Sunday, November 29, 2009

Natural Disasters & Immorality

At the end of 2004, the Tsunami devastated Aceh and killed more than 100,000 people. Since then, Indonesia has been struck by a series of natural disasters the latest being the earthquake in West Sumatera few months ago.

In this regards, I would like to quote an article in The Jakarta Globe about the opinion of the Minister of Information and Communication Tifatul Sembiring, as follows :

Indonesian Minister Draws Twitter Anger for Disaster Remarks

A government minister drew sharp criticism from earthquake victims Saturday and alienated some of his Twitter followers by blaming natural disasters in Indonesia on immorality.

Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring linked disasters to declining public morals when he addressed a prayer meeting in the city of Padang to mark Idhul Adha on Friday.

"Television broadcasts that destroy morals are plentiful in this country and therefore disasters will continue to occur," Antara quoted Sembiring as saying.

He also referred to Indonesian-made hard-core sex DVDs available in street markets as an example of growing public decadence and called for tougher laws against pornography.

Indonesia straddles a series of fault lines that make the nation prone to volcanic and seismic activity. A giant quake off the country on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 230,000 people, half of them in Aceh.

A magnitude 7.6 temblor on Sept. 30 killed more than 1,000 on western Sumatra.

News of what Sembiring, a former leader of the Islamic-based Prosperous Justice Party, said provoked criticism Saturday from disaster victims.

Kikie Marzuki, a Muslim Aceh resident who lost 10 relatives in the tsunami, said victims were not to blame.

"I prefer to believe that natural disasters occur because of the destructive force of nature that cannot be avoided by humans," he said.

Sembiring's remarks also brought swift rebuke from some of his followers on the social interaction network Twitter.

One tweeter, who identified himself as Ari Margiono, told Sembiring his words inferred that residents of Aceh and Padang were more decadent than other Indonesians.

"Disasters provide a momentum for repentance," he told the Jakarta Globe earlier.

Not everyone disagreed with him, and his speech in Padang won the backing of the Indonesian Ullema Council.

"Based on the religious view, a disaster could be seen as a punishment for people's sins, and could also as a reminder to us of our mistakes," prominent council member Ma'ruf Amin said.

Love & Hate for the Police

I always believe that every country definitely needs a Police organization to enforce all the laws and regulations.

In Indonesia, members of the National Police (Polri) have contributed their blood, sweat and tears to maintain peace & order ever since the declaration of independence on 17 August 1945.
In this connection, we should note that our Police's Anti Terrorists Unit i.e. Densus-88, is one of the best in the world, proven by its ability to eliminate terrorism, the latest being their success in handling and solving the Hotels J.W Marriot & Ritz-Carlton bombings and elimination of the Malaysian terrorist Noordin M. Top.

Considering the above, I felt sad when I read media reports about allegations that some high ranking Police officers have been involved in a conspiracy to discredit the Chief and Vice Chiefs of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). And today I was even more sad when I read on Detik that a bunch of people claiming to be supporters of the Police attacked a peaceful rally held by thousands of anti-corruption activists and their supporters.

I sincerely hope that the Police would always do its best to make best efforts only for the very best interest of the people of our country. For which purpose it would always be independent from any political, economical or any other influences.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Super Speed Deforestration

The process of deforestation in Indonesia is moving at a very frightening super speed. Here is a news report that I have quoted from Kompas.

Indonesia Loses 1,1 Million Hectares of Forest Every Year
Saturday, 28 November 2009 | 6:38 AM

BANJARMASIN, - The rate of forest destruction in Indonesia reaches 1.1 million hectares a year, state minister for environmental affairs, Gusti Muhammad Hatta, said here on Friday. He said the government meanwhile could only rehabilitate up to 500,000 hectares a year.

He said it was feared the gap would worsen the impact of global warming in the country as well as in the world. He said temperature had now rose up to four degrees making the sea level to rise up to 80 centimeters high.

If the condition is ignored 30 to 40 million people in the country would be threatened to become victims of the impact of global warming such as floods, natural disasters and others. "In view of that I call on all the people in Indonesia to conduct tree planting, minimally one person planting one tree to slow the pace of the global warming," he said.

He said his office had already coordinated with other ministries to conduct environmental improvements. In connection with it he said he and his staff had visited all the ministries concerned to seek full support.

"Sometimes my fellow ministers are often egoistic and therefore I have to be willing to come to meet him," he said.
Forestry minister Zulkifli Hasan meanwhile he had tightened the issuance of licenses for conducting tree felling for industry, mining or plantation development.

"The future of Indonesia is not relied upon the price of its wood but upon the sustainability of its forests," he said.
In view of that he said he would prioritize forest rehabilitation in his first one hundred days in office.

He said the government had provided Rp2 trillion in reforestation funds this year and would increase it to Rp2.6 trillion next year and higher further in the years to come. To meet the needs of industry he said wood from people’s forests would be taken.

He said many forest areas had now turned into mining or plantation areas while permits for using the area and disposing the forest had not been issued. In South Kalimantan, he said, the area reached hundred thousand hectares and in Central Kalimantan million hectares and so did in Sumatra.

"The problems must be solved one by one because the number is too high," he said.

Flood in Jakarta

Citizens of Jakarta are familiar with the flood that inundated many parts of the city every 4 to 5 years.

The causes of flood can be natural as well as human carelessness. Natural because 40% of the city's land is situated lower than the sea level, so when the rain fall very much heavier than usual they would surely be inundated.

Beside that, the flood was also caused by human carelessness whereby many citizens treated their surrounding area the way they as the pleased. They throw garages/ trashes not in bins but into the rivers, sewerage, roads etc. Although there is a by-law that prohibit throwing garbage/trashes in improper places however it does not seems to work.

Further, the municipality government has been unable to maintain the city's master plan that has been issued many ago. This can be seen from the fact that many area which are supposed to be Green Area have been turned into Hotels, Shopping Malls and Office buildings and Fuel Stations. One very clear example such improper land use transformation is in the Gelora Senayan Sport Complex, South Jakarta.

In an effort to prevent more flood the municipality government is making efforts to clean the garbage/trashes that has filled the gulf of Jakarta by employing 400 fishermen.
And in order to prevent the city's coastline from abrasion, replanting of Mangrove trees is now being carried out.
Beside that, several Green Area which have been used for Fuel Stations and other buildings are now being revitalized.

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

Considering the above, I felt that the flood in Jakarta is mainly caused by human mistake & carelessness, i.e. wrongful issuance of building permits and very weak law enforcement. Therefore, the best way to prevent floods in the future would be to make sure that such mistakes are not repeated again.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Protection of Turtles in Bali

The Green Turtle in the Indonesian island of Bali is an endangered species that should be protected. In this regards, I would like to quote an article in The Jakarta Post below :

Indonesia rejects Bali plan for turtle sacrifices
Niniek Karmini , Associated Press , Jakarta | Fri, 11/27/2009 4:19 PM | National

Indonesia has rejected a push by the resort island of Bali for rare turtles to be legally slain in Hindu ceremonies, siding with conservationists of the protected reptiles against religious advocates, an official said Friday.

Bali Governor I Made Mangku Pastika enraged environmentalists by advocating a quota of 1,000 green turtles to be killed each year, strictly for ceremonial purposes.

He said legally killed turtles should not end up in cooking pots, served to tourists in restaurants as soup or turtle skewers as they had in the past.

"It would be supervised tightly, and any violation would have to punished," Pastika told reporters in Denpasar, Bali, on Wednesday.

Turtle meat is a traditional delicacy in Bali, the only province with a Hindu majority in Indonesia's Muslim-dominated archipelago. But Indonesia banned the turtle trade and consumption a decade ago amid international concerns about the endangered species' dwindling numbers and threats by animal welfare groups of a tourist boycott of Bali.

Masyud, a spokesman for the Forestry Ministry which is also responsible for animal conservation, said Friday the governor's request for a Bali exemption from national protection laws was recently rejected on scientific advice.

"The law clearly mandates it was not possible, that the green turtles are included in the animals listed for protection," said Masyud, who like many Indonesians uses only one name.

Tens of thousands of green turtles nest on Indonesia's coasts, but sites have dwindled due to poaching and development.

Conservationist generally respect the Hindus' need for turtles in rituals, but railed against the number proposed.

Wayan Geria, coordinator of the Turtle Education and Conservation Center at Bali, described the quota plan as an embarrassment to protection efforts.

Creusa Hitipeuw, coordinator of the Indonesia turtle program of the World Wildlife Fund, said introducing such a high quota could trigger large-scale illegal trade and consumption.

"We recognize the need for the use of turtles in a ceremony, but it has to be managed well," she said. "What we are afraid of is the commercial trade. It's a death trap for this kind of population."
Bali Hindu Faith Council head Ngurah Sudiana called for Jakarta to approve a smaller quota.

"The central government should understand the need for green turtles as part of traditional ceremonies because it relates to our faith," Sudiana said. "Prohibiting it will hurt Balinese people."

Up to five turtles are needed for sacrifice at each of the 100 to 150 large ceremonies a year in Hindu temples around Bali, he said.

Turtles were traditionally decapitated. But since they became protected in 1999, ceremonies in many temples have changed with turtles being symbolically sacrificed through their release to the sea alive.

Associated Press writer Ali Kotarumalos contributed to this report.

Idul Adha: the Day of Sacrifice

Today, 27 November 2009, Muslims in Indonesia and other parts of the world celebrate Idul Adha which is also known as the Day of Sacrifice.

On this day, Muslims celebrate a holiday to commemorate the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his own son Ismail as an act of obedience to God. The Prophet's willingness to sacrifice, has made God to allow him to sacrifice a sheep instead of Ismail.
The moral of the story is that we must be ready to part with our most precious possession, whenever necessary. Although it is unlikely that anyone will come to this situation, but the message is clear: Making sacrifices should be part of our daily lives.

Idul Adha annually falls on the tenth day of the month of Dhul Hijja of the lunar Islamic calendar. The festivities last for three days or more depending on the country. Idul Adha occurs after Muslims from around the world conduct the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, descending from Mount Arafat. The event took place around 70 days after the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

In Indonesia, the celebration started with a special morning prayer followed by slaughtering of livestock, usually goats and/or cows, and distribute their meats for poor people.

For details, please click here and here.

In this connection, I wish a Happy Idul Adha to all my Muslims Brothers, Sisters and Friends. I hope that we would all be willing to make sacrifice for our family, our employer, our society and our country whenever necessary and legitimate.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Chinese Market Domination

For many years, very low priced industrial products made in China, starting from toys, garments, electronics, motor vehicles, have been dominating the Indonesian markets.

According to The Jakarta Globe, starting 1 January 2010, domination by Chinese products will become more worst, because 6,682 of them shall be able to be imported free of duties.
This is part of the pact between 10 member countries of the South East Asian Nations and the Chinese government in November 2002 that agreed to gradually scrap import duties on a wide number of products by 2012.

In response, Airlangga Hartarto of the House of Representative said that domestic producers would be difficult to compete as the Chinese industry was well-integrated from production to distribution in a very efficient way.

While Hidayat Triseputro of the Indonesian Iron & Steel Industry Association (IISA), said eliminating import duties on Chinese goods would allow China to practice what he called a form of “market colonialism.”

However, Rachmat Gobel of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), and head of PT Panasonic Gobel, said that with the Pact, we can hope that illegal imports would be minimized because they threaten our local industries.

However, the Minister of Industry M. Hidayat said that ready or not, we have to proceed with the deal, because we have very little time to renegotiate, and 6 (including Indonesia) out of the 10 ASEAN members have accepted the deal.

Considering that the very cheap Chinese products already beaten Indonesian products, causing many local factories to close down and layoff thousand workers, allowing more of those products to enter without import duties would endanger many more industries and their workerss.
Due to these frightening facts, I hope that the government would reconsider once again and renegotiate the time for Indonesia to carry out the above deal.

The Supreme Court Bans National Exam

On 24 November, the Supreme Court announced a verdict which rules that the government cannot administer National Schools Examination anymore unless the quality of education has been improved.

The verdict, passed on 24 September, instructed the government to improve teaching standards and school facilities, as well as to provide all students nationwide with equal and full access to information, before it could conduct national exams.

The case itself began in 2007 when a group of students' parents filed a lawsuit with the District Court of Central Jakarta requesting for the prohibition of national examinations at Junior and Senior High Schools.
The lawsuit accused the state of denying the students the right to an education because they were unable to attend university after failing the national exam. It also said the exam was unfair because education standards were not uniform across the country. Besides, although the students study 13 subjects in all, only three of them — Mathematics, Indonesian and English — are tested during the exam.

For detailed media reports, please click here and here.

I hope that the Supreme Court's verdict would persuade the government, especially the Department of Education, to make its best efforts improve the education system in Indonesia.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A long way to Justice

Where is justice ? That’s the question I asked whenever I am very sick and tired of all the media reports about the inappropriate enforcement of the laws.

And that’s what I asked my self when I read the news about criminalization of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), starting from the arrest of KPK Chief Antasari for murder charges until the arrest of two suspended KPK Vice Chiefs Bibit & Chandra for allegedly receiving bribe from businessman Anggodo, and their release after the Constitutional Court held a public hearing of a recording that indicate involvement of Anggodo and top officials of the Police and the Attorney General Office (AGO) in the conspiracy against KPK leadership. And until now Anggodo is still free as a bird.

My curiosity became stronger after President Susilo Bambang Yudono (SBY) announced on 22 November that he wants the case to be settled out of court, but he did not say that it shall be stopped as demanded by the public. Although he urged the Police, AGO and KPK to reform themselves, but he did not give any sanction to officials who were allegedly involved in the KPK case as also demanded by the public.

On the next day, the Financial Audit Agency (BPK) announced result of its audit on the flow of taxpayers' money amounting Rp 6,7 Trillion to bail out a privately owned Bank Century, saying that the role of Bank Indonesia as central bank at that time headed by Boediono (now VP), in the flow of money has not been correct.

In reaction to the above mentioned facts, thousands of students in many parts of Indonesia have went down to the streets to voice their protests.

Further, on 25 November, the Constitutional Court deleted a provision in the KPK Law No.30/2002 Article 32(1c) and clears the way for Bibit and Chandra to return to their posts at KPK.
Beside that, the Chief of National Police has replaced the Chief of Police Investigation Agency Commissioner General Susno Duadji with Inspector General Ito Sumardi.

Furthermore, SBY's Democrat Party has made a change in policy and supported a motion by a Commission of the House of Representative to conduct an inquiry on the Bank Century case.

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

I hope that the above favorable development would always be maintained so that the condition of justice can be improved in the future.

Smoke is risky for Computer Warranty

Do you know that cigarette smoke could effect your computer's warranty ?
Here is an interesting article that I found on Legal Blog Watch :

New Second-Hand Smoke Risk: Your Apple Computer Warranty

We've all learned by now that second-hand smoke presents a health risk, and should be avoided. But here's a new risk posed by second-hand smoke that you might not have known: It may void the warranty on your Apple computer.

The Consumerist notes in this post that at least two of its readers claim Apple deemed their "Applecare" warranties to be void due to secondhand smoke. Indeed, both readers reported that not only would Apple not repair the computers under warranty, it refused to even have its tech people work on the computers because they were a "bio-hazard."

Apple reportedly told Consumerist reader Derek that his warranty was void due to the second-hand smoke, and that they refused to work on the machine due to "health risks." Similarly, Consumerist reader Ruth says she was told by an Apple tech person that her son's computer couldn't be worked on because it was "contaminated with cigarette smoke which they consider a bio-hazard!" When Ruth complained to Steve Jobs' office, she says that an Apple employee in that office told her that "nicotine is on OSHA's list of hazardous substances and Apple would not require an employee to repair anything deemed hazardous to their health." According to Consumerists' readers, the Applecare warranty says nothing about the warranty becoming void due to second-hand smoke. Consumerist says Apple has not responded to its requests for an explanation.

Commenters on the post pointed out that the written warranty does exclude damage for an "improper environment," but most commenters seemed to agree that it was not at all clear that second-hand smoke would void the warranty. Some commenters noted that they have seen the inside of computers owned by smokers that were completely covered in a nasty, tar-like substance. However, the prevailing sentiment seemed to be captured by a commenter who wrote, "I am in utter disbelief. Citing OSHA? Really? Put on some damn gloves and fix these computers, Apple."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

President SBY & Greenpeace

On 12 November, 50 Greenpeace activists demonstrated at a tract of forest in Riau, Sumatera, that was recently cleared by the huge paper and pulp manufacturer PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper, a subsidiary of the Asia Pacific Resources International Holding. Some chained themselves to excavators owned by the company.

Those activists protested the destruction of forest & peatland in Riau, which has been estimated to contain around 2 gigatons of greenhouse gases.
As a consequence, 11 foreign activists and jurnalists who covered the event were deported and 21 Indonesians were charged by the Police for tresspassing and for conducting illegal demonstration.

In spite of the above incident, last Saturday around 150 Greenpeace activists demonstrated in Jakarta to support the plan of President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono (SBY) to cut greenhouse emissions from forest and peatland clearing by 26 percent by 2020 as he has promised to the international community.

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

I hope that the above support from Greenpeace will strengthen the President's determination to cut Carbon Emission in Indonesia.

Judicial Tragedy

I found the above caricature on today's The Jakarta Post, showing Minah (55), a villager who was sentenced by a Court to one and half month imprisonment with a 3 months probation (she doesn't go to jail unless she committed crime in 3 months), for picking 3 Cocoa from a plantation company.

What happened to Minah is a tragedy if we compare with Anggodo who is still free although there is a publicly known recording that indicate his involvement in a bribery case against KPK Vice Chairmen Bibit and Chandra.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Anggun & Cigarette Co.

Anggun C. Sasmi is one of the most popular lady singer in Indonesia.

Although I never knew her personally, but I remember that during her early carreer as a singer many years ago, my late kid brother Dody took part in arranging some of her music.

While Dody's role may not have been much for Anggun's musical carreer, but it meant quite a lot for Dody and his Dutch wife Cherie, that they have named their daugther Kemilau Anggun (living in Holland).

Now, Anggun is not only popular in Indonesia but also in other countries that she has been appointed by the Food & Agricultural Organization (FAO) as their Goodwill Ambassador.

Recently, Anggun conducted a tour to several Indonesian cities to promote her new album. This tour was protested by Chairman of the National Commission for Protection of Children Seto Mulyadi because it was sponsored by a cigarette manufacturing company. The commission accused her of taking part in the promotion of cigarettes which are one of the causes of widespread poverty in Indonesia.

Anggun denied the commission's allegations, and in order to clarify the matter she has met with the Minister of Women's Affair Linda Gumelar last Friday.
Afterward, she told reporters that she has asked the cigarette company to minimize its promotion in her tour.

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

The above shows that cigarette manufacturers played quite a dominant role in our society which is understandable because they are among the highest tax payers and advertisers.

Photo : Courtesy of Kompas.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Media & the Police

The Police has no intention to intimidate or criminalize the media.

That was the conclusion of the statement by National Police Chief PR Inspector General Nanan Soekarna on Friday. He explained that the purpose of the summoning of chief editors of two media i.e. Kompas and Seputar Indonesia was to collect more evidence in the investigation of businessman Anggodo Widjaya for alleged bribery of Vice Chiefs of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

One day earlier, the Police summoned Chief Editors of both media to come to the National Police Headquarters to be questioned in connection with the investigation against Anggodo.

Although there were reports that the questioning has been canceled however it did took place. This was protested by around 50 reporters who gathered at the front of the Police headquarters gate and hung their ID Cards, cameras at the gate. They said that based on the Press Law No. 40 /1999 Article 10, reporters have the right to refuse to name their news sources.

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

Under normal circumstances, the questioning of both media chief editors may have been a regular matter, in the sense that the Police is doing its duty to collect more evidence to support its investigation of a case.
But considering that the present case is a high profile bribery case whereby the alleged recipients (KPK Vice Chiefs) have been arrested while the alleged giver (Anggodo) remain free although the recording indicated his involvement, I felt that it would be much better if the Police carefully consider all possibilities before summoning the media. That way the Police's image as a neutral and trustworthy law enforcement agency can be maintained.
After all, the Police and the media need each other to maintain peace and order in our community.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rabies in Bali is not Bioterrorism

Series of terrorists attacks in several places in Indonesia have traumatized the people and government officials in Indonesia.

People in the island of Bali are so paranoid that when the Rabies virus plagued the island recently, local government officials alleged that it was terrorist attack using bio chemical weapon, a.k.a Bioterrorism, from foreign country.

However, this allegation was later denied by the Molecular Biology Laboratory at the University of Udayana’s School of Medicine in Bali. According to the Head of the Laboratory Ni Nyoman Sri Budayanti, the virus entered Bali through inter-island animal trafficking from other Indonesian islands of Flores and Sulawesi. Detailed media report can be found by clicking here.

In conclusion, I felt that serious efforts must be made to eliminate the Rabies virus in Bali, considering that the island is a very important destination for foreign and domestic tourists.

Is Jakarta Sinking ?

The land surface in Jakarta is sinking at a rate of 5 to 20 centimeters a year.

That was the result of study by the Indonesian Environmental Forum (WALHI), and research by Bandung Technological Institute (ITB) between the year 1982 and 1997.

Considering that 40% of the land surface in Jakarta is lower than the sea level, there is a possibility that several area including elite area like Jl. Sudirman, Jl. Kuningan, Kelapa Gading and Ancol Beach Resort will be drowned in the future.

According to WALHI's executive director Ubaidillah, the sinking land surface is caused by large scale pumping of underground water. Beside that, there are many new buildings which are not equipped with underground water reservoir. He said that until June 2009, 364 shopping centers, including 54 malls, have been constructed in Jakarta. Out of Jakarta's total area of 661 Square Kilometers, only 9.6% is allocated for green area (parks, pavements).

The Climatology, Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BKMG) predicted that the rainy season will reach its peak on January 2009. Increasing sea level and bad drainage system will cause Jakarta to face the worst flood with a height of up to 250 centimeters.

For detailed media reports, please click here and here.

Considering that Jakarta is the capital city of Indonesia, I hope that the central government together with the provincial government of Jakarta will make very serious efforts to prevent Jakarta from sinking any further among others by improving the drainage system, stop giving building permits for new high rise buildings, impose heavy penalty on those who violates the regulation for pumping ground water.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Legalized Deforestration

One of the reason why the process of Deforestation in Indonesia is going on very rapidly is because the government has been inconsistent in making policy.

For example, in 2005 the Minister of Forestry issued a decree that allocated 3,742,120 Hectare of land in North Sumatera specially for Forest Area.

However, when a new Minister of Forestry was appointed on 21 October 2009, Kompas reported that one of the agenda during his first 100 days in office is to revise 564,200 Hectare of that Forest Area into Non Forest Area.

Considering that our forest area is getting more and more smaller every year, I hope that the government would be more consistent in making forestry policies, and avoid changing forest regulations.

Satelite to Safe the Forest

Every year, large area of forest in Indonesia has been rapidly transformed into commercial plantations. For which purpose, the forest trees were either cut or burned down, causing problems for people living in the surrounding area as well as endangered animals living inside the forest.

In order to make sure that the deforestation process would be carried out according to the laws and regulations, the government has been using satellite to monitor the forest, however the result is still unsatisfying.

In this regards, I felt that Indonesia should learn from Brazil in using satellite effectively and efficiently as reported by The Jakarta Globe below :

Brazil and Indonesia Using Eyes in the Sky To Safeguard Rainforests

Sao Paolo. In the fight against rampant deforestation, Indonesia can learn a few high-tech tips from the guardian of the world’s largest tropical rainforest.

The first step in fighting deforestation is knowing where it is happening. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has been relying on satellites to do just that.

Since 1996, Brazil has been using satellite imaging with the cooperation of China. The China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite was set up in 1999 to monitor the condition of the Amazon.

Since the original satellite was launched, the later generation Cbers-1 and Cbers-2 have beamed back images more frequently and with higher resolution.

“In 2015, we’re expecting to launch Cbers-5 and Cbers-6, which will be able to give much more precise data and mapping of deforestation,” said Jean Paul Ometto, an associate researcher at INPE during a talk to Indonesian journalists this month.

Ometto added that other satellites, such as Landsat, MODIS, and WFI CB 2 were used to compare data to the Amazon images captured by Cbers.

He said Brazil had also developed two other imaging systems to illustrate the progress of deforestation in the Amazon: Deforestation Assessment in the Brazilian Legal Amazonia (Prodes) and Deforestation Detection in Real Time (Deter).

“We use Deter for larger-scale deforestation and for complicated data because it has a lower resolution of 250 meters for more than 25 hectares, but it is much more frequent, visiting every two to five days,” he said.

“Prodes has a significantly more detailed resolution of 20 to 30 meters for at least 6.25 hectares but the interval between images is greater; 18 to 27 days. All these data are available to the public so that they can monitor the development of the region’s deforestation.”

Indonesia has also been using a satellite, Landsat, to take pictures of the condition of the forests, but the nation has to depend on semi-manual analysis. Brazil, on the other hand, has succeeded in developing the two systems to derive an accurate rate of deforestation.

Masyhud, head of information at the Forestry Ministry, said Indonesia was a step ahead of Brazil because it has been using satellite imaging, Landsat, to monitor the forest since the early 1990s.

“We can’t get annual data because we would need to interpret it, and that’s not cheap,” Masyhud said. “So, usually the interpretation [of the satellite images] is based on necessity and is not necessarily being done annually.”

Markus Ratriyono, spokesman of Forest Watch Indonesia, said the satellite could be very effective but the process to analyze the data always took a very long time.

“If you compare it to Brazil, then, yes, they are few steps ahead considering how easy it is for them to get the data and trust it,” Markus said. “We’ve never got into details concerning deforestation, we’ve only got charts which are open to doubts.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

MUI & 2012

The movie 2012 is a story about Doomsday based on the ancient Mayan calendar that the world will end on 21 December 2012.

In Indonesia, the movie becomes very popular after branches of the Indonesian Muslim Clerics Council (MUI) in Malang-East Java and Solo-Central Java accused that the movie is against Islamic concept of Doomsday, and threatened to issue edict to ban the movie.

However, this opinion was not shared by the Chairman of National MUI Amidhan who said that he personally doesn't mind with the movie as long as it is not linked with Doomsday which can only be decided by God.

For detailed information regarding the movie 2012, please click here, here, here, here and here.

Although MUI's edict is not part of our national legal system, therefore cannot be legally enforced, however considering that MUI is the highest official Muslim organization in Indonesia, such edict would be quite influential, therefore might cause confusion in society.

Considering the fact that Muslims in Indonesia are now smart enough to tell the difference between good and bad, I hope that in the future, MUI's Edict would focus on matters that directly effects Muslims as majority in Indonesia, for example Edict against Corruption (Fatwa Haram).

Photo: Courtesy of Sony Pictures.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Miss Tourism Indonesia 2009

Miss Tourism Jakarta 2009 Andara Rainy has been selected as Miss Tourism Indonesia 2009 on 7 November 2009.

In an interview with Kompas, Andara, born in Jakarta on 25 November 1987, said that she will make efforts to improve the image of Indonesia abroad.
When she was asked about terrorism that has marred our image, she said that she will convince people abroad that it is not a big problem anymore because we have successfully beat them, and 99 per cent of the Indonesian people are against terrorists.

With this achievement, Andara received Rp. 36 million, one year stay at a luxurious apartment at Permata Hijau, South Jakarta, and scholarship from the London School of PR Jakarta. Besides, she will represent Indonesia to compete in the Miss Tourism International 2009 on December 2009.

So far, I have not read any bad (or weird) news about Andara Rainy, and I really hope that there would not any in the future. I'll keep my fingers crossed!

Photo: Courtesy of BuzzHollywood

Sunday, November 15, 2009

More than just Corruption & Terror

Since I started posting actively on this blog, most of the posts' topics are about Corruption, Terrorism and other acts of crimes that took place in Indonesia.

As time goes by, I realize that it is absolutely unfair for me to write only about so many bad things that happened in a country that I love very dearly, because actually there are far more better things that has happened in Indonesia. Please find below some good facts about Indonesia :
First, it is the world's fourth most populated country, after China, India and the United States of America.
Second, it's the world's largest Muslim country, but unlike other countries like Iran and Iraq, most Indonesian Muslims are moderates who tolerate differences.
Third, it adopted five principles i.e. Pancasila, consisting of: Belief in God, Humanity, Unity; Democracy; and Justice.
Fourth, it is the world's third largest democratic country, after India and the U.S.A.
Fifth, it has an area of around 2 million square kilometers consisting of more than 17,000 islands with very beautiful natural scenery.
Sixth, it has an abundant of natural resources: oil, gas, gold, copper, alumina et cetera, et cetera.
Seventh, it has carried out several elections to elect President, Vice President, members of national and regional parliament quite peacefully, therefore totally different from the violent aftermath of elections in countries like Iran, Thailand, et cetera, et cetera,

Eight, it has successfully maintain security in most provinces, including Aceh where violence ended in 2005 (with the intermediary of Finland)

Based on the above mentioned facts, Indonesia has survived as one nation since its independence on 17 August 1945.

The free fight democracy that we have adopted on May 1998, has made everything transparent. As a result, all the evil things that were very tightly wrapped by censorship during the previous authoritarian rule, such as corruption, injustice, destruction of nature etc. have become very transparent.
But the most important thing is that Indonesia has been making serious efforts to eliminate those 'evil things'.


Friday, November 13, 2009

TV Broadcasting Ban

TV broadcasting of the Court Trial of former Corruption Eradication Commission(KPK) Antasari Azhar has annoyed the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI).

Due to this reasonKPI is now planning to ban direct bbroadcasting of public hearings in the court of law and parliament starting December 2009.

According to a member of KPI Bimo Nugroho such ban is neccessary based on KPI's Broadcasting Behaviour Guidance and Broadcasting Program Standard. As an example, he mentioned about the Court Trial of Antasahari that revealed sexual relationship between Antasari and Rani.

This plan was strongly protested by the media, the Press Council, member of the House of Representative and lawyers who said that such ban violates the Constitution Article 28 F which guarantee citizen's right to get information, as well as the Press Law No.40/1999 Article 4(2) that protects the media against broadcasting sensorship and prohibition.

In reaction to the growing protests, KPI's Chief Professor Sasa Djuarsa said that the plan is still not yet finalized.

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

I hope that the above mentioned KPI's plan does not indicate that Indonesia will be going back to the old days of controlled/censored media.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Black-Out in Jakarta

Lately, the city of Jakarta has been facing the worst electricity shortage in history.

Every night and day, the city's 10 million people have to take their turns to suffer electricity black-outs at their homes. According to the sole provider of electricity in Indonesia i.e. the state's electricity company PLN this inconvenience was caused by the damage of two of PLN's electric transformer units in Jakarta. And its repair would only be completed by next month, therefore until then the citizens of Jakarta must patiently suffer frequent electricity black out.

For details, please click here and here.

I hope that the damaged transformer units were not caused by PLN's failure to maintain them properly because the government reduced state subsidy for them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Criminalization of KPK

Police Commissioner Williardi Mizard, key witness in the murder trial of businessman Nasrudin, has testified that former Chief of Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Antasari Azhar was not involved in the said murder.

Williardi’s shocking testimony was given during a trial session at the District Court of South Jakarta on Tuesday in which he said that he was forced by high ranking National Police officers to mention in the Police report about Antasari’s involvement.

Earlier, a witness in the Police investigation of the Bribery Case against suspended KPK Vice Chairmen Bibid Samad Arianto and Chandra Hamzah has reconfirmed that he never give bribe amounting to +/- 6 billion from Anggodo to both suspects or anyone at KPK. However, he admitted giving the money to Julianto who is still mysterious till now that the Police accused that he was lying.

For details, please click here and here.

The above facts indicated that the Criminalization of KPK may have been quite real. It would be very interesting to know about further development of both cases.

National Heroes Day

On 10 November 1945 the army and militia of newly independent Republic of Indonesia fought a fierce battle in Surabaya, East Java, against the British military forces who tried to help the Dutch re-conquer its former South East Asian colony.

Although the Indonesian side suffered military defeat and loose many men & weapons, the battle has strengthened the new nation’s determination for independence and garnered international attention on Indonesia.

For the Dutch, it removed any doubt that Indonesia was not a gang of collaborators that has no popular support. It also had the effect of convincing Britain that wisdom laid on the side of neutrality in Indonesia’s struggle for independence.

Considering the above mentioned facts, every 10 November has been commemorated as Indonesia’s National Heroes Day.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Chief of the Constitutional Court

Last Tuesday, the Constitutional Court (MK) held a public session of the Judicial Review on the Corruption Eradication (KPK) Law No. 30/2002 Article 32 requested by suspended KPK Vice Chairmen Bibit Samad Rianto and Chandra Hamzah.

The session was very special because MK disclosed a six hours recording of phone conversation between those who were involved in the alleged conspiracy to criminalize the KPK.

After the session, President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono (SBY) ordered anyone whose names were mentioned in the said recording to step down from their official positions. As a result, Chief of Police Investigation Agency Com. Gen. Duadji & Vice Attorney General A.H Ritonga have stepped down from their offices.

The disclosure of above recording can only be carried out because of the persistent decision of MK's Chief Prof. Dr. Mahfud MD. and full support of all Constitutional Judges to preserve justice.

Considering the above, many people have been very grateful at Dr. Mahfud MD. This morning, I read an article about him on Kompas Newspaper in which he emphasized that MK will enforce Justice as a combination of written Law and Common Sense. Here is his brief biodata :
Professor Dr. H. Mohammad Mahfud Mahfuddin, SH.,SU., born in Sampang, Madura, East Java, 13 May 1957, married to Zaizatun Nihayati, SH. with three children.
He became Chief of the Constitutional Court on 1 May 2008. Before that he was the Minister of Defense (2000-2001), Minister of Law (2001), member of House of Representative (DPR) from the Nation Awakening Party (PKB). On top of that, he still teach at the Universitas Islam Indonesia (UII) Yogjakarta.

Considering the above and the fact that most of Indonesia's current leaders are getting very old, I believe that Prof. Dr. Mahfud MD.(52) can be considered as one of the potential top leaders in the future.

Photo: Coutesy of Wikipedia.

In the name of God

I believe that good people are those who always remember God in what ever they are doing.

However, in the last few months the news media have reported about some people who mentioned the name of God to justify their actions so as to make people believe in what they have said and done.

On 17 July 2009, two suicide bombers claimed to be acting in the name of God blasted themselves at two hotels in Jakarta i.e. J.W Marriot and Ritz-Carlton, killing nine innocent people and wounding more than fifty people.

Last Thursday and Friday, Chief of Police Investigation Agency Commissioner Gen. Susno Duadji who was suspended for his alleged involvement in the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) case, appeared before the House of Representative and swear to God that he never receive a Rp. 10 billion commission for helping businessman Budi Sampoerna to cash US$. 18 million from ailing Bank Century.

Similar statements mentioning the name of God have also been made by the recently resigned Vice Attorney General H.A Ritonga and former Deputy Intelligence of the Attorney General Wisnu Subroto in denying their involvement in similar KPK case.

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

The above shows that people, who ever they are and whatever their intentions are, tend to mention the name of God.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Public Officials' Honor

On April 1989, the Japanese Prime Minister Noboru Takeshia resigned because a member of his Liberal Democratic Party was involved in a corruption case.

On May 2007, the Japanese Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery Toshikatsi Matsuoka committed suicide because he was ashamed when the public questioned his corruptible policy.

The above two gentlemen were very good examples of public officials who are very dedicated and passionate therefore accountable in doing their jobs, that they cannot stand feeling guilty because they have not done their job properly and honestly.

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

I wonder whether or not public officials in Indonesia would ever go as far as what their above counter parts in Japan have done. Frankly speaking, I don't know the answer.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

KPK & the Police

In the last few weeks the Indonesian news media have been focusing on the conflict between the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the Police.

The conflict started when KPK investigated the flow of Rp. 6,7 Trillion from the state to help the ailing privately owned Bank Century on November 2008.

In order to provide a brief explanation on this matter, I need to quote an article in The Jakarta Post, as follows :

9 September: KPK announced that it is investigating the Chief of Police Detective General Susno Duadji for his involvement in the case.
15 September: the Police named KPK Vice Chairmen: Bibit Samad Rianto and Chandra Hamzah as suspects for abuse of power in imposing travel ban on businessman Anggoro Widjaya who was suspected of corruption.
28 September: Bibit & Chandra submitted a Police report against Gen. Susno for alleged abuse of power.
29 September: The Police named Antasari a suspect for violating the KPK ethics code in meeting with Anggoro who was a suspect.
2 October: Gen. Susno comes to the KPK headquarters to sooth relations between the two institutions.
5 October : The police investigated Gen. Susno for abuse of power.
6 October : President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) issued an emergency decree (Perpu) appointing Tumpak Hatorangan Panggabean as acting KPK chairman to replace Antasari, and Mas Achmad Santosa and Waluyo acting Vice Chairmen to replace Chandra and Bibit.
7 October : The police internal affairs division clears Gen. Susno of all charges.
26 October : Recordings of wiretapped conversations between Anggoro and his brother Anggodo with high-ranking prosecutors and police officers discussing in July a plot to frame KPK leaders is leaked to the media.
27 October : Acting KPK Chairman Tumpak confirms that the recordings exist.
29 October : The Constitutional Court allowed KPK to disclose the recordings and other supporting facts that may strengthen their authority to combat corruption on Nov. 3.
Soon after, the Police arrested Bibit and Chandra.

The Police arrest was strongly protested by various elements in society, including former president, former Chief of the Constitutional Court, Chairmen of two of the largest Muslim organizations Nadhatul Ulama and Muhamadiyah, et cetera.
Beside that, strong supports have also been shown in Facebook, whereby more than 630 thousand people have joined the Free Bibit-Chandra Movement.

In response to the strong public protests, SBY formed a special Fact Finding Team consisting of 8 prominent members of the society, including Adnan Buyung Nasution as Chairman, Todung Mulya Lubis, two of SBY's legal advisors Amir Syamsudin and Denny Indrajana.

On Tuesday morning the Constitutional Court held a session opened to public to listen to the wiretap recording. As a result, Anggodo was interrogated by the Police afterward.
And before midnight, the Police suspended the arrest of Bibit and Chandra and allow them to leave the Police jail.

Considering the fact that our society needs both the Police and KPK, I hope that this case will be processed thoroughly according to the laws so that the real truth shall be revealed.