Thousands of officials and politicians across the country, including 200 executives of state companies, are currently embroiled in corruption investigations, as the government escalates its fight against graft to promote good governance.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
February 10, 2006
Jakarta – The government and lawmakers have agreed on a plan to revise the 2003 Law on Terror before ratifying two international conventions aimed at strengthening national efforts to root out terrorism.
Ibrahim Zuhdhy Fahmy Badoh, Jakarta – Every year, from November to December, the budgeting process in local governments enters its final stages. Intensive negotiations take place in drafting the next year's budget between local executives and legislative councils. Both sides try to get the best possible outcome, supposedly in the interests of the people they represent.
Muninggar Sri Saraswati, Jakarta – The Indonesian media received a welcome gift for National Press Day on Thursday, when the Supreme Court cleared Tempo weekly chief editor Bambang Harymurti of defaming businessman Tomy Winata.
Gede Suardana, Bali – The controversy over the draft law (RUU) on pornography is growing stronger. Bali has explicitly declared that it rejects the draft law because it will damage Bali's economy if tourists can no longer sunbathe on the beaches of Kuta.
Riyadi Suparno, Bandung – The planned launch of Playboy Indonesia and the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad by European newspapers are two issues that could affect press freedoms in Indonesia, journalists say.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has written to the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao calling for a veto of the penal code proposed by the Government of Timor-Leste criminalising defamation which is due to be promulgated in two days time.
Dili – An inquiry commission began hearings Friday on the complaints of hundreds of East Timorese soldiers who went AWOL to protest alleged discrimination and ill-treatment by commanders.
Several groups of demonstrators vied Thursday with people lining the streets in Bandung, West Java, to get the attention of visiting President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
February 9, 2006
Leony Aurora and Anissa S. Febrina, Jakarta – The question of agreements on power prices between the business sector and state electricity firm PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) is irrelevant as the law provides that it is the government that determines tariffs.
Ann Harrison – The citizens of East Timor who perished during Indonesia's brutal 24-year occupation of their tiny island nation might have died unaccounted for – as many civilians do in military conflicts around the world. But a group of determined programmers and statisticians refused to let that happen.
Dili – Most of the 400 East Timorese soldiers protesting against alleged discrimination bowed to President Xanana Gusmao's ultimatum to return to barracks and dispersed early Thursday from around the presidential palace.
Cirebon – Environmentalists blame illegal sand mining for recent floods that damaged thousands of hectares of paddy fields and houses in the West Java towns of Cirebon and Indramayu.
"Rivers can no longer accommodate rainwater, inundating paddy field and residential areas," Yoyon Suharyono of the Foundation for Workers and the Environment said Tuesday.
Achmad Sukarsono, Jakarta – Police and media in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, are too lax in their treatment of radical Islamic groups and their violence, a leading moderate Islamic cleric said on Thursday.
Bill Guerin, Jakarta – Playboy magazine, which was due to make its debut in Indonesia next month, is at the center of a growing anti-pornography debate in Indonesia.
The uproar over the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad has yet to blow over. Violent protests continue, while even more editors decide to reprint the pictures, and as the list of casualties rises.
Ridwan Max Sijabat, Pematang Siantar, Jakarta – When the recruiter passed through the small village in North Sumatra promising young women good-paying jobs in Malaysia, "Salma" seized what she thought was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to achieve the future she always dreamed of, for herself and her family.
Indra Harsaputra, Surabaya – Bending to pressure, the governor of East Java recently revised the monthly minimum wage, but the move failed to please either workers or businesspeople in the province.
With both sides unhappy, it is almost inevitable that more protests will be held in a province that has seen a number of violent labor actions in recent months.
Tiarma Siboro and Muninggar Sri Saraswati, Jakarta – President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has come to the defense of opposition legislators after the police monitored parties probing the government's policy on rice imports.
Mustaqim Adamrah, Jakarta – Greenomics, a local non-governmental organization supporting good forestry governance, has warned the government that the devastating floods affecting many parts of Java are likely to continue in the future.
Jakarta – Although most of the nation's political parties declare their opposition to the enforcement of sharia, inconsistencies in what is said and done seem to rule in regions where Islamic law has been adopted into bylaws.
Some 20 ships loaded with illegally cut logs and sawn timber are docked outside Tanjung Balai Karimun Customs Office in Riau Islands province.
The ships were detained by the customs office while attempting to smuggle their illegal cargo into Malaysia and Singapore, the head of the office, Bambang Prasodjo, told The Jakarta Post.
February 8, 2006
Sarah Stephen – Greens Senator Kerry Nettle received a warm welcome when she finally managed to get to Christmas Island on January 28-30 to visit the 43 West Papuan asylum seekers and a family of West Timorese being held there.
What the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten did in September was absurd. It failed to exercise self-restraint or consider what is fit to print. Publishing 12 cartoons degrading the Prophet Muhammad was certain to enrage Muslims, most of whom believe any visual depiction of the Prophet is forbidden.
Dili – President Xanana Gusmao sent copies Wednesday of the East Timorese Truth Commission's report on a quarter century of human rights violations and crimes against humanity, mostly committed under Indonesian occupation, to foreign embassies, international institutions and human rights groups.
Tiarma Siboro, Jakarta – Activists grouped in the Aceh Network for Democracy have demanded an rewrite of the Aceh governance bill, which they say accommodates Jakarta's interests more than those of the Acehnese.
Peter Short, Perth – "The voice of West Papua must be heard, it has been silenced for 45 years", West Papua solidarity activist Ned Byrne told a crowd of 140 people who packed into Fremantle's Kulcha venue on January 31.
Dili – Hundreds of East Timorese troops who gathered outside Dili's presidential palace Wednesday to demand the dismissal of a senior commander have left the complex and will meet President Xanana Gusmao later today to discuss their grievances, officials said.
Abdul Khalik, Jakarta – Despite the police crackdown on what they term "porn", prospective buyers of erotica, be it cheesecake magazines and tabloids or hard-core VCDs, can still find what they are looking for if they know where to look.
Jon Lamb – Journalists and human-rights organisations within East Timor and internationally are increasingly concerned about the consequences of a new penal code on defamation, which includes the penalty of up to three years' imprisonment for defaming a public figure. Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri signed an executive decree approving the proposed law in December.
Jakarta – Indonesia will miss a deadline to move tens of thousands of people made homeless by the 2004 tsunami into temporary houses because of problems obtaining timber, a senior government official said on Wednesday.
Paul Kingsnorth – "Tomorrow," said Galile, "I will take you to the Bird of Paradise. We know where they live. You will hear them, and maybe see them too. They are very beautiful."
Hugh White – In Jakarta, they fear that one of their worst nightmares may be coming to life. For years, Indonesians who know Australia have worried about what happens if the simmering independence movement in West Papua starts to catch the attention and sympathy of the wider Australian community. They fear a repetition of East Timor.
Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta – The prospect of a strike by tourist industry workers could not come at a worse time for the country, an Indonesian Tourism Council official says.
"This is not the right time. Bali's occupancy rates are less than 30 percent," deputy chairwoman of the tourism council Meity Robot said Tuesday.
Abdul Khalik and Muninggar Sri Saraswati, Jakarta – A police decision to investigate members of two political parties opposed to the government's policy of importing rice from Vietnam was slammed by lawmakers Tuesday.
Jakarta – Foreign companies will soon receive guidelines on seeking military protection for their operations in Indonesia, the defense minister said Monday.
All payments to the military should be voluntary and made through a civilian agency, not directly to soldiers or police, Juwono Sudarsono said, citing regulations that could be complete "as early as next week."
February 7, 2006
Bandung, Semarang, Surabaya – Despite calls for restraint, protests intensified in the country's main cities Monday over the publication in European media of caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
Protesters in most of the cities decried what they considered the use of freedom of the press to justify insulting Islam.
Jakarta – Despite record 2005 export earnings, a closer look at the trade statistics suggests the country's manufacturers are having a tough time competing overseas, particularly against more efficient manufacturers from other countries in the region.
Robin McDowell, Jakarta – Soon after scientists landed by helicopter in the mist-shrouded mountains of one of Indonesia's most remote provinces, they stumbled on a primitive egg-laying mammal that simply allowed itself to be picked up and brought to their field camp.
Jakarta – Police officers involved in the crackdown on obscene materials in the capital are not second guessing themselves on whether covers of local adult magazines and tabloids qualify as smut or art. It only takes the showing of skin for a publication to fall foul of the law.
Carla Bianpoen, Contributor, Jakarta – Both the Helsinki Accord and the BRR (Aceh and Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency) are failing to include women, says Samsidar, Nobel Prize candidate, special rapporteur on Violence against Women, and chair of the Aceh Women Volunteers for Humanity (RPuK).
Jakarta – Indonesia's foreign debt has many people seriously worried. Most fear the country may never be able to escape the debt trap it has fallen into, which they say prevents it from using its resources for promoting development and better public welfare.
M Isma & Saiful Bahri, Banda Aceh – Demonstrations "opposing" the Home Affairs Department's revisions to the Draft Law on a Government for Aceh (RUU-PA) are continuing and spreading.
Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU) entered into a collaborative arrangement Monday to eliminate corruption and unfair competition in government and state-enterprise procurements.
Jakarta – Activists and economists are outraged at Indonesian plans to cut a swathe through one of the world's largest remaining areas of pristine rain forest to create a massive Chinese-funded palm oil plantation.
February 6, 2006
Greg Roberts – The number of people crossing illegally from the Indonesian province of West Papua into Australia may be much greater than was thought.
Jakarta – Activists from several NGOs dealing with women's issues on Saturday came out against the much-debated pornography bill, which they claimed would repress women.
The bill, which was drafted in part to protect women from exploitation, would have the opposite effect of placing limits on women's expression and freedoms, the activists said.
Muninggar Sri Saraswati, Jakarta – The House of Representatives has yet to start deliberating the bill on Aceh's future governance but opposition and criticism of its contents have already been voiced.
Apriadi Gunawan, Medan – At least 200 officials at state-owned companies (BUMNs) are being investigated for their alleged involvement in graft and abuse of authority, State Minister for State Enterprises Sugiharto said Saturday.
The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) has urged Xanana Gusmao, President of Timor-Leste, to veto the criminal defamation provisions contained in the country's new Penal Code.