Saturday, October 31, 2009

Eradication of KPK

" Power Tends To Corrupt, Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely " those were the words of British Historian Lord Acton, which implies that the leader of a country play a significant role in the fight against corruption.

That's probably what's in the minds of those who were concerned on the creation of a Grand Coalition that controlled more than 75% of the seats in the House of Representative (DPR) to support the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono (SBY).

I tried to deny such allegation, not only because I voted for SBY and his Democrat Party during the last elections, but also because I thought Indonesia needs a very strong leadership fully supported by all political powers.
My reason was because SBY has shown his determination to fight corruption, which can be seen from his refusal to intervene in the indictment by Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) against his son's father in law and the court verdict that sentenced him to prison.

But unfortunately, efforts to eradicate corruption seems to be still very far away from what I expected. Especially after two of KPK's Vice Chairmen i.e. Bibit Samad Rianto and Chandra Hamzah were charged by the Police for prohibiting two Corruption Suspects Djoko Tjandra and Anggoro Widjaja from going abroad. Doubts surmounted after both KPK officials were detained by the Police, one of the reason was that they have been giving press conference.
This Police action was strongly protested by many people who suspect efforts to make KPK criminals and demand the release of both gentlemen, which forced SBY to give press conference saying that he will not interfere the investigation, and tried to assure public that he will defend KPK.

Many public figures, including KPK leaders, former president Gus Dur, former Chief of the Constitutional Court Jimly Assidiquie and many others requested the release of both KPK leaders and gave their personal guarantee that they will not runaway. Beside that, supports for both KPK leaders are shown in the online networking media Facebook and Twitter.

For details, please click here, here, here, here, and here.

In spite of the above, I am not sure whether KPK is now in the process of eradication, but I know one thing for sure that this case has over shadowed (stopped?) KPK's investigation of the mysterious Rp 6.7 Trillion Bank Century case.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Avoiding Online Problems

Since the promulgation of the Electronic Information & Transaction (ITE) Law last year, anyone who are accused of Defaming other people through the Internet may be detained by the Police.

The most popular case being the Prita vs. Omni Hospital Case, whereby Prita was detained for three weeks by the Police for e-mailing her friends about the bad experiences she has had at the hospital.

Considering this fact, I would like to share with you about the articles that I have read in the newsletter of Bernstein Crisis Management which provide some tips to avoid legal problems in doing our online activities.
Happy reading.

When Wronged Or Defamed, Get An Immediate Correction
First in a three-part series
By Rene A. Henry

As long as I can remember I've always been told to never have an argument with someone who buys ink by the barrel. And for years, I've heard lawyers tell their clients that it is a waste of time to ask for a correction or apology from a newspaper or magazine as well as a radio or television station.

Now, because of the Internet, more than ever before it is more important to immediately correct any incorrect information that is published or broadcast. Once misinformation is published and republished, broadcast and re-broadcast, fiction quickly becomes fact. The longer the delay, the more the error will be repeated and republished on websites, blogs and in other media. With the Internet, in only a matter of seconds the reputation of an individual or company can be destroyed worldwide with the click of a computer key.

When wrong information is published or broadcast, contact the reporter or writer and ask for a correction or retraction. If you are not successful, speak to the editor or news director. The Internet is difficult to police and correct and too many individuals use it as a means to malign and defame others and then hide behind a veil of anonymity. When there is no resolve, hire a good First Amendment lawyer.

Harold Burson, founding chairman of Burson-Marsteller, one of the largest public relations firms in the world, notes that a negative article in a small newspaper or on one of the cable news programs that once reached an audience of a thousand readers or viewers, can easily become an audience of more than a million if posted on YouTube or Twitter.

"When posted on a mega-viewed website the negative message gains credibility," Burson says. "Being there implies a trusted third party endorsement; a respected outlet, in effect, vouched for the content." He adds that YouTube and Twitter are as easily accessed from Malaysia or Moscow as from Memphis or Manhattan.

"Thanks to modern technology, all a person needs to extract and use information from a false, archived article is a PC, Google, and a disposition to work someone else's old material into an article on the theory that if Big Media reported it five years ago without repercussions, it must be true," says John J. Walsh, senior counsel of Carter Ledyard and Milburn, New York.

Walsh says an injured party can ask for a correction, a retraction or an apology. "A correction by the publisher tells the public that a mistake was made and provides the correct facts," he says. "A retraction advises the public that specific statements are withdrawn, usually accompanied by an apology, or at least a statement of regret."

Professional Codes of Ethics

Most media organizations belong to professional organizations that have strong codes of ethics and almost all responsible media will correct or retract a factual error. Exceptions happen when lawyers threaten to sue for libel and where there are gray areas. The gray areas include a strong opinion or bias by the reporter or editor and this creates a disagreement and an interpretation between parties of what is wrong information.

"We will not knowingly publish anything that offends conventional rules of family-oriented decency or good taste, or anything that is defamatory," say Desmond Seales, publisher and editor-in-chief of Caribbean Net News. "This includes letters, commentaries and other opinion pieces."

Libel laws vary from state-to-state and country-to-country not only in time limitations but definition. In its Stylebook, The Associated Press says libel means injury to reputation. According to the AP, there is only one complete and unconditional defense to a civil action for libel: the facts stated are not probably true, but provably true. Unlike the U.S., where many jury awards are reduced or thrown out on appeal, libel is a very serious offense. In some countries it is a criminal offense where the writer can be sent to jail. Justice is swift in the United Kingdom and English-speaking Caribbean where courts have little tolerance for lawyers' delay tactics and judgments and awards are almost never appealed. Recently, criminal libel laws were in 17 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Some of the laws are now being challenged in state courts.

It's Never Too Late to Right A Wrong

While statutes of limitation on libel and defamation claims expire in most jurisdictions after one year, there should never be a time limit on righting a wrong.

"If individuals and companies believe they have been treated unfairly, they have a right to seek a correction and the journalist and the news organization has a responsibility to listen and try to resolve any differences," says Dr. Robert M. Steele, professor of journalism at DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana. "Staff cutbacks in all media have reduced news gathering resources and regardless of an organization's institutional quality control, errors do happen. There is no foolproof system of checks and balances to catch many errors and this is compounded with deadline pressures.

"The debate between the offended party and the news organization can be more of a subjective issue of what and what is not true," Steele says. "A news organization has an obligation to be accessible, to hear and discuss concerns regarding any problems in the reporting process, and to correct a mistake regardless when it was reported." Steele not only is educating future journalists, but also teaches professionals at The Poynter Institute, St. Petersburg, Florida. [Most Media Will Admit Mistakes and Correct Them Promptly] The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) was founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi fraternity and now has 9,000 members throughout the U.S. The organization's first code of ethics was borrowed from the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1926. SPJ, which believes the duty of journalists is to serve the truth, wrote its own code in 1973.

"Correcting what is wrong is an open-ended concept. It doesn't include an expiration date," says Andy Schotz of Hagerstown, Maryland, chair of the SPJ's ethics committee. "Ideally and ethically, the correction should be run as soon as possible after the error is discovered or brought to the media outlet's attention," says Fred Brown of Aurora, Colorado, vice-chair of the committee.

The Radio and Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) is the world's largest professional organization exclusively serving the electronic news profession. It has more than 3,000 news directors, news associates, educators and students. RTNDA was founded in 1946 and established its code of ethics which was expanded in 2000 to include accountability. The organization is dedicated to setting standards for newsgathering and reporting in radio, television, cable and electronic media. Its first code of ethics and professional conduct has sections on public trust, truth, fairness, integrity, independence and accountability.

"Professional electronic journalists are accountable for their actions," says Barbara Cochran, president of RTNDA. "Whenever an error is made known to an organization it must be corrected. However, with the Internet, today it is almost impossible to correct and eradicate where an error might be published. Our members must operate as trustees of the public, seek the truth, report it fairly and with integrity and independence."

Next in this series: Be careful what you say, where you say it, how the Internet has defined Freedom of Speech, and differences in the way libel is treated.

Rene A. Henry is an author and columnist and lives in Seattle, Washington. His latest book, "Communicating In A Crisis," has a specific chapter on how to fight back and win. Many of his widely published commentaries are posted on his website,

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Higher Salary for the New Ministers

The new Cabinet Ministers are very lucky compared to ordinary citizens!

That's what I thought when I heard that the ministers, just inducted on 22 October, will get higher salary than their predecessors.

They are very lucky because the global economic & financial crisis has caused many business to stop their operations therefore making many people lost their jobs thus unable to provide financial support for their families. Large number of unemployed people has caused increased in crime rates

Further, those Ministers are also very lucky compared to the victims of the frequent natural disasters that have often struck our country recently.

For details, please click here, here, here and here.

Considering the above and the fact that those ministers will also get free housings, luxurious cars, first class traveling facilities, and many other benefits for very important persons, I wonder whether it is now the right time to increase their salary.

Photo: Courtesy of Kompas.

Sumpah Pemuda (Youth's Pledge)

Eighty one years ago, young people from various ethnics all over the Dutch colony in South East Asia gathered in the capital city of Batavia.

In spite of the tight security imposed by the Dutch Colonialists against any efforts to establish an independent nation, those young people have daringly made the following pledges known as Sumpah Pemuda (Youth's Pledges) :

1) We belong to one country, a country called Indonesia
2) We belong to one Nation, the Indonesian Nation
3) We speak one Language, the Indonesian Language

The above Youth's Pledges have united Indonesians in their struggle to establish an independent country, which became a reality on 17 August 1945.

In spite of the above fact, it seems to me that many Indonesians seems to forget about the Sumpah Pemuda. This can be seen from the selection of Miss Indonesia 2009 who could not speak the Indonesian language and doesn't know our culture.

I hope that the new government, especially the Minister of Culture & Tourism and the Minister of Education would make serious efforts to make sure that the spirit of Sumpah Pemuda would not be forgotten by the Indonesian people.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Successful Lawsuit against a Cigarette Co.

Cigarette manufacturers are very powerful in Indonesia!
This can be seen from the advertisements spaces on the media and open-air sign boards that are dominated by cigarette manufacturers.

Efforts made by Anti-Cigarette activists, including filing lawsuit against those manufacturers, often ended in vain. Maybe the main reason is because those manufacturers contributed a large sum of money for our country's income.

Recently, I read on Legal Blog Watch about a successful lawsuit filed by a Cigarette Smoker against cigarette manufacturer Philip-Morris at the District Court of Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. Note: this company is majority owner of Indonesian cigarette manufacturer PT HM Sampoerna.

Although the verdict of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts may not be applicable in Indonesia, but it can at least be used as reference for similar lawsuit here.

Please find below the said blog post for your kind perusal.

'Healthy' Smokers Win Landmark Tobacco Ruling

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled today that cigarette smokers who have suffered no apparent injuries to their health may nonetheless bring a lawsuit to force tobacco makers to pay for medical monitoring to scan for cancer that may develop in the future. The case, Donovan v. Philip Morris USA, was decided based on questions certified to the court from the U.S. District Court in Boston. In an opinion authored by Justice Francis X. Spina, the unanimous SJC said the smokers should have their day in court.

Our tort law developed in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries, when the vast majority of tortious injuries were caused by blunt trauma and mechanical forces. We must adapt to the growing recognition that exposure to toxic substances and radiation may cause substantial injury which should be compensable even if the full effects are not immediately apparent. ...

When competent medical testimony establishes that medical monitoring is necessary to detect the potential onset of a serious illness or disease due to physiological changes indicating a substantial increase in risk of harm from exposure to a known hazardous substance, the element of injury and damage will have been satisfied and the cost of that monitoring is recoverable in tort. ...

Medical expenses are recoverable not only for direct treatment and diagnosis of a present injury or an injury likely to occur, but for diagnostic tests needed to monitor medically a person who has been substantially exposed to a toxic substance that has created physiological changes indicating a substantial increase in risk that the person will contract a serious illness or disease. The expense of medical monitoring is thus a form of future medical expense and should be treated as such.

The plaintiffs in the case are asking the federal district court to certify the lawsuit as a class action. They purport to represent a class of Massachusetts residents aged 50 and older who smoked Marlboro cigarettes for at least 20 years and who have not been diagnosed with or suspected of having lung cancer. Philip Morris sought to have the case dismissed in the District Court on the grounds that a tort plaintiff must be able to prove an existing physical injury in order to recover damages.That was the question the federal court asked the SJC to decide.

The SJC also ruled that the plaintiffs claims are not blocked by the statute of limitations. Because the technology was only recently developed that would allow the medical monitoring they seek in their complaint, the discovery rule would apply, the SJC said.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on October 19, 2009 at 02:33 PM

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Misconseption about Pornography

The new Anti-Pornography Law is making people paranoid! That's what I thought after reading the Readers' Letter Section of today's edition of The Jakarta Post.

The writer was a lady, Mayasari Oei, and her letter is titled: Live Porn aboard an Economy Train, in which she accused a woman of committing an act of Pornography, just because the latter breast-feed her baby right in front of several men while riding on a train in Jakarta.
The letter was immediately protested by 87 people who were angered by her remarks.

Please find the letter below. Happy reading.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 4:49 PM

Live porn aboard an economy train?
Tue, 10/20/2009 1:24 PM | City

One day last week I took the train, economy-class, from Sawah Besar in Central Jakarta to Depok in West Java. It was 11:30 a.m., the sun was beating down and it was hot, all the train passengers were sweating heavily in the airless carriage.

I was standing near two mothers sat with their babies aged about 12-18 months old, who were enjoying the breeze coming in through the carriage windows.

Twenty minutes went by, it was getting hotter, and one of the toddlers, looking tired, started crying. The wailing baby grasped her mother*s shirt and tugged, fussing and wriggling, throwing her body from right to left in her mother's arms. Maybe because of the hot weather, or due to hunger, or tiredness.

Standing around the mother were several male passengers. Endless minutes later, the howling baby was still struggling and grasping at her mother*s shirt. I watched the mother and child; the baby's anguish, the mother's anxiety and her countless efforts to console her baby, all to no avail. Passengers started to feel irritated by the wailing.

As the crying became even louder, the mother gave up and slowly opened her shirt a little and offered her breast to the baby. Within a half second, the baby stopped crying and looked content. That, then, was the reason she had been crying for more than 20 minutes. I couldn't ignore the temptation of watching them, so I continue to look, marveling at how the baby became so calm after getting what she wanted, and how the male passengers were enjoying looking at a woman with her breast showing. There were six men around her, and they were avidly watching the breast-feeding process.

As a woman, I felt embarrassed. Really. However, for me, this was not the first time, 10 years ago, when I used to take the train every day, I was always coming across similar situations to today's. How can a baby exploit their own mother*s privacy just to satisfy their hunger or thirst? Yes, I know, little babies have not learned yet how to be reasonable. They cry to get what they need. If, at the time, you had been in my position, I bet you wouldn*t have stopped looking at them either, just like the group of men, who all enjoyed free porn that hot day. You would not only have felt amused, but astonished, at the fact that little babies have such great power to control their mothers and get what they want.

After this baby had calmed down, the second baby, about the same age as the first, watching her little friend suckling her mother's breast, perhaps, felt envious. So this baby then began to wail, with the same volume as had the first. But this baby's mother was wearing Muslim attire, which meant according to Islamic law she ought not show any part of the body forbidden to be seen by the opposite sex (aurat) and it would have been very awkward for her if she had opened part of her clothing to feed her baby. Therefore, she did not, she ignored the baby*s tantrum, even when the baby began to pull at her mother*s shirt with all her strength. Fifteen minutes later, the baby was still screaming, but her mother still did not offer her her breast.

That baby must have been very puzzled, upset and then distraught at not getting what she wanted. Why could her little companion get her needs met so easily, and yet she just had to accept that her mother wouldn't fulfill her needs?

The train scene became an amazing drama, a live performance from the mothers and babies. The first mother gave in to her baby's demands, while the second mother decided not to show her breast in public.

What would I do if I had a baby forcing me to open my shirt in front of a hundred strangers on the train? Frankly speaking, I have no idea, but for mothers who have experienced this situation, they have only two choices: offer the breast and see their baby content, or refuse and ignore the baby*s tantrum.

Porn is one of the most popular issues in society, as every time porn appears on television, many people and organizations are ready to demonstrate, but do they even know what has been happening on the trains all these years?

I realize I haven't got concrete empirical research data yet on how many mothers have ever opened their blouses and revealed their breasts to men in order to fulfill their babies' needs. It would be funny, and controversial, if this was treated and legalized as normal - and not porn.

- Mayasari Oey

Illegal Money & Drugs in Medan

A man carrying Rp 1.6 Billion was caught by the Airport Customs Office in Medan, North Sumatera.

According to Pos Kota online media, the man who is described as LHP (37), arrived from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Saturday evening carrying the money hidden in a handbag that he bring with him on board a Malaysian Airlines plane. The Customs Officers found the money after their X-Ray Scan show a mysterious object inside the man's hand bag.
Afterward, the Customs Office turn the man to Medan Police who arrested him based on Money Laundering allegation.

Further, the media also reported that the Customs Office at Medan's Tanjung Balai port has caught two men carrying a total of 200 gram illegal drugs (Shabu-shabu) when they arrived in different sea ferries from Malaysia. Both men originated from Aceh but have been living in Malaysia, carried the drugs by hiding them inside their Anuses.

The above shows that Medan's air and sea ports have become the entry gates for Illegal Money and Drugs from Malaysia to Indonesia. Considering these facts, I hope that the law enforcement agencies would make sure that those men other who are involved would be punished in court. I also hope that security would be tightened to prevent such illegal actions.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

New Hopes for our Forests

Rain-forests in the Indonesian islands of Sumatera and Kalimantan are getting more and more ' bald ' every year.

According to data provided by the government, in the period of 2000 - 2006, deforestation cost 1.09 million hectares of forest land annually.

The main cause of this massive deforestation is the issuance of licenses by the Department of Forestry that allowed the transformation of forests, including protected forests, into commercial purpose area, among others for huge plantations.

Considering these frightening facts, I was very happy when the news media reported about some 'winds of changes' that seems to be blowing into the right direction.
First, there was the new Environmental Protection and Management Law that provide better protection a.o empowering the Forestry Police with authority to investigate.
Secondly, there's President SBY's promise at the G20 Summit Meeting last September that Indonesia shall lower its Emission to 26% by the year 2020, implying that we will make very serious efforts to stop the process of deforestation.
Thirdly, there was the statement of the new State Minister of Environment that warned the new Minister of Forestry to stop transformation of the forest.

For detailed reports on the above, please click here, here, here and here.

I hope that the State Minister of Environment will always cooperate and coordinate very closely with the Minister of Forestry to make sure that the process of deforestation in every parts of Indonesia can be stopped or at least minimized. Beside, companies that have been given licenses to convert industrial forests would be force to fulfill their re-planting obligation. That way, forests in Sumatera, Kalimantan, Papua and other islands in Indonesia would not be so ' bald ' anymore.

Photo: Courtesy of Okezone

Friday, October 23, 2009

The New Minister of Health

Of the 34 Cabinet Ministers inducted by President SBY yesterday, there is one who is now a focus of media reports i.e. the Minister of Health Endang Rahayu Seyaningsih.

There are two reasons for this controversy, first Endang suddenly replaced President SBY's first choice for the job i.e. Nila Moeloek, wife of former Minister of Health Moeloek.
Secondly, her relationship with her predecessor, former Minister of Health Siti Fadillah Sapari was reported not good.

Endang worked at the Department of Health since 1990, but in 2008, Siti Fadillah dismissed from her position as head of the Department's Research & Development. It was rumored that she was being punished for carrying a virus specimen overseas without informing her boss. Her close relationship with US Naval Laboratory facility (Namru) in Jakarta has made her being suspected as a spy for the said lab.

After the induction ceremony, Endang told reporters that the allegation is not true. She said she will maintain relationship with the US government but not with Namru.
Later, Siti Fadilah also denied that she has accused Endang of selling the vaccine to Namru. However, she hoped that the new Minister would not change the agreement regarding Virus that Indonesia has concluded with the World Health Organization.

For detailed media reports on the above, please click here, here, here and here.

I hope that this matter would be clarified soonest possible, so that the new Minister can fully concentrate on her job.

Photo: Courtesy of Kilas Berita

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The New Cabinet

Last night, President Susilo Bambang Yudono (SBY), who was inaugurated with Vice President Boediono on Tuesday 20 October, announced his Cabinet Ministers for the next five years.

The Cabinet consists of 3 coordinating minister and 31 ministers, most of them are new comers in the cabinet, including Coordinating Minister of Politics, Laws & Security Air Marshall (Ret.) Djoko Suyanto, Minister of Foreign Affairs Marty Natalagawa, Minister of Home Affairs Gamawan Fauzi and Minister of Communication & Information Tifatul Sembiring.

While old faces who are still holding their previous cabinet portofio includes Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani, Minister of Trade Mari Elka Pangestu, and Minister of Culture & Tourism Jero Wacik.

Beside the minsters, President SBY also annouced three chiefs of state agencies including Chief of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) former National Police General (Ret.) Chief Sutanto.

For detailed information on the new cabinet minsters, please click here.

In this regards, I would like to congratulate President SBY for his re-election, Vice President Boediono for his new position, and all the cabinet ministers for their new roles & responsibilities. I sincerely hope that each and every one of them would focus their thoughts, voices and actions merely for the very best interest of the people of Indonesia. Therefore they would leave behind whatever their political backgrounds

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Polygamy in Indonesia

On 17 October, a polygamy club was established in Bandung, West Java.

In spite of the club's name, the Malaysian based club is headed by a woman i.e.
Chodijah Binti Am, and its members consists of polygamous men as well as unmarried men.

The establishment of said club has been supported by members of a similar club in Indonesia that was established by the polygamous owner of Wong Solo restaurant, Puspo Wardojo. However, it was strongly protested by lawyer & ex lawmaker Nusyahbani Kantjasungkana and the Women's Legal Aid Institution (LBH Apik) who are worried that the club's high profile campaign might inspire more men to practice polygamy.

Actually polygamy is not forbidden in Indonesia, whereby the Marriage Law No. 1/1974 stipulates that a Muslim man can marry more than one woman provided that a Court allowed him to do so.For which purpose the following conditions should be fulfilled :
1) He has a (written) permit from his wife
2) He guarantees to fulfill all the needs of his wives & children
3) There is a guarantee that he will be fair on his wives & children

These conditions are necessary, because a man who marry two or three or four women must equally share his love with all his wives and children, therefore must have a steady income that is two or three or four times much bigger than if he only has one wife.

For detailed media reports on the above, please click here, here, here and here.

Considering that the Marriage Law allowed Muslim men to practice Polygamy under certain conditions, as law abiding citizens we cannot reject a man's right to marry more than one woman as long as it is done legitimately.
However, I hope that civil servant/public officials would not be allowed to marry more that one woman so that he would not be tempted to get more money by abusing authority that has been placed in him.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Misterious Lapindo Mud Flow

"The Lapindo Mud Flow will remain mysterious" that's what I thought when I heard that Aburizal Bakrie the newly elected Chairman of Golkar Party said that Golkar will join the coalition government of President elect SBY for the next five years.

The reason is because Bakrie & family are majority shareholders of PT Lapindo Brantas that violated the standard procedure for drilling oil in Sidoarjo, East Java in 2006, causing never ending Hot Mud flow that inundated large area of land and all its houses, offices, factories, forcing its inhabitants to refuge to other area.

Actually, there were indications that this case will be a mystery, the latest was the decision of East Java Police to stop investigation on PT Lapindo Brantas based on two Court verdicts rejecting two lawsuits against PT Lapindo, one by the Indonesian Environmental Agency (WALHI), and another one by the Legal Aid Foundation (LBH). Both verdicts were based on statements of scientists who considered the Mud Flow as natural phenomenon caused by huge earthquake that devastated the province of Jogyakarta earlier.
Last month the House of Representatives (DPR) has also declared that the Lapindo Mud Flow is a natural phenomenon. As a consequence, PT Lapindo Brantas will no longer be held responsible for the disaster, and the government will take over said responsibility.

For detailed media reports on the above, please click here, here, here and here.

Athough the actual cause of the Hot Mud Flow may be the natural phenemenon that hapened in area not far from Sidoarjo, however the fact shows that it was PT Lapindo Brantas that triggered the mud flow.
In order to know the real truth, it would be better to ask an international organization to conduct a thorough investigation and determine whether or not the Lapindo Mud Flow is a natural phenemenon or disaster caused by failure to comply with standard oil drilling procedure. Until then, this case will remain mysterious.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The by-law in Aceh

Last Wednesday, a controversial bill that allow the stoning to death of adulterers has officially became a by-law in the Province of Aceh.

According to the bill, passed by Aceh's parliament on 14 September, the by-law called Qanun Jinayat Code will replace certain articles of the national Criminal Law with a Syariah Law for Muslims in Aceh, and valid 30 days later.

Enactment of the by-law has been protested in Aceh, whereby the Governor refused to sign the bill. But lawmakers insists that the by-law would still come into force even without the Governor's signature.

Further, the by-law has also been protested in Jakarta, by human rights activists who called the by-law as inhuman and therefore asked the central government to review the by-law.

Furthermore, the by-law has worried non Muslim businessmen who feared that growing conservatism in Aceh and some other provinces might frighten investors. They believe, if this conservatism process is not stopped there is a big possibility that existing investors might close their businesses here and move to another country. Due to which fact, they hope that the central government would take necessary action to stop the process. They also hope Indonesian Muslims who are mostly moderate to voice their objection on the growing influence of hardline minority but very vocal Muslims.

In reaction to the protests, the central government has promised to study the said by-law. If they find that it is against the national laws and constitution, the Minister of Internal Affairs shall request the Supreme Court to review the by-law.

For detailed media reports on the above, please click here, here, here, here and here.

Considering that news about the controversial by-law have spread worldwide, there is a big possibility that foreigners may think that such law is valid all over Indonesia for Muslims and non Muslims. If this happen, foreigners would be frighten to invest here, even Indonesian non Muslim businessmen would move their business to another country. In the end, Muslims who are majority in Indonesia, would loose jobs and suffer with their families.
In order to prevent that, I hope that the Minister of Internal Affairs & the Minister of Law would check whether the by-law in Aceh and other provinces are in-line with the provisions set forth by the higher national laws. If the by-laws are contradictory, they should request the Supreme Court to review them.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Indonesia & Environment

As I was about to leave the office yesterday, I felt the floor moved under my feet.

Later, I learned from the media that there was an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4 on the Richter Scale at Ujung Kulon, Banten, more than 100 kilometers from Jakarta.

Although the earthquake happened for only less than one minute however me and my colleagues were quite shocked. This is obvious because we were still shocked by the series of earthquakes that rocked the Island of Sumatera and Java in the last four years, the latest ones being in West Sumatera & Jambi that killed hundreds of people and many others wounded and homeless.

As I drove home, I thought about the writings and documentary films made by environmental experts who said that human beings are partially responsible for causing the natural disasters.

I realized that many natural disasters in Indonesia were caused by human beings for example the never ending Hot Mud Flow caused by the improper Oil Exploration by PT Lapindo Brantas in Sidoardjo, East Java. There is also the gold & copper mining of Freeport-McMoran in Papua that caused damage to a large area. Besides, there's plan to transform protected forest (national parks) into coal mining in East Kalimantan.
The saddest thing is that some state owned companies are responsible for violation of the environmental laws & regulations, e.g petroleum company Pertamina has spilled oil in East Kalimantan.

But then I remembered about Indonesia's efforts to prevent or at least minimize the destruction of nature, among others by promulgating the new Environmental Protection and Management Law. Further, there is also President SBY's promise at the G20 Summit last September to reduce emission to 26% by 2020. This was immediately supported by U.S President Obama who promised to provide funds to countries that reduced their emission.

For detailed media reports on the above, please here, here, here, here and here.

Considering the above, I hope that there will be better efforts to protect the environment e.g by enforcing the Environmental Protection and Management Law and punishing any one who violates.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blogging Rules in the U.S

I always thought that there is no written rules for blogging in the United States of America, because I thought that people in that country are aware of their rights & obligations, therefore they only need verbal rules.

However, an article in Legal Blog Watch shows that there are written blogging rules there. Please find the article below:

The FTC Blog Rules : Overbroad or Overblown?

To read reactions to the Federal Trade Commission's new guidelines announced this week on product testimonials and endorsements, one would conclude that bloggers must now tiptoe through a minefield of disclosures or else face the strong arm of the federal government and penalties of as much as $11,000. Blogs as varied as Fashionista, Wired's Epicenter and CNET's Digital Media warn that any failure by a blog to disclose receipt of a freebie or payment from a company would violate the guidelines and expose the blogger to enforcement action.

Only problem is, the guidelines don't say that. Rather, what they say is that these are among several factors to be weighed in evaluating whether someone who purports to review or endorse a product actually has a "material connection" to the product. The purpose of the guidelines is to require disclosure by reviewers who present themselves as unbiased but who actually are not. This is a laudable purpose.

So if a publisher sends a blogger a review copy of a new book and the blogger posts a review, does that require disclosure under these guidelines? No. If the publisher sends the blogger a book a week and the blogger routinely posts glowing reviews, does that require disclosure? Yes. The guidelines make clear that there is a spectrum of behavior from that which requires no disclosure to that which clearly requires disclosure.

The FTC's overview, published as part of the Federal Register notice, makes this clear. It says that not all product reviews in blogs or other "consumer-generated media" fall under the guidelines:

Rather, in analyzing statements made via these new media, the fundamental question is whether, viewed objectively, the relationship between the advertiser and the speaker is such that the speaker’s statement can be considered "sponsored" by the advertiser and therefore an "advertising message." In other words, in disseminating positive statements about a product or service, is the speaker: (1) acting solely independently, in which case there is no endorsement, or (2) acting on behalf of the advertiser or its agent, such that the speaker’s statement is an "endorsement" that is part of an overall marketing campaign? The facts and circumstances that will determine the answer to this question are extremely varied and cannot be fully enumerated here, but would include: whether the speaker is compensated by the advertiser or its agent; whether the product or service in question was provided for free by the advertiser; the terms of any agreement; the length of the relationship; the previous receipt of products or services from the same or similar advertisers, or the likelihood of future receipt of such products or services; and the value of the items or services received.

At one end of the spectrum, says the FTC, is "a consumer who purchases a product with his or her own money and praises it on a personal blog." At the other extreme is "a blogger who is paid to speak about an advertiser's product ... regardless of whether the blogger is paid directly by the marketer itself or by a third party on behalf of the marketer." Between these two extremes are a range of situations that may or may not require disclosure. But the guidelines make clear that receipt of a single freebie would not fall under the guidelines unless, perhaps, it was of substantial value.

Although other situations between these two ends of the spectrum will depend on the specific facts present, the Commission believes that certain fact patterns are sufficiently clear cut to be addressed here. For example, a blogger could receive merchandise from a marketer with a request to review it, but with no compensation paid other than the value of the product itself. In this situation, whether or not any positive statement the blogger posts would be deemed an "endorsement" within the meaning of the Guides would depend on, among other things, the value of that product, and on whether the blogger routinely receives such requests. If that blogger frequently receives products from manufacturers because he or she is known to have wide readership within a particular demographic group that is the manufacturers’ target market, the blogger’s statements are likely to be deemed to be "endorsements," as are postings by participants in network marketing programs. Similarly, consumers who join word of mouth marketing programs that periodically provide them products to review publicly (as opposed to simply giving feedback to the advertiser) will also likely be viewed as giving sponsored messages.

Put more coarsely, it boils down to a question of whether the blogger is in the business of shilling for corporations. These guidelines are not a heavy-handed government crackdown on innocent bloggers who say nice things about a product. It is meant to expose marketing practices that exploit viral media by paying for favorable reviews -- whether the payment is in cash or goods.

One other point to keep in mind about the guidelines is that the disclosure they require is not onerous. All a blogger needs to do is to add a line to the particular post saying what was received, whether it was a payment, a free sample or something else of value. With or without these guidelines, this is a good practice for bloggers to follow and something they should be doing already.

My point here is that some reactions to the guidelines exaggerate their scope. That is not to say that bloggers who regularly endorse or review products should not exercise caution. David Butler offers a thoughtful analysis of the guidelines' dangers in a post at his Digital Media Lawyer Blog. But bloggers need not panic. Be forthright and transparent and you will not have any trouble.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on October 7, 2009 at 12:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Two Controversial Miss Indonesia

This year, two different beauty contest committees in Indonesia have selected two women to compete in two international beauty contests i.e. Miss Universe and Miss World.

Last Friday, Qori Sandioriva (18), Puteri Aceh 2009, won the title Puteri Indonesia 2009. Puteri means Princess in English, but the contest committee prefered to use the title Miss Indonesia when she compete at Miss Universe 2010 contest next year.

Qori was protested by the Aceh Muslim Ulama who said that Qori cannot represent Aceh where women are obligated to wear hijab (head scarf), whereas Qori did not wear hijab at the contest. They also said that no contest has ever been carried out in Aceh to choose Qori as Miss Aceh 2009.

Four months earlier, another organizing committee selected Karenina Sunny Halim (22) as Miss Indonesia 2009. According to the jury, she was chosen because she speaks fluent English, highly intelligent and beautiful.

Unfortunately it was revealed that the jury was mesmerized by Karenina's fluency in English that they failed to check her ability to speak Indonesian. The contest committee explained that they give priority to English speaking ability, because they want the winner to win at the Miss World contest.

For detailed media reports on the above, please click here and here.

It would be very interesting to know about further news on the two "Miss Indonesia".

Indonesia & Australia

A few days ago Indonesian Navy has captured a boat packed with 260 people from war torn Srilanka heading to Australia to seek political assylum.

Later on, it was revealed that the Indonesian Navy took the action based on the instruction of President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono (SBY), who was doing a favour for Australian Prime Minister Kevin Ruud.
Rudd said he phoned President SBY after receiving intelligence reports about the boat passing through the Sunda Strait, between Java and Sumatra islands.

For detailed media reports on the above, please click here, here, here, here and here.

I hope that the above help PLUS Indonesia's efforts to eliminate anti-western terrorists would assure the Australian government and its people that Indonesia is a friendly country that is willing to help its neighbor. I also hope that we can also rely on them to help return Indonesian fugetives who have been hiding in Australia.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Miyabi & Her Protesters

In recent weeks, the media have reported about the Japanese porn star Maria Ozawa a.k.a Miyabi and her plan to play in an Indonesian Comedy movie titled Menculik Miyabi (Kidnapping Miyabi).

Although the producer and director of the movie have stated that the movie will be free from any porn flick, however certain people have protested the plan to make the movie.

The interesting thing is that in spite of all the protests, Miyabi's porn movie have been and still circulating quite freely for some time especially in Jakarta. One can easily find and buy any of Miyabi's DVD at Jakarta's Glodok shopping area, all of which have been going on for some time and only disappear if there is a raid by the Police. However, the public has never complaint openly about them.

As a matter of fact, all the protests have raised the popularity of Miyaby and her porn movie that the sales of DVDs and their prices have increased.

For detail media reports, please click here, here, here and here.

Considering the above, I hope that there is no intentional connection between the protests and the rise in popularity of Miyabi's movies including her Indonesian movie. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Photo: Courtesy of Kompas.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ubud Writers & Readers Festival

The island of Bali is the most popular destination for foreign and Indonesian tourists.

The main reason is because the Balinese people have strong culture, tradition and are very devoted to their religion, making them kind and friendly toward visitors. They believe that any act of crime in the island can only be committed by outsiders. For this reason, the suicide bombings that killed hundreds of innocent people in Bali in 2002 & 2004, failed to stop tourists from coming to the island.

As a matter of fact, such barbaric actions have made the Balinese more creative in promoting the island. One example is the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival which took place every year since 2004, attended not only by writers & readers from Indonesia, but also from many other countries as well.

I have visited the village of Ubud several times, first one in 1979 where I stayed for 3 months. The village is famous for its creative works of arts, especially paintings. Many foreign artists have lived & worked there a.o Antonio Blanco, Walter Spies etc. But I have never attended the Ubud festival simply because of my working schedule in Jakarta. I hope that next time I go to Bali, I will be able to attend the festival.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Miss Indonesia 2009

Miss Aceh 2009, Qori Sandiorivah, has been selected as Miss Indonesia 2009.

Qori (18) won the title on Friday night in a ceremony attended by Miss Universe 2009 Stefania Fernandez. 38 contestants from 33 provinces in Indonesia took part in the beauty contest. Qory will represent Indonesia at Miss Universe 2010 contest.

The selecting committee's choice is special, because Qori represents a province that is special i.e Aceh which require females to wear Hijab (head scarf) in public. Perhaps because Cori was born in Jakarta on 17 August 1991 and now studying at the University of Indonesia in Depok, West Java.

For detailed media reports, please click here and here.

Although she said that she has asked permission from the Aceh government to take off her Hijab, however it would be very interesting to know how would the authorities in Aceh would react when Qori has to wear bikini in the Miss Universe contest.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Two More Terrorists Died

" The Police's Anti Terrorists DENSUS-88 has been successful once again! "

That's what I thought when I watched the news on several TV stations that the Police has killed two men who were believed to be Syaifudin Zuhri and Muhamad Syaril, who recruited & brainwashed the suicide bombers of Hotel JW Marriot and Hotel Ritz-Carlton last July.

According to the the Police's Chief PR, Inspector General Nanan Soekarna the terrorists were killed during a Police raid this afternoon at their rental room in Tangerang, Banten. The Police found 7 pipe bombs at terrorists rooms. This raid was carried out after the Police arrested a terrorist suspect i.e. Fajar, earlier in the morning in Bekasi, West Java.

Confirmation on the identities of the dead terrorists shall be announced to the public next Monday after the Police received clarification from the Forensic Unit.

For detailed media reports, please click here, here , here and here.

Considering the above, I would like to thank all the members of DENSUS-88 for their endless efforts to eliminate terrorists so that Indonesia will be a much safer place to live.

Photo: Courtesy of Detik.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Grand Coalition

Last July, President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono (SBY) won 60.80% popular votes in the Presidential Election, ensuring his re-election for the next 5 years.

However, this is not enough, because in the Parliamentary Election last April, SBY's Democratic Party only secured 26% of the seats in the lower house of Parliament (DPR), therefore he needs to form a coalition with other political parties.

Initially, four Islamic based political parties, i.e. PKS, PPP, PAN and PKB, have vowed to support and provide additional 30% seats in the lower house of Parliament (DPR).
But this is still not enough for SBY, so he made a deal with the opposition party PDIP, 3rd. winner in parliamentary election, PDIP recognized SBY's re-election as President, in exchange for Democratic Party's support for Taufiq Kiemas, husband of PDIP's chairperson, to become chairman of the Parliament (MPR) on 3 October.

SBY's wish for more parliamentary support was materialized last Wednesday when the Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Aburizal Bakrie was elected as Chairman of the Golkar Party, 2nd. winner in the parliamentary election.

With the support from PDIP & Golkar, SBY's government will have the support of more than 85% of the seats in parliament. Critics feared that this will weakened law enforcement, which can be seen from SBY's appointment of 3 new leaders of the independent Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the mysterious status of the Bank Century case.

For detailed media reports, please click here, here, here, here.

In view of the above, I hope that the grand coalition built by SBY and his party with all the other parties would enable the upcoming government to work much harder and better for the very best interests of the people & the country of Indonesia.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The closing of Karaoke in Depok

Since the University of Indonesia moved from Jakarta to Depok, West Java, in 1987, the town has developed very rapidly, especially after it became a municipality in 1999.

The existence of one of the largest university in Indonesia has made the town flourished with places for young students to stay and enjoy, such as room & house rentals, shopping and entertainment places including Karaoke Places.

Although the town's 2003 by-law did not mentioned any permit for Karaoke Places, but somehow many Karaoke Places, including big ones like Inul Vista and Nav, have been opened. After several years, the municipality suddenly realized about this mistake and decided to suddenly close them down this Sunday.

For detailed media reports on the above, please click here and here.

I felt so sad at the decision of the Depok municipality to suddenly close down the Karaoke Places without considering the fact that such action would cause many workers to lose their jobs. If the Karaoke Places are really against the by-law, why were they allowed to exist for several years?

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Armed Forces Day

Before the democratic reform took place in Indonesia on May 1998, I always have mixed feelings on the armed forces.

On the one hand, I was aware that Indonesia needs a strong armed forces to protect and defend sovereignty from any attacks by foreign or domestic enemies. And the fact shows that since our independence the armed forces has played leading role in driving away enemy attacks.
On the other hand, I am very sick and tired of the dominant roles of the military officials in almost every thing that goes on in Indonesia, in which they were used as a tool by the authoritarian regime at that time to maintain power.

10 years after the reform, the armed forces’ role in civilian life has decreased significantly, and civilians played most of the major roles in society.
However, the demilitarization process has gone too far, for example drastic cuts in budget has unable the armed forces to maintain their equipments causing frequent air crashes killing many well and expensively trained officers.

Today, 5 October, the armed forces celebrate its 64th anniversary, and I hope that the government, the parliament and every one in Indonesia would realize that we need a strong armed forces to protect and defend our country and people, therefore obviously we should treat them properly and provide them with what they need so that they can do their job properly.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Indonesia vs. Malaysia: Why are Indonesians easily provoked?

Indonesia vs. Malaysia: Why are Indonesians easily provoked?

The Earthquake & the Parliament

Last Wednesday, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 on the Richter Scale devastated the capital town of West Sumatera Padang and the town of Pariaman, causing hundreds of people killed and missing and injuring many others. Hundreds of houses, office, school, other public utility buildings collapsed.

Last Thursday another earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 on the Richter Scale rocked the province of Jambi.In order to handle this disasters, the central government has allocated an emergency fund of Rp. 100 billion.

This morning, various TV stations reported that Indonesian and foreign rescue teams are still looking for survivors who are trapped under the wreckage of buildings or landslides.

While Indonesians mourn over the impact of the earthquakes in both provinces, a glamorous event took place at the capital city Jakarta last Thursday i.e. induction of the new members of Parliament consisting of 560 members of People's Representative Council (DPR) and 132 members of Regional Representative Council (DPD).
Although the induction ceremony takes only several hours however according to Kompas the cost is as high as Rp. 46 Billion.

Considering that the Parliament (DPR & DPD) are permanent institutions, I felt that the costs for induction of their members should not be very high, especially now that Indonesia is facing the earthquakes and the economy is still recovering from the impact of global financial crisis.
I hope that the new members of Parliament will do their very best to serve the interests of the Indonesian people, and do not follow the decadent behaviors of some of their predecessors.

Photos: Courtesy of Kompas.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Indonesian Batik Day

For many people in Jakarta, it has become some sort of " tradition " to wear the Indonesian traditional dress or shirt Batik to work every Friday.

But today, me and many others who do not usually wear Batik are also wearing it, due to the following reasons:
Firstly, on this day the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is scheduled to officially announce that Indonesian Batik to a global list of Intangible Cultural Heritage items;
Secondly, I felt that this recognition is special therefore worth celebrating
Thirdly, President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono has urged the Indonesian people to wear Batik so as to celebrate this special occasion;

For detailed media report on the above, please click here and here.

Considering the above, I hope that from now on the Indonesian people would show ownership of Batik not just by wearing it but also conducting research to develop designs, and promoting it as often as possible.
Last but not least, I hope that the UNESCO's recognition of Batik would calm down my fellow Indonesians who have shown their uncontrolled anger towards Malaysia about this matter.

Photo: Courtesy of The Jakarta Globe

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Earthquakes in West Sumatera & Jambi

It is very difficult to express how I felt when I read, heard and watched the news on the media about the earthquake that hit the Provinces of West Sumatera and Jambi.

The first earthquake hit Wednesday 30 September at 5.16 PM with a magnitude of 7.6 on the Richter Scale hit the Province of West Sumatera.

According to the Meteorology, Climatology & Geophysical Agency (BMKG), epicentrum of the earthquake was located 71 kilometer below sea level around 57 Kilometer from the town of Pariaman, West Sumatera. The effect of the earthquake was felt in places as far away as Jakarta, Singapore and Malaysia.
Thousands of houses/offices/schools and public utility buildings in the towns of Pariaman and Padang were badly damaged. Almost 500 people died and many more people injured. Many people are estimated to have been trapped under building wreckages. Beside that, the earthquake also cause landslides, isolating certain area and making it very difficult to go to the area.

Further, on Thursday at 8.56 am, another earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 on the Richter Scale hit the Province of Jambi on the Southern part of the Island of Sumatera. The epicentrum of the earthquake is located 10 kilometer below sea level around 46 kilometer from Sungaipeneh region.

For detailed media reports on the above, please click here, here, here, here and here.

In connection with the earthquakes, the central & provincial government together with private entrepreneurs have made rescue efforts. President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono accompanied by several ministers visited Padang on Thursday afternoon and stay for a night there to coordinate the rescue efforts. Further, other provinces like North Sumatera and Aceh shall send their rescue teams.

Considering that Indonesia have been experiencing a series of devastating earthquakes in the last five years i.e in Garut, Tasikmalaya, Yogyakarta, Bengkulu and Aceh, I hope that the rescue and recovery efforts can be carried out efficiently and effectively.
Last but not least I would like to express my deepest condolence and symphaty to the victims of earthquake.