Indonesia News Digest No 34 - Sept 9-16, 2006

, by ASAP

TABLE OF CONTENTS

NEWS & ISSUES

* Parties debate electoral bar

* ’Ojek’ drivers call for legal recognition

* Forum slams IMF ’legitimacy problems’

* Indonesia’s Suharto looks healthy at wedding

* Anti-IMF forum dismisses threats

* Foreign NGOs get police approval for Batam
gathering

* Trash slides a daily risk for scavengers

* Police confusion leaves NGO meet in Batam up in
the air

* Search for dump slide victims called off

* Search for dump slide victims continues

* Police rapped for banning NGO gathering in Batam

ACEH

* Study suggests change needed in Aceh rebuilding
authority

* Two BRR officials named suspects in corruption
case

* Aceh revenues soar but poverty remains

* Aceh survivors slam agency over ’broken
promises’

WEST PAPUA

* Three Abepura defendants jailed

* AJI concerned about the expel of Australian
Journalists

* Abepura defendants get five years

* Papuan defendants on hunger strike

* Five Australian journalists deported from Papua

* Papuans protest testimony from FBI

MILITARY TIES

* Gus Dur denies lobbying US over military ties

* Rights activists question BIN over US lobbying
case

POPULAR RESISTANCE

* Kupang students stage rally

* PLN customers protest over outrages in Mataram

HUMAN RIGHTS/LAW

* Women call for rethinking of Islamic dogma

* Munir case still open, but police not hopeful

* Student could face six years for insulting
President

* Government still mulling Tommy Soeharto’s
release

* Police vow to speed up probe into Munir’s murder

* Powerless commission courting politicians

* Munir’s family demands new probe

LABOUR ISSUES

* Hotel workers rally around colleagues

* Workers demand minimum wage

* ABM demands standardisation of national wage

* Workers Challenge Alliance threatens to hold
national strike

* ABM protests against new forms of colonialism

* Government looks to create 15 million jobs

WAR ON TERROR

* Former JI leader warns of new terror attacks
this year

* Another killed in Poso blast

GOVERNMENT/CIVIL SERVICE

* Lawmakers oppose rice imports

* Country better under Yudhoyono: Survey

* ’Bureaucracy, parties striving for
recentralization’

ENVIRONMENT

* More muddy misery in Sidoarjo

* Green groups worry about tests’ longevity

* Jakarta talks tough on environment

* Fifty major loggers free abroad

* Sand quarrying raises tempers, damages locality

* Official demands Lapindo stop dumping mud in
river

* Paranormals called in to end mudflow

* Lapindo dumps water into river: Observers say

HEALTH & EDUCATION

* Teachers claim intimidation for disclosing exam
fraud

* Bogor students protest fee increases

OPINION & ANALYSIS

* Welcoming Ramadhan with love

* Prosecuting the prosecutors

 NEWS & ISSUES

Parties debate electoral bar

Jakarta Post - September 16, 2006

M. Taufiqurrahman, Jakarta — Leaders of small
political parties are fiercely objecting to a plan
to increase the electoral threshold from 3 percent
to 5 percent. The move is part of a draft
amendment to the electoral law.

Chairman of the newly-renamed Muslim-based Star
Crescent Party (PBB) Malam Sambat Ka’ban and
chairman of the Christian-oriented Prosperous
Peace Party (PDS) Denny Tewu said raising the
electoral threshold would deny the public the
chance to choose from a wide political spectrum.

"Freedom of speech and association is guaranteed
by the state constitution, so there is no need to
put a limitation on that through an electoral
threshold," Ka’ban, who is also Forestry Minister,
said Friday.

Tewu suggested that instead of determining
electoral eligibility based on how many seats
political parties secured at the House, all
parties that got seats for legislatures at all
levels should be allowed to contest the coming
election.

He said that raising the bar by 2 percent would
result in the dissolution of some political
parties that had in fact gained popularity among
the public.

"It will also mean a waste of the government’s
money as, in our case, we received more than Rp
400 billion over five years as assistance from the
government," Tewu said.

Both the PBB and the PDS failed to meet the
electoral threshold of 3 percent of seats at the
House of Representatives for the 2004 election.
The PBB, formerly known as the Crescent Star
Party, got only 10 seats in the House, forcing it
to build a coalition with other small parties in
the legislature just to stay in existence.

In the 2004 legislative election, the PDS got 12
seats at the House and garnered 2.13 percent of
the popular vote.

The electoral-threshold system was first enacted
after the 1999 general election. Only political
parties that garnered 2 percent of the seats at
the House were eligible to contest the 2004
election.

A 2003 law passed to serve as foundation for the
2004 legislative elections raised the bar, stating
that only parties that claimed 3 percent of the
DPR seats could contest the 2009 elections.

To simplify polling procedures, lawmakers will
likely increase the electoral threshold to five
percent for the 2014 elections.

Senior Golkar party lawmaker Ferry Mursidan Baldan
said the application of the electoral threshold
principle was in fact one of many ways to improve
the functioning of democracy.

"Parties which fail to meet the electoral
threshold will not be ordered to shut down, they
will only be blocked from taking part in
elections, meaning that they have to consolidate
more," said Ferry, who served as chairman of the
House special committee tasked with deliberating
the 2003 law.

He said that failure to meet the threshold did not
spell the end for a political party since it could
still merge with other parties or simply change
its name.


’Ojek’ drivers call for legal recognition

Jakarta Post - September 14, 2006

Jakarta — They are everywhere, the men in helmets
sitting on motorcycles at the side of the road;
waiting and watching day in and day out.

Most Jakartans are familiar with the inexpensive
motorcycle taxi known as the ojek but few fully
understand the important role the drivers play or
the risks they take on Jakarta’s dangerous
streets.

"They are everywhere. We can count on them as
informal police agents," Jakarta Police
representative First Insp. Baradun said on the
sidelines of the second anniversary of the
Jakarta-based Indonesian Motorized Ojek
Association (Pomsi) on Monday. "They often share
information related to crimes in the city with
us," he said

In this crime-ridden city, the ubiquitous ojek
drivers’ information is very much needed. They are
the police’s best informants, reporting fires and
street crime.

Pomsi executive John Kornelis said ojek drivers
across the country not only take people where they
need to go, "they also deal with street accidents
and street crimes“.”In fact, the discovery of a terrorist hideout in
Batu, Malang, East Java, where one of the Bali
bombing masterminds, Azahari, was shot dead, was
due to an ojek driver’s tip to the police," John
said.

Pomsi chairman Frans Andi Tumengkol called on the
police to help ojek drivers in getting legal
protection because, he said, the police needed
their assistance to secure the community.

Frans said the question of "who will be
responsible if ojek drivers are dealing with
robbery and theft when they are doing their job“needed to be addressed.”Ojek drivers also face the usual problems faced
by any mass transportation operator, but we don’t
have any access to legal rights," John said. Ojek
drivers used the event to call for legal
recognition and protection.

Forty-six-year-old ojek driver Ujang said he
expected the administration to provide legal
recognition for the industry.

The Organization of Land Transportation Owners
(Organda) and the Jakarta Transportation Agency do
not recognize motorcycle taxis as public
transportation because ojeks do not have specific
routes or safety standards for drivers and
passengers.

If legally recognized, John said, ojek could
become a professional and safe mass transportation
service. "We are asking the authorities (for)
direction to improve ourselves," he said.

According to Pomsi’s latest data, there are more
than 5 million ojek drivers in the city, although
only 10,000 are Pomsi members.

Ojek became an alternative form of public
transportation in the city when the local
government banned becak (pedicabs) in 1994. The
1997 economic crisis swelled the ranks of ojek
drivers, with many of the millions left unemployed
turning to their motorcycles to make a living.

House of Representatives Commission V overseeing
transportation member Roestanto Wahidi said the
commission was considering making ojek an official
form of public transportation under the next
transportation law.

"We realize that ojek have the same function as
other transportation models: serving the public.
So they also need legal protection guaranteeing
their position in the face of the law," said
Roestanto, who also attended Monday’s event.

He added that if ojek were to made legal, drivers
would have to improve their safety standards and
follow traffic regulations.


Forum slams IMF ’legitimacy problems’

Jakarta Post - September 16, 2006

Andi Haswidi, Batam — Only the rich nations that
are not affected by IMF policies benefit from the
institution’s reforms, a speaker at Batam’s
International Peoples Forum said Friday.

Walden Bello, a professor of sociology and
political economy from the University of the
Philippines, said that the IMF had been suffering
legitimacy problems ever since its failure to deal
with the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Since then, the agency’s big debtors like Brazil,
Argentina and Thailand had paid off their debts to
the body as quickly as possible, so they could
regain their financial sovereignty, he said.

"The crisis of legitimacy is translating into a
budgetary crisis for the IMF because developing
countries are refusing to gain more debt from it,"
he said. Bello said total lending by IMF had
decreased significantly since 2005 and the decline
would likely continue until 2009.

The question of the IMF’s legitimacy was also felt
throughout Europe where many protests have been
held, urging the European governments to back away
from funding the body because it had failed to
cope with global poverty.

This week, a protest in London succeeded in
ensuring the United Kingdom withheld some 50
million pounds of funding from the body.

"With respect to this reform agenda, the real
winner of this so-called effort to change the
(IMF) voting share depending on GDP is the US,"
Bello said. The United States, as the biggest
funder of the institution, is the largest voting
share holder, giving it the most power to
influence the institution’s decisions.

The IMF is a financial agency with 184 members,
where each dollar donated is counted as a vote.

A major decision requires an 85 percent majority
vote, which ensures that the US, with 17 percent
of the votes, has a veto over the fund’s
substantial business. The 80 poorest countries
have about a 10 percent voting share between them.

At the current IMF summit in Singapore, the body
aims to democratize by giving more voting power to
China, South Korea, Turkey and Mexico. However,
this would be at the expense of other developing
countries, delegates in Batam said.

Sameer Nadim, the executive director of 50 Years
is Enough, a US based civil society organization
(CSO) dedicated to the profound transformation of
the World Bank and IMF, said that the four new
countries would not be affected by the
institutions’ policies.

However, "Southern Africa will lose half of its
voting shares under the current reform proposal.
All the countries in Africa, controlling 5 percent
of the voting shares in total, will go down to 2.5
(percent),“Nadim said.”So, if we look at the principle under which the
idea is proposed, it means that the least affected
you are (by IMF policies), the more power you will
have. But if you are more affected, you will have
less power," he said.

Bello suggested there should be alternatives for
sources of development funding apart from Breton
Woods, the collective name for the IMF and the
World Bank.

"There has been an effort in Latin America where
countries like Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba have
established an alternative body for development
funding," he said.

Bello was referring to the Bolivarian Alternative
for the Americas (ALBA). A funding body initiated
by Venezuela and Cuba, ALBA is an alternative to
the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA or ALCA
in Spanish) proposed by the United States.

Activists at the talks agreed on the establishment
of regional funding bodies because they would
understand the complexity of a region better than
international institutions like the IMF.


Indonesia’s Suharto looks healthy at wedding

Agence France Presse - September 16, 2006

Jakarta — Former Indonesian president Suharto,
who escaped trial for corruption on health
grounds, appeared healthy as he attended the
wedding of one of his grandsons.

The 85-year-old former president arrived at the
At-Tien mosque shortly before the wedding of Danny
Bimo Hendra Utomo, the son of his eldest daughter
Siti “Tutut” Hardiayanti Rukmana, to actress Lulu
Tobing, ElShinta radio said Saturday.

Suharto, who walked with a cane, appeared healthy
and cheerful, a reporter said. He made no comment.
However, the reporter said that he walked aided by
a close aide when he entered the venue.

It was his first public appearance since he left
hospital on a stretcher in May after three
operations and nearly a month of treatment for
stomach problems that had left him critically ill.

Suharto ruled Indonesia with an iron grip until he
stepped down amid mounting unrest in 1998, since
when he has lived quietly at his private
residence.

The former autocrat escaped trial for suspected
corruption on health grounds with lawyers offering
medical evidence that he could no longer hold or
follow a normal conversation.

He has been hospitalised several times for
intestinal bleeding, stroke and heart problems. In
the last case, he spent two nights at a state
hospital for anaemia following intestinal
bleeding.


Anti-IMF forum dismisses threats

Jakarta Post - September 15, 2006

Andi Haswidi, Batam, Riau Islands — Activists
said Thursday they had received threats from
people claiming to represent local NGOs warning
them to call off a planned international
antiglobalization forum on Batam island.

"They are threatening to deploy some 2,900 people
to besiege this meeting venue tomorrow," Ramses,
an organizing committee member for the
international civil society organizations (CSOs)
forum, said in Batam on Thursday.

The three-day gathering is due to start Friday at
the island’s haj dormitory to coincide with the
International Monetary Fund and World Bank
meetings taking place in Singapore, some 40
minutes away by ferry from Batam.

Other committee members also said they had
received anonymous phone calls and text messages
threatening to “break up” the forum.

Several banners carrying slogans denouncing the
planned antiglobalization gathering were seen in
the Nagoya area of Batam before being removed by
authorities earlier this week. The banners
suggested the forum lacked the spirit of
nationalism and could scare off investors from the
industrial island.

On Sept. 4, 18 local NGOs published a statement in
a local newspaper asking police to ban the forum.
Police in Batam did initially decide to bar the
gathering, but were overridden by National Police
Headquarters.

Ramses said the threats began arriving after
organizers rejected a request from a group of men
claiming to represent several local NGOs to be
included on the organizing committee.

"We didn’t reject them. We merely offered them the
chance to be participants in the forum. It was
impossible to include them on the committee
because it was already established a long time
ago," he said.

Donatus Markus, director of the International NGO
Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID), also the
caretaker of the forum, said the gathering would
go ahead as planned.

"Personally, I’m surprised to hear threats coming
from people claiming to represent local NGOs. In
our previous event in Yogyakarta last year, local
NGOs were very cooperative. They even helped
secure our forum," he said.

Commenting on the extensive police presence around
the haj dormitory and in other areas of Batam,
Donatus said it indicated something “unexpected”
could happen during the forum.

Riau Islands Police chief Brig. Gen. Sutarman told
The Jakarta Post more than 800 officers from a
special antiterror squad would be deployed to
secure the gathering. "We held a preparatory
ceremony this morning (Thursday)," he said.

The forum will be attended by some 600 activists
representing international civil society
organizations, including Oxfam International,
Infid, 50 Years is Enough, South Jubilee, Bank
Information Center and the North East Civil
Society Initiative Against International Financial
Institutions.

The gathering will discuss what is seen as the
triple crises of legitimacy, role and budget at
the IMF and its twin sister, the World Bank, and
will involve campaign materials from numerous CSO
representatives.

Indonesia’s former chief economics minister, Kwik
Kian Gie, who is known for his staunch opposition
to IMF policies, has been invited to speak at the
forum.


Foreign NGOs get police approval for Batam
gathering

Jakarta Post - September 12, 2006

Fadli, Batam — After threatening to break up any
gathering of foreign nongovernmental organizations
(NGOs) in Batam, the Riau Islands provincial
police on Monday agreed to abide by a National
Police decision to allow the NGOs to meet.

Riau Police chief Brig. Gen. Sutarman told The
Jakarta Post that the local police actually stood
by their decision to ban the NGOs’ activities,
which are timed to coincide with the annual
meeting of the World Bank and International
Monetary Fund in Singapore this week.

"However, because the authority to issue any
permits for such international activities is in
the hands of the National Police Headquarters, we
cannot do more than that,“Sutarman said.”The National Police Headquarters possibly has its
own considerations,“he added.”As (the NGOs) hold
a permit, their activities are legal, so local
police have no authority to disperse them."

The meeting is to be attended by 700
representatives of 74 NGOs from 40 countries under
the coordination of the International NGO Forum on
Indonesian Development (Infid). In preparation,
the Riau Police held a meeting to discuss
security.

Meanwhile, the management of the haj dormitory in
Batam acknowledged receiving a down payment from
Infid to lease the dormitory’s facilities for the
meeting.

The caretaker of the dormitory, Lili Ramli, told
the Post on Monday that her office had received a
15 percent down payment, or Rp 100 million
(US$10,526), from Infid a week ago.

"We have also extended the time limit for Infid to
arrange permits from the police. We had earlier
given them until Thursday, but we extended it
until tomorrow," said Lili.

She said Infid had submitted an agenda for the
meeting to run from Sept. 15 through 17. According
to the contract, the dormitory will provide
accommodation and meals for 700 participants.

"We’ve heard that Infid has acquired a permit from
the National Police Headquarters. However, we’re
waiting for written consent and are still keeping
in touch to make arrangements for the event," said
Lili.

The dormitory, which has rooms for 960 people, was
quiet Monday. Some dormitory staff members and
officers from the Batam Industrial Development
Authority’s security directorate guarded its
perimeters.

The rooms and auditorium were still locked, even
though the schedule specified that Infid should
have begun preparations there.

"Members of the organizing committee should have
already arrived on Monday to arrange for the
event, but there’s still no news as of this
moment. We must also wait for written approval
from the police, who are still confused over the
matter. Reports in the newspapers are different
from reality," said Lili.

Lili added that her office would return the down
payment if Infid failed to obtain permission from
the Riau Police.


Trash slides a daily risk for scavengers

Jakarta Post - September 12, 2006

Rusman, Bekasi — It was almost midnight on
Thursday when people living around the Bantar
Gebang dump in Bekasi were woken by a loud roar —
a mountain of trash collapsing.

Cries for help could be heard from the dump. A
truck skidded on garbage from the slide and
crashed into a house and one of the dump’s walls,
which collapsed. Dozens of scavengers searched
through the rubbish, this time not looking for
things to sell, but for their friends.

Residents of the Sumur Batu, Ciketing Udik and
Cikuwul subdistricts, which border the dump, also
helped in the hunt for survivors in the dump’s
Zone 3, the headlights of nearby trucks providing
the only illumination.

At 1 a.m. on Friday, two bodies were found,
covered in mud and trash. "I saw one of the
victims had been dragged along by the truck,
because they had been standing right next to it,"
said Supriyadi, 30. Three people who worked as
scavengers died in the incident, while five others
were injured.

Marsinah, 40, who was five months pregnant died,
along with 17-year-old Miswan, both from Karawang
in Bekasi. Nursonip, from Cirebon in West Java and
35 years old, was also killed.

Adi, Noto, Tono and Samudi were all injured in the
accident and recovered at Bekasi Hospital. The
fifth injured scavenger, Yana, has been
transferred to Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital in
Jakarta.

Most of Jakarta’s garbage is sent to Bantar Gebang
dump, which is located about 11 kilometers away
from the city of Bekasi. Around 600 trucks work
around the clock to deliver about 6,000 tons of
trash every day. The dump is divided into five
zones, and the trash can reach up to 15 meters in
height.

Zone 3, where the trash slide took place, is about
500 meters from the entrance gate. Scavengers’
shanties sit amid the piles of trash, and the
sight of people sitting in waste water from
garbage trucks is a common one.

Food kiosks stand along the side of the road that
runs through the dump, selling coffee, snacks and
meals just meters from rotting trash.

"This is to fulfill our daily meal needs. The
place doesn’t matter. For scavengers it’s usual to
eat surrounded by the smell of garbage," said
kiosk operator Maemunah, 32.

Dozens of tents are set up in the dump. When the
slide happened, they were dragged for about five
meters.

"The slide was so strong. Everybody was dragged.
The ones who died were asleep. Other people were
dragged too, but they weren’t buried in the trash
so they could be rescued immediately," Maemunah
said.

Mochamad Helmy of the Environment Ministry said
the dump’s condition meant it was prone to slides,
particularly in Zone 3. He said he believed the
operator was not using a sanitary landfill system
as it claimed to but was instead practicing an
open dumping system, and that Zone 3 had been
filled beyond its capacity.

The maximum height for trash piles is 15 meters,
he said, but the trash in zone reached 20 meters
in some places. "So it’s over its capacity and
very prone to slides," he said.

The scavengers, however, are not about to leave
the area. "Where would we find another job? Going
back to our home towns is not at option because we
don’t have anything to do there and there’s no
land to work on," Supriyadi said.

He was almost killed in the incident as he was one
of about 50 workers picking through the garbage
when it happened. "Trash slides have always been a
risk," he said.


Police confusion leaves NGO meet in Batam up in
the air

Jakarta Post - September 11, 2006

Fadli, Batam, Riau Islands — Confusion among the
police means it remains unclear whether a group of
local and international non-governmental
organizations will be allowed to hold a forum in
Batam to coincide with the IMF-World Bank meetings
in Singapore this week.

Riau Islands Police deputy chief Sr. Comr.
Sulistyono insisted Saturday the local authorities
remained opposed to the event although his
superior, National Police chief Gen. Sutanto, has
said the activists, from the International Forum
on Indonesian Development (Infid), would be
permitted to hold their planned seminar in Batam
but not “political activities”.

In apparent defiance of his superior, Sulistyono
told The Jakarta Post the Riau Islands Police
remained against the gathering.

"We (the police) maintain our stance not to allow
any foreign NGO activities in Batam. I’m sure you
have heard statements by local police chief (Brig.
Gen. Sutarman) about local NGOs (here), which were
against the presence of foreign NGOs. We still
stick to that statement," Sulistyono said at
Tanjung Kasam in Batam.

Eighteen local NGOs have voiced their opposition
to Infid’s meeting, although they have been
accused of offering their services for hire to the
authorities.

When asked about national chief Sutanto’s
statement, Sulistyono decided it was time to
leave. "If you are not convinced, just ask the
regional police chief again," he said, hastily
entering his car.

Meanwhile, regional police chief Sr. Comr. Eko
Hadi Sutedjo said that security in the Batam had
been raised to “alert” status in conjunction with
the IMF and World Bank meeting in Singapore and
the proposed meeting in Batam.

"We’ve raised the status because Batam has become
a target of terrorist crimes," Eko said. He
declined to comment when asked about Sutanto’s
remark.

Eko said based on previous experience, meetings
held by NGOs in Batam had the potential to create
chaos. "Those understanding the conditions in
Batam are the local police. We have seen that
foreign NGOs’ meeting in Batam has the potential
of creating unrest for foreign investors here,"
Eko said.

The forum plans to discuss labor and trade issues
in an alternative protest meeting to the IMF-World
Bank meetings in Singapore. The police have
worried the meeting could stir up factory workers
on the island. Batam is part of a special economic
zone, supplying labor to factories based there,
many of which are owned by international
investors.

Infid has condemned the Riau Islands Police’s
decision to ban it from holding the gathering.
Group deputy director Dian Kartika Sari said last
week the reason the authorities used to ban the
gathering were legally groundless.

"This is a democratic country where thousand of
workers are allowed to hold rallies. Why are they
banning us from holding a seminar?" he said.


Search for dump slide victims called off

Jakarta Post - September 11, 2006

Rusman, Bekasi — After three days of sifting
through trash to search for the bodies of more
victims who may be buried under a garbage slide in
Bantar Gebang dump, Bekasi, the police and dump
operator PT Patriot Bangkit Bekasi decided
Saturday evening to stop the search.

The slide, which occurred late Thursday night at
the eight-hectare Zone 3 of the dump, killed at
least three scavengers and seriously injured five
others. Witnesses said that about 50 people were
picking through the garbage when the accident took
place.

Patriot legal representative Jaya Butar Butar said
Sunday that the decision to stop the search was
taken because no more bodies were found in the
last two days and there were no reports of missing
people. "The official number of victims is eight.
Three dead and five injured," he told The Jakarta
Post.

He said that the company had handed over
compensation money to the relatives of the eight
victims. He declined to reveal the amount given.

The police have started an investigation into the
incident by questioning four people, including
truck drivers and employees of the dump operator.
Bekasi Police chief Sr. Comr. Chairul Anwar said
that they had yet to name any suspect.

Experts from the State Ministry for the
Environment, however, underlined several facts
that may put the company in hot water.

The ministry’s assistant deputy of the Household
Waste Pollution Control Unit, Mochamad Helmy,
revealed violations in procedures at the sanitary
landfill as the dump operator piled the trash to
up to 20 meters high, while the standard height
should be 12 to 15 meters.

He also pointed out that the dump operator should
put a layer of soil between every two meters of
trash to absorb methane gas produced by
decomposing trash that may cause explosions.

Bekasi Council member Slamet Siahaan from
Commission D that oversees environmental issues,
said that the dump operator had failed to do its
job. "They just didn’t do what they should do...
They made a fatal mistake," he told the Post.

But Jaya asked the public not to hold the company
responsible. "It’s a natural disaster... Besides,
the police investigation is still ongoing," he
said.


Search for dump slide victims continues

Jakarta Post - September 10, 2006

Rusman, Bekasi — The search for more victims of
the huge dump slide east of Jakarta continued
Saturday, but the death toll remained at three,
with around 20 more people still thought to be
missing.

Police have begun investigating the cause of the
incident, which occurred on Friday morning at
Bekasi’s Bantar Gebang dump and injured five
others.

Dedi, a scavenger, said he believed many of his
peers were buried in the pile. "I saw dozens of
people working when the trash collapsed. Their
bodies were covered by the waste," he told The
Jakarta Post.

Police said it was difficult to confirm the number
of scavengers working at the site because none had
legal documents. The dump operator, PT Patriot
Bangkit Bekasi, has sent eight earth movers to the
area to help with the search.

Bekasi Police chief Sr. Comr. Chairul Anwar said
police had questioned four witnesses, including a
truck driver and a dump operator staffer, over the
incident. “We have yet to name any suspects,” he
said Saturday.

The trash slide took place in the eight-hectare
Zone 3 of the dump early Friday morning. Three
scavengers, Marsinah, 40, Miswan, 17, and Sonif,
30, were killed in the slide.

Four of the injured victims — Samudi, Adi,
Rasnoto and Wastono — left Bekasi Hospital
Saturday, while the fifth, Yana, was still being
treated for her injuries at Cipto Mangunkusumo
Hospital.

A lawyer representing the dump operator insisted
the incident was a “natural disaster”. M. Jaya
Butar Butar said a layer of soil had been applied
over every two meters of rubbish as was legally
required.

"It is purely a natural disaster. However, we will
provide compensation to the victim’s families," he
said after accompanying his client during police
questioning.

Around 6,000 tons of Jakarta’s daily waste is
dumped in the landfill at Bantar Gebang. The
Jakarta administration pays Bekasi city a
management fee of US$5.60 a ton for use of the
dump.

Last year, Jakarta introduced a high-tech waste
management facility in Bojong, Bogor, to reduce
its dependency on Bantar Gebang, but local
residents opposed to the site forced its closure.


Police rapped for banning NGO gathering in Batam

Jakarta Post - September 8, 2006

Ary Hermawan, Jakarta — International NGOs have
slammed the Riau Police’s decision to ban them
from holding a gathering next week on Batam Island
to protest the annual World Bank-IMF meetings in
Singapore.

"We deplore the misleading statement of Riau
Islands Police chief Brig. Gen. Sutarman that our
planned gathering in Batam would trigger
instability and riots," the International NGO
Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID) said in a
statement sent to The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

INFID’s statement was issued on behalf of the
members of the People’s Alliance Against the World
Bank and IMF (ARM-IFIS), which includes Debt Watch
Indonesia, FSPSI Reformasi, PADI Indonesia and
ISMAD.

The Riau Islands Police have rejected INFID’s
request to hold a gathering in Batam to oppose the
10-day 2006 Annual Meetings of the Boards of
Governors of the International Monetary Fund and
the World Bank Group, which will be attended by
16,000 foreign delegates from 184 countries
worldwide.

The police’s decision is supported by 18 local
NGOs, which said the activists’ meeting would
undermine investment on the island. "I say we will
disperse them. If we’re unable to do it ourselves,
we’ll do it together with the (local) NGOs,"
Sutarman told local daily newspaper the Batam Pos
on Tuesday.

However, speculation that the local NGOs are being
paid off by business interests on the island is
rife, with people claiming they had seen posters
in Batam saying: "We provide people for
demonstrations, price negotiable." The police
earlier met with the local NGOs to discuss the
INFID meetings.

Local NGOs that oppose INFID’s forum include
Independent Political Watch, Cinta Anak Negeri and
youth group Pemuda Pancasila.

INFID NGOs had planned to hold the International
People’s Forum (IPF) at the Batam Haj Dormitory.
Events at the forum include a planned
International-National Media Workshop from Sept.
12 to 13, a committee meeting on Sept. 14 and the
main event from Sept. 15 to 17.

In a letter made available to The Jakarta Post,
the Riau Islands Police said they could not
provide INFID with a permit to hold the meeting on
the island as it would cause "economic
disadvantages“to Indonesia.”There are fears from the employers in the
Batamindo industrial region that the gathering
would have bad influence on workers," it says. The
police believe the gathering would also prompt
conflict because local NGOs had expressed
opposition to INFID meetings.

INFID, meanwhile, called Sutarman’s statement
provocative and said it could incite public
unrest. "If he reads the letter we sent, he should
have understood the purpose of the meeting, which
is to express people’s concerns," it said.

INFID NGOs have expressed their strong opposition
to lender institutions such as the Indonesian
Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. They said
the two agencies often have hidden agendas behind
their decisions to disburse loans.

The group’s deputy director, Dian Kartika Sari,
said the reasons the authorities used to ban the
gathering were legally groundless. "This is a
democratic country where thousands of workers are
allowed to hold rallies. Why are they banning us
from holding a seminar?“Dian told the Post”.

She said the NGOs would continue to persuade
decision-makers to help them secure a permit for
the meetings. "Some are now lobbying lawmakers,
while some others are trying to talk to officials
at the National Police Headquarters," she said.

She said she had no plans to talk to the local
NGOs that opposed the planned meeting and would
instead focus on getting a permit. "I don’t think
we’re going to talk with them, as it would only
worsen the situation," she said.

 ACEH

Study suggests change needed in Aceh rebuilding
authority

Jakarta Post - September 15, 2006

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta — A new study
recommends transferring the job of rebuilding
Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam to the incoming
provincial administration, in order to bypass
problems in the current reconstruction programs.

The study conducted in August and September by
Jakarta-based environment watchdog Greenomics
found that the Aceh and Nias Rehabilitation and
Reconstruction Agency (BRR) and the central
government have contributed to the slow pace of
reconstruction.

"To cut off bureaucratic hindrances from Jakarta
and avoid internal ones at the BRR, the government
should trust the new Aceh administration to do the
rehabilitation and reconstruction work. The BRR
will play its role as a coordinating body and
policy maker while the Aceh administration will be
fully accountable for all work in the field,"
Greenomics executive director Elfian Effendi said
here Thursday.

Effendi argued the transfer of authority is
allowed by the 2005 law on rehabilitation and
reconstruction in Aceh.

"It is better for the government and the BRR to
prepare a smooth transition... so that the
reconstruction work will be fully taken over by
the new Aceh government" after local elections in
December, he said, adding that this issue has been
discussed with BRR chairman Kuntoro Mangkusubroto
and the current Aceh provincial administration.

The study found mismanagement and corrupt
practices were the two main problems at the BRR,
while the central government failed to work
smoothly with the agency and the Aceh
administration to speed the pace of
reconstruction.

Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) recently
released a report detailing alleged corruption in
BRR projects. Aceh prosecutors have declared two
BRR staffers suspects in a graft case connected to
the publication of a book by the agency.

According to the study, 60 percent of the major
obstacles to progress derived from the BRR and the
central government.

"BRR is not a super-body and Kuntoro is not a
superman. This has been evidenced by the agency’s
failure to achieve its targets and by his
inability to control the agency," Elfian said.

Greenomics was optimistic that the reconstruction
work would win full support from the Acehnese
people under the new provincial administration.

Major obstacles in Aceh reconstruction work:

1. The central government:

- Failure to rule on land appropriation,
logistical supply, tax and spatial zoning
- Lack of flexibility in budget disbursement -Lack
of policy on wood supply for housing construction
- Poor awareness of conditions

2. BRR:

- Slow planning and execution
- Slow policy and decision-making process
- Failure to reach targets
- Weak database on aid recipients
- Poor coordination with Aceh government
- Overly centralized and bureaucratic structure
- Absence of permanent work system

- Lack of professionalism
- Ineffective internal control mechanisms
- Corruption

3. International donors:

- Overly bureaucratic aid disbursement
- High overhead
- Slow planning and execution
- Lower level of commitment
- Insufficient familiarity with Indonesian rules


Two BRR officials named suspects in corruption
case

Jakarta Post - September 14, 2006

Nani Afrida, Banda Aceh — Prosecutors have named
two staffers of the Aceh and Nias Rehabilitation
and Reconstruction Agency (BRR) as suspects in
alleged corruption involving the publication of a
book by the national agency.

BRR budget official Achyarmansyah and Hendrawan
Diandi, who led the book project team, are charged
with inflating the price of the agency’s annual
report, Developing the Promised Land.

"There are some indications there may be more
suspects from BRR. Right now we’re developing the
investigation into the two staffers," Aceh
Prosecutor’s Office head Teuku Zakaria told The
Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Printing companies PT Wahana Multiguna Mandiri and
PT Patriot Pembaharuan Jaya are also possible
suspects, he added.

Zakaria said both Achyarmansyah and Hendrawan were
named suspects after 20 days of investigation. The
two were among 13 witnesses questioned about the
graft case, 10 of whom work for the BRR.

"The financial loss of the markup case is Rp 480.5
million (around US$50,578)," he said. Zakaria said
the book project was carried out without a public
tender, leading to inflated prices.

Four editions of the book were printed before the
price was determined, and every edition cost a
different amount, he added.

The first edition of some 600 copies, he said, was
printed in May by PT Multiguna Mandiri at a price
of Rp 570,000 each. The second edition of 250
copies by the same company cost Rp 450,000 per
copy. Six hundred copies of the third edition, an
English version, were printed by PT Patriot
Pembaharuan Jaya at a price of Rp 575,000 per
copy. The fourth edition was printed by CV Rizki
Grafis for Rp 220,000 each.

Zakaria said the book should have cost only Rp
265,000 per copy if printed at the Banda Aceh
printing office. "We’re still gathering evidence
to name other suspects," he said.

BRR spokeswoman Mirza Keumala said Wednesday she
had not yet been informed about the corruption
charges against Achyarmansyah and Hendrawan. "But
from the beginning (of the investigation) we have
said that we will abide by the law and respect the
legal process," she added.

A recent report from Indonesian Corruption Watch
alleged irregularities including corruption and
collusion in five BRR projects valued at a total
of Rp 23.8 billion. The projects were carried out
in the 2005 budget year, which ended in April
2006. The allegedly graft-tainted book procurement
was one of the projects.

The agency has acknowledged that it sometimes
bypassed official procedures, arguing that this
was justified under existing regulations governing
emergency work in Aceh.

Acting BRR secretary Teuku Kamaruzzaman, a former
Aceh rebel leader, has admitted the agency
directly appointed several partner companies to
complete the projects, in order to avoid numerous
technical and bureaucratic hurdles.

The companies were appointed without tender not
because of collusion, he said, but because the
work was of an emergency nature, so direct
appointments were allowed under existing
regulations.

A presidential decree on the agency requires it to
hold public tenders for all projects valued at Rp
50 million or more, except for those projects
classified as emergency work.


Aceh revenues soar but poverty remains

Jakarta Post - September 14, 2006

Jakarta — A record-breaking increase in revenue
has failed to alleviate high levels of poverty in
Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, according to a new
report.

The joint study was carried out by the World Bank
and leading universities in Aceh with support from
the Indonesian government. It found that despite a
sixfold increase in revenue since 1999, as well as
rich natural resources, Aceh remains the fourth-
poorest province in the nation.

The Aceh Expenditure Analysis for 2006 examines
revenues and expenditures, as well as the
financial management capabilities of Aceh’s
provincial and local governments.

"We now have a comprehensive picture of existing
and near-future financial resources for Aceh for
the first time," said Joel Hellman, World Bank
coordinator for Aceh reconstruction.

Decentralization, the granting of special autonomy
status in 2001 and a large influx of post-tsunami
aid account for the increase in revenue. As of
June 2006, US$4.9 billion worth of reconstruction
was underway in Aceh, out of some US$8 billion in
total pledges.

The creation of a special autonomy fund in the new
Aceh governance law will further increase revenues
starting in 2008 to some Rp 13 trillion (US$1.4
billion) per year, more than compensating for a
decline in oil and gas production in the province.

Yet Aceh’s poverty rate, which measured 28.5%
before the tsunami, is likely to have increased
since then.

"Local government capacity to manage public funds
is still very weak and increased spending on
salaries and facilities is a very worrying trend,"
said Ayha Ihsan, the Acehnese co-author of the
report.

"For us Acehnese, one of the most critical reforms
is capacity building for these officials and
reforming the incentives and sanctions regime
governing their activities."


Aceh survivors slam agency over ’broken promises’

Jakarta Post - September 12, 2006

Nani Afrida, Banda Aceh — More than 2,000
displaced people from 14 regencies in Nanggroe
Aceh Darussalam braved a heavy rain Monday to
stage a protest at the Aceh-Nias Reconstruction
and Rehabilitation Agency (BRR) office in Banda
Aceh (photo).

The crowd, grouped in the Inter Barracks
Communication Forum, arrived in trucks and public
transportation vehicles to demand the houses, land
and economic assistance they say were promised
them after the 2004 tsunami. Many of the
protesters brandished banners, some of which read:
“Don’t steal people’s money”, "Open your eyes,
your ears“and”Don’t get paid without working."

They said they were tired of the unfulfilled
promises of the BRR and the complicated
bureaucratic procedures they faced when they
attempted to claim assistance.

"We have been registered a number of times but
have not received a house so far," Muktar, 45, a
resident of Paya Kameng village in Mesjid Raya
district, Aceh Besar, told The Jakarta Post.

He accused the agency of failing to help tsunami
survivors. He said he had asked the BRR for help
in restoring his shrimp pond destroyed in the
tsunami, but received no response. "Other relief
agencies involved in restoring fish ponds have
completed their work in Aceh," Muktar said.

A resident of Punge Blang Cut in Banda Aceh,
Nurhayati, 50, said the reconstruction agency had
failed to deliver on promised start-up capital to
help tsunami survivors open businesses. "Reports
say a lot of money has been provided for Aceh, but
why aren’t we getting any?" she asked.

Nurhayati said survivors needed assistance to set
up businesses that would allow them to support
themselves. "We don’t want to be called lazy and
dependent on aid, but help us so we" can help
ourselves, she said.

 WEST PAPUA

Three Abepura defendants jailed

Jakarta Post - September 16, 2006

Jayapura — The Jayapura District Court sentenced
Friday three of the last seven defendants on trial
for their involvement in the deadly Abepura clash
to four and five years in prison.

The Friday session, presided over by Judge Moris
Ginting, found the first defendant Yesaya Eko
Merano Berotabui guilty of violating Article 214
of the Criminal Code for disobeying police orders.
The sentence was a year less than that recommended
by the prosecution.

The judges handed down a more lenient sentence
because they found the defendant honest and
straightforward during the proceedings. However,
Eko did not accept the court ruling and
immediately filed an appeal.

Outside the court, Eko, who was accompanied by his
father, C. Berotabui, chief of the Papua
Protestant Church Am synod, yelled in protest.
"Although I’m convicted, it doesn’t weaken the
students’ struggle to demand PT Freeport’s
closure," he said, referring to the mining company
in the province.

The two other defendants, Aris Mandowen and Phiter
Stevanus Bonay, were each sentenced to five years
imprisonment for the same crime. Their attorney,
David Victor Sitorus, expressed disappointment
with the court ruling which he deemed unfair.
"It’s inconceivable that just by hurling rocks at
an officer they were sentenced to five years in
prison, especially when their actions did not
cause the death of the officer," he said.

Two more defendants are awaiting their verdicts.


AJI concerned about the expel of Australian
Journalists

Jakarta Post - September 15, 2006

Pontianak (Agencies) — The Alliance of
Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia Saturday
expressed its concern about the expel of five
Australian journalists from Papua when they were
carried out their jobs in the province.

AJI chairman Heru Hendratmoko said that the
deportation of the five television journalists was
a violation against the Indonesian press law,
ruling that journalists are free to carry out
their jobs.

Quoted by Antara news agency, Heru said that the
deportation would hamper image of Indonesia
because it may spark accusation that the
authorities were not being transparent about the
province.

Presenter Naomi Robson of the public affairs
program “Today Tonight” and four members of her
film crew arrived at the Papuan capital Jayapura
Wednesday on tourist visas and were questioned by
authorities soon after.

Today Tonight told its viewers Thursday that the
crew had gone to Papua to rescue a six-year-old
orphan boy named Wa Wa who is destined to be eaten
by his tribe, "the last known practicing cannibals
on earth."

The network crew were escorted by immigration
officials on board a commercial flight Thursday
from Papua to the national capital, Jakarta, en
route to Australia, Papua Police Chief Maj. Gen.
Tommy Jacobus said. "They admitted to being
journalists who were intending to report on events
here," Jacobus was quoted by AP as saying.


Abepura defendants get five years

Jakarta Post - September 15, 2006

Ayapura — The Jayapura District Court on Thursday
sentenced two of seven remaining defendants to
five years in prison for their part in a fatal
clash with police on March 16 in Abepura.

The clash took place during a protest against
mining giant PT Freeport Indonesia. Four police
officers and a member of the Air Force died in the
violence.

In its verdict, the panel of judges hearing the
case, presided over by Moris Ginting, said
Muhammad Khaitan and Sedrik Jitmau were guilty of
violating Article 214, Paragraph 1, of the
Criminal Code on disobeying orders from security
officers.

The five-year sentences given the pair matched the
recommendation by prosecutors.

Sedrik, who is in his third year at Filadelpia
High School in Sentani, wore his gray-and-white
school uniform in court.

David Viktor Sitorus, one of the defendants’
lawyers, said they would appeal the sentences. He
said the judges disregarded much of the evidence
presented by the defense. He pointed out that not
a single witness saw Sedrik hurl stones at the
officers.

Five more defendants in the case are still being
tried. Verdicts for three of the defendants are
expected this Friday. Sixteen other defendants in
the case were earlier sentenced to between five
and 15 years in prison.


Papuan defendants on hunger strike

Jakarta Post - September 15, 2006

Jakarta — Six of the seven Papuans detained for
allegedly killing two US nationals and an
Indonesian near the PT Freeport gold mine in
Timika, Papua, have gone on a hunger strike to
protest their trial.

"The hunger strike will continue until justice is
served," the six Papuans said in a statement
Wednesday. The defendants, including alleged
ringleader Anthonius Wamang, are detained at
National Police Headquarters.

They objected to the court’s decision to let US
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents who
had helped arrest them testify against them. "The
FBI agents tricked us," they said.

The Papuans’ lawyer, Johnson Panjaitan, said the
trial of his clients was biased and unfair.


Five Australian journalists deported from Papua

Associated Press - September 14, 2006

Jayapura — Five Australian TV journalists were
being deported from Indonesia on Thursday after
traveling to restive Papua province on tourist
visas, police and witnesses said.

Presenter Naomi Robson of the public affairs
program “Today Tonight” and four members of her
film crew were escorted by immigration officials
on board a commercial flight from Papua to the
capital, Jakarta, said Papua Police Chief Maj. Gen
TommyJacobus. From Jakarta they will be deported,
he said.

"They admitted to being journalists who were
intending to report on events here," Jacobus told
reporters. “It is best if we deport them.”

The five journalists were questioned by
immigration officials on their arrival in the
Papuan capital Jayapura on Wednesday. Indonesia
requires foreign media workers to obtain
journalist visas before they arrive in the
country. Extra permission is required to visit
Papua, where a low-level separatist conflict has
simmered for years.


Papuans protest testimony from FBI

Jakarta Post - September 13, 2006

Ary Hermawan, Jakarta — Six of the seven Papuan
men standing trial for allegedly killing two
Americans and one Indonesian in 2002 objected to
testimony by US Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI) agents Tuesday.

The agents, Ronald C. Eowan and Paul Ryan Mayers,
helped arrest the seven suspects, including
alleged ringleader Antonius Wamang, in Timika,
Papua, in January.

They lured the suspects from their hiding place by
promising asylum in the US, where they would not
be prosecuted. After the Papuans came out with
their bags packed, the agents turned them over to
the police.

“This man is a liar!” defendant Ishaq Onawame
cried when Eoman entered the courtroom. "I want
him out or we will get out of here!" But Judge
Andriani Nurdin ignored the defendants’ protests
and allowed the agents to testify.

Infuriated by the judge’s decision, the defendants
stormed out of the courtroom. Their lawyers from
the Indonesian Legal Aid Association followed.

Defense lawyer Johnson Panjaitan said the court
had violated Article 60 of the Criminal Code,
which stipulates that prosecutors should summon
eyewitnesses.

"I don’t see the point in bringing them to testify
in the trial,“he told The Jakarta Post.”What
kind of witnesses are they?" Anita Asterida, one
of the prosecutors, said there were many ways to
prove a criminal act, including presenting the FBI
agents who made the arrest possible.

"We have to show that Indonesia is a member of
Interpol, which facilitates investigations," she
told the Post, adding that the prosecutors would
present another FBI agent to testify in the trial
on Friday.

All but one of the defendants have denied
involvement in the deadly shooting near the site
of mining giant PT Freeport Indonesia.

In a video played during the session, Wamang told
FBI agents and police that he had fired shots
during the ambush at Tembagapura, killing US
nationals Ricky Lynn Spier, 44, and Edwin Leon
Burgen, 71, and Indonesian FX Bambang Riwanto.

Survivors of the attack, including Patsy Spier,
Kenneth Ball and Stephen Emma, who testified
earlier in the trial, attended Tuesday’s session.
"I’ll be here for the whole trial. I want to make
sure that the trial is fair and transparent,"
Spier told the Post.

One of the seven defendants was absent Tuesday.

 MILITARY TIES

Gus Dur denies lobbying US over military ties

Jakarta Post - September 12, 2006

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta — Former president
Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid has denied helping the
State Intelligence Agency (BIN) lobby the United
States to lift a military embargo against
Indonesia. However, Gus Dur said he did give a BIN
official permission to use his name "for the sake
of the nation".

He added that he was investigating whether close
associates had associated his name with the
venture without his permission.

The former president insisted that neither he nor
his institution had made any agreements about
asking the US Congress to resume military
cooperation with Indonesia.

"Neither the Gus Dur Foundation nor I have ever
made any deal with BIN nor hired a US company to
seek resumption of the military training program,"
he told a press conference here Monday.

Gus Dur said BIN deputy chief As’ad Said Ali and
several other intelligence agents had met with him
one day in 2004, asking him if it was okay to make
use of his name for the national interest.

"Upon hearing the words ’for the sake of the
nation’, I replied: ’please do.’ And I had no idea
this conditional permission would be misused to
lobby for the lifting of the military embargo" he
said. As’ad is a member of Nahdlatul Ulama, the
largest Islamic organization previously chaired by
Gus Dur, his daughter Zannuba “Yenny” Arrifah
Chafsoh Rahman said.

A recent report from the US-based Center for
Public Integrity (www.publicintegrity.org/icij)
disclosed that BIN had used the former president’s
foundation to hire Washington lobbying firm
Richard L. Collins & Co. to persuade the US
Congress to lift the military embargo. The
revelation sparked protests from Indonesian human
rights groups.

The report also said that in compliance with the
Foreign Agents Registration Act, the contract
between the foundation and the US lobbying company
was signed by Muhyiddin Arubusman, a legislator of
the National Awakening Party (PKB) founded by Gus
Dur. The contract says he is the foundation’s
deputy chief.

According to the contract documents the foundation
paid the company US$30,000 monthly from May to
July, 2005. BIN picked up the contract directly in
September 2005 and continued it until November
2005, when the US lifted restrictions on defense
exports to Indonesia.“It further explains that Collins”will aid the Gus
Dur Foundation, which is working on behalf of the
Indonesian Bureau of National Intelligence“to”educate key officials on the importance of
Indonesia’s cooperation in combating international
terrorism, Indonesia’s strides in strengthening
democratic institutions, and Indonesia’s efforts
in asserting civilian control over the military."

Calls to Muhyiddin’s cell phone on Monday were not
returned.

The former president said he would not sue As’ad
and BIN but said this incident should serve as a
good lesson for all sides in the future. Yenny
added her father and the foundation would not sue
BIN because he shared the blame to some extent
when he failed to check on the causes with which
his name was being connected.

"Lobbying is a normal practice and my father had a
positive perception about it, so long as it was
done for the good of the nation. The problem is my
father was betrayed and his Gus Dur Foundation was
reportedly involved in hiring and paying the US
lobbying company," she said.


Rights activists question BIN over US lobbying
case

Jakarta Post - September 11, 2006

Ary Hermawan, Jakarta — Human rights campaigners
are questioning a report that the State
Intelligence Agency (BIN) hired Washington
lobbying firm Richard L. Collins & Co. in a
successful effort to persuade the US Congress to
resume military ties with Indonesia.

The report issued by a US based advocacy group
said BIN used former president Abdurrahman "Gus
Dur" Wahid’s charitable foundation to hire the
lobbying firm for the purpose.

Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) coordinator
Rafendi Djamin said BIN’s move to hire a foreign
lobbying firm to influence other country’s policy
clearly lacked “accountability and transparency”.

“We have to ask from where BIN got the money,” he
told The Jakarta Post on Saturday. The report said
the BIN retained Collins & Co. for US$30,000 a
month in May 2005 to influence the US Congressmen,
through the Gus Dur Foundation.

Rafendi called on the House of Representatives to
pursue the matter because it had oversight over
the intelligence agency. "BIN must explain this
case to the House’s defense commission," he said.

Rafendi said he believed that President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono, as a retired army general with
close links to American politicians, must have
been informed about such lobbying.

However, Rafendi played down the alleged
connection between former president Abdurrahman
“Gus Dur” Wahid and BIN in the case. "Gus Dur’s
(connection with BIN) is not the main issue. It’s
just a secondary matter," he said.

Gus Dur’s eldest daughter Zannuba “Yenny” Arifah
Chafsoh Rahman has denied the report, saying her
father never had contact with the US-based lobby
group.

Yenny suggested Gus Dur’s name might have been
used by those close to BIN to help them lobby
Washington without specific consent from her
father. "But as far it was for the good of the
nation, it’s fine," she said.

George W. Bush’s administration ended the 14-year
arms embargo imposed on the country last year to
improve military ties and help the US in its war
against terror. The embargo was imposed after the
international community accused the Indonesian
Military (TNI) of serious human rights abuses in
former province East Timor and Papua.

Former BIN officers have been implicated in the
2004 murder of leading human rights advocate Munir
Said Thalib, who co-founded the Commission for
Missing Persons and the Victims of Violence
(Kontras) and rights watchdog Imparsial. No BIN
officials were available for comments on Sunday.

Kontras coordinator Usman Hamid demanded that BIN
disclose its lobbying documents to the public. "If
the agency had asked Collins & Co. to lobby the US
Congress that BIN was not involved in the Munir
murder case, there must be a document and an
argument supporting the claim," he said.

When asked about the Gus Dur Foundation’s
involvement in the advocacy, Usman said he had
contacted the controversial former president and
he denied the report.

Gus Dur told the International Consortium for
Investigative Journalism (ICIJ), which was
involved in issuing the report, that he did not
understand and did not know anything about any
contract with the firm. He asked for a copy of the
documents used in the lobbying so he could check
whether people had used his name.

Gus Dur has made many statements condemning human
rights abuses by the military and BIN, and backs
thorough investigation into the killing of Munir.
“I think it is shocking,” Munir’s widow, Suciwati,
said about the report. "We will have to check its
validity first," she said.

She said BIN might have used Gus Dur’s name
without his consent to discredit him and divide
civil society groups. "They act like they always
do,“she said.”They will do anything to achieve
their goals."

 POPULAR RESISTANCE

Kupang students stage rally

Jakarta Post - September 5, 2006

Kupang — Hundreds of university students here
rallied Monday to demand their rector be fired for
incompetence.

The students from Widya Mandira Catholic
University said rector Cosmas Fernandes was not
doing his job. They locked the university’s main
gate. When the rector ordered them to open it, the
students told him to go home. Some of them
approached him, launching a verbally attack.

“He travels a lot with no clear explanation,” a
protester said. Security guards escorted the
rector home.


PLN customers protest over outrages in Mataram

Jakarta Post - September 15, 2006

Panca Nugraha and Fadli, Mataram/Batam — More
than 50 Mataram residents rallied outside the PLN
building in West Nusa Tenggara on Thursday over
the rotating blackouts imposed in the city in the
last two months.

The protesters, mostly students, fishermen and
other workers, called the state power firm
“inconsiderate”. "If we pay our bills late, they
cut the power off. But when the company imposes
blackouts, it gives us no prior notice," said a
protester, Hasan.

The protesters urged PLN not to implement large-
scale outages during the fasting month of
Ramadhan. They complained of hours of blackouts,
generally between 8 and 11 p.m.

"What if this happens during Ramadhan? How will we
hear the sound of the bedug drum on the
television, or the call to prayer? PLN has a
responsibility to ensure there are no more
blackouts," Hasan said. Implementing blackouts
without prior notice also caused damage to
electrical appliances, he said.

The general manager of PLN West Nusa Tenggara,
Mustiko Bawono, and the GM of PLN Mataram Wasito
Adi agreed to met with the protesters.

Wasito said the rotating outages were necessitated
by the low supply of water used to generate power
at its plant, which has a capacity of 80
megawatts. "Our power production capacity is very
limited. If one of our generators is down, we have
no choice but to order blackouts."

In Batam, Riau Islands province, more than 100
residents staged a protest outside the PLN
building, demanding a complete rollback of the
decision to raise power rates to Rp 1,400 per
kilowatt-hour (Kwh) in the household category.

Basaruddin, representing the protesters, demanded
to know why such high rates were being imposed in
Nongsa fishing community.

PLN said it needed to raise its rates in order to
finance the installation of power networks in the
area, which it says will cost about Rp 638 million
(US$67,157). He said Rp 1,400/Kwh was much higher
than the fixed rate in the business category.

The protesters had been outside the PLN building
since early morning, preventing customers from
coming in to pay bills.

Ery Ifyandri, the head of PLN Batam, said the
rates might not be raised if the Batam city
administration approved an additional subsidy for
electricity.

 HUMAN RIGHTS/LAW

Women call for rethinking of Islamic dogma

Jakarta Post - September 12, 2006

Hera Diani, Jakarta — International women’s
rights activists called Monday for a
reinterpretation of dogmas they said were trapping
women in backwardness and poverty in regions with
strong Islamic traditions.

They argued that the gender development index
(GDI) — a measurement used by the UN and other
organizations — as well as other indicators of
gender empowerment are low in areas with
entrenched patriarchal interpretations of Islam.

The comments were made at a seminar featuring
politicians and Islamic activists and leaders from
Indonesia and South Asia.

The indicators commonly used to measure women’s
welfare are life expectancy, literacy, schooling,
participation in the labor force, participation in
parliament and other forms of governance, and
professional accomplishment.

Activists said the province of East Java, which
has a strong pesantren (Islamic boarding school)
tradition, scores low on measurements of women’s
development. They added that women appear to fare
worse in more-developed areas.

"The higher the human development index (HDI), the
lower the GDI. Sidoarjo, for instance, ranks
second for HDI in the province, but the GDI ranks
14th, which shows that women lag behind," said
legislator Eva Kusuma Sundari from the Indonesian
Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

The situation, she said, has been worsening with
the issuance of 41 sharia-inspired bylaws in
several regions that discriminate against women
and limit their activities. Supporters of the
bylaws argue they are designed to protect women
and bolster morality.

Activists said the situation in South Asian
countries from India to Nepal to Sri Lanka was
more or less the same, whether Muslims were in the
majority or the minority. Muslim women in these
countries were less literate, less educated and
less well-represented in the community.

Indian activist and scholar Haseena Hashia said
that while Indian women in general faced many
difficulties, Muslim women suffered more. Of
India’s total population of about 700 million,
13.4 percent are Muslim, making it the second
largest religion after Hinduism. "They are the
poorest of the poor," she said, addressing the
seminar.

The challenges faced by Indian Muslim women, she
said, included very low literacy and education
rates, no political participation and no role in
policy making, poor health conditions, polygamy
and trafficking.

"The mindset of parents and the community is that
a male child is considered better. Female children
often can’t go to school. And as far as work
participation, only 14.1 percent of Muslim women
work," Hashia said.

Activists said in Pakistan, where 98 percent of
the population is Muslim, the problems of Muslim
women are worsened by the existence of hadud, or
Hudood Ordinances, which classify levels of crime
and carry severe punishments. The ordinances
include an adultery law which can cause female
victims of rape to end up in jail.

"People are imposing morality on women. The
implementation of hadud laws — which are
misunderstood, misused and misapplied — has
resulted in the imprisonment of a lot of innocent
women," said Pakistani activist Salima Khalimi.

The speakers urged Muslim communities to push for
what they called a correct interpretation of Islam
as a religion that gives equal rights to men and
women. They urged Muslims to adopt the concept
that women’s rights are human rights.

"The first command received by Prophet Muhammad
was iqra or ’read’, so how come we have the lowest
illiteracy rate in the Muslim community?" said
Hashia.


Munir case still open, but police not hopeful

Jakarta Post - September 15, 2006

Jakarta — Although calls to get to the bottom of
the murder of human rights activist Munir have
come from the very top, the National Police say no
one should be getting their hopes up.

"We want the case resolved too, we’re not
protecting anyone," said National Police chief
Gen. Sutanto on Thursday.

He declined to confirm whether he was pessimistic
about the ongoing investigation, but did say "we
face a number of difficulties in gathering
evidence that can stand up in court."

Sutanto was responding to President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono’s statement Monday at the Indonesian
Embassy in Helsinki that police were
“revitalizing” the investigation team. While
Susilo was in Finland’s capital to attend the
Asia-Europe meeting, the president of the European
Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, had asked him
Sunday how the investigation of Munir’s murder was
progressing. Susilo had assured Barroso that the
probe continued.

A vocal critic of the military, Munir, 38, was
found dead aboard a Garuda aircraft on Sept. 7,
2004, on his way to Amsterdam to pursue
postgraduate studies. An autopsy showed that
arsenic killed him. A court found off-duty pilot
Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto guilty of putting
the arsenic in Munir’s drink and sentenced him to
14 years’ jail.

The court confirmed the conclusion of a
government-established fact-finding team that
Pollycarpus had frequent telephone contact with a
former deputy of the State Intelligence Agency
(BIN), but both denied the communication.

"Pollycarpus did not reveal the identity of anyone
else directly related to the murder," Sutanto
said, citing what he said was one difficulty in
further investigating the case. Another is the
fact the crime was committed onboard an aircraft
in flight, he said.

Sutanto said he would “reinforce” the
investigation team, defining this as "involving
any party that intends to help", but declined to
elaborate.

He said the original members of the team, headed
by detective Brig. Gen. Marsudi Hanafi, would not
be replaced to ensure continuity.

Munir’s widow, Suciwati, and fellow activists have
been campaigning for further investigation into
the “masterminds” of his death, and for a new
independent team to be formed with the authority
to question all necessary parties, including
officials and former officials of the intelligence
agency.

The previous team failed to summon and question
former BIN chief AM Hendropriyono, who has
maintained his innocence, as well as that of the
agency and its officials.

Sutanto said the current BIN chief Syamsir Siregar
“has been very helpful”.

The Central Jakarta District Court stated on Dec.
20 there were “other parties” involved in Munir’s
murder. But shedding any more light on the case
was up to investigators, the presiding judge said.

The court also concluded that Munir’s criticism of
the government, military and intelligence agencies
motivated his murder.


Student could face six years for insulting
President

Jakarta Post - September 12, 2006

Jakarta — The prosecution asked the West Jakarta
District Court on Monday to sentence a student to
six years in prison for insulting President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Jusuf Kalla
during a protest in June.

Prosecutor Agung Ardyanto said Fahrur “Paunk”
Rohman, 20, a student at Syarif Hidayatullah State
Islamic University, insulted the head of state in
a speech during a protest organized by the
Alliance of People’s Movements and the Try
Soeharto Movement. The protest took place on the
campus of National University in West Jakarta.

"The defendant violated the Criminal Code by
insulting the head of state," he told the court.
Agung also accused Paunk of distributing insulting
posters and flyers during the protest.

The prosecutor said the posters depicted the
President and Vice President, with the words "No
Trust“,”Down“and”We can’t take it anymore". He
said the flyers contained the words, "SBY-JK have
failed and betrayed reform. Down with SBY-JK right
now."

Paunk is being tried under an article in the
Criminal Code that was enacted during the Dutch
colonial era to protect colonial rulers from
defamation. Legal scholars and human rights
activists have for years advocated for the article
to be scrapped, arguing it infringes on people’s
freedom of expression.

Meanwhile, two students were detained by the
Jakarta Police on Monday after throwing rotten
eggs at Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes
Hendarman Supandji at the House of
Representatives.

Jayabaya University student Fariz, 22, a member of
the Anti-Manipulation at State Enterprises Student
Movement (Geram BUMN), allegedly threw three
rotten eggs at Hendarman during a recess in a
meeting between the Attorney General’s Office and
House Commission III for legal affairs.

According to the student group’s coordinator,
Akbar Kiahaly, about seven security guards tackled
Fariz and another Geram BUMN member, Dipa, who is
a student at the Institute of Social and Political
Sciences. "They beat up Fariz and Dipa and kicked
them in the face," he alleged.

Akbar said the group threw rotten eggs at
Hendarman in protest over the failure of the
Attorney General’s Office to prosecute graft
suspects. "There were 20 of us who made it into
the House and we brought three kilograms of rotten
eggs."


Government still mulling Tommy Soeharto’s release

Jakarta Post - September 11, 2006

Ary Hermawan, Jakarta -- Although the Cipinang
Penitentiary in Jakarta has recommended the
conditional release of former president Soeharto’s
son Hutomo “Tommy” Mandala Putera, who is serving
a 15-year jail sentence, the government said it
did not necessarily mean that Tommy would soon be
a free man.

Tommy was sentenced in 2002 to 15 years in prison
for ordering the murder of Supreme Court Justice
Syafiuddin Kartasasmita, possession of weapons and
fleeing justice and has served less than five
years of his sentence.

Justice and Human Rights Minister Hamid Awalludin
said last week that the government would still
have to weigh Tommy’s release and asked the public
not to confuse the requirements for a release on
parole and a remission.

"Remission is related to a convicts’ conduct while
he is serving time, while a release on parole
requires an examination of how the public would
receive news of his release and an assessment of
his history before he was jailed," Hamid said,
adding that the government would "consider all of
those aspects".

Hamid was commenting on media reports that Tommy
may be freed by the end of the month.

Hamid stressed that a convict who has served two-
thirds of his sentence was only eligible for
conditional release, saying that it took more than
just legal and judicial considerations to be
released on parole. "We have to consider other
aspects as well," he said.

The head of Cipinang’s drug division, Wibowo Joko
Harjono, said the penitentiary had filed a
proposal for Tommy’s release based on the
consideration that he had been well behaved and
had served two-thirds of his sentence in
September. "He has fulfilled the administrative
requirements," he told The Jakarta Post.

As the son of the New Order strongman, Tommy lived
a flamboyant, excessive lifestyle, amassing a vast
fortune and benefiting from the privileges given
by the government in doing business.

In 2002, Tommy was sentenced to 15 years in prison
by the Central Jakarta District Court for hiring
two hit men to assassinate Supreme Court Justice
Syafiuddin Kartasasmita, who had convicted him
earlier in a multimillion-dollar deal.

The sentence was later cut to 10 years on appeal
by the Supreme Court, while Tommy continued to
receive regular sentence remissions of between six
months and one year for “good conduct”. He only
has three years remaining of his jail term, Joko
told the Post.

He added, however, that there was no guarantee
Tommy would be released soon. A team at the
Jakarta office of the justice ministry will hold a
session to decide whether Tommy deserved a
release, he said.

The team consists of directors at the Justice and
Human Rights Ministry Penitentiary Directorate
General. "The number of the team members ranges
from 9 to 11," he said.

When asked about the public’s response to Tommy’s
planned release, Joko said he had not "thought
that far“.”All we know is that he has met the
requirements," he said.

Cipinang Penitentiary spokesman Akbar told the
Post that the team would conduct a study on the
public’s response to Tommy’s release.

AP news agency reported earlier that Tommy’s
lawyer refused to comment, saying she had received
specific instructions from Tommy not to discuss
the release.


Police vow to speed up probe into Munir’s murder

Jakarta Post - September 9, 2006

Ary Hermawan, Jakarta — The National Police said
Friday it would expedite the probe into the 2004
murder of leading human rights campaigner Munir
Said Thalib by seeking hard evidence rather than
focusing on confusing witness testimony.

"The police’s crime unit division head has
instructed a team under the transnational crime
unit division to expedite and maximize the
investigation," police spokesman Insp. Gen. Paulus
Purwoko said.

He said the police faced time-consuming technical
obstacles in the investigation. "The crime scene
where Munir was killed is different from others
that provide dozens of witnesses. In Munir’s case,
we end up questioning the same witnesses over and
over again."

Munir was poisoned on a Garuda Indonesia flight
from Jakarta to the Netherlands on Sept. 7, 2004.
"We only have the flight attendant and the
passengers as witnesses," Purwoko said.

He added that the investigation could no longer
rely on witnesses who had chosen to remain silent
about the murder. They also have been unable to
secure information from Garuda Indonesia pilot
Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, who was sentenced
to 14 years in prison for lacing Munir’s drink
with arsenic. "We believe that he knows all his
contacts," Purwoko said.

Pollycarpus, who plead not guilty, allegedly made
telephone contact with a former senior National
Intelligence Agency (BIN) official before and
after the killing.

Munir’s counterpart at the Commission for Missing
Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Usman
Hamid, believed Munir’s assassination was a
conspiracy involving Garuda and BIN officers.

A fact-finding team established by the President
has concluded that evidence suggesting the murder
was conducted in a conspiracy involving BIN. The
agency has denied the allegation.

National Police chief Gen. Sutanto also has said
the case will be difficult to resolve if
Pollycarpus, who some believe was an intelligence
agent, refuses to cooperate. Purwoko said the
police would now try to obtain information from
other sources besides Pollycarpus, such as expert
witnesses.

During Thursday’s commemoration of the second
anniversary of Munir’s death, hundreds of
activists urged the government to form a new team
immediately to probe the case. Munir’s widow
Suciwati said she would write to President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono to ask that the team have the
authority to summon all people suspected of
involvement in the murder.

Kontras also filed a lawsuit against Garuda for
“negligence” leading to Munir’s death. "Garuda has
failed to protect its consumers, in this case
Munir," Kontras’ lawyer Asfinawati of the Jakarta
Legal Aid Institute said Thursday.

Suciwati and Usman have traveled to several
European countries to seek international support
to push the government to speed up the probe.
Usman said that some Dutch parliament members were
scheduled to visit Indonesia this month to meet
government officials, lawmakers and human rights
activists.

Kun Angkana, the wife of missing Thai Muslim
activist Somchai Neelaphaijit, met with Suciwati
at Kontras’ office last month to give her support
for the investigation.


Powerless commission courting politicians

Jakarta Post - September 8, 2006

Jakarta — In an attempt to recoup the power
stripped from it by the Constitutional Court, the
Judicial Commission is seeking support from
political factions at the House of
Representatives.

On Thursday, members of the Judicial Commission
met with leaders of the National Awakening Party
and the National Mandate Party. Meetings with
other political factions are planned.

The commission members presented a draft bill to
amend the 2004 Judicial Commission Law so as to
restore the commission’s oversight of judges of
all ranks.

Commission member Thahir Saimima said he hoped the
amendment would create a balance of power among
the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court and
the Judicial Commission. "We want the amendment to
carry provisions that each institution has an
equal position and each can monitor the others,"
he said.

Saimima said since its authority was severely
reduced by the Constitutional Court, the
commission could do nothing about the mountain of
complaints it has continued to receive. "We want
the Judicial Commission to have the power to act
and not just make recommendations," he said.

In the proposed amendment, drafted by a small team
formed in the wake of the controversial verdict,
the commission also seeks the authority to draw up
a code of conduct for judges. In addition, the
draft specifies that the Supreme Court is entitled
to handle the technical aspects of the judiciary.

The recent Constitutional Court verdict stripped
the Judicial Commission of its oversight powers
over the Supreme Court and the Constitutional
Court due to vagueness in the 2004 law that
established the body. The ruling found the law
unconstitutional because it made no distinction
between the “justices” of the Supreme Court and
the “judges” of other courts.

In response to the ruling, the House said it would
propose an amendment to the Judicial Commission
Law and promised to come up with a clear-cut
division of powers between the Judicial Commission
and the Supreme Court to avoid further conflicts
between the two institutions.

Members of the House legislation body have pledged
to add amending the law to their list of
priorities for 2006.

Responding to the Judicial Commission’s proposal,
leaders of the PKB expressed their commitment to
expediting the amendment.

"We want to delineate the authorities and
procedures for oversight. There won’t just be
recommendations, but punishments and rewards
entailed" for offenses identified by the Judicial
Commission, Nursjahbani Katjasungkana of the PKB
faction said.


Munir’s family demands new probe

Jakarta Post - September 8, 2006

Ridwan Max Sijabat and Wahyoe Boediwardhana,
Jakarta/Malang —
A human rights group is suing
flagship airline Garuda Indonesia over the 2004
death of leading activist Munir Said Thalib, while
his bereaved family and colleagues are demanding
the formation of a new, independent team to
determine who was behind the murder.

Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of
Violence (Kontras) lawyer Asfinawati said the
lawsuit was filed Wednesday at the Central Jakarta
District Court. It accuses the national airline of
“negligence” leading to the death of the human
rights campaigner. "Garuda has failed to protect
its consumers, in this case Munir," she said
Thursday.

Asfinawati, also Director of the Jakarta Legal Aid
Institute, said Garuda should pay a total of Rp
13.7 billion (US$1.5 million) in compensation for
the death, including Rp 4.7 billion in material
losses and Rp 9 billion in non-material losses.

Joining hundreds of activists in a rally here
Thursday to mark the second anniversary of the
murder, Munir’s widow Suciwati said she and rights
campaigners would write to President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono urging him to launch a new
independent team immediately to probe the case.

Unlike the previous government-sanctioned team,
Suciwati said, the new one should be empowered to
summon all people widely suspected of being
involved in the murder, including former
intelligence officers.

"We came here to seek justice. Justice for Munir
means justice for all, and the government of
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has not yet
been able to give it to us," Suciwati said in a
speech to the protesters outside National Police
Headquarters in South Jakarta.

Wearing red T-shirts bearing Munir’s picture on
the front and the words "Killed because of the
truth" on the back, the demonstrators moved to the
State Palace in Central Jakarta and the nearby
Supreme Court.

Kontras coordinator Usman Hamid said a new team
should include police, prosecutors and members of
the National Commission on Human Rights. "Munir’s
assassination is a conspiracy involving Garuda and
BIN (National Intelligence Agency) officers," he
told the protesters.

Munir was killed on Sept. 7, 2004 in the
business-class cabin of a Garuda flight from
Jakarta to the Netherlands, where he was to
continue his studies. A Dutch autopsy found a
lethal dose of arsenic in his blood.

Last year a Garuda pilot, Pollycarpus Priyanto,
who was on the flight but off-duty, was sentenced
to 14 years in prison for lacing Munir’s drink
with arsenic. He is appealing the sentence.

Munir’s older brother Mufid called on Pollycarpus’
wife to join forces with Suciwati in pursuit of
justice. "This is because both Pollycarpus and
Munir are victims of a well-planned conspiracy,"
Mufid said in Malang, East Java.

A fact-finding team established by the President
concluded the evidence suggested the assassination
was carried out in a conspiracy involving BIN. The
team reported it had uncovered telephone contacts
between Pollycarpus and a former senior BIN
official before and after the murder.

Yudhoyono last year promised Suciwati he would do
everything in his power to bring those responsible
to justice. However, only Pollycarpus has been
convicted thus far.

National Police chief Gen. Sutanto has said it
will be difficult to uncover the plot unless
Pollycarpus, who is suspected of being an
intelligence officer, is ready to cooperate.
Police interrogated former BIN chief A.M.
Hendropriyono but claimed they had no evidence to
charge him, while his former deputy, Muhdi P.R.,
testified at Pollycarpus’ trial. Both
Hendropriyono and Muhdi denied any wrongdoing.

The pursuit of justice in the Munir case received
support Thursday in a letter from human rights
defenders in Thailand.

"The failure to bring the persons responsible for
the death of such a prominent human rights
activist before the justice system sends a message
that human rights defenders are very vulnerable
and not safe from harm,“the letter said.”It also
suggests a climate of impunity".

 LABOUR ISSUES

Hotel workers rally around colleagues

Jakarta Post - September 13, 2006

Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara — About 80 hotel
workers protested near Senggigi Beach on Monday in
a show of solidarity with two colleagues recently
fired by Senggigi Reef Resort Hotel.

The protesters, employed by dozens of hotels and
restaurants along Senggigi, demanded the Senggigi
Reef Resort Hotel review the dismissal of the two
employees. “They were indiscriminately fired,”
said Djemmy B. Adrian, a representative of the
protesters. He claimed one of the workers in
question was fired for failing to keep the area
around the main gate of the hotel clean.

"It is really difficult to sweep sandy areas,
especially when there is repair work being done on
a nearby street," said Sadikin, one of the fired
workers. Nur, the other dismissed worker, was
reportedly fired because he was considered unable
to run the washing machines properly.

The protesters met with Saleh, a representatives
of the Senggigi Reef Resort Hotel, urging him to
sign a letter reversing the dismissals.


Workers demand minimum wage

Jakarta Post - September 11, 2006

Jakarta — Some 500 workers staged a demonstration
Sunday in front of the Presidential Palace in
Central Jakarta to demand a national minimum wage.

Several labor unions, including the Civil
Indonesian Workers Union, Alliance of Indonesian
Labor Unions Congress, Tangerang Labor Union
Communication Forum and Jabodetabek Labor Union,
took part in the rally under the banner of the
Alliance of Protesting Workers (ABM).

ABM chairman Anwar Ma’ruf, in a speech during the
rally, demanded the central government set a
national minimum wage and reject the outsourcing
system outlined in a proposed amendment to the
2003 Labor Law.

Currently the country has regional minimum wages.
The highest monthly minimum wage is in Jakarta,
but it is still below Rp 900,000 (US$97).

ABM group coordinator Ilhamsyah said an
appropriate national minimum wage would be around
Rp 1.5 million per month. Anwar said that if the
government ignored the workers demand, they would
call for a national strike.

The workers, wearing red t-Shirts and carrying
posters and banners with slogans such as "Cheap
Wage, No“and”Say No to New Form of Colonialism",
began the demonstration at 11 a.m. in front of the
Hotel Indonesia traffic circle. They then marched
to the Presidential Palace.

The protesters, under the watchful eyes of three
companies of riot police, disbanded at 4 p.m.


ABM demands standardisation of national wage

Detik.com - September 10, 2006

Jakarta — Around 500 protesters from the Workers
Challenge Alliance (ABM) held a demonstration at
the Hotel Indonesia (HI) roundabout it Central
Jakarta on September 10 demanding a suitable
minimum wage. A present they are awaiting the
arrival of other workers following which they plan
to march to the State Palace.

ABM is a coalition of several labour organisations
including the Indonesian Trade Union Action
Committee (KASBI), the Indonesian Civic Trade
Union (SPIM), the Tangerang Trade Union
Communication Forum (FKSBT) and the Greater
Jakarta Trade Union (SBJ).

Arriving at the HI roundabout at 11am, the
majority wore red T-shirts and brought a variety
of banners with messages such as "Cheap Wages No,
A Suitable National Wage Yes“,”Imperialism is the
Enemy of the People“, and”Cancel the Foreign
Debt". They also sung the Internationale.

They also brought one huge banner with a number of
demands including rejecting revisions to the
labour law, demanding the ratification of a pro-
people labour law, canceling the foreign debt,
calling for the nationalisation of mining
industries and other vital inhalations, a program
of national industrialisation and a job creation
program for the people.

According to ABM’s coordinator for inter-
organisational relations, Ilhamsyah, they are
demanding that a suitable national wage be set
immediately in order that there is a
standardisation of the minimum wage by the central
government that would be valid for each province.

"This is a pressing demand. If the government had
a standard, the provinces could set [their own
minimum wage] but it would not be allowed to be
less that the national standard. The ideal minimum
wage for a worker is 1.5 million rupiah [per
month]. But this of course should still wait for
the results of a survey", he said. (san)

[Translated by James Balowski.]


Workers Challenge Alliance threatens to hold
national strike

Detik.com - September 10, 2006

Jakarta — The Workers Challenge Alliance (ABM) is
threatening to hold a national strike if the
government fails to increase the national wage and
abolish systems of contract labour and
outsourcing.

The threat was made by ABM coordinator Anwar
Ma’ruf in a speech during a demonstration in front
of the State Place on Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara in
Central Jakarta on Sunday September 10.

Hundreds of workers have been demonstrating in
front of the Palace since 2pm after earlier
holding a protest at the Hotel Indonesia
roundabout (HI). The action was watched over by
around three companies of police from the Metro
Jaya regional police and the Central Jakarta
district police.

In a speech, Ma’ruf said that ABM is calling on
the government to immediately set a standard and
suitable national wage before making any revisions
to the labour law and voiced the ABM’s opposition
labour contract systems and outsourcing.

The protesters also expressed their disappointment
with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s (SBY)
State of the Nation address on August 16, which
they said gave the green light to foreign capital
to intervene in Indonesia without taking into
account the interests of ordinary Indonesian
people. "As a result cheap wages are still being
paid under the contract labour system and
outsourcing", said Ma’ruf.

In addition to this the ABM is also urging the
government to cancel the foreign debt. "If SBY and
[Vice President Jusuf] Kalla do not respond to
[our demands] with regard to a suitable national
wage, contract labour systems and outsourcing we
will hold a national strike as [took place] not
long ago. The earlier [demonstrations] were only a
warning", he asserted.

After listening to speeches from several regional
worker representatives, at 3.45pm the protesters
disbanded. Prior to this during the march from HI,
the workers had also distributed leaflets to
passers by. (san/djo)

[Translated by James Balowski.]


ABM protests against new forms of colonialism

Media Indonesia - September 10, 2006

Jakarta — On September 10 the Workers Challenge
Alliance (ABM) held a demonstration at the State
Palace in Jakarta against new forms of colonialism
and demanded that the government set a standard
national wage.

The action, which had been going on since 1pm,
involved more than 100 people from a number of
labour organisations affiliated with the ABM
including the Indonesian Trade Union Action
Committee (KASBI), the Indonesian Labor Union
Confederation (GASPERMINDO), the Indonesian
Automotive Trade Union (SPOI) and the Indonesian
National Front for Labour Struggle (FNPBI).

The protesters, the majority of whom wore red ABM
T-shirts, started the action at the Hotel
Indonesia roundabout before marching to the State
Palace where they gave speeches opposing a number
of government policies.

They said that to date, government’s national
development program has been marked with a
dependency on foreign debt that has resulted in
policies such as cutting subsidies to electricity,
fuel and water and paying cheap wages to workers
that the ABM said was a means to enrich the
capitalists rather than ordinary people.

The policy of maintaining low wages is a method
borrowed from the New Order regime of former
President Suharto to attract foreign investment,
as if Indonesian workers will voluntarily accept
any wage at all as long as they have work.

Establishing a suitable national wage, according
to the ABM, means setting workers’ wages so that
they are no long just enough for workers to
sustain themselves and return to work like
machines but a national wage that will allow the
working class to live like human beings.

The ABM believes that the roots of the poverty of
the working class and the Indonesian people as a
whole are a consequence of the economic system
being pursued by the central government that does
not side with the working class.

Because of this therefore, the ABM is calling on
the working class and all Indonesian people to
struggle together to form a new government that
has the courage to cancel the foreign debt and
nationalise Indonesia’s natural resources and
vital assets.

"We want the working class to unite to resist this
new form of colonialism that oppresses the
people", said one of the demonstrators. (Ant/OL-
06)

[Translated by James Balowski.]


Government looks to create 15 million jobs

Jakarta Post - September 8, 2006

Tony Hotland, Jakarta — The government is seeking
to create jobs for 15 million people over the next
three years as part of an expanded poverty
alleviation campaign.

Coordinating Minister for the People’s Welfare
Aburizal Bakrie said Thursday the administration
would prioritize two programs to reach that goal:
people empowerment and biofuel.

Speaking after a Cabinet meeting in the
president’s office, Aburizal said the people
empowerment program had actually been running
since 1998 in 34,200 villages across the country.

The program is expected to generate jobs for 12.5
million people, assuming each project will absorb
250 people in a specific area for three years,
said Aburizal.

"The projects work, but we need to extend them to
50,000 more villages by 2009,“he said.”The types
of projects are determined based on local
conditions." The remaining 2.5 million jobs are
expected to come as the government opens
plantations to support its biofuel program.

Critics have called the anti-poverty projects
ineffective, pointing to the steady rise in the
number of poor people over the past few years. But
Aburizal said that without the programs, poverty
would have been even worse.

"We hope that the coordination between the
relevant Cabinet ministers can go better. We have
agreed that 20 percent of the total state budget
allocated for poverty alleviation will go to these
two programs," he said.

The government has increased next year’s poverty
alleviation budget to Rp 51 trillion (US$5.6
billion), from Rp 43 trillion in 2006 and Rp 21
trillion in 2004. The plans will be drawn up by
Aburizal and the money will be managed by other
relevant ministries.

The projects, said Aburizal, could come in many
forms, such as constructing roads, bridges and
irrigation facilities.

"The government will also provide capital for
small-scale businesses, allocating Rp 100 million
for each village, diversifying the projects so
that we can reach more villages," he said.

 WAR ON TERROR

Former JI leader warns of new terror attacks this
year

Agence France Presse - September 12, 2006

Sydney — A former leader of the Islamic militant
group responsible for the deadly Bali bombings has
warned that more attacks were likely this year.

Nasir Abbas, who once ran the Philippines branch
of Jemaah Islamiah (JI), the Al-Qaeda-linked
Southeast Asian terror network, told the
Australian Broadcasting Corporation the group
aimed to launch an attack every year.

In each of the past four years, JI has been blamed
for major attacks between August and October.
These are the October 2002 Bali bombings which
killed 202 people, the August 2003 Jakarta
Marriott Hotel blast, the September 2004
Australian embassy attack and the October 2005
second Bali bombings.

Abbas said Indonesia’s most wanted fugitive,
Noordin Mohammad Top, had ordered his followers to
launch attacks every year. "Noordin had mentioned
to his followers that he will do an operation at
least once a year. That doesn’t mean a big
operation," Abbas said. The attacks could come in
the form of car bombs or backpack bombs, he said.

Abbas, who was arrested in 2003 and served 10
months in prison for immigration offences in
Indonesia, previously had Noordin and the now
deceased bombmaker Azahari Husin under his
command, ABC said. He is brother-in-law to senior
JI member Muklas, who is on death row for his part
in the 2002 Bali bombings.

Abbas said JI was weaker than it once was, but
that a new instruction manual circulating in
Indonesia showed sympathisers how to form
independent terrorist cells in a strategy he
called “uncontrolled decentralisation”. "They can
move on their own because they understand that
this is their obligation," he said.

Abbas, who was speaking to the ABC’s Indonesia
correspondent, has cooperated with police and says
JI accuses him of being a “traitor”.

The Australian government has advised its citizens
against travelling to Indonesia since the 2002
attack in Bali that killed 88 Australian
holidaymakers.


Another killed in Poso blast

Jakarta Post - September 10, 2006

Indonesia — A woman was killed Saturday night
when a bomb went off in Poso, Central Sulawesi,
only two days after a homemade bomb exploded and
killed a man there.

Witnesses said the victim, 20-year-old Nela
Saliango, had spotted a flashlight-shaped object
outside her house on Jl. Tabatoki in Kawua. When
she picked it up, it exploded. She died in the
hospital.

Central Sulawesi Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr.
S. Kilat said they were still investigating the
incident, which occurred at 8:25 p.m. Police had
secured the area and questioned witnesses.

When asked whether Saturday’s explosion was
related to the blast Thursday in a coastal area of
Poso, he said no link had been established, but
police were yet to name suspects in Thursday’s
incident.

As of Saturday, police had not identified the
chemicals used in the bomb.

 GOVERNMENT/CIVIL SERVICE

Lawmakers oppose rice imports

Jakarta Post - September 9, 2006

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta — Major factions in
the House of Representatives, led by the
Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P),
are opposing the government’s plan to import
210,000 tons of rice from Vietnam next week.

They argued that the policy will hurt poor farmers
and hinder the agricultural revitalization
program. However, the opposing factions have yet
to decide whether to take action against the
government over the planned imports.

PDI-P faction chairman Tjahyo Kumolo said his side
would lobby other factions to propose an inquiry
into the government’s policy. He said the rice
import policy was unacceptable because it showed
that the government was reluctant to buy rice from
local farmers.

"Our survey shows that farmers in 17 rice belts in
Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi still have a total of
113,000 tons of rice from the last harvest season,
and a new harvest season is nearing, which will
sufficiently strengthen the minimum national stock
of 750,000 tons," he said Friday.

Tjahyo said before importing rice from Vietnam,
the government should purchase it from local
farmers to empower them and to support the
national food policy.

National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman Zulkifli
Hasan and National Awakening Party (PKB) deputy
chairman Yusuf Faisal also voiced opposition.

Bomer Pasaribu, a Golkar Party legislator and
analyst from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture,
said the planned imports contradicted the
government’s program to promote self-support in
rice. "The core problem is that the government has
yet to revitalize the agriculture sector to fight
for national reliance on the sector; thus we will
continue importing rice," he said.

Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu confirmed
Thursday that the government would go ahead with a
rice import plan later this month to cover
national stock shortages. She promised that the
imports would not affect local markets because the
imported rice would be distributed to provinces
prone to rice shortages.

However, Zulkifli said rice prices have dropped by
Rp 200 to Rp 400 per kilogram in almost all local
markets this week because traders have been
reluctant to buy rice from farmers due to the
import policy.

Meanwhile, Maruahal Silalahi, a lawmaker from
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democrat
Party, defended the government’s policy, saying
the rice importation was an appropriate decision
during a shortage in the national rice reserves.


Country better under Yudhoyono: Survey

Jakarta Post - September 15, 2006

Jakarta — In contrast to Indonesian pollsters who
have recently reported poor approval ratings for
the Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono administration, an
Australian pollster said Thursday the public felt
the government had done a good job of improving
conditions in Indonesia.

Roy Morgan Research, an Australian market research
and public opinion polling company, found in its
Good Governance Monitor that the Yudhoyono
government is continuing to improve its
performance on four key issues: trust, management,
corruption and democracy.

"Only 39 percent of respondents now agree with the
statement, “I don’t trust the current government”,
down from 41 percent at the end of 2005," the
survey reported.

Debnath Guharoy, the Asian regional director for
Roy Morgan Research, said that as the public
recovered from the painful impact of twin fuel
price hikes in 2005 it had once again thrown its
weight behind the government.

"Despite natural calamities in Indonesia and
spiraling fuel prices across the globe, that’s a
creditable outcome. I say that knowing that
Indonesians are easy to please and ready to
forgive," Guharoy said.

Every 90 days Roy Morgan Research interviews more
than 6,000 respondents aged 14 and older, randomly
picked across Indonesia’s 16 provinces and
covering more than 90 percent of the country’s
population.

The pollster interviewed 6,233 people during the
April-June quarter. It talks to more than 25,000
respondents annually.

The survey found 60 percent of respondents
believed the government had done a good job of
running the country.

The belief that "corruption is a major problem
affecting this country" remains entrenched among
the overwhelming majority of Indonesians.

Responding to popular indictments and unpopular
verdicts, this measurement dipped only marginally
in the second quarter of 2006 and remained close
to 90 percent.

The public has also grown comfortable with
democracy. "Seventy-six percent agree with the
statement that democracy is working in Indonesia,"
the survey found.

A number of other pollsters, however, have painted
a different picture of the Yudhoyono government’s
performance.

A poll done by the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI)
between April 23 and April 27 found that only 37
percent of the public approved of Yudhoyono’s job
performance, the lowest rating he has registered
in his 18 months in office.

Just 37.9 percent said they were satisfied with
Yudhoyono’s overall performance, a nose dive from
the 79.7 percent recorded 18 months before, when
he first assumed office.

A report from the World Bank and its financial
arm, the International Financial Corporation
(IFC), has concluded that Indonesia remains one of
the more difficult places in the world to do
business.

In terms of friendliness to foreign investors,
Indonesia ranked 135th of 175 countries surveyed
in the report.


’Bureaucracy, parties striving for
recentralization’

Jakarta Post - September 9, 2006

A survey by the Civil Society Alliance for
Democracy (Yappika) discovered that the
implementation of regional autonomy between 2001
and 2005 gave rise to ethnocentrism and tribalism.
One of the key researchers in the survey, Eko
Prasodjo of the University of Indonesia, recently
talked to The Jakarta Post’s M. Taufiqurrahman on
the pitfalls and fallacies of decentralization.
Below are some excerpts from the interview:

Question: Can you tell us about some other
interesting findings from the survey?

Answer: Among the interesting findings are the
fact that discrepancies prevail between the
resources that local governments have and the
greater authorities given by the central
government. In most regencies we surveyed, we
found 85 percent of their budgets were used up
paying civil servants while local income makes up
only between 5 and 10 percent. So providing
quality services is the last thing on local
bureaucrats’ minds.

Such a condition was aggravated by the penchant of
incumbent leaders to use resources as a means to
meet their political ends. In some regencies,
agriculture has lagged behind other sectors as the
bureaucracy failed to deliver much-needed
pesticides, seeds and fertilizers and, as a
result, farmers resorted to illegal logging, for
instance. Even the bureaucracy of the New Order
regime could perform better. In some regions, such
as resource-rich regencies in Kalimantan, we
discovered that an authoritarian government like
the New Order has been on the rise.

There are, however, shining examples of how
decentralization has meant better services for the
public, such as what we found in Solok, Sragen,
Kebumen and Tanah Datar, just to name a few. But
it depends largely on elected political leaders.
How progressive they are.

One of the recommendations of the survey is that
the supervisory role of provincial administrations
be strengthened.

As the law now stands, the supervisory role of the
provincial government has already been abolished.
The hierarchy between the provincial
administrations and the regencies has also been
severed. As a consequence, regency leaders now
turn directly to the central government and the
central government gives money directly to the
regencies. This is, I think symptomatic of a
return to centralism.

In my view, centralization should stop at the
provincial administration, because once the door
is open for officials from regencies to come to
Jakarta and haggle with the bureaucracy, it will
just be a return to the New Order regime.

What is the possibility of a return to a
centralized government?

There are two entities that want to bring an end
to decentralization: political parties and the
bureaucracy. The central boards of political
parties that serve as patrons for their local
chapters have bemoaned the fact that they hold
little sway over local politics. The bureaucracy
at national level also suffers a similar fate. It
no longer gets the bulk of the state budget that
had been shared with local governments.

Is it possible for the two entities to make
concerted efforts and bring about a centralized
regime?

Very likely. If within five years the
implementation of regional autonomy fails to bring
any good to the public and the central government
thinks that local governments are no longer
capable of assuming their law-given authorities,
then the door for recentralization will be open.

But the central government should also share the
blame for producing numerous laws and regulations
that contradict one another?

Indeed, but it has gone on for a long time because
a large number of laws that regulate individual
sectors are the legacy of the New Order regime,
while the law on decentralization was produced
only recently. But, there are also examples in
which the present government could be faulted for
creating legal confusion.

The regional autonomy law clearly stipulates the
land issue is the domain of local governments, but
the central government recently issued a
regulation to retract such an authority. During
the survey, we also received complaints from local
bureaucrats that they had problems catching up
with the ever-changing regulations.

Most of them didn’t even study the regulations
when the central government decided to replace
them. I think it has to do with the rent-seeking
and budget-maximizing efforts made by the
bureaucracy of the central government.

 ENVIRONMENT

More muddy misery in Sidoarjo

Jakarta Post - September 16, 2006

Indra Harsaputra, Sidoarjo — Two ponds built to
contain the Sidoarjo mud flow burst Friday,
forcing more residents to flee the area, while
protesters blocked the nearby Surabaya-Gempol
turnpike.

Friday’s pond burst was the eighth since work
began to stop the flow of mud from the Lapindo
Brantas gas exploration site that started on May
19. It left the Mindi and Pejarakan villages in
Jabon district covered in mud, which had reached a
depth of about two meters as of 4 p.m. Friday.

The mud has spilled into rice fields and
irrigation ditches in the area and reached Besuki
village, three kilometers away.

When the ponds burst, Pejarakan residents Saiful
and Siti started packing their valuables into a
borrowed pedicab, but before they had finished
their house had been inundated with mud.

"My wife keeps crying. We want to live safely and
we don’t want to live in a shelter because it will
be bad for our children’s development. Lapindo is
killing us slowly (with the mud)," said Saiful, a
34-year-old father of two.

He said he did not know where his family would
live. The Sioarjo administration has announced
that all displaced persons need to leave the
temporary shelter at Porong market before Idul
Fitri in October.

Many people are concerned that other ponds could
give way under the mud. A team from the Surabaya
Institute of Technology earlier recommended the
ponds have walls up to four meters high, but most
are now topping out at around six meters.

Riano, who works at the Porong market shelter,
said hundreds of Mindi and Pejarakan villagers had
come to leave their belongings there.

"They haven’t yet registered to live in the
shelter. They’re still confused and some are
preparing to stage a protest to block the
Surabaya-Gempol turnpike," he told The Jakarta
Post on Friday.

The protesters who blocked the turnpike on Friday
also attempted to damage some of its facilities. A
local journalist was threatened by some
demonstrators, while motorists attempting to pass
through the area were angered by the road block.

"We’re not entertaining objects shown on
television. We’re not celebrities, we need serious
attention," a protester told journalists.

Separately, East Java Police special crime chief
Adj. Sr. Comr. I Nyoman Sukena said Friday he
would hand over the files of three suspects in the
mudflow case, Lapindo drilling supervisors Subie,
Slamet and Rahenold, to the East Java Prosecutor’s
Office.

Currently, there are 12 suspects implicated in the
disaster, although none have been detained because
they are involved in the containment effort.

"This case not a simple robbery case where a thief
stole a chicken. This is a big case and we want no
mistakes. We didn’t set a deadline to put them in
detention because all of the suspects are
cooperative," Nyoman said.


Green groups worry about tests’ longevity

Jakarta Post - September 16, 2006

Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta — The Jakarta
administration’s emissions testing campaign ends
next week, but there are signs that the city plans
to issue further regulations to enforce testing.

Environmental activists warn that the campaign
will be ineffective unless the administration
makes an example of those caught violating the
emissions testing regulation and takes them to
court.

Damantoro, campaign program officer at clean air
project Swisscontact, said the administration
needed to focus on issuing a supporting decree
that would provide technical guidelines for
officers carrying out field investigations of
emissions law violators.

He said any further delay in issuing such a decree
would discourage the public from putting their
vehicles through emissions tests. "It is time to
enforce the regulation," he said Wednesday.

Generation for Clean Air chairman Gana Sugantana
said he agreed with Damantoro and believed the
public were waiting for the administration to take
real action. "Attention must be focused on law
enforcement. The public campaign on emissions
testing has been adequate," he said.

Gana said his office had performed emissions tests
on hundreds of thousands of private cars across
the city. The tests are part of the air pollution
control bylaw the administration passed last year.

Under the bylaw, which also banned smoking in
certain areas and required public transportation
to use compressed natural gas, people who fail to
have emissions tests conducted on their cars face
up to six months in jail or a fine of Rp 50
million.

The administration said the bylaw would need at
least 25 gubernatorial decrees to support its
implementation. So far, only one has been
released, a smoking ban that was announced in
April.

Governor Sutiyoso ordered the Jakarta
Environmental Management Board (BPLHD) to organize
a mass publicity campaign to remind people about
the emissions tests, the last free round of which
began on Sept. 11 and will end on Sept. 22.

"I don’t know what’s next. We haven’t finished
drafting the emissions testing decree," BPLHD air
control division head Yosiono Anwar Supalal said.

He said the administration as considering
involving all parties, including businesses and
the public, in taking responsibility for the
emissions testing program. "We learned from past
experiences of financial problems after the
smoking ban took effect in April," he said.

The administration has held several trials of
hundreds of people caught smoking in restricted
areas, however, as mass trials cost around Rp 30
million and 50 million to hold, it is expensive to
have regular raids enforcing the ban.

The BPLHD has said it plans to supply free
certificates and “emission free” stickers to
authorized auto garages, as well as free training
sessions in performing emissions tests. The city
currently has 115 garages and 239 technicians
authorized to perform emissions tests.

BPLHD head Budirama Natakusumah said the printing
of the stickers and certificates could be handed
over to the workshops themselves.

"It’s one possible option. We’ll just issue a
serial number for the stickers or certificates,"
he told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday while
observing emissions tests being held at the
Indonesian Christian University in Cawang, East
Jakarta.

The administration has distributed 20,000
certificates and stickers to garages since
launching the first emissions testing campaign in
February.

"We’ve been out of certificates and stickers since
July. We don’t have any more money for it as it
wasn’t included in the city budget," he said.

He said the legal enforcement of emissions tests
would be done in stages. "It’s just like when
using motorcycle helmets became mandatory, or seat
belts, which took a long time. We have to change
people’s attitudes first," Budirama said.

He said his office was still discussing with the
police the possibility of emissions tests being a
requirement when cars were being registered.


Jakarta talks tough on environment

Jakarta Post - September 15, 2006

Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta — While in the past
businesses in Jakarta have largely had their way
on environmental issues, that could change as the
city administration discusses tightening rules on
development.

The Jakarta government is currently reviewing
procedures for businesses applying for
Environmental Impact Analysis (Amdal) approval.
The administration may also begin requiring
developers to put up money to ensure compliance
with all environmental requirements.

“We are still formulating a mechanism,”
Environmental Management Board head Budirama
Natakusumah told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Offering an example, Budirama said if a company
was required to establish a waste management
facility as part of a development, it would have
to deposit money in the amount of the projected
cost of constructing the facility.

"If the developers meet all the requirements, we
will return the money. If they fail, we will use
the money to build the facilities for them," he
said.

He said in the past businesses violated Amdal
requirements because of the lack of sanctions. "We
can no longer allow such practices to take place.
It will just further damage the city’s
environment," he said.

Andreas Pramudianto from the University of
Indonesia, who is also a government consultant for
the Environmental Impact Analysis, expressed
doubts over the proposal.

"The problems are where will the money be
deposited and how will it be returned. The
administration must create a clear mechanism. This
is about money, we have to be careful," he told
the Post.

A 2002 gubernatorial decree on the Amdal requires
developers to inform the public of proposed
projects and consult with residents in areas
affected by the development as part of feasibility
studies necessary for Amdal approval.

The Amdal is meant to help the city administration
decide on whether to allow or reject a project.

However, Andreas said both the city and businesses
largely ignored the environmental analysis. "It’s
a poorly kept secret that many existing
establishments have yet to have their Amdal
documents approved," he said.

While many environmentalists initially welcomed
the busway development, they complain that the
administration failed to perform an Amdal. The
result, they say, has been a worsening of traffic
along several busway corridors as a result of the
failure to perform proper feasibility studies.

When asked about these charges, Budirama of the
Environmental Management Board said the busway was
a special exception because it was "an urgent
project".

The central government also has a special
commission to audit environmental impact analyses
before awarding permits to businesses.

However, a survey by the State Ministry for the
Environment released in May showed the commission
had done little to stop environmental degradation
in the country.

The survey found 75 percent of the 474
municipalities in Indonesia had no Amdal
commissions. Of the original 119 Amdal commissions
set up around the country, only half are still
functioning and more than three-quarters of the
119 are issuing documents of “poor” or "extremely
poor" quality.


Fifty major loggers free abroad

Tempo Interactive - September 13, 2006

Badriah and Erwin Dariyanto, Jakarta — Around 50
major illegal loggers and thousands of small
illegal loggers are still free in Singapore,
Malaysia, Hong Kong and China.

"The Illegal logging business network is actually
there," said Malam Sabat Kaban, Forestry Minister,
after meeting with Vice President Jusuf Kalla at
the vice presidential office yesterday (12/9).

According to him, those outlawed have been
included in the list of people prevented from
going abroad, sent by Indonesian National Police
to the Directorate General of Immigration at the
Justice and Human Rights Department.

During the meeting, the vice president asked about
the number of illegal logger suspects in the list
of wanted people which has been distributed by the
Forestry Department.

Kaban explained, the illegal loggers use false
identities so they are difficult to catch.
"Sometimes a person can have three names and own
three passports."

Illegal loggers who have forest concession rights,
such as Adelin Lis, who was captured in Beijing,
China last Friday, are easier to catch.

Adelin, Director of PT Inata Timber and PT Keang
Nam, is now being interviewed at North Sumatra
Regional Police in Medan after escaping to China
in February. Adelin is an illegal logger suspect
in Mandailing Natal, suspected of causing the
state to suffer a loss of Rp230 trillion.

Other illegal loggers who have been captured
include Ai Peng in Riau and Mulyadi.

However, according to Kaban, A Seng in Medan has
not been arrested. "There are two people named A
Seng, both haven’t been arrested."

Kaban is targeting that fugitives in Jambi and
Kalimantan must be captured this year. He also
claimed there are drastic declines up to 80
percent of the log shipping volume and log
stealing frequency, especially in Kalimantan.

At almost every main river on the island, there is
no more open log shipping. It’s a similar
situation downstream and upstream of Batanghari
River in Jambi and Gaung River in Siak.


Sand quarrying raises tempers, damages locality

Jakarta Post - September 12, 2006

Multa Fidrus, Tangerang — Simpang Kampong, a
small coastal village in Mauk district in the
north of Tangerang regency, has a seemingly
inexhaustible supply of sand.

Covering a few hectares, dozens of people, every
day, illegally quarry sand there. These people,
who work in groups of five to 10, come from
neighboring villages such as Marga Mulya,
Ketapang, Tanjung Anom and Karang Serang.

The quarriers, who dig up to 10 meters into the
ground and create deep holes as large as a
football pitch, seem to be unconcerned about the
possibility of a landslide burying them alive.

Making a quick profit is the only thing on their
mind. They don’t care at all, even though they
realize that their activity has damaged the
environment and disrupted irrigation for farmers.

"It’s too dangerous for you to enter the quarry.
Workers will attack any journalist who tries to
enter and take pictures," Sarmili, a local, told
The Jakarta Post recently.

The Post observed several small channels on the
floor of the large hole, where workers move sand
with the help of a powerful water jet. A motor
blows the sand from the dredging site onto the
ground where dozens of workers and trucks await.

Quarrying, Sarmili says, has resulted in the
erosion of more than 10,000 cubic meters of land
in the village, on which rice was formerly grown.

"We have repeatedly filed complaints with the
district office over the dredging, but it’s all to
no avail because local officials are bribed to
look the other way by the operation’s owner," he
said.

Hundreds of residents from Tegal Kunir Lor,
Banyuasin, Ketapang, Marga Mulya villages and
Kampong Simpang have repeatedly protested the
operation because it has disrupted irrigation in
the past three years.

The villagers’ main source of income is
agriculture. When their protests were ignored,
angry residents attacked workers at the mine,
which is owned by Jakarta-based businessman Herman
Wijaya.

They set fire to the workers’ dormitory and
destroyed pipelines and machines in April 2004.
The police then arrested six local residents
following a brawl with workers during the assault.

They were charged with inciting villagers to
attack the mine workers and destroy on-site
facilities, although two villagers were attacked
by the workers and were rushed to hospital with
machete wounds.

Sukwadi, from Marga Mulya, said that the sand
dredging operation had also changed the ecosystem
and disrupted ground water supply in the village
since it began in 2000.

"The miners have violated Bylaw No. 20/2004 on
public order and security. But they have continued
their operations, despite forcible closure by the
administration," he said.

Tangerang regent Ismet Iskandar issued written
orders to the public order agency to close down
unlawful sand quarries in Cisauk, Curug, Legok and
Kresek districts, but business is still as usual
at present.

"This is a matter of basic survival; we need money
to feed our families," quarry workers replied
angrily when the Post asked them why they
continued.

One of them, Usman, 28, is from Ketapang village.
He began digging for sand in 2001. Before that he
was a fisherman, but fuel price increases caused
him to shift to sand quarrying to keep body and
soul together.

"If the Tangerang regental administration bans
quarrying and closes the site here we won’t have
any source of income. We make only Rp 15,000 to Rp
20,000 a day — just enough to buy three kilograms
of rice," he said.

Work at the site usually runs from 8 a.m. to 5
p.m. every day. The sand is sold to a middleman
for Rp 50,000 for a small truckload and Rp 150,000
per medium-sized load. Each person working at the
site earns an average of Rp 20,000 a day.

The middleman then sells the sand to another
middleman for Rp 75,000 to Rp 125,000 per small
load and Rp 175,000 to Rp 250,000 per medium
truckload.

"I sell the sand at Rp 75,000 per cubic meter.
Sometimes I can sell four truckloads a day.
Recently, demand has been quite low. I hire five
men to carry the sand. Each is paid Rp 10,000 a
day," said Samrah, 45, a middleman.

It is clear that the quarrying has damaged the
environment. This could also lead to devastating
landslides, particularly for those living in
neighboring villages.

It is feared that if the operation continues,
farmers living near the area will suffer from
water shortages and many wells used by locals will
dry up.

Environmental damage caused by quarrying is a hot
topic of debate at plenary meetings of the
Tangerang regental legislative council. The
council tends to blame the administration for
being too soft in dealing with the quarrying
problem.

However, the administration argues that it cannot
do much because the people involved in quarrying
are poor and are simply trying to survive.

Head of the regental public order agency Odang
Masduki has his own explanation as to why nothing
is being done to put a halt to the illegal
activity across the regency. "We closed the site
six times between 2004 and this year. We erected a
gate at the entrance but the quarrying continues
apace. We are powerless against hundreds, possibly
thousands, of illegal quarriers. It all depends on
the land," he said.

It seems that the local administration has yet to
find a way to address the problem of environmental
damage in its area. Instead, it is too busy
blaming others.


Official demands Lapindo stop dumping mud in river

Jakarta Post - September 12, 2006

Indra Harsaputra, Sidoarjo — Sidoarjo Regent Win
Hendrarso demanded Monday that Lapindo Brantas
Inc., which owns the gas exploration well that has
spewed out a torrent of hot mud since May 29, stop
disposing of the mud into Porong River.

The regent said the company did not have the
necessary permission from the regional
administration and State Minister for the
Environment Rachmat Witoelar.

Last week an official from Lapindo denied the mud
was being disposed of in the river, although the
company had earlier suggested it might do so,
citing an emergency.

The foul-smelling mud has submerged 400 hectares
of rice fields, homes, schools and the turnpike
linking East Java’s capital, Surabaya, with
surrounding cities. Some 9,000 people from at
least seven villages have been forced to evacuate
and a number of embankments built to check the
flow of the hot toxic mud have collapsed.

"I have ordered the regional environment office to
stop the disposal (of the mud)," Regent Win said.

The mud was still being channeled into the river
as of Monday afternoon.

Pressure on the company and the administration to
get rid of the mud has been mounting, despite
protests by the owners of thousands of shrimp
hatcheries, for which the coastal town is famous.

An official from the Public Works Ministry said
the government and Lapindo had agreed the mud
could be disposed of before being treated, given
the seriousness of the situation.

"The government and Lapindo agreed to this after a
number of meetings," said Aris Setyadi, the head
of the public works team assigned to overcome the
mudflow problem. He said Lapindo had ordered four
mobile pumps to channel the mud into the river,
with a capacity to carry 300 liters of water per
second.

As of Monday the mud continued to flow at an
estimated 45,0000 cubic meters a day.

Also on Monday Bloomberg news agency reported that
PT Medco Energi Internasional, the country’s
largest oil company by market value, would set
aside money to pay for damage caused by the flow
of mud at the gas exploration well, which it
partly owns. Medco may have to pay as much as
US$23.2 million based on its 32 percent share in
the field.

Lapindo estimates the cost of damages at $100
million, Medco’s president Hilmi Panigoro said.
Insurance payouts are capped at $27.5 million, he
said. At current estimates, the payments may
account for 31 percent of the Jakarta-based
company’s 2005 profit and may cut its earnings and
debt rating.

"To be prudent, we will make a provision... (and)
we will do our best to protect the interests of
our shareholders," Panigoro said in an interview,
Bloomberg reported. The company will set aside
money in the last quarter of this year and the
first quarter of 2007, he said, without disclosing
the amount.

Costs to put an end to the mudflow disaster will
total at least $100 million, Rawindra, general
manager of Lapindo’s East Java unit, said in a
phone interview Monday.

"The spending to drill three relief wells, to
search for and seal the mud source alone will be
$78 million,“he said.”There are plenty of other
damage claims" from residents in five villages and
17 factories inundated by the mudflow, Rawindra
said.

Australia’s Santos Ltd., which owns an 18 percent
share in the area, said on Aug. 23 it took a one-
time charge of A$19 million ($14.4 million) to pay
for the damage. Lapindo, owned by PT Energi Mega
Persada, has 50 percent of the Brantas block,
where the mudflow started.

Under normal circumstances, the government would
pay for 70 percent of exploration and development
costs in the block and get the same share of
production revenue, according to an agreement with
contractors, who will pay the remaining costs and
get 30 percent of revenue.

That will not apply to the costs resulting from
the Lapindo incident, Luluk Sumiarso, the Energy
Ministry’s director general of oil and gas, said
in a phone interview.

"We will cover the costs of drilling the
exploration well, but not those caused by the
mudflow incident," Sumiarso said. If the
government agrees to pay 70 percent of the
uninsured damages, Medco’s share will be $7
million, Panigoro said.


Paranormals called in to end mudflow

Jakarta Post - September 10, 2006

Indra Harsaputra, Sidoarjo — After midnight, a
site near the center of Sidoarjo’s mudflows
remains busy — not with workers trying to stop
the constant gray streams, but with mystics
attempting to use their supernatural powers to end
the disaster for a Rp 100 million (US$10,869)
prize.

"Stop filming please, I can’t concentrate on
calling the spirit at the source of the mudflow,"
Maisaroh, a psychic from the East Java town of
Ngawi, said in Javanese to a photographer from a
foreign news service and to The Jakarta Post on
Saturday.

The photographer looked confused and apologized.
Maisaroh started to move away from his camera.

"I could have called the spirit around (Lapindo
Brantas Inc.’s) Banjar Panji-1 well, but the
spirit left upon learning you would take a
picture,“she said.”I’ll try calling it again so
I can communicate with it."

Nearby, another psychic, Hobir, 50, was crouched
over busily chanting, then threw sand and stone
into ponds built to contain the mudflow.

"The sand and stone were taken... with God’s
guidance from the cemetery of Sunan Ampel in
Surabaya and of Sunan Giri in Gresik," he told the
Post, referring to two of the nine legendary
clerics who spread Islam in Java.

Hobir, who works days on a tobacco farm, said he
hoped he had adequate powers to stop the mess from
spreading. "I’ve had a blessing from Gus Dur
(former president Abdurrahman Wahid)... If I win,
I and my family will live in a house," he said.

Maisaroh and Hobir are two of 50 psychics taking
part in the contest, organized by the Kedung Bendo
village head, a wealthy businessman named Hasan.

The competition has attracted psychics from many
cities in East Java and from further afield,
including Jakarta and Medan. All are trying their
luck to stop the hot mud, which has been gushing
out of Lapindo’s exploration well since May 29.

The organizer has not collected any registration
fees for the contestants nor provided them with
accommodation; they only get free water, and are
required to bring their own equipment.

"Some of the psychics are scary-looking, but there
are also those who are gentle and polite. But none
of them have stopped the mud," said Titus, the
contest’s coordinator. He said the competition had
received such a large response that the committee
had to limit the number of participants and
separate them into several groups. The committee
has not set a deadline for contestants to end the
flows.

In a screening process, each psychic had to pass a
test: turn off a water faucet left on by the
organizer with only their supernatural powers.
"With the test, many candidates had to go back
home. How can they stop a mudflow if they can’t
even shut off a faucet," Titus said.

The contest is one of the more unusual attempts to
end the disaster, which has left more than 9,000
people homeless and more than 1,800 people out of
work.

"Many people may not accept that we have
supernatural powers," said Dony Harahap, a psychic
from Jakarta. "But (from my work) it is clear that
the mudflow can only be stopped if the government
and Lapindo end their sinful acts, which are
affecting the people."


Lapindo dumps water into river: Observers say

Jakarta Post - September 9, 2006

Indra Harsaputra, Sidoarjo — Lapindo Brantas Inc.
is dumping contaminated water from the Sidoarjo
mudflow disaster directly into the Porong River
without treating it first as promised, witnesses
claim. The company has denied it has dumped
untreated water into the river.

Witnesses claimed they had seen water from
retaining ponds being channeled directly into the
river. The two pipes were connected to the river
from one of the ponds near Pejarakan Jabon
village. Three pumps have also been installed to
distribute water from the pond to the river.

A TV journalist, Medi, said the pipes were set up
in Thursday by soldiers from the Kepanjen
battalion in Malang. Of the two pipes, only one
was operating Friday, he said.

State Minister of Environment Rachmat Witoelar
earlier said the water must not be dumped into
seas or rivers without being treated. The ministry
earlier said the mud was non-toxic and safe,
despite a study published in a government magazine
that said the mud contained a number of dangerous
chemicals.

Meanwhile, Lapindo management said the new mudflow
source spotted Thursday in Jatirejo village was
likely caused by downward pressure of the mud
caused by the retaining ponds the company had
built.

The company’s East Java general manager Rawindra
said the new materials used to strengthen the
ponds likely stopped the mud from flowing up its
normal route. Instead the mud pushed through
cracks in the ground and found its way to the
surface in a new place, he said.

Earlier, former chairman of the Indonesian
Geologists Association, Andang Bachtiar, blamed
the emergence of the new mudflow on what he called
a natural “mud volcano” phenomenon.

However, BP Migas deputy head Trijana Kartoatmojo
played down the “mud-volcano” theory. The
government was not saying this was the cause of
the disaster, he said. "It’s hard to clearly
define the cause of mudflow since experts have
different opinions about it but currently, we’re
only trying to stop it," he said.

Separately, director of the Indonesia Cares NGO,
Syafruddin Ngulma Simeulue, accused Lapindo of
intentionally spreading the “mud volcano” concept
as a public relations strategy so it could escape
blame for the disaster.

Syafruddin said Coordinating Minister for the
People’s Welfare Aburizal Bakrie, whose family
owns a controlling share the company, should
resign from Cabinet.

"I hope President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his
ministers are not reluctant to make a decision
regarding this mudflow problem," he said.

 HEALTH & EDUCATION

Teachers claim intimidation for disclosing exam
fraud

Jakarta Post - September 15, 2006

M. Taufiqurrahman, Jakarta — Dozens of teachers
complained to the House of Representatives on
Thursday that local officials had intimidated them
after they uncovered ugly truths behind the
national exam.

The teachers claimed they were dismissed,
threatened or jailed for exposing cheating and
other illicit practices involving principals and
government officials during the exam in May.

"In Garut, West Java, for instance, teachers,
parents and students who filed police reports
about the cheating were treated like criminals.
Some of them were put behind bars for three
months," Ade Irawan of Indonesian Corruption Watch
(ICW) told a hearing of House Commission X on
education and culture.

ICW collaborated with the teachers on an
investigation of illicit practices during the
exam. Their report found that in major cities like
Jakarta, Tangerang, Depok, Bogor, Bandung, Medan
and Makassar, teachers were involved in leaking
answers in advance of the exams.

A number of tactics were allegedly employed by the
teachers, including using Short Message Service
(SMS) or simply distributing a copy of the
answers.

The teachers said the Garut administration was
directly involved in raising its students’ scores
out of the belief that a high percentage of
students graduating with good grades would help
boost the regency’s image.

The report alleged the regency threatened high
school principals with dismissal if they failed to
improve students’ grades. It found school staffers
bowed to the pressure and inflated the students’
scores.

Some teachers later filed complaints about their
treatment with the Inspectorate General of the
National Education Ministry. The report said
despite evidence of rampant cheating, a team from
the ministry claimed to have found few
irregularities.

Members of House Commission X said the teachers’
complaints would make it difficult for the House
to authorize a nationwide exam for 2007.

"The policy of holding a national exam contradicts
the national education system," House Commission X
member Masduki Baidowi of the National Awakening
Party commented, saying the system specified that
education would be left in the hands of individual
schools and teachers.

Baidowi said Commission X would try to persuade
the House budget committee not to fund the
national exam.

National Education Minister Bambang Sudibyo has
said that the future of the national exam depends
on the verdict of a class action lawsuit in
Jakarta filed by students who said they were
victimized by the exams.


Bogor students protest fee increases

Jakarta Post - September 14, 2006

Theresia Sufa, Bogor — Almost a thousand Bogor
Institute of Agriculture (IPB) students rallied in
front of the campus’ rectory Wednesday demanding a
recent decision to raise tuition fees be reversed.
The institution recently raised it fees from Rp
750,000 per semester to Rp 1.2 million per
semester, saying the extra funds would be used to
provide cross subsidies for poor students.

Students gathered at the IPB’s Graha Wisuda
Auditorium and marched to the rectory at around 10
a.m. and demanded to see IPB rector Ahmad Ansori
Mattjik.

Only when several students fainted in the midst of
the crush in front of the building’s closed
entrance did campus security allow the students to
enter the rectory. Mattjik and the institute’s
deputy rectors then met with student body head
Jaenal Abidin.

In the meeting, Jaenal said the scheme was flawed
because it was charged on the basis of students
parents’ incomes and ignored their financial
earning capacity and how many people the family
had to support. He added that the manner in which
additional fees were determined was inconsistent
as each faculty determines its own charges.

Jaenal also said that the IPB needed to be more
transparent in its management of fees and had to
guarantee that poor students would be entitled to
an affordable education.

In response, however, Mattjik said that the police
would not be changed and the subsidy scheme would
still be applied. although he added that poor
students would not have to pay for admission.

Deputy rector Herry Suhardiyanto said parents were
often dishonest about their incomes during student
registration.

"Most parents only write that their income is more
than Rp 1 million on the registration form. Many
other demand a reduction in school fees," he said,
adding that around 400 parents had asked for a
discount this year.

The school reported that 81 students had been
exempt from paying fees in last year’s intake.

 OPINION & ANALYSIS

Welcoming Ramadhan with love

Jakarta Post Editorial - September 16, 2006

The beginning of Ramadhan is only one week away
and most Muslims traditionally welcome it with
great pleasure. However, for many Jakartans,
especially those working in cafes, night clubs and
entertainment centers, the coming of the fasting
month can mean fear, chaos and the loss of income.

Owners of many nightspots expect the beginning of
Ramadhan to be blighted with violence, a time when
groups waving religious banners raid their
premises and demand all be shut down.

These groups, taking the law into their own hands,
vandalize these establishments, causing them to
close and leaving the owners and workers helpless.

These illegal acts are repeated every year and the
authorities are for some reason unable to stop the
violence. Will this year be any different?

Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso has asked the police to
act quickly and sternly to stop any attacks on
entertainment centers. Jakarta Police chief Insp.
Gen. Adang Firman, meanwhile, threatens to deal
harshly with those violating the law.

According to Sutiyoso, a 2004 government decree on
tourism, clearly rules on the operational hours of
entertainment centers — cafes, restaurants, bars,
pool and karaoke halls and massage parlors. The
decree also prohibits all these places from
operating a day before Ramadhan starts and during
the Idul Fitri and Idul Adha holidays.

Cafes, pool and karaoke halls and bars will
probably be allowed to operate only between 8:30
p.m. and 12:30 a.m. during the fasting month.
These regulations do not apply to similar
entertainment centers run by star-rated hotels.

Sutiyoso emphasized that attacks on any of these
establishments were against the law but stopped
short of saying the city would do anything to stop
it: "The city administration has no authority to
take action against the radical groups. It is the
police that must handle that," he said.

Sutiyoso’s statements and Adang Firman’s promise
to take stern actions against the violators sound
comforting. The ball, it seems, is in the police’s
court.

One hopes these promises will be honored. It would
be extremely unfortunate if there were a repeat of
past incidents when the police stood idly by and
watched radicals smash up nightclubs and bars,
leaving the employees and owners helpless.

Hopefully the nightclub owners have made
preparations against worst-case scenarios and that
they have followed the law by ensuring their
workers are compensated for any periods of
unemployment during the fasting month.

It is also worth noting that Deputy Governor Fauzi
Bowo has anticipated trouble by meeting with the
radicals concerned and discussing the
implementation of the decree. Fauzi said the
meetings would become a forum where everybody
would hopefully reach a similar interpretation of
the regulations. It is hoped, therefore, that the
fasting month will begin with peace and
tranquility, instead of violence and brutality.

Still, there are questions that linger. Why do the
groups always target nightclubs and entertainment
centers in their endeavors to "uphold the purity
of Ramadhan". And why do they prefer violence to a
peaceful approach?

Closing nightspots could also be interpreted as a
prohibition on prostitution, and the consumption
of alcoholic drinks, which are forbidden by Islam.
But if these radical groups are so concerned about
these vices, why do they take action only in
Ramadhan. Could there be other motives at play
apart from religion?

According to our Constitution, all citizens in
this country have the right to work and prosper
without fear of layoffs, intimidation or violence.
Could the gubernatorial decree, which closes
nightspots during Ramadhan, contradict the
Constitution?

If their main concern is to clean densely
populated Jakarta from prostitution and alcohol
consumption, shouldn’t the authorities properly
enforce the existing ban on the former, and set
about canvassing the public for the support for
the latter?

One could also ask, if the sale of alcohol is so
bad, why is it that it is only “banned” during the
fasting month? And what about prostitution,
normally practiced so openly in certain areas of
the city.

It is time for the city to properly protect those
most at risk during the holy month, to ensure that
it is celebrated in a civilized and peaceful way.


Prosecuting the prosecutors

Jakarta Post Editorial - September 14, 2006

The ongoing showdown within the Attorney General’s
Office could raise further doubts about its
commitment to law enforcement.

Jakarta Prosecutor’s Office chief Rusdi Taher
officially challenged Tuesday a decision by
Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh to suspend him
in connection with sentence irregularities in the
case of suspects caught with drugs.

The dispute comes on the heels of an incident
Monday at the House of Representatives, in which a
student hurled a rotten egg at Deputy Attorney
General for Special Crimes Hendarman Supandji
prior to a hearing.

Such disrespect is intolerable. But such acts may
also be motivated by feelings of impatience,
frustration or perhaps loss of confidence in the
AGO, which is expected to uphold the law without
compromise.

The tension brewing between Abdul Rahman and Rusdi
has become the embodiment of every ailment
besetting the AGO. The institution has long been
associated with the country’s corrupt judicial
system, where justice has a price.

It is understandable if Abdul Rahman, as the boss,
prevented Rusdi on Monday from clarifying his
complaints about constantly being under "pressure
from the top" not to come down hard in certain
cases. But Abdul Rahman cannot hide behind
institutional ethics to cover up practices that
would keep him from realizing his post-
inauguration pledge to build an independent law
enforcement agency.

Many suspect Rusdi is just a fall guy fighting
back but what he has revealed to the media needs
to be verified. The senior prosecutor claimed
that, just one-and-a-half years after taking
office, he had repeatedly been pressured by his
superiors or top government officials to help
suspects get light sentences or have their cases
dropped.

Rusdi was relieved from his professional duties
after the AGO found him guilty of violating the
code of conduct for prosecutors. The AGO’s
internal affairs office had discovered two drafts
of a sentence demand for Hariono Agus Tjahjono,
who was on trial for trafficking 20 kilograms of
shabu-shabu or crystal methamphetamine. Rusdi
denied having ordered the prosecutors in charge of
the case to seek three years’ jail, far from the
maximum penalty of death.

Letting the cat out of the bag, Rusdi said top
officials at the State Secretariat had put
pressure on him to drop a corruption case in the
deal to use state assets in Kemayoran for business
interests involving businesswoman Hartati Murdaya.
He also said the deputy attorney general for
special crimes had asked him to seek one-and-a-
half years’ jail for Jakarta Elections Commission
chief M. Taufik in a graft case.

Not long ago, two prosecutors faced a disciplinary
hearing for allegedly extorting Ahmad Djunaidi,
the former president director of state social
security firm Jamsostek, in exchange for a light
sentence. Police have named the prosecutors
suspects and detained them, pending their trial.

The so-called court mafia — involving
prosecutors, judges, court clerks and lawyers —
has made its presence felt, but most of the time
it is difficult to prove its existence. Only a few
cases have been brought to justice.

If true, Rusdi’s claims are another blow to
efforts to restore the credibility of the AGO,
which in the past served the interests of the
regime.

Hopes were high when Abdul Rahman was appointed as
attorney general two years ago that he would lead
his 7,000-strong force to instigate change. As a
former lawyer with a legal aid institute, many had
absolute faith in Abdul Rahman’s integrity and
sense of justice.

It is hoped that Rusdi’s suspension will kick
start a formal probe into allegations that he
arranged a lenient sentence demand for drug
suspect Hariono, as well as into other practices
by state prosecutors that have been brushed under
the carpet.

Poor law enforcement not only takes away
opportunities for justice to prevail, but
undermines the country’s recovery program as a
whole. Inconsistent law enforcement has scared
away investors, resulting in job losses. Too much
is at stake if law enforcers fail to come clean.

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