Indonesia News Digest No 30 - August 9-16, 2006

, by ASAP



* Residents protest ’false accusations’

* Gus Dur, Gadis honored with press award

* Hungry villagers angered by ’fat’ asides


* A happy, peaceful anniversary in Aceh

* Tens of thousands mark year of peace in Aceh

* Aceh peace deal marked in Indonesia

* GAM seeks Aceh law amendments

* The Aceh peace story according to SBY and Kalla

* Syariat Islam is not welcomed by the Acehnese

* Thousands flood into Banda Aceh to commemorate

* Year of peace embraced at birthplace of Aceh

* BRR slammed for funding Aceh military operations

* Poll finds Acehnese more optimistic about the

* Reintegration agency occupied by protesters

* Former Aceh rebel warns of future unrest over
peace pact

* Vast majority of Acehnese back Islamic law -

* Acehnese optimistic of lasting peace one year
after peace deal

* Indonesia’s Aceh to vote in December - Jakarta


* Freeport suspects reject indictment

* West Papuan refugee finally gets asylum

* ’Time for government to change approach to


* Human trade flourishing in Indonesia, say

* Activists gear up for fight to save death row

* Thousands protest Poso executions


* Brokers blamed for delays in government projects

* Legislators named in alleged threats


* Suharto graft case should be dropped: Appeal

* Corruption pervasive in villages


* Porong workers see dreams sink beneath mud

* Worsening forest fires cause haze to spread

* Environmentalists say European firms using
stolen Indonesian wood

* River pollution hits new high

* Deforestation threatens to sound death knell for
Lampung park

* Haze returns to Indonesian part of Borneo island

* Mud may force Sidoarjo residents out for good


* Ailing health care system hurts the most

* HIV-resistant condom for her is here


* Scholars warn government of latent jihadi danger

* Human rights commission wants Ahmadiyah

* MUI Jakarta declares SMS reward scheme
prohibited by Islam


* Indonesian military in urgent need of reform

* TNI reshuffles 79 senior officers

* House urged to investigate arms stash

* General’s stash only a hobby, TNI claims


* Howard withdraws migration bill

* Indonesian strategy ’defeats’ Australia


* Signs point to economic rebound

* Foreigners eye Indonesian smokes


* Australian sovereignty is damaged by the
migration bill

* Goodbye pluralism

* Disasters in waiting

* Australians cool on Indonesia’s Bali


Residents protest ’false accusations’

Jakarta Post - August 16, 2006

Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara — Residents of a
village in West Lombok protested Tuesday outside
the provincial forestry office in Mataram.

They accused police and forest rangers of wrongful
arrest and false accusations during a joint
operation two weeks ago in the forest near their
village in Sambik Bangkol, Gangga district.

Rally coordinator Agus Setiawan demanded the
release of two villagers, Zuki and Jumaeda, from
police custody. "The arrests are baseless. If they
are suspected of illegally clearing land, then we
should all be arrested," he said.

He said most of the residents had benefited from
living near the forest but had never done any
damage. "Why were we accused of stealing from our
own homes?"

West Nusa Tenggara Forestry Office head Badrun
Zaenal said the arrests were made in line with
procedures. "The police certainly have proof to
support the allegations that led to the arrests.
And all thing related to land clearance have been
stipulated in the Forestry Law."

Gus Dur, Gadis honored with press award

Jakarta Post - August 11, 2006

Jakarta — A controversial religious leader and a
feminist writer were named winners of an award for
freedom of expression Thursday. They are former
president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid and Gadis
Arivia who founded Jurnal Perempuan, a woman’s

A member of the jury, Endy M. Bayuni, said the
decision to present them the Suardi Tasrif award,
named after a noted journalist, was because "they
succeeded in opening the public’s perspective in
the controversial debate of the pornography bill,
that more was at stake beyond the bill itself."

Gadis and Gus Dur were among many who raised
concerns of the threat to the country’s pluralism,
freedom of expression and womens’ rights should
the bill take effect.

The presentation will take place Friday in
conjunction with the 12th anniversary of the press
organization issuing the annual award, the
Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI).

Although many others had raised similar concerns
over the bill, Endy added they had been the most
consistent among nominees regarding plurality,
equal rights and freedom of expression.

The jury members shared "admiration for their
spirit, vision and commitment in their struggle
for freedom of expression, equal rights, their
spirit for diversity and democracy in Indonesia,"
said Endy, also chief editor of The Jakarta Post.

Secretary general of AJI, Abdul Manan, said the
pornography bill was not the actual focus of this
year’s award, "although we realize the risk of
attracting controversy“over the decision.”

Gadis founded the Aliansi Mawar Putih (White Rose
Alliance) which urged people to express opposition
against the bill and to jointly fund the
placements of ads announcing their stand in the

Gus Dur, former chairman of the largest Muslim
organization Nahdlatul Ulama, was once quoted as
saying that the bill violated the Constitution on
the protection of freedom of expression. If it was
passed, he said, "I will start and lead efforts to
amend the law because it violates the

No one was named this year for AJI’s annual Udin
Award presented to journalists who were victims of
violence. Endy said the jury did not have enough
evidence regarding a number of nominees that they
were killed or injured physically or
psychologically in relation to their work.

Hungry villagers angered by ’fat’ asides

Jakarta Post - August 9, 2006

Yuli Tri Suwarni, Bandung — Hundreds of residents
of Cipanjalu village in Bandung regency, who have
been struggling to survive since 90 percent of
them lost their jobs three years ago, have turned
down food aid, saying it is jobs they want.

They expressed disappointment over remarks made
last week by some high-ranking officials,
including West Java Governor Danny Setiawan,
suggesting they did not have enough food because
they were not willing to work.

Danny said their dire circumstances were the
direct result of laziness, a statement that was
seconded by Bandung Regent Obar Sobarno.

Endin Hendradin, the head of the Bandung Regency
Information Office, said hunger was not a problem
in the village, judging from the number of fat
people sitting around doing nothing.

The West Java governor issued a circular in 2003,
prohibiting villagers from planting vegetables
among hardwood trees in the nearby forest.

Nearly 90 percent of the 1,300 heads of families
in the village lost their jobs as farmers and farm
hands after the circular was issued. The
government did not offer them alternative

"We don’t like being accused of laziness. We are
not happy about talking to the media either, but
there is no other choice because all our proposals
(for farming again) have been turned down by the
local administration," said 40-year-old Dedi, a
Palintang resident.

Dedi said working in the city was not an option as
they had no money for transportation. They need at
least Rp 20,000 (US$2.10) each to get into the
city on public transportation.

The poorest residents had been relying on handouts
from neighbors until last month, when it seemed
everybody’s money had run out. Many of them had
gone hungry because of rapidly diminishing food

Village head Nanang Setiawan said that, after
tough negotiations, the Bandung regency
administration had agreed to start a number of
assistance programs next month, including the
provision of cattle and 20,000 young milkfish.
They will also be allowed to utilize part of the
forest for intercropping again. "We are counting
on them going through with it. We need work, not
free food," Nanang said.


A happy, peaceful anniversary in Aceh

Asia Times - August 15, 2006

Michael Morfit, Jakarta — The Free Aceh Movement,
known locally as the Gerakan Acheh Merdeka (GAM),
and Indonesia’s government on Monday marked the
first anniversary of a peace agreement that ended
nearly 30 years of armed conflict in the
resource-rich and historically turbulent province
of Aceh at the northern tip of Sumatra.

After the frustrations, disappointments and
mistrust resulting from decades of brutal conflict
alternating with abortive peace efforts, the
Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding has achieved
a negotiated peace settlement that is firmly
taking hold.

Consider: the international Aceh Monitoring
Mission (AMM) has earned the trust and respect of
both former adversaries; armed conflict in the
province has largely ceased; government troops
have been significantly reduced; and GAM fighters
have decommissioned their weapons and been

The crucial basic law on Aceh governance was
approved by parliament last month, and local
political groups are now able to organize
peacefully. Local elections contested by local
candidates are planned for November 12. Even GAM’s
vigorous complaints about perceived serious flaws
and inadequacies of the basic law are being
peacefully formulated and debated within the
framework of the Helsinki agreement.

These are important achievements and, more
broadly, the Helsinki agreement points to a key
milestone in Indonesia’s continuing democratic

To reach an agreement with GAM, President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Jusuf Kalla
first had to confront and manage powerful
constituencies in Jakarta, not all of whom were in
favor of a peace deal. Yet their success in
responding to these challenges has arguably
strengthened Indonesia’s transition toward more
open, accountable and effective governance.

This includes the resilience and flexibility to
accommodate regional differences and yet maintain
national unity, ability to maintain civilian
control over the Indonesian military (TNI), and
the ability of the executive to formulate and
implement policies without yielding to the
informal sabotage and subversion of dissident

In many respects, the Yudhoyono-Kalla
administration faced a more difficult path to
peace than its GAM counterparts. While GAM was
solely focused on Aceh’s fate, the national
government faced more complex issues, including
competing political objectives, diverse
constituencies and strong, potentially disruptive
vested-interest groups.

The Yudhoyono administration at the same time also
had to deal with separatist movements in Papua,
entrenched ethnic conflict in Sulawesi and Ambon,
as well as the broader issues of governance,
accountability, and military reform. The national
government was also working in a relatively less
disciplined and reliable institutional

Since the end of strongman Suharto’s New Order
administration, which was toppled in 1998 by angry
street protesters, Indonesian governance has been
characterized by artful ambiguity, messy
compromises and partial measures rather than
single-minded focus and systematic follow-through.

With a range of politically powerful and deeply
entrenched potential opponents and spoilers within
Indonesia’s political system, including elements
in the military dissatisfied with their diminished
post-Suharto role, Yudhoyono had plenty of reasons
to worry about dissent, equivocation, provocation,
subtle sabotage or even outright defiance to the
Aceh peace deal.

The failure of previous administrations to master
Aceh’s complex, evolving and unruly political
environment, articulate a coherent approach, forge
agreement among key stakeholders, and enforce
discipline within their own ranks had undermined
previous efforts to achieve a negotiated

Former president BJ Habibie was too distracted by
the magnitude of the turmoil of the reformasi era;
Abdurrahman Wahid was too erratic and
unpredictable to develop a coherent approach;
Megawati Sukarnoputri was too disengaged from the
difficult task of policy development and was
disinclined to expend her political capital on a
risky process of negotiations.

Tag team peacemakers

Strong personal commitment and close collaboration
between Yudhoyono and Kalla, who is also chairman
of the Golkar Party, the largest grouping
represented in parliament, were essential to the
success. Despite different backgrounds and
experiences, they stood united in a common
conviction that after 30 years of fighting, there
was no pure military solution to the damaging

Yudhoyono’s and Kalla’s very different styles,
networks, and political bases enabled them to
mobilize resources and manage threats that had
confounded their predecessors. Neither politician
could have achieved success in Helsinki on his
own, however. Together they were able to bring the
focus, coherence and discipline to the government
side that had been badly lacking during previous
attempts at reconciliation.

Yudhoyono managed what he has subsequently
described as the “political umbrella” for
negotiations, which provided essential cover and
protection from the hardline military commanders
who had undermined previous ceasefire agreements,
including the 2002 deal that later broke down.
Yudhoyono’s military background, personal networks
and experience with previous military reform
efforts helped him to identify and contain
potential spoilers in the TNI.

His deliberative style and innate caution,
meanwhile, reassured ultra-nationalists who feared
that the nation’s geographical integrity would be
compromised through an autonomy-granting agreement
with GAM separatists. One of Yudhoyono’s key
decisions was to retract former president
Megawati’s nomination of General Ryamizard Ryacudu
as the military’s commander-in-chief and instead
order the extension of incumbent General
Endriartono Sutarto’s tenure.

Ryacudu had been a frequent and outspoken critic
of negotiations with GAM, and demonstrated little
hesitation in publicly challenging the
government’s conciliation policies. Aceh may have
been the immediate issue, but in retracting
Ryacudu’s nomination, Yudhoyono was also taking
the senior generals’ ability to challenge, subvert
or undermine civilian control over the TNI head-

During the course of the Helsinki negotiations,
Yudhoyono systematically used his own military
background and personal networks, as well as his
close relationship with Sutarto, to strengthen
civilian control over the policy process and
reinforce the subordinate role of the TNI, which
under Suharto wielded huge political influence.

Under the protection of this umbrella, meanwhile,
Kalla tackled the national political parties and
parliament. In the final rounds of negotiations in
Helsinki, the challenge of finding an acceptable
channel for the expression of GAM’s legitimate and
peaceful political aspirations became a critical
issue. Establishing local political parties would
require fundamental changes in existing national
laws, and would eventually require parliamentary

The established national parties — several of
them very critical of the negotiations — would
somehow have to be brought on board. In late June
and early July 2005, Kalla used his personal touch
by convening a series of meetings at his residence
to search for creative ways to resolve
differences. He continued to take the lead in
negotiations with parliamentary factions in
relation to the recently approved Basic Law for
the Governance of Aceh.

Kalla oversaw day-to-day negotiations and was
deeply immersed in the details of discussions,
often personally drafting analyses of government
and GAM positions, developing options and
formulating strategies. His enormous energy,
entrepreneurial spirit and pragmatic flexibility
finally found a way through the entrenched
positions toward a mutually acceptable solution.
Kalla’s position as leader of the Golkar Party,
meanwhile, greatly strengthened the
administration’s ability to win the support of
other national political parties.

Failure to achieve success in Helsinki would have
been a significant setback to Yudhoyono’s
administration at an early juncture in its tenure.
Most important, it would have reinforced a pattern
of undisciplined and unfocused policy processes,
with wide latitude for the continued informal and
covert of influence by the military and ultra-
nationalists of the policy process. Yudhoyono’s
ability to pursue other policy priorities — from
tackling separatist movements in Papua to
governance reform and anti-corruption initiatives
— would inevitably confront many of the same
vested interests, and a failure on Aceh would have
significantly undermined his government’s future

Instead, the Aceh settlement has helped to project
an image of stability, which in turn has proved
invaluable in attracting new private and foreign
investment and bolstering economic growth. The
peace deal has also elevated Indonesia’s
international profile, which had declined
significantly in the turbulence of the so-called
Era Reformasi.

Under Yudhoyono, Indonesia has re-established its
erstwhile leadership within Southeast Asia, and
arguably advanced his administration’s aspirations
for Indonesia to be globally recognized as a
neutral, reasonable, steady and reliable
international partner.

For all these reasons, the significance of the
Helsinki agreement for Indonesia stretches far
beyond Aceh. The peace that the people of Aceh
enjoy today is a long-overdue blessing, but the
benefits extend widely throughout the entire
country, as well as to Indonesia’s regional allies
and neighbors. As such, all stakeholders have an
interest in supporting the full, faithful and
timely adherence by both GAM and the government to
the Helsinki accords.

[Michael Morfit is adjunct professor at the
American University in Washington, DC. His work in
Indonesia dates from 1976, where he has focused on
issues of governance and political reform. His
study on the Helsinki peace process is forthcoming
and involved extensive direct interviews with the
key players from all sides of the negotiations,
including Yudhoyono, Kalla, the Indonesian
negotiating team, the GAM leadership, and Finnish

Tens of thousands mark year of peace in Aceh

Agence France Presse - August 15, 2006

Nurdin Hassan, Banda Aceh — Tens of thousands
have rallied in Indonesia’s Aceh, celebrating a
full year of peace but calling on Jakarta to
honour the pact which ended three decades of
separatist warfare.

Crowds crying “Peace!” and "Long live the
Acehnese!" converged around the province’s main
mosque to mark the historic pact signed on August
15 last year between the separatist Free Aceh
Movement (GAM) and the central government.

Muhammad Adam, a 32-year-old from North Aceh
district, arrived in the provincial capital Banda
Aceh with fellow villagers on Sunday ahead of the

"We all just wish that this peace will last
forever,“he told AFP.”During the conflict,
people in my village could barely make a living
but now, after the MOU (memorandum of
understanding, or peace pact), we can go calmly to
the rice fields without fear." ElShinta radio
estimated as many as 200,000 people had turned

The pact was signed in the wake of the
catastrophic Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, which
slammed into Aceh’s coastlines killing some
168,000 people, and ended 29 years of fighting in
the province at the westernmost tip of Sumatra.

One of Asia’s longest running separatist conflicts
had seen the death of an estimated 15,000 people,
mostly civilians.

Under the deal, signed in Helsinki and mediated by
former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari who
attended the formal celebrations Tuesday, GAM
dropped its demand for independence in return for
wide-ranging autonomy.

A law that was supposed to cement the peace deal
was passed by the government last month but has
elicited criticism from former rebels as well as
ordinary Acehnese, who have already protested in
their thousands.

Tuesday’s rally was also being held to urge the
Indonesian government to draft amendments to the
law to bring it fully into line with the Helsinki
deal. Muhammad Nazar, head of non-governmental
organization the Aceh People’s Referendum
Information Centre (SIRA), expressed the concern
of some Acehnese.

"We ask the Indonesian government not to betray
Acehnese people again. Right now, Acehnese are
very disappointed because the Aceh autonomy law
contradicts the Helsinki MOU," said Nazar, who
served more than three years in prison for
sedition before the pact. "Actually, Acehnese
people are peace-loving and do not like war,
therefore the peace that we seek is an honest and
fair peace," he told the crowd.

Critics of the law say several articles
effectively curtail the power of the local
administration in areas such as natural resource
management, while the role of the Indonesian
military in Aceh remains unclear.

Anwar, a 45-year-old farmer who took a 12-hour
truck ride to attend the rally, said it was an
outlet for him to express his wishes. "What I
really want is for the Indonesian government to no
longer trick Acehnese because during the conflict,
we truly suffered and could not work peacefully,"
he told AFP.

Aceh police spokesman Jody Hariyadi said about 400
officers, assisted by an undisclosed number of
soldiers, were providing security.

Meanwhile at a traditional ceremony at the
governor’s residence, Aceh’s customary council
gave traditional hats and golden daggers to
Ahtisaari, Vice President Yusuf Kalla and GAM’s
chief negotiator Malik Mahmud, among others
instrumental in securing the pact, the Detikcom
online news agency reported.

"For the first time, the people of Aceh now can
breathe, they have new breath," Mahmud said during
the ceremony.

Another official ceremony was to be held at Ulee
Lhee port in Banda Aceh, one of the areas worst-
hit by the tsunami.

Despite the unease over the new law and earlier
predictions of doom, former rebels have called the
peace process “irreversible” and insisted they
will not return to fighting.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said at an
event marking the anniversary in Jakarta on Monday
that the peace still needed work and commitment to
ensure it was permanent.

Aceh peace deal marked in Indonesia

Associated Press - August 15, 2006

Fakhurradzie M. Gade, Banda Aceh — Thousands of
protesters accused Indonesia’s government Tuesday
of failing to deliver on promises made when
separatist rebels signed an agreement a year ago
to end decades of fighting in Aceh province.

The demonstration in front of the provincial
capital’s 18th century mosque was one of the
largest in Aceh in recent years, highlighting
lingering challenges despite the success so far of
the Aug. 15, 2005 peace deal.

The separatists and Indonesian troops agreed to
stop fighting months after the 2004 Asian tsunami
that killed 131,000 people in Aceh. Both sides
said they did not want to add to suffering or
hinder the reconstruction process.

More than 10,000 protesters on Tuesday called on
the government to change a recently passed law
that cements the terms of the accord, saying it
watered down the level of autonomy promised to the
oil- and gas-rich province.

"If the government does not respond to our
demands, don’t blame the people of Aceh if they
once again demand their freedom," Mohammed Nazar,
an activist twice imprisoned for organizing
rallies in favor of an independence referendum,
told the crowd.

The demonstration was called by a loose coalition
of local rights groups, some of whom have links to
former members of the Free Aceh Movement, which
waged a 29-year war against the government that
left 15,000 people dead.

The peace deal, signed in Finland, saw rebels hand
in their weapons and drop their independence
demand, accepting greater self-rule for the region
and the withdrawal of most Indonesian troops.

Later Tuesday, ex-rebels and government officials
were to join former Finish President Martti
Ahtisaari, who brokered the deal, at a ceremony in
a district of the provincial capital hit hard by
the tsunami.

The former rebels and activists have raised
several complaints about the recently passed law.
The most serious is a clause that enables Jakarta
to make important decisions relating to Aceh after
“consulting” the province, rather than with the
province’s “consent,” as agreed to in Helsinki.

The ex-guerillas have said they have no intention
of taking up arms again, but at least two have
said they worry that if the complaints are not
addressed, new rebel movements could rise up
within the next decade.

The government has said that the law can be
amended in one or two years. It says that the
version of the clause agreed to in Finland would
have given Aceh’s legislature more power than that
of the national parliament, which would have
violated the constitution.

Peter Feith, the head of the European Union-led
peace monitoring mission, has said he considers
the law “broadly in line” with the terms of the
deal and also noted that it can be amended. "I am
optimistic that the people of Aceh will enter 2007
with all the preconditions for a comprehensive,
sustainable and long lasting peace," he said in a

GAM seeks Aceh law amendments

Jakarta Post - August 15, 2006

Abdul Khalik, Jakarta — The formerly rebellious
Free Aceh Movement(GAM) is dissatisfied with
several articles in the newly enacted law on Aceh
governance, but its leaders say the group will
wait to see how the law is put into practice, and
work through normal channels to amend it.

Former self-styled GAM foreign minister Zaini
Abdullah said several articles in the law violated
the truce signed last year to end three decades of
separatist fighting in Aceh.

But he emphasized that the peace deal has enabled
the Acehnese people to live in peace at last, free
from the fear of being shot or abducted.

"We see here and there in the law several things
that still don’t reflect the peace accord but we
are very happy to see that compared to a year ago,
the Acehnese people are now living a normal life,"
he said on the sidelines of a one-day conference
Monday in Jakarta to mark a year of peace in the

Zaini gave assurances that former rebels would not
disrupt that peace, and would discuss the
contentious articles with the government to find
the best solution.

Former GAM negotiator Tengku Kamaruzzaman said
several articles of the law curtailed privileges
that were granted to the Aceh administration in
the truce, including the ability to lure direct
foreign investment and to manage the province’s
natural resources.

"We are now discussing with the government
possibilities of amending the law... The most
important aspect is how the law is put into
regulations that can benefit the Acehnese people.
Several previous laws on Aceh were useless because
of the absence of regulations to implement them,"
he told The Jakarta Post.

Communications and Information Minister Sofyan
Djalil, who was born in Aceh, was quoted by
Reuters as saying amendments to the landmark law
were possible “two years down the road” after it
was implemented.

The international peace mission monitoring
implementation of the deal has said the new law is
broadly in line with the peace accord.

The government argues that the law has made Aceh
the envy of other provinces due to its new powers.

The law passed by the House of Representatives
early last month was called for in the peace pact
signed last Aug. 15 in Helsinki, Finland, by the
government and GAM leaders. It paves the way for
local direct elections scheduled for mid-December.

Under the peace accord, GAM dropped its demand for
Acehnese independence in return for greater
autonomy and the right to form local political
parties, which are banned elsewhere in the

Meanwhile, former GAM armed forces chief Muzakkir
Manaf said some 30,000 of his former military men
were waiting for compensation from the government
to enable them to start rebuilding their lives, as
stipulated in the peace pact. "Only 25 to 30
percent of the peace deal has been realized. My
men need jobs and plots of land to start over. We
realize that it will depend on their skills but we
still have not received anything," he said.

Muzakkir said not all of the former GAM guerrillas
had received the three-hectare plot of land and
financial aid promised by the government. "Of
course, we are disappointed but probably this is
an ongoing process," he said.

The Aceh peace story according to SBY and Kalla

Jakarta Post - August 15, 2006

Tony Hotland, Jakarta — It is rare to get a
behind-the-scenes look at historic events. But
Tuesday’s conference commemorating one year of the
Aceh peace accord provided a rare glimpse into the
process and gave the actors involved a chance to
publicly pat themselves on the back.

Poignant and sometimes boastful, President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Jusuf Kalla
separately took turns to highlight their personal
struggles during the momentous process.

In his opening seven-page speech, the President
recalled the need for boldness at a time when
peace efforts were facing legions of cynics.
Yudhoyono described how personal the issue had
become through his involvement in the negotiations
as coordinating minister for security under the
previous administration. "(I) spent my entire
energy trying to find ways to end the conflict,"
he said.

Yudhoyono’s first attempt failed when the 2002
Cessation of Hostilities Agreement signed in
Geneva collapsed a year later. That experience led
him to appreciate "the processes of a negotiated
settlement.“”To be successful requires focused,
sustained and creative efforts and a determination
at the highest level of leadership," he said.

An important lesson from this episode, which
Yudhoyono may have applied later, was the need to
have the political will for a settlement.
"Negotiators need assurances, political backing,
instant decisions, close engagement, constant
guidance. Without these, they would not be able to
move far in pursuing peace," he said.

An event outside the process was also the
catalyst, and Yudhoyono conceded that the
cataclysmic Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami provided a
window of opportunity at a time when peace seemed
most distant. "I (also) instructed my officials to
stop harsh public rhetoric against GAM (Free Aceh
Movement)," he said.

Yudhoyono said he took a political risk by
engaging in negotiations. Peace was a risky
business, but it was a risk worth taking, he said.
Resistance would always come from people with
vested interests in war, for economic motives or
other political reasons. The President said peace
would never have been achieved with out courage
and "if we had bowed to cynical and self-defeatist

The conference, organized by the Indonesian
Council on World Affairs, brought together top
Indonesian and GAM officials. Also present were
former Finland president Martti Ahtisaari, the
facilitator of the peace deal, and Aceh Monitoring
Mission (AMM) head Pieter Feith.

The closing remarks of the one-day conference saw
Kalla take the stage and recollect eleventh-hour
obstacles that might have derailed the process.

One of these occurred on the night of July 17,
2005, when he received news of a deadlock on the
question of local political parties. "I called the
President and he instructed (me) to negotiate
more. Three hours later, I sent them a counter
proposal and we finally agreed at the last
minute," he said.

Kalla also said it was he who recommended Martti
Ahtisaari to act as the negotiator. "The President
didn’t know who Ahtisaari was,“Kalla joked.”I
endorsed him, got him on the phone, persuaded him,
and he was in!"

Syariat Islam is not welcomed by the Acehnese

Tempo Interactive - August 14, 2006

Titis Setianingtyas, Jakarta — The First Minister
of GAM (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka) Malik Mahmud Al
Haytar has declared that the introduction of
Syariat Islam in Aceh is not welcomed by the

"What we want is a peace and pluralism for the
Acehnese," Malik told journalists, after speaking
at an international conference to mark the first
anniversary of the Aceh peace agreement at Hotel
Shangri-la Jakarta, on Monday evening.

He said that GAM’s struggle was not based on
religious principles and this is still the
position today. GAM has nothing to do with things
that have been happening in Aceh recently. "It
think this is not what the Acehnese people want,"
he said.

Malik went on to say that Islam in Aceh has always
been traditional Islam. "Islam has been the
religion of the Acehnese for a very long time.’

He said that this was the first time he had heard
about the use of caning as a form of punishment in
Aceh. This has never been a part of the tradition
of Islam in Aceh.

Thousands flood into Banda Aceh to commemorate
peace - August 14, 2006

Banda Aceh — Thousands of people from various
regions of Aceh have began arriving in Banda Aceh
to commemorated one year since the Helsinki
agreement that falls on August 15 tomorrow. They
plan to hold a peaceful action and joint prayers
in at several locations in Banda Aceh.

One group coordinated by the Acehnese Civilian
Organisation Joint Committee is also planning to
submit the Acehnese people’s version of a Draft
Law on Aceh Governance to the Indonesian
government, the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the
European Union.

According to one of the committee members, Faisal
Rida, the aim of the peaceful action is to call
for the Aceh Governance Law to be brought into
line with the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU). The joint committee comprises 50 civil
organisations in Aceh including the Aceh
Referendum Information Center (SIRA), GeRAK Aceh
(Aceh Anti-corruption Movement) and the Ar-Raniry
State Institute of Islamic Studies Forum of
Student Executive Councils. "We hope this action
will not be tainted by precisely those things that
will damage peace", he said.

Since this morning, the protesters have been
arriving from areas outside of Banda Aceh
including the Ar-Raniry State Institute of Islamic
Studies, the Syah Kuala University, Kopelma
Darussalam Mosque as well as several other
locations in Banda Aceh such as Setui, Ajuen, the
Bangsa Lhong Raya Stadium and the Lam Peuneurut
area. The majority came wearing headbands reading
“Save the Helsinki MoU”.

Tomorrow they plan to hold an action at the
official event being held the Ulee Lheu area that
will be attended by Vice President Jusuf Kalla,
former Finish President Martti Ahtisaari and GAM
leaders from Aceh and overseas. (mar)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Year of peace embraced at birthplace of Aceh

Agence France Presse - August 13, 2006

Tiro — Eyes red with tears, Alamsyah Mahmud
recalls how in 2001, Indonesian paramilitaries
swooped on his village in Tiro, the birthplace of
Aceh’s rebel movement, rounding up people and
torching homes.

The police were sniffing out members of the Free
Aceh Movement (GAM), which inked a peace pact with
the Jakarta government one year ago this week to
end 29 years of conflict that had left 15,000
people dead.

"Everybody here was considered GAM... Brimob
charged into the village like blind pigs and burnt
down our houses. It was a very traumatic
experience," says Mahmud, a 37-year-old farmer,
referring to the feared Indonesian force.

That was a particularly memorable attack in Labu
Adang village. But over three decades, ordinary
life too became a distant memory. "Going to the
rice fields, going to the hills, all our movements
were limited,“Mahmud says.”If Brimob saw our pick-up loaded with rice, they
would arrest us, asking for bribes," chimes in
Nyok Aloh, who is just back from the fields. "It
scares me to remember the way our people were
killed in the conflict. Now we are all
traumatised. Every time a green uniform comes to
the village we think of death."

Today the rice paddies are greening in Tiro, a
group of villages on the east coast of Aceh on
Sumatra island’s northern tip. It was here in 1976
that rebel leader Hasan Tiro declared the creation
of GAM, ensuring a violent destiny for the
villagers: hundreds of killings, abductions,
destruction and forced labour.

But instead of harvesting their crops gripped by
terror, villagers across Tiro are gratefully
reaping a peace dividend this year, with the
trauma starting to ebb away as the local economy
picks up pace.

Farmer Mahmud says his income has picked up by a
quarter since a year ago. "Before, I would
sometimes stay up to one week at home without
working in the paddies because of gunfights," he
says, gesturing to hills once used as a training
ground by GAM fighters and skirted by abandoned
betel and cocoa plantations.

Eleven-year-old Tut Nurfinda, wearing her crisp
blue-and-white school uniform, says she now walks
to school without being afraid. "Sometimes we
would hear gunshots. I would fall face down on the
road, it was so scary," she remembers.

Back then, a 10-kilometre (six-mile) motorbike
ride with the risk of being caught in crossfire
was often too much for teacher Rohana, who used to
frequently skip school, along with many of her
students. "Many students had relatives killed,
abducted or tortured,“she recalls.”They just
could not concentrate."

Tiro today hosts 150 ex-combatants, most of them
farmers. Since last year, dialogue with the police
has improved, as both sides regularly meet for
steaming cups of Aceh’s famed coffee, they say.

Tiro police chief Idris Ousmani is providing
commentary at a soccer match between police and
ex-fighters from a wooden and palm leaf shack at
Tiro’s main pitch. Pausing a moment, he tells AFP:
"Before, we were like water and oil. Now we’re
like egg yolk and white... We are complementary."

Ousmani says that the situation improved when the
almost 6,000 police stationed from outside Aceh
were pulled out by the central government, as
required under the peace pact. Almost 26,000
troops were also redeployed. "Now they have gone,
things are much smoother between us and GAM," he

Mirza Ismail, the GAM representative to the
foreign monitors’ district office, says that both
sides have been cooperating to identify people
carrying weapons, whether they are ex-rebels or
criminals. "I can reach the district police head
at any time, even 2:00 am in the morning," he

Still, worries persist in Tiro over Aceh’s
political future, exacerbated by a dispute over
the government’s passage of a new law giving the
province greater self-rule, which was passed in
July after months of delay.

The law was required under the peace pact, and
paves the way for local elections due to be held
before December. Under the deal signed in
Helsinki, GAM dropped its demand for independence
in return for greater autonomy and the right to
form local political parties which are banned
elsewhere in Indonesia.

But GAM has expressed dismay at some of the law’s
provisions and wants amendments. "We’re in peace,
but we are disappointed," says 40-year-old
Abdullah Usman, the head of Tiro’s Menassa Pana

GAM officials and activists argue the law curtails
the power of the local administration in
international cooperation and management of its
national resources, while potentially
strengthening the military’s role in Aceh. "Was it
planned so the conflict is perpetuated?" wonders

Tiro’s former rebels say they would be prepared to
resume fighting. "If the people of Aceh ask us, we
are ready to fight again," warns Tiro’s ex-GAM
commander Iskandar Daud.

Fakruddin Muhamad, a 26-year-old ex-guerrilla with
a bullet permanently lodged in his kidney that
prevents him from working too long in the fields,
would also pick up arms again. "If our leaders
want it, I am ready," he says.

In Aceh’s capital of Banda Aceh, GAM negotiator
and deputy spokesperson Munawar Liza Zain says GAM
may not have the power to control the emotions of
the Acehnese, but "we are committed not to use
weapons“.”We are going to use non-violent political
channels" to sort out differences with the
government, he adds. Head of the foreign monitors
Pieter Feith, who believes "there has been
remarkable progress achieved in a very short
time", says GAM can seek redress using democratic,
parliamentary means provided by the constitution.
"The security situation in Aceh is stable and
there is no reason to believe this would change,"
he says.

In Tiro, despite the anger at the new law, a
resumption of the conflict seems out of the
question for many. Irwandi, 27, gave up fighting
to sell fish at the Tiro market. "I just want
things to stay as they are now. I don’t want war
again," he says, sitting among the local crowd
cheering a soccer match.

BRR slammed for funding Aceh military operations

Jakarta Post - August 12, 2006

M. Taufiqurrahman, Jakarta — The Aceh-Nias
Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR) is
coming under fire for allocating funds to security
and intelligence operations by the Indonesian
Military (TNI) in Aceh.

Rights watchdog the Aceh Working Group (AWG) said
on Friday that the BRR had violated military laws
by earmarking more than Rp 400 billion (about
US$44 million) in its 2005 budget for security
operations in Aceh and Nias.

The allocation was deemed irrelevant to the BRR’s
primary task of helping Aceh recover from a
devastating tsunami, especially since the funds
set aside for military operations dwarfed those
allocated for children’s education and women’s

"All the money that the BRR received from donors
should go to victims of the tsunami and not TNI
soldiers. International donors should question
this because their money was not used for
reconstruction purposes," Choirul Anam of AWG

A document obtained by The Jakarta Post indicates
that the BRR earmarked Rp 285 billion for defense
operations and another Rp 122 billion for security
operations. The document shows that an
intelligence operation got Rp 416 million and
strategic intelligence received Rp 1.08 billion.

A substantial amount of the money was earmarked
for developing the defense capabilities of
individual military forces in Aceh and Nias. In
total, funds allocated for security and defense
make up 11 percent of the BRR budget for 2005.
Education and children’s empowerment make up less
than 4 percent.

BRR chief Koentoro Mangkusubroto has argued that
the allocation of funds for security and defense
is part of the effort to safeguard reconstruction

AWG dismissed Kuntoro’s statement, saying Aceh did
not need such operations as it was no longer in an
emergency situation. "There are no longer threats
to security in Aceh. Besides, the post-disaster
emergency period has ended," fellow AWG activist
Rafendi Djamin said.

Rafendi said problems would arise when the BRR had
to account for its use of the funds. "The only
institution authorized to scrutinize the military
budget is the House of Representatives. But what
about the funds disbursed by the BRR, as the
agency answers only to the finance ministry," he
said, adding that such a breach of procedures was
also vulnerable to corruption.

Responding to the criticism, BRR said what was
classified as security in Aceh and Nias in fact
was the reconstruction of military facilities that
were destroyed by the tsunami.

"Come to Aceh now and you will see brand new
barracks and offices for army and police personnel
(to replace those) that were destroyed by the
tsunami," BRR spokesman Mirza Keumala told the

Mirza said the money for reconstructing military
and police facilities was drawn from the state
budget. "It, therefore, has won approval from the
House," he said.

Poll finds Acehnese more optimistic about the

Jakarta Post - August 11, 2006

M. Taufiqurrahman, Jakarta — Almost a year after
the signing of the Helsinki peace accord that
ended 29 years of fighting in Nanggroe Aceh
Darussalam, most people in the province believe
conditions are improving, a survey reveals.

The poll, conducted by the Jakarta-based
Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI), found that 67
percent of people surveyed in the province said
they were satisfied with the present security and
political environment.

LSI interviewed 440 people from July 18-21 in Aceh
for the poll, which has a margin of error of plus
or minus 4.8 percent.

The survey finds satisfaction about the peace is
equally spread among people from different
demographic groups. Most people — about 56.7
percent — also believe the peace will last.

Positive sentiment about the agreement is also
shared by a significant number of people outside
the province.

In a national survey, conducted between July 28
and Aug. 3, LSI discovered that the largest number
of people, 47 percent, believed that things had
generally improved in Aceh, while another 43
percent hoped that peace in the province would

For the national survey, LSI interviewed 700
randomly selected respondents with a margin of
error of 3.8 percent.

The existing peace, however, did not mean an
improvement in people’s livelihoods. Despite the
upbeat mood, Acehnese were divided over how to
judge the economy.

Only 29 percent of those surveyed believed the
economy was improving, while 38 percent thought
the opposite. High prices for basic goods and
unemployment were the most pressing problems for

In the national survey, most Indonesians supported
the dissolution of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).
"In our national survey, 81.2 percent of
respondents said that GAM should disband following
the passing of the Aceh governance law," said
Denny Januar Ali, the executive director of LSI.

Denny also noted many respondents supported former
GAM members’ involvement in local politics in line
with the Helsinki accord.

However, a former senior GAM member, doubted the
peace in Aceh would last. Mohammad Nur Djuli, who
helped negotiate the accord, said the pact seemed
to be unenforceble in its present state. He
believed a new generation of rebels could emerge
within a decade, amid dismay about the accord’s
half-hearted implementation.

Former GAM members and activists have complained
that the Aceh governance law does not give the
provincial administration powers to make
international agreements, including those on
natural resource management issues. "If the
injustices are not addressed, then I fear other
GAMs might be born in a decade from now," Nur told

Reintegration agency occupied by protesters

Jakarta Post - August 11, 2006

Nani Afrida, Banda Aceh — Residents of Mane
village in Pidie, Aceh, who lost family members
and homes during the 30-year conflict between the
government and the Free Aceh Movement have
occupied the Aceh Reintegration Agency (BRA)
office to press their compensation demands.

“We will stay here until our demands are met,” one
of those involved in the action, Muhammad, said

At least 200 people have occupied the office and
its yard for the past three days. Several people
involved in the protest, including children, have
begun to show signs of illness, while dwindling
food supplies have forced protesters to beg from

The villagers are demanding the government take
responsibility for the disappearance of family
members and friends during the conflict, and for
the disappearance of their livelihoods as a result
of the violence.

"We want the government to provide each of us
compensation amounting to Rp 150 million
(US$15,789), so we can rebuild our homes, open new
businesses and send our children to school," said
Agus Salim, a spokesman for the protesters.

He said one year after the signing of a peace
agreement between the Indonesian government and
the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in August last year,
those who lost loved ones and property in the
conflict had yet to receive assistance from the
government. He said the government had ignored
several requests for financial support submitted
by conflict victims.

Hanif Asmara, the reintegration agency secretary,
said representatives of the BRA and the conflict
victims were engaged in ongoing negotiations. "We
hope some assistance for the conflict victims can
be disbursed by next month," he said.

The agency has increased its compensation budget
for victims to Rp 215 billion (US$22.63 million)
this year and Rp 400 billion in 2007, from only Rp
10 billion in 2005. Funds will be channeled to
about 63,000 conflict victims in Aceh, with each
victim to receive Rp 10 million.

The government also will set aside another Rp 60
million to help families of those who died in the
conflict. Preliminary data at the agency show the
number of dead from just between 1989 and 2005 at
19,597. “The death toll could increase,” Hanif

Former Aceh rebel warns of future unrest over
peace pact

Agence France Presse - August 10, 2006

Jakarta — A former senior separatist from
Indonesia’s Aceh said Thursday that a new
generation of rebels could be spawned within a
decade amid dismay over the implementation of a
peace pact signed a year ago.

Mohammad Nur Djuli, who was a senior member of the
rebel Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and helped
negotiate the pact inked last August, said a
newly-passed law on self-rule for the province
could encourage youths to take up arms.

GAM officials and activists have complained about
several articles in the law, arguing that the
power of the local administration is curtailed in
international cooperation and natural resource
management and that the military’s role is

"We, the negotiators, are in danger of being
ostracised by our people for signing the MOU
(memorandum of understanding, or peace pact) that
seems to be unenforceable as it is," he told a
panel discussion on a year of peace.

"If the injustices are not addressed, then I fear
other GAMs might be born in a decade from now,"
Djuli said, adding that thousands of Acehnese have
protested against the autonomy law.

Djuli said former guerrillas were committed not to
return to fighting because they had surrendered
all their weapons.

A future generation who felt betrayed by the peace
deal may however provoke violence, he said,
following in the footsteps of GAM which was formed
due to Jakarta’s failure to give the province
autonomy as promised when national independence
was proclaimed in 1945.

"Why did GAM take up weapons in the first
instance? Because... we came to feel that our
parents were fooled by promises of autonomy...
Maybe my children or my grandchildren will think
that I was stupid,“Djuli said.”It is hoped that political leaders in Jakarta are
far-sighted enough to address this now," he said.

Information Minister Sofyan Djalil, who attended
the discussion, said dissatisfaction with the
autonomy law passed last month could be resolved
by amendments or by contesting it in the country’s
constitutional court.

"We adopted the law this year, but if we find some
weaknesses, some limitations then next year or two
years from now we (could) change that," Djalil
told reporters.

Another speaker at the forum however said the
greatest risk to the peace deal was the lack of
jobs for the hundreds of ex-guerrillas, most of
whom returned home to already-poor rural villages.

"What happened is that they are still looking for
jobs and their communities have the burden of
supporting the GAM members," said Sandra Hamid,
from the Asia Foundation, a US based non-
governmental group. "Potentially this could be a
peace spoiler if not addressed."

Hamid praised the deal, saying expectations that
guerrillas or security forces might seek revenge
for atrocities committed during the long conflict
had failed to materialise.

She also noted that contrary to predictions,
former rebels unhappy with the peace deal had not
split from the GAM leadership and resumed

The peace pact, signed in Helsinki and spurred on
by the devastating 2004 tsunami which lashed Aceh,
ended 29 years of conflict. The unrest had claimed
the lives of about 15,000 people, mostly

Vast majority of Acehnese back Islamic law - poll

Associated Press - August 10, 2006

Jakarta — Some 90% of people in Indonesia’s Aceh
province say they agree with Islamic laws that
punish gamblers with caning and force women to
cover their heads in public, according to an
opinion poll released Thursday.

Aceh is the first province in secular but Muslim-
majority Indonesia to be allowed to implement laws
based on the Islamic legal code, or Sharia.

Religious police currently enforce laws
criminalizing consumption and sale of alcohol,
gambling, non-Islamic dress and illicit relations
between men and women. Punishment is either by
fines, short prison terms or light caning.

Some 90% of respondents in a poll by the respected
Indonesian Survey Circle said the laws were "in
line with their wishes."

The survey was conducted based on face-to-face
interviews with 440 respondents in mid-July, with
a margin error of approximately 4.8 percentage

The implementation of the laws is being watched
closely by other provinces in Indonesia that want
to introduce similar laws. Members of the
country’s Christian minority as well as some
moderate Muslims have expressed concerns about the

Aceh — which lost some 131,000 people to the 2004
Asian tsunami — is the most Islamic Indonesian
province, but foreigners and Christians have
always been welcome there.

Some local women’s rights activists have said they
don’t agree with the laws, but fear speaking out
against them because in doing so they may be
portrayed as anti-Islam.

Acehnese optimistic of lasting peace one year
after peace deal

Kyodo News - August 10, 2006

Rudy Madanir and Christine Tjandraningsih, Jakarta
A recent survey has found that the majority of
people in Aceh are satisfied with the current
condition in the northernmost Indonesian province
and believe in lasting peace, a year after the
government and the separatist Free Aceh Movement
signed a peace deal in Helsinki.

A former rebel of the movement, locally known as
GAM, separately said, however, that injustice
still occurs in Aceh and if not fully addressed,
similar movements may spring up within five to 10

Pollster Lingkaran Survey Indonesia told a press
conference Thursday that 67 percent of Acehnese
are satisfied with the current condition in the

According to the survey, 56.7 percent of the 440
respondents, interviewed between July 18 and 21,
were confident the current condition will lead to
eventual peace.

"The survey also found that the peace deal has
boosted the feeling of nationalism among the
Acehnese, with 57.8 percent of the respondents
regarding themselves as Indonesians rather than as
people of certain ethnic or religious groups,"
said Denny Januar Aly of the LSI.

A similar survey in October last year found that
45.5 of respondents regarded themselves as

Asked how proud they are to be Indonesian, 77.7
percent responded by saying very proud or quite
proud, compared with only 56 percent in the
October survey.

A nationwide survey recently carried out by LSI
also found that 81.2 percent of Indonesians said
they wanted GAM, which fought for independence
from Indonesia for 29 years, to once and for all

Separately, former senior GAM rebel leader
Muhammad Nur Djuli told a panel discussion of the
Jakarta Foreign Correspondents’ Club that GAM is
committed to not return to armed struggle. "GAM
will not take up arms anymore. That’s for
certain," Djuli said.

Djuli said, however, that although the entire
population of Aceh, including those who were
anti-GAM, has embraced the former rebels, many GAM
fighters are still jobless and are living in

The Law on Aceh Governance, which was recently
passed by the parliament in accordance with the
Helsinki peace deal to give the province greater
autonomy, "may be enforceable, may be nice in the
short term,“he said.”I must say that the current government is
generous, pro-peace and pro-democracy. But this
government will not last forever. So, if we have a
system that is based on the current enforcer, it
(peace) won’t last long,“he said.”In the long term, popular dissatisfaction and the
feeling of injustice once again will set in. If
the injustice is not addressed, I feel like in
five to 10 years, other (similar movements) might
be born," he added.

Sandra Hamid of the Asia Foundation, a US non-
governmental organization, shared a similar view,
saying the most important challenge for the
government and civil society is to address the
issue of injustice, which potentially could be the
peace spoiler.

"What is happening since Aug. 15 last year is
encouraging and the prospect of peace is promising
for many reasons, but the most important thing is
that people really want it,“Hamid said.”They are tired of conflicts, and no politicians
and political parties would be willing to be seen
as spoiling the peace for the Acehnese," she

Information and Communications Minister Sofjan
Djalil, who also attended the discussion, however,
promised weaknesses will be addressed, including
those related to the law.

"I think the history of abuse of the central
government during the Suharto era will never come
to Indonesia forever. I do believe that," he said.

Indonesia’s Aceh to vote in December - Jakarta

Reuters - August 10, 2006

Achmad Sukarsono, Jakarta — Indonesia plans to
hold the first direct elections in once-volatile
Aceh province by December 10, a government
minister said on Thursday.

Indonesia’s parliament passed a landmark law last
month giving Aceh limited self-rule, a move aimed
at cementing a peace pact between the government
and the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM),
signed last year in Helsinki.

The law paves the way for direct elections of
local executives in the province, on the
northwestern tip of Sumatra.

"In December, we hope by the 10th of December, we
will have local elections," Information Minister
Sofyan Djalil told reporters, adding executive
posts in 19 regencies and cities across Aceh would
be up for grabs besides the position of the
province’s governor.

The Helsinki accord marked the end of a separatist
insurgency in which more than 15,000 people,
mostly civilians, died in the conflict that went
for nearly 30 years. The pact was the result of
months of talks spurred by the December 2004
Indian Ocean tsunami that left around 170,000
Acehnese dead or missing.

Djalil, who was speaking to foreign journalists in
a panel discussion, said the elections would mark
a fresh start in Aceh. "We hope these elections
can be conducted smoothly and peacefully. Then, we
start a new page of Aceh with greater autonomy and
officials directly elected by the people," he

GAM officials have said they welcomed the new law
but that some of its provisions must be amended
because they were not in line with the peace

The truce required that future policies related to
Aceh must receive consent from the region’s
legislature but the new laws had stopped short by
only stipulating the local body would be consulted
in such cases, GAM said.

"In the long term, I think popular dissatisfaction
and the feeling of injustice, the feeling of being
cheated yet once again would set in," Nur Djuli, a
member of GAM’s negotiation team for the Helsinki
talks, told the forum.

The Indonesian Survey Circle, a leading pollster,
said that its latest survey in Aceh showed public
scepticism in the peace process might increase if
economic woes, which sparked the rebellion, remain
unresolved after the December polls.

The Helsinki agreement came after GAM dropped its
demand for an independent Aceh state. Jakarta in
turn promised to allow local political parties,
including any group set up by GAM, to operate in
Aceh, although that contradicts Indonesian laws.

Existing national laws require parties to have
branches in more than half the country’s 33
provinces and individuals to obtain party
endorsements before they run in elections.


Freeport suspects reject indictment

Jakarta Post - August 9, 2006

Ary Hermawan, Jakarta — Lawyers for seven men
charged with the 2002 killings of two Americans
and one Indonesian in Papua province entered a not
guilty plea for their clients Tuesday, saying the
indictments were obscure or baseless.

"The defendants have been made scapegoats as part
of an effort to clean up the image of the TNI
(Indonesian Military) and mend military ties
between the United States and Indonesia," chief
lawyer Johnson Pandjaitan told the Central Jakarta
District Court. He did not elaborate.

The suspects were indicted for killing US
nationals Ricky Lynn Spier, 44, and Edwin Leon
Burgen, 71, and their Indonesian colleague, FX
Bambang Riwanto, in an armed ambush near PT
Freeport Indonesia in Timika district.

Johnson said the charges against key suspect
Antonius Wamang, who has confessed to shooting at
the vehicles carrying the Freeport employees, were

"Prosecutors charge Antonius with recruiting the
other six defendants to help him vandalize the
road to Freeport, but they do not clearly say
whether he planned to vandalize the road or to
commit murder," Johnson said.

He said the indictments against Agustinus
Anggaibak and the five other defendants were
premature as their case was related to that of
Antonius, who had not been proven guilty.

Antonius’ six colleagues are accused of aiding him
in launching the assault. "The police said
Agustinus Anggaibak and Yulianus Deikme knew
nothing about the order, while the rest only knew
that there was a request from Antonius to sabotage
the Freeport road," Johnson said.

He said the seven suspects could not be charged
with premeditated murder because they actually
intended to vandalize Jl. Tembagapura, rather than
commit murder.

Johnson also said the Supreme Court’s order to
move the trial from Timika district to Jakarta was
invalid. Such an order should have been issued by
the Justice and Human Rights Ministry, the lawyer

"The ’security reasons’ for the trial to be moved
to Jakarta ahead of the Papuan gubernatorial
election were an exaggeration, because the poll
ended peacefully,“he said.”After all, all
regions (across the country) will hold local
direct elections, and that should not necessarily
cause court proceedings to be moved."

During the Tuesday court hearing, the seven
defendants continued to protest against being
tried in Jakarta. They refused to sit in the
defendants’ chairs, and kept silent during the
proceeding. Johnson said the arrests of the
suspects by FBI agents in January were also
invalid because they were carried out without
arrest warrants.

"They were deceived by the FBI agents, who
persuaded them to come out of hiding with a
promise that they would be brought to the US so
they could tell about the injustices in Papua. But
in fact they were turned over to Indonesian
authorities," the lawyer said.

Johnson also said his clients were not accompanied
by a translator during the investigation, and most
of them could not speak Indonesian fluently.

Presiding judge Andriani Nurdin adjourned the
trial until Aug. 15, when it will continue with or
without the presence of the defendants.

West Papuan refugee finally gets asylum

Green Left Weekly - August 9, 2006

Pip Hinman — Refugee-rights campaigners and
supporters of a free West Papua welcomed the
Refugee Review Tribunal’s (RRT) ruling on July 31
to overturn the government’s decision not to grant
a temporary visa to the last of the 43 West Papuan
asylum seekers who landed on Cape York in January.
David Wainggai had been told he could apply for a
visa in Japan, the birth country of his mother,
and was incarcerated on Christmas Island.

Nick Chesterfield from the Free West Papua
Campaign in Melbourne said Wainggai’s flight from
the Indonesian military’s violence in West Papua
entitled him to a visa, like to the other 42
asylum seekers.

While welcoming the RRT decision, Greens
immigration spokesperson Senator Kerry Nettle
warned on August 1 that if new migration laws due
to come before the Senate this week are passed,
asylum seekers like Wainggai will be returned to
face the persecution they had fled.

The Migration Amendment (Designated Unauthorised
Arrivals) Bill (DUA bill) does not guarantee the
resettlement of refugees in Australia. This means
that refugees, including children, could be locked
up on Nauru indefinitely while the immigration
department (DIMA) finds another country willing to
take them.

Neither does the new bill allow for judicial
review, which is essential to scrutinise DIMA’s
decisions and has enabled many refugees to stay in
Australia. The review process has also helped
prevent some refugees from being deported to
countries where they would be likely to face

Anna Samson, a campaign officer for A Just
Australia, told Green Left Weekly that had the
Howard government’s law already been in place,
Wainggai would have been transferred to Nauru to
have his claim processed there and, rather than
being given community housing, would have been
locked up in a detention centre without access to
health and welfare services.

Samson explained that the bill "aims to create a
two-tier system of legal rights for people wanting
to migrate to Australia. On the one hand, refugees
like David will be forced to settle for a decision
made by a single department officer that may be
appealed to another ’non-DIMA officer’ drawn from
a ’pool’ of people with RRT experience. They will
not have access to courts.

"On the other hand, people who arrive by plane
will have full access to the Australian legal
system. Yet, statistically, asylum seekers
arriving by boat are more likely to be refugees
than those who arrive by plane and seek asylum."

The DUA bill will not guarantee adequate health
and welfare services on Nauru.

Nettle has recently returned from visiting West
Papuan refugees in Papua New Guinea. She said that
many suffer in difficult conditions in remote
refugee camps and "for Australia to attempt to
reject West Papuan asylum seekers and send them
home, or into these camps, is simply cruel".

To prevent the retrograde DUA bill from becoming
law, two senators will have to cross the floor.
The Greens are urging other senators to oppose the
DUA bill and Chesterfield is calling on dissident
Coalition MPs to vote against Howard’s attempts to
make the migration laws even more punishing.

’Time for government to change approach to Papua’

Jakarta Post - August 9, 2006

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s recent visit
to Papua marked the government’s renewed
commitment to addressing the multitude of problems
facing the local people. Papua University scholar
Agus Sumule, who helped draft the law on special
autonomy for Papua, shared with The Jakarta Post’s
Dwi Atmanta his views on the implementation of the

Question: Many people say special autonomy is the
best solution to Papua’s problems. What actually
are the problems?

There are four basic problems facing Papuans.
First, the yawning gap between Papua and Jakarta.
Despite the exploration of natural resources like
mineral, marine and forest resources, the quality
of life of the Papuan people remains poor as
indicated by the province’s mortality rate, which
is the highest, and life expectancy, which is the
lowest in the country. Second, the traditional
rights of Papuans have long been neglected. The
history of the extraction industry in Papua cannot
be separated from Jakarta’s negligence of rights
abuses. Third, many gross human rights violations
that have occurred since 1963 in Papua remain
unaddressed. Fourth, there has been debate over
the history of Papua’s integration with Indonesia
through the Act of Free Choice in 1969. Many
Papuans believe the process was unfair and far
from honest. Law No. 21/2001 on special autonomy
for Papua was envisioned to address the problems,
one by one. It stipulates the allocation of 2
percent of the special allocation fund for Papua
and the lion’s share of 70 percent of the revenue
from oil and gas for the province. Past human
rights abuses will be settled through the Papua
office of the National Commission on Human Rights
and the controversy surrounding Papua’s
integration into Indonesia will be resolved
through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
But apparently the major problems have remained

Why has special autonomy not gone ahead?

The government has made two basic mistakes. First,
I haven’t seen the central government intent on
upholding the special autonomy law since it was
enacted by president Megawati. It was evident in
the delay of the formation of the MRP (Papua
People’s Council) and the issuance of Presidential
Decree No. 1/2003 (on the acceleration of Papua’s
division into three provinces). As soon as SBY
assumed power, we pushed for a media campaign to
tell the new government the time had come to make
amends for the mistakes. But our advice fell on
deaf ears. Second, the law cannot work because the
local government lacks the capacity, which is
demonstrated by overwhelming practices of KKN
(corruption, collusion and nepotism), while at the
same time we feel the central government seems
reluctant to improve conditions. Jakarta is
mandated to carry out the supervision of regional
governments, according to Law No. 22/2004 on
regional administrations. It is as though there is
some grand scheme to derail special autonomy by
letting the mismanagement continue.

The government plans to review the law on special
autonomy for Papua. Will the revision result in

The revision must first of all guarantee that the
substance of the law will not be altered, because
the problem rests with the implementation. That’s
why the Papua legislature has expressed opposition
to the revision plan. Even the formation of West
Irian Jaya cannot justify the amendment.

Such a revision must start from the bottom, which
more or less is similar to the way Law No. 11/2006
on Aceh’s governance was drafted. Thank God,
Aceh’s problems could finally be settled through a
democratic process. We can do it for the Papuans,
can’t we? Therefore the government should let
Papuans take the initiative in the revision of the
law on special autonomy for Papua. The law itself
stipulates that any revision to it must be done
through consultation with the legislature and the

How do you see the recently issued presidential
instruction on the acceleration of Papua’s

I don’t agree with it. First, the instruction, if
we read it thoroughly, confirms the government’s
failure to uphold the special autonomy law. In the
case of Aceh, the law on special autonomy status
for the province was a failure and was replaced by
the law on Aceh governance. It is humiliating for
Papuans if the law on special autonomy for Papua
is replaced with a presidential instruction.
Besides, the hierarchy of our legal system does
not recognize a presidential instruction according
to People Consultative Assembly Decree No. 3/2000.

Second, the presidential instruction on Papua’s
development requires each Cabinet minister to draw
up a strategy for development in Papua. So, where
is the autonomy? It is obviously a form of central
government intervention in Papua’s autonomy.

Third, through the instruction, the government
appears to be pushing for a resettlement program
in Papua. It is not specifically stipulated in the
instruction, but the fact that it orders the
transmigration minister to deploy skilled human
resources to help Papua develop agriculture means

Fourth, the instruction offers affirmative actions
that differ from those stipulated in the special
autonomy law. The instruction restricts the
affirmative actions to opportunities for local
people to hold government, military and police
posts, which worries me. Will there be a new
military battalion in Papua that will treat fellow
Papuans brutally? I don’t know.

Fifth, the instruction is too simple compared to
Law No. 21/2001. The protection of traditional
rights and the settlement of past human rights
abuses, for example, are absent from the

The instruction should have focused on steps to
correct the ineffective implementation of special
autonomy following the inauguration of the new
Papua and West Irian Jaya governors, to adjust all
government policies to the law and investigation
into corruption cases.

Is separatism still relevant in Papua?

It’s a very relevant issue to date and is
worrying. People have considered special autonomy
a failure and demanded talks to restore public
trust in the central government. If the demand is
left unheeded, they will feel they are different
and look for their own way. Separatism may not
take shape in an armed struggle but an
intellectual revolt.

The timing is right for the government to improve
the condition now that the new governors have been
installed following a democratic process and the
Aceh problem has been settled through talks that
set a good precedent for international support for
the solution to Papua’s problems. The involvement
of foreign parties does not mean turning the
matter into an international issue, but it will
instead build trust as happened in Aceh. If this
golden chance is wasted, I don’t know what will


Human trade flourishing in Indonesia, say experts

Jakarta Post - August 16, 2006

Jakarta — Although the central government has
identified human trafficking as one of Indonesia’s
most serious problems, the trade continues to
flourish here.

Arist Merdeka Sirait of the National Commission on
Child Protection (Komnas PA) said that the
situation was being aggravated by the way police
treated the victims.

"Instead of taking a protective approach towards
the victims, the police tend to humiliate them,“he told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.”To eliminate this crime, we need to make an extra
effort and involve all security institutions and
the public," he said.

Indonesia is a hub for trafficking. Young local
women are often hired under the pretense of
overseas employment as domestic workers, only to
end up in forced prostitution in Malaysia, Taiwan,
Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Saudi
Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Babies have also been sold internationally for
illegal adoptions through “legitimate” children’s
institutions, Arist said.

"This is mostly caused by poor law enforcement. We
need pro-active enforcers. The Indonesia Workers
Service Company needs to be watched closely," he
said. "The Manpower and Transmigration Ministry
should be more careful because so far its
monitoring has been weak. For example, it is
against the law to send people under 18 to work

High rates of poverty and unemployment, along with
low levels of education, have been blamed for the
ease with which people in Indonesia are exploited.

"The law on child protection is used for those who
violate children’s rights while the Criminal Code
is for women. We have drafted a bill, now in the
hands of the House of Representatives, to really
banish human trafficking in Indonesia. We are
improving the criminal, protection, rehabilitation
and repatriation aspects," said Muhammad Joni, a
legal expert at Komnas PA.

He said transnational organized crime needed to be
watched by international organizations too,
otherwise national institutions would perform

"Other crimes, such as corruption, money
laundering and terrorism, can be handled
seriously. Why can’t human trafficking cases be
handled in a serious manner?" said Muhammad.

Meanwhile, monitoring group Indonesia Police
Watch head Neta Pane said most of the data
available about human trafficking was provided by
non-governmental sources.

"That proves that our government is not serious
enough about handling the issue," said Neta.

He added that poor and developing countries were
easy targets for criminal organizations.

"The police alone, with their limited facilities
and equipment, cannot handle these crimes. They
need to collaborate with the Navy and immigration
personnel," Neta said.

He said the National Police had succeeded in
catching some of the people involved in
trafficking, but that the bosses often evaded

Activists gear up for fight to save death row

Agence France Presse - August 12, 2006

Arvin Fikriansyah, Palu — A last-minute reprieve
for three Indonesian Christians on death row has
been welcomed by activists and relatives as they
geared up to fight for a commutation of their

Indonesian authorities granted a stay of execution
for Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marianus
Riwu, who were found guilty in 2001 of violence
against Muslims in Central Sulawesi, minutes
before they were to be shot.

Police said that officials were too busy preparing
for celebrations ahead of Indonesia’s Independence
Day on August 17, so the men would have to be
executed by firing squad, probably three days

The wife of Tibo, Nurlin Kasiala, thanked the

"I am very thankful to the Indonesian national
police chief for delaying my husband’s death
sentence,“she told AFP.”I am going to continue fighting until my husband
is pardoned from execution because I have no doubt
that he is innocent from having taken part in
violence in Poso," she said, referring to the area
affected by the religious conflict.

The trio’s case is sensitive in Indonesia, where
three Islamic militants are also on death row for
their roles in the 2002 Bali bombings, which
killed 202 people. They are to be executed on
August 22 unless they request a case review.

The execution of the three Christians would have
been the first carried out by Indonesia this year.

Amnesty International, along with other critics of
the Poso case, have said the men’s original trial
was unfair. Angry Muslim mobs besieged the court
during their trial and there were reports of
intimidation of judges and their legal team.

Amnesty hailed the decision by the government and
urged it "to immediately transform this act of
clemency into the commutation of their death
sentences," it said in an e-mail to AFP.

The reprieve was granted after Pope Benedict XVI
dispatched Friday a request for clemency to
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,
though officials in the world’s most populous
Muslim nation denied there was a connection.

George Aditjondro, an analyst who has done
extensive research on the Central Sulawesi
religious conflict, which saw some 1,000 deaths in
2000-01, said the government may have considered
both foreign and domestic protests.

"Perhaps international pressure played a hand in
the decision but there was also strong support
domestically" for the stay of execution, he told
AFP, referring to protests this week by thousands
of Christians.

He also said that the president must have taken
into account that the executions "have the
potential to trigger even bigger communal

A government-brokered peace pact came into force
in 2001 in Central Sulawesi but intermittent
violence mostly targeting Christians, who live in
roughly equal numbers with Muslims there, has

Protestant priest Yance Taihatu also welcomed the
reprieve but warned that the government still
needed to devise a permanent solution to end
ongoing unrest.

"This is a dilemma because for sure there will pro
and anti reactions to the delay. The government
must meticulously analyze this matter although
they are now facing a dead end,“he said.”This is
a cul-de-sac. The president is in a cul-de-sac."

Johnson Panjaitan, who heads the Jakarta-based
Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association,
also said any pardon must be granted "in the
context of a package that can comprehensively
solve conflict in Poso."

The three death row inmates in the Poso case have
already exhausted all legal avenues of appeal,
including an appeal for clemency from the
president. In theory, Yudhoyono could still grant
them a pardon.

Thousands protest Poso executions

Jakarta Post - August 11, 2006

Yemris Fointuna and Ruslan Sangadji, Kupang/Palu
Large rallies were held across East Nusa
Tenggara on Thursday to protest the impending
executions of Fabianus Tibo, Marianus Riwu and
Dominggus da Silva for their roles in violence
between Christians and Muslims in Central
Sulawesi’s Poso district.

In Kupang, the Peace and Truth Commission of the
Kupang Diocese called on Catholics to pray at home
for the safety of the three death-row convicts,
who hail from East Nusa Tenggara.

Commission head Father Maxi Un Bria urged all
believers to pray for the lives of the three men
to be spared. "A person’s life and death is
determined by God and not by bullets," Maxi said.

The foster father of Dominggus, Anselmus da Silva,
said by telephone he was resigned to the fate of
his son. "We have exhausted every legal channel.
We can only pray for the government to overturn
the ruling. We are powerless in the face of the
government," he said.

The Palu Prosecutor’s Office has set the execution
date for the three, who will die by firing squad
this Saturday at 12:15 a.m. Their families said
they had been notified of the date.

Central Sulawesi Police chief Brig. Gen. Oegroseno
said Thursday he had received execution orders
from the prosecutor’s office. He added that his
officers were ready to carry out the executions.
"We have prepared six firing squads, or 40
selected sharpshooters. They have been trained and
they are psychologically prepared to carry out
their duty," Oegroseno said.

In Tentena, Central Sulawesi, thousands of
Christians held a rally Thursday morning to
condemn the executions. The head of the Central
Sulawesi Protestant Church (GKST) Synod, Rev.
Renaldy Damanik, told The Jakarta Post the
executions were unjust and inhumane. "If the
executions stand, we will cancel plans to plea for
clemency for perpetrators of the Poso conflict.
Anyone involved must be punished," Damanik said.

GKST secretary Rev. Irianto Kongkoli said that
Fabianus Tibo’s disclosure of the identities of
several people believed to have masterminded the
Poso violence received very little response from
the authorities, and instead three innocent men
were to be executed.

"I don’t believe a farmer could have masterminded
the conflict. They are only victims. The one who
should be severely punished is Arief Patanga,"
Kongkoli said.

Arief Patanga was the Poso regent from 1992 to
1997. The Poso conflict began toward the end of
his term. There have been allegations that in an
attempt to win reelection he mobilized supporters,
which eventually flared into religious violence.

The spokesman for the Central Sulawesi People’s
Coalition Against Violence (KoMa), Edmond
Leonardo, voiced opposition to the use of capital
punishment in Indonesia, including the execution
of Tibo and his colleagues. He said the country
had far more pressing problems to address, such as
poverty and corruption.

Poso Center secretary Mahfud Masuara said
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should form an
independent fact-finding team to gather objective,
honest and thorough information on the violence
that occurred in Poso from 1998 to 2006.

"This team should determine the facts relating to
the controversial death sentence of Tibo and his
friends, and recommend a proper and just legal
solution. In this regard, the government should
postpone their executions," Masuara said.

Robert Tibo, Fabianus Tibo’s son, said he was
convinced his father was innocent. "My father is a
victim of the interests of selfish people in


Brokers blamed for delays in government projects

Jakarta Post - August 11, 2006

Rendi Akhmad Witular, Jakarta — The delays in the
spending of development funds by many local
administrations are believed to be partly the
result of rent-seeking practices involving
collusion between a number of national legislators
and local administrations, a minister says.

Under the regional autonomy scheme, local
governments are entitled to receive specific
allocations out of the annual state budget under
the general allocation fund (GAF) and special
allocation fund (SAF) arrangements, in addition to
a share of taxes and natural-resource revenues.

State Minister for National Development Planning
Paskah Suzetta said Thursday that some of the
funds allocated to local governments could not be
immediately employed because of delays in the
completion of their regional budgets.

Paskah said that these delays were often
deliberately engineered in order to give the local
administrations time to seek higher allocations
out of the GAF. For this purpose, many provincial
administrations employed the services of national
legislators as lobbyists, who then pressured the
central government during the deliberation of the
national budget.

"Approval of a lot of regional budgets is delayed
due to the fact that the local administrations are
seeking higher allocations from the GAF. That is
why there are so many brokers providing such
services," said Paskah after a meeting with Vice
President Jusuf Kalla. A GAF allocation to a local
administration cannot be disbursed until such time
as its budget has been approved by the regional
legislature. However, in a Catch-22 situation,
local administrations claim that they cannot
accelerate the adoption of their budgets as they
first have to wait for the approval of the
national budget.

This year, the central government has earmarked a
total of Rp 145 trillion (around US$16 billion) in
GAF allocations.

"It is simply unacceptable that the local
administrations cannot approve their budgets in
line with the adoption of the state budget in
December. They are inventing reasons so as to
allow them to secure higher GAF allocations with
the help of brokers," said Paskah.

Paskah said that the central government normally
disbursed the GAF payments to all of the regions
in February, around two months after the adoption
of the national budget.

Paskah should be fully au fait with the situation
as he served as chairman of the House of
Representatives finance commission from 1999 until
2004. He may also be able to help identify the
corrupt legislators who act as brokers.

A number of legislators are currently under the
spotlight after seven of their colleagues were
accused of acting as middlemen who pressured
government officials to secure disaster relief
money for their regions.

The scam was uncovered a few weeks ago after a
lawmaker was dismissed from the House for acting
as a middleman in a government-funded haj-
dormitory project.

The lobbyists received hefty fees for their

Aside from rent-seeking, some local
administrations have also been accused of delaying
projects after the funds had been disbursed so
that they could earn interest on them by putting
the money in government bonds or bank deposits.

The central bank recently discovered a staggering
Rp 43 trillion in development funds that were
supposed to be used for regional projects lying
idle in the banking sector.

Legislators named in alleged threats

Jakarta Post - August 10, 2006

M. Taufiqurrahman, Jakarta — Weeks after a
lawmaker was dismissed for acting as a middleman
in a government-funded haj dormitory project,
seven lawmakers are accused of pressuring
government officials in order to get disaster
relief money for their regions.

The Coordinating Ministry for the People’s Welfare
disclosed the names of the lawmakers Wednesday.

After meeting with House Speaker Agung Laksono,
Ministry secretary Sutedjo Yuwono said the
lawmakers included Emir Moeis of the Indonesian
Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Rudianto
Tjen, also of the PDI-P faction in the House, and
M. Tonas of the Democratic Pioneer Star faction.

The remaining four were Ahmad Hafiz Zawawi of the
Golkar Party, Jabaruddin Ahmad of the United
Development Party, Baharuddin Asari of the
National Awakening Party and Nurhadi Musawar of
the National Mandate Party. Emir and Hafiz are the
chairman and deputy chairman of the House budget

Sutedjo said some of the lawmakers phoned him,
asking for a portion of the Rp 3.2 trillion
(US$355 million) in relief funds to be allocated
to their regencies.

"Some others went further in coming up with their
own proposals for projects that had nothing to do
with disaster relief programs," Yuwono told a
press briefing. He was referring to Roedijanto,
who submitted a proposal to improve services at a
hospital in North Sumatra.

Sutedjo, who was the first official to disclose
the allegations, said he had received threats from
some legislators who felt that their proposals
were not being responded to.

He had said previously that several lawmakers
threatened to block the funding unless their
regions received a share of the money, even though
they were not affected by disasters. The lawmakers
in question have appeared on television and other
media outlets denying any wrongdoing.

Coordinating Minister for the People’s Welfare
Aburizal Bakrie said some of the lawmakers had
bypassed the existing procedures for the
disbursement of relief funds.

It was a breach that could disrupt government
planning mechanisms, he added. "If the procedures
are not followed there will be confusion in the
planning of disaster relief fund allocations,"
Aburizal said.

The House leadership, however, defended the
lawmakers’ conduct, saying they had merely acted
on behalf of their constituents.

"I know that the House members did make contact
with people from the ministry but such conduct was
part of their role in representing people from
their electoral districts. After all they did not
make efforts to enrich themselves," Agung Laksono
told journalists.


Suharto graft case should be dropped: Appeal court

Agence France Presse - August 9, 2006

Jakarta — An Indonesian appeal court has ruled
that a corruption case against former dictator
Suharto should be dropped, overruling a lower
court’s order to reopen the case.

The attorney-general’s office announced on May 11
that it had halted legal proceedings against the
ageing Suharto, who is accused by critics of
amassing billions of dollars in state assets
during his iron-fisted rule. It cited poor health,
saying a stroke had left Suharto unable to follow

In response to a suit filed by activists, the
South Jakarta district court ruled in June that
the case be reopened. But the Jakarta Court of
Appeal has overruled it, court spokesman Yohannes
Suhadi told reporters.

A panel of three judges said in their ruling, a
copy of which was released to the press, that
Suharto’s inability to communicate both verbally
and in writing "is a reason to void any authority
to indict" him.

The attorney-general’s office had based its
decision to drop the case on an interpretation of
a Supreme Court decree, which had recommended that
Suharto face trial if and when his physical
condition improved. The office argued it could not
implement the decree as Suharto’s health had
deteriorated too much.

The appeal court’s decision is not necessarily the
end of the legal saga. The activists who initially
lodged the lawsuit could appeal to the Supreme
Court and others could attempt to launch similar

Due to ill health, Suharto has never taken the
stand for corruption charges levelled against him
in 2000. These accuse him of misusing more than
500 million dollars from charitable foundations he
set up during his rule — separate to the billions
in state assets he is alleged by critics to have
siphoned off.

Suharto, 85, stepped down amid mounting unrest in
1998 after ruling for more than three decades and
has lived at his upscale family residence in the
leafy Jakarta suburb of Menteng since then.

He has been in and out of hospital for various
health problems in recent years, including at
least three operations and nearly a month of
treatment for stomach problems this year.

Corruption pervasive in villages

Jakarta Post - August 10, 2006

Agus Maryono, Purwokerto — Corruption is a deep-
seated and pervasive problem that affects all
levels of governance, from neighborhood level up.

The efforts of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
and other high-ranking officials, as well as
police and prosecutors, to eradicate corruption
within the government appear to have had little
impact at neighborhood or village level.

In Banyumas regency, irregularities have been
reported in the issuance of household cards,
identity cards and the disbursement of cash
assistance for the poor.

The government implemented a quarterly cash
compensation package last October to offset the
effects of last year’s fuel price increases. Under
the scheme, low-income families are entitled to Rp
300,000 (US$31.57).

Applying for a household card or a picture ID in
Banyumas is a complicated process. The
application, which must go through the
neighborhood and community units, then the
district and regency administration offices, can
take weeks to complete.

"The official fee is Rp 8,000, but it could take
two months. I eventually asked them to
’accelerate’ the process. The clerk at the
district administration office charged me Rp
30,000 and said it would take a week, which turned
out to be true," Yono, 36, a resident of Kembaran
village, said.

Instead of Rp 300,000, many recipients of the
unconditional cash assistance received only Rp
250,000, or even Rp 200,000. "We only got Rp
250,000. They said the Rp 50,000 was for
administrative fees and contributed to the village
coffers," Warsim, 30, from Kemetug village,
Baturaden district, told The Jakarta Post.

He said residents had been warned that reporting
the matter to their neighborhood chiefs could
boomerang on them, because their names might be
dropped from the list of recipients.

"Besides which, the cash assistance has not been
fairly distributed. Many poor people don’t receive
it, but those who are better off — who have nice
homes with tiled floors — receive it because they
are close to their neighborhood chief," Warsim

Supeno, 50, from Sumbang village reported similar
treatment. "Well, everyone knows the neighborhood
chief distributes the money as he likes. I, who
live in a house like this, get nothing, but many
people who have houses with tiled floors and own
motorcycles appear to be eligible," said Supeno,
when met by the Post at his dirt-floor home.

In Wlahar village, Kalibagor district, residents
said village officials had deducted Rp 100,000
from their payments. "They demanded Rp 100,000
from me, saying the money would be divided among
their superiors. They told me not to tell anyone.
If I did, they were going to drop my name from the
recipient list," said villager Mad Kasim, 45.

Irregularities in the distribution of cash
assistance are believed to be rife partly because
residents are afraid to stand up for themselves.

However, hundreds of Wlahar Wetan residents staged
a protest at the local village hall demanding that
the village treasurer, who allegedly deducted Rp
100,000 from the payments, be dismissed.

Banyumas Regent Aris Setiono said Saturday, "I
will take stern action against my subordinates if
they are proven guilty. It is not appropriate


Porong workers see dreams sink beneath mud

Jakarta Post - August 16, 2006

Indra Harsaputra, Sidoarjo — Workers whose
companies are affected by hot mudflow in Porong,
Sidoarjo, East Java, said Tuesday they were not
being properly compensated for their loss of

Susiati, 40, was sent home until further notice
along with 63 other workers after the mudflow,
which began pouring out of an exploratory well at
Lapindo Brantas Inc. gas prospecting site on May
29, swamped their company, cracker producer CV
Sari Inti Pratama.

Lapindo had said it would give the workers Rp
700,000 (US$76) each per month but they only
received Rp 500,000 from the cracker producer.
They were allegedly threatened with dismissal if
they refused the offer.

"I’m tired of fighting the company to get it to
change its mind. I’ve been in two protests but
nothing has changed. Rather than having to protest
all the time, I’d rather quit my job," she told
The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

In order to compensate 1,873 workers in 19
companies affected by the mudflow, Lapindo has
distributed Rp 1.3 billion.

Reality is starting to hit home for the hundreds
of workers who have lost their jobs. They wonder
how they are going to feed their families.

Their future is becoming more uncertain still as
it is likely that residents will be evacuated from
their homes, with no guarantee they will ever be
able to return.

"This is a nightmarish situation. I’ve got no idea
what to do. I’m sure Lapindo won’t be handing out
money for ever," said the woman, who is staying in
a temporary shelter. Other workers have had better

A number of companies in the affected areas have
transferred their employees to other branches.
Many have also received full cash compensation
from Lapindo.

Abimanyu, who previously worked in the human
resources department of food producer PT
Primafindo Pangan Makmur, said he had not been
notified by the company of any relocation plans.
"But the good news is I’m back at work at a branch
office of our company. And my salary is the same
as before," he said.

Primafindo’s general manager Maria Elizabeth
Anggraeni said that if the company was forced to
scale back its operations it would find jobs for
its employees at its branch offices or other
companies. "This is to ensure that the workers can
return to work immediately."

Sidoarjo Deputy Regent Saiful Illah said he had
warned businesspeople against dismissing workers
because of the mudflow. However, he said he
understood it was difficult for companies that had
already suffered huge financial losses.

"The (regency) government is just a facilitator.
I’ve repeatedly asked companies not to fire
workers. We’ve also urged workers to look for
other jobs, so they don’t stay unemployed for
long," Saiful said.

The head of the Sidoarjo regency manpower office,
Bambang Widagdo, said the administration was
planning to hold a job fair.

The job fair, he said, would give workers an
opportunity to look for alternative work. "We’re
working hard not to add to unemployment numbers.
We plan to prioritize workers affected by the

Worsening forest fires cause haze to spread

Jakarta Post - August 16, 2006

Tb. Arie Rukmantara, Jakarta — Forest fires on
Sumatra and Borneo are sending a toxic haze across
the skies of Southeast Asia, raising air pollution
levels on the two islands and in neighboring
Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

Malaysia’s Meteorological Services Department on
Tuesday said a smoky haze was blanketing skies in
the central Selangor state and the eastern state
of Sarawak on Malaysia’s part of Borneo island,
causing air pollutant indexes at five stations to
record unhealthy air quality levels.

The indexes, which measure harmful particles in
the air, recorded moderate air quality levels in
38 other areas.

In Singapore, the pollutant standards index (PSI)
dropped from “healthy” to “moderate” with a
reading of 52. A reading of more than 100 is
considered dangerous to the health, while 50 or
below is good.

The haze from the fires also has affected Brunei,
which experienced higher than normal air pollution
levels Monday and reduced visibility levels of
5,000 meters.

Malaysia’s Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri
Dr George Chan warned the haze in the state was
expected to worsen.

He said the Meteorological Services Department had
forecast “less than normal” rainfall in Borneo
until the end of the year, which would give rise
to more brushfires and more haze.

The Jakarta-based ASEAN Secretariat said satellite
images showed there were more than 350 “hot spots”
detected in Riau, North Sumatra, South Sumatra,
Bengkulu and Jambi, producing a haze that traveled
throughout the region. It also showed more than
170 hot spots in Borneo, but did not state whether
these fires were sending smoke across the region.

"Most of the fires have occurred in abandoned
plantation areas and peat lands," according to a
report issued by the secretariat Tuesday.

Triwibowo, the director for forest fire control at
Indonesia’s Forestry Ministry, confirmed the
secretariat’s report that most of the fires were
on privately owned land. He said this was one
reason it was so difficult for the government to
extinguish the blazes.

"We deployed dozens of officers to put out the
fires 10 days ago but they have been unable to
deal with them," he told The Jakarta Post.

Triwibowo said his office was formulating new
strategies for fighting the fires, including
deploying helicopters and planes to drop water on
the blazes.

"But that would still be difficult because the
fires are scattered around thousands of hectares
of land. I guess now is the time to pray for heavy

Environmentalists say European firms using stolen
Indonesian wood

Deutsche Presse Agentur - August 15, 2006

Jakarta — A coalition of environmental groups on
Tuesday accused leading European flooring
manufacturers of using wood stolen from
Indonesia’s last remaining rainforests.

The London-based Environmental Investigation
Agency (EIA) and its Indonesian partner Telapak
had previously released evidence claiming that
much of the merbau timber sold as flooring by
several European and North American flooring
manufacturers had come from Indonesia’s strife-
torn Papua province, where illegal logging is

The groups said that although many British and
American flooring retailers moved immediately to
remove the products from sale, three European
manufacturers refused to do so. The groups
identified the manufacturers as Tarkett of
Germany, Kahrs of Sweden, and Junkers of Denmark.

"While we applaud the swift response of the large
retail chains, we are appalled by the failure of
major flooring brands to take similar decisive
action," Sam Lawson, a senior investigator with
EIA, said in a joint-statement with Telapak.
"These companies are clearly more concerned with
supplying the demands of consumers for cheap and
fashionable flooring than they are with keeping
their hands free of contraband wood.“The statement said Junkers had made”considerable
effort" to investigate the groups’ findings but
continues to use Indonesian merbau, while the
other two manufacturers have not responded to EIA
and Telapak’s investigation.

Papua, one of the world’s most remote areas, lies
on the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago
and is home to some of the last significant tracts
of virgin tropical forest in Asia.

Rampant illegal logging, in many cases protected
by Indonesian security forces, has enabled
hundreds of millions of dollars worth of prime
timber to be smuggled out of the province and
shipped abroad.

Around 60 million hectares of pristine forest
across Indonesia has vanished in the last 20 years
because of over-cutting, illegal logging, land
conversion, natural disasters and forest fires,
according to The Jakarta Post newspaper. According
to EIA, Indonesia was the largest source of
illegal timber and wood products to the European
Union in 2004.

River pollution hits new high

Jakarta Post - August 15, 2006

Multa Fidrus, Tangerang — Thousands of Tangerang
residents living along the Cisadane river are at
risk of various illnesses due to the increasing
level of pollution in the river, a report says.

Tangerang municipality water company PDAM Tirta
Benteng announced Monday that tests of river water
had shown alarming levels of contaminant,
including manganese, iron, ammonia and sodium.

Company spokesman Indra Wawan Setiawan said the
hazardous chemicals could build up as deposits in
the human body, causing effects that were likely
to become apparent within the next five years.
"The effects will range from skin diseases and
digestive problems to kidney failure and various
kinds of cancer," he said.

He said Tangerang tap water consumers would also
be affected, but that people living along the
riverbank were at a greater risk as they used
water directly from the river for household
purposes. He said they were also alarmed by river
water seeping into the wells of residents living

The report was based on recent tests on water
samples from the Cisadane River carried out by a
joint team of officials from the municipality’s
environmental agency, health agency and water
companies PDAM Tirta Benteng and PDAM Tirta Kerta

The tests also found that 11 companies producing a
range of products, including ceramics, fibers,
chemicals and textiles, had been dumping liquid
waste into the river.

PDAM Tirta Benteng president director M. Kodri
said the increasing level of pollution had caused
water purification costs to increase
significantly, and if it persisted, could lead to
the disruption of tap water supplies.

"If the problem is not immediately taken care of,
the residents will suffer," he said, adding that
the dry season had significantly decreased the
river’s volume.

He said the company’s water intake level had
decreased from 3 meters to 90 centimeters. If it
continues to decrease by 10 centimeter a day, the
company will only be able to provide clean water
for consumers for the next nine days.

Wild grass has covered the surface of sediment in
the river, while algae has blackened the water.

The oxygen level in the water has also dropped
below the normal standard, a supporting test from
independent laboratory Sucofindo indicates.

"Our pumping engines are currently still working.
But the quality of the water is of concern," he
said, adding that it would be very difficult to
process river water into clean water.

Deforestation threatens to sound death knell for
Lampung park

Jakarta Post - August 14, 2006

Oyos Saroso H.N., Bandarlampung — Five-year-old
Trimo is placed in an old babywalker every now and
then. Although his feet can touch the ground, he
isn’t able to get it moving as other children
usually can.

The boy, blind at birth, was playing alone in
front of his 12-square-meter house with plaited
bamboo walls and a dirt floor.

Trimo, who also suffers from malnutrition, is a
child of Rasidi, 45, and Tatik, 37, from Pemerihan
village, Bengkunat district in West Lampung.

Rasidi and Tatik, who originate from Pacitan, East
Java, cultivate farmland within the Bukit Barisan
Selatan National Park. While they are poor, and do
not own the land they live on or cultivate, the
park is their source of livelihood.

Pemerihan village, established in the 1950s,
borders the park and was previously a vast
forested area. Its population of about 4,000
mostly originate from Cawang Ara village inside
the park area. In the 1970s, they were evicted and
relocated to Pemerihan.

Squatters from areas outside Pemerihan openly
clear forest land to make way for the cultivation
of coffee, pepper, cacao and vegetables without
any fear of being caught by forest rangers, while
those from Pemerihan usually play cat and mouse
with forest rangers, disappearing whenever they
sense the presence of rangers and outsiders.

Rasidi said he decided to cultivate land within
the national park to seek a sustainable
livelihood. According to Tatik, she and her
husband moved to Pemerihan a few years back. They
previously lived in Kalianda, South Lampung,
working as farm laborers.

"We had to move here to survive. But, we don’t own
a farm here, and we built this house on this land
with permission from our neighbor," said Rasidi.

The pace of deforestation in Bukit Barisan Selatan
National Park is about 1,630 hectares per year.
Tens of thousands of people like Rasidi who live
within the park area cultivate crops on state
land. Data at the park’s office showed that no
less than 26,242 squatter families cultivate land
inside the park.

They began to cultivate 53,000 hectares of land
after illegal loggers had finished removing the
timber in the area. The highest extent of damage
occurs in Sekincau, Suoh and Rantauagung areas
(bordering Bengkulu province).

"We are actually benefiting from what is left...
rather than leaving the areas barren," said

Head of the park’s office Tamen Sitorus said that
the largest deforested area was in the Sekincau
area in West Lampung, where more than 21,353
hectares had been turned into coffee farms.

Besides the threat of deforestation, the area
which has been listed as a world heritage site is
under constant threat of theft of trees with high
market value, such as meranti, a mahogany-like

The park’s management faces difficulties in
evicting the squatters who have been cultivating
the land in the national park for decades.

"Land clearance and illegal logging are obviously
a threat to flora and fauna in the park," said

A recent study by the Lampung office of the World
Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) indicated the presence
of new deforested areas, a process that continues
at quite an alarming rate in the park, stretching
from Pematang Sawa, Bengkunat, Rata Agung and
Merpas to Bukit Benungla and Sekincau, all in West
Lampung regency.

"The areas are the habitat and vital reproducing
areas of large mammal species," said Lampung WWF
consultant, Joko Santoso.

Joko said that the deforestation problem could not
be resolved by applying forceful approaches to
evict the squatters, but through a comprehensive
approach to the problem.

Based on observations by the Post, a number of
logging routes which were previously only narrow
trails, have turned into roads passable by four-
wheeled vehicles.

The path which connects Suoh and Menanti villages
in Bengkunat district, for example, is used by
trucks daily to carry harvested coffee beans out
of the area.

Head of the West Lampung Forestry Office, Warsito,
said that his office had done all it could to
prevent deforestation, but due to limited
personnel, illegal logging still continued
unabated. "We have also carried out patrols
involving the community," he said.

The Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park spans
356,000 hectares, stretching from Tanggamus and
West Lampung regencies in Lampung province to Kaur
regency in Bengkulu province.

The park is of great significance for the
preservation of a number of large mammal species,
such as the Sumatra elephant (Elephas maximus
sumatrensis), Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris
sumatrensis), Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorphinus
sumatrensis), tapir (Tapirus indicus) and honey
bear (Helarctos malayanus).

The Gunung Leuser, Kerinci Seblat and Bukit
Barisan Selatan national parks have together been
named world heritage sites by UNESCO.

Haze returns to Indonesian part of Borneo island

Agence France Presse - August 13, 2006

Jakarta — Thick and acrid haze from fires set to
clear land is blanketing parts of the Indonesian
section of Borneo island, a meteorology official

"The haze is thick early in the morning, limiting
visibility to under 200 meters (660 feet), but by
9:00 visibility would already have improved to
around 2,000 meters," said Bambang, an official
with the meteorology station at Pontianak in West
Kalimantan province.

Satellite images show the overwhelming majority of
the 344 hotspots detected on the island are found
in the province.

"People are still using fire to clear ground for
the new planting season. Nothing has changed and
it is hard get them to shed the practice," said

The government has outlawed land clearing by fire
but weak enforcement means the ban is largely

Satellite imaging also showed a few hotspots in
East Kalimantan province, along with 26 on Sumatra
island, mostly in the provinces of Jambi and South

Burning in Indonesia and some parts of Malaysia to
clear land for crops causes an annual haze that
can afflict Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand as
well as Indonesia itself.

The Indonesian forestry ministry last week denied
that fires on Sumatra and Borneo were to blame for
the haze which smothered areas in Malaysia.

Mud may force Sidoarjo residents out for good

Jakarta Post - August 12, 2006

Jakarta/Surabaya — Permanent effects from the
huge mudflow engulfing Sidoarjo, East Java, may
keep thousands of displaced residents from ever
returning to their homes, officials warn.

In a worst-case scenario where the mudflow from
the May 29 accident remained unstoppable,
residents of Porong district would have to
relocate, officials reportedly said during a
closed-door presentation Friday organized by the
Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry in Surabaya.

The government would allow the inundation of at
least seven villages, with a combined population
of more than 13,000, to create a huge crater that
would shield other areas from the mud, one of
those present said.

The mudflow was caused by a drilling accident at
the site of Lapindo Brantas Inc. Thousands more
people were forced from their homes Thursday after
the mud breached an embankment.

The situation was discussed by President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono, House of Representatives
Speaker Agung Laksono, several related ministers,
local officials and legislators as well as Lapindo
executives. But the President later tersely denied
there was a plan to sacrifice the villages.

After the meeting, Agung said the experience of
other countries with similar disasters showed even
the most advanced technology often was

"There is a worst-case scenario that the mudflow
could not be stopped. It may stay permanently. The
government has several strategies to cope with the
situation and ensure that there will be no
casualties and economic calamity for the region,"
he said.

East Java council member Muhammad Mirdasy said the
meeting had included a simulation of creating
strong barricades encircling the affected area,
with a water treatment dam for the mud to be
channeled to the sea.

"The construction of the barricades and the dams
would cause the loss of at least seven villages
that would be permanently inundated by the toxic
mud. The total area that would be affected by the
plan is estimated to reach more than 350

Three of the villages, Mirdasy added, were
currently not affected by the mudflow, and were
inhabited by middle-income families who owned
businesses in the area.

Construction of the facilities, all to be financed
by Lapindo, was intended to purify the mud of
toxic materials before it flowed into the Porong
river, which heads straight into the Madura

Yudhoyono responded that only uninhabited areas
would be used as a mud catchment to remove toxic
materials. "There is no plan to inundate seven
villages. We will pool the mud in uninhabited
areas. There is no such term ’inundation’. We
wouldn’t have the heart to do that," a clearly
annoyed Yudhoyono told a news conference.

However, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said in
Jakarta the relocation of residents would be
permanent due to the massive scale of the
disaster. He said the process would be arranged by
the local administration but financed by Lapindo.

"Seeing the swift flow of the mud... it is
impossible for the houses and the areas to be
inhabited again," Kalla said at his office, adding
the firm should provide compensation for the
people’s losses.


Ailing health care system hurts the most

Jakarta Post - August 14, 2006

Adisti Sukma Sawitri, Depok — Suci Islamiyah will
never forget the fact that her mother died in one
of the leading government hospitals in Central
Jakarta, deprived of proper medical treatment.

Although she possessed a health insurance card
that was supposed to ensure that her mother
received treatment in a second-class ward at the
hospital, her mother died of a stroke in a third-
class ward, where five nurses had to take care of
about 80 poor people with serious health problems.

"I felt terrible about what the hospital did to my
mother, but what concerns me most is that the
people who were hospitalized with my mother are
still suffering today due to the corrupt hospital
management," Suci said last week at the launching
of a health advocacy center in Depok, West Java.

If such practices can happen in one of the best
hospitals in the country, she said she could
hardly imagine the condition of health services in
the rest of Indonesia.

Low quality health care in government hospitals
and clinics for people of the low-income bracket
is one of many chronic public service problems in
the country.

Although the government has allocated Rp 3.4
trillion (US$373.6 million) this year for health
insurance for the poor (Askeskin), disbursement
remains low due to the sluggish bureaucratic
system and low commitment of health officials.

"We admit that our performance in disbursing and
managing the budget is still poor. That is because
we do not have a good system for coordination
yet," said the deputy head of the Health
Ministry’s Finance and Insurance Center, Kalsum

She said that although the center had tried to
cooperate with PT Asuransi Kesehatan (Askes) and
state and private hospitals, problems still
existed due to corrupt practices by individuals,
such as the unauthorized collection of funds from
patients or pushing them to buy expensive

Under the Askeskin program, poor people are
supposed to get free treatment and medicine in
hospitals that have an agreement with PT Askes, as
long as they can show a letter from their
neighborhood chief to prove that they do not have
the means to pay for the treatment.

In fact, poor people find it hard to get such a
letter, and hospitals often charge them for
medicines and hospitalization.

"To tell you the truth, when it comes to such
practices, I don’t know what to do," Kalsum said.

The National Planning Agency’s director of health
and public nutrition, Arum Atmawikarta, said that
community groups should actively participate in
the provision of good health care and the
improvement of hygiene to make up for the failure
of the ministry’s bureaucracy.

He cited as an example that Indonesia had been
unable to battle Malaria because people depended
on the government to battle the disease.

"We really support individuals or organizations
who want to participate actively in providing
health services," he said. Arum said that
community-based public services had proven to be
effective in providing clean water in several

A World Bank-sponsored project, initiated in early
2000, has successfully provided community-based
clean water facilities in several low-income areas
in eight provinces.

Local residents covered 20 percent of the
financing for the project, while the remainder was
taken care of by the bank. A community group could
get up to Rp 250 million for the project.

"The local people take care of the facilities
because they financed them and were involved in
planning the project. I think this kind of
participation will also work in health services,"
Arum said.

However, he added that private institution’s
involvement in managing public services should be
avoided because it may lead to the seeking of
commercial gain.

HIV-resistant condom for her is here

Jakarta Post - August 12, 2006

Hera Diani, Jakarta — The National AIDS
Commission is running a trial on the use of female
condoms in Papua to reduce the rate of new HIV

The commission’s secretary-general, Nafsiah Mboi,
said 900 female condoms had been distributed in
selected areas in the province to gauge acceptance
of the contraceptive device. Papua province has
the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the country.

"It’s a pilot study to see how people like it, and
we also train people to promote it," said the
longtime HIV/AIDS activist Tuesday.

Nafsiah said she was eager to provide women with
female condoms since they had proven effective in
containing the epidemic in such countries as
Thailand and Zimbabwe.

"The HIV infection rate is increasing much faster
among women than among men in Indonesia. The
percentage of new infections among women is very
high. We have to provide female condoms so that
women can protect themselves. Not just for
injected-drug users or sex workers, but also
housewives who know that their husbands are
unfaithful," she said.

Women account for nearly half of HIV infections
worldwide and almost two-thirds of those among
young people. Yet, gender norms and inequality
make it difficult for women and girls to control
some aspects of their lives, particularly sexual

It is often impossible for local women to
negotiate with their partners over abstinence,
faithfulness or condom use.

Zimbabwean activist Caroline Maposhere said the
female condom was a good negotiating tool for

The condom is a thin, loose-fitting polyurethane
plastic pouch that covers the vagina, cervix and
external genitalia, and is inserted before
intercourse. It can be put in up to 8 hours before

"It is large because the vagina is large; it can
accommodate a baby coming out. But the condom
sticks to the wall of the vagina, and fits into
any size vagina," Maposhere told The Jakarta Post.

She said the female condom has many advantages
including preventing pregnancy and sexually
transmitted diseases as well as HIV/AIDS, and
increasing pleasure in men and women.

"In terms of alcohol and drugs, people are often
too drunk and too high to put on a condom. With
the female condom, women who are injected-drug
users are already protected," Maposhere said. She
added that the female condom had increased condom
use by 30 percent.

Nafsiah said the government should increase the
availability of female condoms without waiting for
the study to be completed in November. "Especially
in Papua, we really can’t wait a minute longer,"
she said.

As of Sept. 30, 2005, Indonesia has 4,065 people
who are HIV positive and 4,186 people living with
AIDS, according to official statistics. Local and
international organizations, however, estimate
that between 90,000 and 250,000 people are living
with HIV/AIDS in Indonesia.

Papua, the easternmost province, has a population
of only 2.5 million (out of the total Indonesian
population of more than 210 million). It has 932
reported cases of AIDS, which is a rate of 40 per
100,000 individuals, or 20 times higher than the
national average of two per 100,000.

The female condom costs around US$1, but Maposhere
said the price will go down if demand increases.
"You cannot put a price on women’s lives. It’s
much cheaper than the cost of treatment."


Scholars warn government of latent jihadi danger

Jakarta Post - August 14, 2006

Ary Hermawan, Jakarta — The government should
take all the necessary measures to prevent
Indonesian jihadis from leaving for Lebanon or
they will only create more problems when they
return home, Muslim scholars say.

"If they could really make it to Lebanon and
survive the war, they would become problems when
they come back to Indonesia," Syarif Hidayatullah
State Islamic University rector Azyumardi Azra
told The Jakarta Post on Sunday. "They would have
the aura and charisma of fighters. This would be
make it easier for them to recruit new militants."

Azyumardi urged the government to boost security
measures around border areas to ensure that no
militants left the country. "It should also
coordinate with neighboring countries, such as
Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, to check if some
Indonesian jihadis have transited there," he said.

Azyumardi said Indonesians heading to Middle
Eastern cities such as Abu Dhabi, Doha, Amman and
Damascus should also be monitored. However, he
said the government should not ban hard-liners
from expressing their willingness to go on a
jihad. "We just have to make sure that nobody
leaves," he said.

The issue was not merely prohibiting jihadis from
going to war-torn Lebanon, but to anticipate the
growing radicalism among Indonesian Muslims,
Azyumardi said. "We must not let happen a repeat
of when many Muslims went to Afghanistan to help
the Taliban fight the Soviets," he said.

Imam Samudra and Amrozi, two terrorists on death
row for their key roles in the 2002 Bali bombings,
were both trained for the Afghanistan war. Another
hardline activist, Suaib Didu, recently boasted
that thousands of Indonesians had signed up for
jihad in Lebanon.

Militants who had returned from Afghanistan were
also involved the bloody 2002 conflict between
Muslims and Christians in Maluku.

Former Muhammadiyah chairman Ahmad Syafii Maarif
said it was unwise for ulema to encourage young
Muslims to fight a holy war in Lebanon. "I think
there is no wisdom in doing so," he told the Post.
He said the brutal Israeli offensive into Lebanon
should not lead to Indonesian Muslims losing their
heads. "I think whatever we do must be based on
clear minds," he said.

However, Syafii doubted the recent conflict would
boost militant movements in Indonesia, arguing
radicalism was mainly triggered by injustice and
uncertainty. "The country is not in a normal
condition. When there is justice, radicalism will
fade away by itself."

Azyumardi said that joining the fight against
Israel was akin to suicide and would only further
burden the people in Lebanon, including Hizbollah

Providing them with humanitarian aid would be much
more useful, he said. "I hope ulema could explain
to the people that there is no use going there for

National Resilience Agency governor Muladi warned
Thursday that jihad volunteers were committing an
illegal act and would not be protected under
international law. "They could be considered
terrorists. If caught, they could be sent to
Guantanamo prison without trials," he said.

Didu, meanwhile, said he would continue recruiting
jihadists, although Lebanese Ambassador Hasan
Muslimani said Friday that his country did not
want or need fighters from other countries. "We’re
not defending Lebanon, we’re defending the
oppressed," Didu told the Post on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Mujahidin Council said
it would formally ask for police and the military
to train jihadists before they departed to
Lebanon. The hardline group has vowed to send 500
jihadists and medics to the country.

The police have pledged to prevent all would-be
fighters from leaving for Lebanon.

Human rights commission wants Ahmadiyah protected

Jakarta Post - August 12, 2006

Panca Nugraha, Mataram — The National Commission
on Human Rights has asked the government to
guarantee the security of Ahmadiyah followers to
ensure members of the religious sect can live in
peace and worship freely.

Commissioner for individual freedoms Chandra
Setiawan said in Mataram on Friday the government
should abide by a 2005 law ratifying the
International Convention on Civilian and Political

"In order to provide security assurance for
Ahmadiyah members in Indonesia, we have written to
the President (Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) and the
National Police chief (Sutanto). The letter is
intended to ensure that Ahmadiyah members can
perform their daily rituals again and that their
children can go to school," Chandra said.

He said the July 27-dated letter asked the
government and the police to ensure the security
of Ahmadiyah members in several areas in West Nusa

"Soon, we will send another letter on the types of
human rights violations experienced by Ahmadiyah
members," he said.

Chandra said after ratifying the international
convention into law, the government was obliged to
protect people’s freedom to worship.

He said the groups that drove Ahmadiyah members
out of their hometowns in Ketapang hamlet in West
Lombok and Praya in Central Lombok, had violated
sect members’ human rights.

"If there’s a resident who objects to Ahmadiyah
members’ presence or actions then they should
report the matter to the police and let the court
determine whether what the group does is right or
wrong. We have the Criminal Code that regulates
the matter," he said.

The Ahmadiyah faith developed out of Islam in
India in the late 19th Century. Its members
believe that the prophet Mizra Ghulam Ahmad is
God’s last messenger after Muhammad.

Groups in Indonesia have been the subject of
attacks by Muslim groups after the Indonesian
Council of Ulema (MUI) outlawed the faith in a
fatwa earlier this year.

Fifty-five Ahmadiyah members from 18 families were
forced out of their hometown in Praya, Central
Lombok and are now camping in the grounds of a
Praya hospital. Meanwhile, in Mataram, 133
Ahmadiyah members who were driven out of their
houses in Ketapang are still sheltering in a
Transito building. The houses of the two groups
were vandalized and some were set on fire.

Following the February attacks, President
Yudhoyono said the state "guarantees the freedom
of each citizen to hold and practice their own
religion". He said the government did not
differentiate between religious groups or
categorize them as “recognized or unrecognized”.

Last month, the Transito group’s leader, Zainal
Abidin, said the followers wanted to go home after
living the shelter for six months. He also
complained that children from the group were being
singled out for discrimination at their new

Members of Ahmadiyah late last month conveyed
their grievances to the Australian Consulate
General in Denpasar and said they intended to seek
asylum in the country. The group’s legal advisers
also said they would seek similar protections from
Japanese, Canadian and German missions.

MUI responded by calling the group’s meetings a
“publicity stunt”. Its clerics said the group
would never be accepted by mainstream Muslims.

MUI Jakarta declares SMS reward scheme prohibited
by Islam

Jakarta Post - August 12, 2006

Jakarta — The Jakarta administration will have to
rethink its plan to increase public awareness
about paying taxes in an SMS reward program after
the Jakarta chapter of the Indonesian Ulema
Council (MUI) declared it prohibited by Islam.

MUI Jakarta edict commission secretary M. Cholil
Nafis said Friday that the council decided the
program verged on gambling — and was thus haram
— after examining the 2006 gubernatorial
regulation on the program. But Cholil added that
there was still the chance to make changes to the
program to allow it to conform to Islamic tenets.

The Jakarta Revenue Agency devised the program in
an attempt to increase people’s awareness of
paying taxes and increase city revenue.

Under the scheme, the public was to report the
amount of taxes they paid for leisure activities
— such as dining out or entertainment — by
sending an SMS with the receipt number.
Participants could win a car through a lottery
drawing to be held every six months.

The agency postponed the scheduled June start date
to allow the MUI to determine its status under

Cholil said that the gubernatorial regulation
stated that for the first year of the program, the
prize for the winner would be taken from the city
budget. However, for the second and third year, PT
Haltek, the city’s private partner for the
program, would provide the prize.

He said the council initially viewed the use of
the city budget for the prize as syubhat, or not
clear in its halal or haram status. "The council
then decided that it was haram, because the rate
for one SMS was above the standard one," he said.
The rate is Rp 1,000, compared to standard Rp 250
or Rp 350 rates.

He added that the program was undoubtedly haram if
the prize was provided by PT Haltek and not from
the city budget. "If the prize is provided by PT
Haltek, it means that there is no middle party
between the participating public and PT Haltek,
which means that the program is classified as

Cholil said that the council recommended the city
revise clause No. 13 of the gubernatorial decree,
which regulated PT Haltek to provide the prize for
the second and third years.

He said the revision of the gubernatorial
regulation was vital to prevent the public from
gambling through the program. "The program can be
carried out if the prize is provided by the city
and the SMS rate is a standard one," he said.

In May, MUI released an edict stating that the
flourishing SMS reward programs were equivalent to
gambling. The council viewed them as gambling
because of their negative effect on people’s
lives, including wasting their money, creating
fantasies and addiction, and causing them to be

City secretary Catur Laswono told The Jakarta Post
that the administration had still to decide if it
would call off the program altogether following
the fatwa. "We will first look at what changes can
be made to the program," he said.


Indonesian military in urgent need of reform

Jakarta Post - August 14, 2006

Hasballah Saad and Michael Shank, Washington DC —
The United States Congress recently passed a
contentious bill that allocates over US$6 million
to Indonesia for military equipment and training
in 2007. Two checks will be issued: $4.5 million
under Congress’ Foreign Military Financing program
and $1.28 million under Congress’ International
Military Education and Training program. While
these figures fall $2 million below the Bush
Administration’s request, they represent a multi-
million dollar increase over 2006 totals.

The bill, passed by the US House in June, sparked
immediate controversy. Decried as one of the
world’s most egregious militaries, Indonesian
troops have a reputation for being abusive,
corrupt and largely above the law. With such a
funding increase from Washington, one expects to
hear of significant improvements in Indonesia
military’s ethical standards and practices. But
that is far from the case.

In the months preceding the bill, Indonesia — a
critical ally in the US-led “war on terror” — was
busy hosting notables as they congratulated the
nation’s democratic progress. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice and World Bank President Paul
Wolfowitz made high-profile visits to laud the
“vibrant democracy” and “clean government”. With
the largest Muslim population of any nation
worldwide, Indonesia received and will continue to
receive special attention from Washington.
Congress’ $6 million is the latest manifestation
of this commitment. But where Congress falls short
is in fully understanding Indonesia’s people and
the dynamics on the ground. If Congress wants to
ensure that the Muslim populace remains peaceful
and democratic, refraining from terrorist-like
behavior, then they selected the wrong method and
financed the wrong government agency.

Indonesians protest the military, which critics
once dubbed “Exxon’s Army”, on a daily basis,
criticizing its widespread corruption (from poorly
managed self-financing policies) and its abusive
security services which it contracts to mining and
logging companies — companies accused of
pillaging local communities and environmental

Congress failed to include sufficient parameters
on how the money should be spent. Congress did
not, for example, require that the military be
trained in public accountability and transparency,
democratic and participatory methodologies, human
rights law, and respect for civil society
organizations. Regulation and the capacity to
sanction errant behavior were absent; the bill
lacked any of these requirements.

At minimum, Congress could have mandated that a
2004 law — requiring the military to withdraw
from business by 2009 — be enacted prior to
receipt of US funds. According to Human Rights
Watch, civilian and military leaders have promised
to implement the law, but no regulations have yet
been adopted.

So how can Congress, in the same month that Human
Rights Watch issues a damning report titled "The
Human Rights Cost of the Indonesian Military’s
Economic Activities", pass legislation that gives
the military the green light without clear
parameters that show respect for human rights,
democracy and civil society?

How could the State Department justify pulling
caveats in the bill that stipulated specific
reform requirements? Does Washington not realize
that to guarantee Indonesia’s peaceful and
democratic state is to instead put restraints on
their reckless and unsupervised military?

Moreover, if Washington is concerned about keeping
the peace in this archipelago, then it would help
Indonesians with more pressing needs like
preventing and containing bird flu, rebuilding
communities devastated by the Tsunami and recent
earthquakes, sustaining the peace agreement signed
in Aceh, reducing widespread poverty, and ensuring
that US mining and logging companies are held
accountable for their misdeeds.

That’s how Washington can help keep the peace in
Indonesia. The US must not continue to think that
traditional anti-terror tactics — i.e. funding
militaries with a blank check — will suffice in
preventing terror from erupting.

If the US genuinely cares about the world’s most
populous Muslim democracy then a radical departure
from the norm is necessary. Keeping the peace will
not happen on the military’s watch as long as
Congress continues to unconditionally fund its
corrupt, abusive, and illegal practices.

Concomitantly, keeping the peace requires Congress
to be more proactive on the social front — i.e.
returning to Aceh to rebuild the war — and
tsunami-stricken environment, bolstering the
capacity of health workers to adequately prevent
and contain bird flu, ensuring that US companies
operating in Aceh and Papua are socially and
environmentally responsible, and assisting
Indonesia in eradicating poverty.

A $6 million blank check written out to the
military will not automatically keep the peace. At
minimum, Congress should issue a directive stating
that Indonesia’s military receive training in
public accountability and transparency, democratic
and participatory methodologies, human rights law,
and respect for civil society organizations.

Regulation and the capacity to sanction must
accompany such a directive. Ideally, Congress
helps Indonesia rebuild its society — a people
besieged by recent floods, earthquakes, bird flu,
and civil war. While the latter option may be a
radical departure from the norm, it is the only
way to truly keep the peace.

[Hasballah Saad is Indonesia’s former Minister of
Human Rights under President Abdurrahman Wahid and
is currently the Commissioner for Indonesia’s
National Commission on Human Rights and the
founder of the Aceh Cultural Institute. Michael
Shank is the Press Secretary for Citizens for
Global Solutions, a Washington-based foreign
policy advocacy organization.]

TNI reshuffles 79 senior officers

Jakarta Post - August 11, 2006

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta — The Indonesian
Military (TNI) has replaced the chiefs of three
military commands and of the Army Special Forces
(Kopassus) as part of a major reshuffle of its 79
senior officers.

Under the changes announced Thursday, Maj. Gen.
Sriyanto, the Siliwangi military commander
overseeing West Java and Banten, will become the
governor of the Military Academy in the Central
Java town of Magelang.

He will be replaced by Maj. Gen. George Toisutta,
the current chief of the Cendrawasih military
command overseeing Papua and West Irian Jaya.

Maj. Gen. Zamroni, the Udayana Military commander
responsible for Bali, West and East Nusa Tenggara,
was appointed to take over Toisutta’s post.
Zamroni was replaced by Maj. Gen. Saiful Rizal,
the current commander of Kopassus.

Maj. Gen. Rasyid Qurnuen Aquary, chief of the
First Division of the Strategic Reserves Command
(Kostrad), will replace Saiful. Rasyid’s job will
be taken over by Brig. Gen. Noer Muis, chief of
the staff of the Diponegoro military command
overseeing Central Java and Yogyakarta.

TNI commander Chief Air Marshall Djoko Suyanto
said the reshuffle was an “ordinary matter”.

"The reshuffle is essential to refresh the
military organization. There is nothing new about
it because it has been done regularly and it is an
ordinary thing," he said.

The reshuffle was decided on at a plenary meeting
of the military promotion board at TNI
Headquarters last Friday.

The shakeup also affected the Navy, where Rear
Adm. Waldi Murad, chief of the Eastern Fleet
Command, was promoted to deputy to the Navy chief,
replacing Vice Adm. I.W.R. Argawa.

Waldi’s post will be taken by Rear Adm. Muryono.

House urged to investigate arms stash

Jakarta Post - August 11, 2006

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta — Military analysts
Thursday blasted the military probe into an arms
stash scandal as neither transparent nor credible,
and urged the House of Representatives to launch
an immediate inquiry into the case.

They said the investigation was not thorough since
it focused only on violations of arms procurement
procedures by the late Brig. Gen. Koesmayadi,
instead of the underlying situation that made it
possible for him to acquire so much weaponry.

At least 145 automatic rifles, 42 handguns, nine
grenades, 28 binoculars and 28,000 rounds of
ammunition were found at Koesmayadi’s home in
Ancol, North Jakarta, after his death.

Koesmayadi, a former Army deputy logistics chief,
died on June 10. "It would have been impossible
for Koesmayadi to do that alone and breach the
official arms procurement procedures without any
consent by Army leadership. All actions in the
Army are based on instructions and the chain of
command from Army leadership," said J. Kristiadi
of the Centre for Strategic and International

"The investigation should proceed not only to the
11 suspects but, more importantly, to those behind
Koesmayadi, and to what the guns were being
hoarded for."

The deceased general was named a suspect along
with his son-in-law and nine other people,
including several low-ranking military personnel
and three foreigners. The military said Koesmayadi
acquired 43 of the guns himself and collected the
arms and ammunition at his house as a hobby.

Investigators said other suspects would be
interrogated for allegedly helping Koesmayadi
bring in the guns via Singapore and move them from
his residence in Kuningan, South Jakarta.

Army chief Gen. Djoko Santoso has said several
senior officers, including former Army chief Gen.
Ryamizard Ryacudu, Koesmayadi’s former superior,
had been summoned to testify as witnesses or
information sources only.

Kristiadi said the House should form a special
committee to uncover all those involved in the
case and to examine arms procurement in the

Those comments were echoed by military analyst
Indria Samego of the Indonesian Institute of
Sciences (LIPI), who questioned the military’s
internal reforms.

Indria said the House should use its legislative
right to investigate the case thoroughly in order
to force further reforms.

"It is quite dangerous and the military’s
professionalism comes under question when a
military officer has a large arms stash. If two to
five military officers did something like this,
you can imagine what they could or would do," he

He stressed that the investigation should focus on
the environment that supported Koesmayadi’s
stockpiling. He added that lawmakers should
investigate possible business connections to the
arms cache.

There has been speculation that Koesmayadi was
involved in the arms trade. Deputy House Speaker
Muhaimin Iskandar said lawmakers had no plans yet
to investigate. He added that the House would
first study a report from the military about its

However, several legislators on House Commission I
for defense, information and foreign affairs vowed
to call for an inquiry into the case.

Kristiadi and Indria said Defense Minister Juwono
Sudarsono should amend the administrative
mechanisms of arms procurement accountability and
arms storage for all military forces. They said
the procedures must be aligned with the 2004 law
on the Indonesian Military and the 2003
presidential decree on arms procurement.

They added that the minister should play a role in
order to ensure civilian supremacy over the

The military is believed to be one of the
country’s most corrupt institutions, with its
weapons and equipment procurement division seen as
its most graft-ridden.

General’s stash only a hobby, TNI claims

Jakarta Post - August 10, 2006

Ridwan Max Sijabat and Tony Hotland, Jakarta — A
military police investigation found the massive
arms hoard of a deceased Army officer was for his
personal collection and not politically linked,
with the probe zeroing in on low-ranking
servicemen and civilians suspected of supplying
the weapons.

However, legislators said they needed to study the
report before deciding whether to accept its
findings or launch their own investigation.

Military Police chief Maj. Gen. Hendardji, who
accompanied Army Chief of Staff Gen. Djoko Santoso
at a press briefing to announce the findings,
blamed the late Brig. Gen. Koesmayadi and his
son-in-law for failing to follow standard
procedures on weapons.

He said Koesmayadi, then deputy to Assistant for
Logistics to the Army chief who died on June 25,
illegally sourced some of the guns and stored them
at one of his residences in Ancol, North Jakarta.
His son-in-law, a middle-ranking officer in the
Presidential Guard, has been held as a suspect for
removing the guns from Koesmayadi’s official
residence in Kuningan, South Jakarta.

A total of 43 of the 185 arms, most nonstandard
issue, were sourced at his own initiative and did
not follow set procedures, the report said.
Koesmayadi also was blamed for keeping the weapons
in his home, a violation of the law even if they
were for a personal collection.

The investigation identified a ring of 11 people,
including Koesmayadi and his son-in-law. "Nine
others also allegedly involved in the illegal
procurement of 43 guns will undergo further
interrogation," said Hendardji.

Army chief Djoko Santoso said the group consisted
of eight servicemen, with ranks ranging from
private to brigadier general, and three civilians.
He said the latter were two Italians and a South

They were among 129 people questioned about the
stash. "The 129 people were, among others, Gen.
Ryamizard Ryacudu and many other high ranking
officers from Army Headquarters," said Djoko.

He insisted that Koesmayadi supplied the guns and
ammunitions and was keeping them at his home in a
private collection, "because he had an obsession
to establish an arms museum". He also pledged to
ensure accountability and transparency in arms
procurement in line with military regulations and
a 2003 presidential instruction.

The unprecedented exposure of the arms stash
fanned conspiracy theories that centered on a rift
between President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and
Ryamizard, who was passed over by him for the
position of TNI chief.

Koesmayadi was reportedly close to Ryamizard when
the latter was commanding the Army’s Strategic
Reserve Command (Kostrad) and the Army between
2000 and 2005.

The President, with full support of the House, has
ordered a thorough investigation into the case.

Effendi Choirie, a member of the House’s
Commission I on defense, information and foreign
affairs, said his commission was still waiting the
ivestigation’s result and would assess it before
making decision on whether to accept it or not.

"If the military police’s investigation is
determined to be satisfactory, the House will not
take further action. But if it’s dissatisfactory
and the military police was not transparent in
carrying out the investigation, the House will
necessarily form a special committee to conduct
its own inquiry in to the case."

Djoko Susilo, an outspoken legislator of the
National Mandate Party (PAN), urged the military
to prosecute all the suspects.

Separately, Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono
declined Wednesday to elaborate on the findings
except to say they should be respected. He also
would not comment on speculation the probe focused
on low-ranking personnel to shield high-ranking


Howard withdraws migration bill

The Australian - August 14, 2006

Cath Hart and Samantha Maiden — John Howard has
pulled the plug on his controversial migration
bill to avoid facing a defeat in the Senate.

The Prime Minister told a press conference this
afternoon: "It was made very clear to me this
morning that a government senator would cross the
floor and vote against the legislation." Liberal
Senator Judith Troeth has led dissent against the

Mr Howard said he was “disappointed” with the
outcome. "I believed in this bill, I still do, but
I accept that there aren’t the numbers in the
Senate to pass it, and I’m a realist as well as a
democrat,“he said.”And that is why we’ve taken the decision we’ve
taken today but don’t let anybody think for a
moment that I didn’t believe in it — I believed
in it very strongly — and I suspect did the
majority of the Australian community.“He did not regret proceeding with the bill.”I
proceeded with this bill because I believed it
would add strength to already strong border
protection laws,“Mr Howard said.”Australia has very strong border protection laws.
This bill would have made those strong border
protection laws even stronger."

It would have required only one senator to cross
the floor or two to abstain from voting to defeat
the bill, which would have forced any unauthorised
arrival to have claims for asylum processed
offshore by the United Nations.

The Government was facing defeat after Family
First senator Steve Fielding said yesterday he
could not support a policy designed to appease
Indonesia. Up to four Coalition senators refused
to say whether they would cross the floor if it
went to a vote.

Rebel Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce said
yesterday he would abstain from the vote unless
the Government agreed to his new amendment to
allow the Senate to review every asylum-seeker
decision. But government sources indicated his
proposal was unlikely to secure support.

Senator Fielding announced his surprise decision
to oppose the legislation after talks with Papuan
refugees and the Indonesian ambassador. "You know,
I started to really look at it and I thought,
look... obviously it’s to appease another country
and it’s the Indonesians,“he said.”Imagine if every other country did what Australia
is proposing. It would be chaos. There would be
absolute chaos if everybody decided to boot people
off to a foreign land."

The new laws were introduced after a diplomatic
rift emerged between Indonesia and Australia over
the decision to grant asylum to 42 boatpeople from
Papua, who arrived in far-north Queensland in

The Government was accused of appeasing Indonesia,
with its new laws that would send all boatpeople,
including those who arrived on the mainland, to
overseas processing centres such as that in Nauru.

The legislation passed the House of
Representatives last week despite three Liberal
MPs — Petro Georgiou, Judi Moylan and Russell
Broadbent — crossing the floor to vote with the

Mr Howard insisted yesterday that the Government
was not attempting to appease Indonesia. "I think
our relationship with Indonesia will remain
soundly based no matter what happens,“he said.”This is not something that is crucial to the
relationship with Indonesia."

However, he conceded at that stage there was a
serious prospect that the legislation would be
defeated. “Well, I think we can all count,” he
said. "Any government senator crossing the floor
will kill it, and if two government senators were
to abstain, that would kill it as well."

Senator Fielding has in the past voted with the
Government on issues such as the introduction of
voluntary student unionism last year. Yesterday he
dismissed the migration legislation as
“ludicrous”, saying he also had concerns over the
Government’s decision to change the rules for
asylum-seekers when it suited them.

"What is at the essence being proposed by the
Government is, ’We don’t like the rules any
more’,“he told the Nine Network’s Sunday program.”That’s not fair. We expect everybody else to play
by the rules, not booting people off willy-nilly."

Indonesian strategy ’defeats’ Australia

Melbourne Age - August 13, 2006

Tom Hyland — The Indonesian Army manipulated the
voyage to Australia of 43 West Papuan asylum
seekers in a secret pyschological warfare
operation that gave Jakarta a diplomatic and
strategic victory over the Howard Government, a
former intelligence analyst says.

Indonesian Army specialists in psychological
operations (“psyops”) knew the West Papuans
planned to sail to Australia and let the voyage go
ahead, believing Indonesia could benefit as a
result, says the expert on the Indonesian

The secret operation then pyschologically
penetrated and destabilised the Federal
Government’s decisions and appears to have won the
army the right to expand its influence in West

Making the claims is Matthew Davies, a former army
officer and Defence Department intelligence
analyst. His conclusions coincide with the debate
that has torn divisions in the Federal Government
over tough new migration laws, introduced
following strong Indonesian protests after the
asylum seekers were granted refuge.

"They knew they were going, and believed this was
beneficial," Mr Davies told The Sunday Age.

In an unpublished report, he says Jakarta’s
handling of the diplomatic row that erupted over
the asylum seekers showed "a canny ability to
penetrate the Australian Government’s ’decision
cycle’ to attain favourable results".

The Indonesian military understood the
Government’s mentality and knew it was “locked in”
to taking tough action against unauthorised
arrivals as it had politically exploited the issue
and feared a continuing influx.

Mr Davies says that if the “diplomatic posturing”
was viewed as a sophisticated psychological
operation, Indonesia secured a significant
strategic result in the "destabilisation of a
large Australian target".

His conclusions, drawing on published Indonesian
sources, are made in a report analysing the
operations of Indonesian security forces in West
Papua. Mr Davies, a linguist and author, is an
expert on Indonesian military doctrine, personnel
and structure.

News of his findings comes ahead of this week’s
Senate debate on the Government’s migration bill,
which requires asylum seekers arriving by boat to
be sent to far-flung islands such as Nauru while
their refugee claims are assessed.

Last week three Government lower house MPs voted
against the bill while two abstained. A number of
Government senators have deep reservations about
it. The Opposition says the bill is an attempt to
appease Indonesia.

The decision to give the West Papuans refugee
status after their arrival from the West Papuan
port of Merauke in January triggered a diplomatic
rift, with Jakarta withdrawing its ambassador as
Indonesian MPs and sections of the Jakarta media
accused Australia of supporting separatists. The
rift has been patched, with the Government
introducing the migration bill, reaffirming its
support for Indonesian control of West Papua and
pushing ahead with talks on a security treaty.

While the row heartened supporters of West Papuan
independence by drawing attention to their cause,
Mr Davies’ thesis is that Jakarta and its military
emerged victorious. "Such success would likely see
West Papua become the table on which Indonesian
leaders could bargain for the most beneficial
results of a restored bilateral security treaty
with Australia," he says.

The episode has delivered specific gains to the
Indonesian military, which is keen to regain its
former pre-eminent role not only in internal
security, counter-terrorism and intelligence, but
in government as well.

It gave the military "yet greater scope for
expansion“, the report says.”The Merauke case’s
most enduring irony could be that Australia helped
Indonesian military expansion ... in that part of
Indonesia closest to the land mmass of Australia

Mr Davies’ report highlights what he says is an
unusual and abnormal military intelligence
operation based in Merauke, on West Papua’s south
coast, headed by Colonel Kitaran Joy Sihotang, a
veteran “psyops” expert. His report says the
departure of the asylum seekers from Merauke is
“odd” given the area contains security
headquarters, troops and a navy base. "The voyage
from Merauke indicated a deliberate manipulation
by TNI psyops veterans, buffered by proxy agents
for strict deniability."

He says his analysis in no way contradicts or
denies the West Papuan asylum seekers’ claims for
protection visas.


Signs point to economic rebound

Jakarta Post - August 14, 2006

Urip Hudiono, Jakarta — A rosier economic picture
is expected to emerge in the second half of the
year, with increased growth forecast after a
recent easing of inflation and interest rates.

The rupiah also has stabilized to a rate more
favorable to investment in the real sector, yet
still competitive for exports, which should
provide a boost to the country’s main growth
engine of consumption.

According to the latest surveys from the central
bank, public confidence in the economy is on an
upward trend.

Although more than half of consumers in the
country still believe economic prospects in the
next six months will remain shadowed by inflation,
nearly a quarter are optimistic that things will
improve in terms of growth, income, business
opportunities and demand for durable goods. The
optimists outnumber those who see the economy
heading for a downturn.

More than half of the businesses and industries
surveyed are looking to expansion in the second
half, closing the book on the slowdown they
experienced during the first half of the year.

Astra Honda Motor vice president Tosin Himawan
said the motorcycle industry might be able to turn
around an estimated 20 percent decline in sales so
far this year on the improving economic

"Opportunities for market expansion are still open
given favorable economic conditions and policies,"
he said.

The country’s largest motorcycle maker sold one
million units in the first half of the year, less
than half of last year’s total sales of 2.6
million units. Car manufacturers also expect
improved sales in the second semester, after sales
dropped to 149,600 units in the first half from
533,900 all of last year.

In the export-oriented furniture industry,
confidence is high that the latest economic
developments will help the industry achieve a 15
percent growth in sales to US$2.2 billion this
year from 7 percent growth last year, Indonesian
Furniture and Handicrafts Manufacturers
Association chairman Ambar Tjahyono said. The
Indonesian Computer Industry Association,
meanwhile, sees a 20 percent sales rise to 1.4
million units, association secretary-general
Sutiono Gunadi said.

The economy grew by 4.6 percent in the first
quarter of this year as compared to 6.2 percent
last year, marking a slowdown for the fifth
consecutive quarter. The Central Statistics Agency
on Aug. 15 will release the first-half growth
data, with Bank Indonesia estimating the economy
may only have improved slightly to between 4.6 and
5.1 percent. The government expects full-year
growth at 5.9 percent.

A surge in inflation to 17 percent following
last’s year fuel price increases, and ensuing
increases of BI’s key rate to 12.75 percent, have
been blamed for the first-half slowdown. However,
inflation eased to 15.15 percent by July, giving
BI room to cut its rate to 11.75 percent. Banks
are expected to follow by cutting their lending
rates, giving a boost to consumption and

Economist Chatib Basri from the University of
Indonesia said recently the rate cuts would help
revive consumer lending in the automotive,
property and consumer electronics sectors.

"We can expect more growth in these sectors for at
least the next quarter," he said. Investment in
capital goods, however, may only begin picking up
in response to rising demand in the last quarter,
Chatib said. He added that there was a need to
continue improving the investment climate.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has said
state budget spending in the second half will be
increased to support the rate cuts in spurring

Foreigners eye Indonesian smokes

Asia Times - August 11, 2006

Bill Guerin, Jakarta — Indonesia’s tobacco
market, the world’s fifth-largest, is primed for
foreign takeovers. Tough economic conditions have
recently taken the buzz out of Indonesia’s top
four cigarette producers’ profits, as spiraling
inflation and higher excise taxes have driven the
country’s estimated 141 million smokers to trade
down from premium, high-margin brands to cheaper

The cigarette industry has witnessed a 12.4%
decline in sales in the first half of this year,
with national cigarette consumption down to 94.8
billion smokes compared with 108.3 billion during
the same period in 2005. Cigarettes are huge
business in Indonesia, and foreign investors are
just beginning to get into the action. Some 70% of
men and nearly 20% of women smoke, and last year
Indonesian smokers puffed their way through 225.5
billion cigarettes, according to industry

PT Gudang Garam Tbk and PT HM Sampoerna are
Indonesia’s top two cigarette producers, followed
by Djarum and Bentoel. Nearly 92% of all
cigarettes sold in Indonesia are clove-based,
known locally as kreteks. Although many big
foreign tobacco companies have long peddled their
products here, they have fared poorly competing
against local kretek producers.

But the rules of the market are changing fast. US
tobacco giant Philip Morris International, the
tobacco arm of Altria Group and producer of
Marlboro cigarettes, last year paid Rp48 trillion
(US$5.2 billion) to take a 98% stake in Sampoerna.
Faced with big legal bills in the United States,
Philip Morris’s Indonesian investment has so far
paid off nicely: Sampoerna is the only major
producer to increase its sales and net income so
far this year and is currently the sixth-largest
capitalized firm on the Jakarta Stock Exchange,
with a market capitalization of nearly $3.8
billion, equivalent to about 3.9% of the weight of
the Jakarta Composite Index.

Gudang Garam, with total assets valued at about
Rp22.1 trillion at the end of last year, is
currently Indonesia’s biggest cigarette producer.
Lately, though, the company has hit a rough patch,
where net profits have fallen by about 50% — from
just over Rp1 trillion to Rp545 billion — in the
first half of this year compared with the same
period in 2005. The company’s total market share,
meanwhile, has fallen slightly from 31% last year
to about 29.5% now. Foreign-owned Sampoerna’s
market share has over the same period surged to
28.6% against 22% previously.

Hedru Budimean, Gudang Garam’s director and
corporate secretary, attributes the massive drop
in profits to increased operating costs and recent
rises in excise and value-added taxes. However,
some industry analysts criticize Gudang Garam’s
apparent failure to predict that Indonesian
smokers would opt for cheaper hand-rolled
cigarettes during tough economic times as the main
reason for its loss of market share to its main
rival Sampoerna. Smokers outside urban centers
largely buy cigarettes by the stick rather than
the pack.

Foreign rolled

The slip in financial performance has set new
rumors in motion about another big foreign
takeover. Chinese-Indonesian businessman Surya
Wonowidjojo founded Gudang Garam in 1958 and his
eldest son, Rachman Halim, who is listed by Forbes
as the richest man in Indonesia with a net worth
of $2.5 billion, is now rumored to be in talks
with publicly listed British American Tobacco
(BAT) about a possible sale.

BAT, Philip Morris’s global arch-rival, is
currently the industry leader in Asia. Although it
has had a presence in Indonesia since 1917, nearly
90 years later the company’s Lucky Strike and
Dunhill brands have negligible market share in
clove-smoking Indonesia. Although BAT denies any
takeover talks, the Gudang Garam management, with
profits flat and market share shrinking, is
certain to be considering its options.

Philip Morris had also been in Indonesia for
nearly a half-century, but had captured just 4.4%
of the market with its Marlboro brands. A BAT
acquisition of Gudang Garam, industry analysts
predict, would lead to a battle of the titans to
win the hearts and lungs of Indonesia’s millions
of kretek addicts.

"To participate fully in the Indonesian market,
you have to offer what the consumer wants," Altria
chief executive officer Louis Camilleri told
reporters in a conference call after the Sampoerna
sale was announced last year.

Foreign management has arguably bolstered
Sampoerna’s earning power. The company booked a
net income of almost Rp1.9 trillion through June,
an increase of 20.9% compared with the almost
Rp1.6 trillion it earned over the same period in
2005 — notably before Philip Morris’s takeover.
Revenue also increased 29.4% to Rp14.6 trillion
from almost Rp11.3 trillion over the same half-
year period; locally run Bentoel and Gudang Garam,
meanwhile, have experienced a decline in net
income and revenue over the same period.

Analysts say at least part of the difference comes
down to marketing. Sampoerna’s better performance
is underpinned by the strong brand equity of its
brands, the hand-rolled Dji Sam Soe and Sampoerna
A Hijau and factory-packaged Sampoerna A Mild.
Djarum’s leading brands are Djarum Super and
Djarum Coklat, but the company has wholly failed
to make inroads into the mild kretek market, now
dominated by Sampoerna’s A Mild.

Chandra S Pasaribu, an industry analyst, said
Sampoerna’s position is still quite solid given
that its premium products are aimed at a loyal
consumer sector with higher income levels. At the
same time, cigarettes are priced to sell in
Indonesia, with many cheap brands selling for less
than 50 cents per pack. Yet lost in all this
profit is the human toll in a country where most
smokers can’t afford even basic health care, let
alone expensive treatments for advanced
respiratory illnesses.

With the financially crippling legal hassles the
tobacco industry now faces in many Western
countries — where suffering smokers have sued and
won against cigarette companies over the adverse
health impacts of prolonged smoking — Indonesia’s
lightly regulated market and less-than-litigious
society represents a potential cash cow for
foreign tobacco firms. Indonesian politicians are
so far not prone to politicize the cigarette
market because it is one of the government’s
biggest earners. At Rp35 trillion, tobacco taxes
are estimated to contribute about 7% of total tax
revenue this year, and the industry is the single
biggest contributor to national coffers, with
upwards of 90% of all excise revenue coming from

Evocative fragrance, deadly pull

For potential foreign buyers, however, the export
potential would probably be limited, particularly
to litigious Western markets. Behind the evocative
clove fragrance lies a mysterious, but potentially
deadly, pull on puffers. Eugenol, a phenolic
compound in cloves, has sedative properties that
give smokers a “feel good” high. Along with the
mood fix, smokers also get massive doses of
nicotine and tar. Kretek cigarettes contain on
average about four times as much nicotine and tar
as even the strongest Marlboros. Gudang Garam tops
the list at 53.2 milligrams of tar per cigarette,
while the bulk of the brands hover at about 40mg,
and only one contains less than 30mg.

Dji Sam Soe, Philip Morris-owned Sampoerna’s
flagship best-selling brand, accounts for more
than half of the company’s total sales. The brand
also has twice the amount of nicotine and three
times the amount of tar of a conventional
cigarette. Tests have shown that eugenol alone
causes extensive lung damage when smoked over
sustained periods. The compound also enhances the
effect of the tar, according to laboratory tests.
While there are no legal storm clouds linking
cigarette smoking to respiratory illnesses on
Indonesia’s immediate horizon, civil-society
groups are increasingly on the offensive against
the industry. More than 20 non-governmental
organizations and professional organizations,
grouped under the so-called National Movement to
Prevent Smoking Problems, have recently lobbied
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to stop the
expansion of cigarette companies. In particular,
they have criticized the government for its recent
approval of Sampoerna’s investment in a new
factory to be built in Karawang regency, West

Sampoerna currently produces cigarettes from its
plants in Pandaan, Rungkut and Malang, all in East
Java province. The company’s planned investment
prompted National Investment Coordinating Board
chairman Mohamad Lutfi to say it was a "strategic
initiative to regain trust from potential foreign
investors that would stimulate economic growth in
Indonesia". (In the first six months of 2006,
total foreign direct investment and in-house
investment in Indonesia increased by more than
$45.2 billion, representing a 12% jump over the
same period last year.)

But Farid Anfasa Moeloek, chairman of the
Indonesian Doctors Association and a former health
minister, warned: "The new factory is able to
produce 9 billion cigarettes a year. This will be
an insidious danger for the youth and poor people
because it will increase cigarettes’ availability
in the country."

There has been some movement on those sentiments,
albeit somewhat tentative.

In February, Jakarta implemented a smoking ban in
certain public areas. In particular, the ban
prohibits people from lighting up in public places
such as shopping malls, office buildings, health-
care centers, children’s activity areas, places of
worship and schools and on public transport. Also
included in the regulation is the requirement for
building management to set aside rooms equipped
with exhaust fans for smokers, while offenders can
be fined up to Rp50 million.

Should other Indonesian cities and provinces
introduce their own smoking bans, analysts predict
that those hardest hit would be the cigarette
brands sold mainly to middle- and high-income
smokers, namely Dji Sam Soe, A Mild and Marlboro.
Yet despite this first-ever smoking ban and an
increasingly strong anti-smoking sentiment among
civil-society groups, Indonesia is still one of
the last countries in the world that has not
signed into the World Health Organization’s
Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The Department of Trade is rumored to be
considering a proposal from the anti-smoking lobby
that the industry should be placed in the so
called “negative investment” list, which could
potentially close it to new foreign investments.
The bill is now being deliberated by the House of
Representatives’ Trade and Investment Commission.

As interest rates start to drop, consumption
growth may pick up and, with most Indonesian
households reportedly spending less on food and
clothing than on tobacco, prospects for the
industry look bright. And for now, at least,
Indonesia is still very much a smoker’s delight
for local and perhaps soon more foreign cigarette

[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]


Australian sovereignty is damaged by the migration

The Australian - August 10, 2006

Nothing has changed since John Howard’s ill-judged
and dangerous migration amendment bill was first
introduced into the federal parliament in May to
suggest it now deserves support. Even in its
present form, mildly watered-down after a
backbench revolt, the bill represents the worst
kind of policy-making, trading Australian
sovereignty to appease Jakarta’s anger over our
granting protection to 42 Papuan asylum-seekers in

Instead of using diplomacy to assert Australian
sovereignty when Jakarta threw a tantrum over the
decision, the Prime Minister came up with a bill
to ensure anyone arriving illegally on Australian
shores by boat is taken offshore for assessment.
In the process, he handed Indonesian President
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono the right to decide who
comes to this country and under what

The Australian backed Mr Howard in 2001 over his
controversial Pacific solution, which succeeded in
stopping people smugglers exploiting the tide of
human misery produced by upheaval in the Middle
East. But this newspaper cannot support a measure
that undermines Australian sovereignty.

Arguing against the bill yesterday, Labor
immigration spokesman Tony Burke observed that
almost five years has passed since more than 300
desperate men, women and children drowned in a
failed attempt by criminals to smuggle them into
Australia on board the unseaworthy Siev-X.

In stark contrast, the modest boatload of 43
Papuans who landed on Cape York in January were
possibly the first to do so in the four decades
since Indonesia imposed its administration in the
Papuan capital, Jayapura. The spectre raised
earlier this year of a flotilla of vessels
carrying asylum-seekers from the troubled
Indonesian province to northern Australia has not
eventuated in the hiatus while the bill is
debated, and is not likely to.

In June, Mr Howard attempted to defend his
legislation on the basis of Jakarta’s continuing
role in helping to prevent people-smuggling. But
43 people climbing into their own canoe to flee
persecution does not meet any sensible definition
of people-smuggling.

At least four Liberal backbenchers have indicated
they will cross the floor to vote against the
legislation today, and Mr Howard faces the
possibility of the bill failing in the Senate. It
should. Jakarta’s silence following the granting
of a protection visa to the last of the 43 Papuan
asylum-seekers, David Wainggai, 10 days ago
suggests the whole affair was a storm in a tea cup
and underlines Mr Howard’s poor judgment in the
scale of his response.

Our existing arrangements are entirely capable of
weighing the claims of Papuan asylum-seekers at
the same time as supporting legitimate Indonesian
territorial sovereignty. Rather than attempting to
intimidate Australia, Jakarta would do better to
focus on improving conditions for the Papuans in
its eastern-most province.

Goodbye pluralism

Jakarta Post Editorial - August 16, 2006

Houses of worship are an important topic of
discussion for many people, as the recent debate
over them showed. The impression was that people
put more importance on the buildings themselves
than on practicing the good deeds taught inside

The heated debate revolved around drawing up new
rules on church or mosque construction to replace
an antiquated joint ministerial decree. If any
issue reflects the nation’s progress, it is this
one. After 61 years as a free nation we are still
fighting over rudimentary matters of religion.

Reality is following close on the heels of the
debate. In Jakarta, some housing developments are
being tailored to a particular religious group, an
upsetting trend. Already our schools are strongly
divided along religious lines. Wealthy schools in
the cities further divide the rich students from
the poor.

Our penchant for symbolism and intellectual
banality has never waned. Ceremonies play an
important part in our lives, while statements in
bad taste by certain segments of the elite are

We are fond of surface values, of appearances
rather than substance. A recent study by the
Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) finds that
people are less tolerant of a neighbor with a
different faith, simply because of the religious
difference. This is especially so when one
religious group dominates a residential area.
People don’t bother to find out what kind of
person their neighbor is. There is also relatively
high opposition to the construction of houses of
worship of different faiths, according to the
study. It is a sign that an attitude of "holier
than thou“and”us versus them" prevails.

The institute also finds that the Muslim majority
disapproves of efforts by minority groups to
defend their rights by, for example, holding
rallies. LSI rightly states that this hinders

Our gender bias is equally disturbing. According
to the survey, we tend to resent homosexuals and
transvestites even more than people of different
faiths. But LSI is too polite in airing some of
its findings. It should have been more explicit in
pointing out the rise of religious conservatism.
This is clear from the higher rate of support
among the 1,200 respondents in all 33 provinces
for such groups as the Front Pembela Islam (Islam
Defender Front) and the Majelis Mujahidin
Indonesia (Indonesia Mujahidin Council), which are
often perceived as radical, than for the more
moderate Jaringan Islam Liberal (Liberal Islam

The greatest enmity, according to the study, is
focused on those formerly imprisoned as
communists. This is a disturbing reminder that the
mystery of the 1965 putsch, blamed on the
communists, has yet to be unraveled. Thousands of
communist detainees, jailed for years in the late
1960s under inhumane conditions and often without
trial, are now free. Yet they still face

The recent Ahmadiyah case reminds us that foes can
be found even within one religion. Ahmadiyah
members, regarded as heretics by mainstream
Muslims, are being beaten and evicted. Thousands
live as refugees in their own country. Some are
applying for asylum overseas.

This low tolerance toward our compatriots reflects
our failure to create a nation where people can
live peacefully. It is tragic and deeply saddening
that seeking differences among us appears to be
almost second nature, even at the cost of
weakening ourselves.

We divide ourselves not only along lines of
political ideology, religion, race, ethnicity,
gender, and region of origin, but also by kampong
or village of origin and by the universities we

People seem to have excessive energy for finding
differences, for dividing and weakening
themselves, eroding social trust until it almost
disappears. We seem to lack the urge to seek a
common ground where synergy can take place.

The many religions people practice, the hundreds
of ethnic groups, the rich culture and languages
adorning our nation appear to be more of a
liability than an asset. This has to change, once
and for all, because it subverts the character of
our country and would have seemed like a nightmare
to our founding fathers when they envisioned this
nation 61 years ago.

Time is short but we have impeccable social
capital in our hands. We believe that the
tradition of tolerance and respect for each
other’s faith is still the underlying foundation
of our social and political culture. It is a gem
that has stood the test of time throughout the
archipelago. It explains the nation’s resilience
in the face of many past crises.

It will take strong and inspirational leadership,
however, to revive this tradition amid ongoing
economic crises. We must do it, lest our precious
treasure slip quietly from our hands.

Disasters in waiting

Jakarta Post Editorial - August 11, 2006

The following are the tangible impacts of the hot,
toxic mud that has flooded part of the East Java
town of Sidoarjo since the end of May: nearly
8,000 people have been displaced, more than 190
hectares of farmland have been flooded, at least
15 factories have been shut down and a section of
the Surabaya-Gempol turnpike has been closed.

The multiplier effects of the disaster are even
more damaging — over 1,700 workers have been laid
off, state freeway operator PT Jasa Marga has lost
billions of rupiah in revenue and Sidoarjo’s
economy has been crippled because the mud has shut
down one of East Java’s industrial hubs.

State railway company PT KAI is the latest
operation to be affected after mud flooded the
railway line Thursday, forcing the firm to close
the Sidoarjo-Pasuruan route indefinitely. Train
passengers traveling to the eastern part of East
Java now have to stop at Sidoarjo station, while
those heading west must get off at Bangil station
near Pasuruan.

With government scientists confirming that the mud
contains dangerous levels of toxic substances like
benzene, toluene and xylene, and that the air has
been contaminated with high levels of ammonia and
sulfur dioxide, more disasters are within sight.

The quality of the environment in the area has
been permanently fouled and it is likely to be
extremely difficult and costly to rehabilitate. If
they are not evacuated, nearby residents are
likely to face health problems for many years
ahead because of the contamination.

But a more devastating catastrophe is lurking at
the beginning of the rainy season in October. If
more levees holding the mud collapse, over 20
million cubic meters of the muck could flood even
more villages in the regency than the four already
affected. The local authorities have asked
residents of the villages to ready themselves for
an evacuation.

With a team of international experts at a loss how
to stop the hot mudflow, it is anyone’s guess how
long the makeshift defenses can last.

Environment group Greenomics has estimated the
total damage caused by the mudflow amounts to a
whopping Rp 33 trillion (US$3.6 billion), an
amount that would certainly bankrupt the company
being held responsible for the disaster, PT
Lapindo Brantas Inc.

This company, partly owned by the family of
Coordinating Minister for the People’s Welfare
Aburizal Bakrie, has yet to be prosecuted under
any environmental laws, although a criminal
investigation is underway.

And strangely, Supreme Court Chief Justice Bagir
Manan, thinks further legal action is unnecessary.
Currently, Lapindo is being allowed to set the
level of compensation it pays to the thousands of
affected people.

But even if Lapindo is prosecuted — and there
certainly seems to be enough evidence to do so —
whatever damages the company will have to pay
won’t be enough to offset the losses the local
people have had to bear since the disaster struck.

It was a clear signal of the villagers’ fear when
people in Siring hamlet scrambled to help
construction workers prevent mud from spilling
over the dam, which had kept their area safe. Some
of the villagers, many of whom are factory
workers, took a day off work for the effort.

Given the imminent danger and that scientists have
no solutions to stemming the continuing mudflow,
it looks likely the state will have to follow
environment group Walhi’s advice. They have called
for the government to prosecute Lapindo and, if
necessary, the other companies involved in the
natural gas drilling that is blamed for causing
the disaster.

More immediately, it is also perhaps worth
considering channeling the mud to the sea, as an
expert on an independent team tasked with handling
the mudflow has suggested. However, his would
likely cause an even larger ecological disaster
and Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar has
already expressed his opposition to the proposal.

But as long as the mud continues to gush from the
Lapindo well site, something must be done — and
done fast.

Australians cool on Indonesia’s Bali

Asia Times - August 9, 2006

Gary LaMoshi, Bali — Another high season after
another bomb attack, and another struggle to
recover for Bali’s tourism-driven economy.

After the terrorist bombings that targeted foreign
tourists in October 2002, Bali, one of Asia’s
premier tourist destinations, was on track for a
record year in 2005 before October’s explosions
that killed 23 people, mostly tourists. Australian
tourists had led the previous recovery, but this
time they’re leading the decline — and the bombs,
it appears, are only part of the reason.

Bali tourist arrivals have fallen 19.8% for the
first half of 2006, from 114,829 per month last
year to 92,096 this year. For the estimated 1
million Balinese who rely on tourism for their
livelihoods, that means everything from lower
income from the service charges that comprise the
lion’s share of wages, to working on a one-week-
on, one-week-off schedule, to selling a motorbike
or even the family land.

On the sunny side, this year’s tourism figures top
the 63,901 arrivals the year after the first Bali
bombings, which then represented a 41% drop off
from the previous year.

But there’s a dark Down Under side to this year’s
story. Australian tourist arrivals are down 57% so
far in 2006, from a monthly average of 21,813 in
2005 to 9,466 this year. That difference accounts
for more than half of the shortfall on Bali and
has pushed Australia down to third place on the
tropical island’s arrivals chart behind Taiwan.

The Australian shortfall is larger both in
percentage terms and in raw numbers than witnessed
after the 2002 terrorist bombings that killed 88
Australians among the 202 dead. Four Australians
were among the 23 dead, including three suicide
bombers, in last year’s attacks.

Cheap beer and sunburns

Ryan Van Berkmoes, who researched in June the next
edition of Lonely Planet’s guidebook to Bali, has
noticed the difference.

"Bali has suffered greatly because so much of the
mass Australian market is gone. These aren’t the
people who wanted to go see a dance or indulge in
the island’s culture. They weren’t coming to Bali
so much because it was Bali but because it was
comparably close to home and wouldn’t cost a lot.

"Bali [now] is damaged to such a degree that when
you tell someone at the market or in the pub that
you’re going to Bali on holiday, they’re likely to
say, ’Why the hell would you go to that bloody
place?’ So increasingly Australians are getting
their cheap beer and sunburns elsewhere."

Tourism officials confirm that lower-rated one-,
two- and three-star hotels are suffering more than
luxury properties, and Kuta, the touchstone for
Australian holidaymakers, is noticeably quieter
this high season.

"After the 2002 bombings, there was a general
outpouring of goodwill from around the world and
from Australia in particular," said Australian
Rodney Holt, owner of five restaurants in Bali.
"The goodwill from Australia that was present
after 2002 this time seems absent. And we do not
understand why."

Bali insiders cite several reasons for the change
in Australian attitude. The most obvious factor
has been a series of high-profile drug cases
involving Australians in Bali. The first and most
famous involved beauty-school graduate Schapelle
Corby, who was arrested after customs officials
found nearly 10 kilograms of marijuana in her
boogie-board bag.

Corby, whose sister is married to a Balinese and
lives on the island, arguably should have known
that the best strategy was to keep quiet and aim
to negotiate the charges away. Instead, the family
launched an intensive media campaign in Australia
to assert their daughter’s innocence and blame
Indonesia for discrimination against foreigners.
That misplaced effort ensured that Indonesian
prosecutors and judges threw the book at Corby, to
the tune of 15 years, later raised to 20 on

After Corby, Australian underwear model Michelle
Leslie was busted at a party with two Ecstasy
pills in her purse. After three months of
incarceration, including court appearances in
Muslim dress — Leslie claimed to have converted
the previous year — she got off with time served
and wore a tank top for her release photos.

More seriously, nine Australians were arrested in
Bali for carrying heroin from elsewhere in
Southeast Asia on their way to Australia. Two of
the so-called “Bali Nine” received death
sentences. "In Bali, people are at a loss to
understand how a few cases involving tourists with
drugs, which have been happening for as long as
foreigners have been coming to Bali, created such
headlines verging on national hysteria in
Australia," Holt said.

Corby’s defense claimed that the drugs were placed
in her unlocked luggage by an Australian airport
smuggling operation. Leslie’s lawyers claimed
alternately that she was holding the pills for a
friend and that they were an emergency substitute
for her usual prescription dose of Ritalin. The
Bali Nine arrests were prompted by a tip from
Australian Federal Police, which sniffed out the
scheme before the smugglers arrived in Bali.

Pictured frames

Facts aside, there’s a widespread perception that
the defendants were set up by Indonesian

"Ask Australians what is stopping them from coming
to Bali [and they say] they are scared of getting
drugs planted on them," Bali Hotel Association
vice chairman Robert Kelsall said. "Bookings for
the wholesalers in Australia started to show a
severe decline back in May 2005 when the Corby
issue was strong."

Kelsall also chides the Australian media for
stirring up negative sentiments toward Indonesia,
focused on the drug convictions and a series of
contentious diplomatic incidents over the past
year. Canberra loudly protested the sentence
reductions and early release in June of Abu Bakar
Ba’asyir, the alleged spiritual leader of terror
group Jemaah Islamiyah, for his alleged role in
the planning of the 2002 Bali bombings.
Australia’s dissent revived ever-popular charges
of interference in Indonesia’s internal affairs.

Amid rising violence in Papua, Indonesia’s
primitive easternmost province, Indonesian
officials once again pointed fingers at Australia,
where many Papuan separatists live and enjoy
grassroots support from various rights
organizations. That prompted a war of cartoons
depicting each nation’s leaders as canines, a
particularly nasty insult to Indonesia’s Muslim
sensibilities. Australia’s subsequent decision to
grant political asylum to self-proclaimed Papuan
separatists prompted the recall of Indonesia’s
ambassador to Canberra.

"I don’t think anyone listens to the political
issues," said Kelsall, general manager of a five-
star hotel in the heart of Kuta. "The Australian
press tried to make an association and tried to
create an issue trying to state the Indonesians
would be angry with the Australians if they came
to Bali — same as they tried to do during the
Timor crisis.“He contended that”on the whole, the people are
not interested in politics. They just want to get
on with their lives and get things back to normal

Paradise lost

The drug issue is the second-biggest reason for
the decline of Australian visitors, said Kelsall,
who chairs a Bali Hotels Association subcommittee
on Australia that includes Bali government
officials and other tourism stakeholders. The No 1
reason, he contends, was closure of Bali-based
airline Air Paradise, which launched in 2003 and
quickly became the island’s unofficial flag

"Air Paradise was the No 1 cause for a faster
recovery from Australia" after the 2002 bombings,
Kelsall explained. "Not only through their ability
to add more capacity, but their strong marketing
strategy and their ability to quickly adapt
strategies to the changing needs of the market.
They were willing to take risks and add capacity
before they knew they would fill that additional
capacity. Then they would try hard and market it,
and they succeeded at it."

However, Air Paradise was grounded after last
year’s bombs, which remain at the heart of Bali’s
current doldrums. "Whereas after the 2002 bombings
there was a general optimism that the worst was
over, I do not have that feeling now and feel the
long-term effects of 2005 bombings are far more
difficult to predict," Holt said.

[Gary LaMoshi has worked as a broadcast producer
and print writer and editor in the US and Asia.
Longtime editor of investor rights advocate, he’s also a contributor to Slate and, and a counselor for Writing Camp.]

No specific license (default rights)