations bill

Jakarta Globe - February 15, 2013

Markus Junianto Sihaloho – A special committee of the House of Representatives said they would prefer to justify Indonesia's bill on mass organizations according to the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, rather than to Western liberal opinions.

"As for me, it is the right of a state to manage freedom, because freedom without control surely disturbs and threatens other persons or groups," said Abdul Malik Haramain, head of the special committee deliberating the bill, on Friday. "That is factual in our country."

He said that since the beginning, the bill was not aimed at curtailing freedom, but it was an effort to control freedom as stipulated in the Constitution of Indonesia.

A group of United Nations independent experts warned on Thursday that the bill threatened to curtail rights to freedom of association, expression and religion. The group called on the House of Representatives on Thursday to amend the bill to keep it in line with international human rights norms.

Abdul, who is a lawmaker from the National Awakening Party (PKB) dismissed the UN's opinion.

"None of the [bill's] articles curtail or hamper people from establishing an organization, starting from the conditions to establish mass organizations up to registration procedures and its status, even though many proposals from regions restrict it," he said.

According to Abdul, mass organizations would still have the freedom to perform their activities, to manage their organizations and to create their own regulations.

He said that the committee would hold on to the principle of responsible freedom, but not the kind of freedom that threatened other groups or even the state.

"The state is not only obliged to respect freedom to assemble and to associate of its citizens, but the state is obliged, once more, to control the freedom," he said.

The bill on mass organizations states that associations may not contradict Pancasila, the official state philosophy that concentrates the belief "in the One and Only God." It stipulates that organizations must maintain religious values.

Associations are not only restricted to limited categories of activities by the bill, but also subjected to vague prohibitions, including bans on conducting activities that "endanger the unity and safety of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia" and "embracing, instigating and propagating beliefs and religions conflicting with Pancasila."

The bill also significantly curtails the activities of foreign associations, which must obtain a permit from the Foreign Ministry to operate and are mandated not to disrupt the "stability and oneness" of Indonesia, carry out "practical political activities" or fund-raising or activities "which disrupt diplomatic ties."

Health & education

Jakarta's hospitals at straining point

Jakarta Globe - February 21, 2013

Lenny Tristia Tambun & Dessy Sagita – The recent death of a newborn baby who was denied treatment by 10 Jakarta hospitals has raised questions about the readiness of providers to commit to the free health care program introduced by the governor, as well as the role of private hospitals in the scheme.

The Jakarta Healthy Card, introduced last November by Governor Joko Widodo as a way to ensure low-income residents would get free treatment at 17 hospitals citywide, should theoretically have allowed Dera Nur Anggraini, born on Feb. 10, access to the life-saving treatment she needed for a respiratory complication.

Instead, she was turned away at all the hospitals – state and private alike – where her father presented the card. Dera died last Saturday, aged just six days.

Hospital officials, backed by the Health Ministry and the Jakarta Health Office, have since denied that they refused to treat Dera because she was not a paying patient, saying they simply did not have room in their fully occupied neonatal wards to take in another patient.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the deputy governor, acknowledged that while the Jakarta Healthy Card program was well-intentioned, its introduction appeared to have caught hospitals off-guard, leaving many unable to handle the increase in patients since the scheme was rolled out.

He pinpointed the problem on the number of recommendations issued by community health centers, or puskesmas, for patients to seek treatment at hospitals, even in cases where the puskesmas was capable of treating the patient.

"We're going to have to audit these recommendation letters from the puskesmas because right now the hospitals in the city are filling up fast," Basuki said on Wednesday at City Hall.

"I hope puskesmas [officials] aren't pulling some kind of scam, or sending the patients to hospital without first trying to treat them. That's why we need to carry out an audit."

Improving the system

Despite its sketchy implementation, Basuki defended the Jakarta Healthy Card program as valid under the 2004 National Social Security Law. He said that under the previous governor, Fauzi Bowo, a similar program called the regional health security scheme, or Jamkesda, was in place.

Like with the Jakarta Healthy Card, residents subscribed to Jamkesda could seek free or subsidized treatment at a hospital with a class III ward, as long as they had a recommendation letter.

The difference, Basuki pointed out, was that the letter in this case, called an SKTM, attested to the patient's financial condition and had to be issued by the head of their urban ward and approved by subdistrict authorities, not by a single authority like the puskesmas, thereby making it difficult for patients to obtain.

"Jamkesda was such an inefficient system that at the end the city administration owed Rp 300 billion [$31 million] to hospitals," the deputy governor said. "That's why we chose to replace it with the Jakarta Healthy Card."

While both schemes offer free basic care or subsidized advanced care at class III wards, the key difference is that 17 hospitals, including private ones, are signed up to the new scheme, compared to six state ones under Jamkesda.

This, Basuki said, was aimed at getting more private health care providers to sign up to the program. He said that with the city administration paying a larger monthly premium per patient for the Jakarta Healthy Card than Jamkesda, there was a financial as well as moral impetus for private hospital operators to get on board.

Willing, but overwhelmed

Private operators say they are willing to join the scheme, but the fundamental problem is in the lack of physical health care infrastructure to treat the 4.7 million people that city authorities hope to cover.

Melissa Luwiya, the operational director the Mochtar Riady Comprehensive Cancer Center Siloam Hospital in Semanggi, said the hospital had allocated 30 percent of its beds for the class III ward, triple the required figure of 10 percent for commercial private hospitals.

Even then, she said, "the ward is always full, and many times we have to turn down patients because there are no beds and sometimes we don't have enough nurses to care for the patients."

"We handle patients who use the Jakarta Healthy Card scheme, but we use the co-payment system where the patient must pay part of the cost," Melissa said. The Siloam Hospitals Group is owned by the Lippo Group, of which the Jakarta Globe is a part.

Separately, Marius Widjajarta, the chairman of the Indonesian Consumer Protection Foundation for Health (YPKKI), said the class III bed requirement stipulated by the Health Ministry had not been properly enforced.

"The problem is that, after announcing the regulation, the ministry never bother to check whether these hospitals have complied with the regulation," he said. The lack of monitoring, he went on, is often used by some hospitals to turn down patients on the pretext that there are no empty beds left in the class III wards.

"The ministry must conduct a regular audit and monitor these hospitals to ensure they're really complying with the requirement, otherwise we'll continue hearing stories about poor patients being rejected by hospitals," Marius said.

KNPT wants stronger regulations on tobacco

Jakarta Post - February 21, 2013

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – The National Commission on Tobacco Control (KNPT) has called on the House of Representatives to draft a bill to protect consumers from the adverse impacts of tobacco.

The commission said that the House should drop its plan to pass a law that would focus on tobacco, which has already been included as one of the 70 bills in the House's national legislation program for this year.

Speaking during a meeting with the House Legislative Body (Baleg) on Wednesday, KNPT commisioner Hakim Sorimuda Pohan said the country already had a number of regulations on tobacco production and trading, but lacked regulations that could mitigate the impacts of smoking on the more than 60 million smokers in the country.

"We have come here to ask you to prioritize the health of consumers above all other considerations. You must remember that the leaders of ASEAN countries, including Indonesia, have made a commitment to improve the health of their people in the years to come, in addition to protecting trade and labor," Hakim said on Wednesday.

Baleg has invited the KNPT and other anti-smoking groups to give their opinions to the deliberations of the bill, following criticism that it had arbitrarily included the controversial bill in this year's national legislative program.

The bill's inclusion also raised concerns from the NGO, the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI), which suspected that the bill was given the go-ahead as a result of intense lobbying from the Indonesian Tobacco Society Alliance (AMTI) in an attempt to protect the nation's tobacco industry.

Also on Wednesday, tobacco farmers staged a protest demanding that the House continue deliberating the bill, arguing that it would protect them from the global anti-smoking campaign. Hakim later said that he had received reports that some farmers had joined the protest after receiving threats.

"Several farmers told me that certain cigarette makers would stop buying tobacco from them if they didn't support the bill on tobacco," he said.

The House has previously rejected two bills aimed at tackling the negative impacts of tobacco.

In 2009, House Commission IX overseeing health initiated a similar draft bill but it was rejected by Baleg, which maintained it would deal a blow to tobacco farmers.

Commission IX revised the bill in 2011 and forwarded it to Baleg under a new name. The new draft bill, which was an adaptation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), was also rejected.

On Wednesday, many members of Baleg ridiculed the KNPT proposal. Lawmaker Poempida Hidayatullah of the Golkar Party faction spoke disparagingly of the commission for attacking cigarette makers, accusing the KNPT of working in the interests of foreign groups.

"We must be really careful of hidden interests from foreign groups," he said. Baleg chairman Sunardi Ayub said the KNPT would not have the last word over the tobacco bill.

"It is obvious that the tobacco industry contains a great many interests. Therefore, we will be very careful. Today's meeting is still an early stage in a long process to draft an effective and balanced bill," he said.

New national curriculum leaves teachers, experts confused

Jakarta Post - February 21, 2013

Jakarta – Although the new national curriculum will become effective in only four months, teachers and education experts say that they are still in the dark over details about the new guidelines, with some saying that some of the subjects are too absurd to teach.

The new curriculum, consisting of civic education and religion being integrated with science, was too complicated for teachers, let alone students to understand, said Retno Listyarti, the Indonesian Teachers Unions Federation (FSGI) secretary-general.

Retno said on Wednesday that with teachers having only a few months to fully grasp the integrated subjects, they had yet to receive complete information from the Education and Culture Ministry about the new curriculum. So far, what is available for them is an incomplete document of standards and competency for the students.

In the standards and competency document obtained by The Jakarta Post recently, for the subject of Indonesian, the basic competence required from students is accepting the language as a gift from God, a means that could unite the country amid differences in local languages.

A sample of the standard and competency required from a fourth grade student in a science subject is that they could strengthen their faith by acknowledging that the complex relationship of the universe could be attributed to God, who has created it.

The document leaves blank details on the integration of mathematics and religion.

Retno said that the teachers will have problems with the new curriculum because of the lack of description about each integrated subject and the teacher's guidelines.

"I wonder how the ministry could say that they have almost completed the books for the students if they haven't completed such a basic document?" Retno told the Post on Wednesday.

As previously reported, Education and Culture Minister Mohammad Nuh said that the new books both for students and teachers would be ready by the end of February, as they were already in the hands of proofreaders.

He also told teachers to bear with the change, as they would be trained to adapt to the new curriculum in May. "Of course they were confused about the content of the curriculum – they haven't been trained yet," Nuh said on Monday.

Meanwhile, Musliar Kasim, the deputy education and culture minister, said that the ministry could not distribute the completed documents on the guidelines as they were not yet considered official government material. "We will show the draft of the curriculum shortly, when we are ready," he said.

According to Musliar, 102,053 schools, including elementary schools, junior high schools and high schools, would implement the curriculum starting in the 2013/2014 academic year.

He said that only the first, fourth, seventh and 10th grade students would study under the new curriculum this year. Only in the 2015/2016 academic year would all grades implement the curriculum, he said.

Musliar added that schools that had already implemented a similar thematic integrated curriculum would be appointed as supervisors to guide the state schools to make their transition from the current curriculum to the new one.

"Schools, state or private, that have applied a similar concept of curriculum, would be appointed as supervisors for the rest of the schools in their respective regency" Musliar said.

Golkar lawmaker Zulfadhli questioned the idea, saying that not all regencies in the country had at least one school that had applied a thematic and integrated teaching methodology.

National Mandate Party (PAN) lawmaker Nasrullah said that the main problem with the new curriculum was that it would be more time-consuming, as teachers would need longer hours of training before implementing the curriculum.

"Every teacher would need a new pedagogic strategy to teach just one simple subject, and not all teachers would have that ability," Nasrullah said."I wonder how teachers could master a curriculum that requires them to combine the subjects into a narrative explanation in such a short period of time." (nad)

Newborn dies after 10 hospital rejections, twin survives

Jakarta Post - February 19, 2013

Sita W. Dewi, Jakarta – A young father in South Jakarta has had to say a final goodbye to his newborn baby, who died over the weekend, after a number of hospitals he visited refused to admit his sick daughter.

Although he is still mourning, Eliyas Setia Nugroho, 20, of Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta, feels a degree of comfort after the second of his newborn twins, Dara Nur Anggraini, was admitted early on Monday to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the Tarakan Hospital in Central Jakarta. The other twin, Dera Nur Anggraini, died on Saturday due to respiratory problems. Dera was only 4 days old.

"I am exhausted, but I'm glad that Dara is now being taken care of and is getting better. She has to gain more weight," Eliyas, a street vendor, said at the hospital on Monday.

Dera and Dara were born weighing 1 kilogram and 1.4 kilograms, respectively, via cesarean section at the Zahira Hospital in South Jakarta on Monday last week. The twins were delivered a month prematurely when their mother, Lisa Darawati, 20, developed a fever and her cervix was 1- centimeter dilated.

Accompanied by his parents – Herman and Ketumbar – Eliyas recalled his family's struggle to find a hospital that had NICU facilities for Dera. As a Jakarta resident, Eliyas should be entitled to free third-class health services at 88 city-owned, state-owned and private hospitals by showing a Jakarta Health Card (KJS) – a program initiated by Jakarta Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo – or his Jakarta ID card and his Jakarta family card.

"Dera had respiratory problems and needed surgery. The hospital staff recommended that we find a hospital with NICU facilities right away but they did not recommend a particular hospital," Eliyas said.

With a recommendation letter from the Zahira Hospital, Eliyas and his father went to the city-owned Fatmawati Hospital in South Jakarta, where they were turned away because of a "lack of rooms".

Eliyas and Herman later drove to state-owned Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital in Central Jakarta. "We arrived at 4 a.m. and had to wait until the front desk opened at 6 a.m. The front desk officer told us to go to the NICU but when I showed them the recommendation letter, they said they didn't have a room for my baby," Eliyas said.

They continued on to state-owned Harapan Kita Hospital, to no avail. By day four, they had visited a total of 10 hospitals, including Pasar Rebo Hospital in East Jakarta; St. Carolus Hospital in Central Jakarta; Harapan Bunda Hospital in East Jakarta; Tria Dipa Hospital in South Jakarta; Asri Hospital in South Jakarta; Budi Asih Hospital in East Jakarta; and Pertamina Hospital in South Jakarta. The Tria Dipa and Asri hospitals have yet to be incorporated into the Jakarta Health Card program.

"All the hospitals said they either had no rooms available or the facilities we needed," Herman said.

Eliyas, who wants to have a Jakarta Health Card, said he expected more state hospitals to be equipped with NICUs to help low-income parents like himself.

Jokowi, as the governor is popularly known, admitted that many city-owned hospitals did not have NICUs and thus had to expand their third-class services to accommodate impoverished Jakartans.

There has been a 70 percent increase in the number of low-income patients since the launch of the Jakarta Health Card program in November last year and not all hospitals have anticipated the increase, according to Jokowi.

As many as 3,000 Jakarta residents already have Jakarta Health Cards. The city administration has allocated Rp 1.2 trillion for the program and aims to deliver 4.5 million cards this year.

Jakarta Health Agency head Dien Emmawati said she would be summoning the directors of the 10 hospitals that rejected Eliyas' baby on Tuesday to discuss the matter. Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama said the city planned to build an integrated healthcare system to help patients find appropriate health services.

New national school curriculum raises eyebrows

Jakarta Post - February 18, 2013

Hans Nicholas Jong, Jakarta – The government has long attempted to incorporate character building in the nation's education system, but teachers never thought that they would ever be asked to tell students that they would have to learn about discipline from the behavior of electrons – until they saw the new national curriculum.

The Indonesian Teachers Unions Federation (FSGI) has expressed its confusion over the new national curriculum in which the Education and Culture Ministry officials appear to be ridiculously trying to shoehorn civic and religious education into subjects such as chemistry and biology.

"The new curriculum states that a 10th grade student must learn to be disciplined like an electron, which always moves within its orbit," FSGI secretary-general Retno Listyati told The Jakarta Post on Saturday. "How can my students behave like electrons?"

The teachers were also astounded to learn that they would also be required to use math to instill tolerance in students. "The students are expected to learn how to behave in a heterogeneous society after studying linear and non-linear equations," she said. "How is that even possible?"

In response to the criticism, Deputy Education and Culture Minister Musliar Kaslim said the new curriculum was simpler and therefore more superior to the current curriculum. "We have integrated and simplified elementary-level subjects. They have been condensed into two books," he said in a phone interview.

"We have improved what needed to be improved and got rid of heavy material that was burdensome to the students."

With its thematic and integrated approach, the deputy minister claimed the country's new curriculum was even better than that of international schools. "Their curriculum is only integrated, while ours is integrated as well as thematic. We apply a holistic approach that unifies diverse subject matters with a central theme."

Teachers, he said, might initially find it difficult to teach multiple subjects in one class sitting. "If you think about it, then it might seem weird," he said, adding that once the teachers understood the new curriculum, they would adapt to it.

The ministry, he said, had planned to train highly skilled and qualified teachers to ease them into the new curriculum so they could pass on the skills to other teachers. "We have submitted the list of teachers to the regional administrations," he said.

"The regional administrations will then review the list and decide on whether the teachers on the list were qualified or not." The ministry is expected to complete the training, with each session lasting one week, within one month, he said, adding that the training will commence in April.

Gender & sexual orientation

Elderly transgenders in Indonesia find a home and victory

Agence France Presse - February 20, 2013

A dozen elderly women are gathered inside the pink house, set on a narrow dirt road in a dusty suburb of Jakarta. Together they sew, bake and chat.

On first sight they look like a group of benevolent grandmothers, but the sunken cheeks and deep lines on some of their faces tell stories of hardship.

All of these women are "waria", a term used for Indonesian transgender people, and the house in the country's capital has been hailed by activists as the first old person's home for that gender community.

The word waria combines the Indonesian for woman (wanita) and the word for man (pria). It is used to describe a range of gender identities, though it particularly refers to men who feel they are women and is applied regardless of whether they have undergone gender reassignment surgery or hormone therapy.

A home for elderly waria is an unexpected sight but perhaps also typical of the many contradictions in a nation where, until two years ago, the official government line on transgender people was that they were mentally ill.

As part of new moves towards acceptance, the government will in March begin supporting the home, which officially opened in November, with a basic nutrition program while offering business seed money to 200 transgender residents in the city.

However, most of the funds needed to support the home will continue to come from its founder, Yulianus Rettoblaut, a waria and prominent activist better-known as Mami Yuli, who turned her own house into the shelter last year.

"We are focusing on elderly waria because NGOs usually focus on young ones," the 51-year-old told AFP. She was inspired to take action after seeing many of her fellow ageing waria on the streets, ill, unemployed and forced to live in squalid conditions.

While a few waria have found domestic celebrity as talk show hosts or MCs, most across Southeast Asia's biggest nation of 240 million people are cast out by relatives who would otherwise be responsible for the care of their elderly family members.

"Life for them is very difficult and many live under the poverty line. They often have no choice but to sleep under bridges," Mami Yuli said.

While the home is grossly underfunded, she tries to offer three daily meals to residents who learn sewing, baking and hairdressing if they are jobless.

Conditions are far from ideal – the 12 waria who live there sleep on old mattresses crammed into one bedroom at the top of steep, narrow stairs.

When Mami Yuli fails to raise the 350,000 rupiah ($36) a day needed to run the house, she organizes street performances where the residents of the home sing and dance. Despite their age they are expected to work to make a living if they can.

A devout Catholic, Mami Yuli says that 70 churches in Jakarta support the home, offering shelter during floods. Only four donate money.

Despite the huge challenges, she hopes to one day be able to accommodate all 800 of Jakarta's elderly waria and expand her home into the vacant lot next door, if she can raise enough money or secure state support.

Harassment and intimidation

An estimated 35,000 Indonesians are transgender, the Asia-Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health reports, but activists suspect the figure is much higher.

Despite being considered sacred by some Indonesian ethnic groups, waria largely remain a target of harassment and intimidation, although there are signs of increasing acceptance.

Discrimination forces many into sex work, fueling an increase in HIV rates from six to 34 percent between 1997 and 2007 among transgenders in Jakarta, according to Health Ministry data. Prostitution is illegal in Indonesia and the country's Islamic clerics say it is "haram" (forbidden).

But the industry thrives in Indonesia's karaoke bars and darker street corners where waria can be found holding up dresses up to show off breasts grown with hormones from birth control pills or silicone injections.

Some also reveal their gender reassignment, though few waria can afford to go down this path. The surgery has been available since the 1970s but not under the public health system.

At 70 years old, Yoti Oktosea is a male-to-female transgender and one of Mami Yuli's current residents. Dressed down in knee-length shorts and a baggy T-shirt, she's given up putting on make-up and curling her eyelashes, but proudly shows a photo of herself as a young woman.

In those days she was in demand as a sex worker, she says. "But things are much saggier now!" she laughs.

Smartly-dressed Mami Yuli also worked as a prostitute for 17 years but managed to turn her life around, becoming the first "out" waria to get a law degree from an Islamic university, at the age of 46.

The hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) are the waria's most vocal foe, using violence and intimidation to shut down several transgender events which they say "threaten Indonesia's Islamic values", including the Cultural Transgender Festival in December.

"We had the pageant shut down and we're willing to shut down other waria gatherings again," FPI Jakarta chief Habib Salim Alatas said.

But signs are growing that the future might be a little brighter for this marginalized community.

In 2008 the first Islamic school specifically for transgender people to pray and study the Koran opened in 2008 in Yogyakarta – The establishment of Mami Yuli's home for the elderly is seen as another victory.

Marriage & polygamy

Djoko's houses seized, polygamy brought to light

Jakarta Post - February 15, 2013

Yuliasri Perdani and Hans Nicholas Jong, Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission's (KPK) investigation into the graft case involving former chief of the National Traffic Police (Korlantas) Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo has unwittingly exposed his practice of polygamy, which not only cost taxpayers' money but also constitutes a violation against government regulations.

The revelation of Djoko's polygamy began when the KPK confiscated three private homes belonging to the police general in Surakarta, Semarang and Yogyakarta earlier this week.

The KPK found the house in Surakarta to be occupied by a former local pageant queen identified as Dipta Anindita. It was later revealed that Dipta was Djoko's second wife. She was taken to Jakarta for further questioning. The KPK issued a travel ban on the 23-year-old Dipta last month.

But Dipta is not the only female linked to the high profile graft suspect. The KPK had previously questioned Poppy Femialya, another female friend of Djoko, as suspect in the Rp 200 billion (US$21.2 million) driving simulator procurement scandal at Korlantas.

Djoko is said to have wired the money, which he allegedly swindled from the procurement project, to both Poppy and Dipta. He had also given seven luxurious houses and an apartment to Dipta. Her homes, located in Surakarta, Semarang and Greater Jakarta, are worth tens of billions of rupiah.

Djoko's questionable relationships with the women, particularly his marriage to Dipta, led many to speculate that he had abused his authority and infringed on a regulation that bans civil servants from being polygamous.

Government Regulation No. 10/1983, which was later amended with PP No. 45/1990, stipulates that male civil servants, including members of the police and the Indonesian Military, could only marry a second wife after receiving approval from their superiors.

Any state official who violates the regulation could face severe punishment, ranging from demotion to dismissal.

The National Police' general supervisory inspector, Comr. Gen. Fajar Prihantoro said the corps never gave Djoko its approval to take a second wife. Fajar said that the corps could only open an investigation if Djoko's first wife, Suratmi, filed a complaint to the police.

Based on a marriage certificate obtained by the KPK, Djoko and Dipta tied the knot in December 2008, only months after she was crowned as Surakarta's pageant queen. Dipta was 19 years old at the time of the wedding.

On the marriage certificate, the groom is identified as Joko, and born in 1970. Djoko was born in 1960.

Indonesian Police Watch (IPW) chairman Neta S. Pane urged the police to launch an investigation into the marriage.

"It should be investigated if Djoko faked his identity on the wedding certificate or if he bribed the wedding administrators. If this is true, then he could be charged under the criminal law," Neta told The Jakarta Post. Polygamy and extramarital affairs are nothing new in the police force.

In 2010, Husni Maderi, a relative and lawyer of former National Police chief detective Comr. Gen. Susno Duadji, said both practices were rampant in the corps and no action had been taken against high-ranking officers who had more than one wife.

Last year, soap opera actor Shinta Bachir made headlines with her claims that she had an affair with a former Jakarta Police chief.

KPK spokesman Johan Budi revealed that investigators had confiscated a total of six homes belonging to Djoko.

The houses are located on Jl. Sam Ratulangi, Banjarsari subdistrict, and on Jl. Perintis Kemerdekaan, Sondakan subdistrict, both in Surakarta; Jl. Langenastran Kidul No. 7 and on Jl. Patehan Lor No. 34 and 36 in Yogyakarta; the final house is on Jl. Bukit Golf, Jangli subdistrict, Tembalang district, in Semarang. The KPK is yet to determine the value of the houses.

[Bambang Muryanto and Kusumasari Ayuningtyas contributed to this report from Semarang and Surakarta.]

Graft & corruption

Ministers from parties tend to be corrupt, says KPK deputy chairman

Jakarta Globe - February 21, 2013

SP/Novianti Setuningsih – The deputy chairman of the national antigraft commission thinks President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should reshuffle his cabinet and replace all the ministers from political parties, claiming that many of them often turned out to be corrupt.

"While there's still one-and-a-half years [before the next election], it's better for the president to consider that it's time to replace some ministers from political parties," said Busyro Muqqodas, deputy chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission, on Wednesday. "Ministers from political parties tend to be corrupt."

Busyro's suggestions come after several ministers from Yudhoyono's cabinet were allegedly involved in two recent graft scandals – the Hambalang sports center project and one on the beef imports quota.

The former Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Andi Mallarangeng, from the Democratic Party, was named a suspect in the Hambalang case and the Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo was questioned by the KPK as a witness on the case on Tuesday, over allegations of bid-rigging and funding irregularities.

Busyro added that there had been irregularities related to Indonesia's beef import quota even before Agriculture Minister Suswono, from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), led the ministry. The KPK deputy chairman said the commission had concluded that the previous minister Anton Apriyantono, also from the PKS party, and Suswono had intentionally ignored the graft.

Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq, the former PKS chairman, resigned from the conservative party in January after KPK investigators caught the lawmaker's personal staffer accepting a black suitcase stuffed with Rp 1 billion in bribes from meat importer Indoguna Utama executives.

"The irregularity did not happen during the leadership of the current agriculture minister, but since the previous minister," Busyro said. "So there's indication of negligence. If it has happened for five years, it [the negligence] happened by design."

Busyro said that a commission investigation revealed that the Agriculture Ministry may have purposely ignored the fact that Indonesia has 6.2 million livestock farmers who can sufficiently meet the demand for beef in the country.

Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskander, from the National Awakening Party (PKB), came under public scrutiny last year when two of his senior officials were convicted of taking Rp 1.5 billion in bribes in the awarding of a development contract. The briber, Dharnawati, had repeatedly claimed that the money was ultimately meant for the minister.

Another public official, Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali, from the United Development Party (PPP), was interrogated by the KPK last year over a Koran procurement graft case.

House seizures raise questions of former top cop's wealth

Jakarta Globe - February 21, 2013

Farouk Arnaz – The Corruption Eradication Commission's (KPK) recent seizure of at least ten homes owned by graft suspect Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo shed new light on the former National Police traffic corps. chief's wealth.

Antigraft investigators have discovered ten homes in ritzy neighborhoods in Jakarta, Solo, Semarang and Yogyakarta allegedly owned by the disgraced top cop. The homes, which are believed to be worth billions of rupiah, have left many wondering how a police officer, who made some Rp 30 million ($3,092) a month, could amass so many properties?

"I don't think a police officer, even though he's a general, could buy that many homes on his monthly salary," said Wisnu Ikhwan, 30, a civil servant. "It's possible Djoko had other businesses and investments, or maybe he inherited a sum of wealth from his family, but I think it is common knowledge how close the police are to corruption."

The KPK have charged Djoko with allegedly accepting a Rp 2 billion kickback to award the contract for the purchase of driving simulators to an unqualified metal company acting as a middleman. He was arrested last year after a lengthy standoff between the National Police and the KPK.

The National Police's deputy chief Comr. Gen. Nanan Soekarna declined to speculate whether Djoko used corruption funds to purchase the properties.

"That needs to be proven," he said. "[The KPK needs to prove] if he acquired his assets from gratifications, corruption or from a legal independent business. [The KPK] needs to prove if [Djoko] had the homes before the driving simulator case or after. If he had the houses before the case, then they should not have been seized."

The average salary for high-ranking police officers, Rp 10 million a month with an additional Rp 20 million in allowances and bonuses, is often not enough to cover monthly expenses, Nanan said. The deputy chief, an avid Harley-Davidson enthusiast, said that he too has to rely on side businesses to fund his lifestyle.

"I sometimes sell land, houses and food." he said, "but most importantly I don't get involved in corruption, collusion and nepotism and I don't order my subordinates to give me money."

Nanan said he has urged his colleagues to wear an anti-corruption pin above their name tag, but the request inspired jeers and claims of hypocrisy from fellow police officers.

The KPK declined to release additional details of the homes, explaining that its investigation was still ongoing. The ten homes were all listed under other people's names and were allegedly purchased with corruption funds, KPK spokesman Johan Budi said.

KPK identifies litany of graft in beef import fiasco

Jakarta Globe - February 21, 2013

Aris Cahyadi – The beef import scandal that has rocked a major political party involved six different forms of corruption, antigraft investigators have revealed.

"The first method was through embezzlement of imported beef," Busyro Muqoddas, the deputy chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), said at the KPK office late on Tuesday. He added that the case was also rife with instances of fictitious importation and bribery of officials.

The three other alleged offenses were improper import procedures, misuse of funds to buy cattle feed, and cartel-like practices in the local livestock industry.

"The KPK based these findings on complaints filed with us by the public from the period of 2005 to 2012, in relation to the alleged beef commodity graft," Busyro said, adding that this instance of corruption prevented the government from achieving its beef self-sufficiency program goal, launched in 2000.

The government allocated a total of Rp 18.7 trillion ($1.9 billion) between 2004 and 2009 for programs to achieve self-sufficiency in beef and buffalo meat.

Dradjad Wibowo, an economist who is also the deputy chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN), recently said that 12 beef import companies, including Indoguna Utama, teamed up to evade tax payments and use the funds saved to bribe lawmakers and customs and excise officials.

Indoguna Utama directors were last month caught paying bribes allegedly intended for former Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) president Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq.

Dradjad said he had conducted an investigation based on unpublished data from state institutions that showed most of the 12 companies involved in illegal practices were new players in the beef import industry.

"By using all sorts of excuses, the import 'mafia' was able to enjoy a VAT [value-added tax] exemption for the beef imports," he said. "As a result, the state incurred Rp 546 billion [$56.5 million] in VAT losses from beef and gizzards for the January 2010-July 2011 period."

The amount of VAT that should have been paid was Rp 548.8 billion, he said. "Out of that figure, only Rp 2.8 billion was paid to the state. The remaining Rp 546 billion was exempted, which means the importers received an additional profit," Dradjad said.

The exempted VAT amount matched the fee the importers paid to the people who "helped" them.

"In other words, you could say that the fees or bribes paid to political parties and non-party officials were paid from the exempted VAT," he said. "The law enforcers should start investigating... the VAT exemption.

The second source of funds used to pay the fee was said to be falsely labeling meat as gizzards, he said.

Dradjad said that based on regulations, importers had to pay an import duty of 5 percent of the customs value of the imported goods. That value is calculated based on the cost price, insurance and freight (CIF), or a benchmark value set by the Directorate General of Customs and Excise.

Since the CIF for gizzards is cheaper than that of beef, recalcitrant importers allegedly reported that they were importing gizzards instead of beef.

Meanwhile, the KPK questioned Agriculture Minister Suswono, a PKS member, on Monday as a witness against four people charged with corruption in the awarding of beef import contracts by the Agriculture Ministry, including Luthfi.

Anticorruption campaign in peril as KPK rift deepens

Jakarta Post - February 21, 2013

Yuliasri Perdani, Jakarta – The nation's antigraft campaign is now in jeopardy with a rift in the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) getting worse and more apparent.

Former KPK deputy chairman Erry Riyana Hardjapamekas said the controversy over a leaked document naming Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum a graft suspect was merely the tip of an iceberg of problems that plagued the leadership of the commission.

"If the media has seized the opportunity to report on this minor administrative error, this means that there is a major problem. This simple matter has grown into a crisis simply because of a leadership problem," he told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Erry, who served in the first batch of KPK commissioners between 2004 and 2008, said that the leadership problem could harm the KPK in the future. "This could affect the morale [of KPK officials] and lead to outside intervention," he said.

Erry said the root of the problem was that the current batch of KPK commissioners "did not understand the meaning of collegial and collective leadership". "Collective leadership can only function if all commissioners know the boundaries between what is possible and what is not," he added.

Erry was commenting on the reputed falling out among KPK commissioners especially over the Hambalang sports complex graft case that has implicated Anas.

The rift became apparent after commissioners made contradictory statements on a document that named Anas a graft suspect. The document was leaked to the press the day before President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the party's patron, took over control of the party from Anas.

Only three KPK commissioners, chairman Abraham Samad and commissioners Adnan Pandu Praja and Zulkarnain put their signatures to the document, while the columns for commissioners Bambang Widjojanto and Busyro Muqoddas were left blank.

Speculation has been rife that Busyro was reluctant to sign the document given his ties to the Association of Islamic Students (HMI), of which Anas served as chairman between 1997 and 1999. Bambang, meanwhile, is regarded as a cautious commissioner who wants the KPK to build a stronger case against Anas before naming him a suspect.

The day after the KPK set up an investigation into the leak, Adnan staged a press conference to state that he had withdrawn his signature after learning that the KPK had not in fact held a case presentation attended by all commissioners, as required.

A source within the KPK said there had been a case presentation last Thursday but with only three commissioners present: Abraham, Adnan and Zulkarnain. Bambang said last week that the presentation would take place earlier this week.

Erry said the draft did not have to be signed by all commissioners, but must at least be distributed among them. He dismissed allegations that KPK commissioners had used the Anas case as a political bargaining chip.

"Even if some of the commissioners have political motives, the KPK internal system prevents them from cherry-picking cases. I believe that they're still abiding by the rules."

This is not the first time that KPK commissioners have engaged in a high- profile rift. Last year there was internal leadership bickering on how commissioners should deal with a graft case involving Democratic Party lawmaker Angelina Sondakh.

Abraham was accused of bypassing other commissioners by prematurely naming Angelina a graft suspect when investigators had barely completed their dossiers on the former beauty queen.

Bambang said that the speculation about rifts within the KPK would be treated as a criticism of the performance of the anti-graft body.

"At this moment, it is better for the KPK to concentrate systematically on strategic jobs, so that our corruption eradication efforts will have a positive impact on the public."

Dems' lawmaker grilled over aid funds

Jakarta Post - February 20, 2013

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – The House of Representatives Ethics Council questioned Democratic Party lawmaker Supomo over the allegation that he received Rp 1.2 billion (US$124,177) in kickbacks.

Supomo allegedly demanded the money to expedite the disbursement of social aid for the Cianjur Regional Disaster Management Agency (BNPB).

The House Ethics Council said Muhammad Sukarya, an official with the Cianjur BNPT, claimed to have transferred the money to members of Supomo's staff – identified as Haris Hartoyo and Didik – who made the demand on behalf of Supomo in 2010. Sukarya filed a complaint with the ethics council late last year because no funds had been disbursed as promised.

After questioning Supomo for two hours behind closed doors on Tuesday, the council concluded that it would hold another round of investigation to find any wrongdoing.

Council chairman M. Prakosa told reporters that it was Haris who could be implicated in the corrupt practice. "He [Supomo] told us he never sent Haris to ask for the kickbacks. We will summon his staffers for further explanation," Prakosa said.

During a questioning session conducted by the council in early February, Haris admitted that he and Didik wanted the money for themselves.

It is expected that the House will file a complaint with both the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the National Police regarding the alleged bribery.

"I fired Haris on Feb. 14 as soon as I learned he had used my name to ask for the money. I swear I know nothing about the scheme," Supomo told reporters after the questioning session, the lawmaker maintained his innocence.

"I am a member of the Democratic Party. I've signed the integrity pact. I'm prepared to resign from my position if proven guilty," he added, referring to the Democratic Party's Supreme Assembly anti-corruption commitment pact.

This bribery allegation is the latest incident indicating the poor management of emergency disaster fund disbursement by the government, which is prone to corruption for lack of transparency.

In October last year, the Military Court in Medan, North Sumatra, sentenced a former army battalion commander, Let. Col. Edward Henderik Butar-Butar, to 18 months imprisonment for misusing disaster funds designated for soldiers deployed during the Padang earthquake in West Sumatra in 2009.

A year earlier, Medan's ad hoc court sentenced former Nias regent Binahati Benedictus Baeha to five years in prison and a Rp 100 million fine for embezzling tsunami aid funds in 2006.

In 2011, the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) announced it had classified the allocation of Rp 300 trillion of social aid funds between 2007 and 2010 as irregular. The funds were allocated to several poverty eradication programs.

The BPK recorded that several provinces had proposed much higher fund allocations than normal in the approach to the regional elections, which led many to suspect that the money was used to fund political campaigns.

Last year, state budget watchdog the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (FITRA) published a report which alleged that the Disadvantaged Regions Ministry had misused the disbursement of social aid funds worth Rp 63 billion allocated to the ministry in 2011.

Despite the criticism, the government has increased the budget allocation for aid funds from Rp 4 trillion in 2012 to Rp 59 trillion this year.

KPK questions Suswono about beef

Jakarta Post - February 19, 2013

Hans Nicholas Jong, Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) questioned Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician and Agriculture Minister Suswono on Monday on his possible role in the high-profile bribery case centering on the government-run beef importation program.

Suswono has been linked to the bribery case because of his conversation with former PKS chairman Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq which took place before the latter was arrested by the KPK for allegedly accepting a Rp 1 billion (US$103,000) bribe from meat importing company PT Indoguna Utama.

Speaking after his interrogation, Suswono confirmed that he did have a conversation with Luthfi in Medan concerning the meat importation quota.

"Yes, it happened," he said when asked about the meeting. Suswono, however, maintained his innocence, saying that he had nothing to do with the bribery scandal.

The minister was dragged into the case when Luthfi's lawyers said their client held a meeting with him at the Arya Duta Hotel in Medan, North Sumatra, from Jan. 10 to 11 to discuss soaring meat prices.

The 15-minute meeting was also attended by people implicated in the case, including Indoguna president director Maria Elizabeth Liman, former chairwoman of the Indonesian Seedling Association (Asbenindo) Elda Devianne Adiningrat and Luthfi's aide, Ahmad Fathanah.

"They reported to the minister on the soaring meat prices that had led to the spread of rat meat and pork in the market," Mohammad Assegaf, one of Luthfi's lawyers, told reporters. Assegaf said that Elizabeth was the initiator of the meeting while Elda played a passive role in the meeting.

Earlier, Suswono had also faced questioning from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono regarding the bribery allegation. Suswono said he had clarified to Yudhoyono that the meat importation program had been carried out properly.

Besides Suswono, the KPK was also scheduled on Monday to question a number of key witnesses in the bribery scandal, including Maria and Elda. Neither witness showed up for questioning.

Elda's lawyer John Pieter Nazar, said that his client was present at the meeting only to give her insights into meat importation. Nazar denied allegations that Elda was involved in the meat importing business, saying that she had joined the meeting because she was concerned about soaring meat prices.

The KPK has asked the Immigration Office to issue travel bans for both Elizabeth and Elda.

Earlier this month, the antigraft body imposed a travel ban on Ridwan Hakim, the son of PKS chief patron Hilmi Aminuddin. One day before the Immigration Office issued the travel ban, Ridwan flew to Turkey, fueling speculation that he fled the country to avoid KPK questioning.

KPK spokesman Johan Budi said that investigators would summon Ridwan again next week. "If he does not respond to the second summons, then we will bring him by force on the third summons," he told a press conference at the KPK's headquarters.

Ridwan's father, Hilmi, is chairman of the PKS' Consultative Council (Majelis Syuro). Hilmi determines the party's stance on certain issues and has the authority to select party officials and evaluate their performances. He selects the PKS candidates for strategic positions such as ministers, state company executives, legislators, councilors and local administration leaders.

The KPK has yet to give details about the involvement of Ridwan in the beef importation scandal.

Besides Luthfi, the KPK has also named two Indoguna executives, Juard Effendi and Arya Abdi Effendi, suspects for attempting to bribe Luthfi to secure a slot in the beef procurement program.

Responding to the questioning of Suswono, PKS senior politician Refrizal called on the KPK to treat Suswono, and other PKS members implicated in the case with respect. "KPK, please don't be too overzealous," Refrizal said. "I hope that the KPK can work professionally."

KPK to decide Anas' fate next week

Jakarta Post - February 16, 2013

Yuliasri Perdani, Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) will determine the status of Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum in the Hambalang sports complex graft case next week.

KPK spokesperson Johan Budi on Friday dismissed rumors the case presentation to determine Anas' status was to be held on Friday, two days before the Democratic Party's national leadership meeting in Jakarta.

"I can confirm there has been no case presentation for the Hambalang case. According to our plan, it will be convened next week."

KPK commissioners, the spokesman said, were currently focused on investigating the authenticity of a supposedly leaked KPK document that named Anas a suspect in the Rp 1.17 trillion (US$121.4 million) Hambalang sports complex project.

The document states that Anas had received a gratuity in the form of a Toyota Harrier while serving as lawmaker between October 2009 and July 2010.

Graft convict Muhammad Nazaruddin claims that the car was a gift from PT Adhi Karya to Anas when it won the tender for the construction of the Hambalang sports complex.

The document had sparked speculation that the antigraft commission's independence had been compromised due to its timing. It was circulated a few hours before President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono took over leadership of his Democratic Party and told Anas to deal with the legal problems he faced. A few days earlier, the President asked the KPK to decide whether it was to charge or clear Anas of graft allegations.

Anas' rivals within the Democratic Party blamed him for damaging the party's reputation and called on the President to take emergency measures to save the party. The move has been seen as an attempt to oust Anas.

Yudhoyono denied he had interfered with the KPK and said he knew nothing of the leaked document, despite rumors that the person believed to be responsible was from the Palace.

The KPK also dismissed observations that it served the President's political interests. However, the leaked document – known as "sprindik" – and the fact that commissioners had given conflicting statements regarding Anas' case have sparked speculation that the commission is divided over whether to charge Anas.

On Wednesday, KPK commissioner Adnan Pandu Praja confirmed the authenticity of the leaked document. He admitted to signing a document that named Anas a suspect in the Hambalang case.

He said the document was already signed by KPK chairman Abraham Samad and deputy chairman Zulkarnain. The signatures of deputy chairs Bambang Widjojanto and Busyro Muqoddas could not be found on the document.

Adnan revoked his signature after finding out that the commissioners had yet to hold a case presentation for the Democratic Party politician's case.

He also argued that the amount of gratuity given to Anas was too small for the KPK to handle. "We need heavier charges for Anas. We need to dig deeper," he said.

A brand new Toyota Harrier starts at Rp 735 million. The Corruption Law only allows the KPK to investigate cases worth more than Rp 1 billion.

Despite Adnan's statement, Johan made it clear that the team assigned to investigate the document were still doing their job, adding that the investigation was closely monitored by all KPK commissioners.

Terrorism & religious extremism

House to bring Densus 88 to heel over human rights abuses

Jakarta Post - February 16, 2013

Jakarta – Following allegations of human rights violations, the House of Representatives announced plans on Friday to strengthen supervision over counterterrorism operations carried out by the National Police's Densus 88 antiterrorism squad.

House Commission III overseeing security and legal affairs is slated to form a working committee specifically for the supervision of the squad, which was set up with US funding and assistance after the deadly 2002 Bali bombing.

"The working committee is to accommodate critics and input from the public, particularly over claims of abuses and violations. We will demand ongoing counterterrorism measures to be con- ducted in a transparent and accountable way," said Commission III deputy chairman Almuzzammil Yusuf.

Almuzzammil said Commission III had long supported the counterterrorism measures coordinated and initiated by the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) and the National Police. However, recent events had forced the House to take stern measures over Densus 88's compliance toward the presumption of innocence, the Constitution and human rights.

"We do not expect operations carried out by Densus 88 to be counterproductive, and ignite public anger," said Almuzzammil.

Densus 88 operations are based on input and direction from both the BNPT and the National Police. However, Commission III found that both the BNPT and the National Police had failed to conduct stringent oversight and performance audits of the antiterrorism squad's operations.

According to Yayasan Prasasti Perdamaian (YPP), a foundation that facilitates rehabilitation efforts for former suspected terrorists or terrorist convicts, 33 people have allegedly been wrongfully arrested by Densus 88 since 2010.

Victims of wrongful arrest or police questioning have not received any rehabilitation or compensation after their release, even though some had allegedly been tortured and denied legal representation during their interrogations.

Apart from the trauma, the stigma of being taken in for questioning in relation to terrorism often sticks.

Since the Bali bombings claimed 202 lives in 2002, the authorities have detained more than 800 suspected terrorists and accomplices. More than 60 terrorists have been shot dead by the police.

Indonesia, the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation, is still engaged in an intense fight against terrorism that has stemmed from various splinter groups of Jamaah Islamiyah, the al-Qaeda affiliate behind the Bali bombings. In such a fight, more arrests are expected and more collateral damage is likely to ensue.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar has repeatedly denied the "wrongful arrests". He claims that individuals were merely questioned and were, therefore, not entitled to rehabilitation as otherwise stipulated in the Criminal Law Procedures Code.

"The interrogation period allowed under the Terrorism Law lasts for up to seven days, not two days as is the case for suspects in regular crimes," he said.

Freedom of religion & worship

Churches mark a year of fruitless lobbying of SBY

Jakarta Globe - February 18, 2013

Bayu Marhaenjati – For a year now, the congregations of two churches in Bogor and Bekasi have been holding joint Sunday services outside the State Palace in Jakarta to draw the president's attention to the discrimination they continue to face, but to no avail.

On Sunday they turned out again, men, women and children worshiping under the searing sun and closely watched by dozens of anti-riot police personnel.

Yet there should be no reason, said Bona Sigalingging, for them to be out there when by rights they could be praying in the comfort of their own churches.

"It's truly reprehensible that the discrimination against the GKI Yasmin and HKBP Filadelfia congregations has been allowed to go on for years, without the central government or the president doing anything to enforce the rulings in our favor," he said.

Bona is the spokesman for the GKI Yasmin congregation from Bogor, which has been locked out of its church since 2008 by the municipal authorities, in direct violation of two Supreme Court rulings and an order by the Indonesian Ombudsman to allow them back in.

Bogor officials' initial pretext for revoking the church's permit was that the signatures required to obtain it were fake. It now says that its refusal to abide by the rulings of the highest court in the land is based on residents' opposition to the church.

The HKBP Filadelfia congregation is the victim of a similar injustice. Since 2007, it has been forced to worship on the street outside the church in Bekasi as district authorities continue to deny it a permit.

The congregation has won rulings from the West Java State Administrative Court and the Supreme Court ordering district authorities to issue the permit and reopen the church. But the officials have refused to comply, citing residents' opposition to the presence of the church in their midst.

For Bona, the lack of response from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to their plight is puzzling, given how promptly he moved recently to retake control of his Democratic Party in the light of plummeting poll numbers.

"He was so quick to save his party, but what about saving GKI Yasmin and HKBP Filadelfia?" he said.

"This is the fifth year that we've been locked out of our church, and a full year since we began praying in front of the State Palace. It doesn't make sense that after all this time, the president has done nothing whatsoever to enforce the court rulings."

The two congregations have sent around 7,000 letters to the president, via the State Secretariat, which has confirmed that it received them, Bona said.

"Yet [presidential spokesman] Julian Pasha claims the palace never received them. If there's an official receipt from the State Secretariat, then where are the letters? Besides, this is such a high-profile case that there's no way the palace isn't aware of it," he said.

"We've never had the chance to speak with the president. The highest we've gone is to the home affairs minister, but he's clearly on the side of the Bogor mayor."

The minister, Gamawan Fauzi, has repeatedly claimed that regional autonomy rendered the central government powerless to force the Bogor and Bekasi administrations to comply with the court rulings.

Churchgoers defy threats, violent attacks

Jakarta Post - February 18, 2013

Sita W. Dewi, Jakarta/Makassar – The members of several beleaguered Christian congregations in different parts of the nation defied the peril of new Molotov cocktail attacks and violent threats on Sunday to conduct religious activities.

In Makassar, South Sulawesi, five churches that were attacked by vigilantes wielding Molotov cocktails last week held mass on Sunday. Makassar Mayor Ilham Arief Sirajuddin condemned the terror acts as "barbaric", saying that he supported the constitutional right of Christians to practice their religion. "Let us be united," the mayor said on Sunday.

In Tambora, West Jakarta, the Damai Kristus Catholic Church also held Sunday services, despite threats from the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) to use force to disperse the congregation.

The hard-line group, some of whose members have engaged in vigilante violence against those they deem in violation of the law, have alleged that the church lacks a needed permit.

Local FPI members came to the church on Friday to tell its minister and the congregation not to build a church and that the use of an unlicensed building for worship would not be tolerated.

The congregation was formed in 1963 and has since operated a school. Its application for a permit to build a church on the site has been pending with officials since 1987.

An employee of Damai Kristus Catholic Church who declined to be named to discuss the issue confirmed that four masses were held on Sunday and proceeded without incident. "We performed Sunday mass as usual," said the employee.

Damai Kristus parish priest Rev. Widyo did not respond to a telephone call and an SMS from The Jakarta Post asking for comment on Sunday.

Contacted separately, Rev. Advent Nababan of the Batak Protestant Church (HKBP) in Setu in Bekasi, West Java, told the Post that his congregation also held mass without incident on Sunday.

Members of several local hard-line and vigilante Muslim groups allegedly told the congregation that there would be serious consequences if it held mass on Sunday. "We managed to perform Sunday services today [Sunday]. The threats did not materialize," Nababan said.

Meanwhile, the chief of the Jakarta Christian Communications Forum, Theophilus Bella, told the Post that the number of threats against churches in Greater Jakarta has been increasing.

"In 2012, I recorded 75 cases across Indonesia, 31 of which occurred in Greater Jakarta, up from 64 cases in the year before. The trend in such cases has shown a steady increase since 2009. So I am not surprised that we have already seen a number of threats in early 2013," Theophilus said.

The secretary of the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), Air Marshall Chairul Akbar, said that the rising political tensions in Greater Jakarta might be exploited by irresponsible parties.

"As we all can see, there have been many disputes related to the election of regional leaders, problems within the ruling party, flooding, among others," he told the Post. "We see that some people are using this chaotic momentum for their own advantage." (fzm)

It's easy for a church to get a building permit: Home affairs ministry

Jakarta Globe - February 16, 2013

Camelia Pasandaran – The Home Affairs Ministry claims that there would be less religious conflict between Christians and Islamic fundamentalist groups in Indonesia, if churches simply abided with the government's regulation to secure a building permit, which the ministry believes is easy to obtain.

"There are groups that purposely maintain the conflict to make it out as if the government does not want to solve conflicts, or to create the impression that Indonesia is an intolerant land full of conflicts," said Reydonnyzar Monoek, the Home Affairs Ministry spokesman. "Some people exploit the situation to get the benefit from the tension created."

Reydonnyzar added that religious conflicts between Christians and fundamentalist Muslims were mostly caused by the churches that refused to obtain building permits before they started construction.

"The problem is that they build and then worship in the churches without a building permit. That ends up triggering opposition from residents," he said.

Under a joint ministerial decree in 2006, Article 14 stipulates that a religious organization requires formal support from at least 60 people from the local community who agree with the construction of a house of worship. The construction must also be validated by the urban ward chief and have the recommendation from the local Religious Affairs Ministry's office and Interfaith Communication Forum (FKUB) to get a permit.

Reydonnyzar claimed that recent attacks on Christian churches only occurred because they did not have a valid permit.

"The bad thing is, while the churches failed to provide the requirement, the media has already blown up the situation, making it out as if there was intolerant conflicts and pressure on the minority," Reydonnyzar said. "It's only about the permit, don't exaggerate it into a big problem of intolerance."

Jeirry Sumampow, the Diakonia secretary of the Protestant Church Union (PGI), told the Jakarta Globe that in 2012 there were nearly 40 churches who had trouble obtaining a building permit. Jeirry said that in most cases, the local government had refused to issue a permit following rejection from Islamic groups, not the local residents.

"In 2011, there were like 61 churches who were waiting to get permit," he said. "Besides rejection, the long bureaucracy has also hampered the process.

Fundamentalist rejection

While the central government considers that it is easy for churches to obtain a permit, as long as they meet the requirements, some district governments prefer to listen to the objection of fundamentalist groups.

"It was a mistake to think that the rejection comes from the residents," said Antonius Benny Susetyo, executive secretary of the Commission of the Indonesian Bishops Conference, adding that most of the churches had established good communications with the residents. "These [fundamentalist] groups, out of nowhere, suddenly come and force the government to not approve the permit request."

Antonius said that the Catholic church Damai Kristus in Tambora, West Java, which faces building permit issues, was rejected by a mosque forum outside the neighborhood and not from the local residents.

"The same case also happened at the Parung [St. Johannes Baptista] Church in Bogor," he added. "Outsiders rallied against us, and in fear of them, the government refused to issue the permit."

A group calling itself the Muslim Community of Parung Bogor placed a banner near the church stating its support for the mayor to outlaw the parish's activities.

It's all about the money and bureaucracy

Antonius believes that the Home Affairs Ministry fails to understand the real situation in the field.

"It's not as easy as he [Reydonnyzar] thinks," Antonius explained. "Sometimes the churches can easily get the 60 signatures from residents as required. But then to get the urban ward chief to validate it, it takes time. At the end, the churches have to pay for the urban ward chiefs before they want to validate the data. After that, the churches have to face long bureaucracy at the district or city office which also needs money."

Antonius said that sometimes a church could wait for 25 years before receiving a permit. He said that the St. Johannes Baptista Church in Bogor was still waiting for the government to issue them with a permit that they applied for 10 years ago.

"The number of church members is more than 12,000. They have fulfilled all the requirements, but the local government refuses to process the application. Is it our fault, or the governments?" Antonius said about the church.

Jeirry agreed that the long bureaucracy and tradition of bribes with the government had also hampered the process. He said that the Banua Niho Keriso Protestan (BNKP) church in Bandung Kulon in West Java, had been trying to obtain a permit for 10 years.

"They have been established as a church for more than 40 years, and they have been asking for a permit since 2002. They spent millions to give to the neighborhood unit chief, community unit chief, subdistrict chief, religious figures and many others to get the church permit. But up until today, it still has not been issued," Jeirry said.

Jeirry added that some church organizations were often left disappointed when middlemen who offered services to obtain a permit from the government, failed to deliver on their promises.


Reydonnyzar insisted that the only solution for religious conflicts between Christians and Islamic fundamentalists to stop was for churches to abide with regulations for a building permit.

"The government is more than ready to assist with the conflict, but [the churches] should fulfill their obligation [to get the permit]," he said. "They [churches] should meet the requirements and then the local governments would not hesitate to issue a permit."

Regarding the case of the GKI Yasmin Church in Bogor, whose building permit was revoked by the mayor, Reydonnyzar said that the local government had been more than willing to provide a solution.

"They prepared Rp 10 billion ($1 million) for the church administrator to move [their church] and build it elsewhere to prevent tension with residents, but the church refused," he said. "We want to help, but it was not accepted. It's because they want to prolong the conflict."

As for Antonius, he believes that the problem stems from the local government's fear of fundamentalist groups. "If the government firmly abide with the regulation and ignores the rejection, there will be no problems," he said. "It is their obligation to provide house of worships as facilities for all religions."

Johan Tumanduk, the synod secretary of the Protestant Church of Western Indonesia (GPIB), said that churches should establish better relationships with local people to prevent conflicts.

"From our experience, if we can build a good relationship with the neighbors, it can take a year to get the permit," Johan said. "If there's a problem, it could take us two to three years."

Johan added that the downside of Protestant churches having several denominations was that they could not work hand in hand to help each other.

"A church tends to ignore the problems of other churches," he said. "The bargaining position of a church is weak as they try to solve the problems alone, so it is easily attacked by groups. If they can work together, not only pray all the time, but also put their prayers into action, I think it could help to solve the problem."

Groups threaten to attack mosque, church

Jakarta Post - February 16, 2013

Jakarta – Two groups in Jakarta and Bekasi threatened on Friday to attack two houses of worship, claiming that the mosque and church in question had caused disturbances in the respective areas.

Congregations of the Damai Kristus Catholic Church in Tambora, West Jakarta, and the Al-Misbah Mosque in Pondok Gede, Bekasi, were threatened that their places of worship would be attacked if they did not comply with the groups' warnings to halt activities at the sites.

On Thursday, the Bekasi administration sealed the mosque, which is used by Ahmadiyah followers, with local worshippers saying they believed the threat came from the Jatibening wing of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI).

Local government officials subsequently erected a sign saying that Ahmadiyah had been classified a heretical sect by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and, therefore, people were expected to desist from any activities in the mosque. One of the Ahmadis, Deden Darmawan Sudjana, said the threat had coincided with the swearing-in of the new FPI branch chairman.

"We were surprised when they threatened an attack. In fact, we have had good relations with them for many years. This threat is the first since the mosque was established in the 1980s," Deden told The Jakarta Post on Friday. "I personally had a very close relationship with their previous chairman, Idris, who passed away in 2011."

On Friday evening, around 200 Ahmadis were guarding the mosque to prevent any attack, along with the help of around 30 police personnel, Deden said.

The Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH) released a statement on Friday saying that the Bekasi administration had violated the law in forbidding the Ahmadis from worshipping in their mosque.

"The Bekasi administration has no right to issue such an order. Only the central government can do that," Yunita Purnama of LBH Jakarta said in the statement.

Separately on Friday, around 200 people from the South Duri Mosque and Mushola Forum threatened to attack the church in Tambora.

Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said that police were following up and were conducting surveillance near the church. "From the information we have received, the group has canceled the attack. Nevertheless, police officers remain on standby," he said. – JP/fzm

Islamic religious groups demonstrate against Catholic church

Jakarta Globe - February 15, 2013

Lenny Tristia Tambun & Camelia Pasandaran – A protest by members of a religious forum that has called on the government to shut down a Catholic church in Tambora, West Jakarta, was staged peacefully on Friday afternoon.

Hundreds of members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Duri Selatan Mosque Forum rallied against the Bunda Hati Kudus Foundation's plan to convert the social facilities of the Damai school complex into a place of worship.

The protesters came to the school on Friday afternoon and staged a peaceful protest and oration for 30 minutes before continuing their journey to City Hall.

Nandar, the protest coordinator for the Duri Selatan Mosque Forum, urged the leaders of the church to stop the establishment of any church within the school complex, and spoke out against the use of any building within the complex for any church-related activities.

"They should have followed the rules, they can't provoke the local residents by giving away free stuff every month just to get approval to build a church. The construction of this church must be stopped," he said.

Some representatives from FPI and the Duri Selatan Mosque Forum were allowed to enter the school complex on Friday to hold a dialogue with the church's leader, Pastor Matheus Widyolestari. Police officers were in attendance for the discussion.

One of the protesters handed out a stack of copies of ID cards, claiming they were from people who rejected the church's construction.

The local government has been trying to mediate the conflict involving religious figures from both sides since November 2007. But so far, they have failed to reach an agreement.

Pastor Antonius Benny Susetyo, executive secretary of the Commission of the Indonesian Bishops Conference, told the Jakarta Globe that the protesters misunderstood the problem.

He said that the protesters thought the church used the social facilities of the Damai school complex as a service venue. "It is a church, in the same complex with the school," Antonius explained. "It is not a hall as they thought."

Antonius said that the church had no building permit, but when it was built in 1968, there was no regulation on building permits.

"In 2006, the government issued a joint ministerial decree in which its transitional regulation stated that in the case of a house of worship that has been permanently used and or has historical value but has no building permit, a mayor or district chief should issue the permit," Antonius said.

"At that time, it was not only churches that had no building permits, but also mosques," Antonius said. "This is the obligation of the local government to issue decisions that the church is legal as it has existed for 40 years."

Antonius said that as many as 6,000 congregation members joined Sunday services every week. "There is no other Catholic church nearby," he said, adding that the protesters were not residents of Tambora. "The church has good relations with the residents."

Molotov cocktails thrown at three more churches in Makassar

Jakarta Post - February 15, 2013

Andi Hajramurni, Makassar – Three churches in Makassar, South Sulawesi, became on Thursday the latest targets of violent attacks, which were committed by unidentified persons who threw Molotov cocktails at them.

The churches in question were the Makassar Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) on Jl. Samiun; Panakkukang Toraja Klasis Church on Jl. Andi Pangerang Pettarani; and Toraja Klasis Tallo Church on Jl. Gatot Subroto.

The first attack, on Toraja Klasis Tallo Church, took place on Thursday morning at around 3 a.m. local time (2 a.m. Jakarta time). Its front entrance was damaged by fire.

An hour later at 4 a.m., Panakkukang Toraja Klasis Church was attacked. The gasoline concoction hit a wall that became blackened by fire but was relatively undamaged.

At the same time, the GKI building was also attacked. The damage to the church was quite severe, as one of its windows was smashed and its floor tiles damaged and blackened. Shattered glass from the bottles used to make the Molotov cocktails was found scattered on the floor.

GKI priest John Parengkuan said that when the incident occurred, two security guards were on duty at a security post. Both of them heard a loud blast. "They immediately rushed outside, but a fire was already blazing inside the church," he said.

Four men are believed to have been involved in the attack. They were traveling on two motorcycles and pulled up in front of the church. Two of the men got off the bikes and tossed the Molotov cocktails at the church.

"Their actions were recorded by closed-circuit television [CCTV] installed in front of the church. Hopefully, the tape will reveal their identities," said Parengkuan.

No one witnessed the attacks on the Toraja Klasis Tallo and Panakkukang Toraja Klasis churches. Local residents only became aware of the attacks after hearing explosions.

On Sunday, the Tiatira Church in Malengkeri and Toraja Mamasa Church (GTM) on Jl. Dirgantara, Makassar had also been targeted in the same way by unidentified persons using Molotov cocktails. Similar homemade bombs were also used on the same day to attack two ATMs owned by Bank Mandiri.

South Sulawesi Police chief Insp. Gen. Mudji Waluyo said a special team had been formed to investigate the cases.

He added that police had not disclosed previous Molotov cocktail attacks in Makassar that had occurred since September last year, as they were focusing on securing the South Sulawesi gubernatorial election, which took place on Jan. 22.

However, Mudji acknowledged that his men had been unable to identify the perpetrators.

Separately, former vice president Jusuf Kalla, who happened to be in Makassar on Thursday, immediately called a meeting with interreligious and community leaders, local administration officials and heads of the police and military at Makassar's City Hall. Kalla also inspected the GKI building.

During the meeting, Kalla said the incidents needed to be solved quickly so as to prevent them from triggering a sectarian conflict.

"These incidents remain relatively insignificant, but similar acts must be prevented and these cases must be solved. If not, they will escalate and be hard to overcome. Based on my experience in mitigating conflicts, a sectarian conflict is the most difficult to resolve," he said.

Kalla, who chairs the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), also urged people to avoid mutual suspicion and respect each other in order to maintain ethnic and religious harmony in the province.

Kalla said he believed the attacks were just an attempt by irresponsible people to pit one group against another and to divide people in South Sulawesi in general, and Makassar in particular.

Spokesman for the GKI in South Sulawesi, Rev. Untung, said the church attacks were not just an issue for the Christian community but a wider social issue that needed all peace-loving people to address together.

Meanwhile, the chairman of Makassar's interfaith communication forum, Rahim Yunus, strongly condemned the attacks against the five churches.

Land & agrarian conflicts

Walhi activist to sue South Sumatra police chief for Rp 1

Jakarta Post - February 19, 2013

Ansyor Idrus, Palembang – Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) South Sumatra director Anwar Sadat is suing South Sumatra Police chief Insp. Gen Iskandar Hasan for a single rupiah for detaining him through a procedure he considered unlawful.

"We are suing the South Sumatra Police chief for Rp 1 and intend to examine whether the arrest and detention conducted by the South Sumatra Police office were legal," said Anwar's lawyer, Muhnur Satyahaprabu, in Palembang on Monday.

Anwar and his two colleague activists were arrested with tens of Ogan Ilir farmers after they staged a demonstration on Jan. 29 that centered on a land conflict against the state-owned plantation company PT Perkebunan Nusantara VII.

The peaceful protest turned violent, causing the fences of the South Sumatra Police office building to collapse. The police have yet to determine the status of the three activists, however, despite the fact that they have been detained for 20 days.

Police said that Anwar was arrested and detained because he violated Article 17 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on damaging public facilities.

Muhnur said his client was suing the South Sumatra Police chief for Rp 1 as they presumed that investigators from South Sumatra Police office had violated several articles of the KUHP including Article 17, Article 18 (2) and Article 75.

"We will donate the results of the legal claim to the South Sumatra Police office so they can use them to improve the performance of their police officers," said Muhnur.

Meanwhile, South Sumatra Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Djarot Padakova said he accepted the legal claim but would discuss it with the South Sumatra Police chief. (ebf)

Dayaks seek Komnas HAM support over land acquisition

Jakarta Post - February 16, 2013

Jakarta – Members of the Dayak community are seeking protection from the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) over a land dispute with several coal-mining companies.

Menang Jaya, 50, a resident of Barito Utara in Central Kalimantan, recalled the days when the regency was still surrounded by green forests that have now turned into black coal mining pits.

"Around 200 hectares of my family's ancestral land was being explored and exploited by coal mining companies without asking for our permission, let alone paying us any compensation," Menang told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

In June 2012, the local residents staged a protest in front of Barito Utara regent's office for permitting the companies to operate on their land, he said. "As a result, I was jailed for six months," Menang said, citing that the protest led to a fight with the company's supporters.

On Monday, Menang and a number of Barito Utara residents went to Komnas HAM in Jakarta but there were no commissioners available to hear them. "I am afraid that the dispute will soon get bigger like the one in Mesuji," he said, referring to the 2011 violent agrarian conflict in Mesuji regency, Lampung, where three people died.

According to Menang, in 2005, a mining company, PT Gapco Mining, acquired a mining permit (IUP) to explore around 2,000 hectares of land in Barito Utara, including the land owned by his family.

"Gapco had promised us to pay compensation. However, in 2008, Gapco failed to get an exploration permit and the land is now being explored by PT Yastra Energy without giving us notification," he said.

Menang said another coal-mining company, PT Genta Coal Mining, is also operating on 1,300 hectares of land in the area without asking permission from the local communities.

The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) energy campaigner Pius Ginting said that he was disappointed because Menang did not get the chance to meet the commissioners earlier this week.

"These companies violated Law No. 4/2009 on mineral and coal mining, which stipulated that mining companies should take local communities' aspirations into account," Pius said. "Komnas HAM should immediately investigate this case should any human right violations have taken place."

Menang said that the mining areas were located only 15 kilometers from Pararawen National Park, the habitat of many endangered species. "Our ancestors had carefully preserved those lands. I don't know what will be left for us in the future," he said. (nad)

Parliament & legislation

Lawmakers to receive lifelong pension, even if they end their term early

Jakarta Globe - February 21, 2013

Markus Junianto Sihaloho – Indonesian lawmakers will enjoy a lifelong pension even if they don't complete a full term in office, the acting House of Representatives secretary general confirmed on Thursday.

Winantuningtyastiti Swasanani, the acting House secretary general, said that the pension was awarded to lawmakers whose office term had ended and also to those who stepped down before their term was over. She said that the monthly pension amount could reach up to 75 percent of the total basic salary – which ranges between Rp 4.2 million ($433) and up to Rp 16 million. "It depends on their working period," Winantuningtyastiti explained.

House of Representatives Speaker Marzuki Alie said that the pension was not given to lawmakers who were fired disgracefully.

Under a law on financial and administrative rights of leaders or members of the state high institution issued in 1980, a pension fund will be awarded to a lawmaker once their office term has ended and it will be terminated if they are appointed to work at another state institution. If a lawmaker dies, the pension fund will be given to the wife or husband, or if their spouse is no longer alive, it will go to their child, provided that they are single and under 25.

Winantuningtyastiti said that lawmakers who were allegedly involved in corruption cases could still receive their pension fund if they stepped down before the court made a final and binding decision, as quoted by Merdeka.com.

State-owned pension insurance firm Taspen planned to stop providing pension funds to former lawmakers several years ago, as part of a bureaucracy reformed on state finance, but the proposal was not discussed further.

Hidayat Nurwahid, the faction head of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), said that no lawmakers from his party objected the law, adding that there were no plans to revise it. He said that it was also never discussed during meetings at the House of Representatives Consultative Body (Bamus).

"I don't think this issue is important to discuss about," Hidayat said, adding that the state also paid for the civil servant's pension fund. He said that PKS would discuss the matter and would revise the law if the public considered it inappropriate.

Sutan Bhatoegana, the deputy faction head of the Democratic Party, said that it was not relevant to bring up the issue.

"Lawmakers are state officials, I think they deserve it," Sutan said while asking people to think positively about lawmakers. "Those who make Indonesia as a prosperous nation are executives and legislatives."

"Government officials are not all good, many civil servants are often absent from work but they also get a pension fund," Sutan said. "So it depends to us, we can get ours right as long as we do our obligation."

Edhie Prabowo, a lawmaker from the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) party, said that he did not know if he would receive the pension fund.

"As a state official, looking at the current condition of our state, let alone pension fund, I'm ready to return my salary," he said, adding that lawmakers should not seek money if they decided to nominate themselves as a legislator.

Women legislators eye role in global forums

Jakarta Post - February 15, 2013

Bagus BT Saragih, Jakarta – Indonesia's women legislators are aiming to get more involved in international forums in their bid to become the best female parliamentarians in Asia.

"The international achievement of an Indonesian female legislator has made this country proud. I hope others will follow suit," House Speaker Marzuki Alie said Friday during the inauguration of the organizing committee of the Indonesian Parliamentary Caucus for Women (KPPRI) for the 2009-2014 period.

He was referring to Nurhayati Ali Assegaf, his Democratic Party colleague, who chaired a session at the Parliamentary Union of OIC Member States (PUIC). She was the first woman to lead PUIC's Women, Social and Cultural Affairs meeting.

KPPRI chairwoman A.P. Andi Timo Pangerang, also from the Democratic Party said the caucus was the vehicle to bring more Indonesian women legislators to the international fore.

"The KPPRI must improve its relationship and cooperate with all parties, the government, NGOs and international institutions," she said. The KPPRI includes all 136 women members of the House of Representatives and the House of Regional Representatives (DPD).

The House has 101 female legislators, with 35 in the DPD. The number of women in the two institutions in the previous term was 103.

Andi said the increase in the number of women in parliament was good, but still not enough. She added her top priority for the KPPRI was to empower the women currently in parliament.

"Gender equality is not about quantity, which leads to the debate over whether the 30 percent quota for women in the House is enough. "More women at the House means nothing if they lack political and leadership skills," Andi said.

She said women's participation in state affairs would be recognized "if women were agents of change".

The KPPRI will encourage its members to promote gender equality and women's empowerment in all House commissions. "Women must accommodate gender equality and women's empowerment in the state budgeting process and the passing of laws," Andi said.

Marzuki suggested that a caucus such as the KPPRI be established at a regional level so the women's empowerment campaign could be promoted across the country.

Of the 136 members of the KPPRI, 71 hold positions at the caucus' organizing committee. Of the committee members, 44 are legislators, the rest are members of the DPD.

With nine people, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party has the most members in the committee.

Women legislators from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) have eight seats at the committee, the Golkar Party seven and the National Awakening Party (PAN) and the National Awakening Party (PKB) four each.

The United Development Party (PPP), the People's Conscience Party (Hanura), the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the Greater Indonesian Movement (Gerindra) each have three members.

Jakarta & urban life

Jokowi streamlines bureaucracy

Jakarta Post - February 16, 2013

Jakarta – The reshuffling of high-ranking officials in the Jakarta administration was seen as shock therapy for the bureaucracy which, according to Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, is in dire need of higher working standards.

Jokowi said he intended to increase the working standard of his subordinates because of the high expectation of the public for his administration.

"The reshuffle aims to develop a new rhythm in the administration to improve the performance of the officials. We are creating a good management organization, so the agencies can respond to and fulfill the needs of the public quickly," he said on Friday. Jokowi said he gave all new officials six months before evaluating their performance.

"I have asked them during the fit and proper tests whether they are ready or not to reach the targets set for the agencies," he said, adding that there would be sanctions against those who failed to achieve them.

On Thursday, Jokowi inaugurated 20 new city officials at City Hall – some of whom were only told about their new position on the previous day.

One of them is Anas Effendi, who missed his inauguration as the head of Library and Regional Archives Agency. Previously the South Jakarta mayor, Anas, met with Deputy Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama on Friday asking about the reason for the work rotation to a position deemed as less prestigious.

By law, the Jakarta governor holds the power to appoint the mayors and replace them within the working period of five years. Anas, who was appointed by Jokowi's predecessor Fauzi Bowo, had worked as the mayor for 14 months.

Ahok said that several high-ranking officials, including city secretary Fadjar Panjaitan, were also involved in deciding on the names that were included in the rotation of officials.

"We were looking for someone to replace the retired head of the library and regional archives agency when Mr. Secretary suggested Anas," he told reporters. "When we asked further who could replace Anas, Mr. Secretary said that he had a reliable deputy so there will not be any problem in resuming the task."

Ahok, however, said that the tour of duty was only one way to refresh the administration and should not be seen as punishment against officials with poor work performance.

"The task as the head of the library is of high importance because we always have to secure important archives and documents on the capital city," he said.

Among the officials replaced are Ery Basworo, previously head of the Public Works Agency; and Novizal, head of the Housing and Administration Building Agency, who recently resigned from his post.

Jokowi said on Friday that his administration needed to quickly respond to the demand for proper housing for squatters. "I cannot handle all the matters alone," he said, adding that in the future his subordinates would resume the work he had started. (cor)

Armed forces & defense

Indonesia to buy combat helicopters from the United States

Antara News - February 15, 2013

Jakarta – Indonesia wants to buy a number of combat helicopters from the United States for the army, Defenses Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said.

"The choice is Apache combat helicopters to strengthen the army weapons system," Purnomo said here on Friday.

He said the US government has approved the proposal to buy Apache helicopters but the defense ministry wants a larger number. "If we could not buy enough units of Apache, then we want Black Hawk. We want more combat helicopters to build up our strength," he said.

He did not say how many units of helicopters the ministry plans to buy. "We are still calculating based on the budget set aside by the finance ministry and the national Development Planning Board (Bappenas)," he said giving no figure for budget.

He said the final deal on the helicopters is expected to be signed this year.

Earlier army chief of staff Gen. Pramono Edhie Wibowo said the additional units are to form a new squadron of helicopters for territorial security.

Parmono also has been quoted as saying the army would have Rp14 trillion (US$1.56 billion) to buy military hardware this year. "That is the amount approved by the House of Representatives for the army to buy new weapons," he said.

He said negotiations are in progress for the purchase of 20 units of Black Hawk helicopter. He acknowledged that the army needs replacement of old weapons simultaneously and by phases.

Talks on the fund disbursement has been in the final phase between the defense ministry and the finance ministry, he said.

The types of equipment to be acquired will depend on the requirement also including Leopard tanks, cannons and rockets with a firing range of up to 100 kilometers. The equipment would be distributed by phases to various regions which need modernization of weapons system, he said.

Former head of the defense Facility board Maj. Gen. Ediwan Prabowo said the government allocates US$400 million to buy combat helicopters. "The fund would be enough to buy 8 units of Apache helicopters as the price per unit is around US$45 million or 20 units of Black Hawk," Ediwan said.

Apache is superior in that it could destroy tanks, armored vehicles and bunkers, he said. Black Hawk has less capability in destroying targets but it could carry troops, he added.


Former security minister Gen. Feisal Tanjung passes away

Jakarta Post - February 18, 2013

Bagus BT Saragih, Jakarta – President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono paid his last respects to the late former Indonesian Military (TNI) commander and former coordinating political and security minister Gen. (ret.) Feisal Tanjung who died at Siloam Hospital in Jakarta on Monday morning.

Feisal, who served in his roles as a military chief and minister during the New Order era under the late former President Soeharto, died at the age of 73 due to an undisclosed illness.

"The President and First Lady [Ani Yudhoyono] visited Feisal's residence in Kuningan, South Jakarta, where the remains have been laid, this morning at 10.30 a.m.," presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha told reporters.

Feisal's remains will be buried at Kalibata National Cemetery in Kalibata, South Jakarta, in a military ceremony later in the afternoon. Vice President Boediono is scheduled to serve as the ceremony's inspector, Julian said.

TNI commander Adm. Agus Suhartono also paid his last respects at Feisal's residence, TNI spokesman Rear Admiral Iskandar Sitompul said.

Born in Tarutung, North Sumatra, on June 17, 1939, Feisal was one of Indonesia's top military figures who had shining military career under the Soeharto regime.

Feisal made headlines in the international media after being appointed by the late president to head the military honorary council set up to investigate the mass killing of demonstrators in Santa Cruz, East Timor (now Timor Leste) in 1991.

Under his leadership, the council recommended the dismissals of a number of then high-ranking military officers, including Maj. Gen. Sintong Panjaitan and Brig. Gen. Rudolf Warouw.

In 2001, Feisal was among several former top military officials summoned by the House of Representatives over their alleged roles in the student killings at Trisakti University and the Semanggi cloverleaf in Jakarta in 1998.

The generals denied any role in the killings and said they had never adopted any policy nor issued any orders authorizing security forces to shoot student demonstrators at the time.

Analysis & opinion

The trouble with fatwas in Indonesia

Straits Times - February 21, 2013

Salim Osman – A few days before Chinese New Year was observed in Indonesia on Feb. 10, a cleric in Solo, Central Java, issued a fatwa banning Muslims from joining in the celebration.

Kiai Zainal Arifin Adnan claimed that the Chinese festival, known in Indonesia as Imlek, is religious in nature because it contains Buddhist spiritual teachings and is therefore haram or prohibited for any Muslims to participate.

"The best attitude for a Muslim towards this event is to ignore it," said the cleric, who heads the Solo branch of the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI), the highest authority on Islam, on Feb. 5.

His fatwa was not endorsed by the national leadership of MUI in Jakarta. Neither was it heeded by the majority of Muslims.

But it stunned many Indonesians who generally thought that the Chinese New Year was cultural, with Chinese of all faiths celebrating and non-Chinese invited to attend the festivities.

The reaction was similar to last December's outrage when the MUI in Jakarta invoked a 1981 fatwa that banned Muslims from greeting their Christian friends with Merry Christmas and from joining in the gathering because of the rituals involved in the celebration.

There are two issues raised by the cleric's fatwa on Chinese New Year in Indonesia.

First: whether Chinese New Year is a cultural or religious festival.

Second: are there too many fatwas for Muslims in Indonesia?

On the first, Chinese New Year is widely seen as cultural and not religious in many other societies where it is marked. But in Indonesia, the question on whether it is also religious has often arisen.

An Indonesian Chinese community leader, Sofyan Jimmy Yosadi, wrote that Chinese who believe in Confucianism as a religion view Chinese New Year as a sacred day that commemorates the birth of the sage. Hence the elaborate rituals at Chinese temples on the first day of Chinese New Year, he said.

Writing in the North Sulawesi daily Tribun Manado on Feb. 10, he said, "For the Confucians, Imlek is a religious Confucian festival and not merely a cultural celebration of the Chinese."

Sofyan is a member of the Confucian Religious Council. Confucianism is recognized as an institutionalized religion in Indonesia, with an acknowledged prophet and holy scriptures.

But other leaders disagreed. One of them, Andrew Susanto, president of the Chinese-Indonesian Youth Association, said, "Chinese New Year is not a religious celebration and it's especially not a Buddhist celebration."

Marking Chinese New Year is no different from celebrating new year in other cultures, he told Agence France-Presse.

Masurur Ahmad, a cleric at the Al-Qodir boarding school in Sleman, Central Java, told a website that "participating in Imlek is not against sharia."

With such a diversity of views, Kiai Zainal's fatwa was ignored by Muslims who did not see anything wrong in greeting their Chinese friends and joining in their New Year parties last week.

With the prevailing view that Chinese New Year is cultural, there is no necessity for a fatwa on the festival.

Muslims will not fear their faith will be compromised by joining in the festivities. The so-called edict expressed by Kiai Zainal may just be his own opinion on the festival. It is not a surprise that the national leadership of MUI did not view the issue as serious enough to warrant a ruling.

This brings us to the larger issue of fatwa itself.

By definition, a fatwa is a ruling on a point of Islamic law or dogma issued by an authorized religious scholar, an ulama, kiai, imam or mufti, based on a question from an individual inquirer. The fatwas are published in a book for dissemination as a guide to Muslim religious life.

In Indonesia where there is no mufti or a jurist who is an authority on Islam, fatwa remains the province of MUI, an institution set up by the government in 1975 to guide the community and advise the government on Islamic affairs.

Two other Islamic organizations, the Nahdlatul Ulama and the Muhammadiyah, also issue fatwas for their members.

The ruling is issued by a panel of scholars trained in Islamic jurisprudence in response to a question. Hence individual clerics may express a religious opinion on an issue but this should not be construed as a fatwa unless endorsed by a panel of authorized scholars.

Of late, there have been a string of edicts handed down by individual clerics that can be considered trivial and even bordering on the ridiculous.

For example, three days before the Imlek fatwa was issued in Solo, a cleric in Samarinda, in the Indonesian part of Borneo, called speed bumps haram because they were hazardous to road users.

There have been other fatwas – not from MUI – such as those banning unmarried Muslim women from indulging in hair-straightening or curling treatments, taking a motorcycle taxi or ojek, having pre-wedding photos taken with their fiances and a prohibition on Shi'ism, the second branch of Islamic orthodoxy.

There is a need for some sort of control in the way fatwas are issued in the country. The fatwas, though not officially binding, can be a guide but can also lead to confusion because of different interpretations of the same issue.

It can also be counterproductive if Muslims are overwhelmed with a string of fatwas on issues that are not significant to their religious lives but given out within a short period.

The MUI should exert its authority to be the main center for religious rulings instead of letting individual preachers who claim to be clerics issue edicts that would only confuse the public.

A legal basis for domestic military intervention

Jakarta Post - February 18, 2013

Al Araf and Anton Aliabbas, Jakarta – Late last month, National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo and Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Adm. Agus Suhartono signed a memorandum of understanding, just one day after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono issued Presidential Instruction (Inpres) No. 2/2013 on handling internal security threats to guide the TNI as it assists the police in communal conflicts.

However, the MoU has some serious problems. First, the MoU violates Law No. 2/2002 on the National Police and Law No. 34/2004 on the TNI.

Article 41 of Law No. 2/2002 clearly states that the involvement of the TNI should be managed by government regulation (PP). Meanwhile, as a military operation other than war, the TNI's support of local governments and public order should be arranged by a separate law (Article 20 of Law No. 34/2004).

Agus said after the MoU was signed that the TNI could deploy personnel to conflict areas without the consent of the police or officials in the affected regions. Besides violating the Law on the TNI, such an assumption of authority is potentially prone to abuse.

Article 7 of Law No. 34/2004 stipulates that military operations other than war must be conducted following a decision from the state, meaning that the House of Representatives must give its approval in the first place. As of the present moment; the House, the military or the government has never discussed such military assistance.

What Agus said reminded the public of the time when the TNI Law was still under deliberation in the House in 2004. There was a heated debate over then Article 19 – dubbed the coup d'etat article by the media – which gave the authority to the TNI's commander to deploy military personnel whenever he thought the state was under an emergency. Following massive public pressure, this article was dropped by the government and the House.

We cannot imagine what might happen in Aceh, Papua, Poso or any other security hot spot under such an article. Troops could have been deployed not because the local governments or the police asked for help, but upon the TNI commander's judgment alone.

There has been increasing public concern about potential violations, as prior to the signing of the Police-TNI MoU, the number of human rights violations was already quite high.

As a matter of fact, we cannot let the military conduct any operation on its own discretion. We still regard the military as an institution authorized to use deadly force. So, as the third largest democracy after India and the US, we have to maintain democratic control over the military.

The TNI can conduct an operation only after a political decision to deploy troops has been made. Such a code of conduct is equivalent with the principle of civil supremacy stipulated in Law No. 34/2004.

There is also the question of a legal basis for the agreement. The MoU only binds the signatories. However, as implementation of this MoU will affect other parties, including the public, we need a stronger regulation that is legally binding to be used as the legal basis for the public, the TNI and the police. This kind of regulation will give guidance and protection for all of us.

A question remains after the Presidential Instruction (Inpres) and the MoU were signed: Is President – as the supreme commander of the TNI – trying to avoid command responsibility if violations occur when the military is deployed in such operations?

Presidential Instruction No. 2/2013 is obviously the legal basis for the MoU. However, an Inpres is not a solution for handling internal security disturbances, which should be addressed by the security actors themselves in reference to existing laws. The President should evaluate his administration's performance and the security commanders who have failed in handling internal security problems and not simply issue an Inpres.

Local conflicts in Indonesia are complex. Their root causes are not simple and local governments are sometimes part of the problem. Addressing root causes is more important than merely using a security approach to end the conflicts. In other words, the Inpres and the MoU will just give blank check to security actors to uphold security using their own assessments.

There are some options that the government should consider. First, the government must cancel this MoU. Second, the government should revise Government Regulation No. 16/1960 on military assistance, as some articles in this regulation are obsolete and incompatible with other laws.

Issuing specific regulations covering military assistance to the civilian authorities is not a hard task. It just needs political will from government.

However, this policy should be followed by the drafting of bill on military assistance to civilian authorities and its immediate submission to the House for deliberation. This bill should define terms such as proportionality and the last resort principle, as well as list dos and don'ts and the conditions governing the military's involvement in internal security problems. This bill would overcome the dispute over the laws on the TNI and on the Police.

Mr. President, this is your choice, as you consider your legacy to Indonesia.

[Al Araf is program director of Imparsial and a lecturer on strategic studies at Al-Azhar University and Paramadina University. Anton Aliabbas is program director of The Ridep Institut and a lecturer at Binus International University. Both are members of the Civil Advocacy for Security Sector Reform.]

'Anis and Anas': A controversial tale of two parties

Jakarta Post - February 18, 2013

Aboeprijadi Santoso, Amsterdam – The Year of the Snake has begun with what seems to be bad omens for two leading Indonesian political parties. The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the Democratic Party (PD) have attempted to resolve long-standing graft problems by changing their leadership.

The PKS has in recent years changed from a clean, disciplined and spirited party inspired by the ideals of the Islamic Brotherhood (Ikhwanul Muslimin) into an "open" political party and now a "corrupt" one.

The arrest of its chairman Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq has placed the party in dire straits. Shocked and embarrassed at appearing hypocritical, the PKS appointed a new leader from among the party establishment: Anis Matta, an ambitious member who quickly moved to deal with the party's tainted image.

Like the PKS, the PD, founded in 2004, is worried about its election prospects in 2014. A conglomerate of bureaucrats, former officers and activists, the PD saw its electability sharply decline following the ongoing graft scandal that has implicated its chairman.

Pressed by the party's top brass, chief patron Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono finally and surprisingly chose to take over the party's leadership.

Yet, in doing so, the ever-cautious Yudhoyono actually left the party on the hook, waiting yet again for a quick and clear solution and leaving chairman Anas Urbaningrum seriously challenged.

The responses of Anis – the rising star of the PKS – and Anas – the PD chair-in-disgrace – are significant. Referring to the dangers faced by Sengkuni, a legendary (albeit cynical) Javanese figure, Anas, even before his demise, warned the chief patron and his constituents of the consequences of his ouster, as he still controls at least a third of the regional party leaders.

Sengkuni, a mischievous adviser often compared to Metternich, is used here in a pejorative sense, but Anas, a Javanese, apparently feeling humiliated, added another coded message: "Ojo dumeh!" Please, don't be arrogant.

Anis, a devout Buginese Moslem, on the other hand, spoke of a "Zionist conspiracy" – obviously, a ridiculous accusation – and urged party members to act like prophets arising victoriously after falling into a deep hole.

Next, he incited their imagination – "act like in the Mission: Impossible movie and you'll win!" – and concluded by calling upon them to repent (tobat).

The symbolic rhetoric used by Anas and Anis may be aimed at their own constituents to restore their own and their parties' authority. Soon after they took over, both were quick to take action and meet with the party's rank-and-file members – which Anis did in Medan and Anas in Banten. Anas even chose to be absent when Yudhoyono assembled the party's top brass to renew their commitment to fight graft.

In short, it is as if they were loyal to Machiavelli's dictum: "It's better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both." Meanwhile, nothing has been announced, nor denied, presumably not even discussed, about the corruption allegations.

In other words, as they view it, it's the fate of the political parties – not the state – that is at stake. And since the issues in both cases ultimately concern party finance, those symbolic messages are actually meant to warn and encourage, telling members that a new start is in their best interests.

Although a few resisted Anis' appointment in the PKS, Anas, given his faction's relative strength in the PD, resisted by blaming Yudhoyono's administration's shortcomings for the party's problems.

Anas has apparently been able to maintain his own power base within the party thanks to relationships nurtured over decades with the Muslim Students Association (HMI) and HMI alumni association (KAHMI).

Anis and Anas offer a tale of two parties: both reformist, one with Islam- inspired political ideology and a clear mission, the other a secular, often labeled "liberal", consensus-based party without clear ideological inclination.

The PKS, though, has gone through important changes. As early as February 2008, one of its founders, Mashadi, told me in an interview of his unhappiness with the trends facing the party.

Like Yusuf Supendi, another PKS founder and critic, Mashadi complained of the growing split within the party between the "Justice" and the "Prosperous" factions, implying that the latter were more concerned with power and wealth.

"They are going even more hedonistic," Mashadi said. Both raised doubts on the PKS' ambitions to join the big three parties in 2014, which Anis believes remains the party's target.

It was at the PKS congress in June 2010, held at a cost of Rp 10 billion (US$1.03 million) in Jakarta's Ritz-Carlton Hotel, that highlighted the change, as the party formally declared itself an "open party", formally abandoning its original mission as a dakwah (Islamic propagation) party, which in practical terms meant pragmatism for the sake of achieving power in the long term.

Thus, it became opportunistic or, as Munarman, the rights activist-turned- Muslim militant put it, a buka-tutup (sometimes open, sometimes close) political party.

Given Indonesia's historical experience with charismatic leaders (remember Sukarno), it seems odd that an ideological party such PKS is lacking a godfather with firm authority to rely on, whereas a secular party like the PD is depending too much on the one they have.

In both cases, however, they basically depend on public resources and party clientelism. And, as the cases reveal, both are necessarily elite-oriented, even though Anas seems able to maintain some power base; in fact he is the only member with an organized party base, hence his capability to resist.

As a consequence, rather than relying on community-based party chapters at the grassroots level, which both parties largely lack, the PKS and the PD can only call upon their rank and file, or top leaders, to resolve problems.

This oligarchic developmental pattern may be the perfect exemplar of post- Soeharto democracy: In the absence of organized mass action, elitism will continue to prevail and clientelism will tend to be based on party interests and religious sentiments rather than on national or class-based interests.

[The writer is a journalist and the former Jakarta correspondent for Radio Netherlands.]

Book & film reviews

'Act of Killing' wins audience, jury awards at Berlinale

Jakarta Globe - February 17, 2013

"The Act of Killing," a critically acclaimed documentary in which a pair of gangsters re-enact their roles in the 1965 Communist purges in Indonesia, will be honored on Sunday with two awards at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Director Joshua Oppenheimer's film will take home the Panorama Audience Award and the Ecumenical Jury prize, the latter of which is awarded by a six-person jury to "directors who have succeeded in portraying actions or human experiences that are in keeping with the Gospels, or in sensitizing viewers to spiritual, human or social values."

The film first gained international attention when it screened at the Toronto Film Festival in September, where it was lauded for its unconventional presentation of the tragedy. Its principle subject, Anwar Congo, was a small-time gangster with a passion for Hollywood Westerns in 1965 when he was enlisted to participate in the mass killing of Indonesians alleged to have Communist loyalties.

In "The Act of Killing," the unpunished Medan-based men act out their state-sponsored crimes in a variety of film genres, describing their roles unapologetically, and with an honesty that the Indonesian government has not yet been willing to show. Estimates put the number of those killed in the purges at anywhere from 500,000 to two million people, at a tumultuous time in the country's history.

In a statement, the Ecumenical Jury praised "The Act of Killing" for the present-day value it brought to an historical event.

"This deeply unsettling film exposes the evil mass murders which took place in Indonesia in 1965 and reveals the monstrosity of these crimes. It re- opens a deep wound with the conviction that it is worthwhile to unearth such atrocities," the jury said.

The filmmakers struck a similar chord in an acceptance speech posted to the documentary's Facebook page.

"Since International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2012, 'The Act of Killing' has screened hundreds of times in Indonesia, in more than 90 cities. It has helped give rise to a national conversation in which, finally, the silence around the genocide has been broken, and Indonesians are openly discussing how today's regime of corruption and fear is built on a mountain of corpses.

"We thank the Ecumenical Jury for this prize: it is an important contribution to our effort to break the silence. In itself, this award exposes lies that have, for so long, been used to justify crimes against humanity, to stigmatize survivors, to keep people afraid."

At the time of writing on Sunday, the official website of "The Act of Killing" could not be accessed in Indonesia.

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