Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year 2009


Extension of the Sunset Policy

" Thank God! " that's what I said when I saw the news on the MetroTV last night about the government's decision to extend the Taxation Sunset Policy.

I have every reason to be grateful, because according to the Tax Law, the Tax Amnesty granted by the Sunset Policy for Tax Payers who correct their Annual Tax Reports (SPT), will end by 31 December 2008. Those who violate shall be penalitized.
Beside that, the Law also required potential Tax Payer who has not obtained a Tax Payer Identification Number (NPWP) latest by the same date. Those who has NPWP do not have to pay Fiscal Fee for travelling abroad, while those do do not have must pay Rp 2,5 mio (increase from current Rp 1 mio).

As the deadline is drawing near, thousands of people inundated the Tax Office either to submit their correct SPT, or apply NPWP.
Considering this fact, the government has decided to extend the deadline until 28 February 2008. The Jakarta Post quoted the Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani as saying that as legal basis for the extension of the Sunset Policy, President SBY has signed an Emergency Law (Perpu).

As a conclusion, I felt that the extension of the deadline for Sunset Policy is a very good chance for us to correct the Annual Tax Reports so that we can avoid the consequence i.e. Penalty for violations.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Doubtful Laws

Lately, we often heard news regarding the submission of request for Judicial Reviews of valid Laws with the Constitutional Court (MK).

Under normal circumstances, such requests are justifiable. The problem is that many of those requests are made against Laws that has just been passed by the Parliament (DPR), the last one being Presidential Election Law, the Pornography Law. This makes me wonder whether or not the DPR has considered all aspects pertaining to the suitability of those Laws for the people of our country. Especially that we often heard news about the members of DPR making trips to many locations inside and outside Indonesia to prepare those Laws.

I sincerely hope that the next DPR, whose members will be elected directly by the people, will have much better quality than the present ones, thereby they will have better understanding on the needs of our people. If that happens, there will be lesser doubtful Laws.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Mineral & Coal Law

Until recently, mining Exploration & Production in Indonesia are carried out based on Contracts between Foreign mining companies and the Indonesian Government or State Owned Company.

In this case, relationship between the contracting parties i.e. the government and foreign companies are equal, so if there is a dispute among them, the foreign company can bring the case to a Court or Arbitration, such as in the Newmont case. Considering that many contracts are made based on Foreign Laws, in many cases the government has become the losing party.

In order to stop this from happening again, the Parliament (DPR) has passed the Mining & Coal Law (MINERBA) 16 December 2008. In this case I will quote an article in the Mining website which wrote that Article 35 of said Law stipulates that there are three basis for conducting mining works:
1)Mining Operation Permit(IUP), for large scale mining by large companies
2)People's Mining Permit(IPR), for small scale mining by Cooperative/Community
3)Special Mining Operation Permit(IUPK): granted by the minister
Now that the Mining Operations are based on Permits, the government would have a superior position compared to the mining companies, therefore there would be slimmer risks of losing court/arbitration cases.

Article 36, stipulates that IUP consists of 2 phases: Exploration and Production, which can be granted by The Head of Regent/Mayor for Mining in Regent/City; and Governor for Mining covering several Regents/Cities; and the Minister for mining that covers several provinces; to companies, cooperatives as well as individuals.
The validity of IUP Exploration varies, for metal mineral mining: 8 years max.,
for non Metal: 7 years. For granite mining: 3 years, Coal: 7 years. While IUP Production: 5-20 years. Every holder of IUP is guaranteed to get IUP Production.
Mining area for Metal Mineral:
IUP Exploration: 5,000-10,000 Hectare; IUP Production: 25,000 Hectare
Mining area for Non Metal Mineral:
IUP exploration: 500-25,000 Hectare; IUP Production: 5,000 Hectare
Mining area for Granite Mining:
IUP Exploration: 5-5,000 Hectare; IUP Production: 1,000 Hectare
Mining area for Coal Mining:
IUP Exploration: 5,000-50,000 Hectare; IUP Production: 15,000 Hectare max.
Mining area for People's Mining Permit (IPR): for Individual 1 Hectare max., for Comunity: 5 Hectare max., for Cooperative: 10 Hectare max.
Mining area for Special Mining Operation Permit:
For Metal Mineral Mining (Exploration: max. 8 years; Production: 20 years):
IUPK Exploration: 100,000 Hectare max; IUPK Production: 25,000 Hectare max.
For Coal Mining (Exploration max. 7 years/Production: 20 years):
IUPK Exploration: 50,000 Hectare max; IUPK Production: 15,000 Hectare max.

In this connection Detik wrote that the said Law doesn't seem to care about the bad impacts of minings on the lives of the surrounding people. Even if there are three Groups in the Parliament which walked out of the final session, but only because they do not agree with a contradictory regulation of the said Law. Article 169a stipulates that existing Mining Contracts prior to this Law shall remain valid until they expire. However Article 169b stipulates that all Mining Contracts should be adjusted in line with this Law.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Parliamentary Election Law

Justice has Prevailed! “, that’s what I told myself when I read on The Jakarta Post that the Constitutional Court (MK) last Tuesday passed a Verdict which determined that the election of members of Parliament (DPR, DPRD I & DPRD II) shall be based on the majority vote obtained by each candidates.

The above Court Verdict has deleted Article 214 a,b,c,d,e of the Parliamentary Election Law No. 10 Year 2008, which stipulated that election of members of Parliaments should be based on the Numerical Order of a List of Candidates prepared by a Political Party participating in the election. This kind of election is unfair, especially if we compare it with the election of the President, the Vice President, the Provincial Governors and the Heads of Regency which have been voted directly by the people.

Various comments have been made on the above Court Verdict, some agree, and some disagree. But this kind of difference is obvious in a democratic society. The most important thing is that now that the members of Parliaments will be elected directly by the people, we can expect that they would now focus their attention on how to please the people who voted them, not the Political Parties.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Luxurious Car Tax

In order to increase Tax Revenue, the Directorate General of Tax has made various efforts to attract Citizens to pay Tax, among others by persuading them to make Tax Payer Number (NPWP), and by giving Tax Amnesty through the Sunset Policy.

Further, Kompas reported that the Directorate General of Tax plan to make inventory of License Numbers (STNK) of Luxurious Cars i.e. Cars that are sold at the price of Rp. 200 mio. For which purpose, there will be an inspection on the STNK of Luxurious Cars purchased in 2009, which will be followed by inspection on Luxurious Cars purchased before 2007.
In this regards, the Vice General Secretary of the Association of Indonesian Motor Vehicle Industry (Gaikindo) i.e Noergadjito said that such inspection will reduce car production in 2009. He also said that Luxurious Cars should be defined as cars which are sold at the price of more than Rp 1 Billion.

I sincerely hope that a better definition of Luxurious Cars could be decided so that to the plan can be implemented smoothly.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Arrest of a Blogger

Last Sunday, I read an article on the blog of Ndoro Kakung about the arrest of an Indonesian blogger by the Jakarta Police on 13 December 2008 for alleged Demafation against the television station TRANS TV and Falsification of Identity.

The blogger's name was not mentioned but only described as a former employee of TRANS TV who was fired from his job due to certain reason. Very disappointed with his former employer, he later on posts articles against TRANS TV on a blog that he built using the Blogspot hosting.
Meanwhile, Detik reported that in order to carry out a thorough investigation on this case the Police has called upon the so called "father of Indonesian blogger" Enda Nasution to give his opinion as a Blog expert regarding this case.

This case reminds me about the fact as Blogger we are an integral part of the society, and what we wrote might effect other people. If we are not wise, what we write might offend other people, and we might face legal consequences.

The Sunset Policy will End

The Tax Amnesty provided by the Sunset Policy shall expire eight days from now, 31 December 2008, after that it shall not be extended. This was announced by the Director General of Taxation Darmin Nasution as quoted by Kompas.

With the Sunset Policy, the government will delete the Tax Administrative Sanction i.e Monthly Interest of 2% of the Unpaid or Less Paid Tax. Beside that, a Tax Payer who submits before 31 December 2008 the Correction of Income that has not been reported in the Annual Tax Notification (SPT) until 2007, shall not be inspected by the Directorate General of Tax.
On the contrary, a Tax Payer who do not report its Income, or submit the necessary data in its SPT, shall be fined with twice the amount of the unpaid Tax, or jailed for 3 up to 1 year. Moreover, citizens who has an income higher than the Non Taxable Income should have a Tax Payer Number (NPWP), otherwise after 31-12-08 they have to pay a 20% higher Income Tax.

Considering the above, I have corrected my SPT up to the year 2007 and plan to submit them to the Tax Office tomorrow. I hope that each and everyone of you will do the same.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Educational Legal Entity

For many years, Higher Educational Institutes managed by the State e.g Universitas Indonesia, Universitas Gajah Mada, I.T.B, have been the targets of young people who pursue higher educational studies. They are well known for their quality and the fees are lower than private owned universities. This is obvious because they enjoyed state’s subsidy. I remember a colleague told me that when he studied Medical at Universitas Gajah Mada in 1970, he only paid an annual administrative fee of Rp 60.000,-

But that perception will end soon after the Parliament (DPR) passed the new Educational Legal Entity Law last Wednesday. Under this Law, all Educational Institutions should be managed by a new kind of organization called the Educational Legal Entity (BHP), which will have full autonomy to manage the university/institute.
For universities/institutes that are managed by the state, this means that they will not receive anymore subsidy from the state, therefore in order to maintain their quality, they have to charge their students with higher fees. Even now, the fees are already very high. For instance, my cousin paid Rp 8 mio so that his daughter can be accepted at a kindergarten, and a friend paid more than Rp 25 mio for his son to be accepted at a Senior High School. One can imagine how much the cost would be to study at the university after the government lifts the subsidy.
Considering this fact, students in many cities of Indonesia e.g Jakarta, Jogyakarta, Makasar have been demonstrating against the said Law every day, as reported by the mass media.

Due to the current global economic crisis, it is understandable why the government want to reduce its burden by stop giving subsidies to educational institutions. However, considering that education is very important for a developing nation like ours, therefore it would be better if the subsidy is not stopped totally, but step by step. And if the condition improves, the subsidy should be resumed.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

The "Unsafe" Deposit Box

As normal people, many of us keep our valuable things among others very important Documents Jewelries, and other precious things in the Safe Deposit Box of a Bank where we keep our money.

It is obvious for us to keep them there, because banks are used to keep our money, therefore should be trusted to safeguard our valuable possessions. This perception and the fact that we paid for the Safe Deposit Box, make us forget about the bank’s written warning that they would not be responsible for any loss of things that we placed in the Safe Deposit Box.

Apparently, this perception is also shared by other people who kept their valuables in the banks, one of which is Ivonne Santoso who has been reported by GlobalTV News last Friday that she has lost Rp 5 Billion worth of Jewelry that she kept in a Safe Deposit Box at the BII Bank in Jalan Thamrin, Central Jakarta.
Due to this fact, Ivonne, accompanied by her husband and Lawyer, has reported this case to the Police of Central Jakarta who immediately conducted investigation at BII Bank, Thamrin Branch. In an interview with Suara Pembaruan, the Head of Investigation of the Central Jakarta Police i.e. Commissioner Suwono Nainggolan said that there is a possibility that this robbery involves some one working at BII. He further said that this is the second time Valuables has been missing from Safe Deposit Box of BII Thamrin Branch.

The above news has opened my eyes to the fact that when it comes to Safe Deposit Box a Bank would treat its Customer as taken for granted. Although the Customer pay the rental of the Safety Box, however the bank would not be responsible for any loss. Thus, in this case the function of a bank is similar to that of a Car Parking Management Companies who accept money but refuse to be responsible for any lost. Especially that this incident has happened before in the same bank.


The Supreme Court Law

The Life Expectancy of an Average Indonesian person has increased from 65 to 70 years old!
That’s what I thought when I heard that our Parliament: the People’s Representative Council (DPR) last Thursday passed the Amendment of the Supreme Court Law No.5 Year 2004, raising the age of a Supreme Judge from 67 to 70 years old.

However, in stead of being happy I felt very sad about the increase in age of those Judges, because it means that younger Judges would be obstructed from becoming a Supreme Judge, and the Supreme Court would be dominated by Old Men and Women, therefore their performance would not improve: slow processing of Cassation cases, long pending Cassation cases, lack of transparency, etc.
Unsurprisingly, my thoughts are shared by Politicians, the Indonesian Corruption Watch and Law Academicians. In this case, Kompas, Tempo, Suara Merdeka, quoted them as saying that the DPR’s decision to pass said Law has not been carried out according to DPR’s own regulation, i.e., only 63 of the 500 members attended the meeting session, and two Political parties do not agree with the increase of age, they said that the maximum age should either be 65 or 67 years old. Further they demand the passing of said Law should await the passing of the Law regarding the Judicial Commission Law which is still being processed.

Now that that the glass of milk has fell down to the floor, there is no use to worry about the spilled milk. The best thing that we can do is to monitor how those Supreme Judges perform within a sufficient period of time, let's say 12 months. If they do not show any improvement, then we can start to voice our protests once again.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fake Money

Last night the TV channel MNC News reported about the arrest by the Police of a Village Chief for having possession of Fake Indonesian Money i.e. 9 bills of Rp. 100.000,- that looks almost the same as the original ones.

This news reminds me of another news that I have read on Detik last Thursday about a Court Trial in 2005 of 5 agents of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) for their involvement in a Fake Money Case. The interesting thing was that the Crime was lead by the former Chief Executive BIN's Coordinating Board for the Elimination of Fake Money i.e Brigadier General (Ret.) Zyaeri who lead 4 of his subordinates to produce 2,267 bills of Fake Money each amounting to Rp 100.000,-.
Actually circulation of Fake Money could be traced from 2000, and become more often before the 2004 general election. And as we are approaching the 2009 election, Fake Money become news again.

The above news makes me wonder whether or not there is a connection between the production and circulation of Fake Money and the General Election. But one thing for sure is that if not eliminated those Fake Money will cause great fear among our people on the overall condition of our country.


The New Aviation Law

The People's Consultative Council (DPR) on Wednesday passed the Aviation Law with new stipulations about Air Traffic Control, Safety & Human Resources management, expansion of the “ Open Sky Policy ", independent National Transportation Board, and Private Investment in Airports.

The Jakarta Globe quoted the Transportation Minister Jusman S. Djamal as saying that this new Law will took our country closer to the end of the 17 month old ban by the European Union on Indonesian aircraft. The ban, issued in July 2007, prohibits Indonesian Aircraft from flying to 27 EU member countries. The decision was based on an audit by the ICAO following two commercial airline crashes in Sulawesi and Yogyakarta that killed 124 people.

In view of the above I felt that it is very important to implement the Law as it is, without tolerance for discrepancies, because this Law involves Human Safety. Therefore STRICT ADHERENCE and HEAVY PUNISHMENT for Violations of the Law should always be implemented. All Pilots and other Air Crew, ATC Officers and other ground crews should do their jobs properly. Existing airlines should be strictly supervised from time to time. No more new airline license. If all the airlines are safe to fly and land according to International Standards, I am sure that our airlines would be allowed to fly any places around the world.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Microchips for Aids Patients

HIV/AIDS Virus has been spreading very rapidly in our easternmost province of Papua.
In this regards,Info Papua has quoted the Head of Papua AIDS Prevention Commission i.e. Constant Karma, as saying that there are an estimate of more than 14,000 people in Papua who have been infected by the virus, more than 2,000 of which are positively infected. But, various mass media reported that the actual number of people who has been positively infected by the virus totals 5,000 which is 15 times higher than our National average.

According to some experts, the main cause of the HIV/AIDS explosion in the province is very poor Education, lack of Condoms and Traditional Promiscuity related to Tribal Rituals of exchanging sexual partner. Efforts have been made by the provincial government and non profit organizations to socialize information regarding the danger of HIV/AIDS and ways to prevent it but the spread of the Virus doesn't seem to slow down. Some agencies predicted that if more serious efforts is not made to stop the spread, as many as 7 percent of the population could be infected within the next two decades.

Panicked by this devastating effect, a member of the province's parliament (DPRD), i.e John Manangsang, last week has suggested the controversial measure of implanting Microchips on "Sexually Aggressive" HIV/AIDS patients, so that their behavior can be monitored. The Jakarta Post quoted him as saying: "I've been researching it and found online that microchips can be used in humans, so I'm convinced this can help us detect the spread of HIV in society,"

The proposal prompted an angry response from Papuans and from human rights groups.
Considering this fact, the Province's Parliament has dropped the idea, "We have agreed today to drop it," Komarudin Watubun, a deputy speaker in the local parliament, told Reuters. But he said Papua would go ahead with plans to pass legislation aimed at fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Experts in other countries have implanted Microchips on animals, and few cases in human beings, however, many research shows that it would be dangerous if they are implanted on human beings. Therefore, although very serious efforts should be made to prevent and eliminate HIV/AIDS Virus however we should always bear in mind that we are dealing with human beings whose body components are sensitive to foreign objects like Microchips.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Earlier School Hours

The Traffic Condition in Jakarta and vicinity is getting worse from day to day! Especially during the rainy season, when most traffic lights are not working and many roads are flooded and/or blocked by tree branches/leaves that fell down after being struck by very strong wind blow.

Actually, the Jakarta government has made efforts to address the chronic traffic congestion, however the problem doesn't seem to decrease. The Busway Transportation system was built on existing roads, therefore in stead of lessening, it has worsened the traffic jam. While construction of the Mono Rail project has to be stopped due to uncertain financing policy and current global financial crisis.
Cornered by this never ending problem, the Jakarta government lately decided to shift school hours 30 minutes earlier. This decision is based on the result of a 7 months survey conducted by the administration with a transportation engineering and management consultant firm PT. Pamintori Cipta, students and teachers traveling to school contribute 14 percent to traffic congestion between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. in Jakarta. The Jakarta Post quoted the Jakarta Vice Governor Prijanto as saying that the Jakarta government will issue a Decree which regulates that starting 5 January 2009, after students of Elementary, Junior High and Senior High levels return to school from the December holiday, school children will have to arrive at the school by 6:30 a.m. instead of the current time of 7 a.m.

As a father who drove my son to school every morning, I am disappointed with this plan. Because if it is realized, my son would have to wake up 30 minutes earlier, thus he has to reduce 30 minutes of his usual sleeping time. However, if the government could implement concrete contingency plan to cure the traffic jam, for example by realizing the Monorail, the Subway system, and build more roads, then me and my son would not regret sacrificing some of our sleeping time for the good sake of our society.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Court Verdict via Facebook

Since it was launched in 2004, Facebook has grown into a very popular online hangout, attracting more than 140 million users around the world. And usually, members would use Facebook to "poke" or "superpoke" each other - terms for giving someone a playful nudge.

Currently, Facebook has been used for conveying business messages, and even a Court Verdict/decision. In this regards, The Jakarta Post reported that the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court last Friday approved Lawyer Mark McCormack's application to use Facebook to serve the legally binding documents after several failed attempts to contact the couple at the house an by e-mail.

It is really good to hear about the above decision of the Australian Court which has acknowledged Facebook as a legitimate method to convey important notification. This will facilitate the convey of messages to disputing parties in the court of law which are often very difficult. Let us hope that one day, Courts in Indonesia would be willing adopt such kind of method.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

HABITAT Patent Case

The Legal Battle between PT. ESPI Swindat Pacific and PT. Hot-Hed Indonesia seems to be escalating from a Criminal Prosecution about Trademark at the District Court of South Jakarta, into a Civil Lawsuit about Patent at the Commercial Court of Central Jakarta.

According to Hukumonline, PT Hot-Hed Indonesia has submitted a Civli Lawsuit against PT ESPI at the Commercial Court of Central Jakarta, to claim for the Patent Right on an Invention titled HABITAT i.e. a Space specially designed for Under Sea Welding.
As the ground for said Claim is the certificate of Patent granted by the Indonesian Directorate of Patent in 1996 to Hot-Hed Inc. U.S.A (owner of PT Hot-Hed Indonesia).
And according to the Patent Law No. 14 Year 2001 Article 16 Par.1, a Holder of a Patent has an Exclusive Right to execute the Patent and to forbid others from doing the same without its approval. Beside that the Patent HABITAT has been registered in the USA since 1991.
As Plaintiff, PT Hot-Het accused PT ESPI of illegally using the HABITAT technology without obtaining prior approval from PT Hot-Hed. Due to this allegation, PT Hot-Hed claimed PT ESPI to pay a compensation amounting to US$ 3,4 million for the losess it has sufferred.
Meanwhile, the attorney of PT. ESPI i.e. Fahmi Assegaf questioned the Plaintiff's eligibility to file the Patent Lawsuit, considering the fact that the Patent Holder of HABITAT is Hot-Hed Inc USA, not the Plaintiff (PT. Hot-Hed Indonesia). He said that if the Palintiff is a holder of a Licence of HABITAT, it should register said Lisence in Indonesia, which they did not. Further, he denied that HABITAT is not an Invention, in stead it is a Public Domain. This is proven by the fact that in the past PT. Hot-Hed's reports to the Police regarding Patent violation has been ignored.

While the Civil Lawsuit is being tried by the Commercial Court of Central Jakarta, we can only hope that the Council of Judges would eventually pass a Fair Judgement according to the Patent Law, This is necessary because the rival parties are foreigners, therefore any discrepancy would mar our Court's image which is certainly not good at a time when we badly need foreign investors.


Monday, December 15, 2008

HABITAT Trademark Case

Gerrit van de Meent, is a Dutch citizen living in Jakarta where he work as the Director of PT. ESPI Swintad Pacific. Currently, he has been tried at the District Court of South Jakarta for his Company's usage of the Trademark SAFEHOUSE HABITATS which according to the Prosecutor is basically similar to Registered Trademark HABITAT No. 538991 in the name of Hot-Hed International SA. Based on the Trademark Law No. 15 Year 2001 Article 91, Gerrit could be punished with 3 years imprisonment.

In this regards, Hukumonline wrote that during Court trial today, Gerrit has requested the Council of Judges to release him from all charges. To support this request, his attorney i.e. Fahmi Assegaf SH, presented the Court with a Letter of the Director General of Intellectual Property Rights No. HKI.4.HI.06.06.0049.83/2008 dated 16 May 2008, which verify that the Trademark SAFEHOUSE HABITATS has no basic similarity with the Trademark HOT-HED HABITAT.
Further, Fahmi said that the PT. Hot-Hed Indonesia is not the rightful party to the trademark HABITATS which is registered by Hod-Hed International SA. Beside that both trademarks cannot be considered as basically similar because: SAFEHOUSE HABITATS consists of 17 letters while HOT-HED HABITAT only 13 letters. Further, the Accused did not produce and trade the goods using the trademark HOT-HED HABITAT, in stead the Accused only provide services for Maintainance of High Technology Equipments to be used for Oil Exploration and Cleaning of Oil Tanks.

On the contrary, Fahmi argued that the Trademark used as Evidence i.e. HOT-HED HABITAT is different from the Registered Trademark HABITAT No 538991. Considering that according to Art.61 Par.b of the Trademark Law, a Trademark which is used differently from its registration can be subject to Deletion, therefore registration of Trademark HABITAT No. 538991 should be Deleted.

Let us hope that the Council of Judges would eventually consider every aspects so that a fair judgement could be made.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Marcella & Ananda

Movie actress/producer Marcella Zalianty and Car Racer Ananda Nikola have been detained by the Central Jakarta Police for their alleged Kidnap & Torture of Architect Agung Setiawan. While the Central Jakarta Police is focusing on the investigation of this Criminal Case, a lot of efforts have been made by certain people to distract the attention of the Police as well as the public on the essence of this case.
First, there was the statements made by people related to both celebrities, for example former racers and businessmen Tommy Soeharto and Alex Asmasoebrata who urged that attention should not merely be focused on the actions that have been made on Agung, but also on what has caused such actions. Alex said that Agung has a very bad reputation of evading debts, in order to prove his words Alex made a press conference with Agung’s alleged victims in Jogyakarta. In their reaction, Agung’s attorneys i.e Partahi Sihombing and friends have demanded Alex to apologize to Agung for saying those words, but was refused by Alex.
In another development, Telematic Expert i.e. Roy Suryo revealed to the press the result of his findings on the phone photos of the Torture, which according to Roy the Police has asked for his advice. This has outraged the attorneys of Marcella i.e. Manola Sibayang, who said that revelation of an evidence during an investigation can only be made in the Court of Law, not in public.
This is very strange, because the Kidnap & Torture Crimes that have been accused on Marcella and Ananda are very serious Crimes according to our Penal Code (KUHP), as such their investigations should be concentrated on the case. Even if Agung is really a very bad guy who frequently evade debts, there is no reason to Kidnap & Torture him brutally. Due to which fact the mass media should not be fooled by any efforts to distract the essence of this case. No one should be tolerated to take the law into their own hands! Especially when persons who love to look for sensations like Roy Suryo and attorneys are involved. Beside exposing Roy's findings, the media should also point out that because Roy's access to the photos is based on the Police request for advice on this investigation, therefore he can only reveal his findings to the Police and in Court trial.


Weekly Highlights

Farewell Pak Ali Alatas
Indonesia has lost one of its best diplomat Ali Alatas who passed away last Thursday, 11 December 2008, at the age of 76, because of a heart attack at Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital. His body was flown to Jakarta in the evening and buried with military ceremony lead by President SBY at the Kalibata National Heroes Cemetery.

Reduction of Fuel Prices
In the wake of the worsening Gas shortage, the Special Session of Cabinet meeting lead by President SBY on Sunday 14 December 2008, has decided to reduce the prices of Fuels i.e. Premium from Rp 5.500/liter to Rp 5.000/liter, and Kerosene from Rp 5.000/liter to Rp 4.800/liter. These new prices will be effective on midnight of Monday, 15 December 2008.

Raids on Illegal Teachers
The Tangerang Regency government will launch an operation to look for foreigners who who work with Tourist Visa. In an interview with The Jakarta Post, the Chief of Supervision of Tangerang Statistic & Demography Agency i.e. Gatot Gunapria said that there are at least 15 foreigners who overstayed their tourist visa and work as teachers at the British International School, the Japanese School Jakarta and Global Jaya school located at Bintaro Jaya, Tangerang. This information was confirmed by the Chief of the Pondok Aren District i.e. Chaeruddin who said that he knew about schools that employ teachers without work permit.
This article has been commented by Petruk who said that Foreign Teachers working using tourist visas has been and still is the normal practice in many foreign language schools in Indonesia. They enter using a tourist visa, go for a day trip to Singapore and come back in on Kitas. He also said it is the employer who should be punished and asked to provide a Tax Payer Number (NPWP) for those foreign teachers.

Detention of Website Developer
Last Friday, the Attorney General Office has arrested the owner & director of PT Sarana Rekatama Dinamika (SRD) i.e, Yohanes Waworunto for alleged embezzlement of fees paid through the website: for setting up New Legal Entities with the Dept. of Law & Human Rights which caused state loss of Rp 400 Billion.
The Jakarta Post quoted Yohanes as saying that the AGO blamed him for having signed a cooperative agreement between SRD and the ministry representatives in 2000. And after questioning Yohanes for 7 hours, the AGO placed him at the South Jakarta District Attorney Detention center.

Enactment of the Anti Porn Law
The Jakarta Post wrote that President SBY has enacted the Anti Porn Law No. 44 Year 2008, in spite of the fact that said Law has been widely protested by many people from across Indonesia, among others KomNas Perempuan, Balinese Governor, who plan to submit a Judicial Review against said Law with the Constitutional Court. According to the President’s special staff for legal affair i.e. Denny Indrayana, the government is not preparing a regulation to implement said Law.

Afganistan Heroin Dealers
The Police has revealed that after investigating for the last few years, they have found the Afganistan Drug Network in Indonesia which is allegedly controlled by a Prisonner at the Pondok Bambu Prison in East Jakarta.
Kompas wrote that the Police has arrested two dealers with 6,119 Kg of Heroin which is the largest quantity of drug they found in 2008. According to the National Police Criminal Investigation Agency i.e. General Susno Duadji, in the last 5 months the dealers have sold 30 Kg of Heroin which worth around Rp 42 Billion based on the calculation that the price per Kg is Rp 1,4 Million. Those Heroin were placed in a biscuit can originated from Afganistan.

Anti Voting Fatwa
The Indonesian Muslim Clerics/Ulama (MUI) may not issue an Anti Voting Fatwa which has been requested by the Chairman of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) i.e. Hidayat Nurwahid.
Persda Network has quoted the Chairman of MUI i.e. Amidhan as saying that such Fatwa is not necessary because those who don’t vote cannot be regarded as committing as Sin.

The Tax Sunset Policy
The period for getting Penalty Free Incentive provided by the Sunset Policy will end on 31 December 2008. There is no news yet about possibility of extension. Therefore better be hurry!


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Surviving Piracy

Difficulty drives creativity! Those are the right words to describe the efforts made by our music industry dealing with the devastating piracy.

Yes, creativity is really needed in order to survive the worsening piracy that has plagued our Music Industry. Kompas has quoted Danny Widjanarko/Chairman of the Indonesian Artists Manager Association as saying that only 6% of the Music recording products that are circulating in the market are originals, the rests are fake. Thus, it is for that 6% that the musicians are competing against each other. Based on data of the Indonesian Music Recording Industry (ASIRI) every year the revenue from sales of musical cassettes /cd decreases. In the year 1997, the total sales reached 90 million cassette/cd, whereas in the 2006 only reached 24 million, in 2007 only 19 million and in the year 2008 only 11 million. Due to this fact, the music industry has decreased the requirement to get sales achievement award i.e. the Platinum Award, from 150,000 pieces to 75,000 cassette/cd.

Considering the above, musicians and the recording companies have decided to make music recordings for Ring Back Tones of cellular mobile phones, the total of which according to ASIRI could reach 8 to 10 million songs per month.
As an alternative, some musicians have sold their music recordings digitally through certain websites in the internet.

It is very sad to know that in spite of all the efforts that has been made to improve our Copyright Law (3 amendments, the latest in 2002), such law cannot be implemented, thus IMPOTENT! The worse thing is that many of the fake/pirate products circulating in many parts of our country are made by other countries. Those countries gets double benefits in this case: they get money from the sales of pirate products but they cannot be blamed for it, because the products are not sold in their own countries. And Indonesia will be blamed for circulation of those pirate products (although illegally).
So in this case, the roots of the problem is the same i.e. inability to enforce our own law.
But again, we should never loose hope that one day efforts would be made to improve the enforcement of the Copyright laws, including the ban on smuggling of pirate products.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Artists' Copyrights

The Jakarta Post reported that several Fashion Designer, Musician and Movie actress have shared their experiences about copyright infringements during the conference of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Bali, last Tuesday.

Batik designer Obin a.k.a Josephine Komara talked about how she was shocked yet happy when she found out in Tokyo, Japan, that her batik design has been infringed by a famous international designer.
Indrato Budi of the Indonesian Recording Industry Association believed that if piracy is not prevented the recording industry could only survive for the next 8 years.
Movie actress Christine Hakim said that several of her movie concepts had been copied, and her name had been used without permission.
Filipino Musician Ryan Cayabyab said that the question on copyright infringement centered on the marketing’s ability to adapt to the piracy threat and what the government could do to enforce a new law.

Meanwhile, Ronald Chan of the Business Software Alliance (BSA) said that Indonesian Software companies have to compete with local and global pirate products. Actually, if software piracy could be reduced by 10% Indonesia would be able to create 2,200 new jobs, generate US$ 1,8 billion in economic development and gain US$ 88 million in tax revenue.

The above mentioned complaints are familiar for us, because although our country has already amended, thus improved, its Copyright Law for three times, but protection of Copyright is still very poor. It is very easy for anyone to get pirate products: music, movies, computer soft wares, enyywhere in Indonesia. In Jakarta alone you can easily get them in traditional markets as well as in shopping malls/plaza. The funny thing is that such fake products would disappear every time the Police carry out raid/operation against them, as if the Sellers have already been informed in advance.

Actually, it is not impossible to eliminate or minimize Copyright Infringement in Indonesia. It can be acheived if every element in our society i.e. the Government, the Law Enforcement agencies, the Courts of Justice and citizens, want to upheld the Copyright law. And any violation should be punished accordingly. But again, it is much easier to be said than done. As any other legal problems faced by Indonesia, the question is not whether or not we already have a law that regulate the settlement of the problem, but rather, whether or not we are willing to implement the said law properly and accordingly?


Friday, December 5, 2008

The Asrori Murder

The Court of Law has often been dubbed as the House Justice i.e place where people could expect that the Law would be upheld, therefore Justice would always prevail.

However, Judges of the Court are normal human beings who can make mistakes like any other human beings. The difference is that if Judges make mistake in a judgement re: Criminal Case, the Defendants concerned would suffer very greatly! They have to be Jailed and/or Fined and lose face in the eyes of the public for a Crime they never commit. Besides, their family would also share their suffering! It is for those reasons that our Penal Code(KUHP) Article 1.1 adopted the Nullum Delictum principle i.e a Person can be Punished for his/her Action if there is an existing Law which stipulates that such Action is a Crime. Besides, our Criminal Prosedural Law (KUHAP) strictly limited the Evidences that would be acceptable to support Criminal Prosecutions in Court.
But then again, Judges are only Human Beings! That's what we can say when the mass media reported that the Council of Judges of the District Court of Jember has mistakenly last May when they sentenced Imam Hambali and David Eko to 17 and 12 years in Jail respectively for the murder of a man called Asrori on September 2007. Later, DNA tests revealed that the victim is not Asrori, but Fauzin Suyanto. Due to this finding, on 3 December 2008, the Supreme Court overturned the District Court's Verdict, acquitted Imam & David and ordered them to be release.
In this connection, Jakarta Globe wrote today that the National Police has admitted that they have made the mistake, due to which the East Java Police has questioned 15 Police officers related to this case. But the National Police Spokeman Abubakar Nataprawira said that they will not apologize for it.

In view of the above, I felt that every Judges of the Courts of Law should always be very carefull in considering and deciding every cases they handled, so as to avoid any mistake, that way Justice shall always Prevail!


Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Lesson from Mumbai

Mumbai a.k.a Bombay is a memorable city for my family, because it was the second diplomatic post that my father was assigned to in his forty years career with the Department of Foreign Affairs. Beside that, Mumbai was the birth place of my late kid brother Dody Lesmana, and also the place where I have spent three years of my infancy.

Due to these reasons, we were saddened by last week’s terrorists’ attack that has brutally killed more than one hundred and ninety innocent people and injured many more others. At the time I type this article, the Indian security agencies are still investigating this matter, but their government has pointed out that the terrorists originated from Pakistan. And the terrorists themselves claimed that they belong to an unknown Moslem organization called Deccan Mujahiddin that struggles for the unification of the Indian region of Kashmir with Pakistan. Meanwhile, according to the BBC reported that some of the terrorists hold certain British papers, although it is still unclear whether those papers are passports or other ID cards.

Facts about India:
India is an industrial country that is also one of the few countries in the world bthat has developed nuclear armament. It has several world class businessmen such as Mittal the Steel King, and many of its educated and experienced people work abroad as expatriates. Due to India's huge population of 1,1 Billion, the economic wealth has not been distributed equally among its people. However, considering that it also has a large number of middle class society, India has been able to make development progress. Since its independence in 1948, India has been able to maintain its reputation as the largest democratic country in the world. One important factor that has made India able to maintain its existence as an independent nation is the ability its government and people to maintain the Rule of Law, whereby Law Enforcement officers are respected for their correct behaviors. Actually, India has similar characteristics like Indonesia i.e. diverse Tribes, Race and Religions. Although majority of its people are Hindus, however they have a minority of Moslems of 160 millions which is almost the same as the population of Pakistan. Due to which facts many problems faced by India are similar to the ones faced by Indonesia, such as regional separatist movements, never ending poverty, tribal and religious disputes, etc.

Considering the above mentioned facts, Indonesia can learn from the tragedy in Mumbai i.e by finding out what actually caused such attack, why can't it be prevented. In which case our Government, Courts of Justice and people should up held the Rule of Law principle i.e. Supremacy of Law, Equality before the Law, and Presumption of Innocence. For which purpose, the National Laws must be obeyed by every citizens no matter what their Religious, Tribal, Racial or Social backgrounds. Everyone must be treated equally, therefore Law Enforcement agencies i.e. the KPK, Attorney General Office the Police, and the Courts must show very strong integrity. Actually our existing Laws are quite good if implemented properly. Our amended Constitution (UUD1945)provides better protection for citizen's right, our Criminal Procedural Law No 8 Year 1981(KUHAP) adopted the Presumption of Innocence principle. We also have the Human Rights Law No. 39 Year 1999 and a National Human Rights Committee. In this regards, the current government has made a good start by making serious efforts to eliminate corruption, proven by the arrest of our President’s in law. Also by conducting close supervision on extreme religious fanatics, and sending their leaders to jail and executed some of them to death. Moreover, the government should also promote the importance of Religious, Tribal, Racial tollerance among our people. If these efforts could be maintained and improved continuously, we would be able to prevent terrorist attacks.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Weekly Highlights

Illegal Aliens in Jakarta:
The operation to curb illegal foreign workers, which is supposed to be carried out on the 3rd and 4th of December, has been postponed by the Jakarta government without any reason. According to the Head of the Central Jakarta Population Section M. Hatta, the fixed date shall be notified later.

Maia Estiaty, an Icon of Toxic Cosmetic:
The famous singer Maia, who modelled for the banned Cosmetic: Doctor Kayama, said that she has been using the brand for 3 years and she has no complain at all. As a matter of fact Maia and other artists are very happy using said brand because it has made them look and feel beautiful.

Joint Decision of 4 Ministers:
Due to the very strong protests made by labors all over Indonesia, the Minister of Manpower & Transmigration, the Minister of Trade, the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Internal Affairs have revised their decision about the Regional Minimum Wage (UMR) increase.
Initially, the Provincial Governors were advised not to increase the UMR higher than the national economic growth. After the revision, they were advised that the increase of UMR should consider the inflation rate.

During the Attorney General Office's investigation of the misapproppriate usage of money (Rp 400 billion) earned from management of the Online Administration System, the Chief of Workers Cooperative of the Department of Law & Human Right i.e Ali Amran Djanah has stated that he was forced to manage the system. Said Cooperative was formed by the Minister of Law & Human Rights in the year 2000.

Election Campaign Donators:
Those who donate Ro 20.000.000,- and above to candidatre of parliamentary election should mention their Tax Payer Number (NPWP).

The Tax Sunset Policy:
As the deadline for Tax Amnesty provided by the Sunset Policy Program will come to an end on 31 December 2008, the Directorate General of Taxation shall open its Tax Service Offices during holidays: Saturdays of 6, 13 & 20 December from 7.30 am to 5 pm. Beside that on Tuesday 30 December and Wednesday 31 December 2008, they shall be open until 7 pm.


Monday, December 1, 2008

World's AIDS Day 2008

20 years has passed since the International Minister of Health Conference declared the 1st of December as the World’s AIDS Day. And all of those time, many casualties has fallen very rapidly year after year, yet we still have not found the medicament which could cure the disease.

We are fully aware that the root of the disease is our own inability to control our own temptations i.e. Free Sex, Drug abuse, however many of us refused to resist those temptations. In our effort to stop or minimize the disease, we have alienated the victims of the disease, and treat potential victims i.e. drug addicts as Criminals, result of which is contradictory to what we planed.

The theme for World's AIDS Day 2007 and 2008 is TAKE THE LEAD. Therefore, let us start to take the lead to do anything that would minimize the spread of HIV/AIDS, as follows:
1) Boost our faith in God
2) Live & Love healthily
3) Avoid changing sexual partners
4) Practice safe sexual intercourse
5) Do not share the use of needle for drugs
Although these actions are much easier said than done, but we have to start now.