Indonesia News Digests #11 - March 16-22, 2006

, by INDOLEFT News Service





* Indonesian now leads Jemaah Islamiyah
* TNI still keeping on guard against communists in Jakarta
* Kalla says no hike in power rates this year
* Malnutrition hits West Sumba, Lampung
* Pro-government figures stack ’TVRI’ supervisory
* Dozens of students ’possessed’


* Aceh bill still to be discussed during DPR
* Acehnese get in line for new ID cards
* Legislators support effort to disband GAM
* Militia and illegal weapons still haunt peace in
* Acehnese Peoples Party preparatory committee
* Golkar first to back independent candidates in
* Aid group suspends some tsunami operations
* Acehnese Peoples Party preparatory committee launched


* Students staying away from dormitories in
* Papua students hide, clash toll rises to six
* Defense minister calls for Papua blacklist on
Greens senator
* Freeport and the Suffering of the Papuans
* BIN accused of trying to discredit NGOs in West
* Indonesian spy chief accuses Aussie group
* Conflict over TNI, police businesses triggered
Freeport riot
* Papuan protests ’planned to push cause’
* Police attack Papua residents
* Police in Papua must ’calm down’
* Generals take over after deadly Papua riots
* Police hit back at Papuan students
* Police detain 11 more after Papua clashes
* Murders will not close mine, vows Yudhoyono
* Rights activists urge restraint in Papua
* Greens call for end to West Papua violence
* Violence escalates in Papua
* Up to five dead in clash over US mine in Papua
* Indonesian troops detain Papua protest suspects
* Indonesian police seen firing on students in protest
* Indonesia protesters kill police officers
* Police make arrests for Papua hotel attack


* Rights groups blast Rice for defending military


* Hundreds of applicants stage protest over public
service exam
* Clashes on mine worsen
* Cepu oil block operation attracts more protests
* Hunger strikers hospitalized on day six
* Protestors torch camp of US mining giant Newmont
* Newmont suspends work on Indonesian island
* Fisherfolk protest land reclamation at their


* Porn bill dividing people down faith lines
* Porn bill debate head accused of deceiving public
* Porn bill needs to wait: Jero
* Komnas-HAM senior official rejects porn bill
* Coalition to take bylaw on soliciting to Supreme
* Government states porn bill must target
* Balinese reiterate opposition to pornography


* TNI immunity a step backward: Experts
* House ratifies United Nations convention on corruption
* Munir’s widow to take Garuda to court
* Rights victims want truth law reviewed
* Activists want more details on Rice’s visit
* Book details Supreme Court’s decline


* Major ports back to work after strike
* Pink slips prey on minds of Indonesian workers
* Workers angered by joint furlough rule
* Strike paralyzes nation’s major ports
* Truck owners fed up with government inaction
* Labor rejects revision on manpower law
* Labor Law revisions protect employers at cost of


* Observers, politicians want to see bad bankers
in the dock
* Immigration officers are the culprits,
politician says
* Rp 28.6b graft uncovered in foreign missions


* Separation of mosque, state wanes in Indonesia
* Ahmadiyah gets fresh attack, house razed in Lombok
* Survey shows prevalent conservatism


* Foreign firms feeling the heat across Indonesia
* Indonesia opens a gusher


* Losing Papua
* Will the real prostitutes please stand up, then
stand down
* Who is fit to be the moral arbiter of dress
* The politics of bare flesh




Indonesian now leads Jemaah Islamiyah

Associated Press - March 22, 2006

Chris Brummitt, Jakarta — A young Indonesian
militant with close links to al-Qaida is now in
charge of the Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah
Islamiyah, which remains dangerous despite more
than 270 arrests since 2000, a top
counterterrorism official said Wednesday.

Abu Dujana’s rise to power within Jemaah Islamiyah
is an indication the group’s organizational
structure remains intact, and highlights the
challenges that remain for police fighting
terrorism in the world’s most populous Muslim

Dujana, who learned bomb-making skills in
Afghanistan alongside Hambali, an alleged regional
terror chief now in US custody, is a "talented
leader. He has good relations with al-Qaida and is
trusted", said Col. Petrus Reinhard Golose of
Indonesia’s counterterrorism task force.

The 34-year-old, who unlike many Indonesian
militants is fluent in Arabic, replaced Abu Rusdan
as head of Jemaah Islamiyah when Rusdan was
arrested in 2003, Golose told members of
Indonesia’s foreign correspondents association.

Jemaah Islamiyah is blamed for a series of bloody
bombings and failed plots in Southeast Asia in
recent years, including two strikes on Indonesia’s
resort island of Bali that killed more than 220
people, most of them foreign tourists.

Golose said arresting Dujana, who he said was a
native of West Java province, was a priority.

Nasir Abbas, a former militant-turned-police
informer, said he trained alongside Dujana in 1990
in Afghanistan. "He was smart, you could tell
that," Nasir told The Associated Press.

Recruits at the camp received instruction in basic
weapons handling and bomb-making.

Golose said that since 2001, Jemaah Islamiyah
operatives coming to Java from elsewhere in
Indonesia had to first report to Dujana, and that
the perpetrators of the 2003 car bombing of the
J.W. Marriott Hotel also came to see him
immediately after the attack.

Golose repeated earlier police statements that
Noordin Top, a Malaysian militant accused of a key
role in all the attacks on Indonesian soil, was
now working outside Jemaah Islamiyah and had
declared himself al-Qaida’s representative in
Southeast Asia.

Even if Top were to be arrested, the risk of more
attacks would still remain, he said. "There are
others who are still more dangerous who are
active," he told journalists.

The leading international expert on Jemaah
Islamiyah, Sidney Jones, confirmed that Dujana had
long been a key figure in the organization,
although she said it’s too early to say whether
he’s heading the group.

"Dujana was indeed the secretary of the central
command of the organization. Over the last year
there have been rumors he is head of JI, but
people close to JI have said they do not know how
his name appeared as a leader," said Jones, who
lives and works in Jakarta and has monitored its
militant fringe for decades. "We must wait for
more facts before we can make that conclusion,"
Jones said.

Dujana fled Indonesia for Malaysia with other
Muslim activists in the 1980s to avoid repression
by then-Indonesian dictator Suharto, said Jones.

Rusdan, Dujana’s alleged predecessor, was released
from jail last year after serving a short prison
term for hiding one of the perpetrators of the
2002 Bali bombings. He is a free man, but refuses
to speak to reporters.

TNI still keeping on guard against communists in
Jakarta - March 21, 2006

Ahmad Dani, Jakarta — Although they have not
found any presence of a communist threat, the TNI
(Indonesian military) is still keeping on guard
against the latent danger of communism in Jakarta.

"The TNI is still continuing to monitor the
communist movement. We are constantly keeping on
guard", said the director of the TNI’s information
centre, Rear Admiral Muhammad Sunarto

Sjoekronoputra raised the issue after an event
presiding over the handing over of duties by the
TNI’s former information centre director, Major
General Kohirin Suganda S at the TNI’s
headquarters in Cilangkap, East Jakarta, on
Tuesday March 21.

Is there a concrete threat? "Indeed the essence is
that communists need to be watched", said
Sjoekronoputra. He admitted however that they had
not yet found any information on the activities of
the communists. "For the moment there is isn’t any
[information]. We are still observing", he
exclaimed. (aan)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Kalla says no hike in power rates this year

Jakarta Post - March 18, 2006

Rendi A. Witular and Anissa S. Febrina, Jakarta —
Vice President Jusuf Kalla confirmed Friday the
government would drop a planned increase in
electricity rates this year amid widespread

Kalla said the government would likely provide
around half of the extra subsidies needed by state
electricity company PT PLN to cover rising fuel
costs without having to increase rates, while the
other half would have to be shouldered by PLN
chiefly through efficiency measures.

"The government actually has no intention to
increase the power rates," he said Friday during a
visit to PLN headquarters here. "But the problem
is who will bear the Rp 10 trillion (US$1.09
billion) extra subsidy (needed by PLN). The
government is willing to cover half of the amount,
while the other half will be borne by PLN so that
the public doesn’t have to burdened.

Kalla met with top PLN officials as part of a
campaign to push for greater efficiency in the
state company.

A credible source at the State Palace told The
Jakarta Post on Thursday that President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono and Kalla had decided not to
raise power rates this year, fearing a political
backlash after objections from businesses,
lawmakers and the public.

Kalla acknowledged that an increase in electricity
rates would be burdensome to the business sector,
especially with the government attempting to
revive the weakened real sector and help boost

Asked about the source of government funds to
cover the extra subsidies needed by PLN, Kalla
said it was still exploring ways either to
increase revenue through taxes or the sale of more

He played down concerns that the move to drop the
hike would cause a widening of the state budget
deficit, saying that a deficit of more than 1
percent of gross domestic product was still

Businesses roundly opposed the plan after the
government more than doubled selected fuel prices
in October last year.

Indonesian Employers Association chairman Sofjan
Wanandi said the government’s decision sent a
positive signal to the private sector.

"We thank the government and the legislature for
having heard our complaints. Now, the private
sector will have certainty in calculating costs.
We can also avoid layoffs." However, Sofjan added
the government must ensure there would be no
additional costs applied by PLN outside of the
base rate.

"Just make sure that PLN does not then impose
extra costs that would burden businesses," he

Industry players have complained about PLN’s
additional costs imposed on consumption of
electricity during peak hours, as well as onerous
infrastructure costs.

Sofjan added that if the economy improved next
year, the private sector would not mind sharing
the burden of an increased electricity rate.

The cancellation would help ease inflationary
pressure and allow the central bank to cut its
benchmark interest rate sooner than expected.

Bank Indonesia has predicted inflation would start
easing in the second half of the year, and it
would cut the benchmark rate, which is at 12.75
percent, accordingly.

Malnutrition hits West Sumba, Lampung

Jakarta Post - March 18, 2006

Yemris Fointuna and Oyos Saroso H.N., The Jakarta
Post, Kupang, Bandarlampung At least 16 children
in West Sumba Regency, East Nusa Tenggara, have
died this year from complications caused by

Oktavian Diky, a director at Karitas Weetabula
Hospital, said the children, who were all under
five years of age, had suffered from marasmus, a
chronic illness stemming from malnutrition.

Oktavian said that 13 of the victims had died in
January and the other three in February.

"This month, however, no deaths have been reported
even though up to 40 children are being treated at
the hospital," Oktavian said, adding that they
were all from very poor families.

The deaths raised the number of victims of
marasmus since May last year to 17, he said. He
explained that at least 200 patients, most in very
poor health, were currently being treated at a
number of hospitals and malnutrition
rehabilitation centers throughout West Nusa

Octavian expressed concern at the lack of
attention the government has paid to malnutrition,
as it is feared it will affect the futures of
thousands of children under five years old.

East Nusa Tenggara health office Head Stef Bria
Seran said that the provincial administration had
conducted a number of programs, ranging from the
provision of food supplements to the
revitalization of integrated health service

Bria Seran said that the central government had
earmarked in its 2005 budget a fund of Rp 51.7
billion (US$5.58 million) for malnutrition
prevention, of which Rp 44.1 billion was managed
by regental regencies throughout the country.

East Nusa Tenggara Legislative Council deputy
speaker Kristo Blasin urged the provincial
administration to optimize its services for those
suffering from malnutrition and undernourishment.

Meanwhile, in Lampung province the number of
children under five years old suffering from
malnutrition has reached 200, of whom 105 are from
East Lampung regency.

Although up to 181 of the cases were detected last
year, many of the children are still suffering,
while the other 20 were discovered from January to
March this year.

Chairman of the Coalition for Healthy Lampung,
Herdimansyah said that these figures were compiled
based on reports from hospitals and regency health
offices throughout Lampung, but the real number of
the sufferers could be much higher.

Herdimansyah cited as an example the malnutrition
case in Tanggamus regency in 2005, which had been
denied by Lampung health office officials In
reality, up until March 2005, the Tanggamus health
office had recorded at least 829 malnutrition
cases, with 6,226 children under five years old
suffering from protein deficiency, he said.

The discovery was made after the Tanggamus health
office conducted health checks on 59,102 children.

According to Herdimansyah, the malnutrition was
caused mainly by the government’s neglect of
integrated health service centers.

"This is a huge threat because we fear we will
have a lost generation," he said, adding that his
agency was directly visiting villages in Lampung.

"We predict that thousands of children suffer from
malnutrition in Lampung. This is a serious
problem, so the central government should act now,
not just wait until the patients have been treated
in hospital or community health centers," he

Pro-government figures stack ’TVRI’ supervisory

Jakarta Post - March 16, 2006

Jakarta — Opposition lawmakers and the
independent Indonesian Broadcasting Commission
(KPI) doubted Wednesday whether the new
supervisory board members of state broadcaster
TVRI would be able to stay neutral doing their

House of Representatives legislators selected Musa
Asy’airie, Retno Intani, Hazairin Sitepu, Abraham
Isnan, and Brig. Gen. (ret) Robik Mukav as
supervisor board members for TVRI after a two-day
fit-and-proper test for 14 candidates fielded by
the Communications and Information Ministry.

Sitepu and Mukav were both members of President
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s campaign team in the
2004 presidential elections. Two others, Retno and
Abraham, were from TVRI, while Musa was a
government representative.

The board would be authorized to determine TVRI’s
general policies and to monitor the implementation
of TVRI’s work plan and budgetary spending. The
board would also have the authority to select,
appoint and fire the members of TVRI’s board of

The newly appointed board members face tough
challenges; to fight rampant corruption and
restructure the disorganized management of the
public broadcasting agency. They are also supposed
to ensure the station does not become a government
mouthpiece, as it has been in the past.

In a report in October last year, Indonesian
Corruption Watch reported the management of the
43-year-old television network to the Corruption
Eradication Commission. The group’s report
detailed an alleged Rp 15 billion markup in
procurement projects, TVRI’s inconsistencies in
reporting its advertising revenue and other
“unusual” balance sheet items.

Some legislators said they were not impressed by
the 14 candidates proposed by the government.
“Very few are actually qualified for the job,”
National Awakening Party legislator Muhammad A.S.
Hikam told The Jakarta Post. Hikam said corruption
was responsible for TVRI’s poor performance and
had become a “moral hazard” within the
broadcaster, spreading throughout its staff.

KPI head Sinansari Ecip said that with the
appointment of the five board members, TVRI would
again become a mouthpiece of the government. "The
board does not represent the public, but it
represents the government," he said. The
government should have coordinated with the KPI in
the selection of candidates, he said.

Dozens of students ’possessed’

Jakarta Post - March 17, 2006

Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara — Dozens of students
of Sakra No. 1 high school in Sakra district, East
Lombok regency, were reportedly possessed by "evil
spirits" Thursday and dropped into trances while
in the classroom.

Classes were disrupted when other students
volunteered to help subdue the “possessed”
students, most of whom were female. The afflicted
screamed, rolled on the ground and shouted
incomprehensible words before passing out.

Similar incidents have happened at the school
during the past five days. According to a number
of teachers, the symptoms are contagious, and when
one student falls into a trance others immediately
follow suit.

"This is the fifth day. The first student
possessed was a 12th grader, and it continues to
affect others. There are already 32 students
affected so far," said Yeyen, an 11th grader.

School officials are trying to discover the cause
of the occurrence, and have requested help from
psychics and religious figures in the area.

"Getting them back to their senses can take 15
minutes," Salman, a teacher, said, adding that the
disturbance usually starts at 10 a.m.




Aceh bill still to be discussed during DPR recess

Tempo Interactive - March 22, 2006

Wahyu Dhyatmika, Jakarta — Although the recess at
the House of Representatives (DPR) starts next
week, the Special Committee for the Aceh
Government Draft Bill will still continue its
discussions in order to meet the deadline.

"There already is a permit from the DPR Speaker to
continue the discussions," Ida Fauziyah, Head of
the National Awakening Party (PKB) faction, told
reporters at the parliament complex on Tuesday

Even so, Ida admitted she was not certain that the
bill would be completed by March 31 as required by
the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding. "We will
not sacrifice quality, but we are doing our best
to finish on time," she said.

Yesterday, the factions finished listing the
inventory of problems and entered a stage of more
detailed discussions.

The PKB faction, according to Ida, will fight for
a two percent rise in the general allocation funds
for Aceh, to be provided for a period of ten
years. In addition, she also stressed her
faction’s support for the establishment of local
political parties in Aceh.

Last Monday, the PKB faction visited the Nahdlatul
Ulama Board of Directors Chairman, KH Hasyim
Muzadi, in order to ask for input regarding the
Aceh draft bill. "Mr Hasyim advised that any
privilege for Aceh must still be controlled under
the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia,"
said Ida.

Separately, Ferry Mursyidan Baldan, Deputy
Chairman of the Golkar Party faction, emphasized
that his faction was still suggesting non party
candidates. "The requirement is that he or she can
collect signatures from a minimum three percent of
Aceh residents," he said.

However, Ferry, who also acts as the Aceh
Government Draft Bill Special Committee Chairman,
said that non party candidates would only
accommodated while local political parties had not
been formed. "So, this is only for this year’s
regional elections," he said.

In addition, Golkar has also proposed that the
increase in the balance and profit share funds be
between five and 20 percent higher than the
government’s proposal. It has also been suggested
that the mechanism of regional revenue
distribution be changed.

"So, tax revenues, for example, will be
distributed only in Aceh, with the central
government’s share transferred to Jakarta.
Therefore, the revenues will not first all be
transferred and then distributed back after that,
like under the current system," said Ferry.

Acehnese get in line for new ID cards

Jakarta Post - March 22, 2006

They took their place behind a piece of card
bearing their name in orderly fashion, a sharp
click signaling an end to their moment in front of
the camera.

For residents of Sukadamai village, Lhueng Bata
district in Banda Aceh, it marked a new chapter in
their lives from the ugly days of the past — and
some saw the funny side of things. "Heh, it looks
like a criminal, right?" joked Muhammad, 30, as he
posed for the digital camera.

Muhammad and his friends lived through the
military emergency situation in Nanggroe Aceh
Darussalam, when obtaining an ID card was a long,
stressful process requiring the provision of many
supporting documents. "Now it’s easy, just by
showing our family card and a copy of the old ID
card. Then, there is the photo session at no
cost," he said.

In accordance with planned regional elections
under the Aceh governance bill, the locals’ old
“red-and-white” cards — which signified their
Acehnese identity and were roundly criticized as
discriminatory — are being replaced.

"The ordinary ID cards before the strife were
preferable. The red-and-white cards differentiated
Acehnese from other Indonesian citizens," said
Siti Habsah, 38, another resident.

Cut Husna, 50, of the Banda Aceh population
mobility and transmigration agency, said the
replacement of cards began March 8 and would
continue until March 31.

Former members of the Free Aceh Movement, who do
not have ID cards, and people whose cards were
lost during the 2004 tsunami are also eligible for
the cards. "Those having no family cards can
simply report to their respective village heads,"
Cut Husna said.

The number of Banda Aceh residents receiving the
cards may reach 143,000 or more due to the
shifting population, she said.

Legislators support effort to disband GAM

Jakarta Post - March 17, 2006

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, Jakarta — A number of
legislators backed Thursday a call for the
inclusion of articles into the bill on Aceh
governance specifically disbanding the Free Aceh
Movement (GAM).

The call was raised by former Aceh military
commander Maj. Gen. Bambang Darmono, a government
representative in the EU-led Aceh Monitoring
Mission (AMM), during a hearing late Wednesday in
the House of Representatives.

Bambang threatened to dissolve GAM along with
SIRA, a non-governmental organization campaigning
for an independence referendum in Aceh, and the
Aceh Transition Committee (KPA) if the House
passed the controversial bill into law.

"Last year, the TNA (the National Aceh Armed
Forces established by GAM) was disbanded after the
decommissioning phase was completed. GAM, SIRA and
KPA must also be dissolved after the bill is
passed into law. Otherwise, I will dissolve them,"
Bambang told the hearing.

The KPA is assisting GAM in transforming from an
independence movement into political force.
Bambang said the KPA must register with the local
authorities if it wanted to remain in existence.

Legislator Idham of the Indonesian Democratic
Party of Struggle (PDI-P) said GAM as an
organization could not exist in its current form
after the bill was passed.

Lawmaker Saifullah Ma’shum from the National
Awakening Party (PKB) said GAM should have
dissolved after it signed a truce with the
government in August last year.

Under the Helsinki peace accord, the rebel group
abandoned its violent campaign for Aceh’s
independence and instead demanded self-rule inside
the Unitary State of Indonesia. The pact also
allowed former GAM combatants to contest direct
local elections.

AMM chief Peter Feith has called on GAM and SIRA
to change their names. GAM spokesman Bakhtiar
Abdullah said both groups were still considering
the idea.

Meanwhile, political observer Ikrar Nusa Bhakti
told a hearing of the House special committee
deliberating the bill that the draft law should be
made consistent with other regulations on Aceh.

"There is no point creating a beautiful (law) if
it cannot be implemented," he said. If the
articles in the bill did not fit well with other
existing legislation, it could create serious
legal problems in the future, like in the other
special autonomy region of Papua, Ikrar said.

The bill implements the peace deal in Aceh,
creating the legal basis for the special regional
and gubernatorial elections in the province.

Militia and illegal weapons still haunt peace in
Aceh - March 17, 2006

Shinta Shinaga, Banda Aceh — The peace process in
Aceh has encountered a stumbling stone. Militia
groups still exist and recently their level of
activity has even been increasing. Added to this
is the spread of illegal weapons.

These two issues continue haunt the implementation
of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between
the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh
Movement (GAM). To this day, Friday March 17, they
are increasingly becoming hot topics of

Moreover it needs to be remembered that the MoU
does not regulate the disbanding of the militia
and there are no clear mechanisms for the
surrender of the illegal weapons they posses. The
MoU only regulates the disbanding of the Aceh
National Army (TNA, GAM’s armed wing) and the
decommissioning of GAM’s weapons. Both of which
have already been carried out.

GAM says the militias are derived from the TNI
(Indonesian military) and regards them as a
potential threat that could hinder the peace
agreement. "These militia are a potential threat.
But we are not assuming it will obstruct the peace
process in Aceh. The problem will of course still
exist. But it should be handled wisely", said
GAM’s Swedish spokesperson Bakhtiar Abdullah at
GAM’s central office in Lamdingin, Banda Aceh, on
Wednesday March 15.

On the question of the weapons possessed by the
militia meanwhile, Abdullah declined to speculate
admitting that he does not have any hard evidence.
"Our weapons were destroyed in accordance with the
MoU. The weapons that in the past we constantly
carried, like a wife, have been cut in three,
destroyed by the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM)",
said Abdullah.

The head of the Aceh Transitional Command for the
Pase region, Tengku Zulkarnain, also says he can
guarantees that the illegal weapons did not
originate from GAM. "In Pase there is not one
illegal weapon. But of course there is no
evidence. Even if there was, the illegal weapons
in Aceh are not our business. That is the
responsibility of the police", said the ex-TNA
member at his office on Jl. Medan in Lhokseumawe
on Thursday March 16.

The North Aceh head of the AMM, Jorma
Gardemeister, also confirmed that GAM’s weapons
had been surrendered to the AMM and destroyed. "If
[weapons] still exist, it’s illegal. It is the
police that must deal with it and then hand them
over to the AMM", said Gardemeister who originates
from Finland.

Government investigation

The AMM has meanwhile asked the Indonesian
government to investigate reports on the increase
in the level of militia activity in various parts
of Aceh. The AMM is presently waiting for the
results of the investigation. "A militia presence
could disrupt the peace process. But we believe
that the government can overcome it", said AMM
head Pieter Feith at his offices on Jl. Tengku
Abdul Rauf in Banda Aceh on Wednesday.

Although not often, the AMM has however also been
monitoring actions that are unhelpful to the peace
process such as statements about the past that was
dominated by conflict. "These statements does not
reflect [the views of] the GAM leadership. This
phenomena, they are illegal groups. Of course it
will be embarrassing if they reemerge after the
AMM has gone. Even though the crisis in Aceh has
ended and the armed conflict resolved", asserted
Feith. (sss)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Acehnese Peoples Party preparatory committee
declared - March 17, 2006

Nur Raihan Banda Aceh — Not long from now a local
political party will enliven the political
dynamics in Aceh. An embryonic Acehnese political
party has already been officially launched.

The embryonic local party is called the Acehnese
Peoples Party Preparatory Committee (KP-PRA) which
already has representatives in 11 regencies/cities
across Aceh.

"If in [after the draft] law on a government for
Aceh [is ratified], local parties are accommodated
in accordance with the Helsinki Memorandum of
Understanding, then next August we will proclaim
the KP-PRA as a local party in Aceh", KP-PRA
chairperson Thamrin Ananda told in Banda
Aceh on Thursday March 16.

Ananda explained that if it turns out that local
parties are still unable to be created after the
draft law has been ratified, the KP-PRA will
affiliate with one of the national political
parties that has the same vision and mission as
the KP-PRA.

Such a national party must be a party that wants a
government that is clean, democratic, populist and
free from foreign intervention. In addition to
this they must place ordinary people as the
subjects and not just as object during elections.

The declaration — that was held at a restaurant
in Banda Aceh — was attended by around 600 people
made up of KP-PRA cadres and sympathisers, most
coming from Banda Aceh and Greater Aceh. Aside
from students, the KP-PRA’s cadre and sympathisers
also come from farmers and traders.

According to Ananda, 500 KP-PRA cadres are
presently deployed in a number of regencies/cities
across Aceh including Banda Aceh, Greater Aceh,
Sigli, Bireun, North Aceh, Lhokseumawe, Central
Aceh, West Aceh, Nagan Raya and South Aceh. (fjr)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Golkar first to back independent candidates in

Jakarta Post - March 16, 2006

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, Jakarta — The Golkar
Party, the biggest faction in the House of
Representatives, has led the way in declaring its
support for independent candidates to contest
direct elections in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam.

The stance was revealed in a hearing Wednesday,
during which all factions unanimously expressed
their agreement to continue the deliberation of
the bill on the governance of Aceh.

Led by legislator Ferry Mursyidan Baldan, the
session was also attended by Information Minister
Sofyan A. Djalil, Home Minister M. Ma’ruf and
Deputy Chairperson of the Regional Representatives
Council, Sri Kadarwati.

Speaking on behalf of Golkar, legislator Abdul
Gafur told the hearing that independent candidates
should be seen as a form of affirmative action,
which would accommodate the participation of all
Acehnese groups in politics.

"Independents will be a type of affirmative action
that can ensure the participation of all Acehnese
elements in politics, while local political
parties have yet to be established," he said.

However, Golkar proposed that they should only be
able to run as independents, if supported by 3
percent of the overall population in Aceh, the
same requirement applied to political parties.

With 126 of 550 seats in the House, the Golkar
Party is the largest faction and is considered to
be pro-administration. It is now led by Jusuf
Kalla, who is the vice president and one of the
key architects behind the August 2005 peace pact
between the government and the then Free Aceh
Movement (GAM), which ended over 30 years of
conflict in the province.

The National Mandate Party (PAN), the United
Development Party (PPP), the National Awakening
Party (PKB) and the Democrat Party also offered
full support for further deliberation of the bill.

"The bill will ensure the protection of people
with differing views in the country. We don’t take
the position that some people have, who say the
bill would prompt other provinces to separate from
Indonesia," legislator Sayuti Asyatri of PAN said.

Democrat legislator Teuku Rifky Harsya said it was
time for the country to allow Aceh to exercise its
rights as past governments had been very
“centralistic” while applying top-down approaches
in the province.

Golkar said it was also ready to allow an
allocation of natural resources-based revenue,
which is more than the 3 percent proposed in the
bill. "We understand that the Acehnese need more
money to build the province, particularly after
the tsunami," Abdul Gafur said.

However, Golkar raised its opposition to the
possible establishment of a human rights tribunal
in Aceh. "We shall not root out something that has
been happened in the past," the legislator said.

The Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P)
maintained its stance to reject the truce, but
announced that it was ready to deliberate the bill
for the sake of the Acehnese.

"We don’t reject peace in Aceh, we only expect a
lasting peace and prosperity for the Acehnese.
They don’t need an empty promise," legislator
Sutjipto said.

PDI-P rejected a clause in the bill that requires
the House to get approval from the Aceh
legislative council if the national legislature
issues a policy involving Aceh.

The special committee deliberating the bill is set
to meet Maj. Gen. Bambang Darmono, who represents
Indonesia in the EU-led Aceh Monitoring Mission

During the peace talks in Helsinki last year GAM
dropped its demand of total independence in return
for a form of self-governance within the context
of the Republic of Indonesia.

Some parties, including former president Megawati
Soekarnoputri and her PDI-P, the military and the
police retired officer groups, as well as former
president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid have opposed
the bill, saying they fear a possible separation
of Aceh from Indonesia.

Aid group suspends some tsunami operations

Associated Press - March 16, 2006

Chris Brummitt, Jakarta — International aid group
Oxfam has suspended some of its tsunami-relief
operations in hard-hit Aceh province while it
investigates suspected financial irregularities
there, a spokesman said Thursday.

Relief organizations in Indonesia have pledged to
carefully audit their funds amid concerns that aid
dollars could be stolen by corrupt officials or
contractors in the country, which is rated as one
of the world’s most graft ridden.

Oxfam spokesman Douglas Keatinge said
investigators were probing irregularities
involving “tens of thousands of dollars” at one
project office covering the provincial capital
Banda Aceh and surrounding districts. He gave no
more details on the nature of the irregularities.

"Oxfam has taken the decision to temporarily
suspend part of our operational activities in
Banda Aceh and Aceh Besar while our auditors
thoroughly review the issue," he said.

He said that essential services such as water
trucking and rubbish collection would continue,
but other activities, including house building and
job creation schemes, would be put on hold in the
region, which was worst hit by the Dec. 26
tsunami. Oxfam’s overall budget for Aceh is $30

Its early disclosure about the irregularities is
unusual for an international aid organization, and
highlights the pressure relief groups are under to
be transparent about how funds are spent.

"Oxfam is committed to upholding the strictest and
most rigorous financial controls,“Keatinge said.”The temporary suspension of our operations will
allow us to be more accountable to the communities
that we work with, and ensure improved service
delivery in the future."

The tsunami, triggered by a massive earthquake
close to Indonesia’s Sumatra Island, killed or
left missing at least 216,000 people in 11 Indian
Ocean nations, more than half of them in Aceh.

The scale of the death and destruction generated
some $13 billion in aid, the most generous global
response ever to a natural disaster.

Some corruption during major relief efforts is
inevitable, experts say, but Indonesia has been
praised for limiting graft in Aceh, chiefly by
establishing a government agency to oversee the
reconstruction process headed by a respected
former Cabinet minister.

Acehnese Peoples Party preparatory committee

Aceh Kita - March 16, 2006

Radzie, Banda Aceh — Civilian activist have
launched the Acehnese Peoples Party Preparatory
Committee (Komite Persiapan Partai Rakyat Aceh, KP
PRA), which represents the precursor for the
formation of the first local political party in
Aceh. The launch — which took place at a
restaurant in the Lamnyong area of Banda Aceh on
Thursday March 16 — was attended by around 500
party supporters and a number of other invited
guests including Juha Christensen from the Aceh
Monitoring Mission.

The chairperson of KP PRA, Thamrin Ananda, said in
a political speech that preparatory committees
have already been formed in 11 regencies/cities in
Aceh and they are targeting a total of 12. "In the
regulations it says that branches must exist in 50
percent of the regencies/cities that exist in
Aceh", said Ananda.

Ananda said that the idea of forming a local
political party was because there is already a
clear legal basis that flows from the Memorandum
of Understanding (MoU) between the Indonesian
government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) that
was signed in Helsinki on August 15 last year.

In addition to this, during the congress of the
Acehnese Popular Democratic Resistance Front
(FPDRA) that was held at the beginning of 2006,
they agreed to form a local political party in
Aceh. This was because a local political party can
be the entry point for improving the welfare of
the people who for too long have been afflicted by

The formation of the party received warm greetings
among a number of circles both within in Aceh,
nationally and from political parties in other
countries including Malaysia, Bolivia, Venezuela
and Germany.

In the election of regional heads or Pilkada that
will be held next June after the enactment of the
Law on a Government for Aceh, the KP PRA will not
be putting forward its own candidates even though
this is possible through the nomination of
independent candidates. This is to demonstrate a
commitment to an alternative government supported
by a united national front.

"We will support candidates that are put up in the
form a national united front with a platform of a
clean, democratic, populist government that is
free of foreign intervention", said Ananda.

The former Student Solidarity for the People
(SMUR) activist added that a local political party
must have a different character from the national
parties that have long existed in Aceh. "The
character I mean is a local party’s courage to
place the people or the masses as the subject, not
just an object during elections", he said adding
that the soon to be formed PRA will place the
people as subjects. It is because of this that the
PRA will orientate its membership towards farmers,
the urban poor and students.

In its future program, the PRA will focus on the
nationalisation of the management of natural
resources. To date the natural wealth of Aceh has
largely been controlled by superpower countries
such as the United States and Japan. The
distribution of natural wealth between the central
government and Aceh has also been unclear, even
though a 70 percent (Aceh) and 30 percent
(Jakarta) share has already been agreed to. "This
kinds of issues are not clearly referred to in the
Draft Law on a Government for Aceh and the MoU",
said Ananda. "So in the future it will reopen up
the possibility foreign control". [dzie]

[Translated by James Balowski.]




Students staying away from dormitories in Abepura

Jakarta Post - March 22, 2006

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura — Thousands of
students are staying away from their dormitories
in Abepura, fearing further reprisals after the
killing of four security personnel last Thursday.

About 1,200 students fled 18 dormitories —
organized by the Cendrawasih University
administration or local government — after angry
armed Mobile Brigade members raided them on the
night of the killings, which occurred during a
protest against PT Freeport Indonesia near the
university campus.

"The students are afraid to return to the
dormitories for fear of another security sweep by
Mobile Brigade members," said Decky O Avide,
chairman of the university’s student body.

Three Mobile Brigade members and an Air Force
officer were lynched as the demonstration outside
Cendrawasih University became violence.

The university was closed after the riot and is
scheduled to reopen March 27.

At least one dormitory was reportedly destroyed
last Friday by a group of Mobile Brigade personnel
returning from Sentani Airport after the bodies of
some of those killed were returned to their
hometowns. Residents of other dormitories fled
after hearing of the attack.

"Our dormitory was spared but we were afraid to
return because we heard that police officers were
visiting dormitories," said Martha Diekmi, a
Cendrawasih political science student who resides
in a dormitory for members of the Amungme Kamoro

She said she and 13 of her friends hid in the
house of a relative but slept in the forest at
night to avoid being caught in more sweeps.

Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Tommy Jacobus called
on the students to return to their dormitories
because Abepura had returned to normal and
Cendrawasih University would reopen soon.

He promised there would be no arbitrary arrests,
adding that Mobile Brigade personnel involved in
the clash had been sent back to barracks and their
duties taken over by police brought in from
Makassar, South Sulawesi.

National Police chief Gen. Sutanto said that as of
Tuesday, 14 people had been named suspects and
police were tracking down another 24.

Among the 14 suspects are the leader of the West
Papua Referendum Front, Selpius Bobii; a teacher,
Moses Totoba; a parking attendant, Ferry Pakage;
and a security officer, Musa Asol. The rest of the
suspects are seven students identified as Benius
Baker, Alex Wayangkaw, Thomas Okayo, Elkana
Lokobal, Elias Tanaka, Matius Patrius Alangior and
Obaya Papua, as well as three workers — Louis
Gedi, Oten Bapial, Markus Kayame.

The police confiscated three Molotov cocktails,
three bullets, three sets of bows and arrows, one
round of SS-1 ammunition, one machete, one knife,
one dagger and a pair of boots at the site of the
Thursday’s riot.

Papua students hide, clash toll rises to six

Agence France Presse - March 22, 2006

Jakarta — Indonesia’s Papua remained tense with
hundreds of students hiding in the jungle to evade
a police manhunt, reports said, as the death toll
from riots over a US-run mine rose to six.

Students staged a rally last week that degenerated
into bloodshed on the outskirts of Jayapura, the
Papuan capital. They were demanding the closure of
a huge mine operated by a local unit of US company

Some 1,200 students have since fled their
dormitories at the state-run Cendrawasih
University, where the demonstration was held, and
were in hiding, Aloy Renwarin from rights group
Elsham-Papua told AFP.

"The 1,200 students ran and are still hiding in
the forests, and they’re hungry," he said. The
university remained closed and the streets were
still tense, he added.

Decky Avide, chairman of the university’s student
body, told the Jakarta Post the students were "in
fear of another security sweep by Mobile Brigade
members." The Mobile Brigade, better known as
Brimob, has developed a reputation for brutality
in dealing with separatist conflicts in places
such as Papua and Aceh, and has been strongly
criticised by international human rights groups.

The state-run Antara news service reported that
security had been reinforced at several locations
in Jayapura, including the governor’s office,
provincial parliament and several main streets.

Activists accuse Freeport of polluting the
environment and of tacitly condoning human rights
abuses by the Indonesian military assuring the
Timika gold and copper mine’s security.

They also complain that Papua has not received its
fair share of profits from the mine, something
which has hepled to fuel the decades-old
separatist insurgency against Jakarta’s rule in
the region.

Papua police spokesman Samuel Payu said another
Brimob member identified as Eko had died of his
injuries in hospital Wednesday, bringing the
overall toll to six. Protestors lynched three
Brimob police and an air force officer during the
melee, while a civilian died in hospital shortly

Police also said that they had charged two
suspects with the murder of the security officers.
"From the fourteen suspects, two of them are
direct perpetrators of murders. They killed using
stones and by stabbing with a knife," deputy
national police spokesman Anton Bachrul Alam told
a press conference. He did not name the pair.
Police were still searching for another 24
suspects, he added.

The director of Jayapura’s main hospital Pauline
Watufa said that three seriously injured
protestors had fled the hospital after the clashes
because they were too afraid to stay there. She
feared their wounds would be infected without

Police said Tuesday they were readying another 200
troops to send to Papua, some 3,000 kilometres
(1,800 miles) east of Jakarta, as reinforcements.

Meanwhile, Papua’s parliamentary tribal council
began discussing Freeport Wednesday in response to
the demands to close the mine. "On Friday we will
send our report to Papua’s parliament," Agus
Allua, the chairman of the council, told AFP.

The Papuan provincial parliament has said it would
hold a special session to discuss the mine. It
does not have the power to close the mine but
could apply pressure to the Indonesian government
to do so.

Freeport signed a 30-year contract with Jakarta to
run the mine in 1991. Last week’s violence has
stoked fears of further separatist unrest.

Defense minister calls for Papua blacklist on
Greens senator

Australian Associated Press - March 22, 2006

Rob Taylor, Jakarta — Indonesia’s defence
minister wants to blacklist Australian Greens
Senator Kerry Nettle from travelling to Papua,
saying her presence could stir more violence in
the restive province.

The New South Wales senator had hoped to go to
Papua next month to assess the security situation
following fierce clashes last week in which as
many as four Indonesian police officers and an air
force officer were bludgeoned to death by

But Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono has asked
the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Department to stop
the visit taking place, the Koran Tempo daily
reported. "I prefer her not (to visit), because it
will incite unnecessary controversy in the field,"
Sudarsono told the paper.

Nettle, who visited 43 Papuan asylum seekers on
Christmas Island in January and afterwards
demanded Australia’s government "stand up for
human rights and for freedom" in Papua, would try
and embarrass Indonesia over human rights,
Sudarsono said. "Certainly the data will be
manipulated," he said.

The call for a blacklist came a day after
Indonesia’s intelligence chief, Major-General
Syamsir Siregar, accused Australian-backed aid
groups of fomenting last week’s protests against
the massive US-owned Freeport gold and copper

Sudarsono’s senior adviser Bonnie Leonard said the
minister believed Senator Nettle was "indirectly
linked" to the violence.

The Indonesian government has also barred foreign
journalists from visiting Papua, bringing
criticism from international rights groups.

Police said yesterday they would strengthen their
presence in the province with an extra 200 men
from the elite paramilitary Mobile Brigade, which
has a notorious human rights record.

A spokesman for Senator Nettle said she had been
planning to visit Papua since the Papuan asylum
seekers landed in north Queensland in January.

The group, who arrived at sea after days in a
dugout canoe, claimed they feared death at the
hands of Indonesian security forces and are being
assessed by Australian immigration officials on
Christmas Island.

"A number of people from civil society basically
suggested it would be good if we could go up there
ourselves,“Senator Nettle’s spokesman said.”We’ve been in contact with various groups,
political organisations. We wanted to go in April,
as soon as possible." Senator Nettle had been
planning to visit either officially if possible,
or if necessary on a business visa as a private
citizen, he said.

Indonesia’s chief foreign spokesman, Yuri Thamrin,
who is also in charge of Australian and Pacific
affairs for the foreign ministry, said no official
request for a visit had been made by Australia’s
Jakarta Embassy. An embassy spokeswoman said the
mission was unaware of Senator Nettle’s plans.

Thamrin said Sudarsono’s request for a blackban
would be sent to the Indonesian government’s
“clearing house” of senior officials for approval.

National police deputy spokesman Anton Bahrul Alam
said yesterday 24 people were wanted over over
Thursday’s violence in Papua, while 14 more had
already been arrested and would face trial as soon
as possible.

Freeport and the Suffering of the Papuans

Jakarta Post - March 21, 2006

Israr Iskandar, Padang — Like an irresistible
piece of chocolate cake, Freeport has become an
issue politicians are eager to talk about.

Former People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR)
speaker Amien Rais has recently urged the
government to revise its contract with PT Freeport
Indonesia. He has even agreed with the activists,
who demand Freeport’s closure.

In the same tone, Vice President Jusuf Kalla set
up an inter-departmental team to re-audit the
giant US-based gold mining firm. The government is
expecting an extra royalty allocation from the

The politicization of Freeport intensified after a
violent demonstration in Abepura, Papua against
the firm, leaving three police officers and an
airman dead on March 16. Earlier, volatile
protests took place in Jakarta, Jayapura, Manado,
Solo and Timika. Some of the protests turned
violent, such as that the one at the building,
which houses PT Freeport Indonesia’s offices in

In the Papuan town of Timika, the highway to
Freeport’s Grasberg mine was again blockaded by
local people. This, despite the fact, that local
people had earlier “made peace” with Freeport via
a traditional declaration.

Local politicians have added to the complexity of
the issue. Members of the Papuan People’s Assembly
(MRP) and the Papuan Regional Council have become
actively involved. Non-governmental organizations
and Papuan students aggressively supported the
local community’s basic rights. Now the local
elite have become further involved in the Freeport
case, particularly as it gets more politicized.

The Papuans’ objection to the presence of Freeport
is nothing new as it involves basic rights issues.
But the nationalistic cliques in Jakarta are
motivated to pressure Freeport purely out of a
sense of “economic nationalism” (as indicated by
Amien and a number of conservative politicians in
the House of Representatives), the Papuan elite
and NGOs find their reason for complaints in the
poor conditions of indigenous people amid the
abundance of Papua’s natural wealth, which is
greedily exploited by “outsiders”.

For a long time, the US-based corporation has been
considered less responsive to the interests of its
surrounding people, especially in matters related
to pollution of the environment, which includes a
diverse ecosystem that has served as a source of
native people’s livelihood. On top of this,
Freeport is the most obvious irony in Papua. A
multinational corporation has the freedom to
exploit Papua’s natural resources, while some
people in the province still virtually live in the
“stone age”.

Economists and entrepreneurs view the “pressure”
on Freeport as bad news for the country’s
investment climate. They say that in order to
recuperate from economic crisis that has lingered
since 1997, there needs to be new investment, and
not the removal of an ongoing investments.
Actually, even without any such direct pressure,
many foreign firms have left Indonesia due to the
country’s unfavorable business climate and the
overly politicized nature of big investments.

However, the government cannot blame local
protesters and politicians for what it describes
as undermining the investment climate.

Freeport’s operation has been considered less than
conducive to the betterment local people’s
welfare. The Freeport case today is the "tip of an
iceberg" of the ire of locals against the greed of
the powerholders in Jakarta, who collaborate with
foreign investors in draining Papua’s natural

The exploitation of Papua’s resources has been
taking place intensively and extensively amid
Papuans’ growing poverty and backwardness after
decades of integration with Indonesia.

In the early period of reform (since 1998),
Papuans had great expectations. Various
aspirations were expressed to demand justice from
the central government, not only in terms of
political rights, but also in economic, social and
cultural spheres. The fruit of these demands was
special autonomy.

Politically, the 2001 Law on Special Autonomy for
Papua is a “compromise” to absorb the call for
freedom. Economically, Papua shares a “fair”
amount of income from the exploitation of its

But in reality, the law has not yet brought about
fundamental changes in Papua. Research by the
Working Group on Papua in early 2006 revealed that
for over five years, special autonomy has had no
impact yet on the welfare of local people,
particularly native Papuans. Data from the Central
Statistics Agency (BPS) in 2004 showed that 80
percent of the Papuan population remained poor,
the highest such rate in the country. The recent
famine disaster in Yahukimo seems to have only
confirmed the statistics.

For Papuans who have studied their history,
Freeport’s presence looks strange. The company’s
operation in Timika was planned long before
Papua’s integration with Indonesia. This
historical speculation has affected the dynamics
of the Jakarta-Jayapura relations. Suspicion has
arisen that its integration in the 1960s was just
a process of coercion of “political economy”
because it was realized against the backdrop of
foreign (i.e. US) investors’ interests.

Speculation has also emerged that collaboration
between foreign capital and the New Order regime
purposely sacrificed the political and economic
rights of Papuans.

Upon a closer look at the issue, one will notice
that local protests against Freeport today are not
only aimed at the American company, but also meant
as a manifestation of Papua’s continued resistance
to central government policy.

Consequently, for Jakarta, resolving the Freeport
crisis and satisfying Papuan political aspirations
are crucial. The government’s attitude toward
foreign investment has hitherto been ambivalent.
Its attention to foreign investment has not been
balanced with proper care about the interests of
nearby communities. In the Freeport case, the
impression is that the government sides with the
multinational companies, while treating locals in
an unfair way.

The Freeport case is not a specific one. Indonesia
is an example where many investors only consider
profit accumulation, while neglecting the
environment around them, including the rights of
local communities. This is widely practiced not
only by foreign corporations but also domestic
companies, including state-owned enterprises. The
irony is not lost on those of us in this
independent republic.

[The writer is a lecturer and political analyst,
Andalas University, Padang.]

BIN accused of trying to discredit NGOs in West
Papua - March 22, 2006

Iqbal Fadil, Jakarta — The accusations by Syamsir
Siregar, the head of the National Intelligence
Agency (BIN), that local West Papuan non-
government organisations (NGOs) in Papua sponsored
the Abepura incident are intended to discredit
NGOs in Papua as a whole. The accusations must be
clarified immediately in order that it not be seen
as slander and in itself provoke the impression
that the situation in Papua is unsafe.

"There is a certain political intent behind the
accusations. This kind of mind set is a method
from the past that is still used for certain goals
that endanger peace in Papua", said the executive
director of the Institute for the Strengthening of
Papuan Civil Society (LPMSP), Budi Setyanto, in a
press release received by on Wednesday
March 22.

If BIN has concrete and valid data it must be
immediately handed over to the national police to
be followed up though the legal mechanisms that
are in force. BIN doesn’t need to issue statements
that are unclear and have a strong tendency to
upset the public, in particular NGO activists.

"It must be understood that there are quite a lot
of NGO in Papua. Not all NGOs have a clear vision
and mission. Many parties call themselves NGOs for
the interests of [certain] individuals and
groups", explained Setyanto.

In principle the LPMSP does not agree with
expressing aspirations though means of violence or
by disruption the public interest because this
conflicts with democracy.

LPMSP is therefore calling on Siregar to
immediately clarify his statement and if he has
accurate data to immediately report it so that the
legal steps can be taken against the perpetrators
of the riot. (bal)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Indonesian spy chief accuses Aussie group

Herald Sun (Melbourne) - March 21, 2006

Rob Taylor in Jakarta — Indonesia’s intelligence
chief has accused an Australian-backed aid group
of being behind clashes in the province of West
Papua in which four security officers were killed.

Major-General Syamsir Siregar, who heads the
Indonesian State Intelligence Agency, or BIN,
refused to name the organisation which he believed
fomented last week’s protests against the huge
US-owned Freeport gold and copper mine. Three
policemen and an air force officer were killed in
the riots.

But General Siregar said the aid organisation
operated in Papua and had close ties with an
outside country, which Indonesian newspapers said
was Australia.

"There was an NGO (non-government organisation)
sponsoring it all," he said according to Koran
Tempo newspaper. "As far as I know, the mover was
a local NGO, but had connections with the outside.
“I guess you all know (who).”

Indonesia has previously accused several
Australian aid groups of secretly backing the
independence aims of West Papuan separatists, who
have for decades waged a low-level insurgency
against Jakarta rule.

The aid arm of the Australian union movement,
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA, has come in for
particular criticism for circulating communiques
from the separatist Papuan Council Presidium to
activists in Australia. Many influential
Indonesians believe Canberra secretly backs
independence for West Papua and hopes for an East
Timor-style separation.

In a 2003 meeting with Prime Minister John Howard,
former Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri
said she was concerned Australian government aid
funds were being used indirectly to support
separatist movements in Indonesia.

The executive director of APHEDA, Peter Jennings,
said the agency had no projects in Papua. But he
believed the West Papuan people had been denied
their rights in a 1969 UN integration referendum
widely regarded as a sham. "The bottom line is the
people of West Papua are entitled to another UN-
sponsored referendum on their future," he told

The Australian Government’s aid wing, Ausaid,
warns NGOs it will not approve funding for
projects which "subsidise evangelism or missionary
outreach, or similar activities by partisan
political organisations". It also warns it will
not support independence movements.

In February, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer
assured Jakarta that Australia believed West Papua
should remain a part of Indonesia. That assurance
was given after 43 West Papuans landed in
Australia’s north seeking asylum.

Following last week’s clash in West Papua’s
provincial capital, Jayapura, police have arrested
14 people and questioned more than 70 students on
charges ranging from destruction of property to
assault and murder.

Conflict over TNI, police businesses triggered
Freeport riot - March 20, 2006

Jakarta — The National Intelligence Agency (BIN)
has accused non-government organisations (NGOs) of
sponsoring the bloody incident in Abepura, West
Papua. But NGOs are pointing the finger at
conflicts over the provision of security
businesses by the TNI (Indonesian military) and
national police (Polri).

Large payments have been found to have been made
by PT Freeport Indonesia to rogue elements of the
TNI and Polri. The Abepura riot that killed three
Mobile Brigade and one Airforce officer are
suspected to be linked to conflicts over security

"I think that underlying the recent problems in
Abepura there was a problem of conflicting
business interests between the TNI and Polri in
relation to the provision of security to vital
installations at Freeport", said the coordinator
of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims
of Violence (Kontras), Usman Hamid, at his office
on Jl. Borobudur in Jakarta on Monday March 20.

Hamid cited as evidence the Global Witness report
in July 2005 that said there were financial
payments by Freeport to rogue elements of the TNI
and Polri and military institutions such as the
regional military command in 2001 of as much as
US$5.6 million."Isn’t that an irregularity. It
could also be called a bribe", said Hamid.

Hamid is of the view that an independent audit is
needed of the monies Freeport has paid to the
government, including money Freeport has paid for
security services. "Government officials often say
NGOs are foreign lackeys. But I think the
government’s behaviour is far worse", said Hamid.

As well as an independent audit continued Hamid,
there needs to be a review of security systems in
the provision of security for vital installations.
"It must emphasise the transfer of security tasks
for vital installations to the national police",
asserted Hamid. (sss)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Papuan protests ’planned to push cause’

Australian Associated Press - March 20, 2006

Deadly clashes in Papua, in which four security
officers were killed by demonstrators, were
planned as a stepping stone to full independence
for the restive province, Indonesian authorities

The protests last week against a massive US-owned
gold and copper mine may also have been engineered
to become as notorious as the 1991 Santa Cruz
massacre in East Timor, in which Indonesian troops
shot dead 271 demonstrators, Defence Minister
Juwono Sudarsono said.

"It’s true. At first it was going to be made into
something like Santa Cruz," Sudarsono told the
Koran Tempo newspaper.

Separatists among the demonstrators thought
Indonesian security forces would open fire on the
crowd and transform the protest into an
international human rights incident, he said.

But instead three police and an air force officer
were killed, defusing thoughts the clash would
morph into another Dili massacre, Sudarsono said.

The Santa Cruz shootings helped galvanise
international opposition to Indonesia’s brutal
occupation of East Timor, which ended in 1999
after an independence vote marred by an orgy of
bloodshed unleashed by pro-Jakarta militia.

Former foreign minister Ali Alatas called the
massacre a “turning point”, which set in motion
the events leading to East Timor’s nationhood.

The protesters, mostly students, had gathered at
the cemetery in Dili for the funeral of a fellow
student shot and killed by Indonesian troops the
month before.

After they unfurled flags and banners calling for
independence, soldiers opened fire, killing 271
and wounding another 382. Another 250
demonstrators disappeared.

Following last week’s clash in Papua’s provincial
capital Jayapura, police have arrested 14 people
and questioned more than 70 students on charges
ranging from destruction of property to assault
and murder.

The rock-throwing demonstrators were demanding
closure of the giant Freeport-McMoRan gold and
copper mine amid claims billions of dollars in
profits have been sucked from the province while
leaving behind an environmental catastrophe.

The mine is one of the biggest contributors to
Indonesian government coffers and last year
announced record profits as international gold
prices soared to 25-year highs.

But an unnamed military officer told Koran Tempo
there was a lot more at stake than a protest about
Freeport, which has acknowledged paying millions
of dollars to government forces for security.
“There is a much bigger agenda,” he said. "The
thing this could be used for is human rights and
this case becomes a stepping stone."

The clashes could have implications for 43 Papuans
who landed in Australia earlier this year
demanding asylum from Indonesian oppression and
death threats. Their claims threaten to damage
Canberra’s fast warming relations with Jakarta,
where authorities have demanded the return of the
group. But rights activists expect many of their
refugee claims to be successful.

Police attack Papua residents

Associated Press - March 19, 2006

Jayapura — Paramilitary police in Papua pulled
people from cars Saturday and beat them, an
official said, two days after a mob bludgeoned to
death four security officers during protests to
demand the closure of a US-owned gold mine in
eastern Indonesia.

The mob rampage Thursday that left three police
officers and an air force officer dead began when
security forces fired tear gas and charged
protesters with batons in Jayapura, provincial
capital of Papua.

Protesters say the community has seen little
benefit from the billions of dollars earned by
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., based in New

Police have arrested 12 people on charges of
murder, assault and destruction of property, said
spokesman Col. Kartono Wangsadisastra, who pledged
to investigate the incidents involving
paramilitary police.

The killing of the four security officers
underscored the hatred many Papuans feel for
Indonesian soldiers and police. A decades-long
separatist rebellion in the remote province has
left more than 100,000 dead, many of them
civilians who suffered mistreatment, starvation
and other consequences of the war.

On Saturday, paramilitary police were deployed in
the streets, guarding a road that connects
Jayapura to the airport.

Shooting into the air, the security police pulled
people out of their cars, kicking and beating
them. "We are investigating the incidents and some
officers are being questioned," said

He said two journalists were among those attacked,
and the paramilitary officers involved were
apparently distraught about the deaths of their

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono warned that
people trying to manipulate anger over the mine to
win support for independence would not succeed and
that the easternmost province would remain part of

Freeport defends its operation in Papua, saying it
pays millions of dollars in taxes each year and
funds scores of local projects.

Police in Papua must ’calm down’

Jakarta Post - March 19, 2006

Jayapura/Jakarta — Heeding public pressure, the
National Police moved Sunday to stop retaliatory
measures by ordering its Mobile Brigade (Brimob)
in Papua to return to their barracks in Jayapura.

In a bid to restore security and order following
Thursday’s anti-Freeport demonstration that turned
deadly, two companies, about 200 new officers,
were sent in to Jayapura on Sunday, National
Police Spokesman Brig. Gen. Anton Bachrul Alam

National Police Chief Gen. Sutanto has also
replaced Papua’s Mobile Brigade Commander, Snr.
Comsr. Tatang Hermawan with Snr. Cmsr. Roby

The National Police reportedly have faulted Tatang
for failing to follow the appropriate procedures
that could have prevented the loss of life during
Thursday’s clash.

Meanwhile as of Sunday 12 were named suspects
after police questioned around 60 people. One
suspect was Selphius Bobbi, the secretary of the
West Papua Referendum Front, police said. Anton
said that the Brimob return order was aimed at
allowing police officers involved in quelling the
unrest to “calm down and recuperate” in their

His statement came amid public concern over
reports that police officers had launched a major
security operation to conduct random raids in
search of people involved in the rioting, which
claimed the lives of four security personnel —
three Brimob officers and one Air Force officer.

Police officers have reportedly resorted to harsh
measures to vent their anger over the death of
their colleagues. A 10-year-old girl was injured,
reportedly by a stray bullet, and a student
boardinghouse was raided.

The Association of Indonesian Television
Journalists (IJTI) also reported Saturday that
four reporters from RCTI, TV7 and AnTV had been
beaten up by officers separately on Friday.

Endi Muhammad Saputra of RCTI, Gogor Pambudi and
Dominicus Aryo of TV7 were stopped on their way
from Sentani Airport to Jayapura by Brimob
soldiers. IJTI said the reporters were beaten with
rifle butts and had their cameras and laptop
computers destroyed.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono welcomed the
National Police plan to rotate out many of the men
affected directly by the rioting.

"I support the police chief’s plans to bring back
normalcy and I understand how members of the
Mobile Brigade feel about the deaths of their
colleagues," he said.

Three policemen and an Air Force officer were
bludgeoned or stabbed to death in the clashes.
Reports said another man died Friday from his
injuries sustained during the riot.

Police spokesman Sr. Comr Kartono said Selphius,
one of the suspects, would be charged under
Article 160 on provocation against security
officers, while the other 11 under Article 170 on
aggravated assault against the officers. Other
charges include the destruction of public
property, he said. Three “co-conspirators” are
still at large, Kartono said.

Thursday’s slayings highlighted the simmering
anger among many Papuans over the massive gold
mine — which they say brings no benefit to the
local community — and for the Indonesian security
forces tasked to quell a separatist movement.

Jayapura on Saturday was still tense, however many
residents have resumed their daily activities
after staying at home Thursday and Friday. Shops
and supermarkets in the Abepura section of town,
where the riots took place, had also been opened.
Traffic resumed and police seemed to have stopped
their search for suspects.

The Papua People’s Assembly (MRP) issued an
announcement, appealing the entire community
against being easily provoked to resort to
excessive actions that tended to hurt the public.

Generals take over after deadly Papua riots

New York Times - March 17, 2006

Jane Perlez, Jakarta — Indonesia’s top military
and police generals took control of the provincial
capital of Jayapura in Papua on Friday, ordering
the arrests of university students and directing
the riot police to fire into the air as they
patrolled the streets.

Nearly 60 people, many of them students at
Cenderawaih University, have been arrested in
connection with a violent demonstration Thursday
that resulted in the death of three policemen and
an air force officer, a police spokesman, General
Anton Bachrul, said.

The protest, organized against the American mining
company Freeport-McMoRan, which operates a huge
gold and copper mine about 500 kilometers, or 300
miles, from Jayapura, turned violent when the
police clashed with several hundred students near
the campus.

After the policemen and the military officer were
killed, the police started shooting, a former
policeman and security officer for the mining
company said Friday. "It was extraordinary that
the police did not kill anyone, they were so mad,"
the former policeman, who declined to be
identified, said.

In an unusual display of strength and in a
reflection of the seriousness of the violence, the
Indonesian Army chief, General Djoko Suyanto; the
head of the police, General Sutanto; and the head
of the domestic intelligence service, Syamsir
Siregar, arrived in Papua on Thursday night.

The sudden show of Indonesian military brass in
Papua, the country’s easternmost and poorest
province, was not only to protect the valuable
mining company, but the country’s hold on the
province itself.

A low-level insurgency has rumbled for decades
against the central government, and the student
protesters openly sympathize with it.

The sounds of shooting reverberated Friday from
the area of Adepura, around the university, and
schools and markets were closed, residents of
Jayapura said.

The riot police officers from Brimob, the most
feared of Indonesia’s police units, were still
going door to door at the university dormitories,
said Hans Magal, the secretary general of the
Highland Students Association.

The police were targeting students from the
highland region where the mine operates, Magal
said by telephone from Timika, the town adjacent
to the mine.

The violence directed against Freeport, an
escalation of scattered incidents in the past
month, is the most severe against the company
since Papuans armed with bows and arrows rioted at
the mine site 10 years ago.

The current protests began last month and
operations were closed for three days. They then
spread to Timika and the provincial capital.

To quiet the antagonism after the 1996 rampage,
the company began directly paying individual
police and military officers to protect the mining
operations that stretch from glacier-capped
mountains to the coastal lowlands, where the mine
waste covers 230 square kilometers, or 90 square
miles, of former wetlands.

The New York Times reported in December that
Freeport had granted far greater financial support
to the Indonesian Army and police in Papua than
the company had publicly reported, in some cases
giving individual commanders tens of thousands of

The Justice Department has said it is
investigating whether these payments made from
1998 to 2004 were in breach of the Foreign Corrupt
Practices Act. The Securities and Exchange
Commission told the New York City Pension Fund, a
major investor in Freeport, that it was also
investigating if the company failed to fully
disclose the payments to its shareholders.

After the 1996 riots, the company paid for new
social programs for local people, assigning 1
percent of annual revenues for medical services,
schools, roads, and AIDS programs.

Whether, or how, the New Orleans-based company and
the Indonesian government can make such a
relatively quick fix to tame the current surge of
anger is an open question.

The most senior Papuan at Freeport, Thom Beanal, a
leader of one of the biggest tribal groups, the
Amungme, and a director of the Indonesian unit of
Freeport, said Friday that the company was
concerned about maintaining its daily operations
in the current atmosphere.

Consistently one of the largest sources of income
for the Indonesian government, the company
announced record profits in the final quarter last
year, as gold prices reached a 25-year high.

Beanal said by telephone from his home in Timika
that he had advised Freeport recently that to
reduce hostilities toward the mine, the company
needed to deal more effectively with more than
700,000 tons of daily mine waste.

Protests against the mine began last month when
villagers were told by the security forces that
they could no longer pan for gold in the waste.

Police hit back at Papuan students

The Australian - March 18, 2006

Sian Powell, Jakarta — Indonesian paramilitary
police beat and kicked Papuan students yesterday
in reprisals for the deaths of three policemen and
an air force officer.

Human rights worker Albert Rumbekwan, from the
Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights,
said the police had blocked roads and were
searching every vehicle.

"The Papuans, the young ones, have been taken and
beaten, kicked, hit with guns and threatened," he
said. "One of my men was beaten. Another two were
threatened. Their cameras, their tape recorders
and their notes on the chronology of events were

Experts said the anger and frustration in
Indonesia’s easternmost province of Papua could
soon boil over, fuelled by the armed forces’
reprisals and resentment of Jakarta’s rule.
Indonesia’s security forces, accused of a string
of atrocities in the province, are expected to
crack down harder than ever.

Indonesian police had arrested 57 people in
connection with Thursday’s riot. Others who had
fled to the mountains would be hunted down, said
police spokesman Kartono Wangsa Disastra.

"We will never stop hunting these people who have
created havoc and murdered our officers," he said.

Nineteen security officers were seriously wounded
and five protesters were hurt in the violence, he
said, adding police had used rubber bullets and
that reports of shootings with live bullets were
false. "If we used live bullets they would all be
dead," he said.

Thursday’s riot on the outskirts of Jayapura was
the most violent of the protests in Papua and
Jakarta in recent months.

Protesters in Timika blocked a road for days last
month as security guards were attacked with arrows
and protesters apparently shot with bullets. The
Sheraton hotel in Timika was later attacked.

The giant Freeport gold and copper mine in Timika
has become a lightning rod for Papuan anger,
according to International Crisis Group Southeast
Asia analyst Francesca Lawe-Davies. "It’s actually
a set of protests long-organised by Papuan student
groups, which is partly about (demanding) the
closure of Freeport, but which channels a general
sense of frustration," she said.

Papuans were concerned about human rights abuses,
Ms Lawe-Davies said, along with the failure to
discipline the military responsible for the
breaches and the splitting of the province. "It
reflects a generalised malaise about the failure
of special autonomy," she said.

Mr Rumbekwan said people in the Abepura and
Kotaraja districts on the edge of Jayapura were
terrified. "Those who are guilty, those who are
not guilty and not involved, everyone is
considered the same,“he said.”Brimob (the
paramilitary police) are sweeping through the
streets, and I think this is an act of revenge."

Police detain 11 more after Papua clashes

Reuters - March 18, 2006

Jakarta — Indonesian authorities have detained
another 11 people in Papua province after three
policemen and a soldier died in clashes with
protesters demanding closure of a giant US-run
mine, police said on Saturday.

Fifty-seven people had already been detained after
Thursday’s violence in the provincial capital,
Jayapura, on the northeastern shore of Papua,
about 3,500 km (2,200 miles) from Jakarta.

The clashes sparked fears of more protests against
US firm Freeport-McMoran Cooper & Gold Inc, which
runs the mine.

Tensions have been running high in the area in
recent days and, on Friday, police fired shots
into the air as they patrolled the city. Three
people were hurt in the incident.

Last month mine operations were halted for four
days before protesters, mostly illegal miners,
left the site near the town of Timika, about 500
km (300 miles) southwest of Jayapura. The mine has
been operating normally this week.

"The number of people detained has increased from
57 to 68," Papua police spokesman Kartono
Wangsadisastra said on Saturday.

"Our team is still searching for those responsible
for the criminal activities... We have found the
perpetrators’ identities and formed an
investigating team to hunt for them." He said 10
people had been declared suspects, but gave no

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has rejected
demands for the immediate closure of the mining
operation, the country’s largest taxpayer, but
said he would assign ministers to examine social
grievances related to the mine.

There have been sporadic protests, both in Papua
and Jakarta, since the February shutdown. Issues
range from illegal miners seeking access to the
mine area to the demands for closure of the mine,
believed to have the world’s third-largest copper
reserves and one of the biggest gold deposits.

Illegal miners often enter mining areas in
Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago with huge
deposits of such metals as copper, gold and tin.
The Freeport operation has been a frequent source
of controversy over its environmental impact, the
share of revenue going to Papuans, and the
legality of payments to Indonesian security forces
who help guard the site.

Murders will not close mine, vows Yudhoyono

Sydney Morning Herald - March 18, 2006

Mark Forbes, Jayapura — Indonesia’s President,
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has called for restraint
following the brutal murder of four security
officers by Papuan demonstrators. He promised to
respond to concerns about the giant Freeport
goldmine but vowed it would remain open.

Dr Yudhoyono warned that “some elements” were
turning discontent against Freeport, the largest
goldmine in the world and Indonesia’s single
largest taxpayer, into a campaign for Papuan

The national police and military chiefs were
dispatched to Jayapura, the capital of Papua
province, yesterday for crisis talks, as security
crackdowns continued across the city. Its streets
and those of other regional centres remained tense
but quiet, with activists in hiding, fearing

Local leaders emerged dissatisfied from talks with
the chiefs in Jayapura, calling for international
intervention in the province and demanding direct
talks with Freeport.

Further negotiations were to continue last night.
A local church leader, Socrates Sofyan Yoman, said
Papuans must take part in a renegotiation of the
mine’s contract.

An organiser of the original protests against
Freeport and co-ordinator of the continuing
campaign, Jefri Pagawak, spoke yesterday from a
hideout in Timika, close to the mine site,
protected by 40 tribal warriors armed with bows
and arrows. If demands against Freeport were not
met and tough police tactics continued "then we
will attack the Government in self-defence", he

As well as helping an illegal miners’ blockade at
Freeport after locals were prevented from sifting
through the mine’s tailings last month, Mr Pagawak
led an attack that closed Timika’s Sheraton Hotel
on Tuesday.

The miners’ blockade sparked a wave of pro-Papuan
demonstrations, despite the original dispute being
resolved. "We will continue our protests until
Freeport stops its operations," Mr Pagawak said.

A new deal between Freeport and Papua should be
negotiated without the involvement of the
Indonesian Government, he said, adding that the
dispute could lead to independence for Papua.
"Freeport is one of the tools, the issues for

The deaths of three police and one military
intelligence officer occurred after hundreds of
rock-throwing demonstrators pushed back police
storming their protest at Cendrawasih University.

The men were isolated, beaten with rocks, sticks
and stabbed. Two of the bodies were doused with
petrol and burnt. At least 19 other police and
eight demonstrators were seriously injured.

Shots could still be heard in Jayapura yesterday
as police continued hunting for demonstrators who
allege the Freeport mine’s multi-billion dollar
profits were diverted from the province. A
spokesman for Freeport said the claims against the
mine were “totally untrue”.

Dr Yudhoyono said that while his Government would
“respond to discontent in Papua”, it would also
“facilitate the operations of Freeport”. Mark
Forbes is the first Western journalist admitted to
Papua in nearly two years.

Rights activists urge restraint in Papua

Jakarta Post - March 18, 2006

Jakarta — An alliance of NGOs has condemned
Thursday’s violence in Jayapura, Papua, but
demanded the authorities not exact reprisals for
the killing of three policemen and an Air Force

"This has to be handled according to the law and
proportionally without the police demanding
vengeance," said Commission for Missing Persons
and Victims of Violence (Kontras) coordinator
Usman Hamid.

"We urge everyone to act reasonably by not doing
things which are unwanted by all," he added, amid
concerns of an escalation of violence due to
hostility between the public and the security

The NGOs abhorred the actions of security
personnel, who conducted sweeps of civilian areas
Thursday night to apprehend individuals suspected
of being involved in the incident near Cendrawasih
State University.

They alleged the police acted indiscriminately in
apprehending suspects, and intimidated college
students from the central highland areas of
Jayapura, Abepura and Sentani.

"If the police don’t obey the law, how will the
people feel the need to obey the law?" said Center
for Democracy and Human Rights (Demos) executive
director Asmara Nababan.

Past incidents show that retaliation by security
personnel in Papua, including after the 2000
attack on a police station in Abepura in which two
policemen and a civilian died, exacerbated the
situation and led to human rights violations.

The NGOs also demanded that the military commander
and the police chief immediately intervene by
withdrawing security personnel members with strong
emotional ties with the victims.

To restore order and peace in the area, the NGOs
demanded that talks also involve religious and
community figures, due to the sociocultural
background of the populace.

Nababan implored the police to never forget the
presumption of innocence.

The NGOs blamed the incident on the lack of
communication between the central government and
the Papuan people, saying Jakarta must reopen and
intensify dialog with the Papuan people in order
to obtain their opinions.

"How come the government can communicate with
Aceh, but not with Papua?“said Nababan.”The
Papua situation is already like a bundle of dry
grass, which will take only a single match to set
it ablaze."

The National Commission on Human Rights also urged
the Jayapura authorities to immediately apprehend
those responsible for the incident without
resorting to excessive force, which would lead to
further human rights violations in Papua.

"This is because the Papuans have had to suppress
their suffering for such a long time due to the
government’s policies," said Human Rights Watch
Group coordinator Rafendi Jamin.

Greens call for end to West Papua violence

Sydney Morning Herald - March 18, 2006

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle has urged Prime
Minister John Howard and Foreign Minister
Alexander Downer to press Indonesia for an end to
violence in West Papua.

Senator Nettle said its time for Mr Howard and Mr 
Downer to do something. "The Prime Minister and
Foreign Minister often boast of the close
relationship we have with Indonesia," she said in
a statement.

"Now is the time to ring President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono and call on him to stop the use of
lethal force in West Papua." His call follows a
series of incidents in West Papua this week when
protests turned violent.

Uniting Church minister Reverend John Barr, who
recently returned from Papua, has forecast an
intensification of violence and also demands from
protesters to have the Freeport mine and the
Indonesian government held responsible for
despoiling the Papuan environment.

"We have heard one student was shot dead and many
are badly wounded. I could hear people yelling and
fleeing as my contact spoke to me on the phone
from the grounds of the theological seminary," he
said in a statement.

Reverend Barr said it was now time for the
Indonesian government to grant access to West
Papua for the UN’s special rapporteur on torture,
Manfred Nowak, the office of the High Commissioner
for Human Rights and the United Nation’s special
adviser on the prevention of genocide Juan Mendez.

Violence escalates in Papua

Radio Australia - March 17, 2006

Reporter: Peter Cave

Mark Colvin: Three policemen and an Indonesian air
force officer have been beaten to death, and an
unknown number of demonstrators have been shot in
the last 24 hours in escalating violence in
Indonesia’s Papua province, or as it used to be
known, Irian Jaya, West Papua.

Police in riot gear moved against protesters who
blocked the road in front of a university for two
days. The road provides access to the airport in
the provincial capital, Jayapura.

As our Foreign Affairs Editor, Peter Cave reports
from Jakarta, there’ve been rolling protests in
Papua, Jakarta and elsewhere, since a blockade of
the giant American-owned Freeport Gold and Copper
Mine began last month. (sound of riots: police
sirens, glass smashing, yelling etc)

Peter Cave: Police in riot gear fired teargas and
rubber bullets into the crowd of around 500, most
of them students.

(sound of yelling and shooting)

They then charged into the crowd with their riot
shields, batons swinging. Police spokesman,
Kartono Wangsadisastra, told the ABC what happened

"Such brutality, anarchy, barbarism can’t be
tolerated. I call them murderers,“he says”because once they got a policeman they killed him
immediately. They bashed his head with a rock,
then they stabbed him. They were brutal. Three
police were killed and 19 were badly injured. We
didn’t have live bullets, just blanks. You need to
know that, just blanks."

Obet Rawar from the Papua-based human rights
group, ELSHAM, was in the crowd when police opened
fire. He told the ABC what he saw.

"We evacuated several victims, there were men who
got shot in the chest, another in the right leg
and another in the right side of the forehead. But
they were not then only ones, there were many
more. We evacuated one victim who had been left in
a swamp. There were more men coming to help those
who got shot and to take them to the nearest

(sound of tyres screeching, sirens and yelling)

Police have denied using live rounds but
Indonesian Television station, Metro TV, showed
footage of police firing pistols at demonstrators.

(sound of shooting)

The human rights group says elements of the
Indonesian military were also involved in firing
on demonstrators.

(sound of shooting)

The Freeport mine, reputed to be the world’s
largest producer of gold and copper has been a
constant source of friction since it began
operations in 1972 after being given a lease by
the Suharto regime. Freeport was given a 30-year
contract to continue running the mine in 1991.

Its opponents say it gives little back to Papuans,
it has polluted more than 35,000 hectares of land,
as well as the ocean, and that it’s been
responsible for human rights abuses by the
Indonesian military, which it pays for protection.

The New York Times reported last year that
Freeport McMoRan which operates it, paid $20
million to high-ranking security officials between
1998 and 2004.

The company denies the accusations and says it has
spent vast sums relocating and supporting local
tribes. The Indonesian Government rarely allows
foreign reporters to visit Papua.

This is Peter Cave reporting from Jakarta.

Up to five dead in clash over US mine in Papua

Agence France Presse - March 16, 2006

Jakarta — Armed police clashed with rock-throwing
demonstrators during a protest against the world’s
largest gold and copper mine in Indonesia’s Papua
province leaving up to five people dead and many
more injured, police and witnesses said.

The bloodshed occurred outside the state-run
university in the provincial capital Jayapura amid
ongoing protests against the operator of the mine,
US giant Freeport-McMoRan.

Papua police spokesman Kartono Wangsadisastra told
AFP three police officers were killed including
two who were burned alive, while 19 officers and a
journalist from the weekly Tempo magazine were
seriously injured.

He said police had fired warning shots and tear
gas in a bid to push back the crowd after
protesters started pelting police with rocks, but
he denied reports two protesters had been killed.

However Aloy Renwarin of the Papua-based Elsham
human rights group told AFP he saw two Papuans
killed and five others wounded when police opened
fire on the crowd of around 150 protesters. "I saw
with my own eyes five people wounded and two
others shot dead.

The shootings are still taking place, the
situation is still grave," he told AFP by
telephone from Jayapura as he organised his staff
to help the wounded.

A spokesman for the state-run Abepura hospital in
Jayapura said at least eight wounded policemen
were being treated at the establishment and more
were expected.

Thursday’s protest was just the latest unrest
linked to the controversial mine, which provides
one of the top sources of revenue for Indonesia’s

A new round of protests flared last month after
Freeport security forces tried to evict local
miners, who prospect among the mine’s waste,
alleging their activity was illegal.

Some 500 then blocked the road to the mine,
forcing its closure for four days.

The dispute was resolved when Freeport agreed to
allow the miners to resume their work, but it
triggered rowdy demonstrations in the capital
Jakarta, Jayapura and elsewhere.

The police spokesman said the protesters, who
included students from Cendrawasih University, had
been blocking the main road outside the campus for
two days and nights.

National police chief Sutanto said there was no
need to send reinforcements to Jayapura, which is
around 3,500 kilometres (2,200 miles) east of the
capital Jakarta. “We regret this happened,”
Sutanto told reporters, calling on the protesters
to refrain from “anarchy”.

The protestors accused Freeport of not giving
enough to the people of Papua in return for the
mine, creating environmental pollution and being
responsible for human rights abuses through their
use of the military to protect the mine.

Its payments to the military for security have
been under intense scrutiny in recent months amid
allegations that they amounted to corruption,
while the environment ministry is investigating
pollution allegations against them.

International media are banned from travelling
freely in easternmost Papua, where a simmering
separatist conflict persists.

The Papuan provincial parliament has announced
that it will hold a special session this month to
discuss the mine. It does not have the power to
close the mine but could apply pressure to the
Indonesian government to do so. Freeport signed a
30-year contract with Jakarta to run the mine in

Indonesian troops detain Papua protest suspects

Associated Press - March 17, 2006

Irwan Firdaus, Jayapura — Troops rounded up
suspects Friday after mobs bludgeoned to death
three police officers and a soldier during a
protest to demand the shutdown of a massive US-
owned gold mine in eastern Indonesia.

National police spokesman Brig. Gen. Anton Bachrul
Alam told reporters 57 people had been arrested,
though only five were named suspects, including a
protest organizer. They could face charges of
assault, murder or destroying public property, he

The demonstration Thursday was the most violent in
a series against Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold
Inc., the world’s largest gold and copper mine.

The killing of the three policemen and one air
force officer underscored the hatred many Papuans
feel toward Indonesian security forces. A
decades-long separatist rebellion in the remote
province has left more than 100,000 dead, many of
them civilians who suffered from mistreatment,
starvation and other consequences of the war.

Protesters say that while Freeport’s gold mine has
earned the New Orleans-based company billions of
dollars, the local community has received little

They went on a rampage after gun-toting security
forces fired tear gas in an effort to break up the
rally, charging demonstrators with their batons.
Hundreds of shots were fired, though police
insisted they did not use live ammunition.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono sent top
security chiefs to the region to investigate the
unrest, and warned that some people were trying to
manipulate anger over Freeport into a push for
independence. They would not succeed, he said.

But the Indonesian government said the company
could do more to help the community.

Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda told visiting
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this week that
American companies operating in the sprawling
archipelago should be asked to focus more on
“community building,” ministry spokesman Desra
Percaya said.

Wirajuda pointed to Freeport and Texas-based oil
giant Exxon Mobil Corp, telling Rice "more could
be done in the area of corporate social
responsibility," the spokesman said.

Freeport defends its operations in Papua, saying
it pays millions of dollars in taxes each year and
funds scores of local projects close to the
massive mine.

Hundreds of paramilitary police stood guard Friday
near the state-run university, the site of the
demonstration in Jayapura, the provincial capital.
The campus was largely deserted.

New York-based Human Rights Watch called on
authorities to determine why the rally spiraled
out of control. The group’s Asia director, Brad
Adams, said police may have opened fire first,
wounding several demonstrators, who responded by
attacking the officers with rocks and knives.

One resident, Marcus, said he was walking by the
university when he heard gun shots. "I was chased
by plainclothes police and then beaten up," said
the 31-year-old, who only uses one name, as he
recovered in Jayapura Public Hospital, his face
badly bruised. "I didn’t know anything about the
protest, but I was a victim."

Indonesian police seen firing on students in

Agence France Presse - March 17, 2006

Jayapura — Enraged Indonesian police fired live
bullets to root out about 1,000 protesters from a
university in Papua after the students beat
several officers to death, eyewitnesses said.

Three policemen and an airforce officer were
killed in Thursday’s melee in the restive province
of Papua, where the mine run by US firm Freeport
McMoRan has become a symbol of local grievances
against Jakarta and Washington "The students were
insulting Indonesia, yelling ’Indondesia is a
robber, Indonesia protects Freeport,’" Benny Giay,
a local Christian minister who tried to mediate in
the dispute, told AFP.

The students had gathered outside the university
in the provincial capital of Jayapura, blocking a
main road and demanding the closure of the mine,
which is a top source of revenue for the
Indonesian government. Troops and riot squads came
in after police failed to convince the students to
open up the road, said Yanke Baru, a volunteer for
the human rights group Elsham-Papua who was on the

He said three cordons of police then surrounded
the protesters — regular police, female officers,
and finally the riot squads.

"Then the mass started throwing stones while
police were negotiating with a student leader. The
police grabbed the student leader and when other
students saw police treat him so brutally, they
threw many stones,“Baru said.”And that’s when police started beating some
students." Many in Papua complain that they do not
see enough benefits from the mine and with
tensions already high, the beatings apparently
infuriated the crowd.

Two policemen fell in the fracas as officers
chased the protesters into the university campus,
Baru said. “They were beaten to death.” The others
were beaten later, he said.

Baru said that the shooting began shortly
afterwards. "Because the students threw stones,
they shot back,“he said.”They used live bullets.
I took 12 students injured to the (Catholic
hospital)... Ten students were shot."

Obet Rawar, also from Elsham, said he feared more
than 12 were injured and that some may have died
because they were too fearful to seek medical help
and had simply run away. "They ran to the forest,
to wherever," he said.

Minister Giay said he helped two injured students
and saw a five-year-old boy being treated in
hospital for gun wounds. "They were shot. It was
live bullets not rubber bullets, because they bled
a lot and the bullets are still there."

Johannes Do, another witness, said that police
opened fire again on Friday morning when they were
carrying the bodies of their slain colleagues away
from the university to the airport. "They shot to
the left and right as they travelled all along the
street" leading away from the university, Do said.

Locals have long complained that they do not get
their fair share from the mine and that the
company is guilty of significant environmental

Freeport McMoRan has also been under scrutiny over
its payments to the military. According to a New
York Times report in December, it paid 20 million
dollars to high-ranking security officials between
1998 and 2004.

Indonesia protesters kill police officers

Agence France Presse - March 16, 2006

Jayapura — Protesters beat three police officers
to death Thursday during a violent demonstration
to demand the closure of a US-owned gold mine in
Indonesia’s Papua province, police and witnesses
said. At least 19 people were injured in clashes.

Two members of the police paramilitary unit and a
regular officer were killed, said Col. Kertono

An Associated Press reporter saw protesters corner
two of the officers and beat them with sticks and
stones while hundreds demonstrated near a major
university in the provincial capital of Jayapura.

Police fired tear gas, wielded batons and chased
and attacked several protesters, who threw stones
at the approaching officers, an Associated Press
reporter at the scene said. At least 19 people
were injured, many with gunshot wounds, two
hospitals reported.

It was the third day of violent protests against
the mine run by the New Orleans-based Freeport-
McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. "We want Freeport to
close because it has not given any benefits to the
people of Papua. In fact it’s made them suffer,"
said Kosmos Yual, one of more than 200 protesters.

There have been several rallies in recent weeks
against the gold mine — said to be the world’s
largest — both in Papua and in the Indonesian
capital Jakarta.

Freeport, which pays millions of dollars in taxes
and funds scores of community projects close to
the mine in central Papua, was forced to
temporarily shut the facility last month after
demonstrators blockaded it.

Papua is home to a popular separatist movement
that has been brutally repressed by Indonesian
security forces. The mine is often held up by
independence supporters as a symbol of the unfair
division of resources between the capital and

Police make arrests for Papua hotel attack

Jakarta Post - March 16, 2006

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura — Mimika Police on
Wednesday arrested 15 people for an attack on the
Sheraton Timika Hotel in Timika, Papua, on
Tuesday, and are searching for five more suspects.

The 15 people arrested were among a group of
protesters who have blocked off one of the roads
leading to the Freeport gold mine in Timika for
the last several days to protest the American
mining giant’s activities in the province.

During the arrests, two police officers suffered
arrow wounds when the suspects attacked them with
traditional weapons.

Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Kartono S. told
The Jakarta Post on Wednesday the police officers
were attacked as they attempted to arrest 20
people suspected of involvement in the hotel

He said police fired warning shots after they came
under attack and were able to arrest 15 of the
suspects, with the remaining five suspects
managing to flee.

"Currently the checkpoint (on the road to the
mine) is clear, there are no more residents there
and the police are on guard," he said.

He said the 15 suspects were arrested for the
attack on the hotel and the possession of
dangerous weapons. "They’re currently being
questioned at Mimika Police Headquarters," Kartono

The two wounded police officers are being treated
at Mitra Community Hospital in Timika. Hospital
deputy director Antonius Darmono said the two
officers were admitted about two hours apart with
arrow wounds. Darmono told AFP one of the officers
underwent emergency surgery to remove an arrow
from his chest.

Those responsible for the attack on the Sheraton
smashed up four buses and set a car alight. They
were expressing their anger over the operations of
Freeport. The hotel’s guests, including members of
the Papua provincial council and the Papuan
People’s Assembly (MRP), had to be evacuated.

The attack forced the councillors and MRP members
to cancel a visit to the Freeport mine to gather
information ahead of a planned special session on
March 22 to decide Papua’s stance on Freeport’s
operations in the province.

"It’s likely there will be no special session
because we have no information to discuss because
we didn’t get to the mine," councillor Abdul Hakim
told the Post in Jayapura.

Eleven councillors and 18 MRP members staying at
the hotel were on a five-day working visit to
Freeport’s mines in Tembagapura and Timika in
Mimika regency. The trip was to gather information
following widespread protests demanding the
closure of Freeport’s mines over allegations of
environmental damage and complaints that the
company’s operations failed to benefit Papuans.

"We went to Freeport to gather data following
protests demanding Freeport’s closure... but we
didn’t get there because people blocked the road
and attacked the Sheraton hotel where we were
staying," Abdul said.

In Jayapura, members of the Papua’s People
Fighting Front, led by Arnold Omba, blocked a road
outside Cendrawasih University in Abepura,
demanding Freeport’s closure and the withdrawal of
soldiers deployed to secure the mine.

The protest, which began at noon, completely
blocked off the street, causing long traffic jams.
The only vehicles allowed to pass were ambulances,
and that only after protesters checked to
determine whether the vehicles were carrying sick




Rights groups blast Rice for defending military

Associated Press - March 15, 2006

Jakarta — Human rights groups criticized US
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday
for restoring full military ties with Indonesia,
saying the army remains a threat to the country’s
young democracy.

"The (Indonesian armed forces) remains a largely
rogue institution which commits human rights
violations without concern for the law," said a
statement issued jointly in Washington D.C. by
four nongovernmental groups.

The military was the main pillar of the 32-year
dictatorship of former strongman Suharto, who was
ousted amid massive pro-democracy street protests
in 1998.

The United States cut all military ties with
Indonesia the next year after the army and its
militia proxies devastated East Timor during its
break from Jakarta.

Last November, however, Rice waived all
restrictions on military assistance, citing
cooperation by the world’s largest majority Muslim
nation in the war on terror.

Washington said that continuing to isolate the
Indonesian military was no longer in its strategic

"The administration’s abandonment of
congressionally imposed restrictions... rewards
and encourages continued human rights violations,
impunity, and corruption, thus undermining
Indonesian democracy," the statement said.




Hundreds of applicants stage protest over public
service exam

Jakarta Post - March 22, 2006

Apriadi Gunawan, Medan, Karanganyar — Hundreds of
participants in the public service exam in North
Sumatra and Central Java staged protests Tuesday
over the decision by regional administrations to
annul the announcement declaring that they had
passed the exam.

The applicants in Medan, North Sumatra, went to
the local office of the Legal Aid Institute, while
those in Karanganyar regency, Central Java, went
to the office of Karanganyar Regent Rina Iriani to
express their disappointment. Others in Surakarta
went to the City Hall and a similar protest also
took place in Temanggung.

Suhendri, one of Medan applicants whose name had
been announced in the media before the annulment,
said that he and his colleagues could not accept
such treatment and pledged to seek legal
settlement through the help of the legal aid

"We will file a lawsuit against the North Sumatra
provincial administration for the annulment of its
announcement," Suhendri told The Jakarta Post.

Suhendri explained that in one newspaper he and
four of his friends, namely Saripuddin, Mahani
Manurung, Nurmila and Azmiar, were cited as having
passed the exam as teachers of Islam.

In the next announcement, however, their names
were replaced with five other applicants, namely
Sulastri, Siti Aisyah, Jumiah, Nurleli and

Suhendri questioned how this could happen. If the
mixup was due to data copying, all the data should
have been wrong, not only the five, he said.

Mangasing Mungkur, head of North Sumatra
province’s recruitment section, stressed that the
mistake was caused by a technical problem. "This
is a good lesson for us... we hope it will not
happen again in the future," he said.

Meanwhile, 134 emotional applicants in Karanganyar
were received in a cordial way by Regent Rina
Iriani at her office, Antara reported.

In the revised announcement, up to 2,881
applicants who were mentioned in the first
announcement were replaced by other applicants in
the subsequent announcement. Out of 667 applicants
declared cited as having passed the exam in
Karanganyar, 134 were dropped.

The protesters asked the regent to take up the
issue with the Central Java provincial
administration and the central government.

In Surakarta, Deputy Surakarta Mayor FX Hadi
Rudiatno disclosed Tuesday that the revision of
the announcement by the Central Java province was
made because data was falsified during

Speaking to the protesters, Hadi said the
falsification was uncovered during a meeting at
the governor’s office. A revision was the only
viable action rather than annulling the results of
hundreds of thousands of applicants throughout
Central Java, he said. The number of applicants
whose test results were annulled in Central Java
reached 2,800, with applicants hailing from 35
regencies and mayoralties, he said as quoted by

Hadi has asked the provincial administration to
accept all the annulled applicants for next year’s
public service exam. However, the applicants
asserted that they should be accepted as civil
servants immediately.

Clashes on mine worsen

Agence France Presse - March 21, 2006

Jakarta — Hundreds of people have attacked and
torched a mining camp run by a subsidiary of the
US mining company Newmont on Indonesia’s Sumbawa

The attack came days after deadly clashes in
Indonesia’s Papua province during protests to
demand the closure of another gold and copper mine
run by the US firm Freeport-McMoRan.

"The attack took place on Sunday morning but we
had already evacuated the base camp the previous
day and temporarily halted our explorations
there," a Newmont spokesman, Kasan Mulyono, said

He said the company, Newmont Nusa Tenggara,
received reports of the planned attack on the
camp, where the company is exploring possible mine
sites, and had evacuated its 135 workers.

Mr Mulyono said he was told hundreds of people had
attacked the camp in the jungle east of the
company’s main mining site in Batu Hijau,
destroying and then setting fire to buildings.

"From our air reconnaissance flights we estimate
about 80 per cent of the buildings in the camp,
all semi-permanent buildings, were destroyed." He
had no details about who conducted the attack or
the reasons behind it.

Sumbawa’s district police chief, Abdul Hakim, said
three people were arrested after the attack, which
he said involved up to 500 people.

The paper said villagers had blockaded a road
leading to the mine a week earlier, demanding they
be involved in the company’s exploration
operations. Residents also wanted the company to
pay money into a community development fund.

In Papua, Freeport-McMoRan pays 1 per cent of its
profits into a fund controlled by local
tribespeople. Another Newmont subsidiary, Newmont
Minahasa Raya, has been accused in court of
polluting a bay near its mine in North Sulawesi

Cepu oil block operation attracts more protests

Jakarta Post - March 21, 2006

Suherdjoko and ID Nugroho, Bojonegoro — Protests
over the Cepu oil block continued in Central Java
on Monday, with 250 residents demanding to be
involved in the project while other protesters
rejected ExxonMobil Corp.’s involvement in the oil
block’s operation.

The residents, who called themselves the Coalition
of Banyuurip Jambaran Community, staged a protest
at the oil block’s planned exploration site in
Banyuurip, Mojodelik village in Ngasem district,
Bojonegoro regency.

The protesters, who had greeted positively last
week’s signing of a joint operating agreement on
the oil block, demanded to be involved in the
project. They said they had been left out during
negotiations on the oil block and demanded a 2
percent share of its profits.

The residents also demanded the oil block’s
operators build infrastructure, including roads,
community health centers and schools, while
involving the residents in community development

Kustini, a Berabuhan villager in Ngasem district,
wanted the oil block’s operators to provide free
education for children all the way to university.
"I also want them to provide health care and
suitable employment for our residents," he said.

State oil and gas firm PT Pertamina and US oil
giant ExxonMobil announced last week they had
finally reached an agreement to jointly operate
the Cepu oil block.

Under the agreement, Pertamina and ExxonMobil will
jointly form and operate the Cepu Organization,
which will run the oil and gas rich block under a
30-year production-sharing contract with the

While Bojonegoro and Blora residents were in full
support of the oil block, 50 protesters from the
Islamic Youth Struggle Committee were not.

On Sunday, the group, from Surakarta, was blocked
by the police on its way to stage a protest at the
Cepu oil block. The police told the protesters
they had not secured the proper documents for the
protest march. On Monday, they went on with the

"Our reason for protesting is that ExxonMobil is a
US colonialist. We’ve been ruled by the Dutch.
Freeport and Newmont are our foreign rulers, too.
So we reject another colonialist in the Cepu
Block," the protest coordinator Khofid Syaifulah
told The Jakarta Post Monday.

Central Java Governor Mardiyanto regretted the
protests. "Such actions should not be held to
allow the Cepu oil block to safely operate," he
said in Semarang. He said the hopes of many lay
with the oil block, and that once it was
operational people would feel the benefits.

Cepu oil block, which straddles the border of East
Java and Central Java, is estimated to have about
500 million barrels in oil reserves and is the
country’s biggest untapped oil field.

It is expected to start producing crude oil in
2008, with an estimated daily output of 165,000
barrels per day, or 20 percent of the country’s
total daily output.

Hunger strikers hospitalized on day six

Jakarta Post - March 21, 2006

Jakarta — Four hunger strikers from several
Jakarta universities collapsed Sunday, six days
into their strike.

They had their lips sewn up in a show of support
for people claiming to be the victims of the
construction of extra-high voltage electricity
wires in their neighborhoods.

Donnie and Rifsia Iga, both from TAMA University
in Jagakarsa, South Jakarta, and Simon and Sadrak,
from Indonesian Christian University in East
Jakarta and Satya Negara University in South
Jakarta respectively, were admitted to Yadika

The student protest was held on the Jl. Pondok
Indah campus of Satya Negara University.

"They are in a very weak condition after going
without food for six days," said Roni, the
spokesman for the group of 20 hunger strikers.

The head of Yadika’s emergency room, Hendrik Sulo,
said all of the students — who refused to have
their stitches removed — would need three days to

Protestors torch camp of US mining giant Newmont

Agence France Presse - March 19, 2006

Jakarta — Hundreds of people have attacked and
torched a mining camp run by a local subsidiary of
US giant Newmont on Indonesia’s Sumbawa island.

The attack on Sunday followed in the wake of
deadly clashes in Indonesia’s Papua province last
week during protests to demand the closure of a
gold and copper mine run by US firm Freeport-

"The attack took place on Sunday morning but we
had already evacuated the base camp on the
previous day and temporarily halted our
explorations there," Newmont spokesman Kasan
Mulyono said. He said that the company, Newmont
Nusa Tenggara, which also mines for gold and
copper, received reports of the planned attack on
the camp, where the company is exploring possible
mine sites, and had evacuated its 135 workers.

Mulyono said he was told that hundreds of people
had attacked the camp in the jungles some 60
kilometers (37 miles) east of the company’s main
mining site in Batu Hijau, destroying and then
setting fire to buildings.

"From our air reconnaissance flights, we estimate
that about 80 percent of the buildings in the
camp, all semi-permanent buildings, were
destroyed," Mulyono said.

He said he had no details about who conducted the
attack or the reasons behind it. Police overseeing
the area could not be immediately reached for

The Koran Tempo quoted Sumbawa district police
chief Abdul Hakim as saying that three people were
arrested following the attack, which he said
involved up to 500 people.

The daily said that a week earlier, local
residents had blockaded a road leading to the mine
and demanded that they be involved in the
company’s exploration operations.

The residents also reportedly wanted the company
to pay money into a community development fund. In
Papua, Freeport-McMoRan pays one percent of its
profits into a fund controlled by local

Another Newmont subsidiary, Newmont Minahasa Raya,
has been accused in court of polluting a bay near
its mine in North Sulawesi province.

The company agreed last month to pay 30 million
dollars in an out-of-court settlement of a civil
suit but is still facing a separate criminal case.

Newmont suspends work on Indonesian island

Associated Press - March 20, 2006

Chris Brummitt, Jakarta — The world’s largest
gold mining company suspended exploration on
Indonesia’s Sumbawa Island after unidentified
people torched a camp for its workers, the company
said Monday.

No one was injured in the attack Sunday on a
remote Newmont Mining Corp. camp. But the incident
underscores the difficulties facing foreign
companies working in remote corners of Indonesia
and comes amid rising anger at Western mining and
energy interests in the country.

Newmont’s local subsidiary said in a statement
that the “unlawful and violent action” by around
50 people had forced it close the Elang camp and
suspend exploration activities in the area. It
said the attackers did not come with any demands.

However, local police spokesman Maj. Tribudi
Pangastuti said the assailants were demanding
unspecified amounts of “compensation” for the
exploration activity. She said no arrests had been

Newmont "is disappointed that the illegal act by
this small group of people has caused the larger
community to suffer as many people will lose their
jobs and businesses," the company said.

The Denver-based company already operates a
massive gold and copper mine on the island. It
said operations there were unaffected by the

Foreign mining and energy companies in Indonesia
face frequent protests by nearby residents
demanding jobs or compensation for resources, and
spend millions of dollars on community development

Poor law enforcement and local government compound
the problems, which analysts say are stopping
foreign companies from investing badly needed
dollars in the country’s natural resources sector.

"This is wrong, specially at a time when we are
trying to fix our image to become investor
friendly," said Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and
Industry deputy chairman John Prasetio. "Even
domestic investors will feel uneasy if the
government cannot guarantee security."

Newmont faces other problems elsewhere in
Indonesia. On Sulawesi island, one of its top
American executives, Richard Ness, is facing
criminal charges over allegations that waste from
a now-closed gold mine polluted the bay and
sickened villagers. The company denies the
allegations. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.
temporarily closed its massive Grasberg gold mine
in Papua province last month after protesters
demanding the right to mine its waste ore
blockaded the facility.

On Monday, around 100 protesters rallied outside
the US Embassy in Jakarta, holding banners
demanding the return of the country’s natural
resources and torching an effigy of President
Bush, depicted with long nails and bloody fangs.

Separatists demanding Papuan independence,
environmentalists complaining of alleged pollution
and nationalists angry at a foreign company
digging up Indonesian metals have all joined
recent protests against the mine.

There have also been rallies over a deal last week
between Indonesia’s state-owned oil company and
Exxon Mobil Corp. to jointly operate the country’s
largest untapped oil field in Cepu, Java Island.

Fisherfolk protest land reclamation at their farms

Jakarta Post - March 17, 2006

Jakarta — Over 500 fishermen from Kalam Muara,
North Jakarta, held a rally at noon Thursday in
front of the City Council, to protest land
reclamation at their fishing grounds.

"We want the government to get rid of regulations
that burden the people. Our fishing grounds are
our only source of income," said one of the
fishermen, Asep.

"Compensating us with just Rp. 1 million (US$107)
each is not enough. Building a single fish farm
costs Rp 8 million, not to mention the loss of
future income," Asep said.

Spokesperson for the protesters Didik told The
Jakarta Post the first eviction happened in
February when officials from Kalam Muara
subdistrict administration collected data from the
fishermen and paid them Rp 1 million each. There
were 93 evictions at that time.

At present, there are at least 2,000 fish farms
around Kalam Muara seaboard, which generate income
of Rp 1 to 2 million per month for each fisherman.

Didik said the local authorities had never asked
for their opinion or discussed the matter prior to
the evictions.

Land reclamation is a multibillion rupiah project
undertaken by the city government with the aim of
expanding Jakarta’s land and protecting seashores
against land degradation due to floods and
irresponsible waste disposal.

Ten fishermen were then allowed to enter the City
Council to meet two councillors, Tubagus Arif and
Arkeno, both from the Prosperous Justice Party

Tubagus said his commission would organize a
meeting to discuss the matter with related
government agencies and promised to visit Kalam
Muara soon.

Any eviction in the area is considered illegal
because the city administration never planned to
develop the areas around Kalam Muara.

"There must be a third party in this incident. The
focus of the provincial government is still toward
the inner-city not the city outskirts,“he said.”There is indeed a plan for land reclamation as
stated in provincial regulation No.6/1999, but it
is still far from being materialized as no rules
of the game have been set to govern the operation,
"We have found many similar cases. Third parties
are exploiting the provincial regulation for their
own benefit," Tubagus said.

The fishermen mentioned one property developer,
PT. Mandara Permai, who they claimed was one of
the investors behind the evictions, but the
company denied it through their secretary officer,
Fui Ling, by saying that they did not have any
projects around that area.




Porn bill dividing people down faith lines

Jakarta Post - March 21, 2006

Emmy Fitri, Jakarta — The impending reward once
the contentious bills on pornography and
pornographic acts is endorsed, could be a division
among the people — specifically the devout
believers and the not-so-devout.

Lawmakers have evidently failed to detect this
potential rift among the people here, even on the
days when they decided to restart the bill, which
was actually shelved by their predecessors.

Across the country, boisterous rallies voicing
support for and enmity toward the bill, have
merely been taken as ’the dynamics of a democratic
country.’ And, predictably, like other high-
profile (and controversial) legislation, lawmakers
forged ahead without bothering to listen.

Staunch Muslim groups have incessantly praised the
“noble intention” of the bill, which the devout
believe can aid in protecting the young generation
from further immorality. They have also pleaded
with the lawmakers to endorse it with little or no

On the other side, women’s rights activists and
those with common sense, point out how the bills
undermine and target women as a source of many
sins, and further how sexuality and cultural
diversity are viewed by some people as crimes.

The War of Words between the two different sides
is now in full swing.

The Balinese opposition to the bill has been a
good example to reiterate that the Balinese Hindus
have a different faith from the majority of
people, so they do not want the bill. Other
provinces with significant non-Muslim populations
might also join the movement opposing the bill.

Many have expressed suspicions that some lawmakers
hope to use the bill to retain their cushy seats
by winning the hearts of the Muslim voters ahead
of the 2009 election.

Critical eyes however, see a different perspective
in the legislators’ steadfast determination to go
ahead despite mounting protests: The lawmakers are
apparently trying to bridge the gap between
mankind (in this country) and God.

They are trying to take over God’s role on earth
by judging what is a sin, regardless of the fact
that it involves the most private areas of one’s

Unbelievable? It is. Just take a close look at the
first paragraph of the explanation of the draft
bill, which says "as religious believers,
Indonesians are convinced that God forbids
antisocial behavior, such as indecency and
immorality in our sex lives, for instance; sexual
harassment, adultery, sexual deviation etc."

By and large, the bill requires citizens to agree
upon this clause, and if they do not, then they
are sinful animals.

Where do the House members wish to stand between
the state, the people and God? It is really a
confusing leap that the House members are trying
to make.

The truth does not only exist in Islam, which
forbids such sins as sexual deviancy and
immorality. Many other religions are of the same
opinion. So why do the hard-line supporters of
this all happen to be Muslim groups? Are Muslim
supporters trying to play the holier-than-thou
card? Perhaps.

Sex has been a lucrative industry since the
beginning of civilization. If sex is considered a
demon, the best way to wage war against cannot be
to try and kill the demon. Remember, demons are

The best way would be to protect oneself with
common sense and keep the beast at bay, so one
will be saved.

Logically, it is similar to fasting during
Ramadhan. Muslims do not go berserk when people
around them are eating, because the teachings
assert ’save your anger and consume the suffering
and heaven awaits you.’ Besides, many laws have
contained clauses touching upon pornography. The
Criminal Code has articles on pornography, street
prostitution and even adultery. If these are
considered inadequate, the broadcast law can be
revised to regulate “porn” or graphic images aired
on television.

So why produce new laws, while we are quite aware
of the high cost and the valuable time that the
lawmakers spend on each one.

So what would happen if the bills were really
endorsed? Quite obviously, there would be a holy
war between believers and non-believers. Or the
police would be outnumbered by offenders and
overwhelmed with porn-related crimes. Prisons
would be bursting at the seams.

Worse still, the state budget item for prison
expenses would balloon exponentially. It will
create chaos on a daily basis.

Some say it is a cliche to say that morality has
nothing to do with religious beliefs, but it is

In this country, it is not even news to hear how
an ustadz (teacher) sexually harasses his
acquiescent students, how scout instructors molest
young girls or boy scouts, how state officials
steal money from the state coffers, how public
figures openly disparage political rivals or how
religious leaders become engrossed in worldly

If believing is a matter of seeing, then those who
have seen aforementioned incidents, must say no to
this bill.

Porn bill debate head accused of deceiving public

Jakarta Post - March 19, 2006

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, Jakarta — Balkan
Kaplale, the head of the deliberation of the
controversial pornography bill, has been accused
of misleading the public.

Legislators critical of the bill said Saturday
Balkan misled the public when he announced last
week that all members of the team deliberating the
bill had agreed to drop its controversial

Several legislators are seeking to have Balkan, a
legislator from the Democrat Party, which was co-
founded by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,
removed from the chairmanship.

Balkan said last week that the deliberation team
had agreed to scrap all contentious issues from
the bill and that the future law would deal only
with the distribution of pornographic material.

Legislator Eva K. Sundari of the Indonesia
Democratic Party of Struggle and a member of the
deliberation team, said that her party has been
lobbying other legislators for the dismissal of
Balkan. "He has mislead the public. There is no
such thing as agreement among legislators to
overhaul the bill," she said Saturday.

Balkan announced that the vague definition of
pornography in the bill would be revised, and so
would key issues like eroticism and sensuality,
which have met with strong objections from
critics. Clauses on pornoaksi (pornographic acts)
would be dropped, he said.

Balkan made the statement after the deliberation
team secretly convened for three days at the
holiday resort of Puncak, 60 km south of Jakarta,
following weeks of massive protests both for and
against the bill. However, Eva said, legislators
finalizing the bill only made a few changes to the
bill’s title and structure. Legislator Boy Saul of
the Democrat Party said that Balkan’s view did not
reflect that of his party.

"We are yet take a stand but, yes, we have heard
about legislators critical of his leadership," he

When contacted by phone, Balkan refused to comment
on the moves to remove him from the chairmanship,
saying “I will carry on with my job without fear.”
The bill criminalizes acts many regard as part of
the private domain, such as kissing in public and
the display of nude art in public exhibitions.
Critics warn that the bill threatens indigenous
cultures and tourism and claim it is part of a
plan to ingrain Islamic values in pluralistic

The bill remains a burning issue throughout the
country. In Lombok on Saturday, thousands of
Muslims took to the streets in the capital,
Mataram, demanding the bill’s speedy passage.
Earlier last week, an estimated 300 activists
opposing the bill, mostly women, demonstrated
outside the local Legislative Council.

Saturday’s protest, organized by the Alliance for
Islam, was attended by students, members of
political parties and social groups from across
the province.

In the Central Java town of Brebes, leaders of the
40-million-strong Muslim organization Nahdlatul
Ulama also demonstrated in support of the bill.

"There must be a good way to deal with some
disputed articles without canceling the
deliberation of the bill," said NU chairman Hasyim

The House, he said, should not hesitate to pass
the bill for the "betterment of the nation’s
morality.“”It doesn’t take an extremist to
understand the negative effects of pornography,"
Hasyim said.

Religious Minister M. Maftuh Basyuni said that he
found it “a bit strange” that the issue of the
porn bill "has been diverted to that of women’s

Porn bill needs to wait: Jero

Jakarta Post - March 20, 2006

Bandung — State Minister of Culture and Tourism
Jero Wacik has told legislators not to rush the
deliberation of the pornography.

"The bill should not be finalized just yet. There
is still a lot of controversy. The bill’s special
committee should find out whether the bill is
beneficial or not," he said after the graduation
ceremony of over 500 tourism institute students in
Bandung on Saturday.

He said there were still many different
perceptions of the bill and how it would effect
people’s live, particularly in traditional areas.

"We know West Java has the Jaipongan dance, which
is loved by the people. This has been around for a
long time but causes no problems. It’s the same in
Bali and East Java. Problems arise when television
runs these dances, and people who don’t know them
question them," he said.

He said that in a recent tourism ministers
meeting, he had stated the world could not
regulate culture and make it uniform. "Our
differences make the world an interesting place,"
Jero said.

Komnas-HAM senior official rejects porn bill

Jakarta Post - March 18, 2006

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, Jakarta — Legislators
should drop the controversial pornography bill
because its implementation would only lead to
human rights violations, a member of the National
Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) says.

Hasto Atmodjo told the House of Representatives on
Friday he feared the bill’s vague articles would
allow multiple interpretations and could be easily
manipulated. "The House should cancel its
deliberation or at least postpone it until a
compromise between the advocates and the critics
is reached," he said.

Hasto has been assigned by the commission to study
the legislation. The commission is set to announce
its official stance on the bill early next month.

"Such things as sensuality and eroticism are
difficult to define in a law,“he said.”Actually,
the bill is unnecessary because the issues it
deals with are already covered by other laws like
the Criminal Code, the Broadcasting Law and the
Film Censorship Law," Hasto said.

On Friday, Muslim groups in Bandung and Makassar
called for the speedy passage of the legislation
into law.

Some legislators doubt they will be able to finish
the deliberation of the bill by June, the deadline
set by legislator Balkan Kaplale of the Democrat
Party who chairs the committee. Lawmakers are set
to go on recess next week until March 24.

In Bali, the Young Hindu Dharma Intellectuals
Forum came out Friday against the bill, saying it
would threaten tourism and local culture.

Earlier, members of the hard-line Muslim
Indonesian Mujahidin Council had protested the
Bali provincial government’s stand against the
bill. "We reject any laws that discriminate
against religions and local cultures," forum chief
Anak Agung Ngurah Arya Wedakarna said.

However, the forum said it would support any law
that would stop the distribution of pornographic

The group said the bill was inspired by sharia
law, which might suit some Muslims but should not
be imposed on people of other religions.

The draft legislation, which has articles banning
kissing in public and punishing people for how
they dress, has been rejected by artists, women’s
activists and media groups.

Coalition to take bylaw on soliciting to Supreme

Jakarta Post - March 18, 2006

Tantri Yuliandini, Jakarta — Activists and
community groups plan to file a request for
judicial review with the Supreme Court next week
on a 2005 Tangerang mayoralty bylaw on
prostitution, which they deem tramples on the
rights of women.

The Antidiscriminative Bylaw Coalition demanded
Friday that the bylaw — which its proponents say
was designed to eradicate prostitution by stopping
people from acting “suspiciously” in public areas
— be revoked.

Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association
director Dedi Ali Ahmad, who is the coordinator of
the coalition, said articles in the bylaw were
vague and open to interpretation, leaving all
women vulnerable to the accusation of soliciting.

Article 4 (1) of the bylaw states that "every
person who acts and behaves suspiciously, and
comes across as being a sex worker, is prohibited
from being on the streets, on playing fields, in
hotels or dormitories, in residential areas or
coffee shops, at amusement centers or theaters, on
street corners or under bridges, or in any other
public place".

The Jakarta Legal Aid Institute’s Hermawanto said
the article was dangerously ambiguous. "Everyone
could be deemed suspicious if law enforcers are
presumptuous," he said.

The imprecise definition led public order officers
to take a 36-year-old pregnant woman, who was
waiting for public transportation, into custody
during the first raid conducted under the bylaw.

She was sentenced on Feb. 27 to 80 days in prison
and fined Rp 300,000 (US$32.8). She was only
released four days later after her schoolteacher
husband paid the fine.

According to the coalition, the stipulations in
the bylaw run counter to the 2004 Law on
Formulation of Regulations. In that law, all
regulations have to fulfill the principle of
clarity and of ease of implementation.

Astuti Listianingrum of the Legal Aid Institute of
the Indonesian Women’s Association for Justice
said that although men were also subject to the
bylaw, women were most vulnerable to suspicions of
being a sex worker.

Astuti, who said the bylaw contravened a 1984 law
on the eradication of discrimination against
women, noted that people detained in the first
crackdown, were denied their right to legal

Meanwhile, hundreds of people grouped in the
Tangerang City People’s Alliance (Almakta)
demonstrated Friday outside the offices of Kompas
daily, charging it with unfair reporting on the
implementation of the bylaw on prostitution and
another on the sale of alcoholic.

The group — comprising representatives of the
Indonesian teachers Union and student groups
affiliated to the Muslim organizations Nahdlatul
Ulama and Muhammadiyah — cited several articles,
published between March 2 and 8, which they
claimed were unfair, antagonistic and out of

"Kompas’ reports made it seem that a very scary
environment prevailed in Tangerang because of the
bylaws and that’s not true," the coordinator of
the demonstration, Tb. H. Mahdi Adiansyah, said
after Friday prayers.

Kompas spokesman Saliman acknowledged the
newspaper had so far reported on the concerns
about the repercussions of the bylaw, but it had
also tried to provide responses of the
administration and the bylaws’ proponents.

Government states porn bill must target materials

Jakarta Post - March 16, 2006

Jakarta/Denpasar/Surakarta — The government made
its position clear on the pornography bill on
Wednesday, stating the focus should be on limiting
distribution of obscene materials instead of
criminalizing personal conduct, particularly of

"The government believes the eventual anti-porn
law should be effective in protecting the nation
from excessive exposure to pornographic material,
thus it should touch more on how to regulate its
distribution," State Minister for Women’s
Empowerment Meutia Hatta Swasono said after
accompanying President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in
a meeting with the National Commission on Violence
Against Women.

The special House committee deliberating the bill
recently said the vague definitions, particularly
defining “obscene” conduct, would be scrapped.

The bill has been criticized for imperiling the
rights of women, already under pressure from the
introduction of sharia regulations on dress and
public conduct in scattered areas of the country.

"We also ask... that women are treated fairly,
it’s as if they are blamed by the way they dress,"
Meutia said, in a rare reinforcement of the
government’s stated policies toward equal
treatment of women.

The minister said limiting the distribution of
materials considered obscene was essential to
protecting minors from exposure to potentially
harmful images.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle has
been most vocal in its opposition to the bill,
sharing the stance of women’s groups and the arts

In contrast, the Prosperous Justice Party is among
the few parties left in pushing for retention of
the contentious articles. The Islamic-oriented
party says the Criminal Code is inadequate in
protecting minors and in preventing what it
considers the country’s increasing moral

The bill’s proponents also dismiss claims that it
presents a monolithic value system for
multicultural Indonesia, and argue opponents
ignore the aim of the “greater good” of preventing
sexual exploitation and immorality.

On Wednesday, Bali Governor Dewa Made Beratha and
council speaker IBP Wesnawa stated their official
rejection of the bill and its deliberation.
Artists and activists have protested a number of
times in the province, including in a noisy,
crowded hearing and plenary session at the
provincial legislative council on Wednesday.

The governor said the future law "might put
Balinese cultural heritage and sacred religious
objects in danger of legal prosecution".

The governor was angered by the pursuance of a
legal grievance from a Muslim organization, the
Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia, who accused him as
showing separatist tendencies in his opposition to
the bill.

In the Central Java town of Surakarta, at least
1,000 artists, students and activists protested
the bill, with about 500 tayub traditional dancers
joining the parade.

Murtdijono, the organizer and head of the Central
Java Cultural Center, feared the passage of the
bill into law would lead to moral crusaders
patrolling the streets unhindered.

"Members of militant groups will feel they have
legal grounds to act as they like toward artists
and their works due to a one sided interpretation,
at a time when law enforcement is very weak," he

Balinese reiterate opposition to pornography bill

Jakarta Post - March 16, 2006

I Wayan Juniartha, Denpasar — The room fell into
an uneasy silence as Satria Naradha, one of the
most influential community figures in Bali, made a
point to the visiting members of the House of
Representative’s special committee on the
pornography bill.

"Bali will never betray Indonesia, we will never
secede. Instead, we shall fight until the end any
group that is trying to subvert the nation into a
monolithic society based on the teachings of one
single religious belief,“he stressed.”If Jakarta and Aceh want to betray the republic
(by suppressing religious freedom and
multiculturalism) then we will let them go (from
the republic). Bali will not go away, we will
fight to keep this nation as a nation that
respects religious freedom and celebrates
multiculturalism," he said.

Satria’s remarks were obviously aimed at the
pornography bill, a controversial document the
visiting legislators tried in vain to sell to the

The visiting legislators were obviously a bit
shocked by the statement. So far, Satria’s remarks
were the most pointed political position they had
heard during their three-day visit to Bali in
early March.

The fact that the remarks were made by a man who
owns the influential Bali Post and Bali TV made
them politically impossible to ignore.

Born into a family of heroes — his mother was a
veteran of the War of Independence and his father
was one of the country’s first newspaper
publishers — - Satria has become the living
embodiment of the contemporary Balinese’s struggle
to win the modern world without losing their
traditional cultural and religious identity.

A main proponent of the Ajeg Bali, a cultural and
economic movement aimed at creating a Balinese-
style renaissance, Satria’s influence extends
beyond the modern wall of Denpasar. He commands
deep respect in the island’s rural areas and
numerous Balinese communities outside Bali.

His remarks also reflect the substantial paradigm
shift that has taken place recently among various
opponents to the bill on the island.

"Previously, many of us viewed the bill as a
threat to our interests, either to our tourist
industry or cultural freedom. Nowadays, the
majority of us see the bill as a grave threat to
the interests of our nation," a scholar, Ketut
Sumarta, said.

Opponents believe the bill’s rigid and gender-
insensitive interpretation on pornography and its
ignorance of the nation’s colorful cultural and
religious heritage would inflict irreversible
damage on the fragile uniting fabric of the

"Indonesia is a nation in waiting. We spent
decades to nurture the spirit of nationhood among
hundreds of the country’s ethnic and cultural
groups. The bill will damage that spirit and send
this nation to the edge of disintegration,"
Sumarta warned.

Separately, the chairman of the main movement
opposed to the bill, Komponen Rakyat Bali, I Gusti
Ngurah Harta, reminded that the unitary state of
Indonesia was founded on the noble principles of
Pancasila and Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in
Diversity), which reflected the founding fathers’
utmost respect for the nation’s diverse
sociocultural landscape.

"The bill, on the other hand, reflects and
promotes the moral and cultural values of only one
group of religious beliefs," he said.

The paradigm shift has convinced the Balinese that
the struggle against the bill is no longer a
selfish effort to save the island’s tourist
industry or cultural heritage, but an altruistic
endeavor to save the Republic of Indonesia.

"The struggle has been taken to another level, a
nobler one,“Sumarta said.”We will intensify our
contacts with other regions in Indonesia, such as
Papua and Yogya, to form a nationalistic coalition
to fight the bill," Ngurah Harta added.

Satria Naradha views this as a patriotic struggle.
"My ancestors sacrificed their lives to build this
republic. I and my fellow Balinese will not let
this sacred heritage be ruined by a small group of
people who want to impose their moral values on
this nation," he said.

At the end of the meeting, Satria once again
shocked the legislators by presenting them with
unique gifts — red-and-white flags of the
Republic of Indonesia; a symbolic gesture. "May
these flags always remind you of what this
republic really stands for," he said.




TNI immunity a step backward: Experts

Jakarta Post - March 20, 2006

Jakarta — A government plan to prevent soldiers
from being tried for crimes in civilian courts was
a step backward and would further weaken the
checks and balances against the powerful military,
a panel of experts said.

The 2004 Law on the Military reformed the military
courts system, allowing soldiers to be tried in
civilian courts for crimes against civilians and
other violations committed outside the line of

Previously, all crimes committed by soldiers were
tried by the military courts, which were
criticized for a lack of transparency and for
seldom punishing offenders.

While the 2004 has been passed it has not yet been
implemented into policy, meaning military courts
still try soldiers for most crimes.

However, new amendments to the 2004 law drafted by
the government would restore the old system,
speakers at a forum on military and police
accountability said. "The jurisdiction of the
courts must be based upon the crimes committed,"
Indonesian Legal Aid Institute head Munarman said
at the discussion.

Munarman said military courts should only have the
authority to handle disciplinary violations
committed by soldiers. All other crimes should be
under the jurisdiction of civilian courts, he

Speakers at the forum, which convened to discuss
the problems of accountability in the armed
services and police, said the military courts had
failed to bring soldiers committing crimes against
civilians to justice.

"There is no equality before the law because the
military still considers itself to be in a class
of its own, where it cannot be touched by civilian
laws,“Munarman said.”The military’s
professionalism will progress hand in hand with
its intention to reform and open up," he said.

Munarman said the old system where military courts
ruled supreme was a hangover from the Dutch
colonial system. However, for most of their rule,
the Dutch had never considered their soldiers
immune from civilian laws, he said.

The separation only came in times of conflict with
their Indonesian subjects, he said. "Any violation
committed by military personnel when the country
is not in a state of alert or in wartime should
always be handled by the state courts," Munarman

The military’s push for the reinstatement of the
old system was mostly due to entrenched attitudes
in the forces, panelists were told. Military top
brass had argued that police and civilian
prosecutors lacked the willingness to investigate
soldiers because of a real fear of reprisals if
military officials were found guilty.

The failure of ad hoc human rights tribunals to
convict military generals for a series of rights
violations, including human rights abuses in the
former East Timor, were cases in point, they said.
“The problem is sociological, not psychological,”
a panelist, House Commission III member Andreas
Hugo Pareira, said. "It will take a lot of time to
change the mentality of the military," Pareira

However, it was vital the legal system continued
to be reformed so that civilians were protected
and security forces were brought under government
control. "I fear the reappearance of a soft-
authoritarian power if the court system is not
thoroughly watched," he said.

House ratifies United Nations convention on

Jakarta Post - March 22, 2006

Jakarta — The House of Representatives passed two
bills Tuesday, ratifying a United Nations
convention on corruption and a bilateral agreement
on transnational crimes with China.

During a plenary session led by House deputy
speaker Soetardjo Soerjogoeritno, all 10 House
factions agreed on the need to ratify the 2003
United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

Lawmakers said the bill was necessary because
successive reform-era governments had not
recovered most of the public money stolen in the
aftermath of the Asian financial crisis.

The bill provides the legal basis for the
government to seek international cooperation to
fight graft and recover state assets. At the
meeting, the House also passed a bill approving a
bilateral agreement on transnational crimes with
China, a top destination for Indonesian graft

"The crime of corruption cannot only be settled on
a national level, we need to cooperate with other
countries," said Andreas Parera, of the Indonesian
Democratic Party of Struggle, as quoted by Antara.

Speaking for the government, Justice and Human
Rights Minister Hamid Awaluddin said the passing
of the two bills represented a breakthrough in the
fight against graft.

"These bills ease international cooperation in
combating corruption and other transnational
crimes. We now have a legal framework from the
investigation phase to a court trial, and we can
more easily recover state property taken by graft
criminals," Hamid said.

The bilateral agreement with China will allow
prosecutors and police forces from the two
countries to share evidence gathered on criminals
and repatriate the proceeds from crimes.

When Hamid had finished his speech, legislator
Anas Yahya of the National Awakening Party
interrupted the session.

Anas said all legislators being investigated in
connection with corruption at the General
Elections Commission (KPU) should not be allowed
to speak in House sessions about graft.

Hamid, a former KPU member, has been questioned by
Corruption Eradication Commission investigators
over graft in the commission committed during the
2004 elections. Investigators have not named Hamid
a suspect. Soetardjo said he would consider the

Munir’s widow to take Garuda to court

Jakarta Post - March 21, 2006

Jakarta — The widow of murdered human rights
activist Munir plans to file a civil suit against
national flag carrier Garuda Airlines for
negligence leading to her husband’s death.

Suciwati, along with a team of lawyers from the
Action Solidarity Committee for Munir, plans to
charge the airline with negligence of passenger
safety, which led to her husband’s arsenic
poisoning on a Garuda flight in September 2004.
The case would be filed in court by mid-April,
lawyers for Suciwati said.

Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of
Violence (Kontras) coordinator Usman Hamid, who is
a member of the legal team, said the case was one
way to keep Munir’s murder in the public eye. This
was especially important because police and
prosecutors seemed to have lost interest in
bringing the masterminds of the murder to justice,
he said.

Garuda pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto was
found guilty by the Central Jakarta District Court
in December last year of lacing the food served to
Munir with a lethal dose of arsenic, during a
Garuda flight to Amsterdam from Jakarta on Sept 7.

Judges at the trial noted there was evidence
National Intelligence Agency (BIN) agents were
involved in the killings after Pollycarpus was
found to have made multiple phone calls to former
agency deputy chief, Muchdi Purwo Prandjono, in
the days before the murder. They and Kontras have
called for a further investigation into the case.

Former BIN chief A.M. Hendropriyono has
emphatically denied BIN had any role in Munir’s
murder, while Muchdi said he had lent his phone to
subordinates, whom he blamed for making the calls.

Hendropriyono refused to meet members of a
government fact-finding team investigating the
murder last year because he said it had no legal
right to question him.

During Pollycarpus’ trial, prosecutors accused
former Garuda deputy for corporate security
Ramelgia Anwar of helping Pollycarpus get
permission to travel on the same flight as Munir.
Pollycarpus pled not guilty during the trial but
was sentenced to 14 year’s jail by the court. He
is appealing the ruling.

The authorities seemed to have neglected facts
pointing to a conspiracy to kill Munir and a
further investigation into the case had stalled,
Usman said. "We have planned this lawsuit because
there is no progress in Munir’s investigation and
there is no good will on the part of the
authorities to solve the case," he said.

Jakarta Legal Aid Institute director Uli Parulian
Sihombing said the case would also encourage the
public to put pressure on the government. "During
the trial, we hope that Garuda will submit new
evidence along with relevant witnesses," Uli said.

The lawsuit to be brought against Garuda also
covers the distress caused by Garuda’s initial
claim Munir had suffered a heart attack on the
plane. The plaintiffs are demanding an official
apology from the airline is published in the

The head of Indonesian Human Rights Monitor,
Rachlan Nashidik, said the lawsuit would also
include scrutiny of Garuda’s administrative

Rachlan said justice, not money, was the
motivation for bring a case against the airline. A
lawyer, Uli, said the team had not yet determined
the amount of damages it would seek from Garuda.

Rights victims want truth law reviewed

Jakarta Post - March 20, 2006

Jakarta — Victims of human rights abuses have
called for a review of the 2004 Law on the Truth
and Reconciliation Commission (KKR), which they
say gives impunity to state officials implicated
in a series of state crimes.

"Through the establishment of a KKR, we are
worried that the government has just looked for
justification over the past violence, while on the
other hand, victims have to accept reconciliation
with the state," said Mugiyanto, a human rights
activist who provides legal advocacy for human
rights victims grouped in the Association of
Relatives of Missing Persons (Ikohi).

Ikohi said this was discussed during a three-day
national congress that ended March 10 in Makassar,
South Sulawesi.

The law was enacted two years ago, but the KKR was
not yet been established as President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono continues to delay the selection
of 21 of 42 candidates proposed by the
government-sanctioned selection committee. Their
selection must be approved by the House of

Politicians have said the commission was expected
to delve into past human rights cases purportedly
involving state officials during the Soeharto

Activists want more details on Rice’s visit

Jakarta Post - March 16, 2006

Tiarma Siboro and Muninggar Sri Saraswati, Jakarta
— Strong words from human rights activists and
grumbles from lawmakers greeted US Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice on the second day of her
two-day visit to the country on Wednesday. Rights
activists questioned whether Rice had sought
Indonesian support for the signing of a Bilateral
Immunity Agreement (BIA) during her trip to

Under the agreement, all American citizens — be
they members of the US military corps, diplomats
or businesspeople — would enjoy immunity from
prosecution by the International Criminal Court

Activists grouped in the Human Rights Working
Group said the government should publicly disclose
all it had discussed with Rice during the visit.

The group said if Rice had asked Indonesia to sign
a BIA and the government had acquiesced, this
would "endanger our public interests, democracy,
justice, and human rights values“.”Should the government give the nod to the
agreement, we are worried that we (Indonesia) will
never ratify the Rome Statute, which is considered
a vital foundation for countries once ruled by
authoritarian regimes to move toward democracy,"
Usman Hamid, the coordinator of the National
Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of
Violence, said. The Rome Statute rules on the
establishment of the ICC.

The United States has come under fire worldwide
for its failure to respect human rights in its
treatment of prisoners of in Iraq and Guantanamo
Bay. The US-led invasion into Iraq has also drawn
condemnation and protest from international rights
groups, which have demanded the superpower
withdraw its troops.

The immunity agreements are apparently aimed at
ensuring American troops are shielded from
possible prosecutions in the ICC over the Iraq

Separately, dozens of legislators refused to
attend a meeting hosted Wednesday by the
Indonesian Council on World Affairs, which
featured Rice as the keynote speaker, in protest
against what they said was “ambiguous” US foreign
policy. Only 10 out of 40 legislators invited to
the event showed up.

"The US only gives empty promises to Indonesia.
They promised to supply military spare parts and
equipment (to Indonesia) last year, but to date
this has not materialized," said legislator Djoko
Susilo of the National Mandate Party (PAN), who
was among those who boycotted the meeting.

Another legislator, Permadi of the Indonesian
Democratic Party of Struggle said he did not
attend the event because "I don’t want to listen
to a US lecture about democracy."

Several legislators who attended, meanwhile, were
dissatisfied with how the event was run. House of
Representatives deputy speaker A.M. Fatwa
criticized the heavy security measures at the
venue and complained about the seating detail,
which put him in the last row.

"I was told to arrive at 7.30. After the lengthy
procedures, it turned out that she (Rice) didn’t
come until two hours later. This is too much," he

Book details Supreme Court’s decline

Jakarta Post - March 18, 2006

Jakarta — The Supreme Court lost all credibility
years ago and has long been corrupt and its judges
unprofessional, a new book on the history of the
institution says.

The Indonesian Supreme Court: A Study of
Institutional Collapse blames the Sukarno and
Soeharto regimes for undermining the power of the
Supreme Court and using it as a political tool.

Written by former resident legal advisor to the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) Sebastian Pompe,
the book argues during the 1950s, Indonesia’s
legal system was in a golden age when the Supreme
Court and the country’s other legal institutions
operated properly and were trusted by the public.

"The Old and New Order governments laid the
groundwork to ignore what courts do, and perhaps
ignore them all together," he said during the
book’s Jakarta launch, which was attended by court
Chief Justice Bagir Manan and judge Marianna
Sutadi, along with Corruption Eradication
Commission deputy head Amien Sunaryadi.

The two regimes often refused to comply with court
orders, consistently reduced the budget and
salaries of judges, undermined the Supreme Court’s
independence and limited the power of the courts.

Pompe, a former senior lecturer at Leiden
University Law School, said that the Supreme Court
was not corrupt until around 1974.

"During the New Order, the judiciary over time
changed from a victim into a collaborator as its
household was progressively subverted by the
politics it dealt with, and then a major crisis in
confidence of the courts emerged," he said.

Pompe suggested the Supreme Court take harsher
measures to implement its internal reform agenda.

"I know that the commitment (to reform) is there
but that is not enough. This is a matter where
justice must be seen to be done, and clear and
very public measures are in order to begin to
restore public confidence," he said.




Major ports back to work after strike

Jakarta Post - March 22, 2006

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta — Truck drivers went
back to work at four major seaports in the country
on Tuesday after a massive wildcat strike a day

The day-long strike by the drivers at major ports
in Jakarta, North Sumatra, East and Central Java
ended Monday evening after officials from the
Organization of Land Transportation Owners
(Organda) reached an agreement with the
government, Organda chairman Murphy Hutagalung

Hurt by high petrol prices, the strikers had
demanded a value-added tax levied on land
transportation in 2003 be revoked. They said the
tax breached an earlier law exempting them from

Transportation operators also demanded an end to
other illegal levies imposed on them by
unscrupulous port officials.

Authorities said the delay to shipments cost the
nation around US$80 million.

Thousands of trucks and trailers carrying
containers and other cargo were seen busily
working at the ports on Tuesday. At Tanjung Priok
Port, the one-day delay caused long queues of
trucks carrying containers on several roads
leading to the port.

"We feel glad, not only because VAT will be phased
out but also because drivers will pay no more
illegal levies on the way to and from the port,"
Lumumba Panjaitan, an owner of three trailers
operating at Tanjung Priok, said.

Murphy said owners and drivers of trailers were
confident the government would fulfill its pledge
to revise Ministerial Decree No. 527/2003 which
imposed VAT on trailers and trucks transporting
containers to the ports.

“Otherwise, we will go strike again,” Murphy told
The Jakarta Post. He said the strike was an act of
last resort after the government ignored repeated
calls by Organda to revise the decree during the
past three years.

Drivers and trailer owners agreed to resume
operations following a meeting between Organda,
Transportation Minister Hatta Radjasa and director
general of tax affairs Hadi Poernomo. That dialog
was preceded by a limited Cabinet meeting, which
decided to meet the drivers and owners’ demands.

Separately, Minister Hatta Radjasa called on
owners and drivers to avoid going on strike in the
future because the action cost the nation dearly.

"The day-long strike caused financial losses to
the government, most industries exporting their
products and those importing a part of their raw
materials, and it could affect the country’s
international credibility," Hatta said.

Hatta, however, blamed tax officers for
misinterpreting regulations and levying VAT on
trucks transporting goods at ports, which he said
should never have been subject to the tax.

Toto Dirgantoro, the secretary general of the
Indonesian Board for Transportation Service Users,
said the high losses from the strike were caused
by the delay of between 2,000 and 4,500 containers
to destinations overseas. Thousands of stevedores
on the ports earned nothing that day, Toto said.

R. Novian G. Ismy, the secretary general of the
Textile Industry Association, said his
organization had no figures on financial losses
caused by the strike in the textile and garment

Pink slips prey on minds of Indonesian workers

Jakarta Post - March 22, 2006

While a few sought-after employees leapfrog from
one company to another, reaping benefits along the
way, many Indonesian workers are worried about
holding on to the job they have right now.

Job cuts are often the first survival measure when
market economies are flat or declining, and last
year was no exception as the economy took a
beating, a survey on employment found.

According to the online survey conducted by
ACNielsen last November, 38 percent of the 500
Indonesian respondents had either been laid off or
had an immediate member of their family lose their
job in the past year, heightening their fears
about their job security.

Thailand had the highest percentage of respondents
experiencing the pain of layoffs firsthand (16
percent), but Indonesia stood out with almost a
third of respondents with an immediate family
member made redundant in the past 12 months.

"Indonesia’s figure is the highest among countries
in the Asia-Pacific region," Nielsen executive
director Catherine Eddy said Tuesday of the
survey, also conducted in 42 other countries.

The Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo)
reported that about 350,000 workers lost their
jobs last year, an almost tripling of the 138,000
employees laid off the previous year.

Companies have been forced to streamline their
factory workforce after a fuel price increase last
year and the government’s failure to effect its
promised incentives to revive the economy, Apindo
secretary-general Djimanto said earlier this year.

"The high prevalence of layoffs leads to people
feeling insecure about their current jobs,"
Catherine added.

Although 40 percent of the respondents said that
they had a secure job, 39 percent were insecure
about their position.

A total of 85 percent of the respondents said the
government was not doing enough to encourage job
creation. The figure is higher than that of
neighboring Asian countries like Malaysia,
Thailand and the Philippines.

According to a survey by University of Indonesia’s
Institute for Economic and Social Research (LPEM-
UI), job creation actually increased in 2005, with
almost two million jobs provided from 1.3 million
reported in 2004.

However, the unemployment rate also rose, LPEM-UI
economist Chatib Basri said, revealing a 10.3
percent open unemployment rate in 2005 compared to
9.8 percent for the previous year.

"It is indeed a challenge for a big country like
Indonesia and people tend to have high
expectations of the government," Catherine added.

Indonesia plans to attract more than US$420
billion in additional investment over the next
five years to speed up economic growth and provide
more jobs for its 106 million workforce.

Workers angered by joint furlough rule

Jakarta Post - March 22, 2006

Hera Diani, Jakarta — Many workers are displeased
by the government regulating a joint furlough
scheme for certain national holidays, saying it is
infringing on their right to more time off from
the grind of work.

The government announced Monday six days of joint
furlough for 2006 and 2007. The government
regulated “squeezed days” — work days between
national holidays and weekends — to be a joint
holiday by counting them toward people’s leave. In
the past, many companies decided to close anyway
due to worker absenteeism on Fridays.

The first such holiday will be Friday, March 31,
after the national observance of the Hindu Day of
Silence on Thursday.

An employee of a private television station, Kenny
Santana, 27, strongly objected to the government’s
decision. "They’re forcing the decision on us
while taking over our rights," he said.

Unlike some European countries, where leave can be
four weeks or more, Kenny said the 12-day
allotment here would be slashed in half by the
plan. "The holiday is OK, but not if it reduces
our rights," he said.

He added that he preferred the policy of the
previous administration under Megawati
Soekarnoputri, in which a national holiday falling
two days before the weekend was moved to the
Friday for a long weekend.

Media company employee Meylin, 26, also disagreed.
"People should have the freedom to choose when
they would like to take their leave," she said.

Another media employee, Antonius Sulistyo Prabowo,
said the government’s decision was flawed. "How
can the government make a decision like this just
because Friday is between two holidays on Thursday
and Saturday?" the 26-year-old said.

The decision, he added, would lead to worker
unproductivity because they would be on holiday
when they should be working. "The government
instead decided to give them time off. I believe
that it will make us lazy to get back to work on
the next Monday," Antonius said.

Annisa Muharammi, 23, a copywriter in an
advertising agency in Jakarta, welcomed the
government’s decision and has already made plans
to go on holiday.

"I definitely agree with the decision because this
month I have to face a lot of jobs from clients
and deal with pressing deadlines. The holiday will
give me breathing space among my deadlines."

Apart from March 31, other joint furloughs will be
on May 26 for the Ascension Day of Jesus Christ,
Aug. 18 for Independence Day, and Oct. 23, 26 and
27 for Islamic Idul Fitri celebration. Meanwhile,
next year’s joint furlough will be on Oct. 12, 15,
and 16 for Idul Fitri, and Dec. 21 for Idul Adha,
as well as Dec. 24 for Christmas.

Strike paralyzes nation’s major ports

Jakarta Post - March 21, 2006

Jakarta — Activity at major ports in Jakarta,
North Sumatra, Central and East Java ground to a
halt Monday, with container truck owners and
drivers going on strike over the imposition of
value-added tax (VAT) on transportation services
and of rampant extortion at the ports.

Loading and unloading activities were halted at
the ports of Belawan, Tanjung Priok, Tanjungmas
and Tanjung Perak as transportation owners and
drivers protested outside their gates. The
cessation of activities affected shipments for
exports and imports, causing billions of rupiah in
losses to the government and businesspeople.

Of about 8,000 trucks and trailers usually serving
Tanjung Priok Port, only about a dozen, believed
to be owned by tax officials, ignored the call to
strike. Thousands of stevedores were idle, and the
tax and excise office was silent.

About 1,700 drivers held a sit-in outside
Tanjungmas Port in Semarang, Central Java, after
they parked their trucks and trailers on the road
leading to the port.

They demanded the government revoke Ministerial
Decree No. 527/2003 which applies VAT on
transportation services at the ports.

"The operation will only resume after the
government meets our demands," said Murphy
Hutagalung, chairman of the Organization of Land
Transportation Owners (Organda), which led the
work stoppage.

Lumumba Pandjaitan, owner of three trailer trucks,
said he suspended their operation because it was
the appropriate time to eradicate numerous illegal
as well as legitimate levies at the ports, noting
income of transport owners and drivers had
plummeted since fuel price hikes last year.

Chairman of the Indonesian National Shipowners’
Association Oentoro Surya said the government must
act quickly to end the dispute because of the
domino-effect on the economy. He estimated the
strike could cause between Rp 100 billion (US$10.9
million) and Rp 200 billion in losses per day at
the four seaports.

Hendra Budhi, spokesman for state-owned PT Pelindo
II, operator of Tanjung Priok, said the stoppage
at the Jakarta port could cause daily losses of Rp
1.8 billion to the company.

Transportation Minister Hatta Radjasa, saying
Organda’s decision to carry through with its
threat to strike was regrettable, was concerned
about severe economic repercussions, especially in
trade amid the government’s efforts to improve

"In quantitative terms alone, the strike has
already resulted in about 5,000 containers at
Tanjung Priok Port piling up and left unattended,
while by qualitative terms it may affect the whole
economy," he was quoted as saying by Antara
newswire after a meeting with the strikers at the

The port’s assistant manager for services, Hambar
Wiyadi, warned of the total shutdown of the port
if the strike continues for three or four days,
affecting the port’s Rp 30 million in daily
revenues. Tanjung Priok Port usually serves up to
3,000 containers from at least 30 ships each day.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the
government was open to proposals to revise the
decree if necessary, but it would be done in
strict accordance with the VAT law.

"We will see if there indeed needs any
clarification in the application of VAT in the
decree,“she said.”We will clear this up, in
reference to the VAT law."

[With additional reporting by Apriadi Gunawan in
Medan, Suherdjoko in Semarang and Indra Harsaputra
in Surabaya.]

Truck owners fed up with government inaction

Jakarta Post - March 21, 2006

Jakarta — None of the usual whirring of
machinery, clanging of metal or shouts of workers
sounded Monday at Tanjung Priok Port.

About 12,000 truck drivers from 151 transportation
companies went on strike, refusing to deliver
goods for export or pick up ones unloaded from
destinations around the world.

Truck owners and drivers said they were fed up by
a VAT charge eating into their income, and which
has caused several companies to close. "We have
suffered for a long time," a truck owner, Lumumba
Panjaitan, told The Jakarta Post.

Panjaitan, whose usual delivery route is
Tangerang, said the Rp 900,000 (US$98.5) he
received for one order was slashed by various

"Half of the payment goes to the driver, and 30
percent goes for vehicle maintenance, oil and
fuel. With the 10 percent for value-added tax,
it’s killing us," he said.

The Organization of Land Transportation Owners
(Organda) has repeatedly protested the policy on
the 10 percent value-added tax, which took effect
one year before the stipulation issued in 2003.

"Since the regulation was retroactive, the
companies had to pay one full year of extra
taxes... The policy has shut down 21 of us," said
Organda director Murphy Hutagalung. Last year’s
fuel price hikes have compounded their problems.

The strike, which began at noon, brought all
activities to a halt at the port, which accounts
for about 60 percent of export and import
activities in the country.

Those still delivering goods were turned back at
the entrance gates, where each of the about 6,000
trucks using the port daily pay an entrance fee of
Rp 5,000.

The effect of the strike was quickly felt by the
port authority. The assistant manager of customer
service and public relations at Tanjung Priok
Port, Ambar Wiyadi, said it suffered Rp 30 million
in losses Monday from the halt in sales of entry

Ambar said the port was providing three warehouses
and seven temporary open storage enclosures for
undelivered goods. Delivery will be made using
smaller vehicles whose operators are not Organda
members. "Storage services will be free for the
next four days. After that, there will be
charges," Ambar said.

The chairman of the Jakarta chapter of the
Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
Sofyan Pane, said the goods could also be stored
at the Koja storage site not far from the port.

Businesspeople feared the wider ramifications if
the strike continues. The chairman of the
Indonesian Freight Forwarders Association in
Tanjung Priok, Sunyoto Wihadi, said the strike
would affect international confidence in business
activities here. "The government must find a win-
win solution to solve the problem immediately," he

Labor rejects revision on manpower law

Tempo Interactive - March 21, 2006

Zaky Almubarok/Imron Rosyid, Boyolali — The
government’s plan to revise the Manpower Decree
has been refused by many labor circles. About
3,000 members of Boyolali National Trade Union,
yesterday (20/3) crowded the streets to refuse the
decree revision.

They came to the Regional Parliament building
asking for parliament’s support in refusing it.
“Don’t strangle labor,” said one of the labor’s
speakers after leaving the factory. According to
the Boyolali Trade Union Chief, Wahono, the
Manpower Decree revision is a step backward. On
the matter of separation pay, for example, it will
put labor at a loss if it is revised.

Meanwhile, the Secretary General of the Indonesian
Entrepreneurs’ Association, Djimanto, plans to
submit an alternative draft for the Manpower
Decree. "More or less, there are 32 Articles in
the draft," he said last night.

According to Djimanto, the draft is important as
the entrepreneurs’ and government’s effort to
attract investors and improve the economic
condition. "But don’t blame us if the investment
atmosphere is not growing. It’s because of the
government’s attitude," he said.

Tempo obtained information that Apindo has
submitted 16 Articles in the alternative draft to
the Manpower Department. The fact is, Apindo plans
to submit about 32 Articles in the alternative

Before, the government planned to revise the
Manpower Decree in order to create an investment
atmosphere. Several trade and labor unions refused
this aim of the government’s.

Labor Law revisions protect employers at cost of

Jakarta Post - March 16, 2006

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta — It is pretty easy
to imagine what will happen to workers and their
families if the House of Representatives and the
government endorse amendments to the 2003 Labor
Law allowing companies to outsource not only
additional and/or temporary work, but also their
core businesses, and to recruit contract-based

Workers will be paid less and they will likely
lose most of the benefits they currently enjoy
under the unamended law, including meal and
transportation allowances and social security
programs. Remuneration will be determined not by
the companies that actually employ workers, but by
the companies that recruit them.

Professionals will compete with expatriates for
the highest pay, skilled workers will seek jobs
that provide compensation in line with their
skills, while unskilled workers, who make up the
majority of the country’s workforce, will have
absolutely no bargaining power.

Contract workers will no doubt see their rights
and benefits disappear, under contracts written up
by employers who will naturally look after their
own interests first. Besides receiving no bonuses,
allowances for transportation, leave or health, or
vacation, workers are likely to be denied raises
and will have nowhere to turn in demanding
improvements in their working conditions.

Employers will hold all the power over contract
workers, being able simply to decide not to extend
the contracts for any reason.

The current law allows employers to outsource only
a part of their work to other companies, while the
core business must be done by permanent workers.
It also allows employers to extend labor contracts
twice, with the hope that contract workers will
eventually be promoted to permanent staff.

The government and the Indonesian Employers
Association have proposed about 50 changes to the
employment system in what they call an attempt to
repair the investment climate in the country and
attract more foreign investment.

Other proposed changes include the elimination of
service payments and a maximum limit on severance
pay for dismissed workers of three months’ salary.
Currently, employers pay a maximum of 14 months’
salary and severance payments for fired workers.

If the Labor Law is amended, fired workers and
their families will be powerless. The issue of
severance pay has been one of the most contentious
during deliberations of the proposed amendments by
the House and the government, pitting labor unions
against employers. Labor unions so far seem to
have the support of the legislature in blocking
any amendments that would make it too easy for
employers to dismiss workers.

The proposed amendments would certainly make it
easier for investors to do business here, but in
the end the changes could be counterproductive.

Outsourcing could affect worker productivity and
loyalty. Poor working conditions will discourage
workers from doing their best to help the
companies employing them. Employees will have no
loyalty because they will have “two masters” —
their recruiters and their employers.

The proposed revisions to the law will also affect
the industrial relations system, which now sees
employers and workers as partners. There will also
be no room for the two sides to reach collective
labor agreements where they establish their own
rights and obligations.

Making matters worse, labor unions and analysts
are skeptical the proposed amendments can improve
the investment climate and smooth the way for
foreign investors entering Indonesia. They have
warned of social and political instability if the
27 million workers employed in the formal sector
take to the streets to oppose the amendments, as
some 3,000 steel workers did recently.

Critics say the government remains ignorant of the
true problems discouraging foreign investment
here. They say the government should take a close
look at the way it has treated potential
investors, and evaluate the security situation in
the country over the last seven years.

Complicated bureaucratic procedures have made it
costly and time consuming for investors to obtain
the necessary documents to set up companies.
Corruption and double taxation by the central and
regional governments of foreign investors further
burden businesses, adding to their production
costs. And a lack of legal certainty frightens off
investors from expanding their businesses in the

Of course, deregulation is necessary. The law must
absolutely be enforced and security must be
ensured for the sake of certainty for investors.
Clean governance and security guarantees are two
of the main conditions for making investors feel
at home.

Indonesia should learn from China, which has
successfully deregulated industry, maintained
security and repaired its infrastructure to
attract foreign investors.

[The author is a staff writer at The Jakarta




Observers, politicians want to see bad bankers in
the dock

Jakarta Post - March 20, 2006

Jakarta — The government is being pressured to
reverse its publicly unpopular decision to drop
criminal charges against eight former bank owners
willing to settle their debts to the state.

In response to public outrage over the decision,
observers and politicians are demanding the
government proceed with the criminal charges
against the former bankers, to avoid creating a
public backlash against the state’s anticorruption

"The main question here is whether crimes were
committed surrounding the debts, which the public
strongly suspects," economist Faisal Basri of the
University of Indonesia said.

"To clearly answer this, there is no other way but
for the government to continue the legal process
(against the bankers)." In an announcement last
Friday, the government said eight former bank
owners could have all criminal charges against
them dropped if they repaid their outstanding
debts to the state by the end of the year.

The government, via the central bank, disbursed
billions of dollars worth of liquidity support to
bail out dozens of banks in the wake of the 1997
regional financial crisis. According to the
Supreme Audit Agency, a large percentage of the
bailout funds was misused by bankers and
controlling shareholders in the receiving banks.

The outstanding debts of the eight former bank
owners in question total nearly Rp 4.5 trillion
(US$493.15 million).

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has
requested the debts be repaid in cash or near-cash
assets such as bonds, while Attorney General
Abdulrahman Saleh said Article 35 of the 2004
Prosecution Service Law allowed the Attorney
General’s Office to drop a legal case in the
interests of the public.

Faisal, however, questioned whether dropping the
charges was in the public interest, as well as the
significance of the debt repayments themselves.

"Although the amount of the debts cannot be said
to be small, it is nothing compared to the
hundreds of trillions of rupiah that were
disbursed (to bank owners) and lost," he said.

What is really at stake here, Faisal said, is the
public’s trust and confidence in the legal system.

"This is a stark example of everyone not being
equal under the law. So what’s the use of
President SBY talking all the time about
respecting the law?" he said, referring to
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The economist
also raised the possibility of political fund-
raising considerations being behind the
government’s decision.

Legislator Dradjad H. Wibowo of the National
Mandate Party agreed that the bankers should be
prosecuted, raising several questions about the
legality of the government’s decision.

"In terms of the criminal case, the AGO’s decision
to drop the case must be supported by underlying
regulations, but this would mean the government
stepping into the judicial domain.

"Meanwhile, from the point of view of a civil
case, the decision is also questionable as the
debts must have accrued fines and interest. And
according to the 2004 law on state claims, any
decision to write off over Rp 100 billion in debts
must be approved by both the president and the
House of Representatives," he said.

Immigration officers are the culprits, politician

Jakarta Post - March 20, 2006

Jakarta — Foreign ministry officials are advised
to take over immigration duties at foreign
consular offices to minimize cases of corruption,
many of which have recently been revealed.

Legislator Djoko Susilo said that if getting rid
of the immigration officers were impossible, then
at least their number should be reduced and
supervision tightened.

He was responding to last week’s revelation of Rp
28.6 billion (US$3.1 million) in corruption cases
occurring in Indonesia’s consular offices in
Malaysia and Japan over the past five years.

Djoko and Foreign Ministry spokesman Desra Percaya
said that the graft cases mostly involved
immigration officers, who are under the Justice
and Human Rights Ministry, while dealing with
passports and visas.

"The pattern is always similar. The culprits are
immigration bureaucrats. They have the habit of
charging illegal fees for processing passports and
visas," Djoko alleged.

He pointed out that some Indonesian embassies had
too many immigration officials. The Indonesian
Embassy in Singapore, for example, has four
immigration bureaucrats.

If foreign ministry officials take charge of all
immigration-related duties, they will have direct
control of all staff in a particular embassy.

"I know he (Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda) is
very tough. In December 2005, he fired an official
involved in such a crime," Djoko said. In
contrast, the Justice and Human Rights Ministry
will merely withdraw corrupt immigration officials
from a given embassy, he added.

Immigration office spokesman Cecep Supriatna
rejected Djoko’s suggestion, saying that the core
of the problem was the lack of supervision — and
not from which ministry a staff member came from.

"We have been trying to fix the old system, which
is notorious for corruption,“Cecep said.”However, it is not as easy as turning your palm."
He explained that the immigration office was
improving its internal rules. Corrupt immigration
officials can be reported to the police or the
Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

Foreign ministry spokesman Desra told The Jakarta
Post that the ministry would consider Djoko’s
suggestion. "We need more detailed ideas from him
(Djoko)," he said.

The ministry promised to improve its supervision
system in its foreign missions. "All payments will
be done by way of bank transfer, no longer in
cash. But we need to build the infrastructure
because not all missions have the necessary
facilities," Desra said.

Desra also said that the corruption cases at the
Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo Embassies, and also the
Johor Baru and Kuching consulates as well as the
Tawau liaison office in eastern Malaysia were
being investigated by the KPK.

Deputy Chairman of KPK, Erry Riyana Hardjapamekas
told The Jakarta Post that investigators were
ready to follow up on the reports.

Rp 28.6b graft uncovered in foreign missions

Jakarta Post - March 18, 2006

Jakarta — The Foreign Ministry said Friday it had
uncovered cases of corruption worth more than Rp
28 billion (US$3.1 million) at Indonesian missions
in Malaysia and Japan.

A senior official said cases of officials charging
illegal fees in the processing of passports and
visas were detected in the Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo
embassies, the Johor Baru and Kuching consulates
and at the Tawau liaison office in Malaysia’s
eastern state of Sabah.

"We have found financial irregularities in our
offices in the two countries," ministry inspector
general Diene S. Muhario said.

Last year, House of Representatives legislator
Djoko Susilo of the National Mandate Party alleged
the practice of charging illegal fees was
widespread in Indonesian missions in Malaysia.

Diene said the amount of illegal levies charged in
Malaysia between 2000 and 2005 reached Rp 17.5
billion. All related to the administration of
passports and visas.

Malfeasance in the Tokyo embassy from January 2004
through February 2006 was worth Rp 11 billion and
was mostly related to visa extensions, she said.

The graft came to light after ministry officials
investigated the offices in Malaysia at the end of
last year and the Tokyo embassy in February, she

Diene declined to name the officials suspected of
involvement in the scams because they were still
being questioned by Corruption Eradication
Commission investigators.

"At least one senior official in each office is
accountable for the crimes. However, in the Tawau
case, we have two persons," she said. No arrests
had yet been made.

To minimize graft, Diene said the government
planned to reform the ministry’s bureaucracies,
Antara reported.

"In the future, immigration payments will not be
in cash and will not take place inside the
offices. Instead they will be transferred through
banks. We will also rotate officials in
immigration offices," she said.




Separation of mosque, state wanes in Indonesia

Los Angeles Times - March 20, 2006

Richard C. Paddock, Malang — Yusman Roy, a former
boxer and a convert to Islam, is serving two years
in prison because he believes that Muslims should
pray in a language they can understand.

Roy, who led bilingual prayer sessions at his
small East Java boarding school, is seen as a
heretic by conservative Muslims here. They believe
true prayer can be conducted only in Arabic.

Roy’s desire to pray in Indonesian has sparked
such an outrage that he was convicted last year in
criminal court of “spreading hatred.” Animosity
toward Roy ran so high that police posted guards
to keep an angry mob from torching his house and

Now, he is kept in a cell by himself at
overcrowded Lowokwaru prison, and the warden has
warned him not to preach to his fellow inmates in
any language.

Roy is one of at least 10 Muslims incarcerated in
recent months for what the Indonesian Council of
Ulemas, the country’s most influential Muslim body
in setting religious policy, has deemed deviant

"The government and the council have been working
together to suppress my ideas," Roy said during an
interview in prison. "But this will not stop me
from doing what I believe."

Indonesia is a democratic, secular country, and
there is no constitutional basis for using Islamic
law in court in most regions. But insulting a
religion is a crime, and a fatwa, or religious
edict, issued by the Council of Ulemas can carry
great weight as evidence of an alleged offense to

Indonesia, which has more than 190 million
Muslims, the world’s largest Islamic population,
has become increasingly conservative since the
1998 collapse of President Suharto’s military
regime. In recent years, the government has grown
more active in enforcing religious law.

In recent months, fatwas issued by the Indonesian
Council of Ulemas and its regional councils
denouncing clerics and cults as deviant have been
followed by arrests, prosecution and sometimes mob
violence against the accused.

Sumardi Tappaya, 60, a high school religious
teacher on the island of Sulawesi, was locked up
in January after a relative told police he had
heard Sumardi whistling while he prayed. The
whistling was declared deviant by the local
ulemas, and Sumardi is now in jail awaiting trial
on charges of religious blasphemy. He faces five
years in prison.

Ardhi Husain, 50, who ran an Islamic center in
East Java that treated drug addiction and cancer
with traditional medicine and prayer, was
sentenced in September to five years in prison for
writing a book that the ulemas said contained 70
“errors,” such as claiming that Muhammad was not
the last prophet and that non-Muslims could go to
heaven. Five editors of the book also received
five-year terms. An employee who sold a copy to a
neighbor received three years. After Husain’s
arrest, a mob burned down his facility. No one has
been arrested in the attack.

Lia Aminuddin, 58, who claims to be the Virgin
Mary and leads the quasi-Islamic God’s Kingdom of
Eden cult, was arrested in December on blasphemy
charges after thousands of angry protesters
surrounded her headquarters in Jakarta, the
Indonesian capital. The ulemas and demonstrators
accused her of insulting Islam by claiming that
she was married to the archangel Gabriel and that
God spoke to her through him. (In Islam, Gabriel,
or Jibril, is revered as the archangel who
communicated God’s word to Muhammad.)

Prominent human rights lawyer Adnan Buyung
Nasution, whose Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation
represents several of the accused, says the
government is ignoring zealots who commit
religious violence and instead prosecuting the
targets of religious hatred. "The intolerance is
becoming worse,“Nasution said.”Why are the
victims being punished?"

Fighting between Muslims and Christians has
claimed thousands of lives in Indonesia in recent
years, and Islamic suicide bombers have staged
high-profile attacks in Bali and Jakarta that have
killed hundreds. Less visible has been the effort
by conservative Muslims to compel other members of
their faith to hew to a more traditional line.

The Indonesian Council of Ulemas, which is made up
of 43 Muslim scholars and leaders of major Islamic
organizations, was formed in 1975 to guide Muslims
on how to live in accordance with Islamic
principles. Muslims make up more than 85% of the
nation’s population.

The council has recently issued fatwas banning
women from leading prayers if a man is present and
prohibiting Muslims from praying alongside members
of other religions. Provincial and local branches
of the council also have issued numerous fatwas
regulating Islamic practices.

Ma’ruf Amin, a vice chairman of the Indonesian
Council of Ulemas and the chairman of its fatwa
committee, says the ulemas’ role is to define
proper behavior for Muslims and to set boundaries
that protect the purity of Islam. He denies that
the ulemas are promoting hatred, and says Muslims
who engage in deviant practices are bringing
violence upon themselves.

Ahmadiyah gets fresh attack, house razed in Lombok

Jakarta Post - March 20, 2006

Panca Nugraha, Mataram — A house belonging to an
Ahmadiyah follower has been destroyed by his own
neighbors in Central Lombok, but nobody was
injured during the attack, a police officer said

The provincial police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. HM
Basri surmised that the attack occurred because
the people did not like an Ahmadiyah member living
near them. The house belonged to a man identified
as Amaq Jumahir, aged 50.

"The local people have decided to forbid any
Ahmadiyah follower from living in their
neighborhood," he said. No reports whether the
police have arrested the attackers.

The idea to destroy the house and expel Jumahir
had been announced after Friday prayers at a local
mosque, Basri said. At least 300 people gathered
in the kampong later in the evening and marched to
Jumahir’s house and destroyed it.

"The owner had already fled, earlier in the
afternoon," Basri stated. He added that Jumahir
was the only Ahmadiyah follower living in Praya

Police officers on Lombok explained that they had
taken preventive measures to ward off such an
attack a week earlier. Two officers were ordered
to stand guard near the house. However, the police
guards were outnumbered by the angry residents,
Basri said.

The incident concluded after West Lombok police
deployed more officers later in the evening, and
as of Saturday, more security officers remained on
guard at Jumahir’s wrecked home.

The attack was the second such incident in as many
months against Ahmadiyah followers on Lombok,
after 32 families were expelled from Ketapang
village in West Lombok on Feb. 4. Their houses
were also destroyed and the people had to flee for
their safety to other areas.

In July last year, an estimated 10,000 members of
the “Indonesian Muslim Solidarity” attacked the
Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation complex in
Bogor, West Java. The attackers claimed that
Ahmadiyah members had engaged in the practice of
teaching local people.

The violence sparked fears of possible attacks on
other Ahmadiyah members across the country.
Ahmadiyah has some 200,000 followers, and was
first established in Indonesia in 1925.

The government recognized Ahmadiyah as a corporate
body in 1953. But in 1984, the Religious Affairs
Ministry issued a circular to its regional offices
to consider Ahmadiyah’s teachings as “heresy”,
because they believe founder Mirza Gulam Ahmad was
a prophet. Muslims believe Muhammad was the last

The Indonesian Ulema Council recently issued a
fatwa that forbids Ahmadiyah’s teachings after
studying nine books on the matter.

Survey shows prevalent conservatism

Jakarta Post - March 17, 2006

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta — Islamic
conservatism is a growing force to be reckoned
with across the country, with research indicating
about 40 percent of citizens would support the
replacement of state laws with sharia and one in
10 consider suicide bombings justified in some

A survey conducted in late January by the
Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) found 40 percent
of respondents approved of adulterers being stoned
to death, 34 percent did not want to see another
female president and 40 percent accepted polygamy.

On a thief’s hands being chopped off, 38 percent
of respondents said the punishment fitted the

The survey involved 2,000 respondents from
different backgrounds nationwide. In presenting
the survey results Thursday, a senior researcher
at the LSI, Anis Baswedan, said it was clear that
certain Muslim groups had already embraced sharia
as a value system as evidenced by their support
for conservative organizations, such as the Islam
Defenders Front and the Indonesian Mujahidin
Council. On the whole, respondents were less
acquainted with right- and left-wing extremist
groups, such as the Eden sect, the Liberal Islam
Network, Syiah, Hisbut Tahrir and Ahmadiyah.

Anis said, however, that despite the obvious
support for conservative organizations, the
majority of Muslims did not want to see the
existing election system replaced, as was
indicated by the results of the 2004 general

Muslim-based parties advocating the adoption of
sharia did not fare well in the legislative
election. Likewise, the presidential candidates
nominated by them did not get the support they
were counting on from mainstream Muslim groups.

Yet, the majority of respondents saw eye to eye
with the country’s largest Muslim organizations —
Nadhlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah.

On the other hand, the survey also revealed that
one in 10 people tolerate suicide bombing and
other attacks on civilian targets in the name of

Anis said the strong support for conservatism and
“radicalism” had much to do with what respondents
called the negative influence of Western culture
and the global injustice blamed on the United
States as a superpower representing the West.

Sixty two percent of respondents were of the
opinion that Western influences had brought no
good to Indonesian Muslims and between 22 and 49
percent held the US responsible for global

Amin Abdullah, rector of Sunan Kalijaga State
Islamic University in Yogyakarta, said he was not
surprised by the survey results as conservatism
had long flourished in the country but, despite
strong conservatism, Muslims did not want to
replace the existing state ideology with an
Islamic one.

"The majority of Muslims have been moderate and
accepted pluralism because Indonesia — as the
most populous Muslim nation — lies far from the
center of Islam, the Middle East, and this has
made Islam in Indonesia rather different from that
in Pakistan and Afghanistan," he said, adding that
conservatism here had gotten stronger on the eve
of the reform era in 1998.

Imam Prasodjo, a sociologist of the University of
Indonesia, disagreed with the parameters the
survey used to measure radicalism, saying they
were relative. "Women oppose polygamy, all
communities dislike mixed marriages and all human
beings are against terror acts," he said.

The two agreed that, despite the strong grip of
conservatism, the “silent majority” supported the
two largest Muslim organizations, which see
themselves as tolerant of modern ways of thinking.




Foreign firms feeling the heat across Indonesia

Jakarta Post - March 20, 2006

Jakarta — Following the deadly anti-Freeport riot
in Papua last week, at least two more serious
incidents targeting foreign companies have taken
place in different areas of the country.

On Sunday, protesters burned Newmont’s exploration
camp on Sumbawa island in West Nusa Tenggara. No
one was injured in the attack, located about 60
kilometers from the company’s US$2 billion Batu
Hijau copper-gold mine operation.

PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara’s spokesperson, Nunik
Maulana, said in a statement made available to The
Jakarta Post on Sunday that the company condemned
the irresponsible and unlawful violence.

The company has decided to close the camp and
suspend exploration activities in the area. They
were able to evacuate all personnel earlier
Saturday after serious threats.

She said late Saturday, some 50 people came to the
area with gasoline and threatened to burn down the
camp. "There was no demands brought by this group
for discussion with the company. On Sunday, the
group set fire to the camp,“Nunik said.”The company is disappointed that the illegal act
by this small group of people has caused the
larger community to suffer, because many people
will now lose their jobs and businesses."

Sumbawa Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Abdul Hakim
Munsyarif said Sunday that officers had been
deployed to the site, some eight hours drive from
the regency capital town Taliwang. Others were
airlifted in.

The police officers, Munsyarif said, would hunt
the attackers down and already have the identities
of 19 people allegedly responsible for the attack.

Separately, in Central Java on Sunday, police
blocked at least 1,500 protesters from the Islamic
Youth Struggle Committee (KPPI) of Surakarta as
they were on their way to the Cepu oil block in
Blora regency to protest against US oil giant
ExxonMobil Corp., which recently agreed to terms
with the government on the management of the

The officers told them that they had not secured
the proper documents for the protest march.

The protesters, who were planning to pass through
several cities before reaching Blora, set up tents
in front of Boyolali Police station, while waiting
for confirmation to proceed. Some of the
protesters were planning to go ahead Monday with
the protest, regardless of permission.

"Other KPPI members from other areas that will
take part in the protest will not move until we’re
allowed to proceed," Kholid said. The planned
protest received support from legislator Catur
Sapto Edy, who claimed it was evidence of the
people’s disappointment over the government’s
decision to allow a foreign company to operate the
oil block. "The Cepu block is ours and we have the
right to manage it. It doesn’t need advanced
technology, and we can do it on our own," Catur
told Antara.

Sunday’s unrest is the latest in a series of
problems besetting foreign multinationals.
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., which runs
the world’s biggest gold mine, located in Papua,
suspended operations for three days in February
after protesters blocked the main road leading to
the site.

Protests against Freeport escalated with
Thursday’s clash between riot police and Papuans
in Abepura, in which four security officers were
beaten to death.

Indonesia opens a gusher

Asia Times - March 16, 2006

Bill Guerin, Jakarta — Spurred by the personal
intervention of President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono, Indonesia has brought to a dramatic end
a four-year dispute between US oil giant
ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company, and
Pertamina, Indonesia’s largest state enterprise.
The dispute involved rights to a massive oil

The Cepu oil-and-gas block, Indonesia’s largest
oil discovery in decades, has estimated
recoverable reserves of as much as 600 million
barrels of high quality reserves and 2 billion
barrels of lesser-quality reserves. The field is
also estimated to hold 11 trillion cubic feet of
natural gas. Tapping the find promises to return
Indonesia to the status of a petroleum-exporting
country, and Yudhoyono’s bold intervention in the
deal was interpreted widely as a signal move
towards a more foreign investment-friendly policy

Exxon, which joined with Mobil Oil in 1998 in the
largest industrial merger ever, has been operating
in Indonesia since 1898. Its local operations are
integrated under the subsidiary ExxonMobil Oil
Indonesia Inc, which currently operates
Indonesia’s Arun gas field and is also developing
a huge contested gas field near the Natuna Islands
in the South China Sea.

Yudhoyono, who pledged early in his term to settle
the protracted negotiations surrounding the Cepu
contract, intervened in big-bang fashion last
week, which came in the middle of a high-profile
visit to Jakarta by US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice.

The president fired six of Pertamina’s seven
directors and appointed Ari H Soemarno as the new
director, replacing Widya Purnama, who was widely
viewed to be at the core of the disagreement with
ExxonMobil. Washington had lobbied heavily for a
resolution, and the new contract signed on
Wednesday gives Exxon the lead role.

The deal simultaneously represents a defeat for
nationalist elements in Indonesia’s legislature,
suggesting that, contrary to the claim of his
critics, Yudhoyono does indeed have the political
will to take decisions in the national interest —
even if it means siding with foreign investors.

Dwindling reserves

Although Indonesia is Asia’s only member of the
global Organization of Petroleum Exporting
Countries (OPEC) cartel, dwindling oil output and
decades of mismanagement at Pertamina has reversed
the country’s energy fortunes, making Indonesia a
net oil importer for the past two years. While the
2006 state budget assumes oil production of 1.075
million barrels per day (bpd), the actual figure
dropped to an average of around 970,000 bpd
throughout last year.

Contradictory regulations, security problems,
bureaucratic tangles and corruption, not to
mention years of well-documented mismanagement at
Pertamina, have stymied investment in new
exploration in the oil and gas sector and led to
declining output — although the Cepu agreement
should go some way towards restoring the global
oil industry’s faith in Indonesia.

At a time when domestic fuel consumption is
growing annually at 4%-5% and export demand for
Indonesia’s oil and gas is up almost 20% year-on-
year, the urgency for a settlement with ExxonMobil
was paramount. Current crude oil reserves are
expected to be depleted by 2018, and Indonesia is
in desperate need of new sources to boost
production and resume its position as a net oil
exporter. Last year the country had a massive
US$7.3 billion oil trade deficit.

At full production capacity, which would require
about $2 billion in new investments, it is
estimated by 2008 Cepu could produce around
180,000 bpd. Analysts estimate that once Cepu is
fully online, it would increase national
production by some 20% and would restore Indonesia
as a net oil exporter.

In Indonesia, the state owns all rights to
petroleum and mineral finds. Foreign companies
participate in the industry through production
sharing and work contracts, which historically
have often been prone to disagreement. Oil and gas
contractors are required to finance all
exploration, production and development costs in
their contract areas, and are entitled to recover
those expenses through sales revenues.

The enactment of new oil and gas legislation in
June 2003 ended Pertamina’s long-running
regulatory role in the sector, which critics said
often led to a conflict of interest with its
production activities. The law effectively ended
the state concern’s upstream monopoly on handling
exploration and refining contracts, and last year
its longtime control over domestic distribution of
fuel and petroleum-based products came to a close.
Pertamina’s regulatory role in the upstream sector
was taken over by the state-managed Upstream Oil
and Gas Implementing Body (BP Migas).

In January, a high-powered business delegation
from the US, including representatives of oil
companies ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and mining
giant Freeport McMoRan, had pressed the Indonesian
government to review its taxation policy on
production sharing contracts and provide better
incentives for their exploration activities.
Specifically, they requested that the government
give a clear-cut policy and explicit job
descriptions for BP Migas and Pertamina, towards
the aim of preventing future conflicts of

BP Migas had earlier cited the Cepu difficulties
as motivation for a new government plan to force
foreign oil and gas investors to provide
multimillion dollar performance bonds before they
be allowed to sign production sharing contracts.
The state agency now must approve all work and
spending plans of production sharing contractors,
including the Pertamina-ExxonMobil deal, and is
responsible for determining what expenditures can
be counted as expenses for oil and gas production

New age contract

The Cepu deal cuts across Indonesia’s geography in
complicated ways. Part of the Cepu block is in
Blora regency, Central Java, while another part is
in Bojonegoro regency, East Java. Under the new
agreement, Pertamina and ExxonMobil will each have
a 45% equity holding in the block, with the
remaining 10% — legally considered a
participating interest — going to local
administrations in East Java and Central Java,
distributed 6.7% and 3.3% respectively.

ExxonMobil’s local subsidiary, PT Mobil Cepu Ltd,
will operate the block under a 30-year
production-sharing contract with the government,
under the supervision of the so-called Cepu
Operation Committee (COC), drawn jointly from
officials from ExxonMobil, Pertamina and local
administrations. The committee will be empowered
to take decisions on operations, development and
budget, while Pertamina’s subsidiary, PT Pertamina
EP Cepu, will be the deputy operator of the block.

The ExxonMobil deal had featured prominently in
Indonesia-US bilateral relations. On a visit to
Washington last year, Yudhoyono told US oil
executives that amendments to current laws
governing oil and gas deals were in the works,
which would offer more lucrative fiscal
incentives, including a revision of the current
15% to 85% revenue split between oil producers and
the government, as well as changes to the 35% to
65% split on natural gas deals.

For the Cepu deal, Exxon’s take will range from
6.75% to 13.5%, depending on global oil prices.
Although the contract’s production split will give
the government and local contractor the same 85%
and 15% shares, the deal stipulates that global
oil prices must average $45 per barrel or higher
to maintain that pay structure, an unprecedented
clause for an Indonesian energy deal. If world
prices fall below $35, the split would diminish to
70% and 30% respectively.

Political energy

In August 1990, Pertamina, which was the governing
Golkar Party’s cash cow under former president
Suharto, granted a 20-year concession to operate
the Cepu block field to Humpuss Patragas (HPG),
then owned by Suharto’s youngest son, known
locally as “Tommy”, who is currently serving a
jail sentence for ordering the murder of a supreme
court judge. That deal was in cooperation with
Australian Ampolex, which at the time owned a 49%
stake in the field.

The deal was that HPG would get 35% of its
production costs rebated after production.
Pertamina and the contractor, HPG, would split the
revenue from any excess oil produced over the
agreed limits in the contract on a 65%-35% basis.
But after years of unsuccessful exploration
activities, HBG ran up severe debts and
encountered cash flow problems, and was later
forced to sell its 51% holding in the Cepu block
to the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency
(IBRA), a state-run asset rehabilitation agency
established in the wake of the 1997-98 Asian
financial crisis.

ExxonMobil Oil Indonesia bought both HPG’s and
Ampolex’s stakes reportedly for around $90
million, through Mobil Cepu Ltd, acquiring 100%
ownership. Soon thereafter, ExxonMobil discovered
a huge reservoir of oil, the largest found in
Indonesia for decades, that Pertamina had failed
to hit on after nearly 30 years of plumbing the

Exxon said it was willing and able to invest $2
billion to develop the potentially lucrative
field, but because the initial work contract was
due to expire in 2010, the company sought a 20-
year extension under the original terms. Pertamina
proposed to act as the project’s sole operator
during the first five years under a new contract,
a suggestion that Exxon flatly rejected unless the
state-owned company put in half the development

Despite the deadlock, Pertamina had said it was
willing to go it alone in developing Cepu — even
at the risk of facing a protracted arbitration
lawsuit. Widya Purnama, Pertamina’s president
director at the time, said in October 2005 that
the state oil firm had set aside $120 million to
start drilling 30 wells in the Cepu’s Sukawati and
Banyu Urip fields.

Indonesian vested interest groups famously run
exclusive agendas, aiming to bolster narrow
personal benefits over broad national interests.
Pertamina has neither the capital nor the
expertise needed to develop such a major oil
project, analysts say, and Hestu Bagyo, head of
Pertamina’s Cepu block exploration and production
unit, has conceded this point in public.

Still, nationalistic sentiments have run on high
since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, often
ensnaring foreign investors. Other high-profile
business disputes with foreign investors, such as
with Mexican cement producer Cemex, US gold miner
Newmont and the one brewing with US mining giant
Freeport, reflect the risk to foreigners doing
business in Indonesia. But with global commodity
prices spiking up, foreign investors are
nonetheless seeking new deals in Indonesia’s
resource rich territories, and hopes are that
Yodhoyono’s recent intervention will mitigate the
political risks to new and existing investments.

Analysts say the resolution of the ExxonMobil
deal, which is expected to start production in
about 2.5 years, will bring massive benefits to
the central government and also shore up newly-
autonomous local regions. At peak production,
citing the conservative future estimates of global
oil prices averaging $35 per barrel, the
government would earn as much as US$1.5 billion a
year from the deal — excluding the revenues that
would go to Pertamina as contractor.

"The project will create jobs, and of course it
will bring benefits to the local economy," says
Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Purnomo
Yusgiantoro. Exxon has said it also plans to build
roads, schools, medical clinics and other
infrastructure for the project.

Marginal dissent

Nationalistic commentators had demanded that
Pertamina maintain sole control of the Cepu block
for the first five years of the project, and
thereafter manage it with ExxonMobil managers on a
rotating basis. American control would amount to
another form of colonization, they claimed, and in
any case they argued that Pertamina’s local
staffing expenses would keep down costs.

Although Yudhoyono’s intervention has broadly
cheered foreign investors, it’s not yet clear that
the nationalists have been completely pushed into
the shadows. Over 400 Muslim protesters staged a
rally in front of the US Embassy on Tuesday,
slamming what they said was US interference in
Indonesia’s domestic affairs, citing in particular
ExxonMobil’s deal in Cepu and Freeport’s
investment in Papua. The protesters were
predominantly from the Muslim radical Islamic
groups Hizbut Tahrir and Majelis Mujahideen, led
by convicted cleric Abu Bakar Baashir, the alleged
leader of the militant Jemaah Islamiyah
organization accused of masterminding the Bali

It’s not just Islamic radicals that are making
nationalistic demands, however. Sutarjo
Suryoguritno, deputy speaker of the House of
Representatives, warned that a ruling in favor of
ExxonMobil would be tantamount "to us being
colonized again... I urge the government to return
to the true path. We should take a firm stance,
that the oil block is the right of Indonesia and
its people,“he told reporters.”We’ll take every
means, including legal and political measures, to
fight the decision," echoed Tjatur Sapto of the
National Mandate Party.

Yudhoyono, with his strong democratic mandate, at
least for now is firmly in control and has shown
no sign of being influenced by the nationalist
opposition. He has important backing for his pro-
foreign investment decisions from the secular-
minded Golkar Party, which commands the most seats
in the House of Representatives.

Agusman Effendy, chairman of the commission
responsible for mining and energy and a political
heavyweight from the secular Golkar Party,
recently said that it was essential that the Cepu
block start production as soon as possible. "We
should not lose the momentum."

[Bill Guerin, a Jakarta correspondent for Asia
Times Online since 2000, has worked in Indonesia
for 20 years, mostly in journalism and editorial
positions. He has been published by the BBC on
East Timor and specializes in business/economic
and political analysis related to Indonesia. He
can be reached at softsell]




Losing Papua

Jakarta Post Editorial - March 20, 2006

Days after peaceful gubernatorial elections in the
provinces of Papua and the newly established West
Irian Jaya, three policemen and a member of the
Air Force were killed in clashes with protesters
demanding the closure of the Freeport gold and
copper mine, the largest in the world.

We condemn the killings and urge the government to
bring to justice those who are responsible for
this butchery. The killings were inexcusable,
whatever their motivations. We also urge the
government to set up an independent team to
investigate the incident and discover the real
roots of the problem.

Despite criticism of the police’s handling of the
protests, it is in the interests of the nation and
civil society that the National Police, not the
Indonesian Military, remain in charge of domestic
security and public order.

We also express our condolences to the families of
the four victims. We hope the government will
carry out its duty and ensure the families receive
help to start new lives without the presence of
their beloved husbands and fathers. These men and
their families deserve more than just a state
funeral and empty praise.

It may have surprised many how the young Papuans
expressed the outrage they feel toward Freeport
and the government. As the demonstration took
place in front of Cendrawasih University we assume
that many of the protesters were students. It
seemed that they did not fear for their own

One could compare the convictions, even the
fearlessness, of the young Papuans to those of the
student protesters who clashed with riot police in
the weeks before Soeharto’s fall in May 1998, and
during demonstrations against Soeharto’s
successor, B.J. Habibie. They felt cheated by the
government and no longer trusted it. They decided
to confront state-sanctioned violence and
terrorism, risking their lives in the process. If
the Papuan students lose all trust and hope in the
central government, then the situation could
become much more dangerous.

The government needs to allay the concerns of the
Papuan protesters as soon as possible. It needs to
convince them the central government understands
the aspirations of the Papuan people, and be
credible in dealing with their frustrations and

President Susilo Bambang Yudhohyono has repeatedly
said that his government fully understands the
Papuans’ grievances and that his government has
learned much from its dealing with the rebels in

Despite this, however, we feel that there is
little reason to hope that the President will be
able to realize his promises to the region. Why?
Because it was the President himself who promised
his government would follow the law on special
autonomy for Papua when resolving problems in the
frequently rebellious territory. But West Irian
Jaya was formed despite protests from the tribal
chiefs’ council, the Papuan People’s Assembly, the
Papuan Legislative Council, religious leaders and
university students. Many Papuans feel grossly
betrayed by the central government.

Protests against the Freeport mine are often
regarded as a threat to lucrative state revenue, a
tool used by members of the political elite both
in Papua and Jakarta to gain financial advantages.
Many if not all of the social issues that the
protesters raise are ignored.

PT Freeport itself cannot simply respond by
claiming that it has met its obligations to the
state and the people through being the biggest
taxpayer in Indonesia. The roots of the local
people’s dissatisfaction with the mine are not
only economic. The company has little to say about
the impact its mine has had on local indigenous
people, and how it has changed their lives since
being established in the 1970s. The company’s
ethical record is questioned by many observers,
both in Indonesia and overseas.

In other words, the reasons for the protests in
Papua are obvious. The government cannot continue
to buy time by claiming that it needs to study and
discuss the origins of the problems. It must deal
with them now.

There is a common tendency in this country,
particularly among the political elite and the
decision makers, to treat Papuans as uneducated
and stupid, simple tribespeople who are ungrateful
for the services provided by the government. This
could prove a fatal mistake.

The previous government practiced this in East
Timor and we lost the province in 1999. It is only
a matter of time — perhaps not long at all —
before Papua is no longer a part of Indonesia. If
the central government and the powers in Jakarta
continue to think that only they know what is best
for Papuans, then it is surely inevitable.

As citizens of Indonesia, Papuans are entitled to
be treated with the same level of respect afforded
to other Indonesians. They deserve the right to
preserve their culture and ethnic identities. It
is not impossible that Indonesia will need to
redraw its map again, if the Papuans decide enough
is enough and are ready to sacrifice their own
lives to throw off the state which continues to
oppress them.

Will the real prostitutes please stand up, then
stand down

Jakarta Post - March 20, 2006

Endy M. Bayuni, Jakarta — Something seems to be
amiss in the current nationwide crackdown on

Tangerang municipality is leading the charge by
rounding up women walking alone in main streets
past newly imposed curfew hours, but Jakarta and
other major cities have also been raiding
locations allegedly used as brothels.

Needless to say, these campaigns get massive
coverage by the ever news-hungry media, with
female prostitutes the main focus, to send a clear
message that the authorities are serious about
fighting vice.

Waged in the name of stopping society’s moral
decay and saving the nation’s young from moral
bankruptcy, one is left to wonder if the campaign
is missing the real targets.

Commercial sex workers who sell their bodies for a
few hundred thousand to a few million rupiah are
certainly a menace, and if they operated in your
neighborhood, you’d probably want them removed
too, and thus you would wholeheartedly support the

But let’s be honest with ourselves. These
streetwalkers are not the only ones who are
selling their bodies and souls for financial or
material gain in this country. Since they work in
hiding to evade the authorities, they are not even
the most visible of all prostitutes, either.

No. There are bigger prostitutes — bigger fish
for the authorities to catch if they are serious
about wiping out prostitution. And a lot of the
time, these prostitutes do their deeds so
blatantly that it is really just a matter of
political will for the authorities to round them

Prostitution is usually defined as the sale of
sexual services, but the online encyclopedia
Wikipedia says: "In a more general sense of the
word, anyone selling his/her services for a cause
thought to be unworthy can be described as
prostituting him/herself."

Going by this wider definition, we can think of
many other people in various forms of employment
who are engaging in the world’s oldest profession:

- The elected politicians who betray the people’s
mandate by continually claiming to work for the
people when they are really just serving their
personal and political interests.

- The appointed officials and bureaucrats who,
instead of acting as the servants of the people,
make the people their servants while enriching

- The intellectuals who sell their minds and
thoughts to provide scholarly justifications for
laws and policies that are clearly detrimental to
the interests of the people.

- The ulemas and priests who willingly give a
religious cloak to laws and regulations that
suppress people’s freedoms and rights.

- The journalists who betray the public trust and
fill the media with lies and half-truths to
mislead the people.

True to the wider definition of prostitution, they
are selling services for causes thought to be
unworthy. And there is no cause more unworthy than

These, and many other people in different
professions, are the real hardcore prostitutes and
thus the real menace to society. Their corrupt and
perverted conduct poses a much more serious threat
to the nation’s morals than the simple sexual
services offered by streetwalkers. Most
streetwalkers enter the profession not by choice
but because of economic pressures. 11 million
people in this country out of job (according to
unreliable official statistics) and 30 million
others are underemployed. For many, prostitution
is the only available means of survival.

Such justification cannot be used by the elite
members of society who willingly and knowingly
sell their soul and services, and sometimes their
body too, for profit, material or otherwise. Their
only reason for prostituting themselves is greed.

And they are doing it in the open for all to see.
Corruption is so rampant that our children, whose
future we are all concerned about, are so exposed
to such practices at early age that some grow up
to accept them as normal.

Moral decadence is indeed a big problem in this
country, but moral hypocrisy is an even bigger
problem since we tolerate the bigger and more
dangerous type of prostitution.

Condemn prostitution in the name of morality, but
it’s the bigger and more menacing prostitutes that
deserve to be pilloried.

Who is fit to be the moral arbiter of dress sense?

Jakarta Post - March 18, 2006

Soeryo Winoto, Jakarta — Thank God! Finally, the
government has made its position clear on the
controversial pornography bill.

State Minister for Women’s Empowerment Meutia
Hatta Swasono said Wednesday the focus of the bill
should be on limiting the distribution of obscene
materials, not prosecuting personal conduct,
especially the conduct of women.

The day before, the chairman of the House
committee deliberating the bill, Balkan Kaplale,
said the bill on pornography would focus on
pornographic materials and their distribution.

Meutia and Kaplale demonstrated strength of
leadership and clear thinking among all the
absurdity in the House surrounding this bill,
including those legislators who insist the bill
target personal conduct, particularly of women who
wear a “certain” type of clothing.

This change in the emphasis of the bill was made
only after waves of public protests, the latest by
about 500 performers of the traditional tayub
dance in Surakarta on Wednesday. Though the
government was slow to respond to the public
outcry, it could no longer ignore all the voices
opposed to the bill.

While the legal definition of pornography here
remains hazy, it is interesting to consider the
American Family Association’s online definition of
pornography. This definition states, "Pornography
is sexually explicit pictures, writing or other
material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual

Given that women are the target of the bill, it is
pretty clear the House committee deliberating the
bill is dominated by men. This underlines the
results of a survey conducted in the US by Harris
Interactive Inc. and released in September 2004.
The survey found 57 percent of women believe
pornography is demeaning to women, and showed that
men and women differ in their views about
pornography. This may help us understand why the
majority of the protesters against the bill are

Of the many surprises surrounding the deliberation
of the porn bill, the biggest is that none of the
committee members have been able to offer a clear
definition of what exactly constitutes

What is defined as pornography in the bill differs
very little from the definitions of porn offered
in articles 282, 283 and 284 of the Criminal Code,
which have in the past been used to prosecute
people from the entertainment world, including

The Criminal Code clearly is still relevant and
workable. The problem seems to be the classic one
of poor law enforcement.

Perhaps the House committee deliberating the bill
should have considered the American Family
Association’s definition of pornography, whose key
words are “to cause sexual arousal”.

So, can a woman’s outfit be considered sexually
explicit material? Probably, since men apparently
are so easily aroused, at least according to the
original draft bill. This just highlights the
absurdity of the definition of pornography. So how
can the House committee decide something is
pornographic when the exact definition of
pornography is so unclear?

Perhaps inspired by the absurdity of the House
members, the Tangerang mayoralty has passed its
own regulation on prostitution, which has drawn
criticism for targeting women. The mayoralty,
however, remains unbowed and is preparing another
regulation on the dress of female students.

Since the 1950s, students in the country have been
playing a game of hide-and-seek with their
teachers and a kind of moral police over their
clothes. In those days female students were not
the only targets. Boys with tight trousers, called
Napoleons, had to be extra careful out on the
street to avoid being caught by the police, who
would insert a bottle inside the leg of their
trousers. If the trousers proved to be so tight
the bottle would not fit, the officer would slit
the pants. And nobody complained or questioned the
legality of the officers’ actions.

In the 1970s, a lot of teens got into trouble over
their hair. Quite a few boys sporting Beatles-like
hairdos received unwanted haircuts from their
teachers in front of their classmates. Teachers
were also prone to confiscating “Beatles” shoes
from unlucky fashion wanna-bes.

The authorities and teachers defended their
actions by arguing that young people had to be
protected from “destructive Western culture”.

History clearly shows that the authorities here
have always been impractical idealists who have
turned quite trivial matters into major affairs.
And if fashion caused moral decay among the young,
as the authorities believed at the time, what are
we to think of the moral state of people now in
their 40s, 50s and 60s, who grew up with Napoleon
trousers and Beatles shoes? Maybe lawmakers should
consider adding an article to the Constitution
governing how people dress, to save the country
from moral decay.

The politics of bare flesh

Asia Times - March 17, 2006

Desi Anwar, Bali — The Balinese are calling it
the third Bali bomb, threatening to frighten even
more foreign tourists away from their beaches.

A proposed bill on pornography currently under
deliberation by Indonesia’s parliament could be
the coup de grace for the island’s tourism
industry — already in the death throes after a
second bomb attack that targeted tourists (in
October 2005) and recent fears over the
uncontrolled spread of the bird-flu virus,
according to Tjokorda Oka Sukawati, head of Bali’s
Hotel and Restaurant Association.

Hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops are
slashing prices to compete for the continually
dwindling number of tourists. Many vendors are
closing down and contemplating going back to till
the land, says Tjokorda. The proposed pornography
ban — which would make kissing and baring flesh
in public punishable by possible jail terms and
fines reaching into the millions of rupiah —
threatens to drive sunbathers to neighboring
countries’ beaches at a time when Bali’s tourism
industry is already deep in the doldrums.

Economics aside, the proposed anti-pornography law
and its oddly named companion the "anti-
pornoaction" bill vie to push modern, moderate
Indonesia in the direction of the many repressive
regimes seen in the Middle East. The bill is
generating a wave of popular resistance from women
who see the bill as a further violation of their
already limited rights. More broadly, the proposed
legislation threatens the harmony of a
predominantly Muslim nation that has historically
celebrated its unity in diversity. The bill also
threatens to undermine Indonesia’s hard-won
democracy and new laws aimed at protecting freedom
of expression.

The porn law threatens to criminalize various
actions that by their very nature are subject to
interpretation and would necessarily result in
arbitrary enforcement. For example, showing one’s
buttocks in public can get you two to six years in
jail, though for some reason showing your genitals
or breasts is less of an offense, earning you only
one to five years in the clink.

For masturbating in public, you can get two to 10
years behind bars, which incidentally is an
offense viewed only slightly less seriously than
pedophilia, a crime that carries three to 10 years
in jail. That’s on par with moving one’s body
erotically in public, which to some legislative
minds might incite sexual arousal and other moral

Why Indonesia’s legislators are expending their
valuable time to deliberate the proposed
legislation, particularly considering that the
laws on the books regulating public decency,
domestic violence and other sexual offenses are
still in need of better enforcement, is mind-
boggling. Syafriansyah, a legislator with the
Muslim PPP (United Development Party), has said
the country’s morality is in decline and hence the
people need to be controlled to make sure that the
nation doesn’t go collectively to hell. The
unnerving subtext is that prominent members of
certain Muslim parties are trying to use the
proposed legislation as a beachhead for pushing
forward their broader political agenda of
implementing Sharia law nationwide.

Aceh, whose special autonomy status allows it to
impose its own brand of sharia law, which includes
the use of public lashings, publicly parading
alleged prostitutes and casting judgment on
women’s attire, is the model these legislators
aspire to. In several urban areas, such as the
regency of Tangerang on the outskirts of Jakarta,
some local governments have taken advantage of
their new regional autonomy to arbitrarily force
women to wear head scarves and stay home at night
or risk being charged with soliciting.

Increasingly these Muslim politicians are obsessed
with issues of morality rather than delivering on
their electoral promises of cleaning up corruption
and creating a more just and equitable society —
the issues that got them elected in the first
place. Now that questions of morality have entered
the national agenda in the shape of an anti-
pornography bill, it looks as if the central
government also is keen to impose these narrow
sectarian values on the entire nation — which
could stoke ethnic, religious and cultural
tensions across the archipelago.

From Papua, where normal clothing consists of
penis sheaths and grass skirts, to Bali, where the
baring of the flesh is an integral part of its
cultural traditions reflected in dances,
paintings, sculptures and even religious worship,
to Java, where female traditional costumes such as
the kebaya are designed to enhance a woman’s
curves rather than hide them, Indonesia is a
testimony to a pluralist society that celebrates
its beauty and art in all its different

To force a restrictive style of clothing, where
women cannot show their hair, arms and legs or
move about in a manner that might provoke lust in
men, not only violates Indonesia’s basic laws and
cultural character, but threatens to undermine the
greater regional autonomy and grass roots
democracy-promoting policies the government is
meant to be implementing.

The secessionists in Papua see this as another
form of central government arrogance and another
reason to opt out of the republic. Banners
protesting the anti-pornography bill in Bali are
already calling for the Hindu island’s
independence. At the same time, other non-Muslim
Indonesians are wondering how they fit into all of
this discussion.

The Asian financial crisis hit Indonesia
particularly hard, and many people are looking to
the government to find ways to improve the economy
and up the national standard of living. Many
wonder why parliamentarians instead are dedicating
so much time and national resource to a cause that
appears to be a distinct move away from
pluralistic democracy and toward the
authoritarianism seen in many Middle Eastern

In practicality, it would be difficult to impose
this kind of law short of assigning moral police
across this archipelago of more than 17,000
islands and 215 million people. Most of the local
arts and entertainment would have to be banned as
nearly all of the traditional dances figure
sensual movements and bare shoulders of some sort,
not to mention hiding away paintings, sculptures
and all kinds of traditional art works that
pertain to fertility and physical beauty. Women
would conceivably be forced to stay at home as
they fear being mistaken for a prostitute or
arrested for showing too much flesh. The bill’s
hugely adverse impact would be as much social as
it would be economic.

Supporters of the bill, who often decry the
country’s trend toward liberalization as kowtowing
to the degenerate West, might be wondering why
they have encountered so much popular resistance.
Past efforts to turn Indonesia into an Islamic
state have been launched and failed. As a full-
fledged representative democracy, parties that
campaigned on fundamentalist platforms performed
poorly during the last round of presidential and
parliamentary elections. And if those that were
elected prioritize anti-pornography legislation
over improving the overall national good, they
could find themselves out of jobs after the next

[Desi Anwar is a Jakarta-based television and
print journalist.]

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