Indonesia News Digest #29 - August 1-8, 2006

 TABLE OF CONTENTS

NEWS & ISSUES

* American Senate discussing financing equipment
for TNI

* Media foments intolerance, critics charge

* Makassar gripped by racial tension after alleged
rape attempt

* Lawyers to sue VP over quake funds

* A friend at arm’s length

* Scholars question survey linking Islam and
violence

* Indonesia scholar, reformer Lev dies

ACEH

* Inong Aceh League rejects governance law

* Conflict over introduction of sharia

* Peace in Aceh spurs illegal logging boom

* GAM wants Aceh governance law revised to meet
peace deal

* SBY asks Aceh monitors to stay

* Freedom tastes good for pardoned GAM prisoners

* Women, the poor singled out by Aceh sharia
enforcers: ICG

* One in 10 Aceh children ’malnourished’

* Acehnese in Denmark disappointed with Aceh
Governance Law

WEST PAPUA

* President agrees on evaluation of Papua special
autonomy law

* Papuan asylum detention overturned

* Hundreds of Papuan students still hiding in
forests

* Papuan asylum seeker says visa refusal was
political

* Indonesia blamed for rights abuses

* Papuans continue protesting trial

* Papuan defendants refuse to take part in court
hearing

ANTI-WAR PROTESTS

* Bandung students arrested in protest against
Israel

* Thousands rally against Israeli attacks

* Indonesia anti-Israel rallies draw wide spectrum

* Indonesian Muslims protest Israel offensive

* Solidarity actions against Israel occupation

HUMAN RIGHTS/LAW

* Komnas seeks to summon 12 soldiers

* Consumers still left wanting despite protection
law

LABOUR ISSUES

* Jakarta bus drivers strike over back pay

* Government to pay bus drivers’ salaries by mid
August

* Reality bites for spouses, children of PPD
employees

POLITICS/POLITICAL PARTIES

* Candidates say no to Sharia-based bylaws

* Is selling a political party like selling a
ship?

* Mass rally launches new electoral party

GOVERNMENT/CIVIL SERVICE

* Lawmakers still trotting the globe

* Lawmakers’ names kept secret

* Lawmakers make power plays for relief funds

WAR ON CORRUPTION

* Finance Ministry asked to revoke licenses of
crooked auditors

* Court accused of resisting reform

ENVIRONMENT

* Experts say hot mudflow may be unstoppable

* Good report, but not enough

* Environmental damage a multifaceted problem

* A threat to Indonesia’s rich biodiversity

* Forests need ’120 years to recover’

* Waterfront reclamation ’spells disaster’

HEALTH & EDUCATION

* Indonesia: worst hit by bird flu with two new
deaths

* Document warns of disasters in public health

* SBY told to stop Sampoerna expansion

MINING & ENERGY

* NGOs: Java mining licenses need review

* House Speaker urges immediate review of mining
contracts

ECONOMY & INVESTMENT

* Risky Business - Indonesia’s sinking economy

* ’Public clean water will get worse’

 NEWS & ISSUES

American Senate discussing financing equipment for
TNI

Tempo Interactive - August 1, 2006

Rieka Rahadiana, Jakarta — The US Senate
Appropriation Committee Bill is discussing an
increase of foreign military financing proposed by
the US Administration.

The aid that will be granted under the Senate Bill
amounting to US$10 million is intended to for
purchasing heavy equipment and repairs to defense
system equipment. This large amount of funds will
also be allocated for education, terrorism
deterrents and maritime security.

The United States-Indonesia Society President
Ambassador Alphonse La Porta made the above
statement (1/8) after a meeting with Indonesian
Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono yesterday in his
office.

La Porta said that Chris Hill, Assistant Secretary
at the Department of Internal Affairs for East
Asia and Pacific Affairs, will be visiting
Indonesia as a follow-up.

"He and the Indonesian government might discuss an
increase in aid for defense and other sectors," he
said. La Porta added that the US Administration
recently discussed a strategic partnership with
Indonesia.

After the US embargo on Indonesia was lifted,
according to him, the US Senate welcomed any
attempts from Indonesia to improve relations
between Indonesia and the US. "The Senate’s
agreement to increase aid is a good signal," said
La Porta.


Media foments intolerance, critics charge

Jakarta Post - August 8, 2006

Ary Hermawan, Jakarta — Critics are accusing the
Indonesian media of encouraging intolerance by
failing to cover issues thoroughly.

Even when the media has tried to be objective in
its reporting, it has often misled its audience
through a poor understanding of religious terms,
critics said. They added that the end result has
been to justify or even inspire acts of
intolerance.

The media "is taking part in triggering and
exacerbating conflicts," said Siti Musdah Mulia,
secretary-general of the International Conference
for Religion and Peace (ICRP). She was speaking on
the sidelines of a discussion on media and
diversity held here Monday by the Alliance of
Independent Journalists (AJI).

Musda pointed to the example of the stigma
attached to the Ahmadiyah religious group. "We
could see the media frequently using the phrase
’the allegedly heretical Ahmadiyah sect’ in their
reporting on the group. If this is continually
stated, the public will think that the group is
truly heretical," she said.

She also criticized the way the media depicted the
Lia Eden community by focusing on its differences
from mainstream religion. "We don’t need to
highlight Lia Eden saying that she had left Islam
and had told her followers to abandon the daily
prayers and to eat pork, as this definitely
provokes anger and strong feelings among Muslims,"
she said.

She suggested that the media cover the positive
sides of the two minority groups instead of trying
to expose differences that could mislead the
public.

Jalaludin Rakhmat, an expert from the Padjajaran
University, said the media always elected to
report on controversies because they considered
them newsworthy, thus failing to support
diversity. "Hardliners are definitely more
newsworthy than pluralists," he said.

The Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) found in a
recent study, however, that people who had access
to mass media were mostly more tolerant than those
who did not.

LSI surveyed 1200 people in 33 provinces from Jan.
23 to 27. They found that 46 percent of those who
read newspapers or watch television at least once
a week said they didn’t mind people of other
faiths building houses of worship in their
neighborhood. Meanwhile, 36 percent of people who
never read newspapers had the same attitude.

The survey also found that 71 percent of the
respondents agreed with the mission of Nadhlatul
Ulama, the country’s largest Muslim organization,
which promotes pluralism and tolerance.

Eleven percent said they agreed with the mission
of the Indonesian Mujahedin Council (MMI), which
favors imposing Islamic law in the country.
Another 2.5 percent said they agreed with the
mission of the Islamic Liberal Network. The survey
also found that Indonesians were mostly tolerant
in dealing with ethnic differences. More than 90
percent of those surveyed said they did not mind
living next to people of other ethnic backgrounds.

The survey found they became less tolerant,
however, when dealing with religious differences.
Of those surveyed, 42 percent said they
disapproved of the establishment of houses of
worship in their neighborhood by other faiths.

"They are more intolerant of homosexuals and
transvestites," said Iman Suherman of LSI. Sixty-
one percent said they did not mind having
transvestites as neighbors, while 43 percent were
willing to live next to homosexuals.

The findings also indicated that the public is
intolerant toward communists. "Sixty-six percent
of those who had access to the media said they did
not like communists or the Indonesian Communist
Party," said Iman. He added that might be fed by
the annual television broadcast of a movie on the
aborted 1965 coup every Sept. 30 on television.


Makassar gripped by racial tension after alleged
rape attempt

Jakarta Post - August 8, 2006

Andi Hajramurni, Makassar — Tensions were running
high Monday in Makassar, South Sulawesi, as dozens
of university students held sometimes violent
protests and threatened to expel ethnic Chinese
from the city after a Chinese-Indonesian man was
accused of attempting to rape his indigenous maid.

This is the second time in the past two months
that students in the provincial capital have taken
to the streets to denounce an alleged crime
committed by a Chinese-Indonesian employer against
his maid.

Two months ago students protested after an ethnic
Chinese man was arrested for allegedly murdering
his maid. This latest protest came after a man
allegedly attempted to rape his maid Friday night.
The suspect’s wife reportedly walked in during the
act and immediately notified the police.

The suspect fled, while the victim was taken by
officers to Bhayangkara Hospital for treatment.

Makassar Police chief Sr. Comr. Andi Nurman Tahir
said the suspect surrendered himself to
authorities Sunday and was now being detained at
police headquarters for questioning. If charged
and convicted of attempted rape, he could face at
least five years in jail.

News of the alleged crime was greeted Monday by a
violent protest by dozens of students, including
some from the South Sulawesi regency of Sinjai,
where the maid is from. The rallied in front of
the suspect’s house and pelted it with stones,
breaking several windows. Five students were
arrested and questioned at Makassar Police
Headquarters.

Another group of students held a rally in front of
Muhammadiyah University in the city. Several of
the students threatened to “sweep” Chinese-
Indonesians out of the city, and attempted to stop
vehicles driven by ethnic Chinese.

"We are still haunted by the torture and murder in
May (of a maid by a Chinese-Indonesian man), and
now a Chinese-Indonesian has committed a similar
crime. We deplore and condemn this incident," said
one of the students, Fajar.

The protest in front of the suspect’s house
attracted the attention of local residents, who
gathered at the scene on Jl. Sangir to get a
closer look. The large crowd forced businesses in
the area to close their doors. Police officers
escorted the wife and children of the suspect to
police headquarters for their protection.

As of evening the situation along Jl. Sangir
remained tense as more people continued to arrive,
ignoring the police’s order to disperse. Dozens of
police officers have been deployed to the area to
prevent any violence, and a police helicopter has
been monitoring the situation from the air.

Makassar Police chief Nurman urged the students
and the public to remain calm. He told them it was
a criminal matter and was being handled by the
police. "We urge the students and the public not
to blow up the incident. The accused is being
processed and the victim is safe," he said.


Lawyers to sue VP over quake funds

Jakarta Post - August 7, 2006

Yogyakarta — A team of lawyers representing
Yogyakarta earthquake victims plan to sue Vice
President Jusuf Kalla for allegedly lying about
the provision of relief aid.

The deadline set by an association of 60 lawyers
for Kalla to apologize for his remarks passed last
week. "The Vice President gave no response and
therefore we will file a lawsuit soon," Irsyad
Thamrin, the coordinator of the lawyers, said.

They said Kalla had failed to honor the
government’s promise to provide between Rp 10
million and Rp 30 million (about US$1,100 —
$3,300) in reconstruction funds for quake victims
who lost their homes in the May 27 quake.

Irsyad told tempointeratif the sums of money given
to the victims were far lower.


A friend at arm’s length

Star Tribune - August 6, 2006

Dave Hage, Jakarta — If you were an American
president scanning the map for allies in the war
on terror, sooner or later your finger would
surely fall on Indonesia.

It has more Muslims than any other nation — some
200 million in an overall population of 240
million. Yet it is also a parliamentary republic
with a free press, a constitution that guarantees
religious pluralism and, since the authoritarian
leader Suharto stepped down in 1998, an
increasingly vibrant democracy. And as Indonesians
will proudly tell you, it has a long tradition of
moderate clerics and politicians who battled
against radical Islamists.

Indonesia, however, has pointedly declined to join
President Bush’s “coalition of the willing.” It
sent no troops to Afghanistan, opposes the US
occupation of Iraq, and just two months ago
rebuffed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld when he
asked for help with a naval interdiction program
to catch rogue vessels at sea.

"Your country is so powerful that it tends to
create anxiety and resentment, especially among
Islamic peoples," Defense Minister Juwono
Sudarsono told a group of visiting journalists in
late June. "It’s better that anti-terror measures
be left to local authorities than be orchestrated
by the United States."

Indonesia’s ambivalence is echoed across South
Asia, home to two-thirds of the world’s Muslims.
It’s a region where religious moderates,
intellectuals and veteran politicians are engaged
in a delicate balancing act — marginalizing the
extremists and prosecuting terrorists while
honoring a religion that, to most Muslims, stands
for social justice, national liberation and
personal rectitude. Westerners who have
stigmatized Islam since 9/11 do no favors to these
moderates, and the United States cannot make
lasting progress against Islamic extremism until
Americans understand this struggle.

To be sure, Indonesia does not come to this debate
with clean hands.

Its military committed grave human rights abuses
against separatist activists in Aceh and East
Timor, and its corrupt police have largely looked
the other way in recent years when Islamic
extremists attacked Christians and rival Muslim
sects. The current president, Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono, is regarded as a reformer but gets only
lukewarm praise from human-rights advocates.

Yet its perspective is important, for it embodies
a series of challenges that face devout but
moderate Muslims across the world today.

Spend a day in Jakarta, a smoggy metropolis of 9
million people, and you will understand that
Indonesians are not anti-American. They drink
Starbucks coffee, watch NASCAR on TV and, when
possible, send their children to the United States
for college. The nation’s founding leaders turned
to America’s Federalist Papers when they were
drafting their own constitution on independence
from the Dutch after 1945.

Nor is Indonesia naive about terrorism. It is home
to Jemaah Islamiyah, one of the world’s most
violent and notorious Islamist groups, and it has
been the victim of three major terror bombings
since 2002. Today there are bomb barriers, metal
detectors and uniformed guards at most of
Jakarta’s big hotels and shopping malls.

Instead, Indonesians’ reluctance stems from a
belief that the United States has chosen the wrong
strategy in combating Islamic extremists.

Their ambivalence dates back to President Bush’s
opening manifesto after 9/11, that "you are either
with us or against us in the war on terror." That
played poorly in a country where the Christian
West is associated with 300 years of brutal
colonialism and where leaders rapidly lose
credibility if they are seen as mere extensions of
American diplomacy.

The US invasion of Iraq only hardened this
skepticism. Indonesian Muslims are no fans of
Saddam Hussein, whom they regard as a secular
fascist who persecuted his own people. But they
also understand that he was no ally of Osama bin
Laden, and the US occupation of Iraq now looks
like a military blunder that is costing rising
numbers of civilian lives — Muslim civilian
lives.

"I had a meeting with President Bush, and I told
him that what you are doing in Iraq is taking the
law into your own hands," Azyumardi Azra, rector
of the prestigious State Islamic University, said
in an interview. "By doing that you have undercut
the idea of democracy in Indonesian minds."

Indonesia’s own democracy, of course, is young and
imperfect. But there is no question about the
country’s commitment to fighting terrorism. Since
2002, when a blast killed more than 200 tourists
in Bali, the government has arrested and tried
hundreds of bomb conspirators, and today many face
sentences of death or life in prison. This year
the government introduced legislation to prosecute
Islamist splinter groups guilty of violent civil
disobedience.

In the long run, Indonesia possesses something
even more powerful — a tradition of pluralism and
political discourse that provides a model for
reconciling the finest traditions of Islam with
the principles of liberal democracy to advance the
interests of Muslims in the developing world. The
future of democracy in Indonesia is not
guaranteed, but on election day in 2004 the
country staged the largest one-day voter turnout
in world history.

Anyone who visits the Muslim societies of Asia
today will find that the anti-American rhetoric of
Osama bin Laden and other radicals obscures an
important truth. America’s highest ideals — the
rule of law, religious tolerance, freedom of
speech and government transparency — still have
immense appeal to most of the world’s Muslims.
They are struggling to put those ideals into
practice in the face of corruption and poverty,
but they understand something that Americans are
just learning — that extremism can be defeated
only by taking Islam back from the extremists.


Scholars question survey linking Islam and
violence

Jakarta Post - August 4, 2006

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta — Muslim scholars are
questioning a recent survey that suggested there
is a relationship between Islam and violence in
Indonesia, saying the survey was not based on a
true understanding of Islamic doctrines and of
economic and cultural factors in the country.

According to the survey of 1,200 Muslims in 30 of
Indonesia’s 33 provinces, 0.1 percent of
respondents admitted involvement in demolishing or
burning churches constructed without official
permits. Another 1.3 percent said they had
committed “intimidation” of those they considered
to have blasphemed Islam.

The survey, conducted by the Center for Islamic
and Social Studies (PPIM), was carried out from
2001 to this year. It also found 43.5 percent of
respondents said they were ready to “wage war” on
threatening non-Muslim groups.

PPIM researcher Jajat Burhanudin attributed these
hostile tendencies to a simplistic understanding
of Islamic teachings.

Chaider Bamualim, chairman of the Center for the
Study of Religion and Culture (CSRC), questioned
the survey’s methodology and said the researchers’
perceptions of Islamic norms and doctrines may be
inaccurate.

Based on the percentage of respondents who said
they had committed, or were willing to commit
violence, Chaider said it was highly questionable
that hundreds of thousands of Muslims have
admitted using violence in the name of religion,
"and that Islamic educational institutions such as
the pesantren and madrasah have encouraged their
students to commit violence," he said.

Chaider, an alumni of the Gontor Islamic Boarding
School, said Islam had a great number of norms and
doctrines, but only a small number allowed the use
of violence, in a context which could not be
compared to that of groups presently using
violence and intimidation in the name of religion.

The rector of Syarif Hidayatullah Islamic
University, Azyumardi Azra, said most violent
incidents have been triggered by economic and
cultural factors. "The agents behind the violence
are incidentally Muslims but it is exaggerating to
conclude that the way the Muslims have behaved is
encouraged by religious factors," he said.

Azyumardi, who addressed a discussion on the
survey last week, said local cultures were quite
familier with the use of violence. He cited the
custom of revenge called carok in Madurese culture
and tribal wars in Papuan culture.

Azyumardi added that poverty and the high rate of
unemployment in urban areas have also encouraged
poor Muslims to use force or join militant
organizations to express their frustration over
unfavorable economic conditions, rampant
corruption and political instability.

The two scholars agreed, however, that clerics and
other Islamic figures, in cooperation with the
government, should work diligently not only to
review old Islamic doctrines and norms to make
them applicable to the modern age, but also to
seek role models for Muslims.


Indonesia scholar, reformer Lev dies

Associated Press - August 2, 2006

Seattle — Daniel Lev, a leading Indonesia scholar
and longtime University of Washington professor,
died Saturday following a battle with lung cancer.
He was 72.

Lev spent years working with lawyers, scholars and
dissidents to improve the Indonesian legal system.
His efforts won him many friends in Indonesia, and
in the past few months a steady stream of visitors
traveled from there to say final goodbyes.

Earlier this year, Lev turned over most of his
notes, documents and books to the Center for Study
of Law and Policy, a non-governmental organization
in Jakarta, which comprises 25 to 30 young lawyers
who research reform issues.

Lev worked closely with scholars, journalists,
reformers and the military to further the cause of
human rights in Indonesia, Judith Henchy, who
heads the UW libraries’ Southeast Asia section,
said when his document donation was announced.

Lev also embraced the language and culture of
Indonesia. Many of his research materials are in
the native language.

Lev began his teaching career at the University of
California, Berkeley, and he went to the
University of Washington in the 1970s. He retired
in 1999, after years as a political science
professor and researcher. He also established the
school’s political science honors program.

 ACEH

Inong Aceh League rejects governance law

Liputan 6 - August 8, 2006

Lhokseumawe — Around 1000 women from the Inong
Aceh League demonstrated in the North Acehnese
city of Lhokseumawe on Monday August 7. The were
demanding that the Indonesian Government, the Free
Aceh Movement (GAM), the Aceh Monitoring Mission
(AMM) and the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI)
revise the Law on Aceh Governance as it is not in
accordance with the Helsinki Memorandum of
Understanding (MoU).

Inong Aceh League chairperson Sabariah Nasier is
asking that the use of the legal terms on the
issue of authority that is extremely limited in
the political field and on human rights issues
accommodate the MoU that was signed by the
Indonesian government and GAM in Helsinki.

After giving speeches, the demonstrators who came
from the North Aceh regency and Lhokseumawe held a
march around the city through Jl. Protokol. In
order to maintain order, a number of police
officers directed traffic.

It is not just Inong Aceh that has protesting the
Aceh Governance Law, GAM has also raised question
over several articles in the law that was ratified
by the House of Representatives on July 11. In
order to resolve these problems the government
should facilitate a meeting between GAM and the
AMM to study the problematic articles.

[Translated by James Balowski.]


Conflict over introduction of sharia

Radio Australia - August 2, 2006

Indonesia may well be the world’s largest Muslim
country, but only Aceh has the legal right to
apply Islamic law in full. Aceh was granted the
right as part of the search for a political
solution to the long-running separatist conflict
in the fiercely independent and deeply religious
region. Yet Aceh’s attempts at shariah enforcement
have quickly come in for criticism for being heavy
handed, and discriminatory against women and the
poor.

Presenter/Interviewer: Emily Bourke

Speakers: Hafid Abbas, Director General for the
Protection of Human Rights in Indonesia; Tim
Lindsey, Indonesian law expert, Melbourne
University

Bourke: Even before the Aceh peace settlement...
many other areas of Indonesia were taking
advantage of post-Suharto regional autonomy laws
to pass sharia-inspired rules on a whole range of
issues.

These moves have sparked a major debate in
Indonesia over how far provincial governments can
go with these religiously-based local laws.

Indonesian law expert Professor Tim Lindsey says
what began with legislation on health, education
and governance is increasingly a crackdown on
moral conduct.

Lindsey: This is an ultra conservative, isolated
interpretation of Islamic norms that is linked
into a revival of Acehnese identity. The Acehnese
have been asking for this right to implement the
Sharia system which is not just in courts, but in
governance more broadly, since the 1940s and
1950s. So this is nothing new but the
implementation is extraordinary. This is the
single most dramatic and radical attempt to
introduce an Islamic polity in south east Asia in
the last couple of hundred years.

Bourke: You say that the Acehenese have been
asking for this, are there some who are now asking
whether it was a good idea to begin with?

Lindsey: Certainly women’s groups and women’s
activists and many women for that matter are
becoming aware that the sharia system is extremely
limiting for them. It’s not just a matter of
forcing women to wear head covering it’s a matter
of moving to exclude them from public space. So
we’ve had women arrested for sexual, or supposed
sexual crimes because of the way they dress and
behave. We’ve had attempts to exclude women from
public transport. Now, when that happens it
basically becomes impossible for women to get to
work.

Bourke: Concern is growing that more than 20 other
provinces are moving to implement their own
versions of Sharia law — which will be in breach
of constitutional law. But it appears the central
authorities are preparing to strike back.

Hafid Abbas is the Director General for the
Protection of Human Rights in Indonesia with the
justice ministry. He says all local laws will now
have to be brought into line with the national,
secular legal code within five years.

Abbas: I would put all these things in a matrix, a
kind of agreement, or an MOU between my office and
the local districts because since the year 2004 I
have established a district committee for human
rights action plan implementation and at a
national level we have put institutions in full so
similarly at province and district levels so they
are all my partners to put this agenda as a
government agenda and every minute, every hour and
every day it is to be monitored what is the
progress for this agenda’s implementation.

Bourke: While human rights groups are on a mission
to harmonise the two legal systems, some remain
sceptical. As Indonesian law expert Tim Lindsey
explains.

Lindsey: The fact is what’s happening now in
Indonesia is a proliferation of probably
unconstitutional and probably illegal hardline
sharia regulations and these can be dealt with in
three ways. Either the ministry of home affairs
can just strike them out. Secondly, someone could
appeal the regulations and take them to the
Supreme Court and there is some suggestion that
this will happen soon, and thirdly the parliament,
could pass a law over-ruling local laws so it’s
quite easy to do. But the question is political
will and the government and parliamentarians are
nervous and don’t want to touch it. They have to
bite the bullet on this because it’s becoming an
explosive political issue.

Bourke: Hafid Abbas from the Justice Ministry says
the political will is growing and there is a
genuine desire for Indonesia to be what he calls a
shining example of human rights and democracy.

Abbas: This is a new culture of Indonesian
democracy can you imagine Indonesia soon after
Suharto stepped down we had minus 15 percent of
economic growth but now we are expecting to
approach six percent now and our income is
appproaching 1550, so it’s a quantum leap for
Indonesia that we would like to prove to the world
that through democracy and human rights Indonesia
can jump up.


Peace in Aceh spurs illegal logging boom

Associated Press - August 4, 2006

Lam Kabeue — Rebels in Indonesia’s Aceh province
are trading their guns for chain saws and cashing
in on a logging binge that is jeopardizing the
future of the world’s third largest tropical
forest reserves.

It’s a cruel conjunction of good news and bad
news: The rebellion is over, but peace has opened
previously inaccessible virgin forests to illegal
logging. Meanwhile, 130,000 homes destroyed by the
tsunami of December 2004 need replacing, and
demand for timber is almost insatiable.

“Everyone is getting into the logging business,”
says Taydin, 25, who spent five years fighting a
guerrilla war against the Indonesian army in
Aceh’s jungles on the island of Sumatra.

When peace took hold last year, Taydin found
himself unemployed and desperate for cash, so he
joined dozens of other former rebels who are
cutting down prized 100-year-old Meranti and
Semantuk trees.

He says he has no permit to cut wood and bribes
police to let him transport it to the provincial
capital, Banda Aceh. "People have no work, so
selling the wood is a good way to make money,"
said Taydin, who, like many Indonesians, goes by
one name.

Indonesia, whose tropical forest reserves are the
world’s largest after the Amazon and the Congo
basin, has lost around 40% of its canopy to
loggers in the last 50 years.

At this rate of deforestation — an area the size
of New Jersey lost each year — lowland trees of
Sumatra and the neighboring island of Borneo will
disappear by 2010, according to Friends of the
Earth and the World Wildlife Fund, or WWF.

Aceh was largely protected during a decades-long
separatist insurgency, with logging primarily
limited to rebels and rogue elements within the
military. But last year’s peace deal opened up
previously inaccessible virgin forests.

Local and international aid groups that rushed
here after the earthquake and tsunami are in a
bind, having to balance the need to build quickly
against their duty to use legal timber.

Several have been caught buying from illegal
sources, while others have had to redesign homes
with less wood or delay construction while seeking
legitimate supplies.

With commercial logging outlawed in Aceh since
2001, most have turned to other parts of Indonesia
for lumber, a strategy criticized by the WWF,
since up to 70% of Indonesia’s timber is
protected. It says agencies should import wood
instead, but so far, only four have done so.

"They talk about respecting environmental values
and ensuring long-term effectiveness of their
projects," said Ralph Ashton of the WWF, which has
donated two shipments of imported timber, with a
third due this month. "But a lot of agencies are
getting timber from unsustainable sources," he
said.

Some logging occurs in the Leuser and Ulu Masen
ecosystems, which have some of the richest
rainforests in Southeast Asia and are home to
endangered rhinos, elephants, tigers and
orangutans.

If the practice continues, "animals will lose
their habitat, and we expect to see increased
conflict between humans and wildlife," said
Ilarius Wibisono, whose group, Fauna & Flora
International, monitors the 750,000-hectare Masen
forest. “It’s already happening,” he said. "We had
one tiger killed by villagers in Montasik because
it ate their livestock."

The coastal village of Lhoong is typical of the
transformation taking place in many mountain
hamlets, where villagers have joined former rebels
in logging illegally, sometimes with the tacit
approval of local authorities.

Once considered too dangerous because of the war,
it is now alive with the buzz of chain saws. Men
load timber they admit is illegal into trucks.

“Before, no one dared go to the mountains,” said
Aini, 26, a villager. As she talked with a
reporter, a steady stream of loggers passed by on
a dirt road lined with piles of freshly cut wood.
"We warn them about the negative effects of
logging,“she said,”but it’s all about the
money."

Leuser International Foundation, in a report this
year, said at least 120,000 metric tons of illegal
Leuser logs were trucked to the port city of Medan
in 2005. Some were then transported across Sumatra
to the tsunami-hit coast and sold to aid groups,
it said.

Among those accused of using illegal wood to build
homes or fishing boats is a Turkish organization,
the International Brotherhood and Solidarity
Association, which said it did so unwittingly, and
Medecins Sans Frontieres Belgium.

"We got timber from a supplier whom we thought was
kosher," said MSF Belgium’s spokesman Erwin van
Land. "In all honesty, in that emergency, we
didn’t have the resources to determine where the
supplier would get the wood from,“he said.”When
we were told that some of the wood was potentially
from illegal logging, we were already quite far
into the boat project."

International aid agencies say compliance can be
difficult, given an Indonesian system where timber
documents are sometimes forged and officials
bribed.

Complicating matters further, few aid groups have
the experts on staff to navigate the system and
inspect mills to make sure their suppliers are
legal, especially when they are rushing to
alleviate a disaster.

"Obtaining timber is not complex, but if you
haven’t planned appropriately and don’t have the
expertise, the simplest answer is just to go out
and buy the timber in front of you," the WWF’s
Ashton said.

Aceh’s reconstruction requires an estimated
400,000 cubic meters of lumber, and with more than
100 agencies building homes, some have had to wait
weeks for delivery. Even the United Nations has
had shipments held up by paperwork disputes with
the government.

Lumber prices, too, have jumped significantly,
forcing some agencies to scale back reconstruction
plans.

CARE International said it stopped buying from
Aceh in May and has suspended construction of
1,400 homes because it hasn’t found a legitimate
supplier outside the province.

“The international community has to be pragmatic,”
said CARE’s Rossella Bartoloni. Legal timber
sources are essential, she said, "but we can’t
allow the lack of one construction material to
stop communities from starting their new lives."


GAM wants Aceh governance law revised to meet
peace deal

Jakarta Post - August 3, 2006

Nani Afrida, Banda Aceh — The Free Aceh Movement
(GAM) has demanded the immediate revision of a
number of articles of the Aceh Governance Law that
are not in compliance with the Helsinki peace
deal.

After five months of deliberations, the House of
Representatives passed the Aceh governance bill
into law in July to a cold reception, although
legislators said the law would bring greater
autonomy and peace to the conflict-torn province.
The law was drafted following the signing of a
peace deal in Helsinki, Finland, in August last
year.

"There are several articles that are not in
compliance with the peace deal. We want those
articles to be revised just as stipulated by the
peace deal," GAM’s senior representative Irwandi
Yusuf said in a press conference in Banda Aceh on
Wednesday.

The event was attended by Muhammad Nazar from the
Aceh Referendum Information Center (SIRA), GAM’s
spokesman Munawarliza Zain and Bahtiar Abdullah.

Irwandi said GAM had studied the law as well as
discussed it with legal experts in Malaysia and
found articles that were not in accordance with
the peace deal. For instance, the peace deal
states that all policies made by the central
government that are related to Aceh must be
approved by the Aceh government and legislative
council, whereas the law says it need only be
consultation. “These changes are critical,”
Irwandi said.

Moreover, GAM found more articles in the law that
curtail the Aceh government’s authority. For
instance, Article 11 of the law allows the central
government to directly intervene in Aceh, whereas
the peace deal divides authority between the
central government and Aceh. "That single article
could block other articles, which is dangerous,"
Irwandi said.

GAM also questioned the articles on the role of
the Indonesian Military (TNI) in Aceh and on a
human rights court that will only try violations
after the bill was made into law. "According to
the peace deal, there should be only 14,500 TNI
personnel in Aceh for defense purpose. But the law
did not say that. In fact, the TNI has another
role, involvement in the reconstruction process
(following the December 2004 tsunami)," Irwandi
said.

The law, he said, had also failed to touch on
several issues disclosed in the peace deal, such
as Aceh’s access to the international community
and a civil court for the military.

He said GAM would ask the government to amend the
articles it objected to. GAM will also bring the
case to the Aceh Monitoring Mission, which will
raise the matter with the government. "For
articles that are OK, please go ahead and
implement them. But for those that need revision,
revise them first," Irwandi said.


SBY asks Aceh monitors to stay

Jakarta Post - August 3, 2006

Jakarta — President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has
asked foreign monitors in Aceh to stay on through
the province’s crucial elections, planned for
later this year, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The international Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM)
was established in September 2005 to oversee a
peace agreement between rebels and the government.
The pact was signed after the devastating 2004
Asian tsunami, which killed at least 131,000 in
the region.

The mission’s financiers in Brussels are
considering the request from President Yudhoyono,
spokeswoman Faye Belnis said as quoted by AP.

AMM head Pieter Feith said both the Indonesian
government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) had
asked the organization to extend its mandate. He
said staying longer "will not cause a problem for
us", but added that the final decision will be
made in Brussels.

Aceh elections were initially set for August, but
the timetable was postponed so authorities could
carry out a census. They are now planned for
November. Under the newly-enacted Aceh governance
law, non-partisan candidates are allowed to
contest local direct elections. The move paves the
way for former GAM rebels to take part in the
elections.

Local media outlets have touted the pairing of
Ibrahim Hasyim and Cut Idawani as independent
candidates in the upcoming gubernatorial election.

Meanwhile, the People’s Voter Education Network
(JPPR) said Wednesday it plans to host a series of
public debates among candidates before the
elections. In a press statement, the non-
governmental organization said debates are planned
in 19 districts across Aceh for candidates running
in the mayoral and regental elections.

A similar forum would take place for Aceh
gubernatorial contenders, it added. "As many as
6,482 volunteers of JPPR in 3,166 villages there
are ready to help electoral candidates, including
independent ones, appear in public debates to
present their visions and programs," JPPR national
coordinator Adung A. Rochman was quoted as saying
in the statement.

"This step is taken as part of the people’s
political education and to give them access to
balanced and objective information," he added.


Freedom tastes good for pardoned GAM prisoners

Jakarta Post - August 2, 2006

Thirty former members of the Free Aceh Movement
(GAM), who were recently released from prison,
arrived back home Tuesday in Banda Aceh, Nanggroe
Aceh Darussalam.

Arriving on commercial flights, the former
convicts were greeted by GAM officials, including
former GAM finance minister Muhammad Usman Lampoh
Awe and spokesman Munawarliza Zain, as well as a
group from the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM).

Abu Hindon, GAM’s commander in Deli who was
incarcerated in North Sumatra’s Tanjung Gusta
Penitentiary for his alleged role in the Medan
bombing, was seen among the group. He was unable
to hold back tears.

Another former prisoner, Raju, said eight of them
had been released from the penitentiary but three
others remained. "I’m so happy to be free but I’m
also sad since some of our friends are not yet
free like us," said the 29-year-old Raju, who
served two years of his eight-year term. "As a GAM
member my job was to set the bomb, to ensure the
soldiers did not only stay in Aceh but in other
places as well," he said.

Hundreds of former rebels were released from
prison following the signing of a decree granting
amnesty and unconditional release to members of
GAM by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The amnesty is a key condition of the landmark
peace deal signed in Helsinki on Aug. 15. It has
been granted to people who were involved with GAM,
including Indonesian nationals and former
Indonesian nationals who have taken up foreign
citizenship.

GAM spokesman Munawarliza said Tuesday that 34
former GAM members remained in a number of
penitentiaries across the country. They were not
granted amnesty by the government because they
were imprisoned for crimes such as bombings, the
possession of firearms and robbery. "We’re working
to ensure all GAM prisoners are released as
required in the Helsinki peace deal," he said.

He also hoped the government would continue to pay
attention to former GAM convicts who had been
released. "There’s a need to provide the released
prisoners with financial assistance so they can be
independent."


Women, the poor singled out by Aceh sharia
enforcers: ICG

Jakarta Post - August 2, 2006

Jakarta — Women and the poor are experiencing
unfair treatment due to overzealous enforcement of
sharia bylaws in Nanggroe Aceh Darusssalam, an
influential think tank said.

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group
(ICG) said in a report made available to The
Jakarta Post on Monday that haphazardly recruited,
poorly disciplined and inadequately supervised
sharia police were practicing a form of moral
vigilantism that singled out women and the poor.

In the 25-page report, the ICG recorded numerous
instances in which the two groups were targets in
anti-vice raids under the bylaws, known as qanun.

"Women complain that they are disproportionately
the targets of sharia police raids, with far more
operations against them for not wearing
headscarves, or jilbab, than against men for not
attending Friday prayer," the report said.

In depicting the sharia police’s unprofessional
and discriminatory attitude, it detailed the
arrest of three non-governmental activists at a UN
seminar for not wearing the jilbab. "If I don’t
wear the jilbab, that should be between me and my
God — not me and the sharia police," a woman was
quoted as saying in the report.

The report also disclosed an incident of sharia
police personnel intimidating a young woman who
returned home after 9 p.m.

The ICG also criticized the use of corporal
punishment for alcoholism and gambling that it
said was discriminatory. "From the start, the
canings have been controversial... because those
arrested have been overwhelmingly ’little people’,
men playing cards for stakes of less than US$1,"
the report said.

Quoting local people dismayed by the
implementation of corporal punishment, the ICG
questioned the exclusion of gambling rings
allegedly protected by the police from crackdowns.
"The sense is high in Aceh that women and the poor
are the primary target of sharia enforcement," the
report said.

Aceh is the only province in the country that has
the legal right to apply Islamic law. Numerous
legislation has been issued by the central
government to give the Acehnese the right to
enforce sharia in the province, known for its
strong Islamic traditions.

The recently endorsed Aceh Governance Law
reinforces the province’s special status for
Islam, with Article 125 stipulating that the
enforcement of sharia concerns faith, worship and
moral character.

Qanun have been enacted in criminalizing the sale
and consumption of alcohol, gambling and illicit
relations between men and women.

One of the most notorious qanun is No. 11/2002 on
the implementation of Islamic law in the areas of
faith, worship and dissemination of Islamic
teachings. It has been used to punish women who do
not wear headscarves in public.


One in 10 Aceh children ’malnourished’

Jakarta Post - August 2, 2006

Tb. Arie Rukmantara, Jakarta — Nearly 10 percent
of more than 500,000 children under five years old
living in tsunami-devastated Aceh and Nias Island
are acutely malnourished and not 60 percent as
earlier claimed, Unicef says.

In a recent survey, the UN agency says children
outside the devastated areas are fairing just as
badly, with little differences in rates in other
provinces in nearby North Sumatra.

"Around 9.8 percent of children under five years
in Aceh and Nias are suffering from moderate to
severe acute malnutrition," Lely Djuhari, a Unicef
spokeswoman for the Aceh and Nias program, told
The Jakarta Post.

The figure makes children in northern Sumatra
considerably less likely to suffer from
malnutrition than those in other areas, if the
percentage is compared to the national average of
28 percent.

Lely said the health and nutrition survey was
carried out last September by the Health Ministry,
UN agencies, academic institutions and non-
governmental organizations. It covered 20
districts across Aceh and Nias and North Sumatra,
involving a total population of 3.65 million.

Lely said UNICEF did not agree with last week’s
reports sourced from a supervisor at the Aceh-Nias
Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency (BRR)
that an estimated 60 percent of Acehnese children
under five were malnourished, mostly of them
living in emergency camps for tsunami victims.
“The figure is not correct,” Lely said but
declined to elaborate.

Children were judged to be suffering from moderate
malnutrition if they weighed less than 80 percent
of their normal weight by height, while those with
cases of severe acute malnutrition weighed less
than 70 percent of their normal weight, Lely said.

However, Unicef also noted malnutrition cases had
been found in Aceh prior to the 2004 tsunami.

Lely said the survey found no significant
differences in children living in areas that were
not affected by the tsunami. "The Acehnese people
were suffering from poor nutrition before the
tsunami because of various causes," she said.

The resource-rich province had been embroiled in
separatist conflict for almost 30 years until last
August when the government and the Free Aceh
Movement signed a peace accord in Helsinki,
Finland.

UNICEF said during the conflict many Acehnese
mothers did not exclusively breast feed babies
until the age of six months. Nor were many
children immunized from diseases or given constant
supplies of nutritious food.

Parents were often ignorant about the best kinds
of food to feed their children, and pregnant women
were not getting proper nutrition and ended up
giving birth to low-weight babies, the group said.
The situation was exacerbated because local people
rarely had access to clean water and good
sanitation.

An advisor to the Children’s Legal Aid Institute
for Aceh, Cut Hasniati said the malnutrition rate
showed agencies working in the tsunami-devastated
areas were not implementing health programs
properly.

"What the government, the BRR, donors and all
related agencies have to do now is to monitor
(children) and to make sure their health programs,
such as distributing milk and other nutritious
food, are implemented routinely and effectively,"
said Hasniati, who is a former BRR director for
children and women.

Health Ministry director for community nutrition
Ina Hernawati said the findings were not
surprising since the government had earlier
identified some areas in Aceh and Nias with high
rates of malnutrition before the tsunami.

She said the people should not directly link the
malnutrition cases with the tsunami. "Malnutrition
is not just caused by one factor — a lack of
intake nutritious food — because there are also
indirect factors, such as poverty, culture, health
behavior and levels of awareness," Ina said.

She said Indonesia still faced a high prevalence
rate of malnutrition with 28 percent of its 18
million children suffering from malnourishment.

To address the problem, Ina said her office had
deployed hundreds of medical officials in Aceh and
Nias to help improve health services for local
people and increase their health awareness.


Acehnese in Denmark disappointed with Aceh
Governance Law

Aceh Kita - August 1, 2006

Denmark — On Monday July 31, members of the
Acehnese community residing in Denmark sent a
special letter to the High Representative of the
European Union Javier Solana and the secretary
general of the United Nations Kofi Annan.

The letter, which was signed by representatives of
the Acehnese community in Denmark, was expressing
their dissatisfaction with a number of articles in
the Aceh Governance Law (UU-PA) that they believe
are not in compliance with the Helsinki Memorandum
of Understanding (MoU). The letter also protested
several acts of violence that have taken place in
Aceh since the peace deal was signed.

"In the letter [we] also asked that the CMI
[Crisis Management Initiative], the European
Union, the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) and the
international community to continue to use the
Helsinki MoU as a reference in supporting a
resolution to the Aceh question", said Acehnese
community representative Adnan Daud when speaking
with Aceh Kita.

The letter was also sent to the chairperson of the
CMI (the mediator and facilitator of the peace
negotiations), former Finnish president Martti
Ahtisaari, the head of the AMM Pieter Feith,
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and a
number of European Union member states and
countries in South-East Asia that are involved in
the AMM. [dzie]

[Translated by James Balowski.]

 WEST PAPUA

President agrees on evaluation of Papua special
autonomy law

Antara News - August 1, 2006

Jayapura — President Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono
has agreed to evaluate Law No.21/2001 on Papua
Special Autonomy in view of the latest
developments in the easternmost Indonesian region.

"The President feels that it is time for an
evaluation of the law which has been in effect in
the last three years," presidential spokesman Andi
Malarangeng disclosed following a meeting between
the head of state and the Papua People’s Council
(MRP) here Friday night.

The evaluation of the Papua Special Autonomy Law
is necessary in connection with, among others, the
plan to increase the number of provinces and
regencies in Papua, which has partly been
realized.

MRP Chairman Agus Alue Alua, meanwhile, said that
the evaluation of the Law is needed to find out
whether there are items that do not serve the
Papuan people’s interests. "It is therefore
necessary to make an evaluation first before
actually revising the Law," he said.

Giving an example, he cited the need to amend
Article 76, which stipulates that the
establishment of new provinces must get the
approval from the MRP and the Regional Legislative
Council (DPRD) after examining matters relating to
social and cultural unity, human resources
readiness, economic potentials and future
developments of the region.

"Article 76 must become the core of the regulation
on the establishment of new provinces and
regencies in Papua, instead of merely made
effective as an additional regulation," he said,
adding that the creation of new provinces and
regencies must be protected by a legal umbrella.

Concerning West Irian Jaya province, he said that
formally the province has been established, though
at first the MRP opposed the presence of that
province. "But the law on this issue must be
reviewed,“he stressed.”We have asked the President to delay the
implementation of the plan on the establishment of
new provinces and regencies in Papua pending a
clarification on the legal status of the plan,"
the MRP chairman said.

Home Minister M.Ma’ruf said on the occasion that
one of the articles in the Law on Papua Special
Autonomy stipulates that it must be revised once
in every three years.

The revision to be made by taking account of
inputs from the MRP, the Papua provincial
administration, the Papua DPRD and the West Irian
Jaya provincial administration is expected to
improve conditions in Papua, the minister said.
"We have six months in 2007 to prepare the
revision of this law," he added.


Papuan asylum detention overturned

Melbourne Age - August 1, 2006

Michael Gordon — A Federal Government decision to
deny a Papuan asylum seeker refugee status in
Australia has been overturned by the independent
Refugee Review Tribunal.

In a judgement that is likely to reignite tension
with Indonesia, the tribunal ruled yesterday that
David Wainggai, who has been detained on Christmas
island since January, was owed protection by
Australia under the terms of the refugee
convention.

The judgement comes more than two months after the
Immigration Department denied Mr Wainggai refuge
status on the grounds that he had the right to
live in Japan.

That decision came after lawyers acting for Mr 
Wainggai accused the Government of blocking a
decision on his refugee status claim in order to
“advance relations with Indonesia” and to deter
other Papuans from seeking asylum. The Government
rejected the allegation.

A relieved Mr Wainggai said through his lawyer,
David Manne, last night that he was "incredibly
happy that justice has finally been done".

Mr Manne said Mr Wainggai had found it
increasingly difficult being held in immigration
detention on Christmas island and was starting to
relive the nightmares of his father, Thomas, who
died in prison in Jakarta eight years after being
arrested during a flag-raising ceremony in Papua.
"The priority now is to get David a visa so that
he can rejoin the other West Papuan refugees in
Melbourne," Mr Manne said.

Mr Wainggai was among 43 Papuan asylum seekers who
landed on Cape York on January 17. He other 42
asylum seekers were determined to be refugees and
were granted temporary protection visas on March
23.

Indonesian protests over the granting of these
visas prompted the Government to announce a
tougher border protection policy under which all
future unauthorised boat arrivals would be
processed on Nauru.

The new policy, which is being opposed by several
Government MPs as unnecessary and as lacking in
compassion, is due to be debated when Federal
Parliament resumes next week.

Immigration Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone last
night distanced the Government from yesterday’s
decision, saying the tribunal was "a final
independent merits review body and I am unable to
direct members in their decision-making".

But while Senator Vanstone said decisions of the
tribunal turned on "individual circumstances and
claims in each case", the decision is likely to
harden the resolve of MPs opposed to the new
legislation.

Mr Manne said the written decision by the tribunal
cited in great detail "a catalogue of systemic
human rights abuses being perpetuated by Indonesia
authorities against West Papuans".

This included a a report by the Yale Law School of
April 2004 claiming the available evidence
"strongly suggested the Indonesia military had
engaged in widespread violence and extra-judicial
killings and subjected Papuan men and women to
acts of torture, rape and sexual violence".

According to Mr Manne, the report said human
rights abuses had caused the displacement of many
Papuans from their homes and in many cases
constituted crimes against humanity under
international law.


Hundreds of Papuan students still hiding in
forests

SPM News - August 5, 2006

Hundreds of Papuan students on the run from the
police following the clashes on 16 March this year
are still hiding in the forests around Jayapura
District and City, and the District of Keerom.
They are too frightened to return home because
they are being hunted by the TNI/Polri.

The SGI (Joint Intelligence Task Force) headed by
district police chief of Jayawijaya Robert Djonsoe
are still engaged in covert operations to find the
students.

Arnold Omba of the Pepera Front who is on the
wanted list (DPO) told SPM News Numbay, via
cellular phone half an hour ago that they are
moving from place to place to evade the SGI. He
confirmed that there were hundreds of students
hiding in the forest but none had yet crossed over
the border to PNG.

"It’s difficult to cross the border because the
TNI/Polri have blocked it,“he said.”Djonsoe’s
militias have been able to block traditional paths
making it more difficult for us to move and we are
still in the forest near Abepura. This is why I
can still get a phone signal."

Although the students may not be on the wanted
list, they are afraid to return to the city, for
fear of being arrested and subjected to torture in
police custody to force them to make confessions
about things they did not do. News about the
intimidation suffered by Bobii and his friends
before their court hearing has been heard
everywhere.

The 16 March Clash was the result of a provocation
by TNI/Polri intelligence. It was a scenario set
by senior police officers without the knowledge of
their subordinates, including Arizona Rahman and
others who were then targeted by the students. It
was a deliberate trick by the police as a way to
push for the banning of the Pepera Front, to take
over the policing of the Freeport-Rio Tinto
location and secure promotions for themselves,
according to SMPNews.


Papuan asylum seeker says visa refusal was
political

Melbourne Age - August 3, 2006

Andra Jackson — A Papuan asylum seeker whose visa
refusal has been overturned says he believes the
refusal was made on political grounds to appease
Indonesia.

“It was like an international bargain,” said David
Wainggai, 28, the only one of 43 Papuan asylum
seekers not granted a temporary protection visa in
March.

Speaking from the Christmas Island detention
centre where he has been held since January 19, he
said he was happy with the Refugee Review
Tribunal’s decision overturning the Immigration
Department’s refusal to grant him protection.

"Everyone has congratulated me. The news has
spread very fast in this place. Even the hospital
knows," he said.

Mr Wainggai is confident he will get a visa, "even
if she (Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone)
refuses it, the minister has to send the case back
to the RRT and the RRT will just say the same
thing again.

“I can be patient for this last decision,” he
said. He hoped to come to Melbourne, where 10
members of his family live. Senator Vanstone will
study the the tribunal’s decision.

Mr Wainggai said his claim for protection was as
strong as the other 42 , the only difference was
that "maybe they (Immigration) thought I can have
a chance to live in Japan, but there was no chance
without a valid passport.

"When I heard my visa application was rejected, I
was very afraid. I thought they were bringing me
back to Indonesia.

"That really scared me. I couldn’t sleep for two
weeks." Mr Wainggai said he would have been in
danger if he had been returned to Papua.

"I always feel under threat in West Papua, and my
aunt and uncle tell me to watch out because my
father is the founder of the independence movement
— Thomas Wainggai who died in in Indonesian
custody." Mr Wainggai said he had to hide his true
identity and make out his uncle had found him
abandoned as a baby in the undergrowth.

He said the boat carrying the 43 asylum seekers
from the north of Papua in January almost didn’t
make it, after he was taken in custody by
Indonesian police at the start of the journey. The
asylum seekers pulled in at the island of Sorong
and attended church but the islanders, suspecting
the strangers might be terrorists, called police.

The group fled but Mr Wainggai was caught and
questioned for two hours. "They took my
identification papers. They even asked about the
boat and who built it," he said. Suspicion was
averted when "we said we came for a traditional
festival".


Indonesia blamed for rights abuses

Melbourne Age - August 2, 2006

Jewel Topsfield and Michelle Grattan, Canberra —
Papua independence activist David Wainggai could
be at risk of “serious harm” from Indonesian
military or security forces if sent home, the
Refugee Review Tribunal has warned.

The tribunal, which overturned a Government
decision to deny protection to Mr Wainggai,
concluded that violence and human rights abuses in
Papua meant Mr Wainggai could come to the "adverse
attention of the Indonesian authorities".

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone yesterday
refused to rule out an appeal. The Indonesian
Government played down the finding. In Jakarta, a
Foreign Affairs spokesman, Desra Percaya, said:
"We have moved beyond the issue. It is the matter
for Australia to resolve."

In a 24-page decision, seen by The Age, the
tribunal rejected the Government’s assertion that
Mr Wainggai, 29, could be sent to Japan, where he
held a temporary visa that expired in September.
The tribunal said he could be refused landing
permission there and face “a real chance” of being
sent to Indonesia.

Mr Wainggai claimed he feared returning to Papua
because of his political profile, Papuan ethnicity
and membership of a particular social group
comprising his family. "The tribunal accepts that
members of (his) family suffered various forms of
punishment over a protracted period under
Indonesian rule." Support for independence had led
to the "incarceration of his father, mother and
cousin". His father was a high-profile advocate of
Papuan independence who died serving a 20-year
prison term for treason — "unfurling the flag of
West Melanesia and for expressing his pro-
independence views".

The tribunal said Mr Wainggai feared the
Indonesian military and security forces "because
the Indonesian authorities have a history of
violence and oppression of dissidents and in
particular supporters of the pro-independence
movement. "The Indonesian authorities will not
accept or approve of (his) pro-independence views
or his behaviour," it said.

Despite Indonesia’s claims that it does not abuse
human rights in Papua, the tribunal highlighted
country information reports indicating that
"notwithstanding current Government policy
statements on obtaining peaceful resolutions of
the Papuan situation, human rights abuses by the
Indonesian police and military continue to occur
in response to the pro-separatist movement".
Recent reports indicated that someone flying the
Papua Morning Star flag "would have serious
consequences if apprehended by the Indonesian
authorities", the tribunal said.

Mr Wainggai said in a statutory declaration that
the Indonesians had "poisoned my father because
they don’t like smart people who tell the truth“and most Papuans knew of someone who’d been”killed for raising our flag".

Senator Vanstone said she would read the tribunal
finding before deciding on an appeal. "The
department’s decision was that the person had an
entitlement to reside in another place (Japan)
and, as I’ve been advised, the Refugee Review
Tribunal is not satisfied with the ease with which
that right could be taken up," she said.

Mr Percaya said that a meeting between Prime
Minister John Howard and Indonesian President
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had determined that the
two countries would look to the future.

Mr Wainggai arrived with 42 other Papuans, who
were granted protection visas in March, inflaming
tensions with Indonesia and leading to proposed
laws — still not passed because of a backbench
revolt — in which Australia would process future
unauthorised boat arrivals on Nauru.


Papuans continue protesting trial

Jakarta Post - August 2, 2006

Ary Hermawan, Jakarta — Seven men charged with
the 2002 murders of two American nationals and an
Indonesian in Papua province said Tuesday they
would rather die than stand trial in Jakarta.

The defendants insisted they should be tried in
Timika, Papua, where the killings took place. "We
don’t want to be tried here. We refuse to be tried
(in Jakarta) even if we have to be shot dead,"
said defendant Rev. Ishaq Onamawe, 54, after being
forced to appear at the Central Jakarta District
Court.

The other six suspects are Antonius Wamang, 30,
Agustinus Anggaibak, 23, Yulianus Deikme, 26, Esau
Onawame, 23, Hardi Sugumol, 34, and Yairus Kiwak,
52.

They are charged with killing US nationals Ricky
Lynn Spier, 44, and Edwin Leon Burgen, 71, and
their Indonesian colleague, FX Bambang Riwanto,
during an armed attack near the PT Freeport
Indonesia gold and copper mine in Timika.

The suspects refused to answer questions posed to
them during Tuesday’s trial. Judge Andriani Nurdin
decided to suspend the proceedings for 30 minutes
at the request of the suspects’ lawyers, before
adjourning the trial until Aug. 8.

The suspects were not prepared to enter their
pleas at the hearing, nor were their lawyers from
the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights
Association (PBHI), who skipped the previous
session at the request of their clients.

"I don’t know if the prosecutors made any change
in the indictments when they were read out at the
last session because our clients were unable to
understand the contents of the indictments," chief
lawyer Johnson Panjaitan told the court. Only
Wamang and Ishaq speak Indonesian fluently.

At the beginning of the session Andriani pleaded
with the suspects to sit in front of her as
defendants, but they remained glued to their seats
in the visitors’ section. The police officers who
had forcibly brought them into the courtroom did
not move them to the defendants’ chairs.

Andriani then ordered the defense lawyers to
persuade them to move, but still to no avail. The
Papuans instead reiterated their objection to
being tried in Jakarta.

Police have said the seven suspects were all
members of the Free Papua Movement (OPM), but
Johnson maintained they were "just ordinary
people".

Aloy Renwarin, a lawyer for Wamang, claimed
earlier this year that his client admitted he had
fired 30 shots during the attack on the vehicles
carrying the Americans. But Wamang also implicated
the military in the attack, he was quoted by AFP
as saying. The seven suspects were arrested in
January in an operation involving the US Federal
Bureau of Investigation.

Wamang, the leader of the group, was allegedly an
OPM commander. He was indicted for the attack by a
US grand jury in 2004. All seven men could face
the death penalty if convicted.

Papua-based rights groups have alleged that the
military ordered the attack to ensure that
Freeport would continue making large cash payments
to it for security in and around the mine.


Papuan defendants refuse to take part in court
hearing

Kompas - August 2, 2006

Jakarta — The judges in the Central Jakarta
District Court have had to postpone the court
hearing into the shooting of three PT Freeport
employees. In addition to the defense attorney not
being ready, Antonius Wamang and his six
colleagues are still refusing to be tried in
Jakarta.

The hearing on Tuesday August 1 was already set to
hear the defense speech or response to the charges
by Wamang’s lawyer Johnson Pandjaitan. Wamang and
his colleagues are being tried for the
premeditated murder and mistreatment of three PT
Freeport employees leading to their death and the
injuring of several other people in August 2002.

Andriani Nurdin opened the hearing and the
defendants were even ready and waiting in the
spectator’s gallery. When the judge called the
defendants forward however, Wamang remained
motionless until a security officers forcibly
brought him forward and sat him in the defendant’s
chair.

It was at this moment that one of Wamang’s
colleagues Reverend Ishak shouted that they had
been deceived. All eyes turn to look at Ishak, and
Wamang, who was already seated in the defendant’s
chair, moved back to join his colleagues.
Pandjaitan tried to pursuade the seven Timika
residents to take part in the hearing but they
continued to refuse.

In the end the hearing was suspended for 30
minutes in order for Pandjaitan to speak with the
defendants. The defendants however stood fast and
remained seated in the spectator’s gallery. When
the judge asked who was ready to come forward to
the defendant’s seat the seven remained silent.
Likewise when the judge asked about their health.
Finally the judge postponed the hearing until
August 8.

Pandjaitan said that his clients were not refusing
to face trial but are only asking that the court
hearing be moved to the Timika District Court.
(ANA)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

 ANTI-WAR PROTESTS

Bandung students arrested in protest against
Israel

Jakarta Post - August 8, 2006

Yuli Tri Suwarni, Bandung — Police arrested at
least 15 students Monday during a protest against
Israeli military aggression in Palestine and
Lebanon in front of the Sate Building on Jl.
Diponegoro in Bandung.

The students were arrested after they attempted to
lower the Indonesian flag flying in front of the
West Java gubernatorial office. "We didn’t cause
any disturbances, so why were we arrested?" asked
Noto, one of the students from the Muslim Students
Association who took part in the protest.

Noto said the students attempted to lower the flag
to show that Indonesia was mourning the deaths of
Palestinian and Lebanese citizens as a result of
the Israeli bombardments.

During the protest, which began at 10 a.m., the
students delivered speeches urging people to
boycott American products. They also urged the
United Nations to halt Israel’s military
onslaught. "Dissolve the UN if it is unable to
stop the Israeli violence and military aggression,
which has violated human rights," one of the
students said.

The protesters also urged the Organization of the
Islamic Conference and the Arab League to come to
the aid of Palestine and Lebanon. During the
rally, the students burned tires and an Israeli
flag.

Up to 50 police officers forcibly dispersed the
students when they attempted to enter the grounds
of the Sate Building and lower the flag. The
detained students were transported to the Central
Bandung Police station.

Central Bandung Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr.
Mashudi said the students were detained for
holding an illegal rally and attempting to lower
the Indonesian flag.

"They are not entitled to lower the flag as they
like. The flag belongs to the country, the people
and the Republic of Indonesia. It is not a
personal possession," Mashudi said. He said the
students could be charged under Article 154 of the
Criminal Code on insulting a state symbol.


Thousands rally against Israeli attacks

Jakarta Post - August 7, 2006

Jakarta — Leaders of major religions came
together Sunday in a united stance against Israeli
attacks on Lebanon, with thousands bringing
traffic to a standstill on main thoroughfares in
Jakarta.

The rally and most of the ones held concurrently
in Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Makassar and Medan were
organized by the Muslim-based Prosperous Justice
Party (PKS).

In Jakarta, an estimated tens of thousands of
protesters — much smaller than the "One Million
Followers" theme of organizers — marched from
Hotel Indonesia traffic circle to the US Embassy.
They also stopped in front of the UN
representative office on Jl. Thamrin, where
protest leaders led shouts of criticism at the
international body for failing to bring an end to
the Israeli bombardment.

Protesters began to mass at the traffic circle at
noon, with more people joining the protest as it
got underway, their swelling number swarming the
street and blocking traffic. Service on the Blok
M-Kota route of the TransJakarta Busway was
temporarily rerouted.

Supporters of hard-line groups and PKS have
predominated in previous rallies against Tel Aviv
but Sunday’s rally also included Catholics,
Christians and Buddhists.

They yelled anti-Israeli and American slogans as
they carried banners appealing for peace, with
messages including “Give Peace a Chance” and "Save
Children, Say No to War".

People’s Consultative Assembly Speaker and PKS
leader Hidayat Nur Wahid told the crowd in front
of the UN building that Israel must halt its
aggression. He also demanded that leaders of the
Jewish nation should be tried for war crimes in
the International Court of Justice.

Hidayat, along with Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI)
chief Din Syamsuddin and popular cleric Abdullah
Gymnastiar, signed a petition demanding Washington
stop its support for Israel and practicing a
double standard in the Middle East conflict.

MUI deputy chairman Amidhan also said the world
must make Israel take responsibility for its
actions against civilians in Lebanon and
Palestine. "Israel should be taken before the
International Court of Justice because it has
killed many children and women," he said.

US Ambassador B. Lynn Pascoe refused to meet with
representatives of the protesters, although Din
said the US Embassy had been informed there would
be a protest. "We will note this as an
uncooperative attitude," he said.


Indonesia anti-Israel rallies draw wide spectrum

Reuters - August 6, 2006

Telly Nathalia, Jakarta — Protesters from a wide
ideological and religious spectrum demonstrated in
cities across Indonesia on Sunday against Israeli
actions in Lebanon, but a key rally in Jakarta
drew far fewer participants than forecast.

The leader of Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim
group, Muhammadiyah, had spoken earlier of a
million person march, but less than 2,000 appeared
at the capital’s main traffic circle to hear
speeches condemning Israel and the United States.
About 5,000 attended when the protest shifted to
the US embassy.

However, the demonstration attracted not just
Muslims but senior Protestant, Catholic and
Buddhist officials and various non-governmental
and labor organization representatives.

Many participants wore headbands calling Israeli
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Bush
terrorists. Banners read “Go to hell Zionists,”
“Give a chance to Peace” and "Aggression is human
crime.“”My friends and I today together are called to
say: Indonesia, Indonesia, get together. Israel,
Israel, destroy it. America, America, terrorists,"
said Leo Sunkarisma, a Buddhist representative.

The chairman of the Church Alliance in Indonesia,
Andreas Yawangoe, said: "We are here because we
disagree with the crime which is committed by
Israel."

Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsuddin said the US
ambassador had been asked to meet protest
representatives but declined. "We take this as an
attitude that doesn’t respect international
cooperation. We don’t hate the American people and
nation but we reject the US policy," Syamsuddin
told the crowd.

About 600 police, and a water cannon, were on
guard at the US embassy, which is fortified with
concrete roadblocks and concertina wire.

The embassy warned last week of possible violence
from protests but the demonstration was peaceful
with some family groups picnicking under trees
during the speeches.

In Yogyakarta in Indonesia’s Java island
heartland, about 1,500 members of the Islamic-
oriented Prosperous Justice Party also
demonstrated on Sunday, according to local media.
They called on Indonesian Muslims to assist
Lebanon and the Palestinian territories against
Israeli attacks and for a boycott of US goods.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim
nation, with some 85 percent of its 220 million
people following the faith.

Protests were also reported in Surabaya,
Indonesia’s second most populous city after
Jakarta, and Medan, its third largest.

Israel has been involved in military action in
Lebanon since early July, when the militant
Hizbollah group captured two Israeli soldiers and
killed eight in a cross-border raid.

Hizbollah has put up fierce resistance and fired
2,600 rockets into Israel. Hizbollah has killed 87
Israelis. Lebanon says more than 900 people,
mostly civilians, have been killed by Israeli
attacks. Indonesia has no diplomatic relations
with Israel and historically has been a staunch
supporter of the Palestinians.


Indonesian Muslims protest Israel offensive

Agence France Presse - August 6, 2006

Jakarta — Thousands of Indonesians have held
street rallies to condemn Israel’s offensive in
the Middle East as the capital Jakarta braced for
a major protest.

The demonstration in the capital of the world’s
most populous Muslim nation, dubbed the "action of
millions of believers," was to march through the
city centre and end up at the US embassy here.

Jakarta police said they were expecting thousands
to take part in the rallies, which come a day
after the Asian Muslim Youth Movement said it was
prepared to send hardliners to attack Jewish
interests in countries that back Israel.

In Indonesia’s second-largest city Surabaya, some
1,500 Muslims held a march Sunday to condem
Israeli attacks in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip,
ElShinta radio reported. The demonstrators also
raised funds for aid with a "one dollar, one
person" campaign that has already raised some 150
million rupiah (16,500 dollars), the report said.

In the city of Yogyakarta, some 3,000 people from
various Islamic organisations gathered near the
city’s main post office to hold an open protest
against Israel and the United States, it said. A
similar protest involving hundreds of people took
place in the city of Medan, it said.


Solidarity actions against Israel occupation

PRD News - August 3, 2006

Zely Ariane, Jakarta — On Monday, 31st July 2006,
Indonesian Solidarity to Palestine and Lebanon
held a solidarity action to protest Israel and
America’s war against Palestine and Lebanon. There
were at least 200 protesters rallied toward US
Embassy in Jl. Merdeka Jakarta. This solidarity
initiated by several mass organizations such
Indonesian Student League for Democracy (LMND);
Indonesian National Student Movement (GMNI),
Islamic Student Association (HMI), some Human
Rights NGO’s and People’s Democratic Party (PRD).

This was the first Indonesian democratic
solidarity initiative after Israel launched its
war against Palestinian and Lebanese. The earlier
solidarity action was held by the Justice and
Prosperous Party (PKS) and several Islamic
organizations. So far, the war against Palestine
and Lebanon was narrowed by the issue of the
Muslim war against Zionist (Zionism) only. That is
why the protest action held today took a further
campaign related the US imperialism role in the
ongoing conflict in Palestine and Middle East.

"The war on Palestine and Middle East were not
only Muslims issues. The ongoing conflicts in
Middle East sourced on the US oil imperialism and
war against terror. These have been problems of
the people around the world from any religions and
nations. The problem of violence against humanity
caused by US imperialism had united the oppressed
people’s interest from Africa, Latin America and
Asia," Dita Sari, a chairperson of PRD stressed
this point in her oration.

She also stated that the government of SBY-Kalla
statement to condemn the Israel’s assault had
never been enough, but also assertively breaks the
diplomatic relation between Indonesia and US-the
giant supporter of Israel’s military fund with $10
billion a year.

A moment after we finished the protest, a
statement is made by Desra Percaya, a spokesperson
of Indonesian Foreign Affairs Departement, to push
the UN Security Council to initiate ceasefire.

 HUMAN RIGHTS/LAW

Komnas seeks to summon 12 soldiers

Jakarta Post - August 8, 2006

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta — The National
Commission on Human Rights (Komnas-HAM) has asked
the Central Jakarta District Court to use its
authority to grill 12 soldiers, including two
generals, over their alleged involvement in the
disappearance of 14 pro-democracy activists
between 1997 and 1998.

The rights body has twice summoned the 12
servicemen and two civilians, but they have
refused to appear. "We have formally asked the
court to summon the servicemen by force," Komnas-
HAM chairman Abdul Hakim Garuda Nusantara said
here on Monday.

Among the 12 military officers are former chief of
Indonesian Military General Affairs Lt. Gen. (ret)
Djamari Chaniago, former Army spokesman Brig. Gen.
(ret) Afiffudin Thaib and Col. Abdul Salam of the
Army Special Forces (Kopassus).

The other nine are from the Kopassus group based
in Cijantung, East Jakarta. They were part of the
so-called Mawar (Rose) Team, whose involvement in
the abductions has already been established.

Eleven of the team’s members have been convicted
and dismissed from military service.

Previously, the rights body summoned former TNI
commander Gen. Wiranto, former Kopassus chief Lt.
Gen. (ret) Prabowo Subianto and former chief of
the Jakarta Military Command Lt. Gen. Safrie
Syamsudin but they all refused to appear, arguing
that the case was closed when the 11 soldiers were
sentenced.

Ruswiati Suryasaputra, who leads the rights body’s
team of investigators, said the case was still far
from over because 14 of the 20 abducted activists
were still missing. She said Komnas-HAM needed to
summon the soldiers not to prosecute them, but to
gain information.

"We have the authority to investigate the cases to
clarify whether the 14 are still alive or not. If
they are still alive, their relatives need to know
their whereabouts, or if they are dead they want
to know where they were buried,“she said.”If they refuse to show up before the inquiry
team, the court could use force to bring them to
the dock," she added.

Safroedin Bahar, Komnas-HAM’s commissioner for
protection of communal rights, said it was
unfortunate that the servicemen were defying the
summons. He added that all people, including
military personnel, were equal before the law. The
military, he said, should set a good example by
complying.


Consumers still left wanting despite protection
law

Jakarta Post - August 5, 2006

Hera Diani, Jakarta — The passing of the consumer
protection law seven years ago was lauded as a
landmark step toward allowing public recourse
against poor and negligent service.

But it would be hard to say today that the public
is much better off. Confusion and ignorance on all
sides continue to plague its haphazard
implementation, and legal experts point out it is
riddled with flaws.

In one case, where children became ill after
eating donated cookies that were past their sell-
by-date, the police turned to the Criminal Code in
their investigation.

In another, a consumer who felt cheated after
purchasing a cellular phone card sued for Rp 500
million compensation, despite a loss of only Rp
9,000 (a little less than US$1).

And doctors and lawyers have refused to be tried
under the law, saying their practices are not
business oriented.

Consumer activist Agus Pambagio said indifferent
businesspeople, permissive consumers unaware of
their rights and law enforcers similarly ignorant
about consumer protection regulations all
contributed to its unsatisfactory implementation.

"In the case of the expired cookies, for instance,
the police should have used the consumer
protection law," he said in a discussion Friday.

Johannes Gunawan, a law professor from Bandung’s
Parahyangan Catholic University and a member of
National Consumer Protection Agency, said in the
discussion that branches of the agency should be
available in every city and regency. "There are
only eight active branches all over the country.
Even these have poor facilities and human
resources."

Johannes said the real problem was the rushed
drafting of the law, which he believed was in need
of immediate amendment, particularly to divide the
areas of consumer goods and consumer services. He
also faulted courts in consumer cases for opting
for criminal sanctions, instead of considering
penal or administrative measures.

"Criminal sanctions should be the last resort.
However, the move is understandable because the
penal sanctions stipulated in the law are too
light and unattractive to consumer. And the
administrative sanctions have no clear
regulations."

The definition of businesses, he added, must be
revised because economic activities could
encompass both profit-oriented professions and
livelihoods. "Doctors and lawyers who have refused
to be included in this law fall into the latter
category. They do indeed provide services to
patients."

Both men urged the public to study up on the law’s
tenets and use it to their benefit while awaiting
its amendment. They noted that Article 18 bans
standardized contracts, but that these were the
norm for parking agencies and insurance companies.

 LABOUR ISSUES

Jakarta bus drivers strike over back pay

Jakarta Post - August 1, 2006

Jakarta — Hundreds of bus drivers from state-
owned transportation company PPD went on strike
Monday over nine months of unpaid salaries.

The drivers drove their buses to the Presidential
Palace in Central Jakarta to air their grievances.
With hundreds of buses clogging the TransJakarta
busway lane along Jl. Merdeka Barat, busway
passengers were forced to queue for about an hour.
The strike also left hundreds of PPD passengers
stranded, forcing them to take more-expensive
air-conditioned PATAS buses.

Striking drivers demanded a meeting with President
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, but were blocked by
lines of police officers. Some pushing and shoving
ensued, but there were no serious clashes.

The drivers demanded their back salaries be paid
before Independence Day on Aug. 17. They also
demanded changes to the management of PPD. They
threatened to seize the company’s assets if their
demands were not met. Robinson Hasibuan, the
secretary of the Indonesian Transportation
Federation of the Prosperous Labor Union, refused
to meet with presidential spokesman Andi
Mallarangeng.

"Why do we want to meet Andi? He’s just a
spokesperson. If the President has not spoken
(about this matter) what would Andi have to say to
me?" Robinson said as quoted by detik.com
newsportal.

Some 2,000 PPD bus drivers and co-drivers have
reportedly not been paid in nine months because of
the company’s financial problems. The total unpaid
salaries amount to Rp 43.2 billion (US$4.7
million).

"Almost every crew member at the bus company is
unable to provide for their families," bus driver
Slamet said as quoted by the newsportal.

PPD finance director Hendarko told The Jakarta
Post the company was suffering monthly losses of
about Rp 3.9 billion. "Salaries for the bus
drivers total Rp 4.8 billion per month," he said.

He said in 2002 the government stopped subsidizing
the company, which operates about 300 busses. The
government halted the subsidies to encourage the
company to seek outside financing.

Hendarko said the company planned to downsize its
workforce from 4,300 to 3,700 this year to save on
operating costs. "We also plan to sell four PPD
depots to the city administration. We will use the
money from the sales for severance pay for
dismissed workers," he said.

Jakarta Deputy Governor Fauzi Bowo earlier
confirmed the city planned to purchase the depots.
According to the Jakarta Transportation Agency,
the deal will cost the city about Rp 400 billion.


Government to pay bus drivers’ salaries by mid
August

Jakarta Post - August 2, 2006

Jakarta — After two days of bad traffic jams in
several areas and hundreds of stranded passengers,
bus drivers succeeded Tuesday in winning eight
months’ worth of back salary from the government.

The drivers, from state-owned Perusahaan
Pengangkutan Djakarta (PPD), also agreed to resume
operations Wednesday. After receiving
representatives of the protesters, State Minister
for State Enterprises Sugiharto and Transportation
Minister Hatta Rajasa said the drivers would be
paid by August 16 at the latest.

"The payments will be made with funds drawn from
other state companies," Sugiharto said, although
he did not say which companies in particular would
be providing the money.

The government has said it also plans to revamp
PPD’s management using a “holistic approach” and
will make further decisions on the company’s
future in September.

Meanwhile, the secretary of the Indonesian
Transportation Federation of the Prosperous Labor
Union, Robinson Hasibuan, said bus drivers would
accept the decision of the government, whether it
decided to dissolve or privatize PPD. "As long as
the government pays our salaries first," he added.

The drivers’ demonstrations Monday and Tuesday
caused severe traffic jams along Jl. Sudirman and
Jl. M.H. Thamrin, as about 80 buses drove in a
convoy to the Presidential Palace. Corridor I of
the TransJakarta Busway, the Blok M-Kota route,
was closed due to the protest.

Some 2,000 PPD bus drivers and co-drivers had
reportedly not been paid in eight months because
of the company’s financial problems.

PPD finance director Hendarko has previously told
The Jakarta Post that the company suffers monthly
losses of about Rp 3.9 billion, while it needs Rp
4.8 billion a month to pay its drivers. The
company plans to fire 600 of its 4,300 employees
this year to save on operating costs. PPD owns 14
depots and 300 buses.

Separately, Jakarta governor Sutiyoso said the
Jakarta administration was willing to take over
PPD as a city-owned company as long as the
“restructuring” of the company’s management had
already been settled.

The city also plans to buy four PPD depots, worth
about Rp 420 billion, to be used as TransJakarta
busses depots. "We have allocated Rp 41 billion in
the city’s additional spending budget, currently
being deliberated by the city council, to buy one
depot this year. We will allocate more funds in
next year’s budget to buy three more depots," he
said.


Reality bites for spouses, children of PPD
employees

Jakarta Post - August 2, 2006

Jakarta — Marlise Hutagalung, an employee of
state-owned transportation company PPD, cried as
she asked to meet the transportation minister and
the state minister for state enterprises.

“I’m hungry,” she said Tuesday, "My salary has not
been paid for nine months... my children don’t go
to school anymore." She represented the anger of
thousands of PPD staff and their families, who
have been living in Jakarta with no money.

The bus drivers staged a strike Monday and
Tuesday, many accompanied by wives, husbands and
children. The protests caused severe traffic jams
in Jakarta’s main streets and halted the operation
of the Blok M-Kota route of the TransJakarta
busway system, as the protesters used the lane for
their bus convoy.

Their cries were answered by the State Minister
for State Enterprises Sugiharto and Transportation
Minister Hatta Rajasa, who promised to pay eight
months’ back pay by August 16.

However, for many the damage has already been
done. The company’s Rp 3.9 billion in losses per
month mean some 2,000 PPD drivers are reported to
have not been paid for nine months.

A mother lost her child to a preventable illness.
Children dropped out of school. Households broke
up. Families have become entangled in debt. And
they are just a few of the problems the employees
have had to deal with.

A wife of a PPD bus driver and mother of two
children, Nur, who followed the protest, said
Tuesday she did not mind the heat as long as she
could send a message to the higher authorities
about her family’s misery.

She said that her child had bronchitis and needed
continuous medical treatment. "We have stopped her
treatment because we don’t have any money," she
said.

Medical treatment has been a serious problem for
the families of PPD bus drivers, as the company
has been late in paying the state-owned insurance
company Jamsostek, causing hospitals to refuse PPD
bus drivers’ insurance cards.

Ermiyati, wife of bus driver Parisman, said her
child had died because they had not been able to
afford the hospital.

Children’s education has also been a problem. Nur
said that her first child could not enter
elementary school, because she did not have the
money to buy the entrance application form. "I
didn’t have Rp 100,000 to get the form," she said.

Ina, 42, a mother of five, said that her household
could not bear the financial constraints,
resulting her child dropping out of junior high
school. "My youngest child, who is eight, has not
entered elementary school yet, because we just
don’t have the money," she said.

PPD bus driver Ikyani, who brought his fourth
grader son, said he had not been able to pay his
three children’s school fees for seven months. He
said that he already borrowed Rp 5 million to make
ends meet.

Nur and Ina said that the general good stores in
their neighborhoods had stopped trusting them. "At
first stores allowed us to owe them money for
goods. Now they do not trust us to pay our debts,"
Ina said.

Mudasinah, 42, said that her family owed millions
of rupiah. "I could not even go home to Bantul
(Central Java) to visit my parents. Their house
collapsed in the May earthquake."

Ina said many marriages had been ruined as
household economies had fallen apart. "Some wives
left their husbands after they said they could not
feed the family," she said.

 POLITICS/POLITICAL PARTIES

Candidates say no to Sharia-based bylaws

Jakarta Post - August 1, 2006

Jakarta — Economist Faisal Basri and former
environment minister Sarwono Kusumaatmaja have
both said they will firmly oppose any sharia-based
ordinances in the capital city should they be
elected governor in the 2007 election.

Faisal and Sarwono spoke in a debate held Monday
by campaign management group Sukses Kandidat
Consultant, which was founded by former state
minister for regional autonomy Ryaas Rashid.

Faisal and Sarwono, who made themselves available
to the Jakarta chapter of the Indonesian
Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), were the
only candidates to attend the debate.

Incumbent deputy governor Fauzi Bowo, National
Police deputy chief Adang Daradjatun and former
transportation minister Agum Gumelar, who are all
also running for election, did not respond to the
invitation. Organizers would only say that the
three were busy and had been unable to confirm
their attendance.

During the three-hour debate, Faisal said that if
he were to become Jakarta’s next governor, he
would not issue any sharia-based ordinances.

"It’s final. (Bylaws) with Islamic sharia are not
allowed," said Faisal, who was once general
secretary of the National Mandate Party. "We are
committed to being a secular country, and that
means separating state affairs from religion," he
said. He added that the state was committed to
guaranteeing the right to believe in any religion.

Meanwhile, Sarwono said that according to the
Constitution and the 2004 Law on Regional
Autonomy, local authorities were not allowed to
regulate the religious affairs of the public.

Since the passage of the regional autonomy law in
2000, 22 municipalities and regencies in Indonesia
have implemented bylaws showing the influence of
sharia, including stipulations on Koranic literacy
among schoolchildren, obliging women to wear
headscarves in public and heavy punishments for
adultery, drinking and gambling.

Such laws have raised concerns about efforts to
turn Indonesia into a theocratic state. The PDI-P
has repeatedly said it opposes the issuance of
sharia-based bylaws in various areas in Indonesia.

Faisal also said his mission was to "bring Jakarta
to the gate of happiness." He also said that he
would make Jakarta an inspiration for development
in other areas in Indonesia and would fight
corruption.

"Even though I’m a civilian candidate and do not
have any military background, I can be very firm,"
he said. He said that he could outdo governor
Sutiyoso when it came to fighting corruption. "I
think Sutiyoso is not firm enough in fighting
corruption," he said.

Meanwhile, Sarwono said that he would apply
Jakarta’s autonomy as much as possible. "Jakarta
can no longer be a satellite for the central
government," he said.

Poor performances from public servants also
concerned him, Sarwono said. Jakarta’s first-ever
direct gubernatorial elections will be held July
next year.

For the elections the Golkar party has planned to
join forces in a coalition with the National
Mandate Party, the United Development Party, the
National Awakening Party and the Prosperous Peace
Party. The PDI-P also raised possible plans for a
coalition with other parties.


Is selling a political party like selling a ship?

Kompas - August 8, 2006

Windoro Adi — It was just like the good old days
when on the afternoon of Friday July 28, RMH Heroe
Syswanto NS Soerio Soebagio, who is affectionately
called Sys NS, appeared once again in an event at
a hotel in Jakarta. Smelling seat, looking
fetching and escorted by a young woman, he still
prefers to appear in the style of a celebrity even
though it was a political affair.

During the event, he introduced an embryonic
political party that he has pioneered along with
186 others, called the Unitary State of the
Republic of Indonesia Party (P-NKRI)(1). A number
of activists were present as well as politicians
from the Democrat Party, the Golkar Party and the
Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

After giving a number of interviews, he asked for
comments and criticisms and led a discussion about
the expectations of experts, political observers
and the public with regard to the P-NKRI and Sys
NS himself.

Political observer Sukardi Rinakit who was present
as one of the speakers advised Sys and his party
to use local symbols and language if it wants to
quickly become known and accepted by the public.
According to Rinakit, political consumers are
divided in their tastes, as is the case with
consumers in a free market. It is impossible for a
political party to hope to be able to win votes
from every single consumer.

Another speaker, the deputy executive director of
the Indonesian Survey Circle, Mohammad Qodari,
said that the P-NKRI had a clear category of
political consumers, youth. "If it is to base
itself on consumers’ needs, the P-NKRI must
concentrate its attention on issues of education
and recreation, because this is what the young
people who will become the P-NKRI’s choice of
political consumers want", said Qodari. Sys
agreed.

The United People’s Party (PPR) pioneered by
Muspani, a grassroots figure from Bengkulu, and
the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas)
that is in the process of being formed by youth
activists such as Dita Indah Sari, are looking to
a different category of consumers. The PPR has
chosen to prioritise the constituency in rural
areas and the interior, particularly farmers,
while Papernas is targeting workers, farmers and
students.

Although the three are categorised as nationalist
political parties, the PPR and Papernas are
choosing to target a constituency from the middle
to lower socio-economic group, while P-NKRI has
chosen to aim at a constituency from the urban
middle-class.

’Dugem’ and mud

Sys explained that the P-NKRI is indeed targeting
young voters who currently total as much as 20
percent of the total number of voters nationally.
The problem is that youth voters have an
apolitical attitude. Because of this therefore, in
order to attract their support, a package is
needed that is in accordance with their world.

Sys then gave an interpretation of the P-NKRI as
being a young people’s “funky” party and began
serving up political chit-chat that appeared
originate from any old source, full of uniquely
youthful jokes that were packaged for consumption
by cosmopolitan youth who are undoubtedly part of
’dugem’(2).

The PPR is different again. A political party that
has build a network among farmer groups and local
non-government organisations, including legal aid
foundations, it prefers to “wallow in the mud”
with farmers and villagers to struggle over local
issues including conducting advocacy and
mobilising protests. A cultural approach through
developing traditional art events as well as
self-defence is also being used.

"We established a political party to erase the
stigma that were are only provocateurs, rioters,
[that we] don’t care about the country, are
selling our nation’s self-respect and have no
[sense of] nationalism. Whereas we are only
conducting political education for farmers and
local people. We have never taught or practiced
violence. [But we] have often been the victims of
violence", said Muspani with a grin.

It is not surprising therefore if the party is not
too concerned with gaining seats in the
legislative elections, the election of regional
heads or winning the presidential elections. "We
have referred all of this to our friends in the
regions. If they want the PPR to participate in
the 2009 legislative elections. Yeah fine. But
don’t dream about victory. Just try it first",
said a member of the Bengkulu Regional House of
Representatives who was contacted on Tuesday
August 1.

This is different from the spirit of Papernas
activists who are fired up with the desire to win
quick victories in the elections as though they
are not intimidated by the failures they
experienced in the last elections when the
founders of the Peoples Democratic Party
(PRD/1999) and the Party of United Popular
Opposition (Popor/2003) returned to the political
stage targeting the same constituency.

According to the general chairperson of the
Papernas Preparatory Committee, Dominggus
Oktavianus Tobu Kiik, their earlier failures were
not because of an error in the choice of their
target constituency, but rather because of the
various weaknesses of their parties. Papernas’
chances this time are far better. We have also
learnt from our mistakes", said Dominggus last
Thursday.

This time round, Papernas has obtained support
from and has built networks with farmer
organisations, workers and students, activists as
well as the urban poor. A number of organisations
have declared that they will support Papernas
including the National Student League for
Democracy (LMND), the PRD, the Indonesian National
Front for Labour Struggle (FNPBI), the National
Farmers Union (STN), the Indonesian Automotive
Trade Union (SPOI), the Indonesian Transportation
Trade Union for Struggle (SBTPI) as well as the
Papernas Trade Union Federation (GSPP).

Dominggus expressed optimism that Papernas’
position in the 2009 general elections will be
better that of the PRD or Popor. "The public needs
a new hope from a new party as was reflected in
the victories of the Democratic Party and the
Justice and Prosperity Party"(3), he said.

The party has taken up the slogan "Free from
foreign domination" under their three banners of
national unity: "Abolish the foreign debt, take
over the mining industries and resurrect the
national industry".

One of Papernas’ founders, Iwan, conceded that
Papernas had drawn part of its “fire” of struggle
from Latin America. And this cannot be separated
from the voice of the majority from Papernas’
trade union supporters and networks.

If you want to look more closely at what the
similarity are between the three parties, well
there is only one, they are all equally prepared
to give it a shot.

Surprising

University of Indonesia sociologist Imam Prasodjo
and Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI)
political observer Ikrar Nusa Bhakti expressed
their surprise at the emergence of these three new
political parties. They say that current
conditions have almost closed any opportunity for
new political parties to get any votes, moreover
to even pass the threshold. "Just taking 10
percent of the votes obtained by the PDI-P or
Golkar would be remarkable", said Bhakti.

Prasodjo has made a similar observation saying
that in the future the situation for the existing
political parties will increasingly be one of
growth and decline, both among nationalist as well
as religious based political parties. "Within
nationalist circles, the ones that remain popular
are only the PDI-P and Golkar, while in religious
circles, the ones that are still considered
capable of articulating their [the people’s]
wishes are the PKB (National Awakening Party), PAN
(National Mandate Party) and the PKS (Justice and
Prosperity and Party). The Democrat (Party) and
PPP (United Development Party) have increasingly
declined because they are incapable of managing
the public’s emotions and carrying out their
function as a political party", said Prasodjo.

Nationalist parties have a basis among the
floating masses while the religious parties have a
bases among the mass organisations that support
them such as PAN and its Muhammadiyah (Indonesia’s
second largest Islamic mass organisation). The PKB
and its pocket of supporters in the pesantrens
(traditional Islamic boarding schools) along with
the PKS that relies on the educated middle class.

In order to win votes, these political parties are
still depending on the charisma of their leaders
although this has begun to be accompanied with
their capacity to build networks. "The only one
that is relatively stable and even experiencing
advances is the PKS“, said Bhakti.”Nevertheless,
even this political party is experiencing a slump
in its [vote getting] performance", he continued.

Bhakti agreed. "The PKS has started to become
inconsistent and started to appear as if it only
want’s to sell an image. Look at their political
position with regard to the fuel price increases",
he asserted.

Prasodjo is of the view that these new political
parties can expect to obtain a better vote if the
public becomes fed up with or sick of the old
political parities. "If things remain in a state
of status quo, at most they will only get a
scattering of votes from the big political parties
and this could mean that they fail to obtain seats
in parliament, or even to pass the threshold
outright", he said.

Prasodjo is not convinced that the new political
parties are capable of building the emotional or
functional strength, which he said aims to build
public trust in the relevant political party.
Emotional strength said Prasodjo, is built through
action or their charismatic leaders, while
functional strength is based on the performance of
the political parties cadre, particularly in
building networks.

"Take the Golkar Party for example. This political
party has actually not been too successful in
developing emotional strength, but the party is
still superior in building its functional
strengths", said Prasodjo.

Prasodjo is of the view that it is not yet certain
if efforts to build class-consciousness among the
poor will become a ’glue’ for the poor. "It was
different with Karl Marx. He astutely developed a
contrasting relationship between labour and
capital. But now, it is only limited to the term
Marhaenism(4). It’s too superficial", he said.

According to Prasodjo, the only thing that can be
done by the new political parties in order to be
successful is to build networks because they do
not have sufficient charismatic national figures.

Prasodjo estimates that it will still be 10 years
before these new parties will be able to reach the
target of being a “merchant ship” (another term
for political vehicle) for pairs of candidates
that participate in the election of regional
heads, providing voting services for the large
political parties or partners in a coalition of
political parties.

Bhakti disagreed. "Don’t forget, the victory of a
pair of candidates in the election of regional
heads or a presidential election is not determined
by the political vehicle or the ’ship’ they use,
but is based more on the success of the non-party
campaign team of the candidates in projecting
their image. What is sold is the leadership figure
who is assisted in projecting their image by their
campaign team", he said.

So continued the political researcher from LIPI,
the process is exactly like a producer offering
their trading goods. In presidential elections and
the election of regional heads, money is not in
fact the determining factor for political parties.
This is different with the legislative elections.
"Nevertheless, political parties need money to
maintain their ’ship’ so that it is suitable for
use", said Bhakti

Notes:

1. NKRI - Negara Kesatuan Republik Indonesia, the
Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia. A term
which is often used in the context of nationalism
and the desire to maintain the integrity of the
Indonesian nation.

2. Dugem - Dunia Gemerlap, glittering world. Going
to cafes at night and listening to live music.

3. The term Marhaenism (Marhaenisme) was coined by
Sukarno, the founding president of Indonesia. It
was derived from the name of a poor farmer,
Marhaen, who Sukarno is reputed to have met in the
Priangan highlands near Bogor, West Java - a "wong
cilik“or”little person" who owned their own
means of production but did not become an evil
capitalist (i.e. petty bourgeois).

4. The Democrat Party (of President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono) and the Islamic based Justice and
Prosperity Party both made big gains in the 2006
legislative elections dispute having not
significant mass base of support. This was largely
due to being able to project an image of being
“clean” and the public’s dissatisfaction with
large parties such as the Indonesian Democratic
Party of Struggle that traditionally appealed to
the interests of ordinary people.

[Translated by James Balowski.]


Mass rally launches new electoral party

Green Left Weekly - August 2, 2006

Max Lane, Jakarta — On July 23, 1500 people
attended a rally at the National Library of
Indonesia to publicly launch a new political party
— the Preparatory Committee of the National
Liberation Party of Unity (KP-Papernas) — for the
2009 Indonesian elections. Most of those attending
were from poor districts in and around Jakarta.
The majority were women.

The KP-Papernas had already held a conference,
elected the preparatory committee, set out some
basic policies, and elected as its chairperson
Domingus Kiuk, the chairperson of the Indonesian
National Front for Workers Struggle (FNPBI), the
country’s radical left-wing trade union
organisation. It was announced at the rally that
Papernas would hold a founding congress in
November.

The main initiator of the new party project is the
People’s Democratic Party (PRD), a radical left
activist party whose current chairperson is well-
known labour rights activist Dita Sari.

The PRD was formed in the early 1990s and played a
leading role in the struggle to overthrow the
Suharto dictatorship. Since the fall of Suharto in
1998, the well-financed parliamentary parties, led
by various factions of the political and business
elite and embedded in traditional patron-client
networks, have dominated the political scene.

The PRD stood in the first elections after the
fall of Suharto, held in 1999, but was
overshadowed in media coverage by the elite
parties. In the 2004 elections the PRD helped form
Popor (Party of Popular Opposition) — an alliance
of the PRD and other pro-democracy and left
activist groups. Formed just a few months before
the elections, Popor was unable to meet the
stringent requirements to be registered to have
its candidates on the ballot.

Under current Indonesian law, in order for a party
to gain electoral registration, it must show it
has branches in more than 50% of the country’s 33
provinces, and in each of the provinces where it
has members it must show it has branches in more
than 50% of the districts, and in each district
more than 30% of the sub-districts.

The party must prove to the electoral commission
that each these branches has a functioning office.
The names of the members of the local branch
executive, together with copies of their ID cards,
must be submitted to the electoral commission.

These requirements are clearly formulated to make
it difficult for new parties, especially a party
whose social base is among the poor and that
therefore does not have the money to “buy”
branches.

The PRD’s new electoral party initiative, by
reaching out to people beyond its own ranks and
supporters, aims at overcoming the restrictive
electoral laws. It also aims to try to start the
process of overcoming the extreme fragmentation
that has been a fundamental characteristic of
social protest and the progressive movement since
the fall of Suharto.

Of the nine organizations that are now affiliated
to KP-Papernas, three are not formally associated
with the PRD. These are the Workers Struggle
Solidarity Group (GSPB), the Indonesian Buddhist
Students Association (Hikmahbudhi) and the
Indonesian Struggle Transportation Union (SBTP).

The other six are the PRD itself and PRD-led
social movement organisations — the FNPBI, the
People’s Cultural Work Network (Jaker), the
National Student League for Democracy (LMND), the
National Farmers Union (STN) and the Urban Poor
Union (SRMK). Most of the 1500 people at the July
23 rally were from the SRMK.

"We had an intensive discussion within the PRD
whether to help launch Papernas now, with just a
few outside forces or whether to try to bring in
more forces first", PRD secretary-general Agus
Jabu told Green Left Weekly. "But the
fragmentation of the movement, with deep localism
and also sectoralism, may have meant that we just
negotiated and negotiated for weeks with no real
commitment. We decided it was best to start now
and let Papernas be the vehicle for more political
education work around the need for unity among the
progressive forces."

In his speech at the Papernas launch, Domingus
Kiuk stressed the need for unity among the working
poor to build a movement to defeat imperialist
domination of Indonesian. He explained KP-
Papernas’s stance of campaigning for what is being
called the “Tri Panji” (Three Banners) of struggle
— repudiation of the foreign debt;
nationalisation of the oil, gas and electricity
industries; and implementation of a national-
planned industrialisation program.

High-profile and well-respected journalist and
political commentator Wimar Witoelar addressed the
rally, expressing his support for the Papernas
project. Also expressing support were
representatives of the Consortium for Agrarian
Reform (KPA), a network of small farmers, farm
workers and indigenous community organisations
across Indonesia, and representatives of
associations campaigning for compensation to
victims of the Suharto regime.

Others who addressed the rally were Mohammed
Soubari, a prominent intellectual and critic from
the NGO sector; Sukardi Rinakit, secretary-general
of the Indonesian Nationalist Association;
Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, one of Indonesia’s most
prominent women’s activist who is now a member of
the National Awakening Party (PKB), which is
associated with former president Abdurrahman
Wahid.

Dita Sari spoke on behalf of the PRD, affirming
its support for the Tri Pani and for the Papernas
project. "It is the mothers here today, concerned
about the future of their families, that again and
again show the militancy that we need to fight for
the Tri Panji“, she said.”And it is the youth
that develop the new ideas that we need."

 GOVERNMENT/CIVIL SERVICE

Lawmakers still trotting the globe

Jakarta Post - August 1, 2006

M. Taufiqurrahman, Jakarta — After one batch of
lawmakers was spotted on a shopping spree in the
Middle East, a second group of legislators is set
to leave for Latin America later this week.

Twenty-six members of the House of Representatives
Legislation Body (Baleg) are slated to leave the
country on Aug. 6 for Argentina and Brazil for
what they are calling a comparative study of
lawmaking processes.

The Deputy Chairwoman of Baleg, Nursjahbani
Katjasungkana, said the group had an obligation to
broaden its knowledge of lawmaking. "The House
standing order mandates Baleg to take overseas
trips to study the legislative processes of other
countries," she told The Jakarta Post.

Nursjahbani said Baleg members would meet with
members of parliament, law and justice ministers,
governors, mayors and academics from local
universities in the two countries to learn how
legislation has affected economic development
there.

She said Baleg members initially hoped to visit
Russia, Sweden or Switzerland but later found out
that the parliaments in those countries were in
recess.

"I later came up with the idea of visiting Latin
American countries because they have been
successful in staving off Western influence. Maybe
we can copy something from them," said
Nursjahbani, referring to recent nationalization
drives in Bolivia, Venezuela and Argentina, among
other countries. Each Baleg member will receive
US$270 per day to cover living expenses.

The trip to Latin American countries was planned
when the public outcry over a sojourn by another
group of lawmakers had barely subsided. Eleven
members of House Commission I on foreign affairs
are now in Iran, Abu Dhabi and Dubai for what is
considered an official visit.

Media Indonesia daily reported that the lawmakers,
who are traveling with their spouses, did not all
agree on the nature of the trip. Some said the
journey was part of their minor haj pilgrimage to
Mecca.

Legislator Bomer Pasaribu of the Golkar Party, who
will soon depart on the trip to Argentina and
Brazil, defended his colleagues’ penchant for
overseas travel. He said such trips broadened
lawmakers’ horizons.

"That is something that you won’t get from the
Internet. Besides, when I was still a manpower
minister I knew officials from the lower level at
my office often made trips abroad, it’s nothing
unusual," he told the Post.

House watchdogs, however, begged to differ.
Sebastian Salang, the secretary-general of the
Forum of Citizens Concerned about the Indonesian
Legislature, said lawmakers were breaking their
promise not to pursue personal gain.

"After public outcry over a trip to Egypt earlier
this year, the House leadership said it would ban
lawmakers from traveling abroad, but the present
trip proves otherwise," Sebastian told the Post.

In the aftermath of that trip, a lawmaker of the
National Mandate Party (PAN), Djoko Edy Sutjipto
Abdurrahman, was given the axe by his political
faction for defying a party mandate to shun
overseas travel. "It is obvious that even a
dismissal is not enough to dissuade House members
from traveling abroad," Sebastian said.


Lawmakers’ names kept secret

Jakarta Post - August 8, 2006

Jakarta — The House of Representatives speaker is
refusing to submit the names of lawmakers accused
of blackmailing government officials for disaster
relief funds to the body’s disciplinary committee.

Agung Laksono said he had received the names of
the lawmakers from the Coordinating Ministry for
the People’s Welfare.

However, Agung said he had no evidence the members
had breached the House’s code of ethics. "I will
wait for further developments (before submitting
the names)," he said.

Ministry secretary Sutejo Yuwono claimed last week
that several House members had threatened to block
a government budget proposal on disaster relief
unless their regions received a share of the
money.

The lawmakers had insisted on receiving the funds
although their constituents were not affected by
disasters, Sutejo said.


Lawmakers make power plays for relief funds

Jakarta Post - August 3, 2006

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta — The recent major
disasters have not only forced the government to
review this year’s budget, but have also tempted
legislators at the House of Representatives to try
to dip into a pot of additional relief aid.

The House has approved an extra Rp 1.7 trillion
(US$1.8 million) in disaster aid. Lawmakers
visiting their respective constituents in the
current recess period are fighting for their
shares.

Lalumara Satriwangsa, special staff at the office
of the Coordinating Minister for the People’s
Welfare, revealed Tuesday that a number of
lawmakers had asked for some of the funds.
Secretary to the minister Soetedjo Yuwono said
several members of the House’s budget committee
had threatened to reject the government’s proposed
additional funding unless their requests for a
share were met. "I have in my pocket the names of
seven lawmakers who resorted to threats to get
what they want," Soetedjo said.

Of the Rp 2.7 trillion in additional funding that
the government proposed, only Rp 1.7 trillion has
been approved by the budget committee. The figure
was high in anticipation of further disasters in
the remaining four months of the budget year. Two
deadly earthquakes and a tsunami recently
devastated areas on or near Java’s southern coast,
especially Yogyakarta and Pangandaran. A flash
flood claimed more than 500 lives in Sinjai, South
Sulawesi.

House Speaker Agung Laksono vowed to ask
Coordinating Minister for the People’s Welfare
Aburizal Bakrie to name lawmakers who were
attempting to seek personal gain from the funds,
saying such a practice was against the House’s
code of ethics.

"We want to know the names of the lawmakers who
resorted to threats. They will face the House’s
disciplinary committee if we have evidence they
are involved in power-brokering," he said.

He said lawmakers could not be punished if they
filed their proposals through the relevant
commissions, however, because politically they
were responsible for fighting for their
constituents’ interests.

Deputy chairman of the disciplinary committee
Gayus Lumbuun and chairman of the budgetary
committee Emir Moeis criticized the lawmakers,
saying the proposals should come from the regions,
while the function of lawmakers is to monitor the
budget and its implementation in the field.

"The government has to distribute the additional
funds to disaster-prone regions while the House
has to exercise their control function to ensure
the funds are used properly to handle natural
disasters and not spend it to build or
rehabilitate hospitals," said Emir.

Several lawmakers, according to Soetedjo, asked
for some of the additional relief money to
renovate state hospitals in North Tapanuli
regency, North Sumatra, and in flood-stricken
Sinjai regency, South Sulawesi. Soetedjo said the
two proposals were turned down.

Gayus called on Minister Aburizal to not only name
the lawmakers but also to provide material
evidence for the House’s ethics committee to
follow up the allegations. "The two government
officers should be available to give their
testimony," he said, adding that the legislators
could be dismissed if they were proven guilty of
abusing their power.

Last year, a similar situation made headlines when
several legislators mobilized political support
from their colleagues to approve the allocation of
autonomy funds to certain regions.

 WAR ON CORRUPTION

Finance Ministry asked to revoke licenses of
crooked auditors

Jakarta Post - August 8, 2006

Andi Haswidi, Jakarta — The Supreme Audit Agency
(BPK) has urged the Finance Ministry to revoke the
business licenses of a number of accounting and
appraisal firms due to malpractice and
misrepresentation.

"We have reported these accounting and appraisal
firms to the finance minister, and have suggested
that their business licenses be revoked, as well
as the individual professional licenses of their
partners," said BPK director Anwar Nasution in
Jakarta on Monday.

However, Anwar refused to name and shame the firms
involved, saying only that they had all been
reported to the ministry earlier this month.

Anwar said that many accounting firms involved in
auditing the books of state-owned enterprises, for
example, had been guilty of unprofessional
conduct, including giving inflated and misleading
figures in their reports.

"Their fees are reported to be unreasonably high.
We suspect that part of the fees actually
constitute bribes," he was quoted as saying by
Antara.

"The accounts have to depict the real condition of
the company being audited,“he said.”If the
accounts are not reliable, then they are of no
use,“he said.”One of the causes of the 1997 crisis was the
unreliability of the reports issued by accounting
firms and government auditors. Back then, the
substance of these reports was determined by how
large the bribe was,“he said.”We have to reform
the culture in the accounting industry," he added.

Anwar said that accounting scams also took place
in the developed world, such as those involving
major companies like the United States-based Enron
and the Italy’s Farmalat.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Accountants Association
(IAI) spokesman Franky Setiawan said that his
association had not been notified by the BPK of
the names of the individuals or companies that had
been reported to the finance ministry.

Franky said that the IAI was solely responsible
for membership issues. He said that under the
current regulations, an accountant had to be
registered as a member of the IAI before he could
practice. "If the finance minister decides to
revoke their licenses, than we will automatically
revoke their membership," he said.

In order to improve professionalism, the IAI would
have all of its members assessed by an independent
agency called the Quality Review Board. "The
function of the board is basically to assess
quality control within accounting firms. The
program will be launched around September or
October," Franky explained.

Franky said that during the initial stage, the
board would prioritize the assessment of high-
profile accounting firms that audited the accounts
of banks, publicly listed companies and other
businesses involving the public.

"We have more than 400 members. These assessments
could take three or four years to finish, but, of
course, we will prioritize the important ones and
the ones that have to potential to prejudice the
public," he said.


Court accused of resisting reform

Jakarta Post - August 3, 2006

Ary Hermawan, Jakarta — Anticorruption activists
are attacking the Supreme Court for what they call
its strong resistance to internal judicial reforms
being advocated by the independent Judicial
Commission.

"We could all see the resistance from the Supreme
Court when it decided to ignore recommendations
and ideas from the Judicial Commission," Indonesia
Corruption Watch coordinator Teten Masduki told a
seminar here marking the commission’s first
anniversary Wednesday.

Despite being invited, neither Supreme Court Chief
Justice Bagir Manan nor his representatives showed
up. "His absence is a blatant signal of defiance
against judicial reform. He has no shame," Teten
said.

The commission was established last year to select
and supervise judges. Conflict between the two
bodies began after the Supreme Court rejected the
Judicial Commission’s recommendation that the
government review dozens of judges. The tension
has been escalating as both sides prepare
revisions to the 2004 Law on the Judicial
Commission.

Judicial Commission chief Busyro Muqoddas said he
would file a request that the House of
Representatives review the law in order for the
commission to get greater or “proportional”
authority.

Meanwhile, 40 justices of the Supreme Court have
filed a request for the Constitutional Court to
review the law in a bid to reduce the Judicial
Commission’s power. The commission also asked
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to broaden its
powers by issuing a regulation in lieu of law.
However, the President declined.

State Secretary Yusril Ihza Mahendra said there
was no compelling reason for the President to
issue such a regulation. Yusril said the
government did not agree with the commission’s
claim that there was an urgent need for the
regulation in order to strengthen its efforts to
carry out judicial reforms.

In response, Busyro Muqoddas said the government’s
refusal was an indication of its lack of support
for judicial reform within the Supreme Court.

Teten said the Judicial Commission could not
accomplish much during its first year, while the
level of corruption in the judicial system was so
high that it could “no longer be supervised”.

"The only way to clean up our judiciary is by
replacing all the justices, as proposed by the
Judicial Commission,“he said.”This is the irony
of the Judicial Commission. It was built with a
great ambition (to clean up the judicial system),
but has failed to gain political support from the
government and the House that jointly created it,"
Teten added.

Busyro said the commission had investigated 360 of
860 cases against judges based on reports from the
public. "We have sent 18 recommendations to the
Supreme Court but none of them have been followed
up,“he said.”It’s a good thing. It means that we
have to be more patient," he said, jokingly.

Benny K. Harman, a member of House Commission III
on law, legislation, human rights and security,
said the Judicial Commission had been structured
as an auxiliary agency that could easily be
ignored. "Its authority to carry out supervision
is limited," he said.

 ENVIRONMENT

Experts say hot mudflow may be unstoppable

Jakarta Post - August 8, 2006

Tb. Arie Rukmantara, Jakarta — More than two
months after hot toxic mud began to gush out of a
gas well in Sidoarjo, East Java, experts warn that
no technology may be able to stop it.

They urged the government Monday to consider
evacuating and relocating people and businesses in
the affected area.

Veteran geologist Andang Bachtiar said the
government and oil and gas prospector Lapindo
Brantas Inc. had tried various tactics to stop the
mudflow, but to no avail.

After locating the source of the mud, workers dug
relief wells. When that effort failed, they tried
intercepting the stream, but with equally poor
results, Andang said.

"It (the mud flow) is even worsening. Over the
weekend it was gushing 10 meters into the air,"
told a discussion on mining and ecology organized
by the Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam).

"Rather than spending more money to stop the flow,
which has so far been useless, the government and
the company should prepare a ’game over’
scenario," said Andang, who is an oil and gas
consultant for the Environment Ministry. "Leave
the region sinking and compensate for the lost
land, houses and businesses."

Andang, who is also a former chairman of the
Indonesian Geologists Association, said Lapindo
could then find ways to make the best use of the
more than 30,000 tons of mud that spew out of the
earth every day.

"I suggest a move to prevent the company from
going bankrupt. What if the mud keeps flowing for
another year or two? Will the company still have
the money to keep compensating people’s losses?"
he said.

The sludge has inundated about 210 hectares of
land, forcing more than 6,000 people to flee and
shutting several nearby factories. Hundreds of
people have lost their jobs and dozens have been
admitted to hospitals with respiratory problems.

Environmentalists believe the hot mud contains
elements that are threatening to human health.
However, the government has yet to publish its
analysis of the mud’s chemical contents.

Lapindo Brantas Inc. is partly owned by the family
of Coordinating Minister for the People’s Welfare
Aburizal Bakrie.

Andang said similar mudflows could be found
throughout Java and Bali, most of them still
spewing liquid sediment. "Some of them are
centuries old and are still flowing," he said.
There is a mudflow in Kuwu, Central Java.
Geologists also say Mount Anyar in East Java is
made of mud that spewed out of the earth centuries
ago.

Meanwhile, Greenomics Indonesia executive director
Elfian Effendi said Lapindo could go bankrupt if
it is held responsible for the losses caused by
what he termed the company’s “flawed” operations.
"According to our economic calculations, Lapindo
should prepare Rp 33.27 trillion (US$3.66 billion)
in compensation funds," he told the audience at
the discussion.

He said that amount was based on various costs
ranging from restoring the affected land, managing
social impacts, removing the mud, cleansing the
area, repairing ecological damage, and
compensating businesses for their losses.


Good report, but not enough

Jakarta Post - August 8, 2006

Environmentalists have praised the government for
issuing a transparent report on the state of the
nation’s environment, but have criticized it for
failing to inform the public of the greater
threats the environment is facing — weak
regulations and the global economy.

Chalid Muhammad of the Indonesian Forum for the
Environment (WAHLI) said the 2005 State of the
Environment report had succeeded in informing the
public that the environment was in a critical
condition.

However, it failed to show that the government’s
erroneous perspective on development was a major
factor that caused such a situation, he added.

"The report failed to show that environmental
degradation, which is bringing about ecological
disasters, originated way back to 1967, when the
doctrine ’all for development’ began," he said.

He believed that legislation passed in 1967 on
foreign investment, mining and forestry was very
exploitative, allowing giant mining operations and
logging concessions to begin operating. That
exploitative spirit still colored subsequent
revisions to the legislation, he added.
"Overexploitation has resulted in ecological
disasters — that is unavoidable," he said.

Mubariq Ahmad of the World Wide Fund for Nature
Indonesia lamented that the government forgot to
put in the “global footprint” of ecological
threats in the report.

He cited that world’s growing economies, such as
China and India, would further degrade our natural
resources because they imported a lot of raw
materials from Indonesia.

"China’s timber industry is growing at a rate of
20 percent per year. Where do you think they get
the wood from?," he said, adding that China’s
hunger for timber would put most of our forests at
risk.

He also mentioned the threat of Europe’s thirst
for biofuel, which would promote more conversion
of forests to oil palm plantations.

"The fact is only one day after European
governments announced that they would subsidize
biofuel, many foreign businessmen went to
Kalimantan and Papua to offer investment in oil
palm plantations,“he said.”Do you think such
investment will not cause any harm to our
environment?" he asked.


Environmental damage a multifaceted problem

Jakarta Post - August 8, 2006

A grim illustration of the rapid degradation of
Indonesia’s environment is recorded in 2005 State
of Environment, a document published recently by
the Office of the State Minister of the
Environment.

The report looks at disasters that have ravaged
parts of the archipelago and the even greater
threats posed by sanitation shortcomings and
increased economic globalization.

The Jakarta Post’s Tubagus Arie Rukmantara
examines aspects of the report, which runs to more
than 290 pages, in the articles below: Many
Indonesians no doubt wish they will never again
have to hear the song News to Friends, by noted
folk singer Ebiet G. Ade — the tune that is all
over the radio and TV every time a disaster hits a
part of the country.

However, according to Professor Suparkah of the
Indonesian Institute of Sciences, the song is
likely to be played for some time yet. Suparkah
says disasters here are unavoidable because the
country is located in the Pacific’s "Ring of
Fire", where a string of volcanoes and fault lines
put the whole archipelago under constant threat.

But it is not only natural disasters that
Indonesians have to fear. The Office of the State
Minister for the Environment has come to the
conclusion that the many catastrophes hitting the
country are being worsened by the rapid
destruction of the environment.

"Environmental degradation is getting worse every
day; that is why we have compiled a ’state of the
environment’ report to allow us to analyze the
causes of the series of disasters that we have
recently faced," State Minister of the Environment
Rachmat Witoelar said at the report’s launch.

The recently published 2005 State of Environment
Report highlights the rapid degradation of the
nation’s forests, seas, air and fresh water
resources and notes that these, combined with a
general lack of spatial planning, greatly affect
public health.

The 295-page report notes that the country’s more
than 120 million hectares of forest, the world’s
third-largest tropical rain forest, are rapidly
vanishing, with a deforestation rate rising from
more than 2 million hectares in previous years to
3.5 million ha last year.

The usual causes — unchecked illegal logging,
forest fires and land conversion — are blamed for
forest destruction.

However, the report also notes that deforestation
is likely to accelerate because more protected
forests are set to be cleared as the cash-strapped
government allows 13 mining companies to convert
areas into producing zones. Of the 13, six filed
requests to turn more than 300,000 ha into mining
sites last year, the report said.

Some experts, meanwhile, have challenged the idea
that deforestation is the major cause of natural
disasters that affect populations. They say
population growth and inappropriate spatial
planning are the main reason for the large number
of human fatalities. Nevertheless, all experts
agree that deforestation often increases the size
and intensity of disasters.

The grim picture extends beyond the forests to
marine areas, which make up two-thirds of the
country’s territory.

The report said of the country’s 51,000 square
kilometers of coral reef areas, only 5.8 percent
are well-preserved, a decrease from 2004 when 6.8
percent were in good condition. Indonesia’s coral
reef areas are the largest in Southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, about 57 percent of the country’s 9.2
million hectares of mangrove forests are in a
critical condition, increasing the risks of soil
erosion and flooding for people living along the
nation’s 81,000 square kilometers of coastline.

The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi)
said the degradation of marine resources meant
more than 750 coastal villages were flooded in
2005 or suffered from erosion-related problems,
posing serious health and economic risks to more
than 16 million coastal people and three million
fishermen.

The report predicts large-scale floods are likely
to continue in the future and it notes that of the
country’s 400 “watershed” areas — land that
drains rain into marshes, streams, rivers, lakes
or groundwater — 62 are in critical or damaged
condition.

Of the 62 damaged watershed areas, 17 are in Java,
where about half of the nation’s population live.
The report said in the past five years, more than
54 million hectares, or almost 7 percent, of the
country’s total watershed areas, have been
converted to other functions, including
residential areas.

While the number of recorded floods and landslides
dropped to 41 from 106 in 2004, the intensity of
these disasters was worse, causing more loss of
life and higher material and economic losses.

However, the report did not quantify data on the
loss of life or the economic costs of last year’s
natural disasters.

"These conditions are caused by the fact that the
nation’s development does not yet take into
account the need for an ecological balance and is
merely about exploiting natural resources," Agus
Prabowo, environment director at the National
Development Planning Agency, told a discussion on
the environment and disasters recently.

One cost that can be quantified is the amount the
government has earmarked for environmental
disasters this year — Rp 4 trillion (about US$440
million) from the 2006 state budget. The money is
designated for environmental programs across all
ministries and 58 percent has already been
apportioned to rehabilitate environmentally
damaged areas, while another 18 percent has been
allotted to handle the effects of pollution.

"If the government does not change the way it
manages natural resources soon and revise all
regulations that are exploitation-oriented, the
county’s development will only yield more
ecological disasters," Walhi executive director
Chalid Muhammad said.


A threat to Indonesia’s rich biodiversity

Jakarta Post - August 8, 2006

Despite sobering statistics about environmental
degradation last year, the 2005 State of the
Environment report also highlights some welcome
news about the stratosphere above the archipelago
and more findings of new species.

Citing observation data from the National
Aeronautics and Space Agency, the report says the
stratospheric ozone layer above Indonesia has
improved to a level that could reduce the amount
of harmful ultraviolet radiation reaching the
Earth.

Experts believe that the stratospheric layer of
the atmosphere, where 90 percent of the ozone
exists, blocks exposure to harmful ultraviolet
rays, which could cause eye cataracts and decrease
human immunity, as well as affect crops and sea
plankton that would disrupt the marine food chain.

The report said that in the last few years,
stratospheric ozone concentration ranged between
216 dobson units (DU) and 248 DU.

The ozone layer is considered normal when it
measures about 300 Dobson Units (equal to three
millimeters), while a hole occurs when its
thickness reduces to 100 Dobson Units.

Decreasing usage of aerosol and other ozone-
depleting compounds (ODS), due to the government’s
continuous efforts to phase out the use of such
compounds in the country greatly contributed to
the improved condition, the report said.

Deputy to the state minister for the environment
Masnellyarti Hilman said the government had cut
the use of ozone-depleting substances by around
4,100 metric tons since 1994, when ozone layer
protection programs began in the country. "Our
next challenge is to cut 6,325 metric tons of ODS
(traded here) by the end of 2007," she said
recently.

The government believes the biggest challenge it
is facing is widespread smuggling and illegal
trade in ODS. It is estimated that around 4,000
metric tons of ODS is circulating in the country,
used mostly by air-conditioning servicing stations
that service old refrigerators and outdated car
air-conditioning systems.

Another heartening development indicated in the
report is that more new species were discovered
last year, placing Indonesia as the one of the
world’s richest countries in terms of
biodiversity.

The report highlighted the finding of scores of
new animal and plant species in Foya Mountain,
Papua, by a group of scientists from Conservation
International Indonesia, who dubbed the place "the
closest place to the Garden of Eden you’re going
to find on Earth".

The scientists found 24 types of palm tree, of
which five were declared new species, and another
550 species of plant. They also found dozens of
rare species of animals including from kangaroo,
amphibians, birds and butterflies.

However, rapid deforestation, which last year
totaled more than three million hectares,
threatened research in revealing the truth about
the country’s biodiversity.

"All that pride means nothing if deforestation and
the destruction of the habitats that are home to
those species is continually taking place, as it
is at present," said Banjar Y. Laban, the Forestry
Ministry’s director of conservation areas, in a
statement following the recent discovery of a
snake with the ability to spontaneously change
color in West Kalimantan province, called Enhydris
gyii, or known locally as the Kapuas-Mud Snake.

The report also exposed imminent threats from
diminishing wetlands areas on Java island, of
which there are about 1,000 hectares in Greater
Jakarta that have been converted into residential
and industrial areas.

Citing Wetlands International Indonesia data, the
report said the country’s remaining wetlands stood
at about 1,300 hectares last year, compared with
over 2,300 hectares in 2004.

World Wide Fund for Nature executive director
Mubariq Ahmad warned that such rapid disappearance
of habitat could halt further the findings of new
species across Indonesia.

He cited as an example that in Kalimantan alone,
at least one new species of animal has been found
every month in the last 10 years. "The country’s
worsening environmental condition is a threat to
uncovering more knowledge about our biodiversity,"
he told The Jakarta Post. (Tb. Arie Rukmantara)


Forests need ’120 years to recover’

Jakarta Post - August 7, 2006

Jakarta — Indonesian deforestation has been so
severe it would take 120 years to regain the 60
million hectares of lost forests, Forestry
Minister M.S. Kaban says.

Kaban said in Padang, West Sumatra, on Saturday
that 60 million hectares of pristine forests had
been lost over the past 20 years due to over-
exploitation, land conversion, natural disasters
and forest fires.

The government’s reforestation efforts could only
recover about 600,000 hectares per year, he said,
meaning that full regrowth would take between 100
and 120 years.

"But if deforestation continues at the current
rate, the recovery time will be even longer," he
said, adding that the reforestation program cost
Rp 3 trillion (about US$330 million) annually.

Indonesia is one of the world’s most heavily
forested countries with about 130 million hectares
of forest land.

However, the country also has the world’s worst
deforestation rate at 2.8 million hectares a year,
causing state losses of some US$5 billion. The
most common problems are rampant illegal logging,
forest fires and land conversion for giant
plantations and mining operations.

Kaban, who chairs the Crescent Star Party (PBB),
said he was disheartened by the fact that many
major illegal loggers were arrested only to be
acquitted by courts. "They always escape justice,
while the government takes the blame," he said.

Aside from causing state losses, the timber barons
and financiers of illegal logging are
impoverishing people who live in close proximity
to forests.

"People who live in areas that have become centers
of illegal logging mostly become poor,“he said.”Meanwhile, the barons are enjoying their holidays
in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia," he added,
referring to countries widely alleged to be
transportation hubs for Indonesia’s illegally
felled timber.

He said that local people who worked for loggers
might receive up to Rp 2 million for helping cut
down some of the precious old trees near their
homes. "They also live in constant fear of
arrest," he said.

More than a dozen financial backers arrested by
the government for involvement in illegal logging
last year were all acquitted by the courts due to
“lack of evidence”. Hundreds of people across the
country have also been arrested by police and
forest rangers for illegal logging.

"I’ve met some of them. They had to leave their
wives and children to work deep inside the forest,
where they are ravaged by mosquitoes and at
constant risk of arrest," Kaban said. He was
referring to illegal loggers in Kalimantan and
Papua, from where much of the some 10 million
cubic meters of timber smuggled out of the country
annually comes from.


Waterfront reclamation ’spells disaster’

Jakarta Post - August 7, 2006

Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta — Governor
Sutiyoso’s plan to push ahead with massive land
reclamation project along 32 kilometers of the
city’s northern coastline will cause an ecological
and economic disaster, the state environment
ministry and green activists say.

The controversial reclamation would add about
2,700 hectares to the city in an upmarket
waterfront project, where the administration would
designate land to industrial parks, hotels, office
buildings, and upscale accommodation for up to
1.19 million residents.

The State Ministry for the Environment and the
Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) said
the reclamation would only cause more flooding and
pollution in the city, destroy fisheries, mangrove
areas and coral reefs and displace thousands of
residents living in coastal communities.

Walhi has threatened to take the city to court if
it goes ahead with the project in October.

"This is the third time we have voiced our
opposition to the reclamation plan. Our research
finds that the project will cause bigger
ecological and economic losses than the economic
value gained by the administration," Slamet
Daryoni, the executive director of Walhi’s Jakarta
chapter told The Jakarta Post.

He said during the next 50 years, it was projected
the project would generate Rp 572 trillion (US$57
billion) in extra income for the city, while Wahli
estimated the total ecological and social damage
it would cause over that period was worth Rp 3,499
trillion.

The likely costs of coping with the extra flooding
and pollution and the resulting damage to
communities and industry, Walhi said could amount
to Rp 2,927 trillion.

Responding to Walhi, Governor Sutiyoso said that
activists had assessed the project in a "one-
sided“way.”We see it from a macro point of view.
Jakarta’s population is increasing, while we have
no more land. Where else should we develop the
city?" he said.

He said coastal reclamations were a common
practice in coastal cities in the world. "Some 72
percent of coastal cities in the world undergo
reclamations," he said.

He said if project was dangerous to the
environment, the administration would not hesitate
to stop it. "We would end the project (if it was
environmentally harmful). However, the project so
far has been thoroughly researched by experts," he
said.

Sutiyoso has fought the environment ministry since
it issued a 2003 ministerial decree rejecting the
project. The decree was based on a recommendation
of the Central Environmental Impact Analysis
Commission, which assessed the environmental
impact documents submitted by waterfront city
management company PB Pantura.

The assessment found that the planned reclamation
project would cause extra flooding in Jakarta,
increase the sea level in other coastal areas by
12 centimeters, worsen pollution in the Thousand
Islands regency, destroy the marine ecosystem and
cause thousands of fishermen to lose their
livelihoods. Companies involved in the reclamation
project have appealed the case to the State
Administrative Court in 2004 and won. Wahli and
the ministry subsequently appealed the case to the
Supreme Court.

Slamet said that the administration could not
continue the reclamation as Supreme Court had yet
to issue a verdict on the project.

To move the project on, the city later set up its
own environmental group to report to the Jakarta
Environmental Impact Agency (Bapedalda). The
agency later issued the companies with an
environmental assessment (Amdal) allowing them to
go ahead with the project. "It is also not
appropriate to use an Amdal issued by the city
administration. It must be issued by the
minister," Slamet said.

The project involves areas in three provinces;
Cilincing in Bekasi, West Java and Penjaringan in
Tangerang of Banten.

Mediana Johanna Uguy an ecologist with the
Indonesian Christen University said the
reclamation would destroy the ecological functions
of the coastline, wiping out the remaining
mangrove forests and coral reefs. "However, it can
also add value to Jakarta by making it a
waterfront city like have been developed in
several countries," she said.

She said the city administration needed to deal
seriously with the myriad of problems that
unchecked and shoddily planned development was
causing. "Jakarta always asks cities upstream to
improve the environment while the administration
continue to destroy its own land by building
commercial areas," she said.

Neither did the waterfront development plan do
anything to deal with the increasing numbers of
poor people flocking to the city from poorer
areas.

Sutiyoso’s megapolitan concept joining Jakarta
with Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi
(Jabodetabek), was supposed to deal with this
issue, she said.

 HEALTH & EDUCATION

Indonesia: worst hit by bird flu with two new
deaths

Agence France Presse - August 8, 2006

Victor Tjahjadi, Jakarta — Two Indonesian
teenagers are confirmed to have died of bird flu,
making the nation the world’s worst-hit in terms
of human fatalities with 44 deaths recognised by
the World Health Organisation.

Indonesia reported its first bird flu deaths in
July last year and has seen a steady rise in its
toll since then as it has failed to carry out the
widespread culls seen in other countries hard-hit
by the deadly H5N1 virus.

The world’s first lab-confirmed human-to-human
transmission of bird flu occurred in the
archipelago nation three months ago in a cluster
of seven deaths, sparking serious concern among
scientists.

That raised the spectre of a dangerous viral
mutation that may have permitted efficient
transmission among people, bringing nearer a
global human flu pandemic with the potential to
kill millions.

But the slight mutation that took place was
determined to be insignificant.

The latest two deaths in the world’s fourth most
populous nation were a 16-year-old boy who died
Monday night and a 16-year-old girl who died
Tuesday, both from Jakarta or its surroundings.

"Samples from both of them have been confirmed as
positive by both a health ministry laboratory and
by the US NAMRU (Naval Medical Research Unit)
laboratory," said Runizar Ruzin, from the health
ministry’s bird flu center.

The ministry last week changed its method for
confirming a bird flu death to the World Health
Organisation.

Previously samples were considered positive if
tested at a WHO-affiliated laboratory, usually in
Hong Kong. But if two national laboratories
confirm H5N1, it is now reported to the WHO as a
death.

The US lab is affiliated to the US Centers for
Disease Control in Atlanta.

I Nyoman Kandun, the director of the health
ministry’s communicable disease control center,
confirmed both cases but declined to give further
details.

Both victims were thought to have come into
contact with dead or sick poultry, health
officials said.

Ruzin defended the government, which has been
accused of failing to act quickly to stem the
virus’s spread, saying its fight has been
“excellent.” "The health ministry has been
dispatching more teams now to carry out
surveillance on poultry and humans across the
country," he said.

Meanwhile an Indonesian health official alleged
that patient treatment at Sulianti Saroso
hospital, where many Indonesian patients including
the teenage boy have been admitted, was
inadequate.

"Their lives are treated very cheaply because
doctors who are assigned to monitor them are not
experts but fresh graduates" from medical schools
who are assigned as interns there, said the
official on condition of anonymity.

The official said that when specialized doctors
are available, they do not personally examine them
“but instead only issue orders by phone” to
nurses.

"Other bird flu-designated hospitals in other
regions... try hard to save their patients because
they have a team of specialized doctors working
together," he said.

Animal husbandry officials also said Tuesday that
H5N1 had spread in poultry to Indonesia’s remote
Papua province, which borders Papua New Guinea.

The Timika district animal husbandry office has
since slaughtered hundreds of chickens, sprayed
disinfectant and banned the transport of poultry
out of the affected area.

The virus has already been detected in 27 other
provinces out of 33 in the Indonesian archipelago.


Document warns of disasters in public health

Jakarta Post - August 8, 2006

Aside from the increasing threat of natural
disasters as a consequence of environmental
degradation, the 2005 State of the Environment
report also warns of a looming crisis in public
health, health experts and environmentalists say.

The annual report, which was first released in
2001, underlined the threat to public health due
to worsening environmental conditions, causing
various illnesses and the spending of billions of
rupiah for treatment and medication.

"Health problems are the downstream indicator of
what’s happening in the environment," Health
Ministry director for environmental health Wan
Alkadri told The Jakarta Post.

He said the environment was among the four major
aspects that determined the level of human health.
The three others were behavior, health facilities
and genetic factors. "Between 50 to 60 percent of
sick people are sick because their environment is
getting worse," he said.

Last year’s State of the Environment report
clearly showed that most Indonesians face health
risks from polluted air, toxic water and tons of
piles of solid waste, he said. The report said of
the 10 major cities monitored, only Semarang in
Central Java and Palangkaraya in Central
Kalimantan had 200 days of clean air in 12 months.

Jakarta had only 29 days, Bandung 40, Surabaya 21
and Medan 24 days of healthy air. On the remaining
days, the cities’ air contained harmful compounds,
such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and
particulate matter.

"Polluted air can cause health risks from
respiratory problems to cancer," Wan Alkadri said,
adding that it would also reduce the nation’s
productivity and boost spending on medicine.

He also pointed out that seasonal forest fires
that produced harmful haze worsened the already
poor air quality. The 2005 State of the
Environment report said forest fires occurred in
over 13,000 hectares of forest, in Sumatra, Java
and Kalimantan.

"The haze increases the concentration of nitrogen,
ash and scores of hazardous compounds in the air.
This will cause acute respiratory infection," he
said.

World Wide Fund for Nature executive director
Mubariq Ahmad warned that besides polluting the
air, forest fires also deforested much of
Indonesia’s pristine forests that are a vital
component for regulating water supply.

The report said the country possessed 6 percent of
the world’s water supply; alternatively, 21
percent of the water supply for the Asia Pacific
is here. However, forest and wetland conversion
have degraded the nation’s water supply. The
report said groundwater had dropped to between 40
meters and 80 meters below the soil surface.

On the other hand, much of the country’s rivers,
one of the most vital water sources, were heavily
polluted. Over 30 rivers across the country
contained high levels of chemicals and human
waste.

"If people consume contaminated water, they’ll
suffer diarrhea," Wan Alkadri said. Last year,
5,000 people in Indonesia suffered from diarrhea
with a fatality rate of about 2 percent.

The report also highlighted the outbreak of bird
flu, which has infected 54 people and killed at
least 41 of them, as a consequence of negligence
in spatial planning.

Deputy to the State Minister for the Environment
Isa Karmisa Ardiputra said his office required
poultry farms to be located hundreds of meters
away from residential areas.

"Violations of spatial planning regulations have
partly contributed to rampant spread of H5N1
because it allows the deadly virus to infect
people more easily," he said.

Wan Alkadri warned,"should environmental
conditions in the country worsen, health disasters
will occur in the near future". (Tb. Arie
Rukmantara)


SBY told to stop Sampoerna expansion

Jakarta Post - August 5, 2006

Jakarta — The National Movement to Prevent
Smoking Problems has asked President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono to stop the expansion of
cigarette companies in the country.

The organization, consisting of 21 NGOs and
professional organizations, criticized the
government’s issuance of a permit to the country’s
largest cigarette company, PT HM Sampoerna, to
build a new factory in Karawang regency, West
Java.

"The new factory is able to produce nine billion
cigarettes per year. This will be an insidious
danger for the youth and poor people because it
will increase cigarettes’ availability in the
country," said Farid Anfasa Moeloek, chairman of
the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI), which is
part of the National Movement to Prevent Smoking
Problems.

He said about Rp 50 billion (US$5.5 million) in
cash aid that the government provided annually to
low-income citizens would only be wasted on
cigarettes.

Widyastuti Soerojo of the Anti-Smoking Foundation
said any benefits from the new factory, expected
to employ about 12,000 people, would ultimately be
meaningless since millions of people could
potentially die from increased smoking.

 MINING & ENERGY

NGOs: Java mining licenses need review

Jakarta Post - August 7, 2006

Tb. Arie Rukmantara, Jakarta — The government
should halt all resource exploration on the
densely-populated island of Java, since it does
not have adequate safety measures to mitigate
mining-related accidents, environmental groups
say.

The Network for Mining Advocacy (Jatam) and the
Indonesian Forum for Environment (Walhi) demanded
that the government immediately review the
licenses of all oil and gas explorations and
operations on Java to anticipate accidents that
could endanger lives.

During the review period, they added, all mining
operations should be suspended until the
government established procedures to mitigate the
impacts of mining accidents. "The people’s
protection and safety must be a priority in
granting oil and gas mining permits," said the
groups in a joint press statement.

Jatam and Walhi accused the government of dealing
poorly with mining accidents, as reflected in its
management of the recent explosion at PetroChina’s
exploratory site in Bojonegoro regency, East Java.
Authorities have also failed to stop the flow of
hot toxic mud from the PT Lapindo Brantas gas well
in Sidoarjo, East Java.

The explosion killed at least one person and
displaced thousands. The toxic mud has flooded
hundreds of hectares of land, forcing thousands to
flee, and has caused respiratory problems for
local residents. The mud incident has also cost
local businesses billions of rupiah.

Although police have arrested the directors of
Lapindo, which is owned by the family of State
Minister for the People’s Welfare Aburizal Bakrie,
the government has not revoked the company’s
operating license.

"It seems that the government is only capable of
collecting taxes and royalties from oil and gas
operations," said Walhi mining and energy
campaigner Torry Kuswardono.

He said accidents involving mining operations have
always brought suffering to local people, while
the companies that caused the problems were often
allowed to continue operating.

"We understand that East Java has rich oil and gas
potential, but its geological structures are prone
to drilling accidents," said Jatam energy
campaigner Andrie S. Wijaya.

He said about 13 million people are living in 16
of the 20 oil and gas mining blocks on Java. Those
facilities are operated by state-owned Pertamina
and foreign companies such as British Petroleum,
US-based Exxon Mobile, Santos of Australia and
China’s PetroChina.

"Considering the poor capacity of our government
(to prevent accidents) and the existing weak
regulations, the lives of those people are at
risk," he said.

However, Andrie said he realized that scrapping
all mining activities was impossible in East Java,
which is home to abundant energy: approximately
283 million barrels of oil and 5.2 trillion
standard cubic feet of proven and potential gas
capacity.

"A strict and sound protocol on standard operating
procedures for exploration and exploitation could
prevent people from suffering in accidents," he
said, adding that Malaysia and China had adopted
such procedures.


House Speaker urges immediate review of mining
contracts

Jakarta Post - August 4, 2006

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta — House Speaker Agung
Laksono joined growing calls Thursday for the
immediate review of production-sharing contracts
granted to multinational corporations to ensure
they provided optimal benefits to the state and
public.

He said contracts should be terminated with
foreign companies that failed to honor contract
stipulations, did not contribute sufficient funds
to community development programs and caused
environmental degradation.

"Mining contracts granted to PT Freeport Indonesia
in Timika, Papua, ExxonMobile in several provinces
and to domestic companies in protected forests
should be reviewed because they provided lower
contribution to the state and locals," Agung said.

He was responding to the increasing opposition to
this year’s granting of a contract to ExxonMobile
to operate the potentially lucrative Cepu oil and
gas field in Central Java. The appointment of the
US multinational followed a protracted and
acrimonious tussle with state oil and gas firm PT
Pertamina.

Critics say some groups whipped up nationalistic
sentiments during the dispute, especially as it
drew to a close.

An alliance of 109 politicians, including former
People’s Consultative Asembly speaker Amien Rais,
former Finance Minister Fuad Bawazier,
environmental activists, retired servicemen and
former government officials grouped in the Popular
Movement for Salvaging of the Cepu Block (GRPBC)
filed a class action Thursday against the
government for granting the right to the US
multinational.

A group of leading lawyers filed the suit at the
Central Jakarta District Court.

Agung said the review was crucial due to the lack
of supervision from the government of the
multinational corporations’ operations, damage to
the environment and their small contribution to
local community development. "The review should
first be conducted by relevant ministers to ensure
a comprehensive evaluation," he said.

On Wednesday, the Energy and Mineral Resources
Ministry’s director general for oil and gas, Luluk
Sumiarso, said the government was devising a new
policy to increase the ownership of local
companies in the oil and gas sector, and also
ensure more benefits to surrounding communities.

Environmentalists and politicians have expressed
opposition to the renewal of Freeport’s mining
contract because they claim the allocation of 1
percent of the company’s annual profit to local
community development has failed to improve the
welfare of local tribes. They also allege massive
environmental pollution at the site.

"Ideally, the giant foreign mining companies
should give a small part of their shares to local
communities, aside from their contribution to
local community development," Agung said.

He also regretted the House’s approval in 2003 of
the government’s granting of contracts to 43
mining companies to operate in protected forests.

Meanwhile, the executive director of the
Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi), Chalid
Muhammad, urged the House to review the
government’s policy because of a lack of concern
for environmental protection.

"The granting of contracts or forest concessions
to foreign and domestic companies has benefited
only certain government officials and political
parties, instead of being based on environmental
and local development considerations."

Chalid, along with other activists participating
in the class action, also said the government must
take responsibility for the disastrous May 29
mudflow accident at a gas well in the East Java
town of Sidoarjo. It has caused huge losses to
industry in East Java due to the disruption of
distribution routes and forced the evacuation of
surrounding communities.

"The... incidents are strong evidence that densely
populated Java is not feasible for such large
mining activities..." he said.

 ECONOMY & INVESTMENT

Risky Business - Indonesia’s sinking economy

Asia Times - August 4, 2006

Jephraim P Gundzik — Indonesian government
officials and foreign analysts are excessively
optimistic about the country’s medium-term
economic outlook. Economic growth in 2005 was much
weaker than indicated by Indonesia’s questionable
national-accounts statistics. In 2006, economic
growth will struggle to reach 3%, while an
economic recession appears likely in 2007. Much
weaker-than-expected economic growth could
accelerate capital flight and trigger the
devaluation of the rupiah in the next 12 months.

Despite devastation and dislocation caused by the
December 2004 tsunami, political and social
instability caused by the removal of fuel-price
subsidies, surging inflation, and interest rates
and capital flight, real GDP (gross domestic
product) growth surged ahead in 2005, reaching a
nine-year high of 5.6%. Rather than an indication
of profound underlying economic strength,
Indonesia’s very surprising economic performance
in 2005 was the result of shortcomings in the
country’s national-accounts statistics produced by
Badan Pusat Statistik (BPS, or Statistics
Indonesia).

These shortcomings were apparent in the 275% real
growth of statistical discrepancies used to
balance expenditure-based GDP with production-
based GDP by BPS in 2005. The meteoric growth of
statistical discrepancies accounted for more than
one-half of the real growth of expenditure-based
GDP last year. In other words, without the growth
of statistical discrepancies, real GDP growth
would have been below 3% in 2005.

The large statistical discrepancies in 2005
balanced lower expenditure-based GDP against
higher production-based GDP. Examining
production-based GDP, the only sector that
experienced unusually strong growth was wholesale
and retail trade. Agriculture and manufacturing
output, which combined account for 42% of total
production-based GDP, weakened in 2005.
Construction and services output, which account
for another 15% of production-based GDP, were
flat. Mining output, which accounts for 10% of
production-based GDP, registered a very weak
recovery.

Meanwhile, real growth of wholesale and retail
trade, which accounts for 17% of production-based
GDP, nearly doubled in 2005 to 9%. The strong
growth of trade stands in contrast to slowing
domestic demand indicated by weaker manufacturing
output and import growth. Manufacturing growth
slowed to a real rate of 4.5% in 2005 from 6.4% in
2004. Import growth slowed to 26% in 2005 from 43%
in 2004.

Slowing manufacturing and import growth imply that
fewer goods circulated in the economy in 2005. As
a result, the surge in wholesale and retail trade
was entirely accounted for by higher prices or
inflation. The GDP deflator should offset
inflation in calculating real GDP. It appears that
Indonesia’s GDP deflator greatly understated
inflation in 2005, prompting the large addition to
expenditure-based GDP from statistical
discrepancies.

Unless data are being purposefully manipulated by
authorities, the large statistical discrepancies
and the understated GDP deflator of 2005 should be
washed out in 2006, leaving economic growth much
lower. Economic growth will also be pushed lower
in 2006 by further deceleration of private
consumption and investment growth as well as
weakening government expenditure — a product of
decentralization and deteriorating governance.

Economic reality check

Collapsing real wages, high inflation, rising
unemployment and contracting consumer credit are
likely to push real growth in private consumption
expenditure to about 2% in 2006 from 4% in 2005.
Last year, consumer price inflation hit 17% as a
result of fuel-price hikes administered by
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s government in
March and October. The surge of inflation is
estimated to have pushed real wages lower by 12%
in 2005. Though inflation will decline in the
final quarter of 2006 as last October’s fuel-price
hike falls out of inflation calculations,
inflation will remain quite high.

Consumer price inflation has proved quite sticky
in the first seven months of 2006, remaining above
15%. Last year’s fuel price hikes are still
feeding through the economy. Rising international
oil prices, driven higher by instability in the
Middle East and the onslaught of hurricane season
in the United States, could force the Yudhoyono
government to raise domestic fuel prices again, or
lose its hard-earned fiscal credibility. Consumer
price inflation will probably be close to 11% in
2006, pushing real wages down a further 8%.

In 2005, unemployment breached 10%, marking
Indonesia’s highest unemployment rate in modern
times. The unemployment rate will climb higher in
2006 as manufacturing output slows further.
According to the Industry Ministry, growth in
industrial production was a paltry 2.4% in the
first half of 2006 against the government’s target
of 7%. Falling real wages and rising unemployment
have brought very rapid real consumer credit
growth, which was about 20% in 2005, to a
screeching halt in the first half of 2006.

The credit crunch that has ensnared consumers in
2006 was already problematic for corporate
borrowers last year. In 2005, real corporate
credit for investment began contracting while the
real growth of corporate credit for working
capital slowed to single digits. In the first five
months of 2006, real total corporate credit
contracted by 14%. In addition to falling incomes
and earnings, the very sharp contraction of
consumer and corporate credit thus far in 2006 has
been driven by soaring non-performing loans in the
banking sector, especially among Indonesia’s
largest banks, which are state-owned.

In the midst of a credit crunch and slowing
manufacturing output growth, private-sector
investment growth can not be expected to
accelerate in 2006. Slowing export growth will
also undermine investment. In 2005, export growth
of 20% was fueled mainly by rising prices for
Indonesia’s commodity exports. In the first five
months of 2006, export growth slowed to about 12%.
Slowing external demand will push export growth
down further in the second half of 2006.

In 2005, strong growth of government consumption
and investment expenditure offset weakening
private consumption and investment growth. This is
not likely to be repeated in 2006. In the first
six months of this year, total government
expenditure was only 30% of the amount budgeted
for the entire year. Weak and deteriorating
governance arising from fiscal decentralization
will make it very difficult for the government’s
expenditure targets to met.

Indonesia’s regional governments, which are
responsible for planning and executing about one-
half of total government expenditures, are ill-
prepared for such a task. As a result, a large
proportion of central government funds allocated
to regional governments have simply been shunted
into the banking system, inflating deposit growth
and opening the door to greater corruption. Though
indications of broad-based economic weakness are
manifold, Indonesian government officials,
multilateral lenders and most analysts continue to
believe economic growth will remain above 5% in
2006 and will accelerate in 2007. A rude awakening
may be close at hand.

Expectations meet reality

While Indonesia’s second-quarter GDP growth
statistics won’t be released by BPS until mid-
August, recently released second-quarter GDP
growth statistics in the United States offer a
preview of what’s to come. Real economic growth in
the US slowed to 2.5%, much weaker than the 3.5%
consensus forecast. Worse, inflation has moved
sharply higher. Consumer and producer price
inflation in the US reached an annualized rate of
4.5% and 5%, respectively in the first half of
2006. Core inflation has also increased sharply,
reaching an 11-year high in June of 2.4%.

Higher energy prices, inflation and interest rates
have already begun to slow the world’s largest
economy. This slowdown may accelerate in the
second half of 2006, pitching the US economy into
recession in 2007. Increasing instability in the
Middle East and waning global oil supply carries
enormous potential to push international oil
prices toward US$125 per barrel over the next
several months. Higher energy prices will push US
inflation and interest rates up, leaving economic
growth much weaker. A US economic recession in
2007, or even a slowdown in real GDP growth below
2%, will have strong negative implications for
many countries especially those that are dependent
on commodity exports such as Indonesia.

Misleading national-accounts statistics in 2005
and misplaced expectations for economic growth in
2006 have attracted a substantial amount of
foreign portfolio investment to Indonesia over the
past 18 months. The lion’s share of this
investment is parked in domestic government debt
securities. This investment is very sensitive to
exchange-rate depreciation. Weaker-than-expected
economic growth in Indonesia, especially weaker
export growth, could begin to undermine the
rupiah, triggering foreign-capital flight.

In addition to foreign-capital flight, domestic-
capital flight could accelerate sharply if wildly
optimistic economic expectations are not met.
Domestic-capital flight, which can be discerned in
the “errors and omissions” component of
Indonesia’s balance of payments, has increased
steadily over the past several years. Last year,
domestic-capital flight amounted to nearly $10
billion.

Slowing economic growth and an accompanying
increase in political and social instability could
encourage accelerated domestic-capital flight in
2006 and 2007. The combination of foreign and
domestic capital flight could easily swamp
Indonesia’s foreign-exchange reserves of $34
billion, prompting the devaluation of the rupiah.

Sound dire? Very few anticipated the capital
flight that triggered balance-of-payments crises
and exchange-rate devaluations in several emerging
markets over the past 10 years. These crises and
devaluations occurred when misplaced expectations
suddenly met economic reality. Expectations are
very high in Indonesia. Reality may be hard
pressed to meet these expectations.

[Jephraim P Gundzik is president of Condor
Advisers, which provides investment risk analysis
to individuals and institutions worldwide.]


’Public clean water will get worse’

Jakarta Post - August 2, 2006

Officials and city councillors were angered by the
sale of 49 percent of water company PT Lyonnaise
Jaya (Palyja)’s shares. Although the France-based
company said the decision was made in an attempt
to improve its management, many were skeptical.
The Jakarta Post asked two activists their views
on the matter.

Azas Tigor Nainggolan, is chairman of the Jakarta
Resident’s Forum in JL. Kalimalang, East Jakarta.
He lives with his family in the Matraman area in
East Jakarta:

(Governor) Sutiyoso’s administration named Palyja
and Thames PAM Jaya as water operators for Jakarta
because the two firms, with their huge funds and
professionalism, pledged to make giving better
service to customers a priority.

The story then changed when the administration and
the City Council rejected their demands to
increase water tariffs in the city a few months
ago.

Selling 49 percent of their shares to investors
sent the sign that Palyja had given up operating
their business Jakarta.

It might be a way to minimize potential financial
losses if the administration continues to reject
the water tariff increase. I also predict that
Palyja will not extend its business in the city
after 2008.

Selling the shares also means that the business
matters more than public service. There is no
investor interested in buying the shares offered
by Palyja without seeing their benefits. Once this
happens, public clean water will further worsen.

The administration and City Council must seriously
study Palyja’s move. They must know the exact
reasons for the share sale. The administration
must also prepare alternatives from now on for
substitute operators. Let’s give it back to the
city operator company (PT PAM Jaya).

Slamet Daryoni, is the executive director of the
Jakarta chapter of the Indonesian Environmental
Forum (Walhi) in Bukit Duri, South Jakarta. He
lives with his family in Bekasi:

We have long opposed the privatization of the
water company in Jakarta because it becomes
business-oriented and means the public does not
have a basic right: access to clean water.

Our recent study in certain areas in Jakarta
showed that residents who were customers of the
water operators had to allocate 30 percent of
their monthly income just to get clean water. They
had to buy water from water vendors due to the
poor quality of tap water.

I suspect that Palyja wants to wash its hands of
the responsibility to upgrade pipe infrastructure.
During its eight years of operation, the company
has only improved about four percent of the pipe
infrastructure from the previous of 48 percent to
52 percent. It shows their lack of seriousness to
increase the number of residents who can enjoy
clean water.

I hope the water operators and the city
administration can take responsibility for their
failure to provide residents with access to clean
water.

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