Sunday, January 31, 2010

Top 100 Tax Debtors

Last Thursday, the Directorate General of Taxation has surprised us when they announced that there are 100 companies that have a tax debt totaling Rp 17.5 Trillion, i.e one third of tax debt of Rp 52 Trillion.
They include state owned enterprises like PT Pertamina, PT Garuda Indonesia Airlines,  PT Jamsostek and PT BNI. Please find below an article quoted from Kompas.

I hope that those debts would be able to be collected very soon,  considering that they are badly needed to finance the development in this country.

100 Companies in Tax Arrears of Rp. 17.5 Trillion
Jumat, 29 Januari 2010 | 12:58 WIB
JAKARTA, — Unbelievable. The Directorate General of Taxation records that within the last five years, since before December 31, 2009, there are 100 companies with tax in arrears that sum up to Rp. 17.5 trillion, or 33.7 percent of the total tax in arrears, which is Rp. 52 trillion.

Thursday, the Directorate General of Taxation submitted the list of tax debtors to the Commission XI of the House, which is in charge of finance and banking. "Those are all the tax in arrears for the last five years," said the chief deputy of Commission XI of the House, Melchias Marcus Mekeng.

A number of government enterprises are included in the top 100 major debtors list, among which, PT Pertamina, PT Garuda Indonesia, PT Jamsostek, and PT Bank BNI Tbk.

Unfortunately, Melchias didn't breakdown the debt figures for each of those companies. The Director General of Taxation, Mochad Tjiptardo, also didn't reveal the numbers of the companies' debts. But clearly, "They all must pay," commented Tjiptardjo.

The Directorate General of Taxation is doing various endeavors to collect the debts. They would even go as far as confiscating assets, including what's deposited in banks or from tax debtors that don't show a good will to pay their tax in arrears. This can be done by blocking bank accounts, interception, or even gijzeling (a form of confiscation).

Mass denials

However, a number of companies in the list deny of having tax debts in arrears. "We're ready for data confirmation because we have all our tax payment proofs," said Gandhi Sulistyanto, director of Sinar Mas Group, the mother-company of PT Pabrik Kertas Tjiwi Kimia and PT Pindo Deli Pulp and Papermills, which is included in the list.

Similar denials come from the managing director of PT Jamsostek Hotbonar Sinaga. He even stated that his company has over-paid their tax and has restitution rights from the retirement fund tax deposit, which has been deducted by the bank, with an amount of Rp. 1.4 billion.

Finance director of PT Bank Bukopin Tri Joko Prihanto suspects that his company's tax debt in arrears come from the transactions of its syariah units. However, "the issue is still in dispute, because the government hasn't determined whether Islamic syariah units are subject to tax or not."

Said Didu, secretary to the state minister of state enterprises also admits that part of the government's tax debts in arrears are still in dispute. But, "We will double check and facilitate a meeting between state-owned enterprises and the Directorate General of Taxation." (Kontan/Martina P., Lamgiat S., Roy Franedya, Ade Jun P./C17-09)

The Transjakarta Bus

The Transjakarta bus network, popularly known as the Busway, is Jakarta's answer to its citizens demand for a convenient and safe mass transportation system in the city.

The fully air-conditioned buses run on fixed schedule, quite safe, and use special lanes on the right side of roads that enabled them to reach special bus stops at certain locations much faster than regular buses.
These factors and their reasonable fares have attracted many people, including foreigners, to use these buses  to go to work or other places in the city.
Please find below more information about the Transjakarta bus that I have quoted from Berita Jakarta

Transjakarta, always be the favorite in its sixth anniversary

BERITAJAKARTA.COM — 1/18/2010 5:35:50 PM

 Since it was launched six years ago, Transjakarta, or mostly known as busway, has become a favorite means of transportation for Jakarta residents. Transjakarta started operating on 15 January 2004, with its first corridor serving Blok M-Kota route.
The presence of Transjakarta was enthusiastically welcomed by the Jakartans; from public-transportation passengers to those used to take private vehicles. The fact can’t be denied; because Transjakarta offers a higher quality service than the quality provided by other public transportations. During the first year of its operation, Transjakarta booked 14,924,423 passengers.

Due to a growing positive response from the public, the government then decided to add more corridors for Transjakarta. Currently, Transjakarta, with its fast service coupled with affordable prices, has eight corridors covering many areas across Jakarta.

Transjakarta has seen the surging numbers of its passengers year by year. Based on the data from Transjakarta Management Body (BLU), in 2004, Transjakarta transported as many as 14,924,423 passengers, then 20,798,196 passengers, 38,828,039 passengers, 61,439,961 passengers, and 74,619,995 passengers were recorded for 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 respectively. Therefore, from 2004 to 2009, Transjakarta has carried a total of 75,158,675 passengers, with an average number of 6-7 million passengers a month.

However, despite its fast service and affordable prices, Transjarta has recently received criticism, mostly highlighting its not-sterile lanes from other vehicles including private cars and motorcycles. Such a condition has apparently led to uneasiness for its passengers.
In addition to the discomfort feelings of the passengers, the other vehicles-affected-busway lanes have resulted in another impact, namely the increasing number of accidents involving Transjakarta buses on the lanes.

Transjakarta Management Body (BLU) has recorded that during its first year of operation in 2004, accidents involving Transjakarta buses only numbered five cases, with no fatalities; then in 2006, as the second corridor opened, the number of accidents jumped to 31 cases; and the trend continued in the following years; 66 cases in 2007 and 167 cases in 2008 (causing 13 people dead, 42 others injured).

Besides the not-sterile lanes, another problem faced by Transjakarta is the shortage of gas stations designated to Transjakarta fleet. At present, there are only three busway gas stations in the capital area; they are located on Jl Perintis Kemerdekaan, Jl Rawabuaya, and Jl Pemuda. The three gas stations are certainly not enough to accommodate hundreds of Transjakarta buses.

Raja Ampat Resort

Raja Ampat (literally translates as “The Four Kings”) is a beautiful tourist resort that is quite popular for foreigners, but unfortunately only known by few people in Indonesia.

Located at the Bird's Head part of the Province of West Papua, the Raja Ampat area consists of 610 small islands.

As stunningly beautiful above water as it is below, Raja Ampat (which literally translates as “The Four Kings”) has a startling diversity of habitats to explore. Each of these – from the stark wave-pounded slopes that drop away beneath the karst cliffs of Wayag and Uranie to the deep, nutrient-rich bays of Mayalibit, Kabui and Aljui to the “blue wamangrove” channels of Kofiau and Gam to the plankton-rich upwelling areas of Misool and the Dampier Strait – are home to unique assemblages of species that, when taken together, add to produce the most impressive species lists ever compiled for a coral reef system of this size.

Marine tourism, as a sustainable alternative to overfishing, mining, and logging, has the potential to play a key role in the conservation of Raja Ampat’s spectacular underwater realm, while also creating real benefits for the local communities. This website was designed as part of a larger effort to support the growth of sustainable marine tourism in Raja Ampat and the conservation of these magical islands.

Please explore this site to find information on breathtaking diving opportunities, travel logistics, Raja Ampat’s new tourism entrance fee (which directly supports conservation and community development), and the tremendous conservation effort taking place in Raja Ampat.

MANOKWARI, - Kabupaten Raja Ampat di Provinsi Papua Barat sepertinya ingin tetap mempertahankan pamornya sebagai kawasan bahari yang kaya akan potensi alam, budaya, dan seni. Pada ulang tahun Kabupaten Raja Ampat ke-7, pemda setempat menggelar Festival Bahari pada 2-9 Mei 2010.
Masih banyak atraksi khas yang mungkin baru pertama kali dipertontonkan.
Ketua Panitia Festival Bahari, Becky Rahawarin, Rabu (27/1/2010) kepada Kompas, mengatakan Festival Bahari digelar di sekitar ibu kota kabupaten di Waisai, sekitar 3 jam menumpang speedboat dari Kota Sorong. Festival ini mengundang kabupaten lain di Papua yang memiliki pantai untuk berpartisipasi. Selain itu, kabupaten tetangga seperti Wakatobi juga turut diminta memeriahkan kegiatan ini.
Beberapa rincian festival yaitu Lomba Foto Bawah Laut, Lomba Perahu Dayung, orientasi bawah air, olahraga pantai seperti voli dll, dan atraksi budaya lokal. Atraksi budaya lokal akan ditampilkan oleh masyarakat Raja Ampat dan peserta dari kabupaten lain.
Khusus Raja Ampat, Becky mengatakan masyarakat setempat siap mempertontonkan perahu tradisionalnya yang digunakan nenek moyangnya untuk mengarungi lautan. Masyarakat Raja Ampat juga akan mempertontonkan kebiasaan mengonsumsi buah mangrove. "Masih banyak atraksi khas yang mungkin baru pertama kali dipertontonkan," ujarnya berpromosi.
Becky yang juga Kepala Dinas Perikanan dan Kelautan Raja Ampat ini mengakui Waisai tidak memiliki banyak tempat penginapan di daratan. Namun, panitia berusaha menyediakannya melalui kerja sama dengan operator-operator kapal, semacam live aboard sebagai hotel terapung.
Usai menikmati festival, lanjut Becky, wisatawan dapat melanjutkan kunjungan dengan mendatangi berbagai lokasi wisata alam Raja Ampat yang terkenal sebagai untaian jamrud di Papua. Ini karena Raja Ampat terdiri dari ratusan pulau-pulau kecil.
Festival Bahari Raja Ampat diagendakan menjadi kegiatan tahunan untuk meningkatkan arus wisatawan. Saat ini, di Papua terdapat Festival Lembah Baliem di Wamena Kabupaten Jayawijaya, Festival Asmat, Festival Kamoro di Timika, dan Festival Danau Sentani di Jayapura

Raja Ampat
Senin, 31 Agustus 2009 | 03:28 WIB
Penyanyi Andre Hehanusa terusik dengan keindahan Raja Ampat, Papua. ”Saya gemas, Raja Ampat lebih terkenal di luar negeri, sedangkan di negeri sendiri jarang terdengar.”
Ia ditantang oleh Bupati Raja Ampat untuk membuat lagu tentang keindahan taman laut di kawasan itu.
”Saya lalu berpikir, masak Kuta, Bali, bisa, kok Raja Ampat tidak. Maka, jadilah saya bikin lagu ’Lovely Raja Ampat’,” kata pria yang lahir pada 24 Juli 1964 ini.
Bulan Mei lalu ia snorkeling di Raja Ampat. Pengalaman itu menjadi inspirasi dari lagu yang menjadi andalan album terbarunya, 20-20.
”Di album itu ada tujuh lagu saya yang di-repackage dan tiga lagu baru,” ceritanya.
Namun, dia hanya menyanyikan lagu ”Lovely Raja Ampat”. Sisanya dinyanyikan para penyanyi muda.
”Maka, judulnya 20-20, soalnya yang nyanyi umurnya dua puluh tahunan,” tambahnya.
Andre berniat kembali ke Raja Ampat. Kali ini dengan sertifikasi selam agar ia bisa menikmati keindahan bawah laut di kabupaten yang terdiri dari 610 pulau itu.
Menurut pria asal Maluku ini, album itu akan diluncurkan tanggal 17 September.
”Untuk klip videonya, saya minta bantuan footage kabupaten (Raja Ampat) yang punya rekaman bawah laut biar lebih ’terasa’. Soalnya, kalau bikin sendiri, mahal!” katanya. (EDN)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Plan to Reduce Gas Emission

During the world's Group of 20 meeting in Pittsbugh, USA, last September, President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono (SBY) had promised that Indonesia will reduce 26 percent gas emissions by 2020.

This promise can be achieved, if the government stop giving license to cut forest trees and convert protected forests into commercial plantations or other purposes. Beside that, it should also start a massive replanting of forests immediately.

But this seems to be difficult to achieve because according to NGO Greenomics, the Department of Forestry has proposed a forestry program that will allow conversion of 3.4 million hectares of forests into mining and development areas over the next 10 years. If the proposal is agreed, gas emissions will likely increase by up to 850 million tons over the next 10 years.

Beside that, there is another problem i.e. according to a study by the University of Indonesia, personnel of the military has been deeply involved in the illegal logging business that is destroying vast tracts of pristine forest and contributing to global warming.

For detailed media reports, please click here and here.

Considering the above, I hope that the government would immediately revise the forestry program and make efforts to stop involvement of military personnel in the illegal logging business.

Photo :  Courtesy of The Jakarta Globe/AP

Thursday, January 28, 2010

28 January Protest

Thousands of students, workers, NGO activists held demonstrations in Jakarta and others cities in Indonesia today to protest against the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono (SBY) which celebrated its 100th days in office.

The topic of their protests are the same i.e. wide spread corruption, Bank Century bailout, series of injustice, poverty, et cetera, et cetera. Besides, they demanded the resignation that those responsible for the allegedly mysterious bailout of Bank Century i.e. V.P Boediono and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani.

In Jakarta, the protests were held at the Presidential Place and the People's Representative Council.
Although there were reports of burning of effigies and photos of SBY and Boediono, and Police arrest of some violent demonstrators, however in general they have been quite peaceful. Thank God!

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

I am glad that the protests went quite peacefully, thanks to the protesters who were able to control themselves and the security officers for not over reacting in doing their duty.
I hope that the camaraderie and energy for said protests can also be used for other purposes which would bring much more benefits to our society, such as campaigning cleanliness, maintain environment, healthy life, et cetera, et cetera.

Photo: Courtesy of Detik.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Imports from China - Up 33.33%

The Asean-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) has just been effective on 1 January 2010, and in only three weeks the number of containers carrying goods from China that arrived at the Jakarta port have reached 12,359, an increase of 33.33 % compared to similar period last year.

Pos Kota quoted a Public Relations Officer of  the Jakarta port authority as saying that this number is larger than the number of containers that carry goods exported from Indonesia to China during same period which only totaled 9,276.

A member of the People's Representative Council was quoted as saying that the ACFTA is unfair for Indonesia, because the Chinese government provide subsidy for their products making their selling prices much lower than ours. He urged the government to renegotiate the agreement so as to enable our industry prepare themselves. Besides, the Chinese goods must be according to the Indonesian National Standard and bear labels written in Indonesian language.

If this go on uninterrupted, our industries would not be able to compete with much cheaper Chinese goods, and sooner or later they'll be forced to stop production and change business into importing and trading Chinese goods which would be easier and profitable. Their workers would loose their jobs and the number of unemployment would increase drastically.

Considering the above fact, I hope that the government would do its best to renegotiate the terms and conditions of the ACFTA, among others by postponing for at least three years so as to enable our industry prepare themselves to compete with cheaper Chinese products.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Garuda Emblem & Armani

The Garuda (picture below: right) is the national emblem of Indonesia which is considered sacred by the Indonesian people. So when famous fashion designer Georgio Armani used a logo (picture below: left)  basically similar to the Garuda, a group of online activists and lawmakers have threatened to suit Armani for infringement of the national emblem. Please find below an article from The Jakarta Globe.
Indonesia Lawmakers Threaten Suit Over Armani Logo

A new battle is brewing over the use of yet another Indonesian cultural symbol. But this time the alleged culprit is not in Malaysia but a tenant at two upscale shopping malls in Jakarta: Armani.

Members of a popular local Internet forum,, and some lawmakers claimed on Monday that popular designer label Armani Exchange had ripped off Indonesia’s national symbol, the Garuda Pancasila, for use on a new T-shirt.

“Many of the members were not happy with that,” said Retno Wulandari, 25, a boutique owner and fashion enthusiast who is a member for the forum.

Not missing out on a chance to score political points on an issue of national pride, some members of the House of Representatives threatened to sue Armani Exchange for willfully desecrating the Garuda Pancasila. The offense carries a prison term of one year or a Rp 100 million ($10,700) fine.

“It’s very sensitive using a nation’s symbol for business profit. The Garuda is very sacred to us as a nation,” said Eva Kusuma Sundari, a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P
"It's such an insult for us.”

The Armani Exchange A|X Studded Eagle T-Shirt, available at its stores at Grand Indonesia and Senayan City, as well as online, looks nearly identical to the Indonesian national symbol, except the images of a bull and banyan tree were replaced by an “A” and “X.” Also, the national motto “Bhineka Tunggal Ika” (“Unity in Diversity”) located on the bottom of the symbol was replaced by “Armani Exchange.”

Ravelra Supit Lubis, marketing communications manager of Club 21, an official distributor of the Armani Exchange line in Indonesia, agreed that the T-shirt, printed in November, was similar to the Garuda Pancasila symbol.

“But it’s not something new because we have produced several versions of the shirt,” she said. “They have their own concept, and as a distributor we have no option to not order it.”
Hanifa Ambadar, 30, founder of the Indonesian style and beauty Web site Fashionese Daily, pointed out that many Armani T-shirts have a modified eagle.

“I have noticed the debate on the Garuda logo,” she said. “I think we should be happy with that: One of the [designer] brand products uses our country’s symbol. Honestly, it makes me want to buy one.”
Mustafa Kamal, chairman of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) faction at the House, said lawmakers would examine the similarities between the Garuda Pancasila and Armani T-shirt.

“If we find it a form of insult to us as a nation, we will sue the company,” Mustafa said. “But if it’s simply creativity, we will surely let people have their freedom of expression.”

The First 100 Days

On 28 January, the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono (SBY) will celebrate its first 100 days in office.

In this connection, SBY has just released his third song album consisting of nine songs he recorded together with famous pop singers like Vidi Aldiano Tantowi Yahya, Rio Febrian, Fariz RM.

Meanwhile, a group of students, non government organizations, and other elements in society who called themselves Petisi 28 Coalition plan to launch a big demonstration in Jakarta on that day. Their objectives are to voice their allegations that the government failed to maintain justice, eradicate corruption and poverty. This is is shown by the mysterious flow of Rp 6.7 Trillion of tax payers' money to bail out Bank Century, and the conspiracy to criminalize the Corruption Eradication Corruption (KPK).
They also accused the government of adopting a neo liberal economic policy that do not benefit the majority of the country's people. In spite of protests made by industrialists the government insists that participation in the Asean-China Free Trade Agreement starting 1 January 2010 must go on without delay. This will cause the closing down of many local industries and massive lay down of workers.
The coalition demanded the resignation of Vice President Boediono and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani who were allegedly responsible for the Bank Century bail out.

But unfortunately SBY would not be around to listen to those protests because he will be visiting the Province of Banten.

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

I hope that the government would pay serious attention to the people's requests, and always base its policies on the interests of the majority of the people, otherwise they would look for alternative solutions offered by radical religious groups, socialist groups or even communist groups.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lessons from Japan Airlines

Japanese national flag carrier Japan Airlines (JAL) has recently announced its bankruptcy and requested for legal protection against actions that might be taken by its creditors.

According to Kompas, there are several reasons i.e. JAL cannot pay its debts which totals US$ 25 Billion, tough competition, as flag carrier it should fly unprofitable routes, low passenger occupancy and mismanagement.

This report is very surprising considering that as a flag carrier, JAL obviously can always rely on the fullest support from the Japanese government which is one of the most economically powerful countries in the world.
But the effect financial crisis that plagued the world few years ago seems to be still going on, and the Japanese government has not other choice but to let JAL bankrupted.

At a time when free fight business competition is the rule of the game, I hope that what happened to JAL would make the management of our national flag carrier Garuda to be very careful in managing the company's finance, and make best efforts to improve quality of services so that customers would always love them and other people would want to do the same. Otherwise, other airlines would come and take them away.

Scuba Diving in Tulamben, Bali.

The island of Bali has lots of beautiful places to visit, one of them is Tulamben, a premier Scuba Diving location in the eastern part of the island.

Here are some facts about Tulamben that I have quoted from The Jakarta Post :

On Jan. 11, 1942, an American ship USAT Liberty was struck by a Japanese torpedo. Then an American destroyer USS Paul Jones towed it to the shore of a small village of Tulamben to unload its cargo and supplies. The Liberty remained in Tulamben partially submerged in water. 
Then in 1963, Mount Agung erupted and the lava and earthquakes pushed the ship further down into the water, where it rests on the ocean floor parallel to the shoreline.
Underwater playground: Scuba diver is seen near the Liberty wreck. Courtesy of Tulamben Wreck DiversUnderwater

A day trip from south of Bali to Tulamben costs €72 (US$105) including equipment, two guided dives, lunch and drinks, return transfer and insurance. Trips from other places like Kuta, Legian, Jimbaran, etc. can also be arranged at an extra cost.

Marine life: Large varieties of tropical fish charm divers in Tulamben Bay, one of Bali’s main dive sites. Given the number of visitors to the bay, protection of marine life is critical.
For those who wants a scuba diving certificate (SSI & PADI), there are diving schools that offer three leisurely days of classes from beginner courses to professional diving.
Besides, tourists can enjoy spa services and scenic spaces. The black stone beaches might not be ideal for beach-bound sunbathers, but the resort pools and decks all are very good.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Easy way to get Indonesian Visa

Japanese travelers can now obtain Indonesian Visa on board a plane if they fly on Garuda. Here is an article quoted from The Jakarta Post.

Garuda launches new services to net more Japanese travelers

State airline company PT Garuda Indonesia, in cooperation with the immigration office, has launched an onboard visa application service on inbound flights from Japan.

The introduction of the service coincides with the launch of a premium tour and travel operation in Japan, managed by Garuda’s local partner and subsidiary.

The maiden flight of the “visa on board” service began Thursday, carrying approximately 180 tourists from Tokyo’s Narita International Airport to Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, Bali.

Each tourist is required, after checking in their baggage at the airport, to pay US$10 for a seven-day visa or $25 for a 30-day visa at a designated counter.

The latter is extendable for another 30 days without extra charge.

Two immigration officers are stationed in all Garuda flights from Japan to process the tourist visa applications.

Garuda currently flies to Narita, Chubu International Airport in Nagoya, and Kansai International Airport in Osaka.

Non-Japanese travelers on these flights can also make use of the “visa on board” service.

Those granted visa clearance are given a pass card that allows them to go through immigration checkpoints at Indonesian airports without further inspection.

Garuda CEO Emirsyah Satar dubbed the new service “the only one of its kind in the global airline industry”, adding it would also be introduced in the airline’s flights from South Korea and China.

Aboard the plane with Emirsyah to celebrate the maiden flight were Indonesian Ambassador to Japan Jusuf Anwar, Director General for Immigration Muhammad Indra, and Culture and Tourism Ministry Director for Marketing I Gde Pitana.

Indra said the new service was a step forward from the current visa-on-arrival, and a product of the office’s first 100-day program.

“This service is also a response to inconveniences that may occur in the visa-on-arrival procedures at airports,” he said.

He played down the possibility of security threats from the new visa clearance system, saying travelers from Japan posed a low security threat.

Pitana praised the new initiative, saying it would do a lot to detract from Indonesia’s oft-ridiculed airport-based immigration services.

“The tourism industry is really about keeping up an image, and the immigration service is the first thing travelers have to deal with,” he said.

He added he had high hopes for the new service to be able to help boost the number of Japanese travelers visiting Indonesia.

From January to November last year, the number of visitors to Indonesia from Japan reached 405,000, or a 17 percent drop from the same period in 2008.

Pitana said the fall was largely due to the impact of the global economic crisis on Japanese consumers.

To further develop the Japanese market, Garuda, in cooperation with its local partner Good Luck Tour Co., launched Wednesday its Japan operation of the Garuda Orient Holiday, a tour and travel package that offers wider alternatives for travel activities for premium travelers, provided by Garuda subsidiary Aerowisata.

Aerowisata’s Japan operation is the fourth of its kind after Australia, New Zealand and South Korea.

Among destinations included in the Orient Holiday package are diving adventures in Bunaken and Raja Ampat, tours of historical sites such as Borobudur and Prambanan, ecotourism in Komodo Island and Bali, and cultural tours to the Saung Udjo Angklung Studio and batik producers in Surakarta.

“With the Orient Holiday operation now in Japan, we expect to boost visitor numbers to Indonesia using Garuda by at least 10 percent,” Emirsyah said.

Saving Tigers by Adopting them

In an effort to save endangered Tigers from extinction, the officials at the Department of Forestry are planning sell some of those Tigers to rich people. Here is an article that I've quoted from Google Alert.

Indonesia to save tigers by adopting them as pets(AFP) –

JAKARTA — The Indonesian government has hatched a plan to save Sumatran tigers from extinction by allowing people to adopt captive-born animals as pets for 100,000 dollars a pair, officials said.

The forestry ministry said the plan could be put into practice as early as this year despite reservations from environmentalists, who say the focus should be on protecting habitats for the remaining 200 tigers in the wild.

"We're not selling or renting tigers. We're only authorizing people to look after them," forestry ministry conservation chief Darori told AFP.

"These people will have to follow certain conditions. The tigers will still belong to the government."

He said interested owners would have to "deposit" a billion rupiah (108,000 dollars) for a pair of tigers, which he called a "guarantee towards conservation."

The minimum area required to keep a pair would be around 60 square meters (646 square feet), although something the size of three football fields would be better, ministry officials said.

The animals' health would be monitored by government experts and mistreatment would be punished by fines or jail terms.

"Let's think of the tigers' new homes as mini-zoos," Darori said.

Another ministry official, Didi Wuryanto, dismissed fears the scheme could put a price on the heads of the few remaining wild tigers, which are nearing extinction due to habitat loss on their native Sumatra island.

Much of the jungles which the tigers' call home has been destroyed by rampant illegal logging overseen by the forestry ministry.

"The chances of people trapping Sumatran tigers alive in the wild and selling them are very low because of the high risk of getting caught and people finding out about it," Wuryanto said.

"Also, it's very hard to look after tigers trapped in the wild. They might refuse to eat and die."

He said there were about 30 captive-born tigers in Indonesia.

"This idea of selling the tigers to the public came about after several wealthy businessmen proposed buying them," Wuryanto said.

"They don't just want to own horses. They want to be acknowledged as special people with prestige, so they want to keep tigers.

"But we're not in it for the money... We want to save the tigers."

Although the officials used the word " Adoption " for the process of handing over those Tigers to rich people who want pay for them, and there are penalties for negligence, however in practice it is not easy to monitor them.
The best thing to do would be to let those Tigers stay in their own habitat but closely monitored by the Department of Forestry in cooperation with non government organizations and individuals who cared for them. If some rich people care about those Tigers they can give donations, and special visiting permit.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Australian Travel Warning

The Australian government has warned its citizens who wish to travel to Bali during the Hindu Nyepi New Year on 16 March to respect local laws and regulations.

Stay Indoors, Respect Traditions in Bali
Thursday, 21 January 2010 | 14:49 WIB - Australians traveling to Bali in March have been warned to respect strict laws surrounding the local new year. Custom requires that all people in Bali observe a day of silence from 6am on Tuesday, March 16 until 6am Wednesday, March 17 - the Balinese New Year.

Authorities require that all people in Bali stay indoors, make no noise and switch off all lights for the duration of this period. Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs says tourists must remain in their hotels during this 24-hour period and seek the advice of hotel management regarding movement around the hotel grounds.

Balinese across the island strictly observe this tradition and people leaving their homes or hotels between between these times risk being forcibly returned to their homes or hotels by Balinese traditional village level security personnel.

DFAT says this is an important cultural event for the people of Bali and Australians are urged to be sensitive and strictly observe local custom to avoid giving offense. The Australian Consulate-General in Bali will be closed on Tuesday, March 16 and reopen at 8am on Wednesday, March 17, 2010

DFAT's general travel advice for Indonesia remains unchanged and includes a warning of the possibility of terror attacks. Three Australians were among the nine people killed in the suicide bombings at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta last July.

I hope that all foreigners, not just Australians, who are traveling to Bali and other regions in Indonesia would always respect local laws, regulations, religious rituals and customary traditions. That way their stay here would be safe and joyful.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Holders of ATM Cards issued by Bank Central Asia (BCA) should be extra careful when typing the PIN (Personal Identification Number). Kompas reported that BCA has announced that there have been indications of PIN Theft.

BCA Traces Indications of PIN Theft
Rabu, 20 Januari 2010 | 14:15 WIB
JAKARTA, - Bank Central Asia (BCA) releases an official statement regarding cracked ATMs in Kuta, Bali. For the time being the bank is suspecting them to be criminal action.

"There are indications of PIN theft done through peeping by unauthorized parties while the customers are doing transactions at BCA ATMs in Bali a few weeks ago," said the statement released by BCA's marketing communications PR sub-division.

The statement also mentioned that BCA has taken measures to prevent loss on the customers, however, the measures aren't mentioned in detail. Further information for safe transactions on BCA ATMs can be obtained from Halo BCA at 500 888 or 500 69, or 888 via cell phone.

Besides the cases in Bali, ATM crackings in Jakarta, in November 2007, were also much discussed. It happened to seven BCA customers in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta. The cause and MO of the crime is mainly because the customers forgot to exit the system of non-cash ATMs.

On a non-cash ATM the card is only swiped at the beginning, then the customer must provide the PIN for every transaction. So the thief can queue behind the customer and memorize the PIN. If the person forgot to logout/exit the system then the thief would be able to access the account immediately. (WAH/C17-09)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Corruption Fighter is Facing Death Sentence

During yesterday's trial at the District Court of Central Jakarta, the Prosecutors have requested the judges to punish former Anti Corruption agency (KPK) Chief Antasari Azhar with a death sentence for murdering Nasrudin Zulkarnaen.

This request is surprising because in previous court trials some key witnesses have denied allegations made by the Prosecutor and the Police, among others as follows :
1) Pol. Colonel Wiliardi Wizar who was accused of coordinating the murder has withdrawn his testimony
against Antasari, he said that Deputy Chief Detective Insp. Gen. Hadiatmoko has pressured him to testify that Antasari ordered the murder of Nasrudin. After that he apologized to Antasari for all the trouble.
2) Although Hadiatmoko denied by saying he has nothing to do with the case, but his ex boss Susno Duaji
testified that the National Police Chief Bambang Danuri has assigned Hadiatmoko to handle the case
3) Forensic expert Mu'nim stated that his Coroner's report was not appropriate  because  when he received Nasrudin's body, it was already manipulated i.e head baldly shaves and wound on his forehead stitched.
4) The ability of the civilians who were accused of executing the murder were in doubt

The above development, and previous unsuccessful attempts to link KPK Deputy Chief Bibit and Chandra with corruption charges, have caused public speculation that Antasari may have been a victim of conspiracy to undermine the KPK. For detailed media reports on the above, please click here, here and here.

I hope that the court's judges would wisely consider all aspects, especially justice and legal certainty, before passing their judgment on this very high profile case, so that justice shall prevail and the law enforcement agencies can focus attention on important matters like the mysterious flow of Rp 6.7 Trillion of tax payers' money to Bank Century.

Photo : Courtesy of The Jakarta Globe.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Asean-C FTA Readiness

It seems that not all industries are pessimistic about the Asean-China Free Trade Agreement that starts on 1 January 2010.
According to Tempointeraktif the Food and Beverage industries are ready. I hope that the others would also be optimistic.

Food and Beverage Industry Optimistic in Facing ASEAN- China FTA
Monday, 18 January, 2010 | 14:52 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Surabaya:The Indonesian Food and Beverage Association (Gapmmi) chairman Thomas Darmawan, is optimistic that all food and beverage businesses in Indonesia will remain competitive, despite the ASEAN –China free trade.

“Our products are still preferred over Chinese products,” Thomas said on Monday.

This can be seen from the increasing turnover of local food and beverage businesses. In 2007, the turnover of these two products amounted to Rp 402 trillion. The
amount increased to Rp 505 trillion in 2008 and Rp 545 trillion in 2009.

“We are confident that Indonesians will choose local products over Chinese products,” Thomas

According to Thomas, preference for local products is also indicated by the reduced volume of imported food and beverages. In 2008, imports were worth $1,95 billion, and decreased to $1,90 billion in 2009 and $1,2 billion in 2010.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pre-Wedding Photo is Haram?

"Pre-wedding photo is Haram?" That's what I asked myself when I read media report about the decision of an organization called Female Muslim School Forum in East Java which declared that it is Haram (Arabic for Forbidden) for couples to take photos before their weddings.

Further, said organization also declared that it is Haram for females to have their hair Rebond because it will arouse sexual desire.

Later, I was very glad when I read that the above news was denied by the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI) which said that it is not Haram to take photos before wedding. MUI said that the photos can only be Haram if the photos show the couple kissing.

For detailed media reports on the above (in Indonesian) please click here, here, here and here.

I hope that in the future religious organizations would consider various aspects before declaring Haram. If it is limited for members of such organization then it's okay. But if it is intended for the public, it would surely be protested.
Although Haram declared by religious organization would not have legal consequences according to our legal system, but it bring some kind of moral obligations for many Muslim.

Photo: Courtesy of Kompas.

Sri Mulyani, the Finance Minister

The Special Committee of the Parliament (DPR) has been inquiring officials allegedly involved in the flow of tax payers' money amounting to Rp 6.7 Trillion for bailing out Bank Century.

The officials include current Vice President, and former governor of Bank Indonesia (central bank) Boediono, former Vice President Jusuf Kalla and current Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani.

Compared to the others, Sri Mulyani's appearance is much better, she answered questions calmly, to the point and often smiling. Here is an article about her in Kompas.

Sri Mulyani, Two Thumbs up yet Rebuked

JAKARTA, — The inquiry committee investigating Century Bank is satisfied with Sri Mulyani's answers, however one of her remarks later provoked sharp criticism. Sri Mulyani, also called Mbak Ani, who is the former chief of the Committee for Financial Sector Stability, had her hearing before the committee, Wednesday, House of Rep. building, Jakarta.

"Although there's still much difference in diametral view, I appreciate Sri Mulyani. She was outspoken with good articulation," said inquiry member Hendrawan Supratikno from PDI-P fraction, for example he also mentioned the time when Sri Mulyani answered about the legal premise of the Coordinating Committee's existence.

Another inquiry committee member from PDI-P, Ganjar Pranowo, even said that Sri Mulyani, the finance minister, had been more prepared to face the inquiry committee compared to the former Bank Indonesia (BI) governor, Boediono, who is now VP.

"No answer was misdirecting. Overall, our colleagues aren't too tense. She didn't answer like Boediono or the others from BI."

Bailout benefitted the people?

However, when Sri Mulyani mentioned during her hearing that the Century Bank bailout disbursement, worth Rp. 6.7 trillion, benefitted the people, inquiry committee member Gayus Lumbuun from PDI-P fraction immediately criticized her.

"The Rp. 6.7 trillion bailout benefitted only a few. Ironically the money came from the people," declared Gayus, Wednesday.

Furthermore, Gayus continued, the indicators used to support Sri Mulyani's statement were the value of rupiah, the capital market, and BI's interest rate. "Is this empiric reality or just imagination? Didn't you read the suicide news because somebody didn't believe in the saving refund?"

Gayus added that Sri Mulyani's statement was very disturbing. Especially if considering the amount of money that has been disbursed. Unfortunately, Sri Mulyani didn't rise to answer this statement

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Indonesian Volunteers & Donations for Haiti

Around one hundred thousand people died, many others injured and so many buildings destroyed when an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 on Richter Scale struck Haiti on 13 January. Many countries have sent volunteers and donations to rescue the people of Haiti.
According to Kompas, Indonesia has sent 75 volunteers and donated Rp 17.5 billion.

Indonesia Donates Rp 17,5 Billion to Haiti Quake Victims
Jumat, 15 Januari 2010 | 14:28 WIB

BANDUNG, - The Indonesian government has sent a donation of Rp. 17.5 billion for the earthquake victims in Haiti. In addition, 75 experts have also been sent to assist the victims for two weeks.

"They (the experts) depart today and they're from various institutions, such as the Department of Social Affairs and the Indonesian Red Cross. We really hope that the help will ease the victims' suffering," stated Minister of Social Affairs Salim Segaf Al'Jufrie at the Bandung School of Social Welfare, Friday. (Cornelius Helmlambang/C17-09)

Indonesia, a Heaven for Diving

As a country that consists of more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia has so many good places for sea diving, some of which are the best in the world.
Please find below an information quoted from Dive the World.

Diving in Indonesia
The Garden of Eden

Generally accepted to be the world's best country for sea life, Indonesia has more marine diversity than anywhere on earth. Slap bang in the middle of the 'Coral Triangle' of diversity that extends from Australia to the Philippines and across to Borneo and into the South Pacific, this country is at the core of the ocean's heart, where the marine variety suggests life in the sea began.
With 20% of the world's coral reefs, over 3,000 different species of fish and 600 coral species, deep water trenches, volcanic sea mounts, World War II wrecks, and an endless variety of macro life, scuba diving in Indonesia is both excellent and inexpensive.

You can dive here now and experience all the wondrous fish and other marine life in these nutrient-rich seas. From encounters with big pelagics around the cool waters of Komodo, cruising over pristine fields of coral in Raja Ampat, marvelling at the enormous volumes of fish in the Banda Islands, to photographing the outrageous critters of Sulawesi, Indonesia diving is unsurpassed.

There are packages to suit all needs including resort diving in Bali and Sulawesi where you can stay in comfort on the doorstep of world-class dive sites where marine biologists, photographers and pleasure divers come to marvel and the species numbers and variety.

For many, diving is best on one of the liveaboards to Komodo and beyond, into the seemingly unchartered territory of Irian Jaya. These trips offer the chance to cruise over crystal seas from Bali to the legendary islands of Komodo and Rinca where the dragons of folklore roam. Beyond Komodo lies some of the most exhilarating frontier diving there is, around the Banda Islands and Raja Ampat where there are few boats and only serious pleasure-seeking divers. Fantastic diving is virtually assured.

Such a vast and varied dive destination as Indonesia is very difficult to limit to just a few highlights but any consideration of a dive holiday here should bear in mind at least the following areas:

Raja Ampat - one of the few destinations left which truly allows you to feel like you are a pioneer - to boldly dive where no man has dived before. You can marvel at the incredible topside scenery of Irian Jaya, sail through waters where so few boats venture and experience some of the most impressive diving in Indonesia ... and therefore the world. For those who want to get away from it all and dive in a remote paradise but not compromise on comfort then Raja Ampat liveaboards are the choice for you.

Komodo National Park - the islands of myth and legend where dragons roam, are surrounded by rich nutrient-filled waters where a kaleidoscope of colour and life awaits you. Mantas, dolphins and sharks compete with critters galore, all against a riot of soft coral colours. Komodo liveaboard trips allow you to visit the many varied sites around this awesome marine park, some starting in Bali and visiting all the best sites along the way.

Sulawesi is home to some of the most varied and incredible diving in the world. Diving from Manado in the Bunaken National Marine Park means being surrounded by marine bio-diversity that is the envy of the world - with more varieties of coral than anywhere else.

A short drive from here is the Lembeh Strait - the undisputed King of muck diving destinations. This small calm stretch of water is where macro-photographers and critter hunters agree offers the most impressive diving. Along the black sandy floor you will encounter more bizarre and fascinating marine creatures than you could wish for. Add to this the Sangihe Archipelago and Bangka Island, and you can see why many divers return time and again to Sulawesi, an island that can fulfil all your dive dreams.

Banda Islands - the Banda Sea may be located between the better known destinations of Komodo and Raja Ampat, but for those in the know it deserves its own reputation as one of the world's best diving regions. Diving in Banda means experiencing incredible variety of both large and small. Big pelagics and large schools abound. The reefs are healthy and thriving. Consider on top of this that many different species of whales and dolphins are often sighted, and you begin to get the picture. Diving here is varied, colourful and fascinating as it takes in the critter haven of Ambon as well as the Banda Islands.

How to Dive Indonesia

It all depends on the diving you want to do. We recommend 2 ways: Resort stays in Sulawesi and Bali will allow you the opportunity to base yourself close to some of the finest diving in the world. See our Indonesia resorts section.

Alternatively, liveaboards in Indonesia are always a top choice for those who want to see more than any land-based stay can offer. Liveaboards can take you around the best of Northern Sulawesi, east from Bali to the legendary island of Komodo, Wakatobi, or into the inspiring frontier territory of the Banda Sea and Irian Jaya. Breathtaking diving, fantastic boats and inspiring topside scenery all await you here. Check out our Indonesia liveaboards.

Diving Season

You can dive in Indonesia at any time of the year. Generally speaking for such a vast country, April to December are the best times to go since rainy season is more or less between the months of January and March. That said many places, such as Sulawesi, have excellent conditions at this time so be sure to check the diving season details for your particular destination of choice. The Indonesia liveaboards season is all year round.
Reef Summary

Great for: Small animals, underwater photography, wall dives, wreck diving, drift dives, reef life and health and advanced divers
Not so great for: Beginner divers
Depth: 5 - >40m
Visibility: 10 - 80m
Currents: Can be very strong
Surface conditions: Calm
Water temperature: 19 - 30°C
Experience level: Intermediate - advanced
Number of dive sites: ~500
Access: Scuba resorts and liveaboard charters
Recommended length of stay: 2 - 4 weeks

Friday, January 15, 2010

Syaria Police Rape Case

Fanatics tend to use their beliefs as grounds for their own selfish goals, that's what I thought when I read on The Jakarta Post about two Syaria Police (Religious Police) officers in Aceh, who were arrested for raping their detainee.

Sharia police arrested for ‘rape’
Hotli Simanjuntak , The Jakarta Post , Banda Aceh, Aceh | Tue, 01/12/2010 11:12 PM | National

A serious blow to the credibility and morality of Sharia police in Aceh province, has occurred after several members were detained for an alleged gang rape in Langsa regency.

Police in the regency said Tuesday they had arrested two Sharia police officers, or Wilayatul Hisbah, for reportedly raping a female detainee at the Langsa Sharia Police Station.

The Langsa Police are also hunting down another suspect who is currently on the run.

Langsa Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Yosi Muhammartha said the three suspects were accused of jointly raping a university student when she was held in a cell at the station.

The woman was gang-raped by the three Sharia policeman during her interrogation, he added.

Yosi said the issue began when Sharia police officers were conducting patrol on the night of Jan. 8, and found a couple on the side of the PTPN-1 Langsa ring road.

The police brought the pair to the Sharia police office in Langsa. The suspects then questioned the couple in relation to violating the 2003 Sharia Public Indecency Bylaw.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Indonesian Survivors in Haiti

Two Indonesians have survived an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 on the Richter Scale that struck Haiti earlier today, while three others still missing. Here is an article that I have quoted from The Jakarta Globe.

Brazilian peacekeepers check the damage to the UN headquarters after an earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Reuters Photo/Eduardo Munoz)

Three Indonesian UN Volunteers Still Missing in Haiti After Quake

Indonesia’s Permanent Representative Office at the United Nations Security Council in New York on Thursday announced that five Indonesians were in Haiti when an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale struck on Tuesday.

Two of the Indonesian survivors were identified as Endang Satriyani and Yogi Anggoro, while three others are still missing.

Indonesia’s Charge d’Affaires at the Security Council, Hasan Kleib, said on Thursday the two Indonesian survivors were volunteers at the UN Stabilisation Mission (Minustah) in Haiti’s capital city, Port-au-Prince.

“They managed to get out of their office before it collapsed,” Hasan said, adding that his staff managed to contact him later through an Indonesian working at a UN mission in Liberia, Luigi Pralangga.

Luigi told Hasan that there were three other Indonesian women in Port-au-Prince when the quake struck.

“Yogi said he had recently met them in Port-au-Prince. The three women came from Bali but their names are yet to be disclosed. A report says they were working at Caribee Hotel in Port-au-Prince,” Hasan said.

The Indonesian Permanent Representative Office in New York along with Minustah’s offices in New York and Port-au-Prince are still monitoring developments in the search for the three missing Indonesians.

According to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, more than 100 UN staff personnel were inside the building when it collapsed, including UN Special Representative to Haiti, Hedi Annabi, and his deputy Luiz Carlos da Costa.

Religious Conflict in Malaysia

Between 1979 and 1984, I traveled once a year to visit my parents who were living at that time in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Each visits usually takes around two weeks except in 1979 when I spent 3 months. I enjoyed those visits, made lots of friends with local people as well as foreigners.

In spite of the three different races in Malaysia i.e Malay, Chinese and Indians each with their own religions, culture, traditions, however things seems to be okay.
This can be clearly seen from the fact that its economy has grown very rapidly throughout the years. I believe that such progress can only be achieved by a country whose people are living peacefully in harmony.

Considering the above, I was so surprised when I heard about the recent conflict between Muslims and Christians that originated from the Muslims' objection against the use of the word ALLAH (Arabic for God) by Christians in the country. I was even more surprised when I heard that nine churches have been attacked by people using paints and firebombs.

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

As a Muslim in Indonesia, where the word Allah has been used by Muslims and Christians for a long time, I felt very sad to hear about the above conflict. I hope that it would stop soon, especially that at the end of last year the High Court in Malaysia has passed a verdict that allow the use of the word Allah by Christians.

Photo: Courtesy of The Jakarta Globe.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Prison Cells for Rich Criminals

I used to think that prisons are places where criminals are punished for their crimes. And from stories that I read in the newspapers/magazines/books, and watched on TV/movies, I thought that that prison cells are bad places to live.

Due to this reason, I was shocked when the media reported about the existence of Prison Cells for rich criminals at the Pondok Bambu Women's Prison in Tangerang, Banten. Here is article that I quoted from The Jakarta Globe.

Artalyta in the middle of a beauty treatment in her cell's social room on Sunday night. (Photo courtesy of Media Indonesia)

Indonesian Prisons Pamper the Rich
Amid public outrage over the revelation that moneyed convicts could serve their prison sentence in luxury, Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar on Monday promised quick action and sanctions, even as inmates and prison officials rushed to deny the reports.

On Sunday evening, the judicial mafia task force made a surprise visit to East Jakarta’s Pondok Bambu Women’s Detention Center on a tip-off.

The team discovered high-profile inmates such as Artalyta Suryani — who was sentenced to five years in prison in 2008 for bribing a top state prosecutors with $660,000 — enjoying special privileges, including a karaoke room, spa treatments, air conditioning and LCD televisions.

“There are special facilities, yes. I think we cannot deny that,” said Patrialis, adding that he had ordered a thorough investigation into the team’s findings. “I will take action against anyone responsible.”

He said prison officials would be rotated to prevent them from becoming “a little king with his little kingdom in a detention center.” Prison bosses would also be asked to report to him directly each week about their jurisdictions.

But Pondok Bambu’s director, Sarju Wibowo, denied that Artalyta and convicted drug dealer Limarita a k a Aling had special accommodations.
“This room is for our women’s organization [Dharma Wanita]. The women have been using this for karaoke practices, kasidah [Islamic music group] and Koranic recitals. This room is utilized by many people, not only by one,” he said, referring to a large room that was allegedly Aling’s. The so-called cell had an adjoining private karaoke room with dark wallpaper. Both rooms had wall-to-wall carpeting.

The karaoke room was almost bare on Monday, save for an LCD television. Boxes full of electronics, including a desktop computer, were outside the room along with a sofa, a refrigerator and another television.

Sarju claimed that 10 inmates were using the room daily, while staff held karaoke nights and singing practices.

“I am their karaoke coach,” Aling told the Jakarta Globe. “This is not my room. My room is the 2-by-3 [meter] one in Block E. This belongs to Dharma Wanita,” she said, pointing to the organization’s mission framed on the wall.

“Now all the equipment has to be taken away. We will have no more karaoke practices, and that’s sad,” said Muryani, an officer in charge of inmates’ activities. She said the room would now be restored to its original function: a coaching and handicraft room.

In Artalyta’s living room, where task force officials caught her having a facial with a laser, the bulky cosmetic equipment and several pieces of furniture were gone by Monday. A group of inmates instead focused on producing handicrafts there on a mat on the floor.

The room had a baby corner with a crib, a stroller and toys that Sarju claimed Artalyta had bought. Babies younger than 10 months old are allowed to be with their mothers in the prison.

Sarju denied the cosmetic treatments, saying the laser was to treat a “thick blood condition.” Sarju also said Artalyta had a doctor’s letter confirming her illness.

Artalyta shares a separate cell with another inmate, Asmiyati. It has a queen-size bed with a pink duvet, air conditioning, a TV and an exercise machine.

Elsewhere in the prison that was designed for 540 inmates, 1,160 detainees live in cramped quarters. Some cells, designed for eight, housed 25 inmates.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Most Polluted River

The authority in Bandung, West Java, tried hard to keep the city clean by arresting four women who danced in their underwear on New Year's eve. But unfortunately they have forgotten to clean their river. Here is a related article quoted from The Jakarta Post.

Two scavengers search for plastic garbage in Citarum River, Baleendah in Bandung on Sunday. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has declared the 270 kilometer river as the world’s most polluted river. (Antara/Rezza Estily)

First Victims of the Pornography Law

Four women have become the first people in Bandung, West Java, to be victimized by the new Pornography Law. Here is a related article that I quoted from The Jakarta Post

4 Erotic Dancers to be Prosecuted
Thu, 01/07/2010 2:22 PM | The Archipelago

BANDUNG: Authorities plan to prosecute four erotic dancers who were arrested in clubs on New Year's Eve, for allegedly having violated the new law on pornography, a police spokesman said Wednesday.

The female dancers and two male club managers were detained in Bandung, West Java Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Dade Ahmad said.

"They appeared to have been preparing for a striptease and *were wearing sexy clothing'," Ahmad said, after police raided Bellair Cafe and the Music Lounge after midnight.

Police confiscated skimpy underwear and nearly US$200 in cash believed to have been from tips, Ahmad said, adding that they could be sentenced to between five and 10 years' imprisonment if found guilty.

Ahmad said the six will be the first people in Bandung to be prosecuted under the new law, following the Bandung mayor's recent announcement of a crackdown on behavior considered un-Islamic.

Bandung Mayor Dada Rosada told reporters Wednesday he was also considering revoking cafes' operating licenses. - JP

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Is Antasari Azhar Guilty ?

During trial of former Chief of Commission for Eradication of Corruption (KPK) Antasari Azhar at South Jakarta District Court, last Thursday, former Chief of Police Investigation Comr. Gen. Susno Duadji said that he didn't know about the investigation on the murder case.

Susno said that he was never appointed to investigate the case, because the Chief of National Police Bambang Danuri has appointed Susno's Deputy Insp.Gen. Hadiatmoko to the job and report directly to Gen. Bambang.

Susno's statement has made the Antasari Case became more weird every day, because Susno's appearance in Court, wearing Police uniform, was strongly protested by the Police top brass because he has not requested for prior approval from the Police Chief.

Antasari Azhar was arrested by the Police and prosecuted by the Attorney General Office (AGO) on charges of murdering Nasruddin, Director of a state owned company.

During the trial, some prime witnesses, and defendants, have canceled/withdrew statements that they have given earlier to the Police.

Police Colonel Wiliardi Wizard, who was accused of coordinating the murder execution including two motor bikers who shoot Nasrudin in his car after leaving a golf course in Tangerang, Banten, canceled his earlier statement and even apologized to Antazari at the trial.
The alleged executors, who were untrained ordinary men, did the same cacellation.
The Forensic expert, Abdul Mu'nim, stated that he received Nasrudin's body already manipulated i.e. hair already cut and wound in forehead already stitched, therefore he cannot provide a reliable visum.

Moreover, two Deputy Chiefs of KPK, Bibit and Chandra, who were arrested by the Police on several unproven allegations have been released and re-installed to their offices at KPK.

For details, please click here and here.

Considering the above, some people are beginning to question whether or not Antasari Azhar is really guilty for the murder, or he is only a victim of the alleged conspiracy to weaken the KPK. In order to shed away such disturbing doubts, I hope that the Court proceedings of this case will reveal the real truth so that legal certainty and justice can prevail in Indonesia.

The Indonesian Communist Party on Facebook

The Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) was banned by the government after they were accused of launching a coup d'etat attempt on 30 September 1965, causing the death of 7 high ranking Army officials.

Today, more than 44 years have passed after the tragedy and PKI seemed to be trying to return to Indonesia, this time through the online social networking media Facebook, under the name of Partai Komunis Indonesia 2010.

The page used the Hammer & Sickle symbol as avatar and mentioned that PKI has rebelled against the Dutch colonialist in 1926. And after the Indonesian independence in 1945, it masterminded the 1948 rebellion at Madiun, East Java. It also mentioned that it is not responsible for the 1965 coup d'etat attempt, it said instead that the incident was planned by General Soeharto and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

When I visited the page this afternoon the page has 1,477 fans and mentioned about two meetings that have been held by PKI 2010 with comments from quite a lot of viewers. In spite of the fact it called itself Partai Komunis Indonesia 2010, but its website,, indicate that it is based in the United Kingdom.

For details, please click here, here and here.

It would be very interesting to know who is (or are) behind this Facebook page, why has it been made, and how come so many fans ? Could it be that some people are sick and tired of all the Neo-Lib stuffs ?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Can Indonesia Stop Deforestration ?

In 2007, a World Bank study has named Indonesia as the third largest emitter of greenhouses after China and the United States, largely due to its rapid deforestation.

In reaction to this, President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono (SBY) promised that Indonesia will cut gas emission by 26% by 2020, or 41% by that year if supported by other countries. This means that Indonesia will drastically reduce deforestation and replant trees in severely damaged forests in the islands of Kalimantan, Sumatera and other islands. Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan mentioned about a  plan to add an extra 21.15 million hectares (52.26 million acres) of forest by 2020.

This leads us to a question : Can Indonesia Stop Deforestation ? Here is a related article that I found on Kompas.

Can Indonesia Meet Emission Target with Its Forest Plan?
Kamis, 7 Januari 2010 | 09:28 WIB

JAKARTA, - An ambitious Indonesian plan to plant millions of hectares of forest should allow the country to exceed its target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by more than a quarter by 2020, the forestry minister said on Wednesday. Indonesia was named in a 2007 World Bank study as the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States, largely due to its rapid rate of deforestation.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has pledged to cut emissions by 26 percent from business as usual levels by 2020 or by 41 percent by 2020 if given sufficient international support. Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said the plan to add an extra 21.15 million hectares (52.26 million acres) of forest by 2020 would turn the country from a net carbon emitter to into a net carbon sink.

“If the scenario described proceeds, if the planting proceeds, we can reach more than 26 percent (in emissions cuts),” he told reporters after the presentation. “If we can also eradicate illegal logging, then the 26 percent will be achieved entirely in the forestry and peat sector.”

The target appears ambitious since Indonesia currently has one of the fastest rates of deforestation in the world. Hasan said there were 130 million hectares of forest left in the country but only 48 million hectares were in good condition.

Under the new plan, he said 500,000 hectares of new forest would be planted annually at a cost of 2.5 trillion rupiah ($269 million) per year. An extra 300,000 hectares of degraded forest would be rehabilitated every year funded by the government and money from Australia, Norway, Korea and the private sector, he added.

“And it all must be verified. That is in our best interest, so that in future, other countries can see it is transparent, open and will want to help,” he said. Indonesia last year set up a legal framework to encourage forest preservation projects operating under a U.N.-backed scheme called reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD).

Under the scheme, polluters can earn tradeable carbon credits by paying developing nations not to chop down trees. However, powerful illegal logging syndicates have helped accelerate forest destruction in Indonesia and Hasan said that combatting such forces required cooperation between district officials as well as law enforcement officials.

Fitrian Ardiansyah, climate change programme director for WWF Indonesia, welcomed the forest plan but said it may not address the main source of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“Most emissions in this sector usually come from forests being converted to grow crops, build infrastructure, settlements and set up mining operations; illegal and destructive logging outside and inside legal forest concessions; and forest and land fires to clear space for some agricultural lands,” he said. Ardiansyah said the government should focus on conservation and using remaining primary and high conservation value forests and terrestrial ecosystems in a sustainable way.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ruhut Sitompul

Meetings of the Special Committee of the People's Representative Council (DPR) for inquiry of the mysterious  flow of Rp. 6.7 Trillion money to Bank Century is getting indecent every day.

Last night, several TV stations show the committee's latest meeting in which there was a disgusting argument between the Vice Chairman of Committee i.e. Gayus Lumbuun, and a member of the governing Democrat Party i.e. Ruhut Sitompul who called Gayus: Bangsat! a very harsh Indonesian word which is impolite to translate in English.

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

Although Ruhut as a lawyer and member of President SBY's political party may always defend his boss and party, however as representative of the people who is paid by tax paying people, he should always behave according to the decent ethics and customs of the people of Indonesia, especially now that people's trust on the DPR is quite low.

Photo:  Courtesy of Kompas.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Asean-China FTA Carries On

In spite of the requests for postponement made by industrialists, the Indonesian government will implement the Asean-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) effective 1 January 2010.
Kompas quoted Trade Minister Mari Pangestu as saying that the FTA will boost export of agricultural products like Crude Palm Oil (CPO) and Cacao.

Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu KOMPAS/LUCKY FRANSISKA
JAKARTA, — The ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) applied since January 1, 2010, reaps controversy. The reason is that the agreement nullifies import duties for thousands of products feared to be threatening the national industry.

Even so, Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu underlines that the FTA may benefit Indonesia's export and investments.

"We had the FTA coming from a long while ago. Many sectors can benefit from it," she stated at the New Year press conference, Department of Trade office, Jakarta, Tuesday.

The minister stated that the export sector for main commodities, such as crude palm oil (CPO), cacao, and glass will have a boost due to the FTA. Furthermore, the minister is optimistic that the FTA can boost investments from China to Indonesia. "Our export to China will increase, such as for CPO and cacao."

The minister admits that some industrial sectors have objected the FTA. Therefore, the ministry has formed a special team to deal with the FTA.
Besides, the government has also notified all ASEAN countries and China regarding the objection. Hopefully, the FTA can be postponed for some sectors.

"The government is taking rapid responses and will continue to counter the emerging issues. Each sector has its own issues, so it must be studied first," she concluded.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Facebook to Help an Alleged Corruptor

has been used by supporters of Prita Mulyasari, Defendant in the Defamation Lawsuit filed by Omni Hospital, to collect more than four times the amount of fine that the High Court of Banten has ordered her to pay.

According to The Jakarta Globe, this success has inspired lawyers in Solo, Central Java, to use Facebook as grounds for requesting the District Court to grant bail for their client who has been suspected of corruption charges.

Indonesian Lawyer Uses Facebook Group to Request Bail for Corruption Defendent

A lawyer used printed screenshots of a Facebook group as evidence to request bail for a defendant in a school textbook corruption case at Solo State Court, Central Java, on Tuesday.

The hearing was led by Judge Saparudin Hasibuan and the defendant, Amsori, was a former head of Solo’s Sport, Youth and Education Office. At the end of the hearing, Amsori’s legal team requested the judge to grant their client bail.

The lawyers handed a petition of 47 signatures from prominent Solo figures and organizations as well as printed screenshots showing 690 supporters from a Facebook group titled “Simpati pada Pak Amsori” (“Sympathy for Pak Amsori”).

“The panel of judges will consider the request,” Head Judge Saparudin Hasibuan said on Metro TV.

Amsori was indicted for alleged involvement in a Rp 3.7 billion ($398,000) school textbook case. He stands accused of marking up the costs for acquiring textbooks for government schools in Solo.

Freeport & Garuda

More than 40 years control over Gold and Copper minings in the Province of Papua, has seemed to make PT. Freeport Indonesia felt that it has privileges in the Province.

This was shown when Freeport refused to provide fuel to the planes of Indonesia's flag carrier Garuda at Freeport's owned airport in Timika, Papua, because Garuda refused to bend its flight regulation.

The story began when Garuda flight GA 652 from Jakarta to Jayapura, via Denpasar and Timika could not land at Timika on Saturday, 2 January, due to very bad weather conditions, so instead the aircraft landed at the provincial capital Jayapura.

On Sunday morning, that plane first needed to complete its flight as GA 652 by flying to Timika before returning to Jayapura and then flying back to Timika as flight GA 653.

At that time, Freeport's President Director Armando Mahler and several top officials who were waiting for flight GA 653 requested that they be allowed to board flight GA 652 instead of wait for the plane to make a return flight to Timika without them.

The request was denied by Garuda' pilot because, as the officials were told by the pilot at the time, according to Garuda's regulation, diverted flights could not accept any additional passengers. If the pilot takes more passengers, he must make a new manifest, which will take a long time. The delay would cause other passengers in Jayapura to wait even longer, and would risk increasing pilot fatigue.

Very disappointed with the incident, Freeport sent a letter to Garuda saying that the Timika airport would not provide fuel for Garuda until further notice. Besides, Freeport wants a written apology from Garuda.

On Monday, 4 January, the Timika airport start providing fuel to Garuda again. But on the same day, Garuda sent a letter to Freeport and Timika airport operator, stating that there will not be any further flights to Timika.

Further, the Department of Transportation has summons officials of PT. Freeport Indonesia to explain about the incident.

For details on the above, please click here, here, here and here.

Considering that Freeport and Garuda, need each other, I hope that they both can maintain better mutual understandings in the future.
But I also hope that Garuda would improve its services so that it can compete healthily with other airlines in Indonesia and around the world.

Photo : Courtesy of The Jakarta Globe.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Damaged Mangroves in Bangka

For many years the island Province of Bangka & Belitung has been producing Tin Ores. According to Kompas, the Tin mining activities has damaged 70% of the 122,000 Hectares of Mangroves in the province.

Floating unconventional tin miners (TI) in Lumut Village region, Belinyu District, Bangka Regency, On Oct.8, 2009, operate the tin sand sucking machines. The local fishermen are against the operation of TI considered as the main contributor to the regional mangrove forests destruction. Source : Antara

Seventy Percent of Mangrove Forests Damaged

PANGKAL PINANG, - Around 70 percent of a total of 122,000 hectares of mangrove forests in Bangka Belitung (Babel) province were damaged by tin mining operations, a forest affairs official said. "The damage on the mangrove forests is among others caused by mining activities in the coastal regions," head of the Babel Forestry Agency Sukandar said here Sunday.

According to him, the mangrove forest destruction can kill rabs and shrimps. "Floods and abrasion could occur at any time due to damage to the mangrove forests, and the economy of the local fishermen will also be affected," he said.

The mangrove forest damage occurred in every district of the province that needs serious handling to restore and preserve the mangrove forests, he stated. "We’ve planted 2,000 mangrove seedlings to restore the damaged mangrove forests, as the realization of the 100 working-day program in the fore stry sector," he said, adding that his office will set up a team to minimize the mangrove forests damage caused by tin mining operations.