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Indonesia News Digest 9 – March 1-7, 2011

West Papua

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West Papua

DAP: Papua on the brink of genocide

Tabloid JUBI - March 4, 2011

The chairman of DAP, the Papuan Traditional Council, Forkorus Yaboisembut, is reported as saying that the process of elimination of the Melanesian Race which is currently turning the indigenous Papua people into a minority in their own homeland does not yet fall within the definition of genocide. But it is the intention of the Indonesian State to bring the indigenous Papuan People to the brink of genocide.

"It cannot be said that, according to the definition of genocide, that is what is happening, but the situation is moving in that direction," he said.

He said that the growth in the indigenous population has not increased at all, as compared with what has been happening in Papua New Guinea. "At the time of Papua's integration into the Republic of Indonesia, the indigenous population (OAP) numbered around 800,000, whereas in PNG it was 900,000."

Since then, the population of PNG has increased to 7.7 million or more, which is out of all comparison with the growth of the OAP who now number 1.8 million.

If there had been no discriminatory measures against the OAP, this would have grown to 6 million. This lower growth is partly also due to several government programmes, such as the Family Planning Programme and the transmigration programme. Added to this is is spread of HIV/AIDS which is undermining the growth potential of indigenous Papuans.

On top of all that, he said, from 1969 until the fall of Suharto in 1998, Papua was a Military Operations Zone (DOM). And now what it happening is the continual violation of human rights.

He accused the Central Statitics Bureau (BPS) of publishing data that does not conform with the reality in Papua. He said that this data serves the interests of the Indonesian state while victimising the OAP.

"The BPS's intention is to show that there is no such thing as genocide occurring in Papua, They have even been claiming that the indigenous Papuans still comprise the majority in this part of the country."

He also referred to the UN Convention on Genocide which defines genocide as the intentional, systematic elimination of an ethnic group.

DAP wants dialogue, not constructive communications

Tabloid JUBI - March 4, 2011

Responding to recent moves to hold a dialogue between Jakarta and Papua, the chairman of DAP, the Papuan Traditional Council, Forkorus Yaboisembut, said that such a dialogue will not be acceptable if it takes the form of constructive communications.

"Dialogue between Jakarta and Papua must be mediated by a neutral, international party. There is no such thing as a dialogue between the Indonesian government and the Papuan people being held within the Indonesian Republic," he said.

He said that the offer of construction communications as recently suggested by the Indonesian government can only be to talk about something like development because it would only be attended by district chiefs, the provincial legislative assembly (DPRP), the governor and the MRP.

What the Papuan people want is a dialogue at an international level, not a dialogue within the framework of OTSUS or Special Autonomy. He said that a neutral, internationally mediated dialogue would be able to fully accommodate all the basic problems in Papua.

"Those who participate in the dialogue would carry with them the Kejora – Morning Star Flag – not some plastic party membership card. This isn't what we want."

He went on to say that the Papuan people have full confidence in the Papuan Peace Network – Jaringan Damai Papua – to make all the preparations for such a dialogue to take place.

He said that the dialogue would deal with a number of problems in Papua such as marginalisation, discrimination, the failure of development, the violation of basic human rights and the contradictory views of the Indonesian government and the Papuan people about the history of Papua.

"In order to deal with all these questions, there must be a dialogue that is mediated by a third, neutral party, not constructive communications," he said.

Interview: Does West Papua have a publicity problem?

New Matilda - March 3, 2011

Marni Cordell – Protests in North Africa have sparked renewed interest in citizens' rights – and media coverage has helped. So why do we still overlook serious government oppression just a few hundred kilometres to our north? Marni Cordell reports.

"In my opinion, what's happening in West Papua amounts to genocide, both physical and cultural," says Akihisa Matsuno, a professor at the Osaka School of International Public Policy who specialises in Indonesia. "At the very least we have to say this is a crime against humanity in terms of a systematic annihilation of the civilian population that is intentional, widespread and ongoing."

"But Indonesia is different from Burma, which is a sort of pariah state, or North African countries which we know are despotic," he told New Matilda. "In Indonesia the president looks okay, he's not a dictator, he's just an ordinary president heading an ordinary developing country, so it is more difficult for people to condemn him."

Professor Matsuno visited Sydney last week to speak at Comprehending West Papua, a conference organised by the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at Sydney University and attended by many of the prominent figures in West Papua's long-running campaign for independence.

Despite the renewed interest in rights abuses on the other side of the globe, the conference attracted very little media attention. And yet it's a lack of international attention that Matsuno believes has allowed the situation in West Papua to reach breaking point.

"West Papua is one of the very few areas in world where foreign mass media – or even domestic mass media – have no access. The others are probably Tibet and Xinjiang in China. And this is happening at a time when free media is flourishing in other parts of Indonesia, so people really aren't aware of what's going on there."

"This is why the world doesn't know how unsustainable the situation on ground in West Papua really is, and in turn why the Indonesian Government doesn't want the media to have access – because the Indonesian Government is afraid for the world to know."

In a thought-provoking presentation, Professor Matsuno told conference delegates that those calling for independence in West Papua should be publicising the dire situation in the province right now to support their claims, rather than revisiting past injustices and drawing on international covenants that protect the universal right to self-determination.

"Usually arguments for independence in West Papua address the past issues, and these arguments are still valid and correct," he said. "But I think we have to add a new dimension to the argument, and that is the unsustainability of the situation in West Papua right now: the human rights abuses, the lack of economic development, the malnutrition, HIV/AIDS and more."

"If you talk about the past 40 years then the situation with human rights in West Papua is really serious, it is one of the biggest tragedies in our time. We don't know exactly how many people have died – some people say 300,000, some half a million – but the fact that we don't know is neglectful in itself."

International opinion on self-determination is changing, Matsuno told the conference, and this can be seen clearly in recent international examples. Kosovo's secession from Serbia, for example, was seen not as a right, but as a remedy to an unsustainable situation. Matsuno said this is an important distinction.

"In retrospect, we must say that... the territorial integrity of Serbia was neglected [and that] the protection of the people in Kosovo apparently had more weight", he said.

Matsuno believes this is highly relevant to Indonesia's claims to West Papua. "If this interpretation is right, the world now tends to see the issue of self-determination not in terms of its original legality alone but more in terms of contemporary situations of functioning morality within the state borders," he said.

"I think the implications of this for West Papua are rather clear if this is right."

However, he warns a major obstacle to international support for West Papuan self-determination will be the history of UN involvement in the issue. "Historically, the UN recognised the incorporation of West Papua into Indonesia, it is a stain on the UN's record, so it is very difficult to get the issue back on the political agenda in the UN because everyone feels guilty," he said. "If there is no strong movement like that happening in North Africa now, it will be difficult to get it back on the agenda."

From within West Papua, support for independence is widespread and resistance to Indonesia's rule takes many forms, from armed guerilla-style, to the simple act of raising the Morning Star flag, an offence that carries a jail term of up to 20 years.

"When I travelled there a number of years ago I felt very strong support for independence among the people – from the young to the very old," says Matsuno. "Even when I spoke to public figures in universities or government, they couldn't say explicitly [that they supported it], but I could feel they were so frustrated with the situation on the ground."

"The real obstacle to getting the situation in West Papua back on the public agenda is that no one knows just how bad the situation really is. Ideally we, the international community, should pay much more attention, but that is too abstract when people don't really know what's going on there."

"West Papuans are losing the information war," says Matsuno, and by blocking all media access, Indonesia is clearly winning. As such, they and their supporters need to "step up efforts to get information out in any way possible", and make use of social media to disseminate and organise.

"We should set up internet connections for example, encourage Facebook and Twitter – all of the new technology we are witnessing in North Africa at the moment." "Strategically, we all need to think about how we can win this information battle."

Papua Coalition opposes Indonesian observer application to MSG

Radio New Zealand International - March 2, 2011

A Papuan pro-independence alliance is calling for Indonesia's application for observer status at meetings of the Melanesian Spearhead Group to be declined.

The West Papua National Coalition for Liberation's Secretary General says Indonesia's application will be considered when the MSG meets at the end of the month. Rex Rumakiek says the application is a bid to crush his organisation.

"That will end our efforts, our successful efforts to get the MSG to support our case to the United Nations. Indonesia should not be allowed to be a member or even observer of Melanesian Spearhead Group because that is only against the basic principles from which this body was established."

Rex Rumakiek says if Indonesia's application is approved, the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation will apply to the MSG for full membership.

Paniai regional OPM commander arrested, according to police

Bintang Papua - March 1, 2011

John Magai Yogi who is said to be the commander of the TPN/OPM in the district of Paniai and who has for some time been on the police 'Wanted' list, has been arrested by the police in Nabire. He was arrested along with one of his men named Usak Gawe.

The arrest came after a police officer became suspicious about a passenger on a flight from Enarotali who left the plane at Nabire on Monday, 28 February and refused to be searched on arrival at the airport. He reported resisted being searched and tried to run away but was arrested at the terminal.

Police chief Wachyono later confirmed the arrest and said that the arrest came after sweepings had been conducted by the police in the area.

The police claim to have found some ammunition in Yogi's bag. After seeing that he had refused to be searched and even tried to flee, he was chased. He tried to prevent his bag from being searched, but when it was searched, it was found to contain Rp 80 million, an army helmet and thirty bullets – Rev cal 3.8 spec.

Yogi was subsequently taken to the police command office for questioning. Wachyono later said that the two men would be taken to police HQ in Jayapura where they will be detained.

Human rights & law

Corporations must also be held liable for rights violations

Kompas - March 4, 2011

Jakarta – The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) is pushing for corporations, both national and multi-national, to be deemed as parties that can also be held liable for human rights violations.

Up until now, Komnas HAM has faced difficulties when it has to summon corporations as parties guilty of gross human rights violations. Yet the violations committed by corporations are no less serious than when the perpetrators are the state or social groups.

Komnas HAM deputy chairperson Nur Kholis revealed that in 2008 corporations were ranked second place as the parties most reported to Komnas HAM. The crimes committed by corporations moreover are broader in scale in terms of the number of victims.

In first place for institutions reported to Komnas HAM is the police with as many as 1,106 cases followed by corporations or companies with as many as 748 cases. "Komnas HAM wants to push for corporations, as violators of gross human rights violations, to be acted against also. Corporate crimes usually result in larger numbers of victims of human rights violations", said Kholis in Jakarta on Thursday March 3.

ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) chairperson Rafendi Djamin said that it is time for corporations, particularly those operating in Third World countries such as Indonesia, to also be liable if human rights violations that occur in their operational area. (BIL)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Indonesian police say alleged gang rape of teen 'unforgivable'

Agence France Presse - March 3, 2011

Indonesian police said on Thursday that four officers would be charged over the "unforgivable" gang rape of a 15-year-old girl in Papua province.

The officers, along with three civilians, allegedly took turns raping the girl in a house in Biak city in February, Papua provincial spokesman Wachyono told AFP.

"We have completed our investigations. Some of the suspects confessed to the rape, some didn't," he said. "But we have spoken to witnesses and collected enough evidence to show they were guilty of rape and we'll be taking the case to court."

Local media reported that the men locked the teenager in a room and raped her repeatedly over a period of days. She was beaten if she resisted and lost consciousness as a result of the abuse.

"The officers committed a grave wrongdoing, a violation that is unforgivable and uncondonable and deserving of severe punishment. They have sullied the good name of the national police," Wachyono said.

Police are also investigating the alleged rape of a Papuan women who was forced to give oral sex to officers while she was being held in custody in the Papuan provincial capital of Jayapura.

Three police officers are suspected of raping the married woman on multiple occasions between November and January, while she was being held for alleged gambling. Local media reported that she had tried to kill herself during the ordeal.

"The victim's family have lodged a police report so we're starting criminal charges against the officers," Wachyono said, adding that the suspects were being "made to stand in the sun" as punishment.

"At the moment, the officers are receiving disciplinary sanction. They are being detained for 21 days, made to stand in the sun and have had their promotions delayed," he said.

Jayapura city police chief Imam Setiawan resigned on Tuesday over the case, a rare move by a senior officer in a police force that is notorious for corruption and torture of detainees.

Indonesian security forces are frequently accused of rights violations in Papua, which has seen a low-level insurgency by poorly-armed rebels since its incorporation into Indonesia in the 1960s.

Human rights activists and the United Nations say Indonesian police regularly torture and beat suspects in custody, while extortion is rife throughout the country's prisons.

President calls for review of discriminatory bylaws

Jakarta Globe - March 3, 2011

Camelia Pasandaran – President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday demanded a review of the increasing numbers of discriminatory bylaws being enacted by regional governments throughout Indonesia. The bylaws relate to the treatment of women and religion.

Linda Gumelar, the minister for women's empowerment and child protection, quoted Yudhoyono as saying the central government should not only focus on eradicating unfair regional taxation or economic laws, but also evaluate "discriminatory" social and cultural legislation.

The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) says that discriminatory laws that limited women's rights to free expression and gainful employment rose from 154 in 2010 to 189 in 2010.

Commission member Andy Yentriyani, speaking during a news conference after meeting Yudhoyono at the Presidential Office, said the figure did not include three new regional laws enacted against the Ahmadiyah sect, which is being actively persecuted.

Linda said most of the laws were found in the province of Aceh and municipality of Tangerang on the outskirts of Jakarta.

Women in Tangerang caught outside alone after midnight were considered prostitutes, she said.

In South Pesisir district, West Sumatra, teachers and students at high schools must wear Islamic clothing, while Ahmadi women suffer a higher degree of oppression than those from state-recognized religions.

The United Nations Development Program Gender-Related Development Index, released in March, places Indonesia in 96th position out of 109 countries.

Linda said her ministry would evaluate the bylaws in conjunction with the Justice and Human Rights Ministry, Komnas Perempuan and lead agency the Home Affairs Ministry.

The process would begin in March and involve speaking to the individual local governments, she said, adding it was hoped the process would be finished by the end of the year.

"We will start it this March, we will review the most flaw bylaw, but we will hear the opinion of the local government," Linda said. "Many of the districts bylaws limited the rights of women as citizen."

The output of the team will be submitted to the Home Affairs Ministry. The team is targeted to finish the work by the end of the year.

Citizen group challenges government with 'more humane' draft bill

Jakarta Post - March 3, 2011

Ina Parlina – A coalition of NGOs has challenged the government with its own version of the state secrecy bill, saying this one was more "humane" and the government's one posed a threat to democracy, human rights and the people's rights to public information.

On Feb. 28, the coalition of civil society and the Institute of Defense Security and Peace Studies (IDSPS) launched a draft, called the Secrets of Strategic Information for National Security, or Riskan, as opposition to the 2010 government version of the state secrecy bill drafted by the Defense Ministry.

In 2009, the same coalition rallied against the 2008 government version. After the House of Representatives agreed to postpone its deliberation, the then defense minister Juwono Sudarsono stated that his office would consult the organizations in its revision of the 2008 draft.

The coalition, however, was not happy with the new draft. It said the draft still put "too broad" a definition on what state secrecy was, raising the coalition's concern that it might still pose a great threat to the citizens.

"It's only slightly different," executive director of the IDSPS Mufti Makaarim told The Jakarta Post on Wednesda.y. "So we came up with a more civilized version as a middle ground, which recognizes both state secrets and human rights."

The team includes academicians and human rights activists.

Mufti also questioned the objective behind the government's draft, whether it was to protect the state or the people. "Don't forget that national security also belongs to the public," he added.

A defense researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) who is also in the team, Jaleswari Pramodhawardani, is of the same opinion as Mufti, saying that it possibly violated human rights. "The government's draft is obviously too broad and to some extent could be misused," she said.

The government's version regulates that any citizen found responsible of leaking state secrets may face up to 20 years' imprisonment and a maximum fine of Rp 5 billion. During a state of war, a citizen could face the death penalty or serve a lifetime in jail.

Riskan's draft stipulates only the state officials who manage the information is subjected to imprisonment of up to 10 years or 1 billion fines.

Another issue is that the government version uses "any citizen", while Riskan uses "state officials". If information is leaked, there is supposed to be the actor who leaks it and a party who receives it.

With its broad and vague definition on state secrets, the government's draft also threatens press freedom, the coalition believed.

The coalition touted Riskan as offering protection to journalists who were working for the public interest as specified by the press law.

Effendy Choiri from the House's Commission I, which is slated to deliberate the bill later this year, said that such feedback from the coalition was good in terms of improvement for the country.

However, he refused to comment on which version was better, saying that both sides had different perceptions. "Civil society tries to protect citizens while the government's approach is more about national security," he said.

Activists urge new legal steps against former spy chief over Munir's murder

Jakarta Globe - March 2, 2011

Heru Andriyanto – Activists on Tuesday said the Attorney General's Office should now have enough ammunition to launch further legal action against former top intelligence official Muchdi Purwoprandjono, who two years ago was acquitted of charges of ordering the murder of renowned rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

"We demand that the AGO lodge a case review request [to the Supreme Court] because they now have secured new evidence against... Muchdi," said Rizki, the coordinator of a group of protesters outside the AGO office who called themselves Sahabat Munir (Munir's Friends).

Rizki said the new evidence included a recorded telephone conversation between Muchdi and Pollycarpus Priyanto, a former pilot who has been convicted of fatally poisoning Munir on a Garuda Indonesia flight bound to Amsterdam in September 2004.

Retired Army General Muchdi was the deputy chief of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) when Munir was murdered. Prosecutors accused him of ordering the murder to avenge Munir's strong criticism of the Army's elite Special Forces unit Kopassus for allegedly kidnapping and murdering rights activists. Muchdi, now a politician, was also a former Kopassus commander.

Prosecutors showed evidence of call data records between Muchdi and Pollycarpus in the days before and after the murder but failed to provide the recorded conversations.

However, the South Jakarta District Court acquitted Muchdi of all charges due to a lack of evidence on New Years Eve in 2008 and the verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court.

"In a subsequent discussion with police and prosecutors, we were told that they had secured the recorded phone chats that could be used as a 'last weapon' against Muchdi in the case review," said Usman Hamid, who replaced Munir as the chairman of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) after the murder.

A presidentially appointed fact-finding team that worked independently of police has already accused Muchdi of masterminding Munir's murder and recruiting Pollycarpus as his accomplice.

Another key consideration that could help prosecutors in the case review proposal was the recent Supreme Court ruling that convicted national carrier Garuda of negligence and ordered the airline and other respondents to pay Rp 3.5 billion ($400,000) in damages to Munir's widow, Suciwati, the group said.

"The negligence of Garuda Indonesia has been uncovered through a retroactive appointment letter for Pollycarpus [to join the flight]. Linking this to the court verdict that convicted Pollycarpus of murdering Munir, it is certain that Garuda's negligence has been intentional," Rizki said.

"Pollycarpus left for Singapore [on the same flight as Munir] on BIN's recommendation with the mission of murdering Munir."

Pollycarpus, who is serving 20 years in jail, was an off-duty pilot on the day of the murder. He was found guilty of administering a lethal dosage of arsenic into Munir's drink, reportedly during a stopover in Singapore.

Sahabat Munir also demanded that, this time around, the AGO form a team of "credible and professional" prosecutors to pursue the final legal avenue against Muchdi.

In the previous trial, the prosecution was led by controversial prosecutor Cirus Sinaga, who is now a suspect linked to the major graft scandal of former taxman Gayus Tambunan.

Police chief resigns in wake of oral sex scandal

Jakarta Globe - March 2, 2011

Banjir Ambarita, Jayapura – Jayapura Police Chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Imam Setiawan resigned on Tuesday in the wake of criticism over a recent scandal in which three of his officers forced a female detainee to perform oral sex on them.

Imam said he had made the decision because the "moral responsibility" for the incident rested with him. He apologized to the family of the victim and to the public in general for his failure to prevent the assault.

"As the chief of the Jayapura Police force, I hold full responsibility for the immoral acts of my three subordinates," he said. "That's the consequence of being the leader. I consider myself to have failed in my duty, and am hence resigning my post."

Imam also apologized to the public for the officers' actions, which he said were an aberration of the police paradigm to protect and serve. "As the Jayapura Police chief, I wholeheartedly apologize for my men's shameless actions, both to the public and to the family of the victim."

The scandal came to light last month when a female detainee now being held at Abepura Penitentiary revealed that she had been forced to fellate three officers over a three-month period while in remand at the Jayapura Police's detention center.

The prisoner, identified only as Bunga, told the Jakarta Globe that the incidents occurred between November and January when she was being held for illegal gambling.

The officers in question have since been sentenced to 21 days in jail and been slapped with administrative sanctions, including a delay of promotion.

Imam said that while he had faced criticism over the relatively light punishment, he was not in a position to mete out harsher punishment.

"Unless someone from the family, like the woman's husband, comes forward to press charges against the officers, I remain powerless to bring criminal charges against them," he said. "But if they do come forward, I will ensure that the officers face the full extent of the law."

Budi Setianto, a Papua-based legal rights advocate, said Imam should not have resigned but should have resolved the scandal by imposing stronger sentences on the perpetrators.

"If he really wanted to shoulder responsibility in the case, he should have stayed on to ensure justice for the victim by punishing the perpetrators to the full extent of the law," he said.

Husband reports prison abuse to human rights watchdog

Jakarta Globe - March 2, 2011

Banjir Ambarita – The family of a female detainee who was forced to perform oral sex on three officers at the Jayapura Police's detention center has reported the case to the National Commission for Human Rights.

Munandar, the detainee's husband, on Tuesday filed the report to the commission's Papua office at Jalan Soa Siu, Jayapura – He met with the commission's official Frits Ramandey.

"The commission's stance is clear. We will monitor the steps taken by the police to investigate the case, and now that the family has officially lodged a report, we will push the police to process the case," Frits said, adding that had advised the family to file a report to the police.

"We have suggested the family file an official report to the police so that the perpetrators can be legally prosecuted," he said.

The scandal emerged last month when Munandar's wife, now being held at Abepura Penitentiary, revealed she was forced to perform oral sex over a three-month period while in remand at the Jayapura Police's detention center for illegal gambling. The incidents occurred between November and January.

The officers in question were sentenced to 21 days in jail and slapped with administrative sanctions, including delay of promotions. Jayapura's police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Imam Setiawan resigned on Tuesday in the wake of mounting criticism over the scandal.

Munandar said he heard about the incident through the media. "I was shocked when I learned what had happened to my wife, I couldn't face the reality [of what had happened]," he said.

Munandar said he frequently visited his wife at the Jayapura Police's detention center and Abepura Penitentiary, but he did not know what actually happened behind bars.

"Once when I visited my wife, I saw three officers were being punished. They were put on top of a truck under the hot sun but I didn't know why," he said, adding that the officers were familiar to him.

"When my children and I visited my wife, I always see them hanging around in the cell block," he said,

He also recalled another incident when his wife was rushed to hospital after attempting suicide. "My wife had never told me about this even when she overdosed on slimming pills. What they did is immoral and very painful for my family. The perpetrators must be punished," he said between sobs.

Freedom of expression & press

Press council hits police claims over reporter's murder

Jakarta Globe - March 7, 2011

Heru Andriyanto – The Press Council is warning that misleading information in the investigation into the murder of a television journalist have caused prosecutors to demand a much too lenient eight-month sentence for the suspects.

The council dismissed police suggestions that Ridwan Salamun, a contributor for Jakarta-based Sun TV who was killed last year during a clash between residents of Fiditan village in Tual, southeast Maluku, took part in the violence.

"At that time, he was doing his journalistic job," said Bambang Harymurti, deputy chairman of the council, contradicting the police version of the story that the defendants were attacked by the victim with a machete and acted in self-defense.

Bambang's statements came after a visit to the Attorney General's Office to argue against the lenient sentence request. He said Ridwan was found with his camera beside his body, a clear indication that he was present at the scene to cover a story.

"The attorney general regretted the findings that came a little bit too late because the case was already on trial and prosecutors worked based on police documents," Bambang said.

"We initially thought that everything would be fine as the local police chief said the crime was punishable by 12 years in jail. So it was a surprise to hear that prosecutors demanded only eight months," he added.

Insany Syahbarwati, from the Maluku Media Center, said police might have breached their procedures when officers at the scene failed to come to Ridwan's aid following the attack.

"During the clash, there were only four officers at the scene and they let Ridwan lie on the ground for two hours, without any attempt to evacuate him," she said.

"That makes us suspicious of an attempt to cover the negligence by inventing the story that Ridwan was also among the suspects involved in the clash, [and] not on journalistic duties."

Insany said she had handed photographs from the crime scene to the attorney general showing the camera near Ridwan's head and no machete near his body.

AGO spokesman Noor Rachmad said prosecutors' hands were tied because the sentence demand had already been read before the court.

"They should have come to us before the demand was read so we might take the findings into account. What we can do now is to await the court verdict," Noor said.

Amnesty urges government to investigate Papua journalist stabbing

Jakarta Post - March 4, 2011

Jakarta – International rights group Amnesty International has strongly urged the Indonesian government to promptly investigate the stabbing of journalist Banjir Ambarita, which took place in Jayapura on March 3.

Banjir, a journalist for a local newspaper, Bintang Papua, and a regular contributor for two national media outlets, was reportedly stabbed at around 1 a.m. while heading home on his motorcycle.

"Reliable sources told Amnesty International that when he was in front of Jayapura Mayor's office two men on a motorcycle approached him, stabbed him twice in the chest and stomach, and sped off," Amnesty said in a press release sent to The Jakarta Post.

He had managed to ride his motorcycle to the nearest police station. Officers there took him to Marthen Indey Hospital in Aryoko, Jayapura, where he underwent surgery and is still under recovery.

Amnesty also urged the government to "bring the perpetrators to justice in accordance with international fair trial standards" and to "take immediate steps to provide appropriate protection to Banjir Ambarita, according to his wishes".

Banjir recently published stories on two alleged rape cases involving police officers. The first case involved the torture and rape of a 15-year-old girl in Biak by four police officers and three civilians.

The next case involved a woman detainee who was forced to perform oral sex by three police officers over a three-month period from November 2010 to January 2011, at Jayapura Police detention centre in Papua province.

Amnesty urged the government to "initiate an independent investigation into the two reported rape cases".

It also urged the government to take measures to "ensure that all human rights defenders in Papua, including local journalists, can work freely, independently and with full protection from state authorities."

Papua journalist stabbed in Jayapura

Jakarta Globe - March 3, 2011

Papua journalist Banjir Ambarita, was stabbed by unknown assailants in Jayapura on Wednesday night.

Banjir, a local reporter who often contributes to the Jakarta Globe, said he was walking in front of the Jayapura mayor's office when two men on a motorbike approached him and stabbed him twice in the chest and stomach before they sped off. Bleeding, Banjir ran to the nearby police precinct. Police officers took him to Marthen Indey Hospital in Aryoko, Jayapura.

Doctors put him on sedatives because the stab wounds caused him a great pain, said Viktor Mambor, the chairman Alliance of Independent Journalists' (AJI) Jayapura branch.

"We spoke on the phone briefly, Banjir said he was stabbed and was at the hospital," Viktor said. Banjir was waiting for a surgery on Thursday morning.

AJI has spoken to the Papua Police Chief Insp. Gen. Bekto Suprapto and Jayapura Police Chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Imam Setiawan.

"We haven't filed an official report because when we came to the police headquarter this morning, they were in the middle of morning inspection," Viktor said, adding that both police officials were very concerned about the incident.

"The Papua Police and Jayapura Police have formed a joint force to investigate the case," he said.

No light has been shed on either the identity of the assailants or their motives. Banjir's last report was about the sexual abuse on a female detainee at Jayapura Police's Detention Center.

The scandal emerged last month when a female detainee now being held at Abepura Penitentiary revealed she was forced to perform oral sex on three officers during a three-month period while in remand at the Jayapura Police's detention center.

The victim told Banjir that the incidents occurred between November and January, when she was being held for illegal gambling.

On Tuesday, Jayapura Police Chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Imam Setiawan announced his resignation. Imam said he had made the decision because the "moral responsibility" for the incident rested with him, apologizing to the family of the victim and to the public for his failure to prevent the assault.

"As the chief of the Jayapura police force, I hold full responsibility for the immoral acts of my three subordinates," he said.

Police officer attacks journalist in Sulawesi

Jakarta Globe - March 3, 2011

An Indonesian journalist has sustained minor injuries to his arm after being beaten by a police officer in Mamuju, West Sulawesi, on Wednesday.

Policeman Bustam M beat Publik newspaper reporter Awaluddin DP with a rattan stick as he was taking photos of a motorcycle racing on a temporary track in from of the West Sulawesi governor's office.

Awaluddin said the officer was trying to disperse spectators from a dangerous zone. "If I did not ward off Bustam M, my face would have got hurt."

Indonesian journalists remain vulnerable to acts of physical violence despite the governments support of press freedom. In the most recent attack, The Jakarta Globe contributor in Papua, Banjir Ambarita, was stabbed by two unknown assailants in Jayapura on Wednesday night.

Banjir on Thursday was being monitored in intensive care after his surgery, as police begin their investigation into his attack.

On Tuesday, Poso Police arrested three men for alleged attacks on a journalist. Central Sulawesi police spokesman Commissioner Rostin Tumaloto only identified the suspects as An, Al, and Sn.

The three Poso Kota subdistrict residents are among six people suspect of attacking Media Alkhairaat journalist Subandi at Sintuvu Maroso University on Tuesday at 1 p.m. local time, Rostin said.

The Indonesian Press Council recorded 25 cases of violence against journalists during 2010 – including acts of intimidation, destruction of reporting equipment, destruction to media offices and assault. Three Indonesian journalists were murdered last year.

On Aug 21, Ridwan Salamun, a reporter for the Ambon-based newspaper Ambon Express and a contributor for the Jakarta-based SUN TV and RCTI, was hacked to death during a clash between two villages in Southeast Maluku.

The head of Kompas newspaper's Kalimantan bureau, Muhammad Syaifullah, was found dead in mysterious circumstances in his house in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, on July 26. Some journalists believe Syaifullah could have been killed because of his reports on sensitive environmental issues.

That killing followed the July 30 death of Ardiansyah Matra'is, a Papuan reporter with Merauke TV whose body was found in the Gudang Arang River in Merauke two days after he had been reported missing. (Antara, AP, JG)

Politics & political parties

No cure for 'political haggling' at House

Jakarta Post - March 7, 2011

Jakarta – A shake-up of the ruling coalition is no remedy for the ailing relationship among political parties that have exercised transactional maneuvers at the House of Representatives, observers say.

Indonesian Civilized Circle (Lima) director Ray Rangkuti said replacing the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) with the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) would not improve the effectiveness of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's administration. "There will be the same old bargains and political deals," he said Sunday.

Ray said an effective coalition could never exist given the same pragmatic and transactional nature among legislators, meaning that any decision by the coalition would be radically different from what it delivered to the House of Representatives.

Yudhoyono announced plans to reconfigure the coalition that his Democratic Party leads after stating that certain coalition parties had reneged on their commitment to support the government in the executive and legislative branches.

He made the announcement after a bid to create a tax inquiry committee – opposed by the Democratic Party – was narrowly defeated at the House.

It remains unclear if the statement was aimed at the Golkar Party and the PKS, both of who backed calls to form the committee, while other coalition members supported the Democratic Party's stance.

The coalition currently comprises the Democratic Party, the PKS, Golkar, the National Mandate Party (PAN), the United Development Party (PPP) and the National Awakening Party (PKB).

PAN political communications head Bima Arya Sugiarto shared the same concern, saying a reformed coalition would not work effectively if a better framework was not in place to ensure unity.

"Arguments between coalition members are normal, that's democracy. But, when the coalition has decided, then all members must comply with the stance," Bima said.

He said the coalition must carefully choose a replacement for the PKS, should it be ousted.

As of Sunday, the President has not commented on any changes in the coalition, whereas the Democratic Party have voiced plans to replace the PKS with Gerindra while keeping Golkar in the coalition.

Golkar chairman Aburizal Bakrie on Sunday said the coalition's reform plans and Cabinet reshuffle were not his party's concerns.

"Golkar won't dance to their tune. Golkar won't wrangle for power," Aburizal said in a speech at a Golkar event in Jakarta, as reported by news portal vivanews.com. He called on party members to worry on the nation's greater needs.

University of Indonesia political analyst Fachry Ali predicted that Golkar would remain in the coalition given "the good relationship" between Yudhoyono and Aburizal.

"Indonesian politics is still dominated by personal relationships. Yudhoyono has history with Aburizal," he said, referring to the long relationship between both men since Yudhoyono's time in the army.

Golkar outshines other parties in House: Survey

Jakarta Post - March 7, 2011

Jakarta – Lawmakers from the Golkar Party are more competent than their fellow lawmakers at the House of Representatives, a survey concluded.

The survey, carried out by research and consulting institute Ovolution Indonesia, from December 2010 to January 2011, assessed the politicians' communication skills and networking by interviewing 53 legislators.

"Golkar has the most competent members," the institute's Andi Syafrani was quoted as saying by news portal vivanews.com.

He explained that most of the legislators questioned admitted that Golkar politicians were more skilled and better known than lawmakers from other parties.

PKB, PAN, PNBKI, Freedom Party vow loyalty to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

Jakarta Post - March 6, 2011

The Democratic Party has secured a commitment from four ally parties that they will support President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono until 2014.

The four supporting parties are the National Awakening Party, (PKB), the National Mandate Party (PAN), PNBKI and the Freedom Party.

The four parties and the Democratic Party, under the Indonesian Renovation Forum (FRI) called on all Indonesian people to throw supports to Yudhoyono and his Vice President Yudhoyono, so that they can concentrate on implementing the government programs.

"We reject any efforts to topple the government," FRI secretary Mustika Ali Sani said Sunday as quoted by kompas.com on Sunday.

PKS, Golkar excluded from meeting on coalition

Jakarta Post - March 3, 2011

Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta – President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono held a closed-door meeting with heads of coalition political parties, except for the Golkar Party and PKS, amid problems within the government coalition and talks about a possible Cabinet reshuffle.

On Tuesday Yudhoyono accused "one or two parties in the coalition" of violating commitments agreed by the coalition members. Observers believed the President was referring to Golkar and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), which took a different stance to another four members of the coalition on the inquiry committee to probe the tax mafia.

Presidential special staffer on political affairs Daniel Sparringa said the reshuffle would be based on cohesion of the coalition and the performance report of the ministers. "Party ministers have been informed to make them aware of the complexity of the situation," Daniel told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

The reshuffle was expected to take place this month after Yudhoyono received a reply from party heads confirming their final say on whether to remain in the coalition or not.

"I would not be surprised if Yudhoyono sent an important message to leaders of parties in a letter," Daniel said.

Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum confirmed not all party heads in the coalition attended the meeting at the Presidential Palace complex. He said the meeting was to discuss the fate of the coalition. PKS president Luthfie Hasan Ishaaq said as quoted by detik.com that he was not aware about the meeting.

A source close to the President told the Post that Yudhoyono would likely oust PKS from the coalition and its minister seats would be offered to other parties such as the Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra).

The PKS has four seats in the Cabinet: Communications and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring, Agriculture Minister Suswono, Research and Technology Minister Suharna Surapranata and Social Services Minister Salim Segaf Al Jufri.

PKS secretary-general Anis Matta said it would become opposition once PKS was ousted. "Yudhoyono asked us to join the coalition in June 2008 because at that time [his] electability was lower than [Megawati Soekarnoputri]," Anis told reporters on Wednesday. "We took a high level of risk when we decided to support him. If now he wants us out, then by all means."

The Post's source said Yudhoyono would keep Golkar in the coalition because the party had permission to take a different position in the inquiry committee to probe the tax mafia. However, Golkar ministers may experience a shake up, the source said.

Golkar has three ministers: Coordinating Public Welfare Minister Agung Laksono, Industry Ministry M.S. Hidayat and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Fadel Muhammad.

Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa, also National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman, visited the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri on Tuesday night. He met with her husband, Taufiq Kiemas, and their daughter, Puan Maharani, after failing to meet Megawati herself.

Deputy secretary-general of the United Development Party (PPP), Romahurmuziy, said the reshuffle would depend on whether the PDI-P would receive the offer. The coalition consisted of the Democratic Party, Golkar, PKS, PAN, National Awakening Party (PKB) and PPP.

Another lawmaker in hot water after sex video leaks

Jakarta Globe - March 3, 2011

An East Java lawmaker whose sex video has been circulated on the Internet says the video might have been taken from his laptop which he had sold recently.

Iwan Fajarudin, a National Mandate Party (PAN) lawmaker from Purworejo Legislative Council, met with the council chairman on Thursday to discuss the scandal. Iwan said the woman in the video was his wife.

"I have been instructed to find who defamed me and leaked the video of my wife and I," Iwan said, as quoted by news portal Detik.com. "I am still gathering information, but so far it seems that the person who leaked it is someone from the council."

Iwan said he was a victim and that he suspected the video was taken from his laptop, which he had sold recently at a Purworejo mall.

"It was my own recklessness and foolishness for not cleaning the files on the laptop when I sold it, including the ones in the recycle bin. Now the video is being used against me, to topple me," he said, adding that he will file a report to the police and ask them to find the perpetrator.

It is the second such case this week. On Monday, Twitter user @Fahri_Israel uploaded a sex video and claimed it featured Anis Matta, a deputy House speaker from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

Anis lambasted the video as an attempt to undermine his party ahead of the 2014 elections, adding that @Fahri_Israel had consistently attacked the PKS.

Sex tape part of plan to destabilize PKS, Anis claims

Jakarta Globe - March 2, 2011

Markus Junianto Sihaloho – The House of Representatives deputy speaker implicated in the country's latest sex video scandal claims it is a ploy to undermine his party ahead of the 2014 elections.

Anis Matta, from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), made the claim on Tuesday in response to a sex video posted on Twitter on Monday.

The 45-second clip, uploaded by the user "Fahri_Israel," features a naked man and woman engaging in sexual activity. It claims the man is Anis Matta.

However, Anis said this particular user had consistently used the account to attack the PKS. "This is slander," he said. "This is a personal attack against myself as the party's secretary general, and it is directed at the PKS itself."

He declined to say who the owner of the account was or which groups were trying to discredit the party. "It's better for the PKS to make no further comment on such an issue," he said.

Anis said the PKS had been trying to get its members to use social media such as Twitter and Facebook to consolidate its voter base, and he speculated that the sex video might have been uploaded to Twitter in a bid to disrupt the party's use of the medium for campaigning.

Mahfudz Siddiq, deputy secretary general of the PKS, said he and other party officials believed the video might have been posted in retaliation for the party's recent decision to back an ultimately failed bid to launch an inquiry into the tax office.

The PKS and the Golkar Party, both part of the coalition, were accused of breaking ranks with the ruling Democratic Party in pushing for the inquiry, which the Democrats voted against.

"I suspect the video might be related to the PKS's stance to uncover the tax mafia through the inquiry," Mahfudz said.

On Monday evening, the National Police said they were investigating the Twitter account where the video was first posted. "Since it was uploaded on Twitter, we will coordinate with the FBI because the server is located in the United States," a police spokesman said.

He added that police would attempt to determine who had uploaded the video and the identities of the naked man and woman featured in it, all of whom could be charged under the Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE) Law.

Similar sex tapes uploaded to the Internet last year and purported to show rock star Nazril "Ariel" Irham saw the Peterpan frontman sentenced to three and a half years in prison and fined Rp 250 million ($28,500).

Environment & natural disasters

Pollution hot line swamped... with credit card offers

Jakarta Globe - March 2, 2011

Fidelis E. Satriastanti – It has been more than a year since the Environment Ministry set up a system for whistle-blowers to lift the lid on polluting companies, but so far the results have been disappointing.

The system, which allows reports to be sent in by cellphone text message or through a Web site, was launched by the ministry in January 2010 in a bid to give people an avenue to report any activities suspected of violating environmental regulations.

Heddy Mukna, the ministry's assistant deputy for complaints and dispute resolution, said on Tuesday that the system was introduced in response to demands from members of the public who wanted to participate in environmental monitoring.

"The system has been up and running since last year, based on a 2010 ministerial regulation on complaints mechanisms, under which [complaints can] be sent in through physical reports or electronic media," he said.

But so far the ministry has followed up on only 15 text messages and six e-mails, from a total of 322 complaints.

The ministry said only 278 of the complaints related to environmental issues, with the other 44 dealing with issues that did not fall under its authority.

Even then, Heddy said, the ministry could only act on the alleged violations that fell within its jurisdiction, while all other cases had to be forwarded to the relevant authorities.

"The complaints are divided into environmental and non-environmental ones," he said.

"For environmental issues, we have to subdivide them into those that fall under our authority and those that are the responsibility of regional administrations or other authorities.

"The ministry handles things like environmental destruction and pollution, for instance, or oil spills or the erosion of riverbanks. But we also get complaints about land use changes or boundary issues, which fall under the jurisdiction of the Forestry Ministry or the National Land Agency [BPN]."

The procedure for sending complaints via text message seems straightforward. People must identify themselves, describe their complaint and identify the alleged violator, and then send the message to the number, 0811-932-932.

The ministry then calls back to confirm the report and ask the person to fill out a complaint form. If the information can be verified, the person is assigned a unique user ID to log in to the Web site penegakanhukum.menlh.go.id to monitor the development of his or her complaint.

But it is not as straightforward as it seems, said Dendy, an official at the complaints center. Dendy said the text message system was swamped with messages that had nothing to do with environmental issues. "We get messages offering credit cards, loans or even ringtones," he said.

The initial idea, he added, was that the ministry would set up a specific server for the system to block unsolicited junk messages. "But we also have difficulty confirming some of the complaints, in cases where the numbers are no longer active or fake," he said.

Dendy also said people often sent messages asking the ministry to give its employees a raise. As a result, he said, the ministry has only been able to look into 15 of the text message complaints submitted over the past year.

"We get about an average of five text messages a day, but on some days we don't get any," Dendy said.

"We've only been able to follow up on 15 of [the complaints] because not all of them can be confirmed and not all of them fall under our jurisdiction. We've directed some of these complaints to other authorities."

Abetnego Tarigan, director of Sawit Watch, a palm oil industry watchdog, said he had never heard of the complaints center. But center or no center, he said, all that mattered was that authorities enforced prevailing environmental laws.

"It shouldn't be about the quantity of reports, but about preventing violations before they happen, because that's what the [Environment Ministry] is supposed to do," he said.

"It's like the government is just waiting for reports of violations to come in instead of actively preventing those violations."

Timor Sea oil spill investigation still in limbo as coastal impact debated

Jakarta Globe - March 2, 2011

Fidelis E. Satriastanti – Negotiations on damages between the government and the Australian-based oil company responsible for the 2009 Timor Sea oil spill have stalled once again, a senior official said on Tuesday.

In their previous meeting last December, the government and PTTEP Australasia, a subsidiary of Thailand's PTT Exploration and Production, agreed to carry out a joint survey to assess the impact of the disaster on Indonesian fisheries.

Both also agreed to verify the results by the end of February. The spill was the result of a blowout at the Montara platform off the northwest coast of Australia on Aug. 21, 2009.

Masnellyarti Hilman, head of the Indonesian government team negotiating with the company, said the latest falling out had been over whether coastal areas had been affected by the slick.

"We agreed on the fact that fisheries were affected [by the spill] and it was also their basis to check on our claims," she said.

"However, in our claims we also included seaweed, mangroves, coral reefs and seagrasses in the coastal areas as affected areas. This is where the company objected [to Indonesia's claims] because they said our data and their data were different. Their modeling didn't include coastal areas, while ours did."

Masnellyarti said the government was now waiting for the company to verify Indonesia's results on impacts to fisheries before talking about any compensation.

"They're still looking for the methodology to verify the fisheries results," she said. "They were supposed to do the field research in mid- February, but we haven't heard anything yet. They suggested a meeting on March 4, but we can't go, so we proposed March 8."

She added the team's report found that the oil slick from Montara had reached fishing grounds at least 56 miles from coastal areas.

Luechai Wongsirasawad, a spokesman for PTTEP, said the company was still in the process of setting up the field survey team that would comprise Indonesian, Thai and Australian representatives.

"The scope of the survey is being discussed with the [Indonesian government's] advocacy team," he said. "A few meetings already took place between scientists of the advocacy team and PTTEP to verify the data. There are still some areas of disagreement that will require further data gathering and verification."

Luechai also said both sides would have their next meeting very soon to discuss the areas of disagreement. He added the Indonesian government had requested and already received the oil-spill modeling input data from the Australian government to be used to verify the results of its initial model.

Masnellyarti said that at the next meeting, both sides would discuss the company's two options to resolve the deadlock in negotiations.

"The first option is that they will pay the government's expenses and develop corporate social responsibility programs in the affected areas," she said.

"The second option is that they will pay the claims based on [the first model]. We said we want to think about it because we don't want CSR to replace the claims. The other thing that will probably be discussed at the next meeting is the need for a third party to serve as a referee because this is taking too long and there are too many disagreements."

120,000 hectares of Kerinci Seblat National Park destroyed

Jakarta Post - March 1, 2011

Jakarta – Twenty percent of District III of Kerinci Seblat National Park in Bengkulu and South Sumatra has been destroyed by farming and the local administration's construction projects, an official says.

"The destruction of Kerinci Seblat National Park District III is predicted to reach 20 percent of the total 600,000-hectare area," district management division head Donal Hutasoit said on Tuesday in Rejanglebong, Bengkulu, as quoted by Antara news agency.

He cited construction of a road in Bengkulu's Bermani Ulu Raya district, which was currently under police investigation, as one of the causes of the destruction.

Donal added that the destroyed parts of the conservation area mostly bordered with forests available for exploitation.

Health & education

Red tape sees crisis in funding for schools

Jakarta Globe - March 7, 2011

Camelia Pasandaran – Desperate schools in Tangerang have resorted to borrowing money from students and teachers after the district government halted the distribution of operational aid funds in December.

"In my school, we borrow money from students [and their parents], ranging between Rp 2 million to 15 million ($230 to $1,700)," said Salman, a teacher at SDN 1 Parahu in Sukamulya.

"We have no option as we need the money to run the schools' activities, such as teaching aids, evaluations and competitions."

In other schools in the district, he said, activities other than regular classes have been halted in the absence of the school operational aid funds (BOS), which amount to Rp 387,000 per elementary student per year and Rp 500,000 per junior high school student per year.

Schools in Tangerang are not the only ones facing this problem. Out of the 492 districts throughout Indonesia, fewer than 100 have distributed their BOS funds since the start of the year.

The issue goes back to 2006, when the Home Affairs Ministry issued a regulation forbidding the granting of funds from one state institution to another.

But it did not cause a problem until the start of this year, when responsibility for disbursing the BOS funds was transferred from the National Education Ministry to the district governments.

Only 77 districts have so far distributed the funds – which are usually given out monthly – to schools, according to the Home Affairs Ministry. Data from the Education Ministry puts the number a bit higher at 90.

To resolve the issue, the two ministries have issued a joint letter instructing districts to distribute the funds.

But because the number of districts distributing the funds did not significantly increase after the letter was sent out, both ministries had to summon authorities from the local governments and education agencies in the delinquent provinces.

"We told them they had to finish distributing the BOS funds by next week since the money had been transferred to local governments in December," Reydonnyzar Moenek, a Home Affairs Ministry's spokesman, said on Sunday.

But Suyanto, the Ministry of Education's directorate general for higher education, said the real problem was that many schools had not presented proper budget plans, which are required before the funds can be disbursed.

"While we were expecting them to make simple, one-page plans, they made it complicated, giving us 100-page plans," Suyanto said, adding that he believed the problem was just temporary.

Furthermore, Suyanto said his ministry is now drafting a presidential decree to allow faster distribution of BOS by allowing district governments to disregard the 2006 ministerial regulation.

Indonesia's education development index drops

Jakarta Post - March 3, 2011

Jakarta – Indonesia's education development index (EDI) dropped to 69th in 2011, down from its rank of 65th last year.

Based on the 2011 Education For All Global Monitoring Report 2011 titled "The Hidden Crisis, Armed Conflict and Education" released by UNESCO, the country's EDI is 0.934. An EDI is considered high if it is between 0.95 and 1, medium if it is above 0.80 and low if it is below 0.80.

The EDI is compiled from factors including basic education participation, literacy levels in 15-year-olds, gender equality in school participation and the number of students that stay in school until the fifth grade.

Indonesia is below neighboring Brunei Darussalam (34th) and Malaysia (65th), but still better than the Philippines (85th), Cambodia (102nd) and Laos (109th).

Graft & corruption

Interfaith leaders deliver corruption complaints to KPK

Jakarta Globe - March 7, 2011

Elisabeth Oktofani – After accusing the government of spreading lies at the beginning of the year, the same group of religious leaders on Friday urged the nation's antigraft body to investigate a growing number of corruption and abuse of power complaints they had received from the public.

The interfaith group delivered details of those complaints to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and also demanded the antigraft body continue to pursue all leads stemming from the case of former taxman Gayus Tambunan. Gayus was jailed for seven years earlier this year on a graft charge.

Salahuddin "Gus Solah" Wahid, an Islamic leader from Nahdlatul Ulama, told reporters on Friday that while the Gayus case should still be a top priority for the KPK, the commission needed to focus on corruption and extortion by civil servants at the provincial and district level.

"We have received 88 complaints from the public from 13 districts and 26 percent of them are corruption cases," Salahuddin said. "[There are also] extortion cases involving civil servant applicants.

"Other than urging the KPK to investigate Gayus's corruption case, we also urge the KPK to investigate corruption at the provincial level, which might appear as small cases of corruption."

He said some candidates for civil service jobs were allegedly asked to pay bribes to officials in order to have their applications processed.

Effendi Gozali, another member of the interfaith group, called on the KPK to investigate the 149 companies named by Gayus as alleged tax offenders.

Effendi was one of 25 members of the interfaith group to appear at the KPK on Friday, along with Salahuddin, NU deputy chairman Masdar Farid Mashudi and noted Muslim pluralist Ahmad Syafii Maarif.

On Sunday, political analysts said the increasing numbers of people channeling their complaints through religious leaders was a sign of distrust in the government, the legislature and law enforcement agencies.

"Society has lost its trust in the formal institutions such as the legislature and the National Police, which actually should side with the public," said Ari Dwipayana, a political science professor at Yogyakarta's Gadjah Mada University.

"Therefore, nowadays, religious leaders have been taking an important role in society and this should be a warning for the government to improve its performance," he said.

KPK chairman Busyro Muqqodas confirmed to reporters after the Friday meeting that the religious leaders delivered allegations of corruption in 13 districts. He declined to elaborate on the details.

"The visit from the religious leaders to report the allegations on corruption cases which harm society shows that the public trusts us to handle corruption cases in the country," Busyro said.

He also called for the House of Representatives to proceed cautiously during its current revision of the 2002 law on the KPK so as not to weaken the commission's ability to fight corruption.

"I hope the politicians see that the civil society has fully supported the KPK on handling corruption cases," he said

Anggodo's challenge backfires as court doubles down on sentence

Jakarta Globe - March 4, 2011

Nivell Rayda – For corruption convict Anggodo Widjojo, appealing the four-year sentence handed down to him in September likely seems like a bad idea in hindsight.

After his initial challenge was turned down by the Jakarta High Court and increased to five years, an attempt to clear his name at the Supreme Court has only led to the term being doubled.

"The sentence has now been increased to 10 years' imprisonment," Supreme Court Justice Krisna Harahap said at the conclusion of the appeals process on Thursday.

Krisna said the disgraced businessman, who was at the center of a high- profile scandal surrounding the alleged fabrication of bribery charges against two deputies from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), was guilty of attempted bribery and obstruction of justice.

In 2009, Anggodo told investigators from the National Police that he had bribed KPK deputies Bibit Samad Rianto and Chandra M. Hamzah Rp 5.1 billion ($580,000) in exchange for dropping a graft investigation into his brother, Anggoro Widjojo, who remains at large.

The accusation led to the KPK deputies being named suspects by the Attorney General's Office and subsequently suspended, nearly bringing the widely respected antigraft body to a halt.

However, the public airing of a series of wiretapped telephone conversations allegedly between Anggodo and officials at the National Police and AGO revealed that there may have been a high-level conspiracy to frame the commissioners.

The initial four-year jail term for attempted bribery came under widespread public criticism with many saying the sentence was too lenient.

Anggodo's success at getting the Constitutional Court to annul the AGO's decision this year to drop the case against Bibit and Chandra only prompted further public outcry.

This time, the Supreme Court ruling was welcomed by antigraft activists as a breakthrough for the country's legal system.

FBI, KPK strengthen cooperation

Jakarta Post - March 3, 2011

Jakarta – United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director Robert S. Mueller visited the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) office in Jakarta on Wednesday to discuss cooperation between the two institutions for future strategic agreements.

He said that investigating powerful public figures, including state officials, for corruption was never easy. "So partnerships are tremendously important," he said.

KPK chairman Busyro Muqoddas said that he appreciated the visit, adding that he hoped it would strengthen cooperation and joint action in combating corruption.

Cooperation between the KPK and the FBI, which started in November 2008 with the signing of an MoU, includes exchange of information on the methodology of corruption, money laundering and other related crimes; training and courses in terms of intelligence and investigation.

Up to now, successful programs include bilateral meetings to share capacity building between the commission and the FBI, which were held at the FBI office in the US; training on money laundering and counterterrorism in Jakarta; workshop on modern investigation techniques; and training at the FBI Academy for employees of KPK.

30% of regional heads graft suspects

Jakarta Post - March 1, 2011

Jakarta – Of 524 local administration heads across the country, there are 160 who are undergoing legal processes, an official says.

"If it is proven that they are guilty, they will be discharged from their positions," Home Affairs Ministry Gamawan Fauzi said, as quoted by news portal tempointeraktif.com.

Gamawan spoke with journalists after a meeting on Monday with the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) members and Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo.

Gamawan said that as of February 2011, there were 160 local administration heads who had legal problems. Of those he had discharged 10.

He said that the Central Java province was in first place with 24 local administration heads having legal problems. He guessed that the number of local administration heads with legal problems would increase.

Extremist & hard-line groups

Radicals teaming up, experts warn

Jakarta Globe - March 2, 2011

Nivell Rayda – Security analysts warned on Wednesday of growing alliances between hard-line Muslim groups and fundamentalists with close ties to terrorist cells, as the nation is gripped by a string of religiously motivated violence.

Sidney Jones of the International Crisis Group said fundamentalist groups like Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid, led by firebrand cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, and Mujahidin Kompak usually did not see eye to eye with groups like the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Islamic People's Forum (FUI), which Jones described as "moralist thugs."

"There used to be a division and clear lines between the jihadis and the moralist thugs who have a more local agenda," Jones told a discussion hosted by the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club in Jakarta on Wednesday.

The stated goal of JAT, which has links to convicted terrorists, is to implement Shariah law across the archipelago, while Mujahidin Kompak was linked to sectarian violence in Ambon in Maluku and Poso in Central Sulawesi.

However, Jones said there now appeared to be a merging of extremist agendas against Muslim sects deemed deviant, such as the Ahmadiyah, and so-called Christianization.

The senior researcher said an absence of clear leadership among fundamentalists and the success of the morally conservative in pushing for Shariah-inspired bylaws and regulations such as the Anti-Pornography Law and the anti-Ahmadiyah decree had led the two factions to cooperate.

Elements within the JAT are known to have collaborated with milder organizations like the FPI, the FUI, the Indonesian Islamic Propagation Council (DDII) and the Islamic Youth Movement (GPI) in forming the anti- apostasy movements under various names that have been advocating the disbandment of churches.

In September, hard-liners stabbed and assaulted two church leaders in Bekasi after the formation of the Bekasi Anti-Apostasy Forum, an umbrella group for various radical organizations.

The FUI is also showing support for Bashir, now on trial at the South Jakarta District Court for supporting an alleged terrorist training camp in Aceh last year.

"The [fundamentalists] are using less militant groups as a source of potential recruits," terrorism analyst Noor Huda Ismail told the discussion. "The FPI and FUI are using JAT's vast international connections for funding."

The issues of Ahmadiyah and Christianization, Ismail said, are being politicized to bring the two factions together. "These groups would not normally form a coalition because of the huge ideological and tactical differences between them, but these issues are glue that binds them together," he said.

Bonar Tigor Naipospos, from the Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy, a group advocating religious tolerance, said fundamentalists may have a more sinister plan in forming coalitions with the morally conservative.

Fundamentalists "are looking to create another war zone in the hopes that more people will be drawn toward jihad," he said.

Freedom of religion & worship

Kontras accuses police of publicity stunt

Jakarta Post - March 7, 2011

Jakarta – The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) fears a police move to name three police officers suspects in a planned attack on Ahmadiyah followers in Cikeusik was merely a ploy to shore up public support.

In February, a hard-line mob attacked Ahmadis in Cikeusik, Pandeglang, Banten, murdering three Ahmadis and seriously injuring several others.

"Suspects from the groups that took part in the attack should not have been named," Kontras coordinator Haris Azhar said, adding that he feared the move was merely cosmetic.

Haris said that it would be unwise for the police to only publicly disclose the total number of suspects they had arrested without identifying the mastermind behind the incident. "Don't probe only those involved in the attack. The police must arrest those behind the attack," he said.

The National Police on Friday named three Cikeusik Police officers suspects for negligence resulting in loss of life in the attack, a violation of the Criminal Code. The police have so far named 12 suspects in the incident, as well as one Ahmadi.

The fallout from the incident has seen four high-ranking police officers removed from their posts while 37 Cikeusik and Pandeglang Police officers are also undergoing questioning in connection to the attack.

Bogor Christians hold service in disputed church

Jakarta Globe - March 7, 2011

Zaky Pawas & Vento Saudale – After nearly a decade-long legal battle against hard-line Muslims and officials in the province, a group of Christians were finally able to reclaim their sealed-off church in Bogor on Sunday.

Members of the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI Yasmin) fought their way past a security barricade and broke the locks on the church building, which had been ordered opened by the Supreme Court in January.

Judges had ruled in GKI Yasmin's favor in a long-running dispute over the Christian sect's permit to worship there.

Muslims had accused the group of violating a 2006 joint ministerial decree on houses of worship when the GKI failed to get the support of at least 60 residents before the church was built along Jalan KH Abdullah bin Nuh.

They said the congregation also failed to get the approval of the Religious Affairs Ministry and the Interreligious Communication Forum (FKUB).

But on Sunday morning, the congregation held a service inside the church, despite policemen and Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) officers blocking their way.

Bona Sigalingging, a GKI spokesman, said that after heated arguments with officers, the Christians were able to hold a service led by the Rev. Ujang Tanusaputra, but prayers were interrupted by the police.

"We did get in and we did pray, but even then, the police repeatedly asked us to stop," Bona said. "Even with the [Supreme Court] ruling, they were literally stopping us."

Dwiayanti Novita Rini, a GKI member, said they had waited a long time to pray at the church. While the building was sealed, the sect was forced to conduct prayers on the street.

"We do not want any more religious violence," Dwiayanti said. "We hope the police can protect us."

Police say Ahmadis wanted Banten raid to happen, name 14 suspects

Jakarta Globe - March 6, 2011

Farouk Arnaz – Recent violence targeting the Ahmadiyah community in the Cikeusik subdistrict of Banten only erupted because the Ahmadis wanted it to happen, the National Police's chief of detectives Comr. Gen. Ito Sumardi said on Thursday.

The Feb. 6 attack saw some 1,500 people attack Ahmadiyah members who had refused to leave the house of a local leader of the sect in Umbulan village. Three Ahmadis were killed.

"I would like to quote one Ahmadi [we questioned] as saying he did physical exercises every day. The Ahmadis were also equipped with spears, slingshots, machetes and two sacks of stones," Ito said. He then said the Ahmadis wanted the clash to happen.

"According to the theories of victimology, this clash did not merely occur because of insufficient numbers of police personnel dispatched to the site. It happened because the victims wanted the clash to take place."

Ito added that a total of 14 suspects have so far been named in the case, including 12 from among the attacking mob. "We are still hunting for one of the suspects, Abrori. He was from Gadod in Pandeglang district. He assaulted the victims until they died," he said.

Ito also said a police officer and one Ahmadi had been named suspects. He refused to identify the police officer, but he said the Ahmadi suspect was named Deden Sudjana, a man who led 16 others in safeguarding the home that was attacked.

This is not the first time Deden is declared a suspect, but police backtracked on Feb. 18 on the earlier decision to name Deden a suspect for his presumed role in the violence.

Deden was allegedly seen in a video of the attack circulating on the Internet, asking a police officer to let the assault take place as 1,500 people descend on the house in Umbulan.

"Deden has been accused of provocation, beating, throwing [objects] and possession a sharp weapon. He is also guilty of disobeying police orders at the scene. His incitement triggered the clash, when he said that if police cannot control the masses, [they should] let the assault take place," Ito told reporters.

He confirmed that a police officer had been charged in the case for violating the police's code of ethical conduct, as well as Article 359 on negligence resulting in the death of a human being.

A police source separately identified the suspect as Chief. Brig. T.B. Ade Sumardi, the leader of the Sabhara division at the Cikeusik Police, charged with protection, patrol and anti-riot duties. The source said Ade was at the scene but failed to prevent the incident from happening.

Government warns Muhammadiyah against politicizing Ahmadiyah issue

Antara News - March 6, 2011

Cabinet Secretary Dipo Alam has struck back at Indonesia's second largest Muslim organization, which has been critical of the government's inability to resolve the "Ahmadiyah problem."

Dipo warned on Sunday against politicizing the Ahmadiyah unrest because it had the potential to "create communal conflicts."

Commenting specifically on calls by Din Syamsuddin, the head of Muhammadiyah, for the government to ban the sect, Dipo said religious leaders needed to help maintain peace and tolerance in society.

Asked about Din's call for the government to take action against a number of regional laws curtailing the rights of the Islamic sect, Dipo said the government had already issued a 2008 law banning the group from spreading their faith. Hard-liners use the law to justify their attacks on the persecuted group.

Dipo said all elements in society should follow the law in dealing with Ahmadiyah. He said regional governments should be aware of the law and were "responsible for the harmonious lives of their people."

Late last month, Din said that Muhammadiyah's stance on Ahmadiyah had not changed since it had issued a fatwa against the group in 1933. Muhammadiyah labels Ahmadiyah "misleading."

Din said Muhammadiyah, however, would not actively seek the dissolution of the sect though the government needed to be firm in dealing with the issue.

"The government should be able to take firm action, instead of being hesitant. With its firm stance, it can prevent certain groups of people from... handling the Ahmadiyah problem," he said.

"It is the state's power to take stern action by referring to our Constitution because the existence of a group in society is the state's business," he said.

Din said Muhammadiyah would do its best to prevent its members from being mislead by Ahmadiyah followers.

United States calls for religious tolerance in Indonesia

Agence France Presse - March 5, 2011

The United States on Friday called for religious tolerance in Indonesia after several provincial governments banned followers of a minority Islamic sect from practicing in public.

Some provincial administrations in the world's most populous Muslim country issued a local decree which also banned Ahmadiyah members from showing signs identifying their mosques and schools.

The provincial regulations came after Islamist fanatics brutally murdered last month three Ahmadiyah adherents in Banten. Two days later another mob of enraged Muslims rampaged through the streets and set fire to churches in central Java.

"Recent violence against minority communities and new local regulations restricting religious freedom are damaging Indonesia's international reputation as a democracy with a tradition of tolerance," a United States Embassy statement said.

"As a friend of Indonesia, and as a partner in the G20 and other international organizations, we support the overwhelming majority of Indonesians who abhor religious violence and support tolerance," it said.

"Laws should protect citizens from violence rather than restrict their rights."

Police failed to intervene to protect the Ahmadiyah, who have been subjected to regular abuse and persecution since their sect was slapped with restrictions at the urging of mainstream Muslims in 2008.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono condemned last month's attacks but defended a 2008 law banning the Ahmadiyah sect from spreading their faith, which is used by hardliners to justify attacks on the sect.

Human rights activists say the ex-general has repeatedly failed to tackle sources of intolerance in the country of 240 million people, 80 percent of whom are Muslims.

Indonesia's constitution guarantees freedom of religion but rights groups say violence against minorities including Christians and Ahmadis has been escalating since 2008.

After East Java, West Java bans all of Ahmadiyah's activities

Jakarta Globe - March 4, 2011

Yuli Krisna & Eras Poke, Bandung – West Java joined a string of other regional governments on Thursday in banning activities of the Ahmadiyah sect.

West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan said he issued a gubernatorial regulation, No. 12 of 2011, banning the activities of the Ahmadiyah in the province. He said it was effective immediately.

"This gubernatorial regulation is a follow-up to the joint ministerial decree and a 12-point joint agreement which was also signed by representatives of the Ahmadiyah," Ahmad said.

He was referring to a 2008 joint ministerial decree that prohibits the Ahmadiyah from practicing their faith in public and spreading their beliefs. The decree, which stopped short of banning the sect altogether, has been criticized by human rights activists as it is frequently used to justify violence against the Ahmadiyah community.

The joint agreement Ahmad referred to was recently signed and outlined some of the prohibitions on Ahmadiyah activity.

He said the gubernatorial regulation was based on the desire of the government to prevent any social conflict from breaking out because of the activities of the Ahmadiyah, which many mainstream Muslims consider a deviant sect.

"We are not in a position to dissolve the Ahmadiyah organization, but we are in a position to follow up on the joint ministerial decree and the 12- point agreement," he said.

The regulation prohibits Ahmadis from trying to spread Ahmadiyah teachings orally, in writing or through electronic media. That also means all signboards containing the name of the organization must be taken down from public places, including mosques and schools. Ahmadiyah attributes may no longer be visible anywhere in West Java.

"Ahmadiyah mosques are mosques for all. All Muslims should be allowed to enter those mosques," Ahmad said. He added that religious authorities will also organize Islamic events in mosques identified as Ahmadiyah mosques to put an end to alleged exclusivism there.

The West Java regulation forbids people from launching any unlawful action against the Ahmadiyah community, but it also calls on the public to help monitor and report any violation by Ahmadiyah members.

Saerodji, who heads the West Java office for religious affairs, said there were some 17,000 Ahmadis in the province.

Sugiyanto, head of the West Java High Prosecutor's Office, said the regulation was aimed at protecting Ahmadis from the attacks they had experienced in the past.

"We want to protect the Ahmadiyah community from anarchic actions. If there are violations of the 12-point agreement, let the authorities deal with it," Sugiyanto said. "This is no longer a mere call but has been laid down into a written regulations. The public should not take matters into their own hands."

West Java Police Chief Insp. Gen. Suparni Parto said the regulation was a good solution and added that police would now no longer hesitate to take action against whomever violated it.

The spokesman for the Ahmadiyah community in the western part of West Java, Rafiq Ahmad Sumadi Gandakusuma, told the Jakarta Globe they had not been invited to discuss the new regulation.

Earlier this week, authorities in Surabaya, the country's second-largest city and capital of East Java, issued a similar regulation banning the display of any Ahmadiyah attributes and any efforts by the group to spread its faith in the province.

In the province of Banten, Lebak district recently said it would issue a bylaw banning the Ahmadiyah, and Pandeglang district already issued such a decree on Feb. 21.

Jakarta mulls banning Ahmadiyah

Jakarta Post - March 4, 2011

Andreas D. Aditya, Jakarta – Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo has announced plans to follow in the footsteps of a number of regions that have issued bans to prevent members of the Ahmadiyah sect from practicing their religion in public.

"If ncecessary, we can even go further to not only issue a gubernatorial decree, but instead issue a bylaw on this. The administration will have a discussion with the City Council," Fauzi said Friday.

Previously, East and West Java and South Sulawesi have issued such bans on the sect. Fauzi said he planned to send officials to East and West Java to study their bans.

Calls for the banning of the Ahmadiyah sect and its teachings have been increasingly heard from various Muslim elements across Indonesia over the past few weeks.

Three members of the sect were brutally murdered and several others were seriously injured in a planned mob attack in Cikeusik, Pandeglang, Banten, last month.

Members of the sect have faced similar violence and discrimination in past attacks on their homes and property, including in Gegerung village, West Nusa Tenggara, where in February 2006 at least 12 Ahmadi families were forcibly evicted from their homes by local authorities and ordered to live in a refugee-style camp. (dre)

South Sulawesi outlaws Ahmadiyah

Jakarta Post - March 3, 2011

Jakarta – Following in the footsteps of East and West Java, South Sulawesi Governor Syahrul Yasin Limpo issued on Thursday a ban on the Ahmadiyah sect from practicing their religion publicly.

Syahrul said that the sect was neither registered as a mass organization nor a religious organization in the administration.

"For that reason, I don't think it should be a problem should the administration prohibit its activities here. We also won't give them a permit to [to practice their religion publicly]," said Syahrul as quoted by tribunnews.com on Thursday.

He said he had issued a circular to ban all activities of the Ahmadiyah Indonesia Congregation (JAI) in the province, referring to a joint ministerial decree from the government that bans members of JAI from propagating their religious teachings, but allows them to maintain their faith and perform their daily religious duties.

Earlier on Thursday, West Java Governor Ahmad Heriyawan also issued a similar decree, telling Ahmadis to stop performing their activities in the province.

Hard-liners back off calls for revolution over Ahmadiyah

Jakarta Globe - March 3, 2011

Ulma Haryanto & Ronna Nirmala – There was plenty of fiery rhetoric on display during Tuesday's rally by hard-liners demanding the Ahmadiyah sect be outlawed, but the calls for revolution seem to have fallen flat.

Thousands of Muslim hard-liners marched from the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle to Merdeka Square opposite the State Palace in Central Jakarta, threatening to topple the government if the president did not issue a decree to disband the minority sect.

Some of the protesters vowed to camp out in front of the palace until a decree was issued, saying they had enough supplies for four days.

Fiery speeches calling for jihad and revolution echoed outside the palace as representatives of the protesters met inside with Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali and State Secretary Sudi Silalahi.

Muhammad Noval, a member of the Islamic Anti-Apostasy Peace Alliance (Ada Api), asked the protesters if they were ready to go to war. "Are you willing to make your wife a widow and your children orphans?" he shouted to the crowd, who replied in unison: "Ready!"

The call to defend the Prophet Muhammad was repeated throughout the day, with many speakers vowing revolution if their demands were not met.

Some Muslim groups have accused Ahmadiyah of heresy, saying it professes the sect's founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, to be the final prophet, which runs against Islamic beliefs that reserve that position for Muhammad.

Ahmadiyah community leaders, however, say they have never claimed Mirza to be a prophet, but rather a messiah, a concept that is accepted in mainstream Islam.

After two hours of talks on Tuesday, the chairman of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), Rizieq Shihab, along with the secretary general of the Islamic People's Forum (FUI), Muhammad al-Khaththath, and 10 other representatives, emerged from the palace saying the government would meet their demands.

"We must monitor the drafting of the presidential decree. If it takes too long or if they lie to us, we'll hold a rally that is twice as big as today," Rizieq said.

Rizieq, who was jailed in 2008 for leading an attack on a group advocating pluralism, said the protesters should go home to "gather strength through prayer."

On Wednesday, talk of revolution appeared to have waned. Julia Satari, a leader of the youth organization Pemuda Pancasila, toned down her rhetoric and said the group was going to trust the government.

"We have a deal with them, so let's just wait until the president issues the presidential decree," she told the Globe. Other leaders like Khaththath and Rizieq could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Noorhaidi Hasan, from Jakarta's Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN), said the calls for revolution were empty words and there was little chance that it would happen.

"First, the president still has considerable support behind him, including political parties and the military," he said.

"Second, these groups are not mainstream. It's just because the government lets them take up so much public space that these groups have become presumptuous and arrogant."

Noorhaidi said that unlike what was happening in the Middle East, what the groups here wanted was for the government to listen, not to topple it. "That's what I mean by the call for revolution being just rhetoric," he said. "Their real target is gaining political concessions."

According to Noorhaidi, the hard-liners' cause does not resonate with the majority of Indonesians. "It's just the views of frustrated people who are probably jobless," he said.

Ministers back moves to tighten grip on Ahmadiyah

Jakarta Globe - March 2, 2011

Camelia Pasandaran, Ulma Haryanto & Ronna Nirmala – As thousands of hard- liners gathered at Jakarta's Hotel Indonesia traffic circle demanding the immediate disbandment of the Ahmadiyah, the Indonesian government voiced its support of moves adopted by a string of local administrations aimed at further restricting the sect's activities.

"It is the authority of the regional head [to issue decrees on Ahmadis]," Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar said on Tuesday at the Presidential Palace. "Ahmadis insist on violating the law by spreading their beliefs. Religious freedom should not be translated into desecration of religion."

Ahmadiyah, a minority Islamic sect, has long been at the center of a dispute between human rights activists that support its existence and Islamic hard-liners that want it disbanded.

Thousands of demonstrators from the Islamic People's Forum (FUI) - including those supporting the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) – rallied toward the National Monument Square, with many in the crowds vowing they would continue to demonstrate until they see Ahmadiyah banned entirely.

The government in 2008 issued a joint ministerial decree banning the sect from practicing its religion openly and spreading its beliefs.

Muhammad Noval, a member of the Islamic Anti-Apostasy Peace Alliance, or Ada Api, said they now had an appropriate word to describe President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

"SBY is an Ahmadi. If you see what he has done in regard to protecting the Ahmadiyah, what other word would be better to describe him than Ahmadi?" he said. "If he [Yudhoyono] does not like to be referred to as an Ahmadi, then he should issue a decree banning them!"

Separately, Julia Satari, a leader from the youth organization Pemuda Pancasila, said she wanted to offer her condolences to Yudhoyono, because in her assessment he was too lazy to resolve the issue of the Ahmadiyah. "Ahmadis absolutely disturb the comfortable existence of Islamic worshipping. They [Ahmadiyah] are illegal according to the Constitution."

Among the demonstrators was 7-year-old Rizdian Rangga, carrying an FPI flag. Rizdian told the Jakarta Globe he had skipped school for the massive rally. When asked why, Rizdian said: "To follow my father, and to disband the Ahmadiyah."

FPI leader Habib Rizieq, who led the rally, condemned local media as being a tool of international Zionist groups.

Along with at least 10 other representatives from the demonstrators, Rizieq was eventually received at the Presidential Palace to discuss the demands of the protesters.

Muhammad Al-Khaththath, secretary general of the FUI, said that in the meeting with a delegation from the palace, which he said included ministers, he had told the government the "real story" about the Ahmadis.

"I saw them slightly shocked when they heard the truth about the Ahmadiyah. The Ahmadis are fakers of religion and troublemakers, I told them. It opened their eyes and hearts," Al-Khaththath said, adding that he was certain that a presidential decree would soon be issued in regard to the Ahmadis.

Rizieq, however, said: "Our president is, after all, a politician. We should know that a politician's promise is rarely proven."

The governor of East Java, Soekarwo, recently issued a decree banning the sect from spreading its beliefs through any media and forbidding the display of its name in public, including signposts on mosques.

Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi said he believed Soekarwo's decree had been issued in total support of the 2008 joint ministerial decree.

"The regulation issued by the East Java administration should do an even better job in enforcing the SKB [the 2008 joint ministerial decree]. The governor [Soekarwo] obviously believes that a gubernatorial regulation needs to be issued for better supervision [of enforcement of the decree]."

Gamawan said that organizations demanding the disbandment of the Ahmadiyah were backed by proof that the Ahmadis had indeed violated the primary points of the decree – spreading their beliefs.

He said they had done so by putting up signs and placards citing the name Ahmadiyah in public, on top of mosques, prayer halls, educational institutions and other structures.

The minister also accused Ahmadis of wearing attributes of their organization, the Jamaah Ahmadiyah Indonesia, on their body.

The East Java governor on Tuesday said he would not have any problems with JAI board members or followers launching a legal case against his anti- Ahmadiyah decree.

"It is better that they take legal action, rather then start demonstrating, or even trigger anarchic actions," Soekarwo said. "We are a country that follows the law."

[Additional reporting by Antara.]

AGO supports local bans on Ahmadiyah

Jakarta Post - March 2, 2011

Jakarta – The Attorney General's Office (AGO) has supported the issuance of several bylaws that ban Ahmadiyah activities.

"Of course we support [the regional administrations' acts] because they are the ones who own their territories, and that's their stance, so why not support them?" Attorney General Basrief Arief said on Wednesday as quoted by Antara.

Several regional administrations have issued bylaws that ban the Ahmadis from religious activities following a bloody attack on followers of the minority religious group in Pandeglang, Banten, last month.

Basrief said the administrations' decision to issue the bylaws must have been based on their comprehension of the regions' social condition and to keep public order.

If Ahmadiyah is considered to be inciting violence and disrupting public order, "it is the regional administration's authority [to ban Ahmadiyah]," he added.

Ahmadiyah teachings are considered heretical and blasphemous against Islam by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI). Followers of the faith have been a target of mob attacks in recent years.

Banning Ahmadiyah not a solution: Yenny

Jakarta Post - March 2, 2011

Jakarta – Wahid Institute executive director Yenny Wahid said Tuesday that East Java Governor Soekarwo's decision to ban the Ahmadiyah sect in her province was not an effective solution as plenty of other factors would need settling after that.

"After being dissolved and banned, what next? Oust Ahmadiyah followers from East Java? Then where will they go?" Yenny said after a discussion at the Wahid Institute in Jakarta.

She said there must be a more realistic solution in responding to the Ahmadiyah issue. "Will they have to ask for asylum overseas?" Yenny added as quoted by Antara.

On Monday, the East Java governor issued a decree in Surabaya that prohibited all Ahmadis in Indonesia's second most populous province from any kind of activities related to Ahmadiyah.

Yenny considered the ban that violates the Constitution, which guarantees all citizens can embrace their own beliefs without intervention from the government, as unacceptable.

Whatever Yenny's objections are, however, calls for banning Ahmadiyah have continuously been echoed by various elements of Muslim society members.

In Jakarta, Islam Defenders Front (FPI) activists staged a rally Tuesday to demand the banning of Ahmadiyah teachings in Indonesia.

Earlier, a number of Islamic organizations and the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) in Banten had asked the government to ban Ahmadiyah in the province.

In Makassar, South Sulawesi, the Islam Congregation Forum, which groups 18 Islam organizations, urged the local administration to issue a decree on the Ahmadiyah banning.

The demand was aired in a mass rally in front of the provincial legislative council's building. They claimed that the dissolution of Ahmadiyah was not negotiable as the sect was considered to have tainted the religion of Islam and had sparked unending conflicts.

[Indra Harsaputra and Andi Hajramurni contributed to this article from Surabaya and Makassar.]

Government supports Ahmadiyah ban in East Java

Jakarta Globe - March 1, 2011

Camelia Pasandaran – The central government on Tuesday supported moves by the East Java governor to ban Ahmadiyah in the province.

"It is regional head's authority and [Ahmadiyah] has long been banned everywhere," said Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar said at the presidential palace before the cabinet meeting.

Patrialis emphasized the joint ministerial decree that strongly warns Ahmadiyah followers against spreading their beliefs. "So if they did spread it, the local government may take action," he said.

Ahmadiyah, an Islamic sect, has long been the at the center of a dispute between human rights activists that support its existence and Islamic hard-liners that want it disbanded.

East Java Governor Soekarwo recently released a decree to totally ban the sect in East Java. Under the decree, Ahmadiyah followers are banned from spreading their beliefs through any forms of media and are forbidden to display the sects name in public and mosques.

The move has gained supported by the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), which stated that the ban was necessary to stem demonstrations against the sect.

The minister said that by spreading their beliefs, Ahmadis had triggered conflict in many places throughout the country.

"Religious freedom should not be translated into desecration of religion," Patrialis said. "Freedom to believe in a certain religion should not be banned. However, people should not believe in a religion and carry out its beliefs in different way to that religion. Ahmadiyah has tainted religion."

Home Affairs Minister Gawaman Fauzi said that banning Ahmadiyah was allowed as long as it did not contradict a higher regulation. "We will evaluate it," Gamawan said.

East Java Ahmadiyah decree violates constitution, harms pluralism

Jakarta Post - March 1, 2011

Jakarta – A decree regulating restrictions on Ahmadiyah activities issued by the East Java governor is against the Constitution and harms the nation's value of pluralism, noted lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis on Tuesday.

"The decree is a violation of the Constitution," he said as quoted by tempointeraktif.com. The Constitution guarantees the freedom of religion, including people's right to practice their beliefs, he added.

East Java governor Soekarwo on Monday issued a decree that prohibited all Ahmadis in the province from conducting activities related to Ahmadiyah.

Soekarwo's decree prohibits Ahmadis from distributing pamphlets and placing signs at their offices and mosques. They are also not allowed to wear anything to indicate that they are Ahmadiyah members.

The decree is a bad precedent that may be followed by other regions, Todung said. He urged Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi to immediately annul the decree.

Todung also said he suspected that the decree was issued without careful consideration and was a result of pressure from certain groups.

"That's one of the risks of being a public official," he said, adding that he would challenge the decree at the State Administrative Court.

Ahmadis reprimanded over place of worship

Jakarta Post - March 1, 2011

Makassar – An Ahmadiyah community in Sigi, Central Sulawesi, says the local House of Representatives (DPRD) was discriminating against them by demanding they stop using a house in the area as a place of worship.

"We have been in Sigi since the 1960s... We have never done anything to upset the community's sense of security or disturb the region's security," Sigi Ahmadiyah leader Ahmad Najamuddin said on Sunday, as quoted by tempointeraktif.com.

Sigi DPRD chairman Gesang said the Ahmadiyah community must stop using the house as a place of worship or the government would force them to do so.

"Please use that Ahmadiyah mosque shaped like a house as a house, not a mosque," Gesang said. He added that a permit from the local government was needed before establishing a place of worship.

Poverty & hunger

New bill would change Indonesia's poverty definition

Jakarta Post - March 3, 2011

Jakarta – The number of impoverished people in the country may increase should the government pass into law a bill on poverty alleviation that will redefine who is categorized as poor, a councilor says.

Regional Representatives Council deputy chair Laode Ida said Wednesday that the Central Statistics Agency's (BPS) remarkable poverty figure, with 31.02 million out of 237.6 million Indonesians living in poverty, should not be seen as the result of government success in reducing poverty.

The way the agency calculated the numbers did not incorporate all elements of poverty throughout the nation, he said.

According to the BPS, 13.33 percent of the population was poor. The agency uses average expenditures per capita per month to measure poverty levels. Under that measure, a person with an average expenditure of Rp 211,726 (US$24.14) per month or Rp 7,000 a day is categorized as "poor".

The BPS stipulates that poverty is a condition where people are unable to meet their basic needs. Laode said the government's bill will apply a broader concept of basic needs than what has been used by the BPS.

The bill, initiated by the House of Representatives, says basic needs consist of food, clothing, home, health, education, job opportunities and social security, as well as social services.

"If we refer to the concept of basic needs [in the bill], the measure used by the agency will not be sufficient. The number of Indonesian poor will be much higher than the agency's number."

Although there are a large number of people living in poverty in the country, the government has not seriously taken care of the poor as mandated by the country's constitution, he said.

"The government should take better care of the poor through sustainable social empowerment programs instead of using the cash aid approach," he said, adding that empowered poor people could then obtain economic independence and find appropriate livelihoods.

National Development Planning Agency deputy director Lukita Dinarsyah Tuwo said cash aid programs would still be needed by the poor to prepare them to emerge out of their economic difficulties.

"Providing poor people with various economic empowerment initiatives, such as providing adequate capital to help them start a business or better access to microfinance, can improve their lives and livelihoods. Then they won't rely on social charity provided by the government anymore," he said.

But, Lukita said the government should first prepare the poor who were having difficulties meeting their basic needs, especially with food, before helping them to develop their potential.

For 2011, the government has allocated Rp 69 trillion for poverty alleviation, up from the Rp 63 trillion in 2010.

According to the Social Services Ministry, the budgetary allocations for poverty alleviation are distributed among 19 ministries and other government institutions, hindering the implementation of poverty reduction initiatives.

Social Services Minister Salim Segaf Al Jufri said the draft law on the management of the poor would hopefully simplify procedures in distributing assistance and for empowerment programs.

"I think such assistance and programs can be handled by five or 10 ministries and other government institutions instead of 19. It can be more efficient," he said.

According to the ministry, three clusters of social welfare programs specially designed to alleviate poverty will hopefully contribute to improving the poverty rate by 2014. Those three clusters are: rice for poor households, public health insurance and the Hope Family Program; Indonesia's National Program for Community Empowerment; and people's microcredits.

Salim said the draft law should have a more precise definition of those living in poverty since it would determine who was eligible for social assistance. "The law should have a comprehensive idea of poverty and poor people," he said. (ebf)

Civil service & bureaucracy

Indonesia has too many commissions, experts say

Jakarta Post - March 7, 2011

Juba, Sudan – Indonesia must reposition non-ministerial agencies to eliminate overlap that leads to gross bureaucratic inefficiency, according to experts.

"There are 28 non-ministerial agencies that need to be redefined and repositioned because of their overlapping functions," Sofian Effendi, a public administration expert from Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, said.

"We have the National Commission for Human Rights, the National Commission on Violence against Women, and the National Commission for Child Protection. "They all could be merged into one national commission for human rights," Sofian said.

According to Sofian, overlapping functions have led to inefficient utilization of the state budget.

"Those agencies get 38 percent of the state budget, whereas in other countries the allocation would be no more than 25 percent," he said at the seminar, which was organized by the Administrative Reforms Ministry in Jakarta.

Funds allocated for such agencies were included in the overall budget at the regional level, of which the local administration used 70 percent for administrative purposes, including personnel expenditures as well as for the local operation of agencies, Sofian said.

Another 25 percent was used for sharing project costs, while 5 percent was used to finance infrastructure development, he added.

Former Constitutional Court chief Jimly Asshiddiqie, said that the overlap among non-ministerial agencies had caused excessive inefficiency in both budget and performance, which ran counter to the public's interests.

Jimly, also a member of the presidential advisory council, suggested a moratorium on new agencies until the functions of existing agencies could be evaluated. "During the evaluation we can determine which agencies need to be merged into others," Jimly said. (swd)

Legislation & parliament

House presses ahead on new office building

Jakarta Globe - March 7, 2011

Markus Junianto Sihaloho – While the nation has been focused on religious violence and corruption scandals, the House of Representatives has been moving ahead with a plan to build a Rp 1.2 trillion ($137 million) office building.

Refrizal, a deputy chairman of the House's Household Affairs Committee (BURT), which is in charge of the project, confirmed that bidding was scheduled to open this month.

"The target of the House's Secretariat General, which is in charge of the budget for this project, is that the bidding will take place this month. We hope to begin construction by the end of June," Refrizal said on Sunday.

"The bidding will be open to all construction companies, state-owned and private. However, BURT would prefer if this project were won by state-owned contractors. I mean, what if the project were won by private contractors and they ran away with the money before finishing the project? That's a dangerous risk."

He said that BURT and the Secretariat General agreed to use a revised design for the building in response to criticism. He added, however, that the design still had not been drawn up.

The House proposed a new office building for lawmakers last year and the project immediately ran into controversy. The original price tag was Rp 1.8 trillion, which was revised to Rp 1.3 trillion in the face of public criticism.

"We have estimated that the new building will only cost Rp 1.2 trillion," Refrizal said.

House Speaker Marzuki Alie earlier this month said the cost could be below Rp 1 trillion.

Marzuki, from the ruling Democrats, also claimed the project enjoyed unanimous support from all parties, although the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and the People's Conscience Party (Hanura) have both filed formal objections to the plan.

Uchok Sky Khadafi, the coordinator for investigations and advocacy at the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (Fitra), alleged that lawmakers had lied to the public since the beginning.

Uchok said the House had manipulated a study by the Ministry of Public Works on technical repairs required by the current building, overemphasizing the structural weaknesses.

"The ministry only recommended technical repairs, not a new building," he said.

He claimed that the lawmakers also lied when they said they would cut the cost of the new building from Rp 1.8 trillion to less than Rp 1 trillion. A planning and budgeting document from the House Secretariat General, clearly stated the building would cost Rp 1.8 trillion, he said.

"We allege that the lawmakers cannot stop the project because they might have accepted gratifications from the construction companies, which we believe are state-owned," Uchok said.

He calculated that a budget of Rp 1.8 trillion meant that taxpayers would spend roughly Rp 3.2 billion per lawmaker for their new offices. That sum is equivalent to a luxurious house in a top residential complex in Jakarta.

Sports & youth affairs

Fans cry foul over Indonesian football

New York Times - March 7, 2011

Aubrey Belford – Chaotic street protests, bickering elite and swirling allegations of corruption – it all looks like another typically unsavoury episode of politics in Indonesia.

But the latest protracted fight to absorb the attention of one of the world's largest democracies is not about politics as usual. It is about Nurdin. And it is all the more serious for it.

Hundreds of Indonesians have taken to the streets across the country in recent weeks to demand the ouster of a prominent politician, Nurdin Halid, as chairman of the beleaguered Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI), a position he has held since 2003 – part of it from behind bars for two separate corruption convictions.

In that time, opponents contend, Nurdin has run Indonesian football into the ground while consolidating power for political allies and enriching himself.

He is now engaged in a bitter struggle with members of the government who want him out. Nurdin asked a committee of the Indonesian House of Representatives for protection on Tuesday, claiming his family had received death threats from senior government officials.

"I leave my life in the hands of God, may He be glorified and exalted," he said. Nurdin also drew the ire of Indonesians by announcing during the same hearing that he was running as a candidate to head the Asean Football Federation, as well as for a third term at the helm of the Indonesian association.

According to Tondo Widodo, a former association committee member, the root of this latest crisis is simple: Indonesians are sick of losing.

"You ask anyone on the street, they don't have to be an intellectual, they can be a taxi driver," Tondo said. "They're all ashamed. They all dislike what Nurdin Halid and his group have done as they've reigned over the PSSI," he said.

Despite Indonesia's population of about 238 million and its obsessive love of football, particularly European league matches, the national team has not won an international tournament since the 1991 Southeast Asian Games.

Stadiums and training facilities are in disrepair, and local clubs prefer importing foreign players to fostering local talent, Tondo said.

Indonesia is ranked 129th in the world by the world football governing body, Fifa, having sunk as low as 153rd and reached as high as 76th. It currently stands between Puerto Rico and Dominica in the world rankings.

The national team has not been in the Fifa World Cup since 1938, when the country was still a colony of the Netherlands. Although Indonesia is not the only Asian nation with a disappointing national team, the lack of international victories still rankles.

While the sport has floundered, Nurdin is accused of illegally amassing wealth for himself and close associates. Most recently, he has faced allegations that he pocketed 100 million rupiah, or about US$11,000 (RM33,000) in government funding for a team in East Kalimantan province.

At the same time, he is accused of turning the association into an organ for spreading the influence of politicians from his party, Golkar, which is in a frosty and tenuous coalition with the party of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Nurdin is seen as being particularly close to the family of Aburizal Bakrie, the billionaire chairman of Golkar.

All this is particularly galling because football is one of the few truly uniting forces for Indonesians, who speak hundreds of languages, follow multiple religions and live spread across thousands of islands.

"The PSSI was an organisation, a tool of national struggle," Tondo said. "But now it has become a tool for Nurdin's political struggle for Golkar."

More than a decade after the 1998 overthrow of the dictator Suharto brought democracy to their country, Indonesians are also increasingly disillusioned with a system marked by corruption, vote buying, patronage politics and a bureaucracy that is not accountable, said Dodi Ambardi, the director of the Indonesian Survey Institute, a research organisation. The dire state of the nation's most popular sport is just another part of that malaise.

Nurdin is not alone in being accused of bringing politics into football. Allies of the president and his party, the Democrats, harbour hopes that ousting Nurdin would weaken the Golkar Party, Dodi said.

Susilo's sports minister, Andi Mallarangeng, had denied that he was playing politics with the sport and said that Nurdin, as a convicted criminal, was unfit to lead the association. He had threatened to intervene in the association despite the risk that this could provoke sanctions from Fifa against Indonesian football.

"Football should not be politicised because football is public good," Andi said. "It belongs to everybody, just like the air."

Fifa is widely seen by Indonesians as unreceptive to criticism of Nurdin and has largely stayed aloof from the crisis. However, the body's executive committee on Thursday ordered Indonesia to reform its electoral rules and hold fresh elections by the end of next month.

Indonesia's member of Fifa's ethics committee, Suryadharma Tahir, said that his main concern was the possibility of government interference in the internal business of the independent national association. Fifa consistently rejects government interference in national football associations, threatening sanctions against countries that engage in it.

As the controversy continues, the anger on the street is palpable, with rallies popping up in cities across Indonesia. At one recent protest outside the association's headquarters at Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, anti-Nurdin protesters wearing headbands proclaiming a "PSSI revolution" clashed with pro-Nurdin supporters of the Jakarta team Persija. As the two sides hurled rocks and swung bamboo staves on one street, the police on dirt bikes hurtled between them, scattering the protesters with cavalry- style charges.

After riot police officers formed a barrier between the antagonists, one protester, Fajar Dikra Pratama, said he was with neither side. He was simply embarrassed and frustrated with the state of Indonesian football.

"Everyone, be it Andi or Nurdin, they're putting the interests of their factions ahead of football," he said. "If we want to develop football, we have to stand shoulder to shoulder, not be split apart."

NGO says Nurdin bribed PSSI members to pick him

Jakarta Globe - March 6, 2011

In another twist in the Indonesian Football Association saga, a nongovernmental organization reported chairman Nurdin Halid to the Jakarta Police on Sunday alleging he was guilty of bribery and lying to the public.

"We are here to report Nurdin because we have evidence that he bribed PSSI [football association] members during a meeting in Bali in January so they would chose him to run for another term," said Jusuf Rizal, chairman of Lumbung Informasi Rakyat, or LIRA.

Nurdin received 81 votes in the preliminary election as part of his bid for a third term as chairman, but Jusuf said this was because he paid Rp 20 million ($2,300) to each member who supported his nomination.

LIRA also claimed that it had evidence of match-fixing in Indonesian Super League games, saying it involved top PSSI officials, and the embezzlement of state funds by professional clubs in the country.

"We also have several eyewitnesses who are willing to testify against Nurdin and the PSSI," Jusuf said. "We hope the Jakarta Police will investigate this case and we are ready to provide more evidence."

Jusuf added that Nurdin has been lying to the public by retaining his position in the PSSI after being convicted for graft twice since he assumed the chairman's post in 2003.

"FIFA's statutes and code of ethics clearly state that a former convict is barred from holding any position within the football association. Nurdin repeatedly says that the association has the right to interpret that law according to each country's bylaws, but that's a lie," he said.

PSSI official Max Boboy said the association was not overly worried by the claims.

"It's every citizen's right to report something to the police. However, he must prove those allegations in the court," Max told newsportal Vivanews. (Antara, JG)

Jakarta & urban life

Land planning in Jakarta squeezing out the poor

Straits Times - March 7, 2011

Zubaidah Nazeer – Madam Wilus lives in a ramshackle dwelling by the railway track in Central Jakarta. Held up by bamboo sticks, its floor is papered over with old newspapers and cardboard.

At night, she relies on kerosene lamps to ward off cockroaches and mosquitoes. Sleeping just 2m from the track, she is constantly awakened by train horns blaring to warn squatters of its approach.

Madam Wilus, who is in her 80s and from a town in Central Java, has endured such conditions with fellow squatter, Mr Sarjo, 69, for as long as she can remember. Her husband and children died 'a long time ago', she says.

Both are among a community of 800 squatters who have slept by and raised families alongside the stretch of tracks for years. But now, rail operator PT Kereta Api has had enough of squatters being hit by trains every few months. It wants them to leave by this week.

Though they will be offered a free ride back to their hometowns, Madam Wilus says she has nowhere to go. She said: "I can't return home to the village. There is no family left there for me."

Such evictions have made the news in Jakarta in the past month, a consequence of developers and corporations – driven by an economic boom – jostling for already-scarce land in the congested capital.

Jakarta's government wants to tidy up the dirty sprawl in the city, where poorer folk have set up home next to rivers, under bridges and outside train stations. They cannot afford housing in the capital but stay in Jakarta to earn their living.

Two weeks ago, four women sewed their mouths to protest against what they saw as an unfair eviction from Rawasari, Central Jakarta. They were among protesters who felt they had been lied to when told to clear their 5,000 sq m land in 2008 for a park. Instead, they saw condominium towers being erected.

A special staff member of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono criticised the "inhumane" eviction, saying there should have been more transparency and dialogue between land developers and affected residents.

But Jakarta city government spokesman Cucu Ahmad Kurniawan told The Straits Times: "The residents knew they didn't have rights to such state land. We explained it to them and the 2008 eviction was carried out smoothly, with advance warning and compensation given."

Critics have expressed their disgust at the way commercial interests take precedence over helping the poor.

Mr Yosep Adi Prasetyo of the Indonesian Human Rights Commission, said: "The poor in Jakarta are looked down on as enemies of the state and often, their rights are not respected or fulfilled."

The city government lacks comprehensive cheap housing plans for those evicted, he added, noting that Jakarta's developments "are skewed to commercial interests at the expense of the poor".

Indeed, housing Jakarta's over nine million residents has been a thorny issue, especially relocating squatters who come from outside the city.

Dr Yudhoyono tried to address this in 2007, when he launched an ambitious program to build 1,000 towers of low-cost housing but a local media report said only a third of the target has been met.

The poor do not always accept these homes, which they can rent for 120,000 rupiah (S$17) monthly, because they are either located far from where they work or they lack electricity and water because of shoddy work by developers.

Some local district heads reportedly give up the land allocated for such projects because the subsidies for them eat into the budget.

Meanwhile, with plans to speed up infrastructure projects such as the construction of new roads and an MRT system, evictions are likely to continue.

Later this year, the government will debate a land acquisition Bill to ensure fair compensation for property owners affected by public infrastructure projects. But this law will not fix the problem of squatters in the city, said Mr Yosep.

"If provincial governments had provided good education, employment and other fundamental programs to care for their community and get them on track to becoming independent, poverty numbers would shrink," he said.

Film & television

Filmmakers critical of government plan to subsidize patriotic movies

Jakarta Globe - March 2, 2011

Elisabeth Oktofani & Antara – The Indonesian film industry appeared lukewarm to the government's plan to allocate a special budget to subsidize the production of films that "instill love to the nation, raise patriotism and national defense."

Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik, speaking in Jakarta on Tuesday, said the subsidies would begin next year, though he did not say how much the program would cost.

"Good films that are full of messages of national character-building will be subsidized," Jero said, adding that he would establish a team to determine the criteria for films to be subsidized.

Joko Anwar, a prominent Indonesian director, said the idea was not well considered.

"If the ministry only subsidizes films that improve patriotism, it would actually just foster the creation of bad patriotic movies," he said. "Filmmakers will try to meet the criteria needed to get the subsidy instead of focusing their creative efforts on producing a quality film."

Ody Harahap, another local director of note, said that if the government pushes through the plan, it should have clear criteria and a transparent mechanism for doling out the subsidy.

"There is a possibility that the government will only support the filmmakers who have a close relation with the government," he said.

Both directors said there were better ways to develop the local film industry.

Joko said supporting promising filmmakers instead of certain kinds of films was a better use of money, citing as an example the tax break provided by the New Zealand government to the producers of the Lord of the Rings franchise.

Ody suggested focusing efforts on improving facilities for Indonesian filmmakers. "They can build a film school or a film library with a good collection so filmmakers can learn," he said.

Jero also said he would pursue the implementation of more fiscal incentives in the form of tax reductions for national film production. "The government will propose a zero percent tax for national film production," he said.

The government recently implemented a zero taxation policy on importing raw materials used in film production.

Indonesia's national film production has reached 100 titles a year and is expected to keep rising to reach 200 by 2014 to equal the number of imported films screened in theaters.

Jero said the government, through the Ministry of Finance, was still calculating the amount of tax for national film production. It is also still calculating the appropriate tax for imported films, he said.

Subsidies, tax breaks for films that 'instill love' of Indonesia: Ministry

Antara News - March 1, 2011

The Indonesian government is planning to allocate a special budget to subsidize the production of films that "instill love to the nation, raise patriotism and national defense."

Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik, speaking in Jakarta on Tuesday, said the subsidies would begin next year though he did not say how much the program was expected to cost.

Good films that are full of messages for national character building will be subsidized," Jero said.

He said he would establish a team to select and determine the criteria for films to be subsidized so that production of such films would increase in terms of quality.

The team was also expected to be able to carry out its task well so that the subsidy to be given would meet the right targets, he said.

"Some of the criteria include that the films must contain messages that instill love to the nation, raise patriotism and national defense. This is important because films like that would have a strong effect on national character building," he said.

The minister said he would also seek to give a fiscal incentive in the form of tax reductions for national film production. "We will propose a zero percent tax for national film production," he said.

The government recently implemented a zero taxation policy on the importation of the raw materials used in film production.

Indonesia's national film production has reached 100 titles a year and is expected to keep rising to reach 200 by 2014 to equal the number of imported films.

Wacik said the government through the Ministry of Finance was now still calculating the amount of tax for national film production. It is also still calculating the right tax for imported films, he said.

"Right now the government is still studying the tax for imported films. What is clear is that imported films will remain being shown but the tax for them will be made fairer," he said.

Police & law enforcement

Confusion reigns over makeup of riot force

Jakarta Globe - March 6, 2011

Farouk Arnaz – The future of the National Police's proposed antianarchy unit appeared less clear after police told lawmakers on Thursday that the highly criticized new unit would utilize existing police structures.

"The antianarchy detachment is not new, actually," Comr. Gen. Ito Sumardi, the National Police's chief of detectives, said in a hearing with legislators at the House of Representatives Commission Vlll on Thursday. "It already exists in the Mobile Brigade structure and its costs are already covered by our current budget."

When asked when the existing unit was established, however, Ito could not provide a clear answer. "I think it was for a regional election that had the potential to trigger riots," he said without specifying the case.

National Police Chief Gen. Timur Pradopo unveiled the plan to set up a new antianarchy detachment on Monday, calling it a "breakthrough solution" to religious violence.

"I think this is a solution to address the problem of violence," Timur said on Monday, promising to divulge more details on the new squad sometime next week.

However, Ito said on Thursday that the new unit would only be an "optimization" of the Mobile Brigade force (Brimob). "We want to optimize our effort to protect our peoples, public facilities and human lives," he said.

Under a 2010 regulation, police are permitted to use live ammunition to immobilize protesters during riots or violent clashes. Members of the antianarchy unit will be equipped with rubber bullets and a limited amount of live ammunition.

National Police spokesman Chief. Comr. Boy Rafli Amar reiterated that the antianarchy unit would not be a new structure. "It is more like improving the quality of a unit which already existed," he said. "The personnel will be derived from the Mobile Brigade or the Sabhara [patrol] unit."

Brimob spokesman Adj. Chief Comr. Budiman said "antianarchy" was only name. Zainun Akmati, an Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) legislator, expressed concern the unit would act excessively because the name was too "aggressive." "Why don't just use the existing Mobile Brigade team?" he said. "Why do they need to change their name?"

Despite criticism, AGO insists its system is fine

Jakarta Post - March 3, 2011

Ina Parlina, Jakarta – The Attorney General's Office (AGO) says there is nothing wrong with their monitoring system and that the recent extortion case involving a Tangerang prosecutor was not an indication of a lack of supervision.

Prosecutor Dwi Seno Wijanarko was recently arrested by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) for allegedly extorting a bank employee. He was caught red-handed receiving in the evening.

Junior attorney general for internal monitoring Marwan Effendy said Tuesday that an internal monitoring team investigating Seno's supervisors found no negligence.

"In fact, we found that they always monitor their subordinates, including regularly having briefings," Marwan told The Jakarta Post. "But, it is hard to monitor subordinates outside the office." He said it was impossible to expect prosecutors to monitor their subordinates 24 hours a day seven days a week.

Attorney General Basrief Arief denied that his office failed to monitor its prosecutors, saying "watching 24,000 employees is not easy."

Marwan said, "Such responsibility, which is embedded within each prosecutor having subordinates, is at the forefront in preventing any violations of duty in the AGO."

He said that if there were violations his office forwarded the case to internal investigators to look for any violations of the code of ethics as well as possible crimes.

"If we find ethical violations we will impose sanctions against the perpetrator," said Marwan, who leads the internal monitoring unit himself. "And, if we find any criminal acts, we will hand the case over to the police."

As for special crimes like corruption, he said his unit would hand cases over to another AGO internal unit, the special crimes unit, to investigate. "It does not have to be handed over to the KPK. We can probe corruption on our own."

Up to October 2010, Marwan's unit had imposed 191 disciplinary sanctions on prosecutors of all levels. One hundred and two prosecutors were found guilty of abusing their power, 78 prosecutors of ethical violations and 11 prosecutors of being undisciplined.

Marwan added his unit had recently postponed promotion for a year for three prosecutors – Fachrizal, Immanuel Rudy Pailang and Henny Harjaningtyas – in a graft case involving former tax official Bahasyim Assifie.

Prosecutors have been perceived by the public as less than transparent and lacking accountability. Two public surveys on corruption showed that the AGO and prosecutors' offices were among the state institutions that ranked lowest in the public perception of corruption eradication efforts.

According to an Indonesian Survey Institute report in November 2010, prosecutors' offices were among three institutions, together with the police and the courts, which had a poor reputation.

The survey, which was conducted between Oct. 10 and 20 had 1,824 respondents across Indonesia, and concluded that prosecutors, courts and police had failed to prevent their officers from committing corruption and bowing to political and business pressure.

A similar poll by Transparency International Indonesia surveyed business people in cities across Indonesia and found that they perceived that prosecutors' offices were a main concern regarding corruption.

Basrief challenged those results, saying the survey's were based solely on people's assumptions. "They gathered information based on opinions. Nothing has been proven," he said.

Hasril Hertanto from the Indonesian Judiciary Observers said the AGO was making excuses to preserve its reputation. "If it's an embedded responsibility, then they have to carry it out without complaining."

Police to set up new riot squad

Jakarta Globe - March 1, 2011

Farouk Arnaz – The National Police announced on Tuesday that they will set up a new unit to deal with riots and violent clashes.

The announcement comes in response to recent bloody attacks on members of the Ahmadiyah sect in Cikeusik, Banten, and anti-Christian violence in Temanggung, Central Java.

"After [clashes in] Cikeusik and Temmanggung, we have come up with the breakthrough to establish a new antianarchy detachment. I think it is a solution in addressing the problem [of riots]," National Police Chief Gen. Timur Pradopo told reporters on Tuesday.

Timur said there would be changes to the culture and collective mind-set of the police. He said the role of a police officer was to protect people.

The concept of an anti-anarchy unit is still being discussed by the National Police's education institutions, Timur said. "This new unit will be established at all provincial police branches," he said.

National Police spokesman Chief Comr. Boy Raffly Amar said that the new unit would be instructed to implement police regulation number 1/X/2010, which allows police officers to use live bullets if protestors become uncooperative or start attacking officers.

Under the regulation, officers are only allowed to shoot to immobilize, not to kill.

Boy said the establishment of a new deployment did not meant that current police units could not deal with riots, but rather that the problem of rioters was getting bigger.

"The problem is becoming more complicated. We already have [the Mobile Brigade] to deal with rioters, but this new detachment would be a specified unit."

The new unit will consist of police from the National Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob), police reserves (Sampata) and riot squads.

Foreign affairs & trade

Indonesian bakso may soon lose vital Australian ingredient

Sydney Morning Herald - March 4, 2011

Tom Allard, Jakarta – It is a ubiquitous sight, and sound, across the cities and villages of Indonesia: the bakso vendor tapping a steady rhythm on a large steel pot, quite literally drumming up business.

Bakso, a hearty noodle soup laden with meatballs that costs as little as $1, is an Indonesian icon, beloved by rich and poor alike, including the US President and former Jakarta resident, Barack Obama.

It is sold by four million hawkers according to the association of bakso sellers. And as people congregate around stalls and carts consuming the dish, they debate the most delectable regional variety, the best garnishes and mix of spices.

They are also fond of speculating about just what is inside the meatballs, with their mysterious rubbery texture and greyish pallor, an interest that piqued after a television expose for revealed that some purveyors were using rat meat.

What may surprise many Indonesians is there is a good chance their bakso contains offal from cattle raised in the vast scrublands of northern Australia.

Beef hearts give the bakso its signature chewy consistency, while other offcuts like tongue, lips and spleen can also find their way into the bakso concoction, mixed in with a little minced meat, flour, fat, spices and preservatives. It is a lucrative business for Australian meat producers. Some 22,600 tonnes of Australian offal was exported to Indonesia last year, worth about $50 million.

Indonesia's love of bakso means offal prices typically exceed the world norm and the growth in demand for imported offal, cheaper than the local product, has almost quadrupled since 2007. But that market is now under serious threat, and a significant trade dispute looms as Indonesia signals a dramatic cut in Australian beef exports.

In a trade worth about $600 million last year, Australian beef producers shipped some 700,000 live cattle and 70,000 tonnes of boxed beef, which includes offal and more expensive cuts of butchered meat.

The quota for live cattle will be reduced to 500,000 this year and the size of each beast limited to 350 kilograms. The overall boxed beef market is to be slashed by almost two-thirds. And it seems the hardest hit segment of the Australian beef export industry will be offal. Indonesia has also proposed a new regulation that will ban most types of imported offal, identifying health concerns as the motivation.

Australia and other countries have queried the planned regulation in the World Trade Organisation, arguing the safety issues do not stack up, as local producers face no such restrictions. So serious is the looming crunch on Australia's meat export industry, the Minister for Agriculture, Joe Ludwig, is expected in Jakarta next week for talks with his Indonesian counterpart.

The restrictions are part of a five-year plan for Indonesia, which imports about one third of its beef, to achieve self-sufficiency by 2014. It is the third such five-year plan since 1999 and much hangs on a census of Indonesia's cattle population due to be completed midyear.

Industry insiders say the government's belief it has 12 million head of cattle is wildly optimistic, and the true number is perhaps half that level.

Jeremy Gaylard, a Melbourne consultant to the offal trade, says Australian "fancy meats" are of the "highest possible standard" and meet the Islamic requirement to be halal.

Lukmanul Hakim, the director of food and drug analysis at the Indonesian Ulema Council, concurs, noting that it is how the cattle are slaughtered that is important, rather than which part is eaten. Mr Gaylard said Indonesian self-sufficiency by 2014 was a "very admirable goal" but "simply unachievable". "It's going to put the price of offal through the roof," he said.

If Mr Gaylard's prediction comes to pass, there will be four million irate bakso sellers, and many more cranky diners.

Mining & energy

Enforcing the cabotage law could cost country billions

Jakarta Globe - March 2, 2011

Ririn Radiwati Kusuma & Reuters – An Energy Ministry official urged legislators on Wednesday to rethink the cabotage law as it could hurt oil and gas production in a nation already straining to keep up with demand.

Evita Legowo, director of oil and gas at the ministry, warned members of House of Representatives Commission V, which oversees transportation, that Indonesia's offshore oil and gas output could plummet if the law were implemented in May.

"We will not able to meet our oil and gas target of 2.4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day this year," Evita said. "There are 156,020 barrels of oil per day and 2,549 million standard cubic feet per day of gas that will not be produced if foreign vessels are not allowed to operate."

She said the country would likely lose more than $7 billion in oil and gas production if the law took effect.

The cabotage law requires all maritime vessels operating in Indonesian waters to register as Indonesian-flagged vessels. It also requires oil and gas rigs to be registered here because the law considers them to be foreign shipyards. The law was enacted in 2005, but enforcement was delayed for years.

Foreign investors in Indonesian shipping companies face a cap of 49 percent ownership, with the local partner holding 51 percent. Under the law, all domestic commodity shipments must be made by Indonesian-flagged vessels.

Diplomats and foreign companies have complained the change is simple protectionism and Indonesian companies are poised to gain from the changes.

Evita suggested revising Article 341 of the Law on Shipping, which says foreign vessels are not allowed to transport goods here, to allow all foreign vessels to operate in Indonesian waters until their current contracts expire.

"Brazil and Australia have the cabotage rule, but with exceptions for offshore exploitation and exploration ships," she said. "Nigeria and Angola are having problems with ships getting permission and it has taken a high toll on their economies."

She also said the law would delay $188 million in seismic surveying activity in the country and $2.8 billion in planned drilling.

Offshore activity makes up 48 percent of Indonesia's oil and gas industry, Evita said, with offshore business expected to see more expansion than onshore business in the coming years.

Raden Priyono, head of upstream oil and gas regulator BPMigas, said the number of ships transporting goods through Indonesian waters was expected to increase from 138 this year to 235 by 2015.

However, Indonesia cannot provide the necessary vessels for offshore activities because of the huge investment involved. "One ship costs more than $200 million, and local banks cannot provide that amount of money," he said. "We still need ships from abroad."

While Priyono said he was unsure of the consequences of the cabotage law, he said he had a report of one ship leaving the country because of uncertainty over the law.

Sunartoyo, a lawmaker from the National Mandate Party (PAN), said revising Article 341 was necessary to provide certainty for offshore oil and gas companies.

Sadarestuwati, a member of the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said the government must trust local companies to provide ships. "Don't underestimate them," she said.

The Energy Ministry also proposed a ministerial decree to regulate the operations of all vessels involved in the oil industry.

Consent from wary villagers a must for new Sidoarjo well

Jakarta Globe - March 2, 2011

Amir Tejo, Sidoarjo, East Java – A new application for a gas drilling project by the company widely blamed for triggering a mud volcano that devastated the region must be accepted first by residents, a district official said.

Maksum, head of Sidoarjo's energy and mineral resources office, said oil and gas exploration firm Lapindo Brantas had already applied to district head Saiful Illah for a permit to drill in Kalidawir village in Tanggulangin subdistrict. "We didn't turn them down, but we advised them to inform the residents first," he said.

Maksum said it was important the company secure the villagers' consent before resuming operations in the region because of the prevailing mistrust toward drilling operations in the wake of the May 2006 disaster.

In that incident, a blowout of one of Lapindo's natural gas wells brought a torrent of hot mud and gas bubbling up to the surface.

The mud volcano would go on to become the world's biggest, swamping 12 villages in Porong subdistrict in more than 15 meters of mud. It is expected to continue gushing until at least 2037.

Lapindo and the government blamed the disaster on an earthquake that struck days before in Yogyakarta, around 280 kilometers away.

However, foreign experts accuse the company of failing to place a protective casing around a section of its well. As a result, the well was exposed to a "kick" from pressurized water and gas beneath the layer of mud, thus driving the gray, concrete-like sludge to the surface.

Maksum said that to help the company gain acceptance for its new plan, the Sidoarjo administration would organize a series of regular meetings between Lapindo and community stakeholders.

"We've already had two meetings hosted by the district head," he said. "Perhaps the next one can be at the office for energy and mineral resources."

Maksum said Saiful had refused to approve the permit until the company had consulted with the villagers at Kalidawir.

He said Lapindo already had permits to drill in two locations in the village, but wanted to begin drilling at a third site and extend the depths of its existing wells.

"In the presentation they gave when applying for the new permit, they assured us that the proposed new well would be safe because it would only extend 3,500 meters deep," he said. "The one that blew out in 2006 was 9,000 meters deep."

However, residents of Kalidawir said they were not swayed by Lapindo's assurances and remained skeptical of drilling projects in general.

Sholeh, head of the village's development council, said that ever since the 2006 disaster, residents in the area were wary of drilling operations of any kind. "We completely reject any plan to drill a new gas well in the area," he said.

Sholeh said that even if there was no risk that the new well would trigger another mud volcano, the people were still reluctant to consent to it. He said since it began operating in the district in 2002, Lapindo had not brought any significant benefits to residents.

"At the very beginning they promised to launch a community development program, but they've never made good on that promise," he said. "Nothing they've ever promised us has come to pass."

Sholeh said among the company's broken promises were pledges to erect a fence around the village cemetery, build irrigation canals for local farmers and employ local residents in its operations.

"But it was all just promises," he said. "And since they triggered the disaster in Porong, they've been using the excuse that they have no money to build what they promised because they've had to pay compensation to affected residents.

"We actually allowed them to start drilling here back then on the strength of those empty promises."

Infrastructure & development

Will the economic corridor policy live on paper only?

Jakarta Post - March 1, 2011

Rendi A. Witular – President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono launched on Feb. 22 a blueprint for the nation's economic development for the next 14 years. Inside the plan was an ambitious policy to develop economic corridors on the archipelago's five major islands. The Jakarta Post's Rendi A. Witular looks into the issue:

Balanced regional development propelled by domestic resources was the basic idea behind the economic corridor policy, which was widely praised by local administration officials and businesspeople.

The policy was included in the government's 2011-2025 acceleration and expansion economic development blueprint. Questions, however, linger as to whether the policy will actually work.

Under the scheme, the government plans to build economic clusters and business centers on all of Indonesia's major islands to support their unique local economies.

The corridors were defined as six economic development highways, mostly located along coastlines, which would connect economic growth centers on five islands: Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Papua, according to the blueprint, a copy of which was recently obtained by the Post.

For example, the northern coast of East Java would be developed as a hub for the petrochemical and shipyard industries, while the province's inland areas would be developed as centers for the food and beverage manufacturing sectors.

South Sumatra and Riau would become the nation's hubs for the oil palm processing industry under the scheme, while Bali and Lombok would be centers for the tourism industry.

Remote and isolated Papua has been slated to become a center for gas, gold and copper exploration, while its southern parts would be allocated to food plantations.

"There has never been a concept or policy that has emphasized a province's unique potential like this economic corridor [concept]," Papua Governor Barnabas Suebu said.

South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin had similar praise for the concept, saying the policy reflected a thorough effort to detach the national economic development from a focus on Java.

"There will be so many things to do. The hardest part will be to convince investors to come to our area, and to set up basic infrastructure," he said.

While the government seems to have had a hard time in luring foreign investors to support such proposal, the resources of state companies will be deployed to help realize the scheme, with an expected investment of around US$90 billion slated over the next four years.

Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa said state companies would become the basis for the economic corridor policy's success.

"We have designed the policy so that state companies will enter first in order for local businesspeople to see a real example that the plan is really being implemented well," Hatta said.

Hatta said the investment needed for the plan to work in the short-term would be provided by state companies, adding the government would allocate around 8 percent of the state budget to develop the basic infrastructure required for the program.

State-Owned Enterprises Minister Mustafa Abubakar even required all state company executives in attendance at a recent Cabinet meeting to stand and take a vow before Yudhoyono to endorse the scheme.

State-controlled Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) said it would focus most of its lending this year to finance projects planned under the policy, according to BNI president director Gatot Suwondo.

"Our lending is expected to grow as much as 20 percent this year. Most of the lending will be to sectors and projects under the policy," he said.

The ambitious policy was based on the Industrial Road Map developed by the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) and several associations in 2007 and on input from the National Economic Committee (KEN), according to KEN member Chris Kanter.

KEN, chaired by politically wired tycoon Chairul Tandjung, then forwarded the ideas to the Office of the Coordinating Ministry for the Economy.

"Businesspeople have praised the concept. We can now see an exact path for economic development for the next 14 years. This has somehow boosted our confidence," said Chris, whose businesses were mostly engaged in logistics.

"But the problem with the private sector is that we will be skeptical about implementation unless there's a success story within one or two years of the implementation of the policy."

Chairman of the Indonesian Employers' Association (Apindo), Sofjan Wanandi, said the policy was more realistic than before, and it would be Yudhoyono's hallmark legacy in the economic sector if it could be realized.

According to Sofjan, the administration's seriousness could be measured by a meeting between Hatta, several economic ministers and representatives of the nation's 20 biggest conglomerates on Feb. 22 to promote the policy.

Yudhoyono is slated to meet with local businessmen at the end of March to discuss policy details and to find ways to prevent protracted impediments.

"The idea is good, but again more details are needed for implementation. The devil is in the details," Sofjan said. "We need a success story from two or three state companies engaged in the policy, then we will be convinced it really works."

Hatta pledged to directly handle protracted problems by closely supervising the progress of each ministry so that investors would be convinced with the policy. "The policy will not be left on paper. I'm tired of speaking merely of concepts and pledges. This time it will surely work."

Mounting doubts are understandable. Numerous ambitious projects and policies have been launched by Yudhoyono's administration. Most have run aground, leaving only a few success stories.

Protracted problems related to land procurement, bureaucratic delays, uncertainty in regulations and law enforcement, illegal fees, as well as uncoordinated central and local government policies have not been addressed thoroughly.

A set of draft laws needed for bureaucratic reform and accelerated land clearance have remained on the desks of government officials for at least three years without progress.

Less progress has also been seen on efforts to eliminate logistics bottlenecks, with the latest turmoil revolving around ferry transport between Java and Sumatra.

Cargo trucks have been trapped in lines as long as five kilometers for the last two weeks at Merak port in Banten and Bakauheni port in Lampung. Mismanagement by state ferry company PT ASDP is blamed for the gridlock.

Poor transportation infrastructure has been widely blamed for keeping Indonesia's economy from growing faster.

According to the Institute of Economic and Social Research (LPEM) at the University of Indonesia, the nation's logistical costs are among the highest in the world, accounting for 14.08 percent of sales revenue. In comparison, logistical costs in Japan are 4.88 percent.

The government is eying 6.4 percent economic growth in 2011 over the 6.1 percent growth in 2010 that was propelled primarily by investments. Since 1999, Indonesia's economy has been largely fueled by domestic consumption.

Economy & investment

Govt pushes on with state firms' IPOs despite Krakatau, Garuda troubles

Jakarta Globe - March 3, 2011

Faisal Maliki Baskoro & Dion Bisara – Controversy generated during recent initial public offerings by state companies has not stopped the government's plans to list even more of its firms.

State cement maker Semen Baturaja secured approval from the government's privatization committee on Thursday, pushing it closer to a Rp 1 trillion ($114 million) IPO.

The government is optimistic it can sell stakes in up to 10 state-owned companies this year in a bid to fund their expansion while improving their performance and transparency.

State Enterprises Minister Mustafa Abubakar said Semen Baturaja should list this year, ahead of its scheduled debut in 2013. Approval by the House of Representatives is expected to come in the first half of this year.

"Semen Baturaja's IPO plan adds to the three companies that have already been decided to be divested this year. All four of these are in our program in 2011," Mustafa said on Thursday.

That optimism is despite contentious IPOs for air carrier Garuda Indonesia and steel maker Krakatau Steel. Krakatau's IPO was marred by reports that shares were kept low as a favor to lawmakers, who could sell them quickly at a steep profit, while Garuda's shares plunged 17 percent on their trading debut as the price was seen as too expensive.

After two controversial IPOs under Mustafa's leadership, Airlangga Hartarto, chairman of House Commission VI, which oversees state enterprises, said the House would not just provide a rubber stamp for Baturaja's IPO.

"In the current market conditions and after Krakatau Steel and Garuda's controversial IPOs, we have to look at Baturaja's business plan before giving the green light," Airlangga said. "Baturaja's size is relatively small in the industry. I'm not sure if the IPO will be attractive."

Lawmakers are still probing Krakatau's IPO because they claim the shares were offered at a low price to benefit certain parties, including the lawmakers themselves. The government is also evaluating Garuda's IPO, which was largely a flop as the main underwriters had to absorb almost half the offered shares.

The government plans to sell a 30 percent stake in Semen Baturaja in a bid to help fund the firm's expansion. The cement maker posted Rp 874 billion in revenue last year, up 7 percent from 2009, while profit rose 23.47 percent last year to Rp 220.81 billion.

Mustafa said other state companies to be privatized this year are textile firm Cambrics Primissima, paper maker Kertas Padalarang and construction company Sarana Karya.

Analysis & opinion

Indecisive as usual

Jakarta Post - March 6, 2011

Vincent Lingga – This week was abuzz with wide speculation that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would rebuke and oust the Golkar Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) from his coalition government after they initiated a motion to set up a legislative tax inquiry committee.

When the President convened a news conference on Tuesday, many thought this was it, relieved that the usually indecisive and diffident Yudhoyono would finally announce a shakeup in his Cabinet, expelling those ministers from renegade parties for opposing the government's stance.

But, alas, Yudhoyono utterly disappointed both the assembled crowd of reporters who were expecting a big story and the general public who were watching the live TV broadcast of his statement.

The President seized the occasion only by firing a warning shot at the parties that had refused to toe the government line, breaching the code of conduct the party leaders signed when the coalition was set up in October of 2009.

Yudhoyono said he found after thorough evaluation that one or two members of the six-party coalition had violated parts of the code of conduct. But he fell short of naming any names of the "rebel" parties so as not to offend anyone. Nor did he make any concrete decision about those parties.

The President only said he and Vice President Boediono would personally discuss the issue with all the coalition members to determine whether they were still committed to the coalition's agreement.

The President, with the support of the other four members of his coalition and, surprisingly, also the small opposition Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), did defeat by a very thin margin the motion to form the tax inquiry committee.

But what was really humiliating for the President in the latest tussle was that Golkar and the PKS, the largest partners in his coalition, were the main players behind the motion.

Had the motion been approved, the government would have been distracted from its main job as it would have faced a new wave of political turbulence in the next few months that could have adversely affected government policy and its decision-making capabilities and further delayed the enactment of many important bills.

Another special inquiry committee would only have created a new bout of harsh political harassment of the government like what happened during the inquiry into the Bank Century bailout last year.

What is badly needed now is consistent and strong enforcement by the Corruption Eradication Commission, the police and the Attorney General's Office against tax corruptors, evaders and corrupt tax officials.

Early last year, Golkar and the PKS, in cooperation with other opposition parties, also forced a House inquiry into the 2008 Bank Century bailout, but after almost four months of raucous investigations of senior officials, ministers and even Vice President Boediono, the inquiry committee found nothing in the way of criminal acts.

The only result from four months of rowdy sessions at the House was the government's loss of its best economic minister, the internationally respected Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who is now a managing director at the Washington-based World Bank.

Like it or not, the coalition government is a must in Indonesia's multiparty system, even though Yudhoyono won with 62 percent of the vote in the 2009 election. He cannot rule effectively without adequate support in the House of Representatives because his party controls only 26 percent of the seats in the House and he needs House approval for his budget and most of the reform measures required for good governance.

Theoretically, the six parties that make up the coalition have the same platform as to how to bring about justice and prosperity to the people even though this does not rule out differences of opinion.

Certainly, the coalition partners can have different opinions on programs and policy instruments, but the final decision must depend on the President as the leader of the coalition.

Different views can and should be vigorously debated at the coalition secretariat, but once a decision is made by the President, all coalition partners are obliged to implement it.

What has happened over the past two years is that the coalition has worked only in the executive branch (Cabinet), but has constantly faced a turbulent time at the House as Golkar's and the PKS's legislators often take opposing stances to the government's.

No wonder many reform measures and badly needed legislation have been stalled as parties have wasted their time bickering about things that have nothing to do with the public's interest.

This time, we think, the President should act firmly to improve the cohesiveness of his coalition because even though his term will end in October of 2014, he has only two-and-a-half years left to govern because in mid-2013 his coalition partners will start gearing up for the 2014 general and presidential elections.

The situation now is crying out for real leadership to run an effective government. If the President continues his old habit of trying to appease everyone and offend no one at the expense of any real reform, in the end he is doing nothing.

Yudhoyono would be well advised to realize that he cannot avoid offending narrow-minded and vested interests and misguided and corrupt politicians, otherwise he will utterly disappoint the tens of millions of people who have put their faith in him.

New playground for voyeurs, hypocrites

Jakarta Globe - March 6, 2011

Marcel Thee – The latest national sex video scandal involves a clip of Iwan Fajarudin, a National Mandate Party lawmaker from the Purworejo Legislative Council and a woman he claims is his wife. According to Iwan, the video was probably taken from his laptop, which he had recently sold.

A couple of days earlier, Twitter user @Fahri_Israel uploaded a video via his account, claiming it featured Anis Matta, a deputy House speaker from the Prosperous Justice Party.

Like all the other nationally produced sex clips making the rounds these last few years, these new videos are readily available for public viewing due to the increasing prevalence of mobile phones and the Internet. Voyeurs trade grainy video files over the Internet on a daily basis like they are going out of style (which, ironically, they are never going to do).

Certainly, the tapes do not prove people are having more sex, there's just more cellphone footage of it to go around.

The added irony here is that the reactions to these various sex tapes – often accused of being morally corrosive, or providing cinematic proof of a corrupted youth – showcase the worst of the country's increasing lack of focus on what constitutes real moral values.

The story always seems to go the same way: the wronged receives an overdose of uneducated condemnation, while the true perpetrators receive a slap on the wrist and a hidden pat on the back from voyeurs and a gossip-show- obsessed public.

Here is a short list of the country's most publicized sex videos and the typically nationalistic brouhaha that surrounded each one. Keep in mind that many "facts" are in truth alleged rumors stirred up by the condemning public.

If anything, sex video scandals are always accompanied by a good dose of hypocrisy. Be forewarned.

Peterporn (2010)

By now, everybody is familiar with the story. Nazril "Ariel" Irham, the frontman of the successful pop band Peterpan, left private files at a recording studio and someone else posted them on the Internet. Along with the women who allegedly appeared in the videos, Ariel was then dragged through the courts and ended up getting jail time. He became the country's villain and was blamed for devaluing the morals of Indonesia's youth who, apparently, would not have had any interest in sex otherwise.

Maria Eva and the House of Representatives guy (2006)

This sex tape is almost comical in its cringe-worthy bedside banter. Here we have a former Golkar Party lawmaker begging his female companion to turn off her cellphone camera and just get down to business. Unfortunately, his equally shrewd paramour decided to keep a souvenir for future use.

Whatever the case may be, Mr. politics, a.k.a. Yahya Zaini, lost his spot at the House of Representatives, while Maria Eva, a dangdut singer, became a pseudo celebrity. She appeared on various talk shows and a few months ago gave some advice to Ariel's alleged sex tape co-star Luna Maya, saying that "Luna is not a smart woman" because "I only took my clothes off in the video, just for giggles. I did not commit adultery [on video]. That's why Luna is not smart."

Celebrity hidden cam (2003)

A slew of female celebs became unwillingly involved in the creation of this complete visual invasion of privacy. The video was allegedly shot by photographer Budi Han and his band of merry men, through a one-way mirror at a professional photo studio. Somehow, the private collection ended up on the Internet to the extreme wrath of the celebrities, including high- profile actresses and singers.

A few of the celebrities were involved in highly publicized press conferences demanding that legal action be taken against Han and his men. This was perhaps one of the very few instances where the public and the law were behind the actual victims (perhaps because they were not actually enjoying themselves during the taping).

Han was prosecuted on three counts: the distribution of obscene material, defamation and the act of forcing another person to commit unpleasant acts. But of course, the tapes sold like hotcakes.

Alleged National Institute of Technology (ITENAS) sex tape (2001)

Mostly known under its hyper-romantic title "Bandung Lautan Asmara" ("Bandung Sea of Passion"), this is the sex video that opened the floodgates.

Leaked to the adoring and judgmental public in 2001, during the era of dial-up Internet connection, the video allegedly starred two university students from different colleges in Bandung.

Like most other well-known sex tapes in the country, the video was leaked by a third party. The 20-year-old male in the clip wanted to burn a copy of the private video for his girlfriend – the film's 19-year-old female participant – to celebrate their anniversary. He did this by going to a video-transfer service that ended up spreading copies of the video to the public.

What happened next is unclear, but rumors suggested that both participants were kicked out of their respective universities.

The male was wearing a sports jersey bearing the university's name – from which the title took its name – and the university took that as an insult.

While the person who leaked the video was eventually detained, both video participants were ostracized by the public and had to endure legal questioning by authorities, who even 10-plus years ago were eager to slap the derisory allegation of self-distribution for reasons that included an eagerness to become instant celebrities.

Other miscellaneous private sex videos on the internet (2000-present)

From alleged videotaped rapes and other forms of sexual harassment in provincial towns to boyfriend "revenge" videos and hidden camera footage, the amount of amateur sex-related video material from Indonesia on the Internet is endless.

Reports of the victims in the videos being handed the justice they deserve are rare. Instead of a thorough investigation of the sexual assaults of everyday citizens on the videos, it seems the attention has been given to celebrities who have had their private videos stolen, leaving our national moral values somewhat out of focus.

Fighting for women's rights in Indonesia

Direct Action - March 2011

Zoe Kenny – The story of women in Indonesia is inseparable from the development of the Indonesian nation itself. Indonesia was swept up in the global wave of anti-colonial national liberation movements in the mid-20th century, declaring its independence in 1945 after almost 350 years of Dutch colonial rule. The key leader of Indonesia's national liberation struggle, Sukarno, went on to became the country's first president.

Sukarno's presidency was characterised by his desire to develop the country in an independent direction, politically and economically. Sukarno was one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement, which included other important Third World countries such as India and Egypt, and which aimed to forge a third path through the Cold War between the US-led capitalist camp and the Soviet Union. Sukarno's progressive, independent stance was broad enough to encompass friendly relations with the huge and popular Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), which at the height of its influence had more than 20 million members.


This was a time of ferment and activity of the masses in Indonesia, and women were no exception. The PKI's women's organisation, Gerwani (Gerakan Wanita Indonesia – Indonesian Women's Movement) was one of the largest women's organisations in the world. Gerwani was formed in 1950; in 1957 it had 650,000 members, and by 1963 it had grown to approximately 1.5 million members.

While Gerwani was formed primarily on the basis of struggling for women's rights and shared a common goal with other women's organisations of reforming Indonesia's marriage laws, it also took a strong anti-imperialist position and was involved in the larger struggle for national self- determination and independence led by Sukarno and the PKI. Gerwani campaigned on economic and political empowerment for women, particularly in rural areas, as well as supporting workers' and peasants' struggles.

The fact that Gerwani's platform and activity were not constricted to "women's issues" has been criticised by liberal feminist academics in Australia. In an article entitled "Women and the Nation", Susan Blackburn laments that Gerwani "sold out its specifically women's concerns in favour of wooing Sukarno's support through a strong anti-imperialist orientation". However, Blackburn misses the point that in Third World countries women's rights are inseparable from the struggle against imperialism.

Blackburn's criticism is patronising in its assumption that the women in Gerwani did not consciously choose to direct their efforts towards national liberation rather than "specifically women's concerns". This view dismisses women's ability to play an equal role in the great issues affecting their nation rather than simply restricting themselves to a narrower agenda of "women's issues".

Ironically, views such as Blackburn's mirror the ideological constructions of the Suharto era, which sought to narrow women's vision to the domestic sphere and only reluctantly acknowledged their right to count themselves as citizens.

Back into the home

In 1965, as Sukarno's presidency looked likely to come to an end due to his health, there were growing tensions between the PKI and the military. The kidnapping of seven generals and the mysterious deaths of six of them were used by Suharto as the excuse for a military coup against Sukarno, although later one of those involved gave evidence that Suharto had been involved in planning the conspiracy. The coup was followed by a campaign of mass killings and persecution of the PKI and its associated mass organisations. Within one year, at least one million people were murdered and 700,000 imprisoned. Gerwani members were singled out for demonisation, being blamed for the sexual mutilation of the kidnapped generals, accusations later proved to be completely false. Young generations after that era were routinely told that Gerwani had a negative influence on society and that its members were morally depraved.

Suharto's New Order regime replaced Gerwani with a new organisation, Pembinaan Kesejahteraan Keluarga (Family Welfare Movement) or PKK. In place of the outward-looking, anti-imperialist Gerwani, the PKK was a strategic part of Suharto's campaign to push women back into the domestic sphere with an emphasis on community health, family planning and education. The structure of the PKK, which still exists in contemporary Indonesia, mirrors the government bureaucracy; thus the national leader of the PKK is always the wife of the president of Indonesia, and so on through the ranks.

Women and women's mass organisations were given limited functions in the 1970s, the International Decade of Women. In a five-point program, the first four points were dedicated to women's roles as wives and mothers, with their key responsibilities squarely centred on the home, while only the fifth point acknowledged women as citizens. Women were also incorporated into Suharto's second Five Year Plan (1974-1979), which was aimed at "improving living standards and social welfare services".

Within the overall plan, the PKK and married women in particular were prescribed the function of promoting and implementing two new national programs, the family planning program (KB) and the family welfare program (PKK – the same initials as the organisation). The family planning program involved a progressive element of the new Marriage Law of 1974, which increased the minimum age for marriage and increased restrictions on men's right to marry multiple women. However, even these reforms were aimed at reducing population growth rather than giving women greater rights and capacity for self-determination.

While the KB and PKK were ostensibly aimed at improving the welfare of children and the "professionalism" of housekeeping, the 10-point plan for women was virtually impossible to implement because the government did not allocate funds to make the goals realisable.

Correspondingly, the new emphasis on women's role and responsibilities in the national development plans of the government did not address women's rights. The Suharto New Order's programs and policies in relation to women have been dubbed "state-ibuism" (ibu = "mother" in Indonesian). Their ultimate agenda was erasing memories of the Sukarno era, when masses of women were moving into political action and the public sphere, and redefining women in a purely domestic mould, reducing their previous confidence to a servile, domesticated submissiveness.

Industrial employment

However, during the 1970s, as the state sought to further confine women in the home, Suharto opened Indonesia to increased foreign investment. During the '70s and '80s, foreign-led industrialisation brought millions of young women and girls into employment in the new factories, predominantly in the textile, garment and footwear industries. By 1990, 8.2 million people were working in manufacturing, compared to approximately 3.5 million in 1980. This entailed new generations of women finding themselves in the public sphere and having to redefine themselves as workers instead of simply as aspiring wives and mothers. In that process, they also began to rediscover the spirit of resistance that Suharto had been so successful in suppressing in earlier years.

In Indonesia's factories, where wages and conditions are some of the worst in the world, these young women began to take action and organise to improve their conditions. In 1994 a young woman worker, Marsinah, in East Java, who was raped and murdered for organising her female co-workers, became a household name and symbol of resistance. Dita Sari, law student and member of the People's Democratic Party, became internationally recognised as a labour organiser who was jailed in 1996 and who famously refused a $10,000 human rights award from multinational Reebok in 2002. This resistance was not confined to factory workers. In 1998 members of a women's group protested against a government milk price hike. The repression of their peaceful protest contributed to sparking the mass uprising against Suharto that toppled him later that year.


The opening of the post-Suharto democratisation (reformasi) signalled a new era for Indonesia and for women. Along with democratic elections and the proliferation of free media, women were finally able to form their own independent organisations and networks that could begin to campaign and advocate on behalf of women, without the straitjacket of New Order diktats regarding a woman's place.

However, in Indonesia today women are still heavily oppressed. While Suharto is long gone, the fundamental problems still remain. Indonesia is a poor Third World country in which more than half of a population of 240 million live on less than US$2 a day. The current government of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is further entrenching Indonesia's weak position in the world economy by signing the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement, which will allow Chinese imports to flood the local market, undermining the weak Indonesian industrial sector and potentially resulting in the loss of millions of jobs (possibly up to 7 million). Especially affected will be the textile sector, which is dominated by women.

Indonesia's political system remains fundamentally unreformed, Indonesia is still one of the most corrupt countries in the world (ranking 110 out of 178 nations in Transparency International's 2010 corruption index), and the military continue to interfere with civil matters and are active in violently repressing organisations such as the Free Papua Movement.

Within this difficult context, women face a range of specific extra problems. In the United Nations Gender Inequality Index, Indonesia is ranked low in terms of women's participation in national politics, education, work force participation and health (420 women out of 100,000 die as a result of complications during childbirth – 100 times the rate in Australia).

Some major human rights issues facing women include prostitution and human trafficking. In 1998 the Yogyakarta Free Children Society estimated that there are at least 650,000 prostitutes in Indonesia, while UNICEF estimated that at least 100,000 women and children are trafficked for sexual exploitation each year, mainly to Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong and the Middle East. Hypocritically, while the government takes little action to curb trafficking, in 2008 it passed the infamous anti-pornography law, which metes out long jail terms for a range of activities such as possession of pornographic material or sexual public performances, and displays of "public nudity" (a term that can be flexibly applied, especially to women) can result in up to 10 years jail and $500,000 fines.

Another major issue is migrant labour. Hundreds of thousands of Indonesian workers accept contracts in other countries or attempt to migrate to those countries to escape unemployment and poverty. These migrant workers often have very little legal protection and rights in the host country, and women workers face the possibility of harassment, violence, sexual abuse or even death at the hands of employers.

Rediscovering radical practice

Furthermore, Suharto's ruthless destruction of progressive organisations broke the continuity of struggle and radicalism. Progressive groups of all persuasions still have to work hard to rediscover and re-institute those ideas and practices. Women's groups are no exception.

Left groups face a constant pressure of losing activists to the pervasive NGO-ism that dominates Indonesian civil society. A well-worn path for activists is to move from left politics to a position within an NGO and perhaps finally into a government position or even seat in parliament. The high-profile activist Dita Sari's career progression from radical labour activist to a position within the Labour Ministry is only the most recent example. The pressure to work within the mainstream rather than struggle for fundamental change has to be seen within the historical context of a mass slaughter aimed at the destruction of the most progressive and active layers within Indonesian society. The weakness of the left today is still a result of that event.

However, many left and women's groups are active today with the goal of reinvigorating the fighting spirit of the people. One of those groups is Perempuan Mahardhika (Free Women), which was established in 2003 by a conference involving 98 participants from eight provinces in Java, Bali, Sumatra and Kalimantan, but has since expanded into Papua, East Nusa Tenggara and East Java and has more than 1400 members and 15 local committees. According to one of the founders of Mahardhika, Vivi Widiyawati, "The conference identified three key aspects of women's oppression in Indonesia: the capitalist system, patriarchal culture and militarism. Secondly, we identified the importance of direct participation of women in the struggle for their own liberation and, thirdly, we decided to build a mass women's organisation on a national scale. We also strive for unity between the women's movement and the broader struggles of the poor majority. We also respond to government decisions or political attacks on women as they arise."

Mahardhika is focused on developing grassroots women's committees and running educational programs on the basic rights of women, the political movement, feminism, democracy and how to organise. One of the key projects of Mahardhika is its Feminist School program, specifically aimed at young women and particularly on university campuses. Mahardhika will be holding its third series of Feminist Schools on the last weekend of February in Yogyakarta, Jakarta and Ternate and is hoping for the participation of hundreds of young women.

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