* Call for formation of Aceh truth &
* Civil activists condemn TNI statement on SIRA
* Antigraft body monitoring Aceh
* Illegal organisations in Aceh must be disbanded
* Aceh rights violators from TNI to be tried in
* Acehnese people question oil & gas rights
* Rehashed bill gives Aceh greater power
* Papuan asylum seekers regret coming to Australia
* Papuans give legislation marching orders
* Military to stay at Freeport
PORNOGRAPHY & MORALITY
* Indonesian dancer, clerics go toe-to-toe
* FBR chief named a suspect for defaming women
* Government told to act fast against sharia laws
* Government ’undermining’ community land rights
* Human rights violation cases in East Java
* New Criminal Code to heat up House
* Meeting on labor dispute postponed
* Plywood workers on strike in Tangerang
* Bus, taxi drivers say they have been slighted
* NGOs declare support for striking Securicor
WAR ON TERROR
* Indonesia’s fizzling terrorist threat
* Indonesia terrorists called holy warriors
* 60% of elected public officials used false
* Public still positive about government: Survey
* House balks at antigraft decree
* Corruption suspects flee abroad, travel bans
* Residents complain about dust-emitting companies
* Displaced residents bide their time as sludge
* Logging harms humans: Experts
* Sidoarjo mud protested by upset workers
HEALTH & EDUCATION
* Heads up: Students studying with helmets on
* Entrance fees for state universities skyrocket
* Scholars advocate tolerant Islam
* Courts must get tougher on violent militias:
* Government softens stance on hard-line groups
* From political thuggery to ethnic gang wars
* Major Muslim groups spearhead moderate campaign
* Hard-line groups reject Pancasila as sole
* Muslim moderates told to stand up and be counted
* Defiant Bashir to continue his jihad
ECONOMY & INVESTMENT
* Government prepares subsidy for farmers
* Shoddy town planning ’lowers productivity’
* Economists: Agriculture sector worrying
* Kalla defends acceptance of new CGI loans
* Up to 300,000 join ranks of poor after quake
Call for formation of Aceh truth & reconciliation
Aceh Kita - June 23, 2006
Radzie, Banda Aceh — Civil activists in Aceh are
urging the Indonesian government to immediately
form an Acehnese Truth and Reconciliation
Commission (KKR) and Human Rights Court in order
to resolve problems that took place in the past.
The call was conveyed by a number of Acehnese
activists after they decided to resign from the
Aceh Reintegration Agency.
According to the former executive director of the
Forum of Acehnese Non-Government Organisations,
TAF Haikal, a future KKR and human rights court
would not involve the disputing parties. "We are
proposing the immediate formation of a committee,
within which the disputing parties are not
involved. The institution would be independent",
Haikal said when speaking with Aceh Kita a short
Likewise, the executive director of the Coalition
of Human Rights Non-Government Organisations,
Faisal Hadi, said that a KKR and human rights
court is desperately needed in order to resolve
problems of human rights violations that occurred
in the past. According to Hadi, the formation of
an Acehnese KKR has been hindered because the KKR
at the national level has yet to be formed. This
is despite the fact that 40 candidate members for
the KKR have already taken part in a fit and
proper test yet not one has been selected by the
"By September 2005, the government should have
already formed the KKR at the national level. But
up until now the president has not selected any of
the 40 existing candidates", said Hadi.
The Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding says that
a KKR will be formed in Aceh by the national KKR
with the task of formulating and determining a
means of seeking reconciliation.
According to Hadi, a future KKR in Aceh could take
as example the KKR that was formed by the South
African government in resolving human rights
violations that took place during the Apartheid
period. "Of course the South African model doesn’t
have to be applied in its entirety, but what’s
wrong with trying it first (trial and error)", he
[Translated by James Balowski.]
Civil activists condemn TNI statement on SIRA
Aceh Kita - June 23, 2006
Radzie, Banda Aceh — A statement by Indonesia’s
senior representative on the Aceh Monitoring
Mission (AMM), Major General Bambang Darmono,
which categorised the Aceh Referendum Information
Center (SIRA) as an illegal organisation has been
condemned by civil activist groups in Aceh.
Criticisms and protests were expressed by the
Coalition of Aceh Human Rights Non-Government
Organisations, the Traditional Society
Communication Network (JKMA), the Commission for
Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras),
the Alliance of Student Executive Councils (ABEM),
the Acehnese Civil Society Task Force (ACSTF), the
Muhammadiyah University Student Executive Council
(BEM), the Anti Corruption Movement (Gerak) and
According to Taufik Abda from JKMA, the Indonesian
military (TNI) does not have the authority to
decide on the status of or disband civil
organisations. A decision to disband a civil
organisation lies entirely with the civil
government, in this case the ministry of home
affairs or the regional government. Even if SIRA
and other civil organisations are declared
illegal, he said, the decision must be made by the
government or the courts based on existing laws
and not by military officers.
"An accusation by a military officer as to whether
an organisation is legal or not, is realm of the
work of the civil authorities, not the military",
said Abda during a press conference at the offices
of the Coalition of Aceh Human Rights Non-
Government Organisations in Banda Aceh on Friday
According to Abda, the labeling of SIRA as an
illegal organisations, as in the case of fronts
that were created to fight and quash the Free Aceh
Movement (GAM), represents an attempt by the
military to use coercion and terror against civil
activists. Moreover, at this time these activists
are struggling for the ratification of the Draft
Law on Aceh Government (RUU-PA), the contents of
which are in accordance with the Helsinki
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
"There are concerns that this intimidation is to
silence friends who are putting pressure on [those
conducting] the deliberations of the RUU-PA", he
said. "The military authorities are also using
shock therapy against civil society [groups] that
are participating in actions launched by SIRA".
The Helsinki MoU says that the government must
disband illegal groups in Aceh. By illegal groups
it is meant the militia who in their activities
use weapons and violence. SIRA meanwhile, has
never used violence or weapons said Abda.
Because of this therefore, Abda deeply regrets the
statements made in the mass media by the commander
of the Iskandar Muda Territorial Military Command
Major General Supiadin AS and Darmono, that SIRA
is an illegal organisation.
"Whey not invite us (civil organisations) to hold
an open dialogue on the matter. Why must [they]
spread terror through the mass media", asked Abda
who is also a SIRA activist. What is most
regrettable said Abda, is that a high-ranking TNI
officer made the statement that SIRA is an illegal
In relation to holding an open dialogue and
debate, the Coalition of Aceh Human Rights Non-
Government Organisations declared that it is ready
to mediate between civil groups, the government
and military, in order to straighten out the
Speaking in the same vein, Kontras Aceh
coordinator Asiah said that the statements by
Supiadin and Darmono are evidence that the
military is encroaching on civil authority. "If
there are illegal [organisations], why make an
example of SIRA, when we know that their
activities are not disrupting the peace process",
Meanwhile, during a press conference the day
before at a restaurant in Banda Aceh, SIRA stated
that they are not an illegal organisation dispute
the accusations by the TNI. "We have already made
it clear to all parties, including the AMM, that
SIRA is not campaigning for Acehnese independence
or to separate from Indonesia", said SIRA
presidium chair Muhammad Nazar.
According to Nazar, SIRA’s activities have never
disrupted political stability, security or the
peace process in Aceh. "We will not disrupt
political stability or security. We support what
is being done by the Indonesian government and
GAM", he said.
With regard to the word referendum in the name
SIRA, according to the graduate of the Ar-Raniry
State Institute of Islamic Studies faculty of
culture, the term has quite a broad meaning.
Moreover, there is not one article in the
Indonesian constitution that prohibits a
referendum. "For example, we could hold a
referendum to change the Aceh Bill and so forth",
he added. [dzie]
[Translated by James Balowski.]
Antigraft body monitoring Aceh
Jakarta Post - June 22, 2006
Jakarta — The Corruption Eradication Commission
has set up a monitoring mission of reconstruction
projects currently underway in the tsunami-hit
Aceh and parts of North Sumatra.
KPK head Taufiequrrahman Ruki said the team would
oversee a multimillion dollar project carried out
by the Aceh Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction
"Commissioners from KPK will take turns to head
our mission in Aceh. In the first stage, we have
dispatched our commissioner Amin Sunaryadi as head
of the oversight team," Taufiequrrahman told
lawmakers of the House of Representatives
Commission III on law and legislation.
Aside from its law enforcement role, the KPK is
required to work to prevent corruption.
Illegal organisations in Aceh must be disbanded
Aceh Kita - June 21, 2006
Adi W, Banda Aceh — Indonesia’s senior
representative on the Aceh Monitoring Mission
(AMM), Major General Bambang Darmono, has
confirmed that there are no longer any illegal
groups in Aceh. If there still are, then these
groups must be disbanded immediately.
"Meaning, every organisation must have a permit
that is in accordance with the law", Darmono told
journalists at the offices of the Acehnese
governor on Wednesday June 21.
The disbanding of such groups is in line with
Ministry of Political, Legal and Security Affairs
Decree Number R-13 dated rch 18, 2006, which
provides a guarantee that there are no longer any
illegal organisations in Aceh.
Darmono, the former TNI (Indonesian military)
operational commander for Lhokseumawe, said that
based on the decree that came into force on June
15 this year, it is not just illegal organisations
in Aceh that will be disbanded, but throughout
Indonesia, because many social organisations are
still illegal in nature.
Darmono explained that the decree represents a
verification and affirmation to address the doubts
of those who say there are still many illegal
groups post the conflict in Aceh. Moreover, the
Memorandum of Understanding that was signed in
Helsinki on August 15 last year requires that the
Indonesian government disband all illegal
organisations that exist in Aceh.
The illegal organisations meant by this said
Darmono, are those that do not have a proper
permit. He gave as an example the Aceh Referendum
Information Center (SIRA). "As far as I know at
the moment, SIRA does not exist any more, it
stopped [functioning] after it was reprimanded by
the AMM", he said.
SIRA spokesperson Dawam Gayo has refuted Darmono’s
statement. According to Gayo, SIRA is not an
illegal organisation as claimed by the Indonesian
government, because it was established legally at
the Serantau Aceh Student and Youth Congress.
"Moreover, the congress was opened by Aceh
governor Syamsuddin Mahmud and the deputy speaker
of the Aceh DPRD [Regional House of
Representatives] from the ABRI [armed forces]
Fraction, Colonel Yasril Hedradjat. Since its
formation, SIRA has also been active in struggling
for the creation of peace in Aceh, because SIRA
does not wish violence against Aceh", said Gayo in
a press release sent to Aceh Kita. "With regard to
the name SIRA, there is also no need for concern
although it contains the word referendum", he
It is not just SIRA that is being called on to
disband, but all fronts formed to quash the Free
Aceh Movement (GAM). Darmono said meanwhile, that
the Defenders of the Fatherland (Peta) is not an
organisation but only a group formed to counter
those who carried out resistance during the period
Peta is an organisation that was created post the
conflict and is an umbrella organisation for
various resistance fronts against GAM. A number of
fronts were formed during the period that the
Indonesian government declared a state of martial
law and civilian emergency (May 19, 2003-April
2005) in Aceh. These include the Front for the
Struggle Against GAM (FPSG), People’s Fortress
Against GAM Separatists (Berantas), Red White
United People’s Resistance (PPRMP) and a number of
There is no definitive data however on the number
of illegal organisations in Aceh. Darmono noted
that illegal organisations that are still active
would be sanctioned. "If [they are] still
operating, then there will be legal sanctions. And
that is a matter for security forces", he said.
Darmono also explained that the disbanding of
these illegal organisations has no relationship
with the dispute within the Aceh Reintegration
Agency (BRA). GAM recently resigned from the BRA
because there were members of Peta in the
organisation led by the rector of the Ar-Raniry
State Institute of Islamic Studies, Professor
Yusni Sabi. In addition to GAM, non-government
organisations have also withdrawn three of their
personnel from the BRA. [dzie]
[Translated by James Balowski.]
Aceh rights violators from TNI to be tried in
Detik.com - June 22, 2006
Ahmad Dani, Jakarta — Common crimes committed by
members of the TNI (Indonesian military) in Aceh
must be tried in civilian courts. Unfortunately,
the Draft Law on Aceh Government (RUU-PA) in fact
seeking the opposite. Common crimes by members of
the TNI will still be processed in military
This was conveyed by the ad interim director of
the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), Patra
Zen, during a press conference at his office on
Jl. Borobudur in Jakarta on Tuesday June 22.
According to Zen, indications that general crimes
by military personnel will be tried in a military
court can be seen from Article 154 of the draft
law. Within this article it states that crimes
committed by TNI members in Aceh shall be tried in
accordance with prevailing laws.
"There in explicit terms it is clear that they
will be directed to military courts. If [the
crime] is desertion it doesn’t matter, but these
are common crimes", said Zen.
Zen believes that this is an example of the
inconsistencies by the members of the House of
Representatives (DPR) in the deliberations on
military courts. According to the Draft Law on the
Military, they have rejected using the military
courts to try military officers who commit common
crimes. But in the case of the RUU-PA, the DPR
members appear to be staying silent.
"It appears there are political interests. We are
asking the RUU-PA Special Committee at the DPR to
explicitly say that all common crimes committed by
TNI personnel must be examined and tried in civil
courts", said Zen.
Aside form military courts, there are other
suspicious things in the draft law. One of these
is the whitewashing of past gross human rights
crimes such as during the period Aceh was declared
a military operational zone [between 1989 to
1998]. "Many things in the RUU-PA also go against
the constitution and other laws", said Zen.(djo)
[Translated by James Balowski.]
Acehnese people question oil & gas rights
Tempo Interactive - June 21, 2006
Oktamandjaya Wiguna, Jakarta — Elements of the
Acehnese people, including the Nanggroe Aceh
Darussalam Regional House of Representatives
(DPRD) and the Aceh Traditions Council (MAA) met
with the Aceh Government Draft Bill (RUU PA)
formulation team at the Hotel Santika, Jakarta,
"All DPR factions indicated their commitment to
give entirely what was best for Aceh, but instead
the government didn’t," Raihan Iskandar, NAD DPRD
Deputy Chairman, told Tempo after the meeting.
The government’s commitment is doubted, he said,
because there are some clauses that state the
management by regional government must still
follow the norms and standards set by the central
The government’s continuing interference, said
Bahrum M. Rasyid, Head of the United Development
Party (PPP) NAD DPRD faction, would hinder the
Aceh government from performing its duties.
He cited the Aceh Regional Budget that cannot be
implemented because it contradicts the Home
Affairs Ministerial Decree on Aceh regional
Badrul Zaman, Head of the MAA, said that he
believed the government’s attitude of seemingly
not wanting to hand over full authority is a form
of its distrust for Aceh due to the experience of
the past. According to him, this attitude will
instead cause negative effects.
Rehashed bill gives Aceh greater power
Jakarta Post - June 16, 2006
M. Taufiqurrahman, Jakarta — Prospects of a
lasting peace in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam appear
stronger after the House of Representatives and
the government accommodated long-standing demands
of locals in the nearly finalized Aceh governance
Following more than six months of intense
deliberations, the working committee set up by the
House to finalize the bill accorded Aceh greater
autonomy in managing its own affairs, including
administering its abundant natural resources.
Among the stipulations is that the provincial
government has the right to manage the exploration
of oil and gas in the province.
"All political factions in the House have agreed
on this provision because they realize that oil
and gas in Aceh are almost depleted and the
Acehnese have the right to manage it," Ahmad
Farhan Hamid of the National Mandate Party (PAN)
said Thursday at a press briefing organized by the
Partnership for Governance Reform.
He is the leader of Acehnese lawmakers who took
part in the deliberation of the bill.
The working committee had finished the discussion
of 98 percent of the bill late Wednesday, leaving
only insubstantial matters to be completed.
According to the latest draft of the bill, the
Acehnese also will be given the right to manage
seaports and airports.
Acehnese have long harbored resentment toward the
central government, which they perceive as merely
exploiting their natural resources for its own
The working committee and the government also
agreed on the allocation of a special autonomy
fund amounting to 2 percent of the general
allocation fund (DAU) for a 20-year-period.
"We had to haggle with Communication and
Information Minister Sofyan Djalil as the
representative of the government before agreeing
on the figure. The government always wanted a
lesser amount of funds for a shorter period,"
Other crucial provisions agreed to by the working
committee are the implementation of sharia in
Aceh, the setting up of a rights tribunal and
truth and reconciliation commission, the powerful
standing of sharia-derived ordinance (qanun) as
well as permitting independent candidates and
local political parties to contest local
None of the factions in the House, including the
nationalist-leaning Indonesian Democratic Party of
Struggle and Christian-based the Prosperous Peace
Party, opposed the implementation of sharia in the
It also was agreed that the rights tribunal and
truth and reconciliation commission would be set
up according to the existing law, a compromise
after heated debate about applying a retroactive
Representatives from the Aceh local council, the
institution that campaigned for a greater
autonomy, said the bill now accommodated the
demands of most Acehnese.
"Ninety percent of our aspirations, mainly on the
natural resources issue, have been accommodated in
the final draft and that’s a good sign for peace,
because every rebellion in Aceh stemmed from the
unequal distribution of resources," Acehnese
councillor Adriman Kemat said.
Fellow councillor Azhary Basar, however, advised
the government to consult the Free Aceh Movement
(GAM) before passing the bill into law. "Most GAM
members still think that politicians have watered
down the Helsinki peace accord," Azhary said.
Key provisions in latest draft
Management of the exploration of oil and gas
under the provincial government
Special autonomy fund of 2 percent for a 20-year
period starting in 2007
Rights tribunal and truth and reconciliation
commission will be set up according to the
Independent candidates will be allowed to
contest local elections
Local political parties can be formed with 30
percent of subscription from women Suggestions
from working committee
The provincial government has full control of
The provincial government has full control over
Islamic schools previously under the Religious
Papuan asylum seekers regret coming to Australia
Detik.com - June 20, 2006
Nurfajri Budi Nugroho, Jakarta — The 42 Papuan
asylum seekers who obtained temporary visas in
Australia are now biting their finger nails. Their
dream of finding work in the Nation of the
Kangaroo has run aground (sic).
"The 42 Papuans appear not to want the same thing.
Only one or two are ’true believers’ and in fact
they are now regretting [coming to Australia]",
said House of Representative (DPR) Commission I
member AS Hikam in Jakarta on Tuesday June 20.
"They were tricked as if after their arrival in
Australia they would be given jobs", added Hikam.
Nevertheless, Hikam who is also the head of the
Commission I Delegation Team to Australia declined
to elaborate on the source of the report he
received. “There is a report that mentions it”, he
Hikam conceded that his delegation did not meet
directly with the 42 Papuans. "The lawyer of the
42 Papuans appears to be afraid that the DPR’s
Commission I would intimidate them and so objected
to us meeting with them", explained the National
Awakening Party politician.
Hikam has asked the Indonesian Consulate General
in Australia to provide humanitarian assistance to
the 42 Papuans because their situation is of
concern and not as they had hoped for.
Hikam also took the opportunity to express his
hope that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and
Australian Prime Minister John Howard would hold
comprehensive discussions on the relationship
between the two countries.
"Don’t just pick up on certain issues. Don’t just
take one dimension for discussion such as the
question of [Abu Bakar] Bashir", said Hikam. (aan)
[Translated by James Balowski.]
Papuans give legislation marching orders
The Australian - June 19, 2006
Richard Kerbaj — Hundreds of protesters,
including four Papuan refugees, yesterday rallied
against the Howard Government’s proposed migration
bill that would lock asylum-seekers in offshore
The four refugees, who joined more than 300
protesters outside the Melbourne Museum, were
among the 42 Papuans who fled to Australia from
Indonesia by boat in January and were eventually
granted temporary protection visas by the
Angry protesters attacked the bill and called for
Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone to be "locked
up". Speaking through a translator, the four
refugees told The Australian they opposed the bill
and welcomed the protest.
Immigration lawyer David Manne, who represents the
Papuans, told the crowd that the Migration
Amendment Bill would violate Australia’s legal
"These amendments are far more radical than
anything that we’ve seen before," he later told
The Australian. "Australia’s very commitment to
the protection of vulnerable people in need is at
The Migration Amendments Bill was introduced after
Indonesia reacted angrily to the decision to grant
protection visas to the Papuans in March. The bill
proposes all asylum-seekers arriving by boat be
processed in offshore centres such as Nauru.
Presently, asylum-seekers who make it to Australia
are processed in mainland detention centres.
The proposed laws have sparked division in the
federal Government, with Liberal backbencher Judi
Moylan reserving her right to vote against the
bill or abstain during a Coalition partyroom
Democrats leader senator Lyn Allison told
protesters the bill would bring disgrace and shame
to Australian citizens. She said the bill would
allow the Government to "completely avoid any
obligation to even consider taking people who are
refugees who arrive here".
Senator Allison said some refugees were suffering
from health problems such as mental illnesses as a
result of their detainment. "Mental illness is so
common for people being held in year after year,"
The Australian Democrats leader praised the
protesters for opposing the proposed laws, saying:
"The cruel treatment of people who seek asylum in
this country brings shame upon us all."
An inquiry into the bill by the Senate Legal and
Constitutional Affairs Committee last week
revealed the bill’s "broad incompatibility with
the rule of law" and its potential to breach
Australia’s obligations under international law if
it were to be pushed through.
Military to stay at Freeport
Jakarta Post - June 19, 2006
Tb. Arie Rukmantara, Jakarta — The Indonesian
Military (TNI) says it will continue guarding PT
Freeport Indonesia in the restive province of
Papua, despite accusations of human rights abuses
against local people.
Protecting the American gold and copper mine was
listed as part of the military’s duties in the
2004 presidential decree on national vital
objects, said Lt. Col. Inf. Siburian, deputy
intelligence assistant at the Trikora military
command overseeing Papua.
"We have to protect this object because it is not
only a state asset but it also involves foreign
interests," he told a discussion here Friday,
attended by police officers as well as Freeport
and Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry
Siburian warned that should security be harmed at
Freeport, the US government would almost certainly
send security forces to intervene.
Freeport is a subsidiary of the New Orleans-based
mining giant Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold
Inc., which is listed on the New York Stock
Exchange. The Indonesian government owns less than
10 percent of the company.
"If we fail to protect it, don’t blame us if
foreign forces come into the company’s area,"
Siburian said, citing the 2002 shooting near the
mine that killed two American teachers. FBI agents
were then sent in to help find the killers.
In January this year the FBI and Papua Police
arrested 12 rebels over the incident, including
Anthonius Wamang who had been indicted for the
murder in an in absentia trial by a US grand jury
Siburian said TNI has prepared 12 contingency
plans to counter possible security threats to
Freeport, including terrorism and separatism.
"We understand that terrorists often target
American interests. Freeport is prone to terrorist
attacks," said Siburian, who is a former military
district commander in Mimika, home to the Grasberg
Papua Police deputy chief Brig. Gen. Max Donald
Aer said his office and TNI would stay inside the
Freeport compound until after the company was able
to boost the capacity of its internal security
"Gradually we’ll leave the internal security role
to the company and will only secure areas outside
its concessions," he said.
Max said the police would launch Amole (peace)
Operation I to secure the company’s assets and
promote the company’s internal security, but
declined to discuss the details of the six-month
Currently some 700 military soldiers are
protecting Freeport and an additional 350 troops
will be deployed there to back up the Amole
operation, which will involve 1,098 security
personnel, including 630 National Police and 118
from the Papua police office.
Mudakir, an advisor to the energy and mineral
resources minister, said Freeport was one of 270
vital national objects listed by his office.
"However, the company is the only vital national
object that has not yet been able to manage its
internal security independently," he said.
Freeport security manager Mangasa R. Saragih, a
retired one-star Army general, denied reports the
company gave cash payments to soldiers and police
deployed to the mine. The troops only received the
necessary equipment and vehicles to carry out
their patrol duties, he said.
Freeport recently drew strong criticism after the
New York Times revealed that from 1998 to 2004 the
company paid military and police nearly $20
million in security money, which activists
Critics say Freeport badly needs the police and
TNI to prevent possible attacks from local Papuans
who reject its presence, while the police and TNI
personnel need the company to provide extra
income, both for their cash-strapped organizations
and themselves individually.
Human rights watchdog Elsham Papua director
Aloysius Renwarin and local tribal leaders have
opposed the military presence at Freeport and
urged for its withdrawal.
"The military presence will only add to its long
human rights violation record. What we need now is
to find a way to empower local residents living
near Freeport areas to willingly safeguard the
company’s facilities," Aloysius said.
Indonesian dancer, clerics go toe-to-toe
Asia Times - June 21, 2006
Duncan Graham, Gembol (East Java) — Westerners
who have seen concerts or videos featuring
Indonesia’s top entertainer Inul Daratista wonder
what the fuss is all about. The archipelago’s No 1
dangdut singer and dancer performs fully dressed
— and stays that way.
Sure, her pants test Lycra’s stretch ratings and
she does a rather basic ferret-in-a-sack wiggle
that leaves lots to the imagination. By Western
standards of risque, however, it’s a bit of a bum
But not in Indonesia, where the nation’s moral
guardians are fighting to purge the land of so-
called Western influences. Ironically, perhaps,
dangdut has no Hollywood antecedents; it’s a mix
of thumping, jangling Indian, Malay and Arab music
that sounds like a cacophony to many outsiders.
It’s Inul’s bottom-rotating ngebor (boring, as in
drilling) dance style that the country’s Muslim
clerics say they find lewd and a threat to
national morals. Infuriated by her growing
popularity, success and independence, they are now
pushing for new legislation outlawing a range of
codes and behaviors, which, if implemented, would
throw a cold blanket on her act.
Most of the proposed legal provisions concern the
way women dress and behave. Liberals see the bill
as a bid to impose strict Islamic sharia law on
the nation, where an estimated 90% of the 240
million population consider themselves Muslim.
These are just the bubbles on the surface; below
is a seething cauldron of gender politics, state
control of the arts, and the future shape of
Indonesia’s infant democracy. And Inul’s gyrating
dance is at the heart of the controversy.
Inul was an unknown from the industrial East Java
town of Gempol who hit the capital Jakarta’s big
time in 2003 with her ngebor style. In many ways,
her dancing captured the ebullient mood of a
country boldly experimenting with long-repressed
During president Suharto’s 32-year dictatorship,
dangdut was fully appropriated and manipulated by
the government. The traditional music’s raunchy
lyrics and movements were cleaned up and it was
toned down to promote state-determined values.
Singer and presidential favorite Rhoma Irama
became the state-appointed king of dangdut, then
reigning on the government-run television
stations. In 1998, Suharto fell, media
restrictions were lifted, private TV stations
opened, and artists started freely expressing
themselves for the first time in decades.
Including Inul — and to Rhoma’s displeasure. He
banned her from using his songs and condemned her
for corrupting dangdut. In fact, Inul had really
returned dangdut back to its village roots,
asserting its home-grown robustness, expressing
the hopes and fears of the country’s poor and
downtrodden. Simply put, dangdut is the music of
the poor and Inul is their gutsy gal.
Now she faces a much bigger threat from the
country’s increasingly vocal and politically
powerful Islamic fundamentalist groups. Although
the hardline Indonesian Ulemas’ Council listed her
performances under an Islamic fatwa against
pornography, the controversy just helped to draw
In the 2004 general election, she became the
warm-up act most wanted for political rallies. A
record 3 million copies of her pirated video were
reported to have been sold. Inul lookalikes popped
Fast-forward to the present. The proposed bill
against pornography and “pornographic acts” —
which includes the exposure of female flesh — is
clearly directed at the likes of Inul and her
Political commentators claim that the raging
debate has exposed a national fault line —
pitching the insular, poorly educated, easily led
majority in the countryside versus the more
urbane, better-schooled city folk with liberal
pretensions — that will be hard to bridge. The
latter are the noisier group — but they don’t
have the numbers, so the controversial bill may
yet become law.
The president, former military general Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono, has given some comfort to the
bill’s supporters by throwing out of the state
palace a dancer who planned to expose her midriff
during a performance. He has also publicly
condemned the public display of female navels.
The bill’s backers have branded opponents broadly
as moral corruptors. Such ethnic groups as the
Balinese, whose bare-shouldered traditional dress
would be banned under the planned legislation,
have joined Jakarta entertainers in protest
rallies where Inul has been prominent. Her group
says there are already plenty of laws on the
statutes to protect society and that the anti-
pornography law is unnecessary for a democratic
For speaking out on the issue, though, Inul has
been ordered out of Jakarta by the Betawi
Brotherhood — a fundamentalist group that claims
to act on behalf of the city’s traditional folk.
One of Inul’s karaoke lounges has already been
attacked by a mob from the Islamic Defenders’
Front — another band of thugs in Muslim garb —
and she has been publicly condemned by various
During Suharto’s rule demonstrations were tightly
controlled and protests rapidly suppressed —
often brutally. Under democracy, street rallies
and random acts of violence have become
commonplace — often under the passive gaze of
police officials. Recently, Yodhoyono indicated
that he would move against violent religious
groups, but so far there have been no significant
round-ups or arrests.
That has Inul’s supporters on edge that she could
become a high-profile target for extremists. "I
don’t intend to leave Jakarta and I’m not afraid
of the Betawi," Inul said from her home in East
Java. "I’m afraid of the way that the government
is handling the problem. I’m frightened about
what’s happening to Indonesia."
Unlike many other successful celebrities who flee
their origins for an exclusive address, Inul has
remained loyal to her roots. Although she employs
security guards in Jakarta, her home in Gempol
relies on neighborhood support for protection, she
So far, the personal attacks seem to have saddened
the unpretentious 29-year-old rather than
suppressing her fighting spirit. Her dancing
career started when she was 12, and she’s often
described by her supporters as tough, self-assured
and determined. And, significantly, she’s a
devoted Muslim, albeit of the moderate kind.
"I’m a Muslim, serious about my faith. I regret
the things some Muslim clerics are saying," Inul
said in an interview. "Why are they bothering with
anti-pornography? Why are they always talking
about women? The priorities in this country should
be getting people jobs and a better education."
Inul said she employed more than 750 staff at her
seven karaoke lounges. She has also been
approached by a number of political parties to
consider a career in politics, but so far she has
declined all of the offers. “It’s too corrupt,”
Through her spirited fight against the anti-
pornography bill, she has fast emerged as one of
Indonesia’s most visible women’s rights activists.
"I want to lift the status of women. I want them
to be brave enough to take risks." More than
words, it’s an example by which the vibrant dancer
[Australian journalist Duncan Graham
(www.indonesianow.blogspot.com) lives in Surabaya,
FBR chief named a suspect for defaming women
Jakarta Post - June 17, 2006
Jakarta — Betawi Brotherhood Forum (FBR) chairman
Fadloli El Muhir was charged Friday with defaming
women protesters, with police declaring the move
showed their intent to curb intimidation by mass
Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Firman Gani said
Fadloli was charged as a suspect in violating
Criminal Code articles on defamation and the
incitement of hatred, with the case to be turned
over to the Jakarta Prosecutor’s Office within a
month. If found guilty, he could receive a maximum
four-year prison term.
Fadloli has not been detained because, Firman
said, it was only required for suspects in cases
with sentences of five years or more.
He said the police would rein in groups deemed to
cause terror and public disorder, following
criticism law enforcers have failed to act against
alleged intimidation. "Law enforcement is the
answer to handle those organizations," he said.
A day earlier, detectives questioned Fadloli for
12 hours about remarks he made of women who took
part in an April 22 protest against the
pornography bill, which is currently under
deliberation in the House of Representatives.
In a live current affairs program on Metro TV on
May 1, Fadloli described the protesters as "evil,
wretched and immoral". Former first lady Sinta
Nuriyah Wahid and playwright Ratna Sarumpaet, who
took part in the rally, reacted to the comments by
separately reporting Fadloli to city police on
June 1 and June 6.
Fadloli insisted that his remarks were not
directed at any particular individual and that he
had commented in his capacity as a Muslim cleric.
To be fair, Firman said the police also would
follow up on Fadloli’s complaint, filed on May 23,
against Sinta Nuriyah for calling FBR an
intolerant and anarchistic group.
Fadloli could not be reached for comment, but his
lawyer Suhana Natawilwana told The Jakarta Post on
Thursday night that his client was ready to face
the charges. "It’s just part of the legal process.
It doesn’t mean he’s guilty," Suhana said.
Police will call several women activists,
including entertainer Rieke Diah Pitaloka and
Jurnal Perempuan (women’s journal) chief editor
Gadis Arivia, and the moderator of the Metro TV
talk show Today’s Dialog Meutia Hafidz, as
witnesses in the case.
Government told to act fast against sharia laws
Jakarta Post - June 16, 2006
Jakarta — Legal experts rebuked the central
government Thursday for being hesitant to
immediately revoke sharia-derived bylaws, which
they said clearly flouted higher laws and could
cause national disintegration.
They urged officials to act against the bylaws,
which they said contravened the Constitution and
other higher laws as well as the state ideology of
Pancasila that recognizes pluralism and
"Local governments cannot regulate the religious
affairs of their residents. Only the central
government has the authority to do so," autonomy
law expert Ryaas Rasyid said.
Article 3 of the 2004 Regional Administration Law
gives the central government the right to regulate
issues of international policy, defense, judicial,
monetary and fiscal matters and religious affairs.
"All such sharia-derived bylaws can be revoked
through a presidential decree," said the regional
autonomy minister during the Abdurrahman “Gus Dur”
Wahid administration who was involved in drawing
up the autonomy law.
Some consider the government’s reluctance to stem
from fears of a backlash from hard-line religious
groups and political opportunists.
Legal expert Denny Indrayana also urged the
central government to take immediate action
against the ordinances for the sake of national
unity. He regretted what he termed President
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s reticence in the
decision-making process. "SBY always hesitates to
make any decision."
Lack of coordination on the part of political
parties also worsened the problem, he said. "This
is very strange because members of political
parties at local legislative councils have
supported the bylaws while those in the House of
Representatives were opposed."
Golkar Party members in the House and other
legislators from nationalist parties have issued a
petition for the President to scrap the sharia
ordinances because of the potential to splinter
multiethnic, religiously pluralistic Indonesia. In
contrast, Golkar councillors in several regions,
including Tangerang in Banten province, have
supported the bylaws.
The religiously motivated ordinances, many of
which focus on prostitution and the consumption of
alcohol, are considered to be particularly prone
to misuse against the rights of women.
Denny said there was no reason for the central
government to delay revoking the bylaws. "Based on
Law No. 32/2004, the government can make a
decision 60 days after local administrations give
bylaws for review," he said.
The national unity and politics director-general
at the Home Affairs Ministry, Sudarsono
Hardjosoekarto, said his office was still looking
into whether the sharia-based ordinances were in
line with the 2004 autonomy law. "There are
several procedures that we have to follow."
Sudarsono said the ministry’s first step would be
to ask governors, mayors and regents to identify
all bylaws to determine if they violated human
rights, Pancasila, the Constitution and other
higher laws. "Then, the local administrations can
review their own bylaws and afterward we will
evaluate the ordinances whether they have violated
the higher laws or not," he added.
He said the ministry was authorized to revoke
bylaws that have been issued.
Government ’undermining’ community land rights
Jakarta Post - June 23, 2006
Tb. Arie Rukmantara, Ubud (Bali) — Sidelining
customary laws and undermining tribal wisdom in
managing Indonesia’s rich natural resources is
certainly not what the 1945 Constitution espouses,
therefore reinterpretation of the supreme law is
badly needed to promote prosperity among
Indonesians, environmental law and management
An expert from the Center for International
Environmental Law, Owen Lynch, says the content of
the 1945 Constitution has been consistently
misinterpreted by various governments that
administered Indonesia to state their claims to
exploit the country’s natural resources on behalf
of national interests.
To make matters worse, he says, the present
government has not been able to execute Article 18
of the Constitution that acknowledges traditional
rights and opens the door for indigenous people to
participate in the management of natural wealth.
"The recognition of traditional rights to natural
resources should be initiated by scraping
regulations that contradict the Constitution," he
said in a statement released by the organizer of
the 11th Biennial Conference of the International
Association for the Study of Common Property in
Ubud, Bali, on Wednesday.
The five-day conference was attended by over 500
scientists, NGO activists and policy-makers, who
discussed the issue of devolution of natural
Owen said the government could demonstrate its
willingness to recognize traditional rights by
revoking a 2005 presidential decree, which
regulates that the state has the right to take
over private property for the sake of public
interests. Indonesia has the richest natural
resources in Southeast Asia, but is falling behind
Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam in terms
of prosperity and human development. Critics say
the country, which has Asia’s largest forests area
and is rich in mineral, oil and gas reserves, has
failed to manage its wealth for the prosperity of
Experts also fear that the government will
privatize the management its rich natural
resources by issuing controversial laws, such as
the 2004 Water Resource Law, the 1999 Forestry
Law, the 2001 Oil and Gas Law as well as the bill
on energy and mineral resources, all of which were
passed for the sake of luring foreign investors.
Director of the Bogor Institute of Agriculture’s
Center for Regional Systems Analysis Planning and
Development, Ernan Rustiadi, said the government’s
monopoly over the right to manage common property,
a property collectively managed by traditional
groups, such as land, contradicted the 1960
Agrarian Law that recognized land ownership based
on customary law.
"The government seems to think that everything
that is not privately owned belongs to the state.
On the contrary, much of the land is owned by
traditional groups," Ernan, said the chair of the
"Unfortunately, the government feels they’re
referring to Article 33 of the Constitution that
stipulates that ’Land, water and natural wealth
contained in them is controlled by the state’", he
continued, adding that the government had failed
to use its authority to help its citizens prosper.
"That contradicts the article’s last sentence,
which enjoins the government to exploit natural
resources for the well-being of its citizens," he
Human rights violation cases in East Java unsolved
Jakarta Post - June 22, 2006
Wahyoe Boediwardhana, Malang — The Human Rights
Center of Surabaya’s Airlangga University revealed
Wednesday that seven cases of gross human rights
violations in East Java remain unsettled to date
through either the judicial system or the human
Rafael Lami Heru Haryoso of the center said in
Malang that the seven included the fate former
political detainees of the now-defunct Indonesian
Communist Party (PKI); the killing of labor
protester Marsinah in Sidoarjo; the shooting of
farmers in Blitar, Banyuwangi and Jember; the
killing of Muslim preachers in Banyuwangi and land
acquisition in Nipah, Madura.
Rafael said that efforts to conclusively settle
the cases, however, were hindered mainly by the
difficulties in proving them or in obtaining
testimonies from those implicated in the cases. It
was worsened by the fact that one of the
defendants had already died and others were beyond
the reach of the law, he said.
Moreover, the current government could not be
described as totally independent or having no
connection with the previous administrations, he
Rafael cited as an example the shooting of
students on Semanggi cloverleaf in Jakarta, which
could not be settled through the existing legal
system. Even the House of Representatives issued
its own resolution on it, but it remains
The only avenue remaining to reach a decision
would be through the truth and reconciliation
commission, even though the initiative would have
to come from the government itself.
"Through the commission all who are implicated (in
the above-mentioned cases) are obliged to admit
their misdoings before they are exonerated through
reconciliation efforts," he said.
Rafael said that it was time now to set up a human
rights tribunal in East Java to handle any new
human rights violations.
"Who can guarantee there will be no more human
rights violations in the future. After the
dropping of the nuclear bomb, the world wars,
there have still been other massacres," Rafael
Rafael admitted he did not know the reasons behind
delays in the establishment of human rights
tribunals for rights violation cases throughout
Indonesia, or the truth and reconciliation
In line with a 2001 presidential instruction a
special human rights court should have been set up
under the jurisdiction of each district court in
Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan and Makassar, he said.
Meanwhile, Ummu Hilmi, a lecturer at the School of
Law of Malang’s Brawijaya University, asserted
that difficulties in settling rights violation
cases in East Java were caused by the public’s
limited knowledge about human rights.
"That includes the law enforcers and government
apparatuses. Therefore, it is very difficult to
apply it in the field," Ummu Hilmi said.
Ummu Hilmi said that the victims of human rights
violations would just demand that their civil
rights be restored as they realized it would be
impossible to settle the cases through what may
become arduous and time-consuming human rights
New Criminal Code to heat up House
Jakarta Post - June 16, 2006
Tony Hotland, Jakarta — Plans to soften the
capital punishment law and old ordinances on
sedition and to replace the one-year jail term
with community service are among the most
contentious issues in a bill to revise the
outdated Criminal Code.
The government said Thursday it was planning
another round of discussions with experts to
complete the draft code before presenting it to
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for his
The bill was discussed Thursday in a Cabinet
meeting led by Yudhoyono and is scheduled to be
submitted to the House of Representatives in July
In the bill, the government offers several new
approaches to enforcing the law. These accommodate
punishments for crimes specified in the many
international conventions Indonesia has ratified
since the existing Criminal Code was first
enforced in 1918.
Justice and Human Rights Minister Hamid Awaluddin
said the bill, which has taken around 25 years to
complete, touched on new issues not contained in
the existing law, such as contempt of court,
torture, domestic violence, money laundering,
blasphemy, war crimes, pornography, gross human
rights violations, corporate crime, cyber crime
and human trafficking.
"In the draft law, we have decided to abolish the
one-year jail term and replace it with an
alternative sentence in the form of imposing a
fine and community service," he said.
The minister said 20 percent of the total inmates
in prisons nationwide were serving one year or
less in prison, overcrowding jails.
The government has listened to arguments that said
the one-year jail term did nothing to rehabilitate
small-time criminals but ended up making them
worse offenders after release. It favors a
supervised community service program along with
increased fines, as alternatives.
National Resilience Institute governor Muladi, a
legal expert who heads the bill’s drafting team,
said the issue of whether to terminate capital
punishment was heavily debated in the Cabinet
"There are many concerns, and pros and cons,
particularly if seen from the angles of religion
and culture. So we have decided to keep the
article on capital punishment, but we also put in
articles on how the sentence could be reduced to
life imprisonment," he said.
Muladi said death sentences would only be commuted
in specific circumstances. Factors considered
would include the level of involvement of suspects
in crimes and the remorse and guilt they showed
The government would also narrow the scope of old
laws on sedition used by previous governments
stifle freedom of expression.
"For this, we have narrowed the definition of the
crimes of inciting hatred and causing insult (to
the government) to acts that cause public
disorder. We hope this will not be interpreted to
mean people can be easily charged for taking part
in protests against the government," Muladi said.
On issues of public decency and pornography, he
said the bill contained “few limitations” to
ensure the state did not interfere in the personal
lives of citizens. "We have limited the issue of
adultery. This, once again, may cause lengthy
debate since we have had to take into account the
perspectives of public privacy, religion and
lifestyle," Muladi said.
The bill contained 741 articles and its
deliberations would be expected to take two years,
Meeting on labor dispute postponed
Jakarta Post - June 23, 2006
Jakarta — The Indonesian Employers Association
(Apindo) has decided to postpone a national
bipartite meeting with the country’s labor unions
supposedly due in June to an unspecified future
Apindo secretary-general Djimanto said Thursday
said that the association made the decision
Wednesday because up to now representatives of
labor unions did not have a united front.
He said that Apindo had not decided when it would
hold the meeting. However, he added that Apindo
would be ready whenever the labor unions had come
to an agreement. "The effort should come from the
labor unions themselves," Djimanto said.
In Indonesia there are thousands of labor unions
under about 89 federations. These groups, before
meeting with representatives from the business
sector, have to decide on what the workers want
and who will represent them in the meeting.
Head of the National Labor Defenders Front,
Domingus Oktavianus, said that due to the large
number of federations in Indonesia it was a
difficult task to have a common voice in a short
period of time. "We will need at least three more
months," he said.
The national bipartite meeting plan was initiated
in May this year after representatives of the
business sector and labor unions agreed to seek
the best ways to improve the business climate.
The two were at loggerheads after May labor
rallies rejecting the planned revisions of the
2003 Labor Law turned violent and paralyzed
businesses. The workers were frustrated over the
planned revision of the 2003 Labor Law, which
could give a stronger legal base for employers to
only hire contract workers, and limit severance
and service payments to dismissed workers with
monthly salaries of Rp 1.1 million (US$100) or
Apindo has said that it is easing up pressure to
revise the 2003 Labor Law, saying that there are
other more urgent ways to improve the business
Association chairman Sofyan Wanandi had previously
said that the association’s priority at the moment
was improving laws that govern taxation, customs
He pointed out that the revision of the Labor Law
was indeed important to improve the investment
climate. However, it was not the sole factor.
Plywood workers on strike in Tangerang
Jakarta Post - June 23, 2006
Tangerang — Some 500 workers of plywood producer
PT Panah Forest Perkasa at Cikupa Mas Industrial
Plant continued their strike Wednesday, bringing
production to a halt.
The work stoppage, which started Monday morning,
is to demand the company — which is located in
Cikupa district, Tangerang regency — improve
conditions for workers.
"The management must pay us on time, not late as
usual," strike coordinator, Hari, said, adding
that other demands included minimum wage salaries
and full-time jobs for contract workers.
While the company has agreed to two of the
workers’ demands, it has yet to agree to abolish
contract work at the plant, Hari said.
"We won’t return to work until the management
meets all our demands." The company’s officials
have refused to meet journalists.
Bus, taxi drivers say they have been slighted
Jakarta Post - June 23, 2006
Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta — It was a day like
any other at the Jakarta Transportation Agency on
Wednesday, with public transportation drivers
arriving in droves to file complaints.
Dozens of drivers of taxis, minibuses and buses
gathered in the office, demanding to be heard.
"If there is no improvement this year, many of our
companies will go bankrupt. The city
administration only cares about the success of the
busway and has never stopped to consider its
negative effects on other modes of public
transportation. I don’t see the administration
making any effort to accommodate drivers," said
Burhanuddin, who drives a Mayasari Bakti bus.
Wednesday’s meeting was facilitated by the city
transportation council (DTK), which gives the city
administration recommendations on transportation
Burhanuddin said the busway had increased the
severity of traffic jams and put many bus drivers
out of work.
"By my calculations, every new busway bus on the
road means 10 old buses are relegated to the
depot. The administration came in very late to
arrange alternative routes for the buses.
"We proposed the establishment of a route linking
Jakarta and Cileungsi in Bogor... we obtained an
operational permit from the Bogor administration
but Jakarta has yet to issue permits," he said.
One-hundred-and-forty-two buses operate in the
city’s three busway corridors and about 225,000
public transportation vehicles traverse the city
streets every day.
Blue Bird taxi driver Widirianto said passenger
numbers had been dropping because of last year’s
fuel price increases and the operation of the
"We are facing extensive problems. Fuel prices
have gone up, the busway is stealing our customers
and there are too many taxis on the road, but the
administration does nothing to help us," he said.
Drivers also harbor doubts about the
administration’s decision to make all public
transportation vehicles run on compressed natural
gas. "It is not a solution. The use of CNG is not
efficient for taxis," said Blue Bird driver
The drivers said that, while CNG was cheaper than
diesel, a significant investment was needed to
modify a vehicle to run on CNG. There is also a
limited supply of CNG in the city.
There are currently 26,000 taxies in Jakarta. Some
16,000 taxies from surrounding areas like Depok,
Bekasi and Tangerang operate in Jakarta every day.
Seventeen stations sell CNG, but only six of them
Transportation council member Sri Widodo, who
represents taxi companies, said the council would
ask the administration to clamp down on taxis
illegally operating in the city.
"We will also ask the administration to impose
restrictions on the logos and colors taxi
companies use, so passengers aren’t confused."
NGOs declare support for striking Securicor
Detik.com - June 16, 2006
Chazizah Gusnita, Jakarta — At lease six non-
government organisations (NGOs) have declared
their full support for 259 PT Securicor Indonesia
employees who’s future’s are now uncertain. This
support is necessary because the employees are
confronting a large foreign owned company.
This was conveyed by the chairperson of the
Securicor Indonesia Trade Union, Dedi F Toisutta,
at Securicor’s central office on Jl. Raya Cilandak
in Jakarta on Friday June 16. "We know that we are
opposing a large and strong foreign company.
Therefore we have requested the assistance of
friends (NGOs)", said Toisutta.
A number of organisations have declared their
support for the workers including the Indonesian
Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI), the
Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI),
Dirgantara Indonesia, the All Indonesia Trade
Union (SPSI) and a number of other trade union
For five days now, the 259 Securicor employees
have been occupying the Securicor offices. They
are demanding that they be reemployed after one
year and two months of legal uncertainty.
The case began with an international merger
between Group 4 Folck and PT Securicor in Britain
on July 3, 2004. Although Securicor Indonesia did
not take part in the merger, the management
transferred the employees to Group 4 Folck.
This was in contravention of Law Number 13/2003 on
Labour. According to regulations, if employees are
transferred, they must first be dismissed and paid
severance pay by the company. The company did not
do this however and instead arbitrarily sacked the
The employees have even undertaken legal action
though the state courts, department of labour and
the Supreme Court. On May 19, 2006, the Supreme
Court ordered that the company must reemploy the
workers or pay them severance pay.
To date however, Securicor has failed to comply
with the order on the grounds that it cannot
possibly reemploy the workers. Securicor has been
working with other partners but because of a
recent strike by its employees, a number of these
decided not to work with the company any more
because they were suffering financial losses.
The 259 employees plan to occupy the office for
the next three weeks until there are new
negotiations with the management in accordance
with their demands. (umi)
[Translated by James Balowski.]
Indonesia’s fizzling terrorist threat
Asia Times - June 22, 2006
Bill Guerin, Jakarta — Within hours of his
release from prison, Abu Bakar Ba’asyir wasted no
time reiterating his jihadi mission. The firebrand
Islamic cleric, identified by the United States
and Australia as one of Southeast Asia’s most
dangerous terrorists, urged Indonesian Muslims to
"unite behind the Islamic goal and strengthen the
Islamic brotherhood and work to establish sharia"
Ba’asyir, 68, widely recognized as the spiritual
head of the militant Jemaah Islamiyah (JI)
organization, was convicted last year on
conspiracy charges related to his role in the 2002
Bali bombing that killed more than 200 people. His
early release after serving 25 and a half months
was criticized by US and Australian officials for
being much too lenient, and some have warned it
could re-energize the JI network he allegedly
But how much of a threat does JI really pose
nowadays? Indonesia’s US-trained and -equipped
elite police counter-terrorism team, known locally
as Detachment 88, has recently captured or killed
more than 200 suspected JI-linked militants. The
legal status of most of the detainees is unclear,
though officials say they are being held under
2003 anti-terrorism legislation that allows for
detention without trial.
Indonesian police have recently made some high-
profile hits. They ran down Malaysian geophysicist
Azahari Bin Husin, JI’s chief bomb maker, who
allegedly designed the explosives for the 2002
Bali bombing, the Marriott Hotel bombing of 2003,
and the 2004 bomb attack on the Australian Embassy
in Jakarta. He blew himself up before security
officials could nab him, though they did uncover
evidence of plans for future bomb attacks.
Indonesian authorities say that nearly all of the
militant suspects in their custody have cited
Ba’asyir as their inspiration. (Ba’asyir, for his
part, has consistently denied that JI exists.)
Ba’asyir’s release could give a big boost to
regional jihadists, US and Australian officials
warn. Speaking to to a delegation of foreign
creditors from the Consultative Group on Indonesia
soon after the release, President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono said, "Our national efforts to combat
terrorism are not measured by the release of
Ba’asyir. We are fully committed in continuing the
fight against terrorism."
Syamsir Siregar, head of the State Intelligence
Agency (BIN), meanwhile, expressed his hopes after
Ba’asyir’s release that he will cooperate with
terrorism investigators to nab militant suspects.
Australia and the US have asked Indonesia to keep
Ba’asyir under 24-hour watch, but the Justice
Ministry has said his release was unconditional.
Kevin Rudd, Australia’s federal opposition
spokesman on foreign affairs and trade, said it
means that there is now an "anti-Australian,
anti-Western mass murderer on the loose in
A US Embassy spokesman said there was cause for
concern: "We were deeply disappointed that a
person convicted of a sinister conspiracy was
given such a short prison sentence."
Despite calls from Washington and Canberra, Jemaah
Islamiyah still has not been banned in Indonesia.
Yudhoyono, echoing Ba’asyir’s line, says there
still is not enough evidence to establish that the
organization actually exists. Western terrorism
experts and the Singaporean government have issued
a series of in-depth research reports that
chronicle JI’s history, accomplished and foiled
plots, and alleged members. Those reports, drawing
on regional intelligence sources, say JI has a
vision of carving out a new pan-Islamic state
across Southeast Asia encompassing Indonesia,
Malaysia, Singapore and parts of the Philippines
What’s unclear is whether that literature is now
out of date. Some terrorism experts believe that
the recent crackdown has severely dented JI’s
operations and splintered its leadership.
According to counter-terrorism official Syamsir,
JI is now controlled by three hardline
Indonesians: Zulkarnaen, the alleged commander of
the militant wing; explosives expert Abu Dujana;
and operations chief Zuhroni. Noordin Mohamed Top,
a Malaysian accused of orchestrating a series of
JI-inspired bombings in Indonesia, is still at
large and allegedly takes his orders from the top
three, according to Siregar.
Terrorism experts say that the 2003 arrest of JI
operations chief Riduan Isamuddin, or Hambali, in
Thailand was a major blow to JI’s organization and
operations. Hambali, who has been dubbed by the US
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) the Osama bin
Laden of Southeast Asia, is being held at an
undisclosed location by US officials.
Indonesian officials point to the lack of any
significant terrorist attacks over the past 18
months as evidence that JI’s potency has been
reduced as a result of the recent crackdown.
Pleasing the West
Indonesia’s strategic significance to the United
States assumed a new and urgent dimension after
the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. Southeast
Asia was soon thereafter identified by Washington
as its second front of the “global war on terror”.
US officials have since worked hand-in-hand with
regional security forces, particularly in the
Philippines, Thailand and Singapore, to track and
apprehend suspected terrorists.
Indonesia, with its complex political dynamics and
fractured internal security apparatus, was until
recently viewed by the US as the weakest link in
its regional counter-terrorism campaign.
Washington had frequently warned of terrorist
cells and planned attacks, including intelligence
reports that presaged the 2002 Bali bombing.
Former US ambassador to Indonesia Ralph “Skip”
Boyce had frequently chastised president Megawati
Sukarnoputri’s government for failing to
neutralize the terrorist threat. After repeated US
warnings fell on deaf ears, Washington threatened
to withdraw its diplomatic presence in Jakarta
apart from essential staff members.
Megawati’s inaction was rooted in her concerns
about a possible nationalist backlash and breakup
of her fragile coalition government — members of
which, notably the vice president, were
sympathetic to fundamentalist Islamic causes — if
she launched a crackdown on suspected Islamic
militants. Moreover, a crackdown would have handed
the military new powers at a time Megawati was
striving to end the military’s dominant role in
Washington drastically changed its tune after the
election of Yudhoyono in September 2004. During an
official visit to Indonesia in March, US Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice referred to the country
as a model of democratic and moderate Islam.
Following up, B Lynn Pascoe, the current US
ambassador to Indonesia, said, "I am struck by the
dramatic changes in the US-Indonesian
relationship. Our presidents have met three times
during a short period for substantive discussions
of bilateral and global issues."
Last year the US resumed military-to-military
contacts with the Indonesian military (TNI) after
nearly a decade’s suspension because of human-
rights issues, including the TNI’s involvement in
the devastation of East Timor in 1999. More
recently, Washington has also dangled the prospect
of a bilateral free-trade agreement with Jakarta,
similar to the pacts it has signed or is
negotiating with regional strategic allies in
Singapore, Australia and Thailand.
Washington has supported Yudhoyono’s quiet, yet
tough, tack. The US Embassy in Jakarta quietly
vets potential members of the Detachment 88
counter-terrorism unit it supports for their
individual human-rights records. And Yudhoyono’s
government’s gradual arrest of more than 200
suspected militants has so far failed to generate
major media or human-rights groups’ attention.
Instead, counter-terrorism officials have focused
on the few high-profile catches. The key actors
responsible for the Bali attacks have been
identified, caught and tried. Three of them were
sentenced to death. Last September, suspected JI
militants Ahmad Hasan and Iwan Darmawan Mutho were
also given death sentences for their alleged roles
in the 2004 Australian Embassy bombing.
Publicly moderate, privately tough
A retired army general and former top security
minister, the US-trained Yudhoyono clearly fits
the mold of Washington’s idea of a model Muslim
leader: publicly moderate but behind-the-scenes
tough on terrorism. Those credentials apparently
helped to assuage the US administration’s previous
concerns about the Indonesian military’s spotty
human-rights record. In February 2005, just five
months into Yudhyono’s term, the US lifted long-
running restrictions and resumed full
International Military Education and Training
(IMET) for Indonesian armed forces.
In his meeting this month with US Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Yudhoyono said he
wanted to establish a permanent military
relationship with the US. He has a friend in
Rumsfeld, but detractors in Congress. Asked about
human-rights reforms in Indonesia’s military,
Rumsfeld said he did not believe that the ban on
US military assistance should have been imposed in
the first place. "I am not one of those people who
believe that every country should be like the
United States," he said.
Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Hassan
Wirayuda noted a "growing and accepted view in the
US to see Indonesia in a much broader context than
in snapshots of events like human-rights
violations... and military reform".
Of course a politically stable, US-friendly
Indonesia serves Washington’s broad foreign-policy
objectives of combating terrorism and
consolidating its military positions in the region
— notably at a time China’s influence is growing.
The US is particularly concerned about possible
terrorist threats to the Malacca Strait, the
waterway separating Malaysia, Indonesia and
Singapore that links the Indian and Pacific Oceans
and through which half of the world’s oil supplies
and a third of global commerce flows.
Piracy is rampant in the Malacca Strait, and US
and Southeast Asian intelligence services are
reportedly investigating possible links between
pirates and terrorist groups, particularly JI. The
terror rationale: a strike on shipping lanes would
cause massive political and economic disruption
and make vulnerable the United States’ security
installations in the region. A bigger US naval
presence in the Malacca Strait also conveniently
puts Beijing on edge, as most of China’s fuel
imports travel through the narrow shipping lane.
The US has been pushing to play a bigger role in
counter-terrorism patrols, which some Association
of Southeast Asian Nations members, particularly
Malaysia, have at least privately resisted.
Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono also
warned Rumsfeld that the US should not interfere
too much in regional counter-terrorism efforts.
"The primary responsibility for security and
anti-terrorism measures should lie with national
governments, rather than the US forcing its will
on other countries,“Sudarsono said.”As the
largest Muslim country, we are very aware of the
perception... that the United States is
overbearing, which creates a sense of threat for
For Washington, a closer relationship with a
democratic and moderate Indonesia is an important
confirmation that the “war against terrorism” is
not a confrontation with Islam, even though there
has definitely been an upsurge in Islamic
extremist groups in Indonesia since the fall of
president Suharto in 1998.
Islamic groups are lobbying to transform the
historically secular country into an Islamic
state, while others like JI allegedly still want
to pursue jihad against the West. The majority of
Southeast Asia’s Muslims, including in Indonesia,
have widely rejected Islamic radicalism at
democratic polls — a point Washington has only
belatedly awoken to.
Any indication that Washington is somehow backing
state-sponsored human-rights abuses in the pursuit
of counter-terrorism policies would hand
Indonesia’s radicals an important victory — as it
has in Iraq. As the US and Yudhoyono’s
administration draw closer together in fighting
the “war on terror” and beyond, there is still a
deep sense of mistrust among even moderate Muslims
about Washington’s intentions.
Therein lies the rub behind Ba’asyir’s release,
which was done in spite of shrill US and
Australian objections. If and when the radical
cleric resumes his intolerant, anti-US rhetoric,
his speeches will be closely monitored. And if the
bombs start to blast again, he’ll be the first
suspect called in for interrogation. But
increasingly, it seems that Ba’asyir and JI — at
least for now — are shadows of their former
larger selves, and that behind the public
posturing the US and Australia couldn’t be happier
with Yudhoyono’s counter-terrorism policies.
[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 prima.net.id.]
Indonesia terrorists called holy warriors
Associated Press - June 16, 2006
Irwan Firdaus, Solo — A militant cleric who
served two years in prison for conspiracy in the
2002 Bali bombings described the blasts Thursday
as “God’s will” and called those who carried out
terrorist attacks across Indonesia holy warriors.
Abu Bakar Bashir also accused President Bush and
Australian Prime Minister John Howard of waging
wars against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan and
called on them to “convert to Islam.” "This is the
only way for them to save their souls," Bashir
told reporters a day after he was released from
prison after serving his 26-month sentence.
Bashir said the Bali bombings that killed 202
people “were God’s will” and the survivors should
also convert to Islam to ease their pain.
The cleric, who has maintained his innocence, was
convicted of conspiracy in the bombings but
cleared of more serious terrorism charges,
including being the key leader of the al-Qaida-
linked militant group Jemaah Islamiyah.
Bashir said young men who carry out suicide
attacks in the name of Islam were “holy warriors”
because they believed they were defending the
oppressed. But he said they were wrong to use
bombs in a country at peace like Indonesia. "Why
use bombs in a non-conflict zone? Preaching is
enough," he said.
Jemaah Islamiyah has been blamed for church
bombings across Indonesia in 2000, the 2002 and
2005 Bali bombings and attacks in the capital,
Jakarta, in 2003 and 2004. The attacks together
killed more than 260 people, many of them
foreigners, and have thrust the world’s most
populous Muslim nation onto the front line of the
global war on terror.
The Indonesian government, fearful of militant
Islam gaining a foothold in a nation that prides
itself on diversity and moderation, launched its
first campaign against hardline interpretations of
Islam several months ago.
The campaign has won support from many religious
leaders, who have agreed to do what they can to
convince followers they will not be rewarded in
heaven for staging suicide attacks.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla told reporters in
Jakarta that authorities could not arrest Bashir
for “his thinking and opinions,” but said they
would act if he broke the law.
The United States and Australia said Wednesday
they were disappointed at Bashir’s release. His
supporters gave him a hero’s welcome, shouting
“God is great!” as he walked out of jail
surrounded by personal security guards. He headed
immediately to his home town of Solo.
Bashir said he was happy that American support for
the Iraq war seems to have fallen. "I feel sorry
for the American people, but it seems now they
realize he (Bush) was wrong," Bashir told
reporters invited to his home inside the al-Mukmin
boarding school complex, which he founded in 1972.
Several graduates of the school are in prison for
involvement in terrorism and at least two became
Bashir told Australia, which urged Indonesian
authorities Thursday to keep a close eye on the
cleric’s activities, not to intervene in his
nation’s affairs. "I don’t interfere in Australian
affairs, and you should not intervene in ours," he
Bashir’s freedom has raised concerns that he will
energize Indonesia’s small, Islamic radical fringe
by making impassioned speeches at rallies and
mosques. Few, however, believe the cleric will
play any direct role in terrorism.
Before the Bali blasts, Bashir was chiefly known
for his criticism of the West and his campaign to
make his secular nation an Islamic state, a goal
he said he would keep pursuing.
Sidney Jones, the Jakarta-based director of the
International Crisis Group and a leading expert on
Jemaah Islamiyah, said she did not think Bashir’s
freedom increased the threat of terror attacks in
But "there is no question that his stature has
grown in prison and that he’s now seen as a symbol
of defying the West and the United States in
particular,“she said.”For that reason, he will be a very popular
speaker among many young Muslim crowds in many
parts to Indonesia, including many people who have
no interest in violence whatsoever."
60% of elected public officials used false
Detik.com - June 20, 2006
Ken Yunita, Jakarta — The secretary general of
Government Watch (Gowa), Andi W Saputra, says that
60 percent of public officials and level II
regional heads used false diplomas to get elected.
"Since 2005, Indonesia has held 226 elections of
regional heads at the provincial/city/regency
level and more than half of this these have been
marred by the practice of using false diplomas",
These facts were conveyed during a discussion at
the Atlet Century Park Hotel in Senayan, South
Jakarta, on Tuesday June 20.
According to Saputra, the data was taken based on
the persistently high level of false diplomas
being used by candidates in the earlier
legislative elections as well as during the
election of regional heads at regency/city levels
"The use of these false diplomas represents an
effort to seek a shortcut that legitimises any
kind of means to win political power", he
[Translated by James Balowski.]
Public still positive about government: Survey
Jakarta Post - June 19, 2006
Most Indonesians consider the government of
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is doing a good
job and trust its leadership, according to a
quarterly survey by Roy Morgan Research.
Only 40 percent of respondents in the last quarter
of 2005 agreed with the statement "I don’t trust
the current government", and it dipped another
percentage point during January-March 2006.
"With over 60 percent trusting the government, the
score is significantly higher than the views
expressed of their own governments by citizens of
countries like the US, UK, Australia and New
Zealand," said Debnath Guharoy, Roy Morgan
Research’s regional director for Asia.
Similarly, 60 percent of Indonesians believe that
the "government is doing a good job running the
country," down from almost 70 percent in the third
quarter of 2005 but up from 55 percent during the
When Yudhoyono came to power, public opinion
heralded the departure of President Megawati
Soekarnoputri and the arrival of new, perhaps
overly high expectations. The government was faced
with tough choices last year, but the turbulent
times have had their impact on people’s
Fuel price hikes of last year continue to cast a
shadow on just about every aspect of life in
Indonesia, although Consumer Confidence went up 2
points to 107 in the first quarter of 2006.
Dealing with the problem of corruption has become
a major crusade of the President, and almost 90
percent of the people agree with him about graft’s
negative effect on society.
Popular indictments of high-profile officials and
unpopular verdicts in the courts have each had
their impact on this perception in each quarter.
Despite the ups and downs, Indonesians seem to be
proud of an historic collective achievement in the
resounding vote for democracy. In March 2006,
three-quarters of citizens believed that
“Democracy is working in Indonesia,” a score that
is gently moving upwards.
PT Roy Morgan Research interviewed over 6,000
respondents 14 years of age and older, randomly
recruited across 16 provinces, covering over 90
percent of Indonesia’s population, every 90 days.
A total of 6,393 were interviewed during the
January-March 2006 quarter, from over 25,000
House balks at antigraft decree
Jakarta Post - June 22, 2006
M. Taufiqurrahman, Jakarta — Opposition is
mounting against the government’s plan to issue a
decree reviving the authority of state oversight
bodies to handle corruption cases involving
Politicians at the House of Representatives balked
at the proposal, saying that it would compromise
the national antigraft drive and sideline the
Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
"The planned regulation should not have the
intention of diminishing the role of KPK," House
Speaker Agung Laksono said Wednesday. Agung said
any efforts to fight graft by the government
should not compromise the powers of the judiciary
or the KPK.
Lawmaker Eva Kusuma Sundari of the Indonesian
Democratic Party of Struggle said the planned the
oversight bodies would only work to protect
corrupt officials. "The reason KPK was set up in
the first place is precisely because the internal
oversight bodies had failed to do their job," Eva
told The Jakarta Post.
The government recently said it would revive the
functions of internal oversight bodies such as the
Regional Oversight Body (Bawasda) and the
inspectorate general in every ministry and the
Financial and Development Oversight Agency
(Bawasda) to handle corruption allegations and
decide whether they should be investigated by the
police or be handled internally.
Speaking after a meeting with Attorney General
Abdul Rahman Saleh, Justice and Human Rights
Minister Hamid Awaluddin, Cabinet Secretary Sudi
Silalahi and police officials, Home Minister M.
Ma’ruf said the government was working on a
presidential decree to implement the changes.
In the draft, oversight bodies will responsible
for replying to reports of alleged corruption in
government departments from the public. Vice
President Jusuf Kalla said extra provisions to
protect government officials would also be
inserted as an amendment to the Law on State
However, the decree’s critics say it is another
example of the government backtracking on its
promise to fight graft by working to protect
officials from corruption charges.
In a hearing with House Commission III on law and
legislation Tuesday, the Corruption Eradication
Commission (KPK) called on the government not to
undermine its role.
"We fully understand the government’s concern
about slander and blackmail. However, the solution
should not be to revive the role of internal
oversight bodies, but instead to improve the
performance of existing law enforcers," KPK deputy
chairman Tumpak Hatorangan Panggabean said.
Corruption suspects flee abroad, travel bans
Jakarta Post - June 17, 2006
Jakarta — Delinquent debtors and graft suspects
will continue to bribe officials and flee the
country with the trillions of rupiah they have
stolen unless law enforcement agencies are made to
clean up their acts, legal experts say.
Textiles tycoon Marimutu Sinivasan — who owes Rp
3.9 trillion (about US$411 million) to the
Indonesian Bank Liquidity Fund (BLBI) and is
wanted for allegedly misusing Rp 20 billion in a
bank lending scam — is the latest graft suspect
to evade law enforcement agencies.
Police first declared Sinivasan a suspect for the
2001 Bank Muamalat lending scam in August last
year. Despite this, it took more than eight months
for the Directorate of Immigration to slap a
travel ban on him — on May 24 — three months
after he had already fled the country.
The National Police and the Attorney General’s
office are both authorized to ask the directorate
to issue travel bans. Neither body did so,
however, despite Sinivasan ignoring two court
summonses over the case.
In the end, it was Finance Ministry officials that
requested the ban. The National Police, meanwhile,
only declared Sinivasan a fugitive from justice
last week after Sinivasan had already left the
His lawyer, Mehbob, said Sinivasan had gone to
India to seek medical treatment for an ailment he
would not name for ethical reasons. The helpful
Mehbob promised his client would return to
Indonesia after he recovered, without specifying
Other graft suspects and debtors — Agus Anwar,
Samadikun Hartono and Bambang Sutrisno — also
managed to leave Indonesia before travel bans were
imposed on them.
Like Sinivasan, some other BLBI debtors have left
the country ostensibly for medical reasons.
While the government has slapped a travel ban on
the six remaining big-time BLBI debtors still in
the country, it has promised not to prosecute them
if they pay back the amounts they owe to the state
by this December.
But will the remaining debtors really return the
money? Deputy attorney general for special crimes
Hendarman Supandji said last month that Sinivasan
was known to be one of the most “uncooperative” of
the BLBI debtors. Yet he was able to flee the
Indonesian Law Studies Foundation chairman Frans
Hendra Winarta said the contempt big-time graft
suspects regularly showed for the law in this
country reflected the authorities’ unwillingness
to seriously fight corruption here.
He said corruption cases should not be treated as
conventional crimes, but extraordinary ones, so
they would be handled more professionally.
"Regarding BLBI funds, considering state losses
could soar into the billions of dollars, I think
it would be logical to issue travel bans sooner,"
When asked why the travel ban on Sinivasan was
imposed so late, National Police spokesman Brig.
Gen. Anton Bachrul Alam said at the time, police
had insufficient grounds to suggest Sinivisan
would flee the country.
"We cannot slap a travel ban on a suspect if the
evidence is not sufficient," he said.
However, Netta Pane from Indonesian Police Watch
said the failure to prevent Sinivasan from fleeing
abroad was a “classic example” of the police being
unable to act professionally.
"Our government is weak, making it possible for
certain irresponsible police officers to play
around," Netta said, accusing detectives of
colluding with fleeing suspects to help them evade
"What we need is a president with strong
commitment to resolving corruption cases. A
president ready to dismiss his police chiefs if
they fail to do their jobs," Netta said.
Erlangga Masdiana, a criminologist from the
University of Indonesia, said the Attorney
General’s Office and the police were sometimes
“insensitive” to the nature of a case.
"Fleeing abroad for health treatments is not a new
modus for criminal suspects. The authorities
should have been able to anticipate this.“Erlangga suspected there was an”emotional bond“between the authorities and suspects.”A suspect certainly has the right to receive the
best of medical care. But whether the person is
truly sick or not, that needs to be verified
first," he said.
Recently, the AGO halted the prosecution of former
president Soeharto for his ailing health; a move
that drew a strong condemnation from legal experts
"One thing that could be learned from the handling
of the Soeharto case is that he received medical
care at home. Therefore, there is no reason for
other criminal suspects to get medical treatment
overseas," Frans said.
Residents complain about dust-emitting companies
Jakarta Post - June 22, 2006
Multa Fidrus, Tangerang — Residents of Jatimulya
village in Tangerang regency have complained about
dust emanating from a nearby plastic pipe company.
"The dust hangs in the air like fog, from midnight
to dawn... We are really worried because some of
us are suffering respiratory problems and skin
diseases," a resident, Husein, told The Jakarta
Post on Tuesday.
The factory has been operating for a few years in
a warehouse in an industrial complex on Jl. Kali
Perancis in Kosambi district.
Kosambi district chief Toto Sudarto said he would
take residents’ complaints to related agencies and
Barhum, a member of Tangerang regency council who
sits on Commission D for environmental affairs,
said the commission would pay a visit to the
"If a company establishes a factory in one of the
warehouses in the complex, and it pollutes the
environment, it is a violation, because the
complex is designed only for small-scale
industries and has no system in place to reduce
dust emissions," he said.
The company’s management could not be reached for
Matius Mooy, a security guard at the factory, said
the company provided workers with masks because it
was concerned about their health.
Separately, residents of Kuta Baru village in
Pasar Kemis district say a factory belonging to PT
Mitra Bangun Cemerlang on Jl. Raya Cadas Kukun,
owned by PT Mitra Bangun Cemerlang, is emitting
In a protest Wednesday they demanded the company
suspend operations until it improved its waste
management system. "The company continues to dump
waste into the Cirarab River," said Fajar
Sasongko, the chief of one of the village’s
The residents also protested against the company
on June 4, urging the regency administration to
close it down.
The head of the regency’s Public Order Agency,
Tholib Efendi, said his office did not have the
authority to shut down the factory because the
company had obtained the required building and
operational permits from the administration.
Displaced residents bide their time as sludge
Jakarta Post - June 22, 2006
Indra Harsaputra and ID Nugroho, Jakarta/Sidoarjo
— On Tuesday, Vice President Jusuf Kalla offered
soothing words to local residents displaced by a
huge industrial accident that has spewed tons of
foul-smelling mud into their homes.
Those responsible, he said, would be made to
provide compensation at whatever price necessary.
A day later, housewife Butin was still cooped up
with thousands of others in a traditional market
hastily converted into an evacuee center. "We
don’t need sweet promises," the 45-year-old said
as she cradled her nine-month-old son in Pasar
Baru Porong market.
"We just want to be able to return home as soon as
possible so we can back to work. If there’s
financial assistance, we haven’t got it yet."
Her family, along with about 3,800 other people,
has holed up in the newly built market since the
accident at the gas well of PT Lapindo Brantas
Inc. on May 29. Mudflow from the site has yet to
On Wednesday, her husband returned to their home
in Siring village to see if the 20-cm-high sludge
had subsided. He has been unable to work selling
traditional snacks. "My baby can’t have his milk
because my husband has not been able to do his
rounds selling snacks," she told The Jakarta Post.
Siring community leader Nazarudin also said
residents were anxious to leave the shelters and
get back to their homes.
The number of villagers abandoning their homes to
stay in shelters, also including government
offices and houses of worship, reached 3,815 as of
Wednesday, including 298 under-fives.
More may be forced to leave their homes soon,
after a two-meter-high dam encircling Kedungbendo
village was damaged Wednesday morning. At least
six hectares of rice fields and 100 homes were
inundated by the mud.
The head of Sidoarjo regency Social Welfare
Office, Hisjam Rosidy, said officials were working
with Lapindo to determine the amount of
compensation for the residents, although a daily
allowance was provided.
"Today, some residents have received Rp 20,000
(less than US$2) per person. We’re still
discussing the amount of compensation for houses
or rice fields."
In a meeting Wednesday with representatives from
15 companies whose operations have been halted by
the accident, Lapindo agreed to provide Rp 1.4
million in compensation for each of the 1,879
workers temporarily laid off. The amount was based
on the minimum wage of Rp 682,000 per month in the
Sidoarjo Manpower Office head Bambang S. Widagdo
said the company would pay the compensation within
the next two months.
"I’ve asked the 15 companies which could not
operate due to the mudflow to provide data on the
number of their workers so they can start
receiving the money."
However, Lapindo representative Partogi said the
company would immediately pay the compensation.
Representatives of the companies were
The human resources manager of PT Primarindo
Pangan Makmur, Agung Budianto, said his company
spent an average of Rp 111 million each month to
pay its 63 workers. "Now they get only Rp 88
million for two months," he said, saying Lapindo
should compensate the workers based on their
Coordinating Minister for the People’s Welfare
Aburizal Bakrie, whose family is the main
shareholder in Lapindo, said he would not visit
the accident site because of his other commitments
and it was not under his ministerial capacity.
“Besides, it’s being handled by Bakrie,” he said,
referring to his brother Nirwan. He said Lapindo
must take responsibility for all the damage
caused, including the relocation of residents.
Logging harms humans: Experts
Jakarta Post - June 19, 2006
Jakarta — The illegal logging that continues
unchecked across Indonesia has had a worse impact
on human lives than expected, experts say.
The unauthorized practice has caused a massive
loss of biodiversity, particularly in Papua, that
could have eventually been useful to human lives,
said Barnabas Suebu, the recently elected new
governor of the resources-rich province.
"Our awareness of the biodiversity we are losing
in this country is very low. Many undiscovered
useful substances are gone due to the rampant
illegal logging," he told a seminar on the issue
Barnabas said beside red fruits that could be used
to treat degenerative diseases and as health
supplements, there were thousands of unresearched
species in Papua that were now facing extinction.
"In other countries, like Mexico and Singapore,
their citizens already understand how important
forests are to their lives. Forests provide
supplies of biodiversity, oxygen and water, which
are extremely important," he said.
The Papua governor-elect said millions of hectares
of untouched forests that were not yet utilized by
indigenous people had been discovered by
Greenpeace in his province.
In Foja Mount in Papua for example, scientists
recently discovered a pristine area, the natural
habitat of new species of plants to animals.
"There should be a balance between utility and
conservation to create sustainability," Barnabas
Papua is one of several regions in Indonesia under
serious threat from rapid deforestation. About 40
million hectares of pristine forests are the
targets of illegal logging, in line with the
growing demand for high quality timber products
across the world, particularly in Europe and North
Indonesia annually loses about 2.8 million
hectares of forest, according to Asro Kamal Rohan,
Antara newswire’s director. "Everyday we lose
about 7,650 hectares of forest. So we lose about
5.3 hectares each minute." The Forestry Ministry
said poor law enforcement was the main reason for
the massive deforestation of the country, which
suffered annual losses amounting to between Rp 30
trillion and Rp 45 trillion.
An expert from Greenomics Indonesia, Elfian
Effendi, told The Jakarta Post "the financial
losses from the damaged biodiversity are three to
four times more expensive than illegal logging".
The losses could happen on three levels;
ecosystem, species and genetic resources, he
added. "A ruined ecosystem means that species
won’t be able to sustain themselves due to the
loss of food and water sources.“”The government
and most people overlook the economic value of
non-timber forest products because they do not
really develop them," Elfian said.
Experts say biodiversity stores the promises of
new medical treatments and cures and the planet’s
creatures and plants could help humans shield
themselves from deadly diseases like AIDS and bird
Scientists from the Biodiversitas group have said
preventing emerging diseases through biodiversity
conservation is far more cost effective than
developing vaccines to combat them later.
Barnabas said Indonesians should plant trees first
before they cut any down.
"What happens in Indonesia is the other way
around," he said, adding that he would tighten the
requirements for forest concessions in Papua.
"We plan to hold a conference on biodiversity in
Papua to raise awareness and educate the public,"
Sidoarjo mud protested by upset workers
Jakarta Post - June 17, 2006
ID Nugroho and Indra Harsaputra, Sidoarjo —
Residents of the once-peaceful East Java town of
Sidoarjo are becoming increasingly agitated about
the ongoing flow of hot mud from a gas drilling
On Friday, some 200 workers from a nearby factory
whose operation has been affected by the mudflow
staged a protest outside the office of PT Lapindo
Brantas Inc., the company that owns the well. They
demanded compensation for lost wages.
Arriving on three trucks and dozens of
motorcycles, the workers from snack producer CV.
Inti Sari Pratama waved banners and posters with
their demands all the way to Lapindo’s office.
One of the workers, Mustafa Aji, said they were
forced to protest because their future is
uncertain. "Since the factory was closed two weeks
ago, we haven’t been getting paid. This is all
because of Lapindo," he told The Jakarta Post.
The mudflow has affected at least 13 factories
since it began late last month. It has also
flooded hectares of paddy fields and inundated
Mustafa said each worker usually receives Rp
20,000 (US$2) a day. "Who is going to pay us
compensation? Our company is not willing to pay
because the factory is closed," he said.
Lapindo’s representatives, accompanied by
officials from the Oil and Gas Executive Agency
(BP Migas), met with 10 representatives of the
protesting workers. They told the workers they
would discuss the compensation with the factory’s
management. "They promised to resolve the matter
next week," said Muhamad Hadi, one of the workers’
Lapindo’s spokesman, Budi Santoso, said the
company would try to find a mutually beneficial
"We (Lapindo) also feel sorry for the workers. I’m
just asking the workers to help deal with the
mudflow problem. Many workers working on the
mudflow feel afraid, threatened," said Budi,
The mudflow has also triggered a clash between
residents from Balung Kenongo and Kedung Bendo
villages. Residents from one village damaged a dam
to block the mudflow, but the move caused the mud
to stream into the other village. No casualties
were reported in the incident. Police are now
guarding the two villages.
Almost three weeks after the hot mudflow was first
spotted, no detailed plan to resolve the problem
has been announced.
"We can’t predict the mud rushing out... all we
can do is prevent it from spreading," Lapindo’s
safety, health and environment official, Agus
Tanzil, told the Post Friday.
"No matter what experts say, the mudflow is
happening because of a natural process and can’t
be mathematically predicted." The company has
constructed three ponds to accommodate around
480,000 cubic meters of mudflow. With an estimated
20,000 cubic meters of mud streaming out per day,
the ponds would fill up in 24 days. The company
has also transported mud to be dumped at a
location approved by the local administration.
"Our target is to solve the mudflow problem in a
month. We hope everyone will stay calm and not
make any conflicting statements that can confuse
people," Lapindo’s general manager Imam Agustino
In Jakarta, the National Police spokesman, Brig.
Gen. Anton Bachrul Alam, said Friday that mining
and geological experts from Australia and Canada
will assist Indonesian authorities in
investigating the cause of the hot mud eruption.
He said the police assigned a special task force
to Sidoarjo on Thursday to investigate the case.
Heads up: Students studying with helmets on
Jakarta Post - June 23, 2006
Cianjur — Administrations of a dilapidated state
elementary school in Gunungmanik village are
making pupils wear safety helmets during classes
— just in case the roof crumbles in.
"I was gravely concerned that the flimsy school is
still being used although the teachers and
headmaster know only too well it endangers the
pupils’ lives," said Iwan Permana, an Indonesian
Democratic Party of Struggle councillor after
visiting the school near the regency capital.
"How can the Cianjur administration turn a blind
eye to this problem? The school’s fate does not
fit with its akhlakul karimah (good deeds)
campaign — the refrain about the regency’s
achievements we constantly hear from officials."
Joni Martin, 40, a teacher at the school, told
Antara the headmaster had repeatedly written to
the Cianjur regent asking the school buildings be
repaired, but to no avail.
Entrance fees for state universities skyrocket
Jakarta Post - June 20, 2006
Yuli Tri Suwarni, Bandung — State higher learning
institutes have invited controversy by applying
steep admission fees for those who can afford,
such as Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) when
it sought Rp 45 million (US$5,000) in education
development fees from each new student in 2003.
This year, Bandung’s Padjadjaran University
(Unpad) is asking new students to pay up to Rp 150
million in such fees.
Unpad spokesman Hadi Suprapto Arifin, disclosed
that more than 9,000 high school graduates had
applied for the exclusive entrance program that
offers 1,500 available placings based on the
admission exam (SPMB). Under the scheme, students
are required to pay education development fees
ranging from Rp 7.5 million to Rp 150 million,
according to their financial capacity and the
course of study they choose.
"The lowest, at Rp 7.5 million, is for those
applying for the fisheries or arts school, and the
most costly is the medical school, with the fees
set at 150 million," Hadi said in Bandung.
This year, ITB has continued with its exclusive
entrance program, offering more than 1,000
placings. ITB’s academic affairs vice rector Adang
Surahman said that the number was more than half
the regular graduate students admitted through the
SPMB of 1,750 students annually.
The managements of higher learning institutions
have cited the ever increasing operational costs
for the prohibitive fees. Hadi acknowledged that
students who were accepted through the SPMB would
receive a subsidy of Rp 5.5 million each year from
the government. However, he said that it cost
Unpad between Rp 12 million to Rp 20 million
annually to provide education for each student.
"Nevertheless, we have to seek ways to cover our
costs, such through as the exclusive entrance
program, while at the same time we also have to
improve lecturers’ welfare," said Hadi.
The university has set the highest fee for the
medical school since it is a hot favorite,
accepting only 30 students through the special
The school has been offering a program for
overseas students with English as the medium of
instruction for the past four years, with an
admission fee of US$10,000 and tuition fee of
Unpad covered its operational expenses previously
by conducting diploma and extension programs,
providing around 5,800 places each year.
Adang also cited increasing operational costs for
the rising fees, saying that ITB’s operational
costs amounted to Rp 400 billion annually. "As
much as 25 percent is subsidized by the
government, 25 percent from students’ parents. We
must seek the remaining 50 percent from various
programs," said Adang.
Despite the controversy, Adang said that the
number of students who had expressed interest in
the exclusive entrance program had been
increasing. When it was opened in 2003, only 2,200
applied, while 5,500 potential students applied
Scholars advocate tolerant Islam
Jakarta Post - June 23, 2006
Jakarta — The second International Conference of
Islamic Scholars (ICIS) ended with a call for
Muslims living in non-Muslims areas to promote
their religion as one of moderation and tolerance.
The scholars declared Wednesday night that Muslim
minorities in pluralistic societies should play a
greater role in addressing matters that challenge
efforts to promote dialog between minorities and
The ICIS, concerned about increased narrow-
mindedness and extremism in Muslim communities,
took the stance to promote peace, justice,
moderation and prosperity for people of all
faiths. They said it should be done through a
commitment to universal aspirations for a better
world where both the physical and spiritual
happiness of all humankind were fully realized.
During the two-day conference, the participants
were divided into three working groups to discuss
religiosity, injustice and poverty, and also
decide on strategies for change in the economic,
social and educational sectors.
The working groups then gathered together in a
plenary session, led by the foreign affairs
chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, Rozy Munir, to issue
recommendations. The session made 37
recommendations for an action plan, including
ICIS’s response to globalization, conflict
resolution, economic development, poverty
eradication, education and social progress as well
as future directions.
"We together, with other moderate powers, such as
the USA, the Middle East, Europe, Australia and
many others, will coordinate (our efforts) to
introduce Islam to the world as a moderate and
tolerant religion," said Nahdlatul Ulama chairman
Hasyim Muzadi, the country’s largest Muslim
organization which arranged the event. He
acknowledged the ICIS had a difficult task in
coordinating efforts for conflict resolution. He
also said that since the ICIS enjoyed good
relations with the Organization of the Islamic
Conference, both organizations would talk with the
United Nations about how to expand the moderate
As a moderate group, Hasyim said, Islam would not
take sides in issues of global polarization, but
would stand for justice and equality. "We have to
develop independent financial systems so we won’t
depend on other groups. We also have to create a
system between countries in ICIS for an economic
cooperation." In its recommendation, the
conference advised governments of Muslim countries
to explore practical ways and modalities for
promoting greater cooperation in trade,
investment, economy, and other development
sectors, including the enhancement of the Islamic
financial and banking system.
The ICIS also advised governments of Muslim-
populated countries to promote the Islamic
financial and banking systems, to facilitate the
participation of Muslims in the systems and to
ensure their stability and sustainability.
Hasyim also mentioned that ICIS would work on
education, science, and health.
For the action plan, the conference requested its
secretary-general commission the development of
applicable frameworks that promote the value of
Islamic teachings on relevant subjects of human
interest, such democracy, human rights, education
and health as well as the prevention of corruption
and drug abuse.
"We will meet in small groups once in every three
or four months to accomplish the programs," said
Hasyim.(05) Selected recommendations: 1. To invite
decision-makers, both from public and private
sectors, to develop policies that ensure the
fulfillment of Muslim women’s rights, and to
create programs to empower women’s participation
in the economic, social and political process.
2. To make an effort to narrow the gap between
schools of thoughts in Islam in order to maintain
and foster the unity of the blessed Muslims so
they will not be easily divided into conflict.
3. To stress the inalienable rights of every
country to promote research, production and the
use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
4. To encourage civil society organizations to
participate in economic and social affairs to get
the greatest benefits for all Muslim communities.
5. To encourage the establishment of networking
among small and medium-scale enterprises from
Courts must get tougher on violent militias:
Jakarta Post - June 23, 2006
Jakarta — The courts should severely punish
members of radical groups convicted of violent
offenses, National Police chief Gen. Sutanto says.
Sutanto, who has been criticized for being too
soft on ethnic gangs and religious vigilante
groups, said the police had done their utmost to
arrest and legally process offenders from these
However, he said the courts convicted only a few
members on criminal charges bought against them by
the police and those who were tried generally
received light sentences.
"Don’t say we are not dealing with them, we can
prove otherwise," Sutanto told reporters at a
"The thing is, the (court) verdicts are always
very lenient. The press can check the process from
the beginning, and see that often (militia
members) get let off after we hand them over (to
prosecutors). We are getting tired of arresting
them," he said after a Cabinet meeting at the
Dozens of members of the Islam Defenders Front
have been arrested for vandalizing entertainment
centers and brothels during the past five years.
However, only the group’s leader, Habib Rizieq,
was jailed for any significant time in 2002,
following a spate of attacks on night spots.
Last month, police in Bekasi arrested 21 FPI
members for vandalism after they attacked brothels
in the area, however, their trials appear to have
In April, police arrested one person after an FPI
mob attacked Playboy Indonesia’s Jakarta offices.
His case also seems not to have reached the
FPI members were also part of groups that stormed
religious centers belonging to the Islamic
Ahmadiyah sect in Bogor and Lombok, West Nusa
Tenggara, earlier this year, along with the
offices of the Danish Embassy in February.
Although police arrested several perpetrators,
none have been taken to court.
"The laws mandate hefty punishments but the
perpetrators walk free or get away with only light
sentences. And then the public puts the blame on
us. Are these (legal) institutions afraid (to hand
down severe punishments)?," Sutanto said.
He said police had no plans to revive the
restrictive Soeharto-era 1985 Law on Mass
Organizations, which allows the government to
disband all organizations deemed to be causing
public disorder. A better deterrent, he said,
would be for the courts to hand down tough
sentences to militia members found guilty of
"Give them the maximum penalty. The Criminal Code
allows the court to hand down penalties of five
years in jail, or even life imprisonment (in some
cases)," he said.
Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and
Security Affairs Widodo A.S. earlier pledged to
get tough on violent groups, by outlawing them or
forcibly disbanding them if necessary.
Habib Rizieq, meanwhile, has said FPI members were
taking the law into their own hands because police
were failing to crack down on “un-Islamic”
behavior. He said militia groups like the FPI
would voluntarily disband if the police did their
"There are many non-government organizations and
civil groups that receive foreign funds. Why isn’t
the government targeting them? "Why target us, we
who fight in the name of our faith against
injustice? We’ll disband when the government can
put an end to injustice and poor law enforcement,"
Government softens stance on hard-line groups
Jakarta Post - June 19, 2006
Jakarta — The government will embrace hard-line
groups in an effort to persuade them to stop using
violence, even though it has already been proven
that the groups have broken the law.
The government earlier sought to revise the 1985
Law on the Freedom to Organize to allow for the
disbanding of hard-line organizations deemed to
have disrupted security and public order. The
government planned to insert a new article to
empower them to take supervisory actions,
including the dissolving of such organizations.
However, under the current law, the government
already has the authority to disband any
organization that has disrupted security and
public order, received or given aid from other
countries without the government’s permission or
disseminated the ideology of Marxism-Leninism.
"Before disbanding them, we will embrace and
empower them first so they stop using violence,"
said Sudarsono Hardjoesoekarto, the Director
General of National Unity and Politics at the
Ministry of Home Affairs, on Saturday.
The move to disband hard-line groups comes as the
government faces mounting pressure to take stern
action against groups accused of using violence to
further their aims.
Sudarsono said the government would ask the groups
to register their organizations according to their
area of establishment.
"Local organizations can register with their
regencies, cities, or provinces, while national
organizations can register at the home affairs
ministry," he said during a talk show organized by
the Media Indonesia daily newspaper and Ramaco FM.
He said after the groups registered, the
government would look at using a closer
cooperative program, such as training, until they
stopped the use of violence. "If they still use it
we will remind them that the government can
disband them based on the law," he said.
Islam Defender Front (FPI) leader Habib Riziq
Shihab said his organization used violence because
the police did not work to eradicate the existence
of prostitution and gambling in the country.
He said he was disappointed the police did little
to enforce the law. "If the police dare to enforce
the law, then the FPI will voluntary disperse,"
Separately, criminologist Adrianus Meliala said
the problem could be solved if the police were
able to enforce laws. "The idea of revising the
law could make the government find it more
difficult to control hard-line organizations," he
Adrianus said the government will have to prove
the groups have used violence in order to disband
them, which could be very debatable. "It is
difficult to say that they have violated the law
because they have permits and statutes," he said.
Betawi Brotherhood Forum (FBR) chairman Fadloli El
Muhir told The Jakarta Post his organization’s
principles were based on Pancasila and were
contained in the FBR statutes.
Adrianus said the police had the authority to
arrest members of any organization who were proved
to have disrupted public order. "The police can
take measures against the person because it is the
police’s authority to create public order," he
Adrianus raised concerns that if the government
used the law to disband the groups, then it could
misuse the law to disband any organization working
During the New Order regime, former president
Soeharto frequently used the law to close groups
in opposition to him. He would claim such groups
were communist organizations and thus were against
Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution.
Nahdlatul Ulama chairman Hasyim Muzadi agreed with
Adrianus on the dissolution of organizations,
saying the problem could be solved simply if the
police took stronger actions against them. "The
government can disband the hard-line
organizations, but they can form a new
organization. It does not solve the problem," he
From political thuggery to ethnic gang wars
Jakarta Post - June 22, 2006
Meidyatama Suryodiningrat, Jakarta — Newly
installed Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Adang
Firman was right when he pledged that combating
thuggery would be a priority during his tenure.
But there are question marks on whether he will
have the courage to succeed where his predecessors
Criminal undercurrents are a persistent hazard in
any metropolitan. They breed insecurity,
lawlessness and a high-cost economy through
rampant illegal levies.
But two groups — that shall be arrantly nameless
in this article — in particular embody the
unified loathing of decent Jakartans.
Unlike other delinquent elements which operate in
Jakarta’s underworld, these two groups sought to
ascend and even legitimize their hooliganism using
ethnic or religious platforms.
Despite their small numbers, they cannot be
dismissed as marauding thugs. The freedom of
voraciousness accorded to them has hijacked
national headlines and been falsely gauged as
predicators of Indonesia’s radicalism.
Their desire to go ’legit’ is only natural, since
the seeds of their past were political. Both
groups were formed as an outgrowth of the New
Order’s culture of using paramilitary groups as
vehicles for political coercion. Hence the
suspicion of past connections to the military and
The first group was set up as part of the
political maneuvering to counter student
demonstrations ahead of the 1999 Special Session
of the People’s Consultative Assembly and adopted
an extremely conservative religious ideological
As a current Cabinet minister privately revealed
when he spoke about the group: "I can say with
confidence, although I cannot provide legal
evidence, that the commander of the (Jakarta)
police force at that time had links (with this
As the group developed, it exploited narrow-minded
religiosity to justify sweepings and to ransack
bars and nightclubs during Ramadhan.
There have been allegations that this was simply a
camouflage to extort money from gambling and
prostitution businesses. When issues of sharia
became vogue a few years later they were well
placed in the front lines of the sectarian push,
being able to mobilize the masses of urban poor
who had joined their ranks.
The second group paints itself as the footmen for
Jakarta’s disenfranchised indigenous population.
However it is not itself a member of the Betawi
Consultative Body — an umbrella organization of
ethnic Betawi organizations.
Despite its ethnic platform, it began as an anti-
Megawati Soekarnoputri movement. Its chairman was
a member of the non-Megawati splinter faction of
the now defunct Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI).
The group’s birth coincided with a commemoration
by Megawati’s supporters of the fifth anniversary
of the bloody attack on PDI headquarters. By
coincidence, the Jakarta military commander at the
time of the attack was none other than Sutiyoso.
Based in East Jakarta, the group quickly attracted
the urban poor by means of providing them jobs and
capital in the informal economy.
It is worth noting that the group was established
on the heels of a campaign by the local
administration to fight street gangs by
“reintegrating” them into society with jobs such
as local guards.
What effectively occurred was an opportunity to be
seized to “cooperate” with the local
administration who allocated billions of rupiah
for this program.
Where the new Jakarta Police chief’s political
allegiance lies with respect to these groups is
But Adang cannot afford to emulate the lethargy of
his predecessors. These two groups have become a
malignant cancer that will be detrimental to
Jakarta’s stability and his own career.
Unlike New Order paramilitaries, both groups act
independently without a major financial backer or
political patron. They are pendulous entities
whose allegiances are indiscriminate according to
the necessities of survival.
Both groups fend for themselves to sustain the
economic needs of their expanding ranks. Without
political money flowing in, these groups survive
on various small ventures and levies they are able
Nevertheless these sectors are unsustainable. They
will need to “expand and diversify” into more
lucrative avocations — both formal and illegal.
This will eventually lead to the encroachment on
“activities” traditionally monopolized by
Debt collecting, for example, is one lucrative
field in which these two groups still have a
limited foothold but must begin to consider if
they are to augment their coffers.
Hence the prospect of socio-religious gang wars on
the horizon if nothing is done. Shades of the 1998
Ketapang riot in West Jakarta come to mind.
Major Muslim groups spearhead moderate campaign
Jakarta Post - June 22, 2006
Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta — Leaders of
Nadhlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, the country’s
two largest Muslim organizations, say they are
committed to campaigning for moderate Islam to
counter the emergence of militant groups.
They pledged Wednesday that they would not seek
strict religious formalism in pluralist Indonesia
— meaning the upholding of the outward signs and
practices of the religion — nor tolerate the use
of violence in the name of the religion.
Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsuddin said his
organization sought “substantivism” instead of
formalism because of the country’s multiethnic,
multireligious composition, as well as the
commonly shared cause of fighting injustice and
He stressed that radical groups did not represent
Islam, and therefore terrorism should not be
simplistically linked to the religion because of
the their misuse of its name.
"No religion, including Islam, tolerates any use
of violence. The terrorists are those who are not
patient and misunderstand the religion," he said
after presenting his paper on religiosity at the
second International Conference of Islamic
He blamed the actions of violent radical groups on
law enforcers who were slow to act against their
militancy. "The police should take action against
mass organizations using violence in the name of
religion because their violent acts are against
But Din also said the motivation of such groups
must be identified. "As long as the law is not
enforced and injustice is found in society,
radicalism or terrorism will gain ground in the
NU chairman Hasyim Muzadi expressed optimism that
the two organizations would be able to counter
radicalism and liberalism which emerged with the
onset of the reform movement in 1998.
"NU will continually campaign for the true Islam
and its rich values among Muslims, so that they
have an appropriate understanding about how to
fight for Islamic values in the pluralist
Hasyim, who said radical groups would eventually
disband if law enforcers took a firm stand on
their use of violence, acknowledged there were
mistakes by some organizations in fighting for the
implementation of sharia law.
Din and Hasyim agreed the ongoing conference was
an appropriate forum for Islamic scholars to
promote moderate Islam and to hold interfaith
dialog with representatives of other religions.
"Participants from Islamic countries have been
aware of the importance of promoting the moderate
line of Islam to help build global peace, and
fight against the injustice and poverty that
affects the majority of Muslims," said Hasyim.
He believed such interfaith dialog would help
eliminate the hegemony of some countries in the
"In February, for instance, the American Communion
of Churches made an apology for their inability to
prevent the United States government from
launching its aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq,"
Hard-line groups reject Pancasila as sole ideology
Jakarta Post - June 22, 2006
Jakarta — Conservative religious leaders are
marshaling hard-line Islamic groups to counter the
growing public pressure for the government to
outlaw organizations that commit violence in the
name of religion.
In a gathering held at Jakarta’s prestigious Grand
Istiqlal Mosque in Central Jakarta on Wednesday
and organized by the Indonesian Council of Ulema
(MUI), representatives from some 50 hard-line
groups met to reject calls for the government to
disband them or force them to adopt the state
ideology of Pancasila.
The groups, including the Islam Defenders Front
(FPI), Hizbut Tahrir, the Betawi Brotherhood Forum
(FBR) and the Youth Islamic Movement (GPI), also
reiterated their support for the sharia bylaws
enacted by a number of regions and the pornography
bill currently being deliberated at the House of
They vowed to continue to protest the publication
of the Playboy Indonesia magazine.
MUI last year issued a controversial fatwa that
banned all forms of religious pluralism,
secularism and liberalism.
Also in attendance were individuals from Nahdlatul
Ulama and Muhammadiyah, the country’s two largest
The chairman of MUI’s fatwa commission, Ma’ruf
Amin, led the forum. He said a three-day meeting
by MUI in the East Java town of Ponorogo last
month had agreed Muslim organizations in Indonesia
needed to unite to address their problems.
MUI needed to protect Muslim communities from
moral decadence such as pornography and to empower
them through building education and the economy,
He said the state-sanctioned council would
coordinate the movements of Muslim organizations.
"We gather here today to oppose the idea of
disbanding Muslim organizations," Hizbut Tahrir
chairman M. Al Khaththath told the gathering.
He said he had met with Sudarsono Hardjoesoekarto,
the Home Ministry director-general of national
unity and politics, to warn him against dissolving
any Islamic group because it would be against a
1985 law guaranteeing the freedom to organize.
Sudarsono has said the law authorized the
government to disband any organization that
disrupted security or the public order. Groups,
which received “illegal” aid from overseas or
promoted Marxist or Leninist teachings could also
be outlawed, he said.
The law also required every organization to adopt
the Pancasila as their primary ideology.
Instead of immediately taking action against
violent hard-line groups, Sudarsono said the
government would meet with them first to persuade
them to stop using violence.
The government has been widely criticized for
refusing to act firmly against the FPI and other
radical groups blamed for a series of attacks on
churches and minority Islamic sects.
Wednesday’s gathering came amid increasing calls
by nationalist and moderate Muslims groups for the
nation to revitalize Pancasila as the state
ideology after more than 20 local and provincial
administrations started adopting sharia-style
Muslim moderates told to stand up and be counted
Jakarta Post - June 21, 2006
Tony Hotland, Jakarta — Empowering moderates to
speak up in the increasingly divided Islamic world
is essential to promote peace and cultivate
interfaith harmony, the chairman of Indonesia’s
largest Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama said
Hasyim Muzadi, addressing the opening of the
second International Conference of Islam Scholars,
said challenges in today’s Islamic world required
the strengthening of the voice of moderates in the
modernization of the religion.
"Moderates are not those without an opinion.
Moderates are those with strong views based on a
conviction about what is right and just. Moderates
strike the balance between faith and tolerance for
peace and social welfare, and maintain
Hasyim hoped the conference, organized by the NU
and bringing together more than 300 scholars from
53 countries, would be able to serve such a need
through "pooling intellectual resources and
integrate endeavors to promote solidarity".
He also said there should be concerted efforts to
eliminate the use of symbols of religion to
justify acts of violence and terror. "People need
to share common ideas about peace, and this
conference is seeking for us to promote
modernization in Islam. There is such a
discouraging phenomenon in the form of conflicts
that continue to plague the Islamic world."
In his remarks, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
warned about the rising global prejudice against
Islam, and urged Muslims to demonstrate the
religion’s teachings were peaceful and encourage
understanding of different faiths.
"Islamophobia is an emerging issue for today’s
Muslims. It is pertinent for us to think about how
Muslims should live in countries where Islam is
not the religion of the majority. It’s also
pertinent for us to show, through exemplary deeds
and persistent advocacy, that Muslims are
Yudhoyono, noting drawn-own conflicts in Muslim
populated countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and
Sudan, stressed the importance of enhancing the
role of the Organization of the Islamic Conference
(OIC) to reach a resolution.
"It’s important to ensure that we tell our non-
Muslim fellows what we want them to understand as
it is to ensure that we listen to what they want
us to understand. We reach out as we take out."
The head of hard-line organization Islam Defenders
Front (FPI), Habib Rizieq, said that the world’s
governments should provide immediate answers to
the problems of global-scale injustice, which he
said was the cause of such radicalism.
However, he declined to comment on whether hard-
line organizations should bear religious symbols
in striving for their cause.
Defiant Bashir to continue his jihad
Sydney Morning Herald - June 16, 2006
Mark Forbes, Jakarta — A beaming Abu Bakar Bashir
walked out of the gates of Cipinang jail
yesterday, pledging a renewed campaign to impose
sharia law on Indonesia in front of hundreds of
The United States and Australian governments
expressed disappointment and concern at the
release of a founder and leader of the terrorist
network Jemaah Islamiah.
He served less than 26 months for blessing the
2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.
Bashir’s sentence was reduced for good behaviour
and to celebrate Indonesia’s 61st anniversary of
Wearing his trademark white skullcap, the
68-year-old cleric demanded that Indonesia’s
leaders save the nation from darkness by imposing
sharia law on the secular state.
“We have to fight to uphold the Islamic law,” he
told supporters. "We have to live by the words of
the prophet. Once again, we have to strengthen the
Muslim brotherhood." Bashir made no mention of
combating the “infidel” nations of America and
Australia but a book commemorating his days in
jail, published this week, is full of vitriolic
attacks against Australia and the Prime Minister,
About 40 black-jacketed Islamic bodyguards linked
arms to escort Bashir through the crush to a
convoy of cars and buses, to embark on a 12-hour
journey to his home in Solo, central Java.
In Solo, Bashir will return to his Ngruki boarding
school, dubbed the “Ivy League” of educating
terrorists by the International Crisis Group. Most
of the Bali bombers were graduates. He will greet
students before resuming teaching there.
The Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, said he
was disappointed at the length of the sentence but
accepted the decision of Indonesia’s courts.
There were fears Bashir might train and inspire
more terrorists, Mr Downer said. "I have some
concerns about his advocacy — there’s no question
of that. This is somebody who believes in the
A US embassy spokesman said there was deep
disappointment at Bashir’s release. "The
possibility that a person responsible for such a
terrible crime could go free after a light
sentence of 30 months is cause for concern."
An Indonesian police spokesman said Bashir’s
release was “nothing special”, but his activities
would continue to be monitored. The Indonesian
Foreign Minister, Hassan Wirayuda, said Bashir’s
release was "only a legal matter ... not a
Greeting Bashir outside the jail, the head of the
Islamic Propagation Board, Hussein Umar, blamed
Australian interference for Bashir’s imprisonment.
The claim that he headed a terrorist network was a
conspiracy by the West, he said.
"Terrorism is a global issue designed by the US
and its allies. They’re trying to label Islam as
identical to terrorism. That means every Muslim is
terrorist." An organiser of the hardline Islamic
Defenders Front, Eka Jaya, said linking Bashir to
terrorism was a slander.
"It is a big conspiracy against Islam, and these
people will carry out scorched-earth policy toward
Islam." With Karuni Rompies
Government prepares subsidy for farmers
Jakarta Post - June 23, 2006
Rendi Akhmad Witular, Jakarta — The government
will provide subsidies for farmers engaged in
planting palm oil, cacao, rubber and corn in an
effort to boost the country’s plantation output
and create jobs.
Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono the
assistance would take the form of loans channeled
by banks to palm oil, cacao and rubber farmers.
Corn farmers will receive seeds.
"The interest-rate subsidy will be for farmers in
Sumatra and Kalimantan, while the free seeds will
be for corn farmers in Sulawesi only," said Anton
after meeting with Vice President Jusuf Kalla
He expected the subsidies to help the government
met its target of expanding plantations by 500,000
The government will allocate a total of Rp 1.7
trillion (US$182 million) this year to cover the
subsidies, of which some Rp 200 billion would be
distributed through state-owned Bank Rakyat
BRI president director Sofyan Basir said that of
the 18 percent interest rate imposed on farmers,
the government will pick up 8 percent while
farmers pay the remaining 10 percent.
"The amount of the subsidies will depend on
developments with the interest rate. The loan will
have a grace period of five years for palm oil
farmers and seven years for cacao and rubber
farmers," said Sofyan. The bank will use the
farmers’ plantations as collateral.
The government has yet to finish calculating the
amount of the subsidies allocated for cacao and
rubber farmers. With the aid, palm oil farmers are
expected to be able to establish some 50,000
hectares of new plantations this year, with as
much as 300,000 hectares estimated for next year.
According to the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers
Association (GAPKI), there are 5.2 million
hectares of palm oil plantations in Indonesia.
With crude palm oil production forecast to reach
15.2 million tons this year, Indonesia is likely
to overtake Malaysia as the top producer in the
Meanwhile, Anton also said that his ministry would
allocate Rp 100 billion this year for the free
corn seeds, and Rp 500 billion next year to help
open some 600,000 hectares of new corn plantation
land in Sulawesi.
Last year, the country produced 11.4 million tons
of corn and imported around 400,000 tons. Demand
for corn is expected to grow by at least 10
percent this year, with around 21.17 million
estimated for 2010.
Due to the availability of idle land, the
government has declared Sulawesi as the country’s
center for corn production. "The subsidies will be
taken from the state budget. The government will
continue providing them every year until 2009,"
said Anton, adding that Indonesia’s agricultural
sector had lagged behind in comparison to other
countries in Asia.
The sector’s slow development is primarily due to
mismanagement of resources by previous governments
and corruption among officials and local
regulatory bodies, who take advantage of unclear
regulations. At present, the nation’s agricultural
growth stands at an average of 3.5 percent per
Shoddy town planning ’lowers productivity’
Jakarta Post - June 22, 2006
Jakarta — Unscrupulous officials who fast-track
developments without concern for planning laws are
favoring big developers over common Indonesians
and are choking the productivity of cities,
costing the country trillions in lost rupiah,
"Government officials, as both regulators and
operators of spatial city planning, issue permits
without thinking about the long-term side effects
of commercialization," said Aprianto Usman, a
member of Indonesian Alumni of Canadian
He said bad or no spatial planning led to the
inequitable situation in Jakarta where developers
often built where they pleased, invariably
displacing or inconveniencing nearby communities
with the traffic chaos and pollution the buildings
At the same time, developers ignore government
regulations compelling them to create low-cost
housing for the poor.
"There is no punishment for officials who violate
laws about spatial planning because of the poor
enforcement in this country. Everything is done
for the sake of capital," Aprianto told The
Jakarta Post during a spatial planning seminar on
Overseas, business developers generally built big
malls in suburban areas, Aprianto said. The reason
for this was to avoid creating inner-city traffic
jams and to enable these malls to function as
However, here: "the time we could use for being
productive is used up on the streets because of
the traffic congestion,“he said.”We should
consider those malls as we would regular markets
in cities. Everywhere there is a market, there is
always a traffic jam surrounding the place,"
He noted that spatial planning laws in Indonesia
were generally flouted because adhering to them
would cost developers more. "Actually, if the
planning is good and we implement the plans
correctly, the cost is cheaper compared to fixing
those problems occurring due to the (later)
chaotic implementation of planning."
Aprianto and the Communication Forum of Foreign
Alumni (FORKA) have been helping the Directorate
General for Spatial Planning to revise the 1992
Town Planning Law, which they say is
unsustainable. FORKA, which consists of 12 groups
of graduates from institutions in 12 countries,
aims to make Indonesia a healthier place to live.
In the revision of the law, the group has
suggested people are educated about the positive
impacts of good city planning.
Directorate head Hermanto Dadak said the
development of shopping malls and big supermarkets
should be focused in suburban areas, such as
Bogor, Tangerang, Bekasi and Bumi Serpong Damai.
"Theoretically, 60 percent of the communities who
live in those satellite cities should be able to
live and work without leaving their areas,“Hermanto told the Post.”That has not happened
yet. Those neighboring cities function more like
dormitories rather than satellite cities," he
Hermanto noted that vehicles could once make round
trips from Cikarang, an industrial center, to
Tanjung Priok in a single day. These days, because
of to all the malls constructed along the way and
heavy commuter traffic, it would take two days to
make the circuit, he said.
In the development of the new spatial planning
bill, the FORKA team has included measures to
prevent officials from taking bribes and issuing
illegal permits. It said the development of green
areas within cities was a better choice than
Economists: Agriculture sector worrying
Tempo Interactive - June 21, 2006
Agus Supritanto, Manado — The productivity of the
Indonesian agriculture sector has declined.
Etty Puji Lestari, a member of the Association of
Indonesian Economic Graduates (ISEI), has revealed
that between 2001 and 2003, a total of 610,596
hectares of productive paddy-fields were turned
into housing or used for other activities.
There has been an increase in the number of
farmers from 20.8 million in 1993 to 25.4 million
in 2002, despite the declining total of paddy-
fields. There has also been a dramatic decrease in
average amount of land owned by farmers down to
less than a quarter of a hectare per farmer.
This situation is further worsened by the decrease
in farmers’ incomes. They only obtain an income
per harvest season of between Rp325,000 and
Rp543,000. "This means that they only obtain an
income of between Rp81,000 and Rp135,000 per
month," said Etty during the ISEI seminar at
Kalla defends acceptance of new CGI loans
Jakarta Post - June 17, 2006
Tony Hotland and Urip Hudiono, Jakarta — Vice
President Jusuf Kalla says the government has no
option but to take up the new loans offered
recently by foreign creditors as it lacks other
financing sources to fully cover this year’s
He told reporters Friday that both issuing more
bonds and relying on the privatization program for
extra money contained serious drawbacks.
Furthermore, the reallocation of unspent loan
commitments was far from being a straightforward
matter as many of these loans were tied to
projects already underway, while the full
disbursement of others was scheduled to take place
over a number of years.
Foreign creditors grouped in the Consultative
Group on Indonesia (CGI) offered Wednesday a total
package of US$5.4 billion in loans and grants for
this year to support the government’s medium-term
development plans, and to help with the
reconstruction of disaster-hit areas.
Kalla was responding to criticism from some
quarters of the government’s move to seek new
foreign loans despite what they say is the
country’s already high level of sovereign debt.
State Minister for National Development Planning
Paskah Suzetta said Thursday that the government
may not take up all of the pledged loans given the
high level of unspent funding allocations in the
current state budget. The exact amount would be
determined during the upcoming talks on the
budget’s annual mid-year revision between the
government and the House of Representatives.
Kalla said the government had sought other
domestic financing sources to cover the cost of
the budget, such as through more privatizations,
but was faced with the reality that only limited
assets remained that would be of interest to
investors, as well as the likelihood of a
political backlash from the antiprivatization
"Everything has been sold — all the good, high-
value assets, including Indosat. Nobody really
wants to buy the remaining low-value ones," he
said. "And if we were to offer what valuable
assets remain, there would be the usual outcry
from the House and the unions. That’s the problem
with privatization in Indonesia."
The government had planned to offer a 7 percent
stake in state gas utility PT PGN to raise Rp 3.5
trillion (US$376 million) in privatization
proceeds last year, but then canceled the plan.
Meanwhile, the overall target for the
privatization program this year has been set at a
mere Rp 1 trillion.
Kalla further said that the issuing of more
government bonds would be more expensive in terms
of maturities and interest costs.
Indonesian sovereign bonds currently carry an
interest rate of around 12 percent, as compared to
between 2 and 3 percent on concessional foreign
loans, which have maturities of between 30 and 40
years, he said. Government bonds normally have
10-year maturities, with only one bond series
currently in the market having a 30-year maturity.
Separately, Coordinating Minister for the Economy
Boediono said the latest loan and grant offers
from the CGI would not worsen Indonesia’s debt
situation, and that they would be put to good use
in supporting the government’s future focus on
social welfare development programs.
"Our indebtedness level in terms of the amount we
borrow and our repayment needs will show no net
increase,“he said.”Neither will we suffer a
widening gap between our debt stock and foreign
exchange reserves, which have recently been
The government says that Indonesia’s debt ratio
can continue to decline to 42 percent of gross
domestic product this year, from 48 percent last
year, even if the new debts are to be incurred.
Boediono further said that any grants that were
received would be directly disbursed to the public
through rural development projects and
reconstruction assistance for disaster-hit areas
of Yogyakarta and Central Java.
Up to 300,000 join ranks of poor after quake
Agence France Presse - June 16, 2006
Manila — About 300,000 Indonesian survivors were
impoverished after a deadly earthquake struck the
center of densely populated Java island last
month, an Asian Development Bank (ADB) study says.
"The earthquake is estimated to have impoverished
an additional 67,000 households and increased the
poverty head count ratio by 1.6 percent in the
affected areas," the report said.
Aid agencies taking part in the relief effort in
Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces have
estimated the average household in the area at
The ADB report said preliminary estimates
suggested the reduced economic activity would lead
to 130,000 lost jobs, or about four percent of
total employment in the affected areas. "Close to
70,000 people may have lost their primary source
of income" as a direct result of the quake, it
It added that the pace of jobs recovery "will
depend on the evolution of the reconstruction
effort,“noting that the hard-hit areas were”fiscally poor and depend heavily on the central
government’s general allocation transfer".
The quake is expected to have a “minor effect” on
the national economy with a 0.1 percent drop in
gross domestic product ( GDP), it said, noting
that the 11 affected districts combined accounted
for just 2.2 percent of Indonesia’s GDP.
"The main impact on the national economy is likely
to come from the cost of the reconstruction effort
and its implications on national government
finances," it said. The report said the affected
region’s economic growth was expected to drop to
1.3 percent this year and 4.2 percent in 2007.
It said the pre-quake gross regional domestic
product growth for the affected districts as a
whole had been put at 5.5 percent for both 2006