Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pesta Blogger+ and Blogshop

 The annual gathering of Indonesian bloggers a.k.a Pesta Blogger 2010 will take place in Jakarta on 30 October 2010.

Unlike the previous three Pesta Blogger which were only attended by Bloggers, this year the event will also be attended by other people who are active on online social media like Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Before the event, there will be Blogging Workshop (blogshop) that will be carried out in ten cities, starting in Makasar on mid August followed by Padang few days ago and soon in Manado, Pontianak, Banjarmasin, Bandar Lampung, Banda Aceh, Surabaya, Madura and Yogjakarta.

For details, please read the following articles :
Kick-off Conference Pesta Blogger+ 2010
Blogshop dan Mini PB+ di 10 Kota Resmi Dimulai!
Blogshop and Mini Pesta Blogger+ in Padang

Saturday, August 28, 2010

22 Baby Komodo at L.A Zoo

This morning I read a very wonderful news on the L.A Times blog (below) about the newly hatched 22 baby Komodo at a Zoo in Los Angeles, U.S.A

I hope that this success will also be followed by other Zoo, especially in their natural habitat in the Island of Komodo, Indonesia, so that the numbers of Komodo would increase.

It's a boy! It's a girl! It's ... 22 baby Komodo dragons?

Komodo dragons
Big news for endangered, giant reptile enthusiasts: 22 Komodo dragons have hatched at the L.A. Zoo since Aug. 8, all offspring of a single female.

Lima, the babies' mother, laid 23 eggs in January. This is the first time the L.A. Zoo has successfully bred Komodo dragons, and it's one of only a handful of zoos in North America that has managed to do so. The hatchlings aren't currently being exhibited for the public, but the zoo expects to eventually move some of them to its Winnick Family Children's Zoo. Eleven of them will eventually move to Ohio's Columbus Zoo, a zoo curator told the Associated Press, and experts with the Assn. of Zoos & Aquariums' Species Survival Plan program will determine where the rest of the babies end up.

Komodo dragon hatchlings typically measure between 14 and 20 inches in length and weigh between 3 and 4 ounces. As adults, they'll weigh up to 200 pounds and can measure as long as 10 feet!

The species is native to a few islands in Indonesia, notably (and perhaps unsurprisingly) Komodo Island. They're extremely effective predators that can fell even a huge water buffalo with their serrated teeth and run up to 13 miles per hour in short bursts. These are important skills for a giant reptile to have, since they can eat 80% of their body weight in a single sitting.

Last year, a research team using magnetic resonance imaging scans discovered that Komodos produce a powerful venom that prevents the blood of a bitten animal from clotting properly. That typically sends the animal into shock and hastens its death, if the force of the Komodo's bite doesn't kill it first. The venom, one expert told the Times of London, makes the Komodo "an amazing killing machine." It also makes it an animal you don't want to run into in a dark alley -- one of the best reasons, in our opinion, to never move to Komodo Island, where you might actually run into one.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Indonesia and Malaysia Today (Part 2)

In the last few weeks, the media have been reporting about the arrest of 7 Malaysian fishermen by officers of the Indonesian Maritime and Fishery Ministry (KKP), and 3 KPP officers by the Malaysian Police.

Although the governments of both countries have settled the case amicably i.e. by releasing the arrested persons, however some politicians and social activists in Indonesia were not satisfied and therefore reacted by demonstrating harshly and childishly every day in front of the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta.

This situation reminded me of an article (below) that I once read on the blog of Rima Fauzi, an Indonesian Singer/songwriter living in Brussels, Belgium.

Indonesia vs. Malaysia: Why are Indonesians easily provoked?


As a people, Indonesians have become more and more hot-headed by the minute. It is actually something to be ashamed of as hot-headedness is one of the typical signs of being uneducated (thus not being able to keep one’s cool).

Not only are we getting more hot-headed, it seems that we are also falling deeper into ignorance. Which is a shame, because there should be no more excuses for one to be stupid and ignorant seeing as there is almost no restriction on the information flow into the country, nor is there a shortage of ways for a person to educate one’s self auto-didactically (by ways of internet, television, books etc).

We have also become a nation that is stubbornly disrespectful to other nations; people who are different to us; and also our own culture. And by our culture I mean our indigenous culture, not the one you see nowadays in Indonesia or Indonesian television which is full of telenovelas, gossip shows and rich people/celebrities sporting their hedonistic lives on national television for everybody to drool over.

The upside of being this way is none, while the downsides are many. By being hot-headed and ignorant, we often miss simple truths and even more often this trait will make it easy for us to be provoked by the smallest of things. The most recent issue that has taken Indonesia like a storm is how our Malay brothers and sisters from Malaysia are “thieves” of our so-called culture.

While it may come as a surprise to some Indonesians, we should all acknowledge that many Malaysians have Indonesian ancestors, whether from Sumatra, Kalimantan or Java. Even the great Malaysian actor/comedian P Ramlee’s ancestry can be traced back to Aceh, where his father is from.

And let’s not forget the Malaysian students who went to Indonesia five or six decades ago to study, many of which ended up marrying Indonesians who they brought back to Malaysia and produced Malaysian-Indonesian off-springs with.

So basically what I’m saying is as it is apparent that Indonesia is made up of people with Chinese/Indian/ Dutch/Portuguese/Arab/Polynasian/Aborigine ancestry, the same goes for Malaysia. The difference is that in addition to the Malay, Chinese and Indian ancestries that the Malaysians have, Indonesian ancestry is also in the mix, hence the many similarities in our foods, clothing materials, music, etc.

Yet we accuse them of stealing this and that, from our culture to our cuisine. While in fact we are both originally Malay people (the race of which people from the northernmost part of Thailand and people from the Philippines also belong to) sharing many of the same culture and cuisine traits that it’s a little absurd (not to mention difficult) to claim which is whose first to be stolen by the other second.

Personally, instead of calling Malaysia thieves, I think we should ‘steal’ something from them. You all know how in the 60s and 70s we were much more progressed and advanced than them that they sent many of their students to study in Indonesia and hired many teachers and lecturers to teach their younger generation in Malaysia. What I don’t get is why it’s the other way around now, six decades later.

We all know Malaysians aren’t perfect and neither are we, but I do salute their determination and ability to turn up trumps, as today it’s us who send our kids to study in Malaysia; it’s us who are less progressed and are less advanced (technology and economy wise), and it’s us who are lagging behind. I think we should learn from them and ‘steal’ their tips and tricks in pulling a 180 from being blah to hurrah!

After the lengthy explanation above on the origins of both nations and all my positive observation about Malaysia, you may:
a. hate me, or
b. think, “Ok, so we share many traits with Malaysia, but it still doesn’t explain them using the Balinese pendet dance, because Unlike Kalimantan, Sumatra and Java, Bali is very specific and unique, that their culture is not found anywhere but Bali.”

For those of you who chose ‘a’ I will advise you to take a number and wait in line. For those who opted ‘b’ Ok, point well taken. But the thing is, the recent debacle over the Pendet dance that we claimed to have been used by the Malaysian government in an advertisement they have made to promote their country, an issue that turned countless Indonesians angry, with our Minister of Tourism hastily sending a letter to his Malaysian counterpart, demanding the ad campaign be removed, is a more complicated than it seemed.

Turns out, the whole thing was a misunderstanding and a BIG mistake on our part. And let me emphasize on the BIG MISTAKE. Apparently out of the 250 million or so people living in the beautiful archipelago we call Indonesia, none of us did our homework thoroughly before blasting bullets to the so-called ‘enemy of the state’ a.k.a, Malaysia because,
  1. The advertisement wasn’t made by the Malaysian government or anybody in Malaysia,
  2. The ‘advertisement’ isn’t even an advertisement to promote their country as we have made to believe,
  3. The ‘advertisement’ was an ad created by the Asian Discovery channel to promote one of their TV shows. The TV station have acknowledged their mistake and apologized for it, after where some embarrassed Indonesians re-directed their anger at, what with Discovery channel being owned by the usual suspects and all (and by usual suspects I mean Americans and Jews – who most Indonesians believe are the evil culprits who monopolize all information flow in the world *yawns* thus are TRUE ‘enemy of the state’ as opposed to Malaysians because at the end of the day, we are all a big beige/brown nation sharing the same culture, language and religion)
Yet after knowing that this parade of anger and belligerence towards our Malaysian peers is baseless, did we apologize to them and acknowledge the truth publicly? No. We just swept the truth under the rug and continued calling Malaysia names. Basically we remained shameless and stubborn bullies, as always.

Some people went as far as protesting in front of the Malaysian Embassy over their ‘unauthorized use of the Pendet dance’ in their ‘mysterious advertisement’ and a small radical group even performed ‘raids’ on Malaysians on the streets of Jakarta, against stern warnings from the Indonesian Police Force. Why the Indonesian media blew the accusations out of proportion which created havoc but didn’t really publish the truth after they found out (with the exception of The Jakarta Globe), is beyond me.

But as I wrote in one of my older posts, the Indonesian media is as responsible to many of the things happening in our country as the Indonesian people themselves (who are easily provoked by these so-called ‘news’ and then usually go run amok like a drunken bull before getting all their facts and figures straight).
Now as if that’s not embarrassing enough, our resurfaced accusations of Malaysians using one of our folk songs called Terang Bulan and turning it into their National Anthem has really put us in a shit-hole.

Leading Indonesian musician and artist, Remy Sylado, as quoted by The Jakarta Globe, said the so-called Indonesian song “Terang Bulan” (“Moonlight”) was actually an adaptation of “La Rosalie,” which was composed in the 19th century by Pierre-Jean de Beranger of Francey.
Citing a Dutch historical text on national anthems, Sylado said the song became popular in the former French colony of the Seychelles and arrived in the Malay archipelago at the turn of the 20th century, where it was eventually used as the basis for Malaysia’s anthem, “Negaraku” (“My Country”).

With this new finding, Malaysians can easily accuse us as thieves ourselves. The question remains, Who’s the thief now? Who stole what from who? And, Who is the thief first?

Why are we that easy to provoke, especially when it comes to matters of religion and the relationship of Indonesia and Malaysia? Weren’t we at one point ONE people? Why do we keep on blasting Malaysians for ‘stealing’ our cultural heritage but don’t do much to promote it ourselves? Why do we get angry when a country ‘steals’ our cultural heritage but feel at ease about stealing other people’s culture? (This is in relation to the fact that the Indonesian ‘indigenous’ culture is actually heavily influenced by the Chinese, Arabs, Indians, Aborigines, European, Portuguese, other South East Asian countries, etc.)

Now as a person and a member of our nation we must all ask ourselves. Why are we easily provoked?
We should stop this silliness and learn to contain our emotions. Most importantly, true to the saying that those who live in a glass house should not throw stones, we should be aware of our own weaknesses, of the things that we ‘stole’ before accusing other people of ‘stealing’ anything.

Think about it, maybe the truest ‘culture’ we have now is corruption, collusion and nepotism. And that’s not even something to be proud about.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Online Porn Sites and Rapes

One of the reasons for the issuance of the Pornography Law was because some politicians alleged that Online Porn Sites have increased the numbers of Sex Crimes including Rapes in Indonesia.

And based on the same reason, the Minister of Communication and Information Tifatul Sembiring has decided to block Online Porn Sites.

In this regards, I would like to share an article on Viva News written by Ari A. Perdana, an Indonesian Post Graduate student at the University of Melbourne, about two studies in the United States showing that the number of Rapes has decreased after the Internet, including Porn Sites, come to existence.

The two studies, by Anthony D'Amato of the Northwestern Law School titled "Porn Up, Porn Down", and by Ted Kendall of the Economic Dept of the Clemson University titled: "Pornography, Rape and the Internet" show that the number of Rapes in the U.S has decreased between early '90s and after the existence of Online Porn Sites.
Kendall quoted a survey showing that in 1993 there were 1.6 Rape case in every one thousand people, compared to 0.4 Rape case in every one thousand people after the arrival of online Porn Sites in 2004.

Both studies show that existence of Online Porn Sites does not necessarily mean that there will be an increase in Rape cases. Therefore, in my opinion blocking of those sites would only be effective if followed by law enforcement not just on online Porn sites but also offline Porn materials like DVDs  which has long been declared illegal but not difficult to find.

Does Miss Universe has to speak English?

Last Monday night, Miss Mexico Jimena Navarette (22) was crowned the winner at the Miss Universe 2010 contest that took place in Las Vegas, U.S.A.

At the said contest, Miss Indonesia Qory Sandriova (18) did not get any title. Some media assumed that her failure was caused by her inability to speak proper English during the preliminary round of the contest.

A YouTube video of Miss Indonesia, Qory Sandioriva, answering questions in a preliminary round of the Miss Universe beauty pageant in broken English has provoked online critics. (Photo courtesy of

However, I don't think that English was the main reason for Qory's failure to win, because Miss Mexico spoke through an interpreter at the event,  therefore it is very difficult to say that she can speak English.

Details can be read on the following articles :
With Miss Universe win, Miss Mexico becomes national icon
Miss Indonesia's "Broken English' Sparks Online Ridicule

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Controversial Sentence Remission

As in previous years, during the commemoration of Indonesia's Independence on 17 August, President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono (SBY) granted Sentence Remission i.e. reduction of jail term, to many people who are serving jail sentence.

This remission has enabled many of the inmates to be released from jail before their time.

This year's decision has caused strong protests from many people, because many of the released inmates were people who were jailed for Corruption, including the father in law SBY's son.
Some members of the House of Representatives have even proposed to end Sentence Remission as reported by The Jakarta Globe (below).

Considering the above I hope that in the future decision to grant Sentence Remission would be done more carefully based on the best interest of the people and country, and not on personal and/or group interests.

Legislators Differ Over Call To End Sentence Remissions
Anita Rachman | August 23, 2010

Haris Rusly of pro-democracy group Petisi 28 files a protest to the president via the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights regarding the ease with which clemency is granted to graft convict. (JG Photo/Afriadi Hikmal)
Haris Rusly of pro-democracy group Petisi 28 files a protest to the president via the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights regarding the ease with which clemency is granted to graft convict. (JG Photo/Afriadi Hikmal)

Jakarta. A call to cut out a host of clemency options currently enjoyed by corruption convicts has drawn a mixed reaction from the House of Representatives, which has produced a fair amount of such convicts over the years.

House Speaker Marzuki Alie, from the ruling Democratic Party, said that denying graft convicts sentence reductions, presidential pardons, parole or social reintegration programs would require amending the entire 2006 Corrections Law under which they are regulated.

“While it’s possible, it’s not as simple as some might think,” he said on Monday.

“I’m not going to take sides before we hold a discussion on the issue and hear what the legal experts have to say about it.”

On Sunday, legislators from House Commission III, which oversees legal affairs, proposed discussing the ban for corruption convicts.

Those making the call include Tjatur Sapto Edy of the National Mandate party (PAN), who is the commission’s deputy chairman, and Golkar legislators Nudirman Munir and Bambang Soesatyo.

The issue came to the fore last week following the early release of several high-profile corruption convicts, including former Bank Indonesia deputy governor Aulia Pohan, the father-in-law of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s eldest son.

Aulia had only a day earlier also been granted a remission, or sentence cut, in commemoration of Independence Day on Aug. 17.

Meanwhile, House Deputy Speaker Priyo Budi Santoso, from Golkar, said he supported the ban to prevent giving graft convicts a “Get-out-of-jail-free” card.

“As long as it doesn’t affect clemency articles in the Constitution, I believe it’s worth looking at the ban,” he said.

He added the controversy spawned by the seemingly favorable treatment given to graft convicts should serve as a wake-up call for the government to punish corruptors more harshly.

However, Anis Matta, a deputy House speaker from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), said that while the proposed changes should be evaluated, he warned against rescinding all options for clemency for graft convicts.

He argued that much of the bad publicity was based on isolated cases and that such lenient treatment was the exception rather than the rule.

“Personally, I back only the call to phase out the option of remissions,” Anis said.

He added that in some cases, the graft convicts were themselves “merely victims,” but declined to elaborate.

“Even if we do get rid of remissions, we should be prepared to make exceptions in certain cases,” he said, again declining to say what those cases were.

However, Bambang said that the proposal was relevant to the current state of the corrections system, adding that Commission III would seek to push it into the law books.

“At their trials, these criminals get the minimum sentence, then when they’re eligible for it, they get the maximum remission,” he said.

“What does that say about the system?”

He added that ending remissions, parole and reintegration programs would ensure that corruption convicts were “truly punished” for their crimes.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Murder of TV Reporters

Two TV reporters have been murdered in the eastern part of Indonesia, in three weeks..

On 30 July, Ardiansyah Matra'i, a reporter of Merauke TV in Merauke, Papua Province, was found dead. His death was allegedly linked to his coverage of Illegal Logging practices in the province.

Last Saturday, Ridwan Salamun, a reporter of SunTV Network, was found dead while covering a clash between two rival group of people in Tual, Maluku Province.

I hope that the above murder cases would be investigated thoroughly.

For details, please read the following articles :
-   Papua Journalist Found Dead After Going Missing for 2 Days
-   TV reporter killed during group clash in Maluku

Online Etiquette

Few days ago, I read a blog post of a blogger which joked about a public officer using impolite words.

The next day, the blogger received a comment from another blogger who was annoyed by said post saying that he cannot insult a public officer whom he has voted in the election.

This story reminds me about a similar story that I have read on The Jakarta Post (below).

As a believer in democracy, I am very happy that internet activists in Indonesia are now able to write about many things they want to share with others. However, as a part of a society we must not forget that we also have a responsibility to maintain harmony and tranquility in our society, therefore we should always consider the laws, regulations and etiquette in Indonesia.

Teacher faces charges for Facebook criticism

Wed, 06/10/2009 1:02 PM | National
JAKARTA: Another citizen is facing libel charges, for posting criticism on popular online social network Facebook, in the wake of public outcry over the controversial detention of a housewife in Tangerang for sharing her complaint about hospital services online. 

Indra Sutriafi Pipil, a teacher at a state vocational school in the North Sulawesi city of Kotamubagu, told Antara news agency Tuesday he was also facing dismissal for allegedly defaming Mayor Djelantik Mokodompit.

In his Facebook account, Indra mentioned rampant "corruption of work hours" in the municipality administration office.

Kotamubagu police post chief First Insp. Muhammad Monoarfa said he had received a report filed by municipality administration and handed over the case to the local prosecutor's office.

Reports said Tangerang housewife Prita Mulyasari, Indra would likely be charged under the 2008 Information and Electronic Transaction Law, which carries a maximum sentence of six years in jail.

Regional administration secretary Muhamad Mokoginta admitted the libel lawsuit had been filed against Indra, saying the teacher had discredited the administration. 

"We reported the case to the law enforcers last month." - JP

Photo: Courtesy of Photo Search.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Train Wagon for Women

Last Thursday, the state owned train company PT KA introduced the first women only wagon.

Please find below an article that I have quoted from Kompas.

I wonder whether this will be followed by special wagons for other sexes i.e. men, bisex, homo/lesbians.

Harassed or Touched by Men during Rush Hours
Jumat, 20 Agustus 2010 | 14:06 WIB
Women board a women-only carriage of a commuter train in Jakarta August 19, 2010. Two men entered the carriage by mistake and eventually got out. The Indonesian train operator launched women-only carriages to protect women from sexual harassment on public transportation, a local television reported on Thursday. 

JAKARTA, — As the train rattled into Indonesia’s capital, 19-year-old Wiwit Wahyuningsih plopped down on a soft, pink-cushioned seat in a carriage newly designated exclusively for women.  It was a great feeling, the university student said, knowing she didn’t have to worry about being ogled at, pinched or even groped.

“The trains are always so packed, there are thousands of people crammed up against one another,” she said as she arrived at her station, books tucked beneath her arm. “Especially during morning and evening rush hours, it’s very common to be harassed or touched by men, intentional or not.”

Indonesia, a secular nation home to the world’s largest Muslim population, is often held up as a beacon of modernity. Women wearing headscarves — for religious reasons, fashion or in some cases to avoid unwanted attention — can be seen walking alongside friends in shorts and tank tops in glitzy shopping malls. Flirtatious teens fill coffee shops and male and female co-workers sit side-by-side at outdoor food stalls.

Except in mosques or religious schools, segregation between the sexes is rare.  But the state-run train operator PT Kereta Api Indonesia decided to set aside two cars in an eight-coach commuter train that runs between the capital and outlying suburbs after being flooded by letters of complaint from women.

As they increasingly enter the work force, women now account for half the 500,000 passengers riding the train in the greater Jakarta area every day.  The new train service for women had a soft launch on Thursday and went into full swing Friday.

“We need to protect them,” said Makmur Syaheran, a spokesman for the company, adding that if the service is a success, it could eventually be expanded to other trains in the sprawling archipelagic nation.

Stories about sexual harassment have made headlines in local papers in recent months and have filled up commentary pages. They also have become popular topics on blogs and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Coincidentally, the controversy peaked just as two high school students posted a video on YouTube showing themselves singing to “Keong Racun,” which translates as “Poisonous Snail,” about a slimy old man who relentlessly pursues a completely uninterested young girl. With more than 3.6 million views, the teens, and the song, became an overnight sensation.

Women packed into the train, quickly filling up the 58 seats in each of the two male-free cars. Many reached in their bags for mobile phones and immediately started sending text messages or making calls.

Others, who couldn’t find a seat, crouched down in front of their friends to chat, or grabbed onto the swinging ceiling handles.   Asmawati, an acupuncturist who for 15 years has traveled into Jakarta daily to treat private clients, said she was impressed.

“It feels so relaxed, I love it,” said the 41-year-old who, like many Indonesians, goes by only one name. “Clean, air conditioned, no one bothers you ... I hope they keep it up.”
Yanti Sumarni, 28, agreed, describing how a man once pressed up against her and then leaned his head on her shoulder.  “I hated it,” she said as her friend Helena, added: “If anything, two cars isn’t enough. Look! There are more than 200 women here. It’s a good start, but we really need more.”
Government officials were quick to point out that it is not obligatory for women to use the carriages. They’re free to ride with men in the other six cars if they so choose.       

Imam Prasodjo, a sociologist from the University of Indonesia, said any form of segregation, especially in public places, can be viewed as a setback in a modern, newly democratic society. But the women-only carriages should be considered in the context of the country’s strong tradition of  egalitarianism.

“In this case, it really has nothing to do with discrimination,” he said, noting that, while sexism undoubtedly exists, men and women do work alongside one another in rice fields and in tall office buildings. “It’s about making their journey safer. I think most people will welcome that.”

Indonesia is not the first Asian country to offer same-sex carriages. Neighboring Malaysia recently reserved several pink coaches for women. Japan has offered the service during morning rush hour for years. And in India, female passengers have entire trains to themselves.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Armed Robbery in Medan

The North Sumatra Police are examining photos of the bank robbery at a CIMB Niaga branch in Medan on Wednesday. (Photo Courtesy  
In recent months, several armed robberies have took place in some parts of Indonesia.

The latest Robbery took place in broad daylight last Wednesday at CIMB Niaga Bank in Medan, North Sumatra, by 16 men carrying M-16 and AK-47 Automatic Rifles, and stole Rp 400 Million.

This is the third time in four months that armed robbers have 'successfully' stole money from banks in Medan

The first one was on 30 April when six armed men robbed Sumut Bank at noon and stole Rp 500 Million.
The second one was on 16 June when four armed men robbed Rp 50 Million Bank BRI at noon.

Some experts said that those armed robberies may have possibly been carried out by terrorists to finance their notorious activities.

I hope that the Police would catch those robbers very soon so that the people in Medan would feel safer.

For details, please read the following articles :
Sumatra Robbers Steal Rp 400m From Bank in Broad Daylight
Expert says Bank Heist May Have Terror Links

Photo : Courtesy of The Jakarta Globe.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Third Term for President SBY?

One of the hottest news lately is about the possibility of President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono (SBY) to run as a candidate in the next presidential election in 2014.

This is impossible, because according to the amended Constitution a president can only hold two office terms, and currently SBY is on his second office term.

This shocking idea was brought by the PR of SBY's Democrat Party i.e. Lawyer Ruhut Sitompul who said that SBY is the only suitable person for the post. For which purpose he proposed an amendment of said constitution clause to allow a president hold more than two office terms.

Amendment of the Constitution is not an easy thing to do and should through several steps. First, a proposal for amendment should be approved by at least 1/3 votes of the joint meeting of House of Representatives and the Regional Representatives Council. Second, the joint meeting must be attended by at least 2/3 of the members. Third, 51% of the members must be give their approval.

Considering that the Democrat Party only have 25% seats in the House of Parliament, they have to obtain approval from the other members of the coalition, which means that they have to give much more consessions, especially to the Golkar Party as second largest party.

In my humble opinion, amendment of the Constitution would take a whole lots of time, energy and cause political tensions. Therefore it would be much better if the Constitution is not disturbed and let new leaders become president in 2014.  

For details on the above, please read the following articles :
Undang-undang Dasar 1945 (Indonesian Constitution)
SBY and a Third Term as President?
Extending Presidential Term Betrays Indonesia's Reform

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Indonesia and Malaysia Today

Indonesia and Malaysia are two neighboring countries in South East Asia that have lots of similarities.

The majority population in both countries speak languages that are similar i.e. Indonesian and Malay, have the same religion i.e Islam,  and share arts, culture, dishes that are quite similar.

Further, both countries are founding members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) which is getting solid after ratification of the Asean Charter on December 2008, which will be followed by the creation of an Asean Political-Security, Economic and Sosio-Cultural Community in 2015.

In the '70s, many Malaysian came to study in various universities in Indonesia, and many Indonesian Teachers and Lecturers, Medical Doctors, Engineers were sent to Malaysia.
But now the condition is different, most Indonesians who go to work in Malaysia are low educated people who work as maids or similar jobs. Although there many others who go to Malaysia for business, study, vacation and medical check-up.

Relationship between the two neighbors have often been disturbed by bad treatment of Indonesian workers in Malaysia, misunderstandings about ownership of works of arts (i.e batik, dances), or border dispute (i.e the Ambalat water), all of which were settled amicably between both of them.

The latest dispute was caused by the arrest of three patrol officers of the Indonesian Maritime and Fishery Ministry (KKP) by Malaysian Police, following the arrest of seven Malaysian fishermen by KKP patrol on sea north of Bintan Island on 13 August.

This case is rather confusing, because each of them have their own versions of what happened that day
The KKP alleged that three of their officers were arrested on board the fisherman's boat on Indonesian territory, thus the Malaysian Police have tresspassed our border.
While the Malaysian Police alleged that KKP patrol intercepted the fisherman's boats on Malaysian teritory, then took seven fishermen to Indonesian teritory after the Malaysian Police came, leaving behind the three KKP officials behind on board the fisherman's boat. 

After negotiations between the Indonesian Foreign Ministry and their Malaysian counterpart, the three KKP officers, and the seven fishermen were released on Tuesday 17 August.

For details, please read the following articles :
Arrests at Sea Raise Tensions With Malaysia
7 Fishemen kidnapped in Riau 
Petugas KKP Dibebaskan Polisi Malaysia
7 Nelayan Malaysia Dipulangkan

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

God Bless Indonesia

Today, 17 August 2010, 240 million people living in more than 17,000 island in South East Asian archipelago celebrate the 65th. independence of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia.

Let's hope that the President and the Government, together with the Parliament and the Judiciary authorities would do their very best only for the country and people, and not for the selfish interests of their own, and/or their family, and/or their friends, and/or groups, and/or political parties.

Logo : Courtesy of Adiguna.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The State of the Nation Speech

Every year on 16 August, a President of Indonesia delivers a state of the nation speech before a joint meeting of the parliament i.e. the House of Representatives and the Regional Representative Council.

Today, President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono (SBY) delivered a speech that covers various aspects in the country, such as Politics, Economy, Corruption, Terrorist, Inter-Faith relationship, etc.

There are two aspects that I would like to write here, first about Inter-Faith relationship, whereby SBY calls the Indonesian people to exercise the "true philosophy of harmonious living in a pluralistic society", and calls for religious tolerance.

SBY's statement is related to the frequent attacks by certain Moslem radical/fanatics on the activities of Christian minorities, the latest one being the attack on Christian Church in Bekasi, West Java.

Very disapointed with the way the government and law enforcement agencies handle these attacks, whereby attackers were seldom punnished, last Sunday around 1,400 Christians have protested by holding their prayer in front of the SBY official residence at the Merdeka Palace.

On the economic side, SBY said that he is optimistic that Indonesia's annual Gross Domestic Product would grow 7.7% by 2014 (currently 5-6%), this he said would create new jobs for 10.7 million people and slash poverty by 8 to 10%.

The figures mentioned are very good compared to complaints I have heard from my friends, and other people that have been reported by TVs, newspapers, radios, about the crazy price hikes of Pepper, Eggs, Chicken, Meat and so many other commodities, that have been going on for some time. Whereas the cheap things sold in the markets are mostly imported items starting from vegetables, fruits, toys, garments, etc. etc.
And then there were labour unrests, high unemployment rates, so many beggars/tramp that can be clearly seen on many corners of Jakarta and vicinity, very high crime rates, etc. etc. etc.

One thing that I am very disapointed was that SBY seems to forget about the frequent explosion of LPG Canisters that have killed and injured so many innocent people, and solution for the never ending Lapindo Mud Flow tragedy in Sidoarjo, East Java.

Nevertheless, I hope that SBY would be more firm, decisive and confident in leading his government so that all the things that he has promised during the presidential election campaigns can be fulfilled.

For details, please read the following articles :
SBY Calls for Religious Tolerance
SBY's Target to Slash Unemployment
Religious Minorities in Indonesia Push back 

Photo :  Courtesy of Kompas.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Dangerous Surabaya Zoo

A Zoo is a public facility where animals are supposed to live well protected and well fed.

Unfortunately, not all Zoos have good management that can take proper care of the animals living inside.
Some of them are even very badly managed that some of the endangered animals died.

Recently, a Sumatera Tiger, an African Lion and an Australian Kangaroo died because of hunger at the Zoo in Surabaya, East Java.  The 94 years old Zoo has an area of 15 Hectares and hold 4,200 animals including 13 other Sumatera Tigers kept in dirty and crumped cages. According to the Zoo's caretaker, hundreds of animals died every year and others suffer from hunger, stress and overcrowding. If there is no improvement, he's afraid that they will all die in 5 years.

Considering that most Zoos are under government supervision, I hope that these very shameful incidents would be investigated thoroughly and processed in the Court of Law..
For details, please read the following media reports :
Satwa di Kebon Binatang Terancam Punah Dalam 5 Tahun
Warning: All Animals at Indonesian zoo in danger.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

72% Increase in Car Sales

Due to the rapid growth in the number of vehicles in Jakarta and vicinity, the traffic in the city is getting worst every year.

This condition would not improve soon, because according to Reuter (below) the sales of cars in Indonesia in July rose 72% from last year.  


Indonesia's car sales rise 72 pct in July from yr ago
JAKARTA | Fri Aug 13, 2010 12:03am EDT
JAKARTA Aug 13 (Reuters) - Indonesia's total domestic car sales, a widely followed indicator of consumer demand in Southeast Asia's biggest economy, rose 72 percent in July from a year ago, industry data showed on Friday.

Domestic car sales in July reached 72,090 units versus 41,910 units a year ago, led by Toyota (7203.T), Daihatsu (7262.T), Mitsubishi (7211.T), Honda (7267.T) and Suzuki (7269.T), according the Indonesian Automotive Association (Gaikindo).

Total domestic car sales in the first seven months reached 442,298 units, compared to 252,156 units in 2009.

Domestic demand is one of the main drivers of growth in the world's fourth most populous country.

Indonesia's economic growth is expected to peak in the third quarter, and full-year GDP growth may exceed 6 percent this year, the statistics bureau said earlier this month. [ID:nJAK189986] (Reporting by Telly Nathalia; Editing by Sara Webb)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Carbon Credits for Palm Oil growers

Environment organizations like WALHI and Greenpeace have accused that Palm Oil growers are responsible for destroying forests therefore destroying the habitat of Orangutan.  

Is spite of these accusations, the Ministry of Forestry is planning to include Palm Oil growers among those eligible to get Carbon Credit i.e. a United Nations backed scheme aimed at preserving forest.

Please find below a related report by Reuters.

Indonesia may let palm oil growers collect CO2 credits         

Mon Aug 9, 2010 8:15am  

By Sunanda Creagh

JAKARTA Aug 9 (Reuters) - Indonesia may propose palm oil plantations be eligible to earn carbon credits under a U.N.-backed scheme aimed at preserving forests, a forestry ministry official said on Monday.

Such a move could potentially create a new line of revenue for the palm oil industry and listed firms like Wilmar (WLIL.SI) and PT Astra Agro Lestari (AALI.JK), but is likely to anger green groups who accuse planters of deforestation.

Indonesia was the first country to develop a national framework for a U.N-backed forest preservation scheme called reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD).

The scheme would allow forested developing countries like Indonesia to be paid potentially billions of dollars from rich nations not to chop down their trees. [ID:nJAK495718]

Countries began developing domestic legal frameworks for REDD in anticipation of a global agreement on the scheme at climate talks held in Copenhagen last year, which will be continued in Mexico in December.

"If there is agreement on REDD, we could put palm oil plantations to be eligible for that," said Wandojo Siswanto, a special adviser to the forestry minister and one of Indonesia's lead negotiators at global climate talks.

Siswanto said the forestry ministry was working with the national planning agency, Bappenas, on the feasibility of including palm oil in Indonesia's national strategy on REDD.

"I think it would be good if we just say that palm oil plantations could also mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration through the nature of the trees," he said, adding that both existing plantations and future plantations developed on degraded land could be eligible.

Monoculture forests trap climate warming greenhouse gases but not nearly as much as natural heterogeneous forests.

Moray McLeish, of the Washington-based environment think tank World Resources Institute, said clear definitions of what constituted a forest were needed.
"If a plantation is regarded as a forest, then you can cut down a virgin forest and replace it with a plantation and on paper you have no change," he said.
"On the ground you have massive carbon emissions, massive loss of biodiversity, loss of ecosystem system services and loss of livelihoods for local people.


The UN has yet to formulate its definition of forest for the purposes of REDD but has already developed a set of safeguards to prevent planters from clearing natural forest and then being rewarded with carbon credits.

Tim Boyle, the Bangkok-based regional coordinator for the U.N. REDD programme, warned that the global climate talks on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol may end up adopting a definition of forest that specifically excluded palm oil from REDD.

"It would be strange if it was assumed that palm oil was going to be counted as forest. That would seem risky to me," he said.

(Editing by Neil Chatterjee and Jonathan Thatcher)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Controversial Phone call recording

Last November, National Police Chief Insp.Gen. Bambang H. Danuri and Attorney General Hendarman Supanji told the House of Representatives that they have a phone call recording that proved Deputy Chiefs of the Corruption Eradication Commission received bribes from businessman Anggodo Wijaya.

However, when the Corruption Court recently instructed the Police to present the said recording, they can only present a Call Data Record (CDR) which show telephone numbers but no conversation at all.

According to National Police spokesman Edward Aritonang the Police never mention that they have the recording,

While, the Attorney General Office's spokesman told reporters that such recording never exists. 

The above confusing statements have been strongly protested by members of the House, anti corruption activists, academicians and non government organizations, who alleged that the Police has been spreading a Public Lie.

In reaction to these allegation, the Police said that they never have any intention to spread a Public Lie.

Detailed media reports :
National Police Must Be Responsible fo False Corruption Claims, Analyst
Polri tidak Pernah Berniat Melakukan Kebohongan Publik

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

SMART vs. Greenpeace

Environment organization Greenpeace has continuously alleged that Indonesia's largest producer of Palm Oil i.e Sinar Mas Agri (SMART) has massively cleared Peatland and Primary Forests as habitat of Orangutan in Indonesia.

Due to this fact, SMART has lost major customers of its products including Unilever, Nestle and Kraft.

So in order to counter the allegations, SMART has commissioned two independent inspection companies i.e. Control Union Certifications and BSI, to carry put an audit on this matter.

And last Tuesday, SMART president Daud Dharsono told reporters that the result of audit shows that the above allegations were largely unfounded and that SMART was not responsible for deforestation of primary forests and the destruction of Orangutan habitats.

However, Greenpeace denied this saying that said audit has actually "confirmed Greenpeace's findings" that the company cleared Peatland and Primary Forests.

Source : AFP/Google

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Thank God It's Ramadhan

On 11 August, Moslems around the world will enter the month of Ramadhan, during which we will Fast i.e. refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, sexual activity, getting angry, lying, using bad language, be more diligent in prayer and give charities.
The Fast begins after we have taken Sahur meal very early in the morning (Imsak), and broken at sunset (Magrib) by taking Iftar meal.

Those who fast includes Adults and mentally sane people. And those who may not fast are : children, women having their period, travelers, the sick, those with long-term illnesses, pregnant or breastfeeding women and the mentally ill.

The breaking of the Fast (Iftar) is a social occasion for which special foods are prepared for gatherings with family or friends. Upon hearing the call to prayer (Azan) from the mosque or radio or TV at sunset, the faithful know it's time to break their fast (buka puasa). This is usually done with a drink and snacks. Magrib prayer is made before a full meal is served. Afterwards, we have Taraweh prayer at the mosques or at gatherings every evening at about 7:30 p.m.

The schedule for Imsak and Maghrib is available in major newspapers, on the radio and on the television throughout Indonesia, as well as published in handouts by major religious organizations.

Why does Islam oblige its followers to fast during Ramadhan?

  • To develop compassion for the poor and needy who feel hungry every day.
  • As a spiritually and physically cleansing experience. Fasting is seen as an opportunity to separate ourself from the things of this world and to concentrate on our relationship with God.
  • To become closer to God by contemplating His will in our life.
  • To build self-discipline and to become a better person.
To all my Moslem brothers, sisters and friends, I wish you a Wonderful and Blessfull Ramadhan.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Abubakar Ba'asyir Arrested

This morning, Police Anti Terrorist Unit Densus-88 arrested Abu Bakar Basir, the alleged leader of the South East Asia terrorist network Jemaah Islamiah (JI).

Please find below the news about the arrest that I have quoted from Kompas.

I hope that the arrest would stop violence committed by anyone or group of people who claim to be acting in the name of certain religion.
I also hope that the government and its law enforcement agencies would be consistent in eliminating violence especially that we are about to enter the holy month of Ramadhan.

Recent Terrorism Cases Lead to Ba'asyir's Arrest
Senin, 9 Agustus 2010 | 10:01 WIB
JAKARTA, - Indonesia National Police Headquarters confirmed the arrest of senior leader of Jama'ah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT) Abu Bakar Ba'asyir by an anti-terrorist unit special detachment 88 (Densus 88).

"That's right, he was arrested," said National Police spokesman Sr. Comm. Marwoto Soeto on Monday.  According to him, Ba'asyir  was arrested over his alleged involvement in recent terrorism cases.

"Arrested for dealing with the cases," added Marwoto. Ba'asyir was arrested in Ciamis at around  8 a.m. local  time.

"He's being probed by investigators."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Attacks on the President and the People

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is reported to have said that terrorists arrested on Saturday had been planning to attack him. (AFP Photo) 

President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono told reporters today that he just survived a teror plot.

The Jakarta Globe quoted him as saying that today the Police has arrested two terrorists who plan to attack him during a visit to Bandung, West Java.

This news gave me mixed feelings. On the one hand I am very happy that the Police has once again been successful in protecting the President from terrorist attack. 

But on the other hand I am very sad because until this moment the Police has still not been able to find out who's responsible for the series of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Canisters explosions that have killed and injured many innocent people in the last few months.

In my humble opinion, this is weird because LPG Canisters are produced, filled-refilled and distributed legally, therefore should not be so difficult to probe compared to secretive terrorists operations.

I hope that beside protecting the President, the Police would also find out immediately who have attacked the people by producing, filling-refilling, selling low quality and explosive LPG Canisters. After all, according to our Constitution the people is the holder of sovereignty in Indonesia.

Photo: Courtesy of AFP/The Jakarta Globe.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Illegal Logging Today

President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono has promised international leaders that Indonesia will voluntarily reduce 26% Carbon Emission by 2020. And if we are helped by other countries, we can even reduce up to 41%

For this purpose, the government has planned massive replantation of forest trees and to stop the cutting of forest trees.

However, it seems that it's not easy to stop the cutting of forest trees because many of them are done illegally as reported by Kompas below.
Due to this fact, I hope that the the government would do everything in its power to stop illegal cutting of forest trees, that way Indonesia can keep its promise to reduce Carbon Emission.

Indonesia 'Woefully Inadequate' on Illegal Loggers
Kamis, 5 Agustus 2010 | 17:38 WIB
This aerial picture taken on July 6, 2010, over eight concession areas of Indonesias biggest palm oil firm Sinar Mas, shows receding forest cover near Sinar Mas plantation area in Kapuas Hulu in West Kalimantan province on Borneo island. Sinar Mas is undergoing an independent audit of its practices, the results of which are expected in July following a Greenpeace report that the Indonesian firm was devastating rainforests and driving endangered species like orangutans into extinction. Anglo-Dutch food and cosmetics giant Unilever said on May 19, 2010 it would continue to get 65 percent of its total palm oil purchases from Indonesia, despite concerns about deforestation by the industry. Nestle, the worlds largest food company, had also dropped Sinar Mas as a palm oil supplier but said on May 17, 2010 it would resume buying from the company if an independent audit cleared the Jakarta-based firm of improper practices. Borneo island is rapidly losing its vast virgin forest due to palm oil plantations and illegal logging that is largely contributing to global warming. Sinar Mas said the palm oil industry is crucial to alleviating poverty in Indonesia as it provides direct employment for about 4.5 million people and generated 10.4 billion USD worth of exports last year.

JAKARTA, - Indonesia is allowing powerful businessmen to get rich from smuggling rare timber to China despite its pledges to crack down on illegal logging and preserve its forests, environmentalists said Thursday. An undercover probe by the independent Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and local group Telapak found rampant smuggling of merbau, a valuable hardwood found mainly in Papua.

The probe tracked the illicit trade from the forests to the ships where the wood was being illegally exported, mainly to China, with the help of corrupt officials. Complaints to authorities about the two alleged kingpins in the trade had achieved nothing, the groups said in a report.

“While the huge quantity of illegal timber flowing from Indonesia during the first half of the decade has declined, effective law enforcement against those responsible — the financiers, company bosses and corrupt officials — has been woefully inadequate,” EIA campaign director Julian Newman said.

The groups called on Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to make good on his promises to crack down on what he has called the “logging mafia” that is accused of destroying much of the country’s pristine forests. Indonesia is one of the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, mainly through deforestation.

Yudhoyono has pledged to slash its emissions by more than 40 percent over 2005 levels by 2020, as long as foreign donors pour billions of dollars into the country for forest preservation.

“The illegal trade of merbau is symptomatic of the wider problems and the governance failure in the forest sector in Indonesia,” Newman told reporters.

“It is not only the problems of Indonesia. China has been wide open to illegal timbers. We hope China will follow the US and the EU in banning illegal timber in a bid to protect forests.”

Telapak representative Hapsoro said the government was allowing the kingpins of the illegal trade to run riot.

“It is time for Indonesia to redouble its efforts to combat timber smuggling by going after the main culprits,” he said.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Indonesian Soldiers in Lebanon

Today, The Jakarta Globe (below) reported a disturbing story about the conduct of two Indonesian Soldiers in Lebanon.

Considering that both soldiers are members of, therefore they are under the military command of, the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL), I hope that their Commander would clarify this story ASAP.

Criticism as Two Indonesian Soldiers Flee Lebanese, Israeli Battle in Taxi
August 05, 2010

Beirut, Lebanon. Lebanese media have lashed out at the UN Interim Force, which includes Indonesian soldiers, in Lebanon, calling it an “impotent” bystander after a deadly border skirmish between Lebanese and Israeli forces.

“The impotent international forces beat a retreat, left the place of combat and watched the unfolding events from afar,” said the daily As-Safir, which is close to the Shiite movement Hezbollah.

UNIFIL had asked its soldiers only to “make a show of arms ... against enemy forces,” the newspaper said on Wednesday. It had “encouraged [the enemy] with its reticence, without effectively intervening to prevent the Israeli aggression,” the newspaper alleged on Wednesday.

Lebanese and Israeli troops traded deadly fire on their tense border on Tuesday in the worst clash since the 2006 war between the Jewish state and the Shiite Hezbollah. Two Lebanese soldiers, a Lebanese journalist and a senior Israeli officer were killed.

The Al-Anwar daily mocked the multinational force, saying it “fulfills its role perfectly” when things are calm.

“But ... when confrontations flare it is only a simple spectator, which contacts the two parties to try to restore calm and then submits a report to the Security Council,” the newspaper said.

Daily An-Nahar daily said: “The question is, what to do if the incident is repeated ... in particular regarding the claimed role of UNIFIL.”

“Why did UNIFIL not help the army, at least by offering first aid?” it questioned, citing senior sources involved in calming the border tension.

It said an organization such as UNIFIL was “obliged to deal with the evacuation of casualties.”

On Tuesday, Hezbollah-run Al-Manar television aired images of two Indonesian soldiers, presumably from UNIFIL, leaving the site of the skirmish in a shared taxi.

New TV, which also sympathizes with Hezbollah, spoke of the “escape” of UNIFIL soldiers.

The UN force urged “maximum restraint” following the clashes along the so-called Blue Line, a UN-drawn border.

The acting force commander, Brigadier General Santi Bonfanti, flew to the site of the clashes and personally called on both parties to “stop firing in all the area.”

UNIFIL has some 13,000 troops from various countries stationed in southern Lebanon.

The force, which was set up in 1978 to monitor the border between Israel and southern Lebanon, was considerably beefed up in the wake of the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel.

Agence France-Presse

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Relocation of Capital City

One of the hottest topics for discussion in the Indonesian news media today is about the possibility of relocating the country's capital city from Jakarta to other location.

This subject was brought by President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono (SBY), government ministers, members of parliaments, and some other public figures.

Various reasons were given, among others that the condition of Jakarta is getting worst everyday due to overpopulation, bad infrastructure, regular floods, horrible traffic jam, etc. And the costs for improving  Jakarta's bad conditions is estimated to be much higher than the costs for moving the capital city which is estimated to be between 60 to 100 trillion Rupiah.

Several locations for the new capital have been named, including Palangkaraya the capital of Central Kalimantan Province, Jonggol (around forty kilometers from Jakarta), and Yogyakarta.

I hope that any attempt to realize this idea would be done very carefully by considering all aspects like legal status, state's financial conditions, economic, political and socio-cultural impacts. In this regards, we should also learn how the relocation of capital city was done in other countries like Brazil (from Rio to Brasilia) and Malaysia (from Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya).

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

ASEAN and Blogger

On 15 December 2008, ten members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) including Indonesia, ratified a constitution for the organization called the ASEAN Charter.

Further, on 1 January 2010, the ASEAN China Free Trade Area (ACFTA) came into effect, reducing tariffs on 7,881 product categories in those countries to zero.

Furthermore, in 2015 an ASEAN Community shall be established based on three pillars i.e Security, Economy and Socio-Culture.

Considering that all those " big projects " will surely effect the people living in ASEAN countries, there must be  serious efforts  to socialized them to the public.

For this purpose, the Indonesian Department of Foreign Affairs is coordinating with Be-Blog (Bekasi blogger community) to organize a bloggers' gathering on :

Day/Date     :    Saturday, 7 August 2010
Time            :    9 am to 1 pm
Venue          :    Hotel Horison Bekasi, Krakatau Room, Jl. KH. Noer Ali, Bekasi
Participants  :    Bloggers in Bekasi, Jakarta and other area.

For detailed agenda and registration, please click here.

I hope that fellow bloggers would use the above event to express whatever they have on their minds, including the impact of the Asean China FTA on Indonesia's economy. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Are we paying too much for Freedom?

With a population of 240 million living in 17,000 island, with 6 major religions and different cultures, Indonesia is one the most plural country in the world.

Most of the people are Moslems living side by side with Protestants, Catholics, Hindu, Buddha and Confucian.

Since independence on 17 August 1945 until May 1998, Indonesia was governed by authoritarian regimes, where everything, including freedom of expression, should be based on social-political-economical stability and order. People in general and the news media in particular must speak, write and/or do things which are according to the regimes' rules of the games. Otherwise there would be severe consequences.

As a result, social, inter religion, political life seemed to be normal, and the economy grown quite stable.

Then came the so called "Reformasi" after the late President Soeharto stepped down from 32 years of authoritarian rule on 21 May 1998. The Constitution was amended several times, all members of parliament must be elected directly by the people - no more 20% seats for hand picked military representatives - the economic system changed from socialist planned system into a free fight liberal system, people are free to create political parties and organizations, the news media are free to write, talk, show almost everything, etc. etc.

As a result, religious hardliners who were banned in other countries were allowed to return, thereby causing so many problems like years of violence between Moslems and non Moslems in Ambon-Maluku and Poso-Sulawesi. Although the inter-faith violence have ended in both regions, many smaller scale problems happened in other regions.  Beside that I should also mention the series of suicide bombings in Bali and Jakarta carried out by people who were "brainwashed" by hard line religious fanatics that have killed so many innocent people.

As I write this post, there are two disputes reported by the media, first one is Moslems violent rejection on the construction of Christian churches and religious activities, and the second one is Moslems rejection on the existence of a Moslem Sect i.e. Ahmadiyah

Beside that, there are people who died because of other causes, like the Speaker of North Sumatera Parliament who died of heart attack after an angry mob ransacked a plenary meeting. There was also human right activist Munir who was poisoned to death by who knows who? Violence in Papua caused by various reasons including Freeport, regional election campaigns, etc. etc.

Moreover, the concept of free fight economy has made the owners of financial capital to prosper from imports of products in stead of producing locally, causing the closing down of factories : textile and garment, floor and roof tiles, furniture, steel products. Even fruits and vegetables are imported.

With the China-Asean Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) that started on 1 January 2010, that created the Free Trade Area between China and 10 ASEAN countries, things are getting more worst every day.

If no serious efforts is made to protect local industry, including postponement of the CAFTA for 3-5 years, high unemployment rate can be expected to increase in the years to come. As a logical consequence, crime rates would inevitably increase.

But now that the water is already flowing under the bridge, there is no need to regret for what we have chosen. The most important thing right now is that the leaders (Executive, Legislative and Judiciary) should have strong and consistent will to adopt and implement all the laws based on the concept of Rule of Law i.e. Supremacy of Law, Equality Before the Law, Presumption of Innocence, Respect of Human Rights. For that purpose, we need strong, smart, honest, fair and firm leaders who are willing to do his/her very best efforts only for the very best interest of the people of Indonesia.

If we can have all that, we can expect that freedom will bring much better things, and I am sure that Indonesia will prosper continously in the future.