Friday, April 30, 2010

Cancellation of Prosecution

On 19 April 2010, the District Court of South Jakarta passed a pre-trial verdict stating that the cancellation of prosecution against two Deputy Chairmen of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), Bibit and Chandra, by the Attorney General Office (AGO) has been illegal therefore the trial should be revived.

This Court's verdict received contradictory reactions from the public. Some people agreed saying this will determine the legal status of Bibit and Chandra, if they are right than their position would be stronger. Some others disagree saying that the AGO canceled the prosecution based on the instruction of President SBY to settle the case out of court. While the AGO said that they will file and appeal with the Jakarta High Court.

In this regards, I would like to share with you a relevant article in The Jakarta Post (below) written by a senior lawyer who is a member of several prominent legal committees namely Frans Hendra Winarta.

Ignorance, a disaster for law enforcement

Frans H. Winarta, Jakarta | Fri, 04/30/2010 8:35 AM | Opinion

The pretrial verdict of the South Jakarta District Court on Bibit S. Rianto and Chandra M. Hamzah of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) is not unpredictable.

The cancellation of the prosecution of Bibit and Chandra, which was already declared complete by the National Police chief and the Attorney General, ignored the due process of law.

Some say the cancellation of the prosecution of Bibit and Chandra is a correct legal sociological decision because it is in line with the people’s wishes and in accordance with their sense of justice.

However, it should be noted that an intervention from the power holders that the people’s wishes be heard will further weaken law enforcement in Indonesia.

In law enforcement, justice is a must. But in a case like the Bibit-Chandra one, which was about to be submitted to the court for hearing and was then canceled because of a presidential order, as well as pressure from the public that it be halted, the due process of law must also be observed.

The public’s massive support for Bibit and Chandra through Facebook has turned into disappointment, as the KPK has not become stronger and efficient, but indecisive when confronted with big corruption cases.

In handling the Bank Century scandal, for example, the KPK look as if they do not know how to handle it.

Worse is the KPK seems at a loss when handling the alleged tax fraud involving PT Ramayana Lestari Sentosa boss Paulus Tumewu.

In fact, I have reminded everyone of the danger of ignoring the due process of law and its impacts on law enforcement, especially anti-corruption.

If only Bibit and Chandra had been questioned under the supervision of the Judicial Commission, the National Ombudsman Commission, the National Human Rights Commission, the National Law Commission and the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center, within two to three months, the case would have become final and Bibit and Chandra may have been released from their legal problems and could have turned all their attention to leading the KPK in the fight against corruption.

However, unfortunately the eight-member presidential supervisory team did not anticipate the impact of their recommendation on the fate of law enforcement.

The brief victory brought euphoria to the public who simplified Bibit and Chandra as the personification of the KPK, whereas in fact Bibit and Chandra are not the same as the KPK.

Let’s hope that the prosecutor’s office will file an appeal against the court’s pretrial verdict and subsequently the Jakarta High Court will annul the lower court’s verdict, so that both Bibit and Chandra can continue their work at the KPK. The prosecution against Bibit and Chandra may not necessarily weaken the KPK. It is the attitude of KPK leaders, who are indecisive and easily swayed, which will weaken the KPK itself. Let’s hope that all of these matters can be resolved quickly because a weak KPK will only foil the corruption eradication agenda of the SBY administration itself.

Indeed, we are currently facing a dilemma of law enforcement that is mixed with political intervention. This political intervention turns out to be a disaster for law enforcement in Indonesia.

If the Jakarta High Court upholds the pretrial verdict of the South Jakarta District Court, Bibit and Chandra had better face the court proceedings to clear their names from all the allegations. If they are acquitted of all the charges, it will be proof that efforts to weaken the KPK are real and do exist. Otherwise, all the accusations of attempts to weaken the KPK are groundless.

The writer is chairman of the Indonesian Advocates Association (Peradin). The opinions expressed are personal.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Agnes Monica against Human Trafficking

Agnes Monica (24) is currently one of the most popular female artist in Indonesia.

She started her carrier when she was a teenager as a photo model, then played a leading role in a famous soap opera. Afterward,  she became a successful pop singer.

About one one month ago, Agnes made her successful debut as a Jury in the selection of the Indonesian Idol.

Most recently, MTV music channel has appointed Agnes as a spokesperson for their campaign to put end to human trafficking. The Jakarta Post quoted MTV's End Exploitation and Trafficking (EXIT) Campaign Manager Matt Love as saying that Agnes was chosen because she is smart and outgoing.

I hope that Agnes will be successful in the efforts to fight human trafficking in Indonesia.

Pfoto: Courtesy of The Jakarta Post.

Kelly Clarkson - No Cigarette Sponsor

Protests by anti-cigarette activists and fans, have forced promoter of Kelly Clarkson's concert in Jakarta to cancel cigarette sponsorship.

Promoter Adrian Soebono was quoted by USA Today as saying that cigarette brand LA Light will not be sponsoring Kelly's concert tonight. 

I hope that this action will be followed by other promoters of music, sports and other activities in Indonesia.

Photo:  Courtesy of USA Today.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Plagiarism in Academic Life

I always thought that the academic life is a pure and idealistic life whereby every writing is originally written based on research conducted by the writer concerned.
However, it seems that I have been wrong, because according to Kompas (below) some professors at universities in Bandung and Yogyakarta have been found guilty of copying the writings of other professors
I hope that plagiarism would not spread any further either in the academic life or in the blogosphere.

Saving Indonesia from Traps of Plagiarism
Rabu, 28 April 2010 | 02:56 WIB
JAKARTA, - Plagiarism remains 
a serious problem in Indonesia’s academic life.  
Over the past three months, a number of plagiarism scandals involving academics from prestigious private and state universities in two "student cities", Bandung and Yogyakarta, were revealed to the public.

In February alone,  the Indonesian public and academicians were shocked by the revelation of at least three separate cases, including the Anak Agung Banyu Perwita case. A full-time professor of international relations at Bandung-based Parahyangan University, Perwita was found guilty of plagiarism by the university’s senate after an article bearing his name that appeared in the Jakarta Post in November 2009 proved in reality to be a piece written by an Australian social scientist in 2007.
The Australian scientist was Dr Carl Ungerer, director of the National Security Project at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) who was also a former lecturer of international relations at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. Two other cases of plagiarism were found in Yogyakarta, Central Java. In the city, two lecturers of local private universities were also allegedly plagiarists after claiming other people’s scientific works as their own for the sake of their professorship applications.

Due to the importance of this issue, Indonesia’s influential Kompas daily, for instance, had put it in its headline and editorial pages in its February editions. The acts of plagiarizing at the Indonesian higher institutions do not stop at these three publicly-revealed cases because, like the peak of an iceberg, another case is also found at one of the country’s centers of excellence.

Mohammad Zuliansyah, former PhD student of the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB)’s school of electronics and informatics, was convincingly found guilty of plagiarizing the scientific paper of Austrian scholar, Siyka Zlatanova, entitled "On 3D Topological Relationship". Zuliansyah copied Zlatanova’s research paper, which had actually been published eight years before he participated in the 2008 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Conference on Cybernetics and Intelligent Systems in Chengdu, China.

Despite the fact that the IEEE had  issued a notice of violation of IEEE publication principles for his article on its website on November 11, 2008, the Zuliansyah plagiarism case was revealed to Indonesian public and acknowledged by the ITB management in April 2010. The ITB Rector Professor Akhmaloka said the ITB had just realized about Zuliansyah’s plagiarism case after he completed his PhD program and obtained the degree in the end of 2009.

Before the case was revealed to public, he had become a lecturer candidate at his almamater but, later, he reportedly withdrew from the candidacy. A series of publicly revealed plagiarism scandals have arisen deep concerns to the government and university people in the country.
In response to the plagiarism cases publicly revealed at certain private universities in Bandung and Yogyakarta, Education Minister Mohammad Nuh said the culprits need to be severely sanctioned.
"The sanctions can be social and legal, as well as the withdrawal of their academic degrees. The latter must be decided by the respective universities’ senates," he said.
Despite the fact that imitating other people’s works but then claiming them as their own works was just done by a very small number of Indonesian academics, this condition could not be ignored. To halt the acts of plagiarizing in the future, the education ministry would tighten its assessment procedures in evaluating the originality of lecturers’ scientific works through a peer review mechanism, he said.
Learning from the previous cases, Nuh argued that the main cause of plagiarism was related to the culprits’ poor personal integrity in their efforts to achieve the highest academic class as full-time professors.

"Other causing factors are related to the weak professorship assessment procedures and to financial consideration because being a professor, a lecturer will get incentives," he said.
Nuh said the authorities of universities and research centers in the country need to open the accesses to digital libraries and use such plagiarism checkers as "" to enable them to spot plagiarized  papers in advance.
An alarming bell
For the university authorities, the revealed plagiarism scandals have become an alarming bell that needs to be responded with concrete actions, such as strengthening academic life and plagiarism checking system. The University of Gadjah Mada (UGM) and ITB have announced their plan to develop plagiarism checkers to prevent the same cases to happen and ruin the credibility and reputation of the country’s quality higher education.

According to ITB Rector Professor Akhmaloka, his institution had actually wished to have the plagiarism checking software for long time ago but due to its expensive proposition, the ITB could not acquire it. "Now we are going to develop the software ourselves," he recently revealed.
The plagiarism that potentially weakens a nation and ruins its credibility and reputation on the eyes of the world’s community is not typically Indonesia case but it has become an international issue for such a long time. Australia’s University of New England, for example, had ever handled an alleged acts of plagiarizing by its international students in 2007.

As revealed by the Chronicle of Higher Education in its December 20, 2007’s news story entitled "Australian University May Discipline Staff in Plagiarism Scandal, but Not Students", the university found  the works of  210 examined international students had significant materials that they copied from the Internet.
In safeguarding their academic integrity and organizational reputation, such leading Australian universities as the University of Queensland (UQ) has used a plagiarism checker for years.  An Indonesian scholar teaching at UQ’s school of geography planning and environmental management, Dr.Salahudin (Salut) Muhidin, said UQ lecturers had used a computer program called "Turnitin" to help them check their students’ academic essays to ensure their originality and proper citation. 
UQ, he said, had seriously attempted to maintain the academic integrity of its students through "Turnitin" that had also been used by thousands of universities in more than 80 countries around the world. However, the "Turnitin" was no more than just a tool to trace the levels of plagiarism. It could not even spot someone’s acts of plagiarizing unpublished papers and Indonesian research papers whose plagiarized contents were then translated into English, Muhidin said.

Apart from the significance of such plagiarism checkers as the "Turnitin" and "", building a sound academic life at all universities in Indonesia is much more important amid  their limited budget. In this context, ensuring the originality of works can be a starting point that needs to be made parts of Indonesians’ academic life. Through this approach, Indonesia can keep improving its higher educational reputation that has recently been damaged by the revealed plagiarism scandals.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Gigolo in Bali

The Island of Bali is the most popular tourist destination in Indonesia.

This is obvious because Bali has wonderful nature especially beaches, culture, artistic works, tradition, friendly people, all of which have been promoted for many decades by the central government as well as the Bali provincial government.

Recently Bali is also a very attractive place for females who are looking to have fun with local young males known as gigolo.
Last night I watched on MNC-TV  a documentary film titled : Cowboys in Paradise which show the life of gigolo in the beach of Kuta, Bali taken from the online video media You-Tube. In the film a Balinese man offered his service to accompany foreign lady tourist, and film director Amit Vermany described Kuta  as a sex paradise for thousands of women.   

For detailed media reports (in Bahasa Indonesia), please click here and here.

I wonder what would those pro Pornography Law people say about this.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Avatar Tree for President SBY

President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono (SBY) has been presented an Avatar Home Tree by the producer and maker of the movie AVATAR i.e. James Cameron.

Antara quoted Presidential spokesman Dino Patijalal as saying that the gift was presented in the form of an Oak Tree in a ceremony that took placed at Los Angeles, in which James Cameron said that Indonesia has important role in preserving world environment.  And the Oak Tree will be part of the one billion trees SBY promised to plant every year in Indonesia. At that time, SBY was represented by our Consular General in LA.

I hope this symbolic gift will strengthen SBY's determination to make Indonesia reduce 26% gas emision by 2020, as he promised world leaders last September, among others by masive planting of trees and stop deforestration.

Photo:  Courtesy of Antara.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Boss of Pesta Blogger 2010

In 2007, the first formal gathering of bloggers called "Pesta Blogger" was held in Jakarta.

Since then, similar gatherings have been held every year (October or November) and the numbers of attendance grew much bigger every year, a big thanks to the organizing committees for their hard and smart works.

Unlike previous Pesta Blogger which were led by males, this year it will be led by a female Dentist namely Drg. Irayani Queencyputri a.k.a Rara.
In an interview with Yahoo Indonesia (click), Rara said that she plan to involve "new faces" in the organizing committee and plan to straighten several things, among others about entry ticket which she thinks quite commercial, about the name of the event itself and who are eligible to attend.

Not much information was given about Rara except that she has been blogging since 1998 and has been active with several blogging communities, but never joined previous Pesta Blogger organizing committee.

I hope that the members of the organizing committee would consist of  bloggers who are less exclusive than previous ones, that way this year's Pesta Blogger would really be a party for common bloggers.

Indonesian "Slave" Maid.

For many years the news media have been reporting about Indonesian women working abroad as maid/servants being treated very badly or even brutally by their employers.

Very few of those poor women were lucky to be able to get help from others in initiating legal action against their cruel employers and got compensation.

The latest one is reported by Kompas about an Indonesian maid in London who has been mistreated by her employer.

I hope that the Indonesian government especially its embassies around the world, would always keep their eyes and ears open on Indonesian people abroad, and give help whenever needed.

Over claim she was slapped, strip-searched and locked-up
Indonesian 'Slave' Maid Could Win 750,000 Pounds
Jumat, 23 April 2010 | 12:59 WIB -  A maid allegedly kept 'like a prisoner' while paid less than £10 a day could collect three-quarters of a million pounds from her employers, a tribunal heard yesterday.

But Yoyoh Binti Salim Udin had previously spoken highly of working for Lina and Firas Chamsi-Pasha, insisted Jonathan Goldberg QC.

She is claiming they made her work 16 hours a day for less than £200 a month and she was slapped, strip-searched and locked up by them.

Yesterday Mr Goldberg, representing the couple who deny all of her claims, was asked how much longer he intended to cross-examine her. He said he did not want to rush, adding: 'This is a claim that, if my friend succeeds, could be worth about three-quarters of a million pounds.'

Earlier, Indonesian Miss Udin was accused of being a 'shrewd woman' who was constantly changing her story.

The 39-year-old, who drank acid in an apparent suicide attempt after allegedly being accused of theft by Mrs Chamsi-Pasha, denied she had described the couple as 'excellent employers'.

Mr Goldberg suggested she had repeatedly spoken highly of them to her sister in Indonesia. She had also praised them to nurses after drinking the acid and medical notes showed her denying there was any 'ongoing problem' with her bosses.

In addition, she had said she planned to go back to work for them, the tribunal heard.

Mr Goldberg said: 'Did you tell your sister the Chamsi-Pashas were excellent employers, that you were happy and that they were good to you?'

Miss Udin replied, 'No'. When asked if she told her sister she was unhappy over the four-and-a-half years she worked in the Chamsi-Pasha's luxury London homes, she said: 'She never asked me. They would worry about me if I am treated badly.'

Referring to her treatment after the acid incident in February last year, Mr Goldberg said: 'Did you tell the psychiatric nurse you were working for the Chamsi-Pashas who were good employers?'

Miss Udin again denied this. But a medical note read by Mr Goldberg said: 'Patient states she is feeling well, regrets incident. Denies any ongoing problem with her employers, feels that it has been worked out. Believes she will return to work.'

He added: 'I suggest you are lying and changing your evidence.'

Miss Udin is suing her former employers for race discrimination, constructive dismissal, wages owed and compensation over her rights in relation to working time since she started her job in 2004.

The hearing in Central London continues.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Violence in Batam

" When in Rome do as the Romans do  " that's a well known adage which imply that foreigners should respect the laws, regulations, traditions, ethics of a country they are visiting.

That's what I thought when I read on The Jakarta Globe about the violence against Indian nationals working in the Island of Batam,  which was triggered by a humiliating remark made by one of the Indian workers about the Indonesian people.

I never condone violence, but I can never understand why foreigners humiliate Indonesia. Therefore, I hope that a comprehensive investigation would be carried out to find out the cause of violence, and anyone responsible would be prosecuted and punished according to the law.

April 22, 2010
Jakarta Globe

Breaking News: Violence at Batam Port Targets Foreigners

Reports are emerging of violence directed against Indian nationals employed by PT Drydock World Graha in Batam, Riau Islands province.

State news agency Antara is reporting that 41 Indian workers employed by the company were escorted by 400 police, including the armed Mobile Brigade (Brimob), from the company premises after they were attacked by local workers.

At least four of the workers were injured and about 20 vehicles set alight, Antara reported. The offices have also been trashed,.

One worker was quoted by Antara as alleging that the unrest was triggered after an Indian national said “Indonesian people were stupid.”

“This is national pride, so we are all angry,” the local, identified as Baim, said.

About 10,000 Indonesians were observed crowding the company premises singing “Great Indonesia” and other patriotic songs, Antara reported.

The National Maritime Institute (Namarin) said the recent violence at Tanjung Priok in North Jakarta was likely to raise shipping insurance costs, and its “international reputation as an export and import gate will plummet.”

The Joint War Committee, a London organization that analyzes shipping risks, had listed maritime regions in Indonesia as “war risk zones” that might pose dangers to domestic or international ships.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day 2010

Let us hope that Indonesia would make better efforts to maintain valuable things that we received from Mother Earth, such as Forests, Plants, Soil, Water, Natural Resources, Air, etc. by proper enforcement of relevant laws and regulations. That way, Indonesia would be a better place to live.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Initials of Crime Suspect

" The news media are not required to write the initials of crime suspects "

This was revealed today by Executive Editor of Kompas Newspaper Budiman Tanudiredja when he testified as witness in the trial of Civil Lawsuit filed by Raymond Teddy at the District Court of West Jakarta.

Budiman was quoted by Kompas as saying that based on the Journalistic Code of Ethic Article 5, the media are only required to write initials of crime suspects in Decency cases, and when the suspect is an under age child.

Budiman further stated that the report was made based on the information provided by the Public Relation officer of the Police.

Kompas Newspaper, and RCTI have been sued by Raymond Teddy, for reporting his arrest by the Police on charges of Illegal Gambling at the Hotel Sultan on December 2008.

Beside the three media, Raymond also filed similar lawsuits against four other media i.e Suara Pembaruan, Republika, Seputar Indonesia, and at three different District Court i.e in Central Jakarta, South Jakarta and East Jakarta.

The above information is important for news reporters as well as bloggers.

Happy Kartini Day

21 April 1879, was the birth date of Raden Ajeng Kartini, a woman who has been regarded as the pioneer of woman’s emancipation movement in Indonesia.

Kartini was born to a royal family in Jepara, Central Java, went to a Dutch school , but was forced to end formal education at 12 and “ secluded at home”, a practice among Javanese nobility at that time to prepare young girls for marriage. In spite of this fact, Kartini kept studying at home and corresponding with some intellectual people in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia at that time), and in the Netherlands, in which she wrote about her wishes and expectations for Indonesian women in the future.

In 1903, her parents forced her marry the Regent of Rembang, Central Java, who already have three wives. But luckily, her husband understood Kartini’s dreams and allowed her to set up a special school for girls. Kartini died after giving birth to a son in 1904.

Since Indonesia proclaimed its independence on 17 August 1945, many of our women have shown that they are professionally capable similar to men in government offices, as well as private entrepreneurs. We once had a woman president, cabinet ministers, governor, mayor, regent, members of parliament, et cetera.

Unfortunately, we also have many women working abroad without sufficient legal protection from the government although they sent lots of money back home.
Besides, the largest Moslem organization in Indonesia i.e. Nahdatul Ulama( N.U), recently declared that girls are allowed to marry under the age of 16 which is the minimum age stipulated by the national Marriage Law.

Considering the above, I would like to wish all Indonesian women a Happy Kartini Day. I hope that all Indonesian women would have a better future.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Anggodo vs. KPK Leaders

The faith of those who are directly or indirectly involved in corruption can be better than those who are fighting corruption.

That's what I thought when I read on The Jakarta Globe that the District Court of South Jakarta has accepted the petition filed by Corruption Suspect Anggodo Widjaya for cancellation of the Attorney General Office's decision to discharge Vice Chairmen of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) i.e. Chandra Hamzah and Bibid S. Waluyo from prosecution.

With this Court's decision, the Attorney General Office will have to revive its Prosecution against both KPK leaders.

April 19, 2010

Jakarta Globe
Anggodo Widjojo in this file photo outside the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). The controversial businessman and graft suspect is back, at that is bad news for KPK deputy chairmen Bibit Samad Rianto and Chandra M Hamzah. (Antara Photo)
Anggodo Widjojo in this file photo outside the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). The controversial businessman and graft suspect is back, at that is bad news for KPK deputy chairmen Bibit Samad Rianto and Chandra M Hamzah. (Antara Photo)

Anggodo Revives Prosecution of KPK Deputies 

Corruption suspect Anggodo Widjojo has been able to revive the controversial and allegedly bogus criminal case against respected Corruption Eradication Commission deputy chairmen Bibit Samad Rianto and Chandra M Hamzah.

The South Jakarta District Court on Monday accepted a motion filed by Anggodo — the brother of fugitive businessman Anggoro — against the decision of the Attorney General’s Office to abandon its prosecution of Bibit and Chandra.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had publically urged that the hugely unpopular prosecutions be abandoned in the wake of public outrage and the findings of a presidential task force that concluded the charges were part of an alleged conspiracy involving elements of the AGO, National Police and Anggodo himself to bring down the commission, also known as the KPK.

Bibit and Chandra were initially charged with abuse of power and allowing Anggoro to flee to Singapore but it was widely acknowledged that little evidence existed.

Prosecutors, on the back foot last year, said at the time that prosecuting the deputies would be more “harmful than beneficial to bring the bribery case to the court.”

Anggodo challenged the AGO’s argument, saying that public pressure had been applied in reaching the decision, which was not in accordance with the Criminal Procedures Code and therefore violated the law.

The decision to revive the prosecution was made by the sole Judge Nugroho Setyadi.

KPK spokesman J
ohan Budi was not immediately available for comment.

Empowerment of the Blasphemy Law

Today, the Constitutional Court has rejected the request for judicial review on the Blasphemy Law No. 1 PNPS/1965 filed by several non government organizations including the Legal Aid Foundation, and several prominent citizens including the late former President Abdurrahman Wahid.

The request itself was aimed at five stipulations of the Law which are regarded as against the Constitution and Discriminative toward followers of minority religions, i.e Articles 1, Article 2 Par.1 and Par.2, Article 3 and Article 4.

The Court's judges headed by its chief Mahfud MD explained that the Law is not against the Constitution, it is not a threat to Religious Freedom,  it is not Discriminative and it has no potential to Criminalize followers of minority Religions.

For detailed media reports (in Bahasa Indonesia), please click here, here, here and here.

In my humble opinion, religion is a personal matter of every citizens, therefore State intervention should be limited. However, now that the Constitutional Court has made its decision to empower the Blasphemy Law, we must respect and obey the said Law. That way, we can focus our attention on other matters which are important for the country and people of Indonesia i.e. eradicating corruption and poverty.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Stiffer Election Rules for Celebrities

Celebrities have very good chances to win the hearts of people who vote during elections, because they     are  more popular than many politicians

That is the reason why efforts have been made to impose a stiffer election rules that would limit the numbers of celebrities who can be nominated in elections, as reported by The Jakarta Globe.

In my opinion, celebrities who do not violate the laws and regulations are eligible to elect and and be elected during elections. And politicians who felt that they are less popular than celebrities should improve their own quality so as to be able to compete with celebrities.

April 17, 2010

Camelia Pasandaran & Cameron Bates
Julia Perez on the cover of her album, Kamasutra.
Julia Perez on the cover of her album, Kamasutra. 

Indonesian Political Hopefuls to Face Stiffer Poll Rules

In what is already shaping up to be a highly controversial initiative, the Ministry of Home Affairs wants to further tighten eligibility criteria for political candidates in a move seen as aimed at preventing celebrities from running for office.

Under the 2004 Regional Governance Law, a candidate must meet 16 requirements to stand for election, including having a high school diploma, never having been to prison for a crime punishable by more than five years in jail and being at least 30 years old.

“The law requires regional heads to have good moral standards,” Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi said on Friday. “For example, if they are proven to have committed adultery, they will be banned from contesting an election. I heard that in the past a person who featured in a sex video later ran in a regional election. It should not be that way.”

Now, with a number of racy celebrities — including actress Julia Perez — throwing their hats into the ring for this year’s 224 regional and municipal elections while admitting to having little political experience, the government is taking further steps.

“We’re going to add another requirement for candidates to have enough experience in government or in civil organizations,” Gamawan said.

“This is to prevent people who know nothing about how to lead a region suddenly becoming district head just because of popularity. We should pity the millions of people whose fate is put in jeopardy.”

Julia, known for her sexy persona and bikini photos, created an immediate stir when she said she was hoping to be the next district head of Pacitan in East Java.

Pacitan is the hometown of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, known for his conservative views on public conduct.

Julia, better known by her nickname Jupe, has said she has much to learn about politics but is willing to learn.

But Gamawan denied suggestions the new requirement had been triggered by celebrities announcing their desire to contest this year’s polls.

“It’s not only for artists, but also other popular people who have no experience,” he said. “To be a regional head, a person must have legal responsibility, political responsibility and moral responsibility to advance the region and lead the people toward prosperity. If a candidate is running on a platform of popularity alone, that’s not appropriate.”

The new requirement will be added to revisions of the 2004 law being drafted by the government. It is likely to be submitted to the House of Representatives by June.

Julia lashed out on Friday at what she said was a government attempt to prevent her from contesting the election.

“It’s directed at me,” she told the Jakarta Globe. “People have the right to become politicians. This is supposed to be a democracy. If the government is saying this is a new rule then clearly this is not right.”

Julia said that she had the backing of eight parties at the district level, including the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura), the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and the National Awakening Party (PKB) and was “100 percent serious” about contesting the election.

She said she had formed a campaign team and would visit Pacitan on April 25.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Forest and Plantation

Environment activists have been campaigning against the transformation of forests into commercial plantations in Indonesia..

They have successfully persuaded two of the world's largest buyer of Crude Palm Oil (CPO), Unilever and Nestle, to stop buying from Indonesia's Palm plantation and producer of CPO i.e. PT Sinar Mas, because it has allegedly cut and burned trees to clear the forests therefore driving away endangered species like the Sumatera Tigers, Elephants, Rhinoceros, etc from their natural habitat... 

Meanwhile, The Jakarta Post reported that the government has recently dropped its plan to regard Plantations as Forests.

I hope that the government would stop granting license to transform forest into commercial plantations so that Indonesia can reduce gas emission by 26% in 2020 as promised by President SBY.

Friday, April 16, 2010 9:33AM 

Govt drops designating plantations as forests 

Adianto P. Simamora ,  The Jakarta Post ,  Jakarta   |  Wed, 04/14/2010 8:43 AM  |  National 

The forestry ministry dropped its controversial initiative to classify oil palm plantations as forests after strong protests from environmental activists on fears that it would speed up deforestation.

The statement was made by the ministry’s head of research and development Tachrir Fathoni on the sidelines of a seminar on Indonesian forestry following the Copenhagen climate talks.

“We have dropped it. No more talk about it,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
He said the ministry acknowledged that any changes on forest definitions should be made by amending the 1999 forest law.

The law defines forest as an integrated ecosystem in the form of land comprising biological resources, dominated by trees in natural forms and surrounding environment, and which cannot be separated from each other.

The same statement was also made by Nur Masripatin, the ministry’s director of the center for social economics and policy research.

“Indonesia will not include palm plantations as part of forest although some countries have done it,” she said on the sideline of seminar.

Malaysia, the second largest producer of palm oil after Indonesia, uses the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) standard to identify forest — which is land with tree crown cover of more than 10 percent and an area of more than 0.5 hectares with trees reaching a  minimum height of five meters.
The forestry ministry planned to draft a ministerial decree to include oil palm plantations as forest after the Copenhagen meeting.

But a group of activists from  Greenpeace Indonesia and the Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi) criticized the government over its plans accusing the authorities of not being serious on promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenpeace Indonesia then put a giant banner at the ministry of forestry building reading “plantations are not forests”.

Greenpeace said inclusion of ‘plantations’ in the definition of forests, would lead to massive concealment of emissions from the destruction of peat land and forests.

On Tuesday, Walhi welcomed the decision from the government to drop the plan.
“The ministry’s decision to not include plantations in forest is correct, the most important thing
now is the ministry should exclude the industrial forest concessions (HTI) as part of the forest,” Walhi’s forest campaign director, Teguh Surya.

HTI usually carries monoculture plants like acacia for paper mills.
He said that the ministry should also audit the existing oil palm plantations which converted forest areas without permits.

“Forestry Minister [Zulkilfli Hasan] should gather the courage to withdraw the licenses of oil palm plantations operating in forest areas,” he said.

The Agriculture Ministry earlier said it planned to use 1.8 million hectares of land designated as industrial forests (HTI) for oil palm plantations.
Agriculture Minister Suswono said that of 9.7 million hectares of land available for oil palm plantation, some 7.9 million hectares was already developed, leaving 1.8 million hectares designated as HTI.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tanjung Priok Port Riot

Yesterday, a bloody fighting between city security personnel and ordinary people took place very close to the Container Terminal of the Jakarta harbour in Tanjung Priok.
The fighting began when 2,000 security personnel helped by 600 Police officers used Water Cannons, Tear gas, Rubber bullets, Batons to drive back people who protested against the demolition of a graveyard of an Islamic cleric. Please find below a news report about the incident that I have quoted from Kompas

Actually this incident should not happen because the legal status of disputed graveyard area has been decided by the North Jakarta Court in 2002 as belongs the port authority. And both parties have agreed to settle their differences amicably. But unfortunately, very slow implication of the agreement has caused misunderstandings. 
How SBY Responses Deadly Tomb Protest in Jakarta
Kamis, 15 April 2010 | 07:29 WIB
JAKARTA, — Protesters wielding machetes, sticks and petrol bombs clashed with riot police in running battles over a Muslim cleric’s tomb near the Indonesian capital’s main seaport, killing two people and wounding some 130 others.  Some of the injuries were severe, including an officer who had his stomach slashed and another whose hand was chopped off. Wednesday’s violence was Jakarta’s worst civil unrest in years.
About 2,000 city security officers and 600 police used tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons and batons to  beat back the protesters near the seaport of Tanjung  Priok in northern Jakarta, city spokesman Cucu Kurnia said. Police estimated the number of protesters at 500. The demonstrators threw rocks and petrol bombs, setting fire to at least five police vehicles and destroying dozens of others.

An Associated Press photographer saw several protesters beaten by police and dragged away bleeding, including teenagers. Fist fights broke out and burning tires and cars sent a cloud of black smoke over the port.

The protesters believed city officials were trying to remove the tomb of an Arab cleric who helped spread Islam in North Jakarta in the 18th century. The tomb is on land owned by the state-run seaports operator Pelindo II, and the area is home to many squatters.
Two people were killed in the clashes and the death toll could increase, deputy national police spokesman Col. Zaenuri Lubis told reporters late Wednesday.  The demonstration began in the morning when hundreds of security officials showed up near the tomb with excavators. Kurnia denied the tomb was the target, saying the city wanted to remove the squatters.

 “We did not intend to demolish the tomb, but we want to evict the illegal settlers. In fact, the local government wanted to preserve or restore the tomb,” Kurnia said.  The protesters believed otherwise and attacked city officials, sparking running battles that lasted several hours. A second round of intense fighting broke out hours later outside the hospital where the wounded had been taken. By nightfall the clashes had stopped, but the situation was still tense.

Protesters maintained control of the area around the tomb and some 500 security forces had to be evacuated to a nearby police station by boat because leaving by road would have likely led to more clashes, said Bambang Ervan, a spokesman at the transportation ministry.   Just after midnight, several hundred protesters set fire to five security vehicles parked outside the hospital, Metro TV reported.

The flare-up came a short time after senior government and police officials visited the hospital.  Kurnia said authorities were surprised by the response of those living near the tomb.
“The mass anger was horrible and beyond our expectation for what was a simple case,” he said.

Kurnia said members of a hard-line Muslim group also were involved in the fighting.  “The locals were supported by a mass organization who outnumbered the locals by twofold,” he said.

Kurnia declined to name the group. He may have been referring to the Islamic Defenders Front, an organization with a long history of vandalizing nightspots, hurling stones at Western embassies, and torching buildings belonging to rival groups or sects it considers heretical.

Jakarta police chief Maj. Gen. Wahyono, who uses a single name, said 130 people were wounded, including 79 security forces. Kurnia said seven were in critical condition, including a security officer who had his stomach slashed open with a machete, and another whose hand was cut off.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed concern and regret over the clashes and ordered an investigation. He also called on Jakarta’s governor to meet all parties involved and put any evictions in the area on hold until a solution can be reached.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

U.S Kretek Ban

Last September, the United States Food and Drugs Administration banned Cigarettes with Clover, Fruit or Confectionery flavors, saying that they were particularly attractive to children.

As a consequence, the Kretek Cigarette i.e. Clover flavored Cigarettes that dominates the market in Indonesia can no longer be exported to the United States.

According to The Jakarta Globe, based on World Trade Organization rules, Indonesia and the U.S has 60 days to settle their differences, otherwise Indonesia can request the organization to help settle this matter. And right now the Indonesian government is preparing to take this step.

April 13, 2010

Jonathan Lynn

Indonesia Takes US Kretek Ban to World Trade Body

Geneva. Indonesia is launching a formal dispute at the World Trade Organization against the United States over its ban on clove-flavored kretek cigarettes, an official at Indonesia’s WTO mission said on Monday.

Like many trade disputes, this one involves health standards and whether they are being abused for protectionist purposes. It centers on the kretek clove and tobacco blends that dominate the market in Indonesia but are little smoked abroad.

The US Food and Drug Administration banned cigarettes with fruit, confectionery or clove flavors last September, arguing they were particularly attractive to children. But the US ban does not include menthol-flavored cigarettes widely produced in the US and smoked by about 19 million Americans. Indonesia argues this discriminates against foreign producers of flavored tobacco to help US manufacturers.

“They have to prove menthol doesn’t have a bad impact,” the official said.

US tobacco companies told the FDA on March 31 that adding menthol did not make cigarettes more harmful or addictive.

Under WTO rules, the two countries now have 60 days to resolve their differences, or Indonesia can ask the WTO to create a panel of experts to rule on the issue.

The case is only the fifth brought by Indonesia, the world’s 21st biggest exporter, at the WTO.

Indonesia is the world’s fifth-biggest tobacco market, and kretek cigarettes still account for most of the market. Exports of cigarettes and cigars totaled $358 million in 2008, the last year for which data is available. Only a relatively small number of kretek cigarettes is exported, and they are coveted by some young people in the US who see them as an alternative to more conventional brands.

Foreign tobacco producers, keen to gain a bigger share of expanding markets for cigarettes in emerging economies, have been buying up Indonesian manufacturers to acquire kretek brands and expertise and build on the potential for sales.

In June last year the world’s No. 2 cigarette maker, British American Tobacco, bought an 85 percent stake in Indonesia’s fourth-largest cigarette maker by volume, PT Bentoel Internasional Investama.

Philip Morris International acquired the majority of PT Hanjaya Mandala Sampoerna in 2005. Other Indonesian manufacturers include PT Gudang Garam and unlisted conglomerate Djarum.

Supervising the consultations with Indonesia will be one of the first tasks of the new US ambassador to the WTO, Michael Punke, whose Senate confirmation was held up for six months by a Republican senator from the tobacco-growing state of Kentucky.

Susno Duadji: Quo Vadis?

Last Monday afternoon, 12 April, former Chief of Detectives of the Police Comnr. Gen. Susno Duadji was arrested by the Police at the Jakarta International Airport as he was about to leave for a medical check-up in Singapore.

After being questioned for four hours at the national Police headquarters, Susno was released in the evening.

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

What's bothering me about the above arrest is that the whole process of arrest was covered by TV stations, as if their reporters have already known about what's going to happen that day.

Considering that our society needs a strong, credible and reliable Police force, I hope that there is no hidden agenda whatsoever behind the arrest, and the whole case would be clarified and settled A.S.A.P.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Indonesian Migrant Workers

For the last two decades
SBY's Plan to Meet Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak
What SBY Should Do with Shooting of TKI
Senin, 19 April 2010 | 08:05 WIB
KUALA LUMPUR, - The shooting of three Indonesian migrant workers by Malaysian police must be discussed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak when they meet here on May 17 and 18, an activist said.
"While discussing the shooting of the three Indonesian migrant workers, the Indonesian government also needs to summon the Malaysian ambassador in Jakarta to question and lodge a protest against the shootings," Executive Director of Migrant Care Alex Ong who is also chairman of Javanese Solidarity Group Society (Pasomaja), said here on Sunday.
He said that should the three Indonesian workers be proved guilty, they need to be brought to justice,  not shot at will. Alex Ong said that Malaysian police had shot dead many Indonesian migrant workers suspected of involvement in crimes.

In the shooting of the three Indonesians, who hailed from Sampang, Madura, East Java, there were witnesses who saw that the three were picked up by the police from  an Internet cafe, not in a way as told by the Malaysian side. The Malaysian side reported that the three Indonesian workers were shot dead after trying to attack Malaysian police with a home assembled pistol and machetes following a car accident involving their proton saga car and a police patrol car.

The Indonesian workers’ car (proton car) and the police patrol car collided. The proton car tried to flee but hit a tree in the Danau Kota Putri area. The proton car’s passengers got off and tried to attack the police.
Selangor Police Chief Khalid Abu Bakar said that the three were members of the "Gondol Rubbers Ring" which was involved in a rubbery at 19 houses in a number of Malaysian states.
But witnesses told the Indonesian embassy that the three men had been picked up by the police at an Internet cafe in the Damansar area. The Indonesian embassy is now examining the case. The bodies of the tree Indonesians have been sent home.

Derita Pekerja Ilegal Indonesia di Belanda
Selasa, 13 April 2010 | 10:47 WIB

DEN HAAG, — Tidur di atas kasur kotor di antara kecoa dan tikus. Bekerja di dapur-dapur yang tidak memenuhi standar keamanan selama 14 jam dengan bayaran 25 euro per hari.

Dalam keadaan seperti inilah tahun lalu sebanyak 35 pekerja ilegal asal Indonesia ditemukan di sejumlah rumah di Den Haag, Gouda, dan Rotterdam. Wartawan Radio Nederland Wereldomroep (RNW), Sebastiaan Gottlieb, pekan lalu, melaporkan, media Belanda menyebut kasus itu sebagai praktik perbudakan.

Sidang pengadilan terhadap enam pelaku asal Suriname dan Indonesia sudah dimulai sejak Jumat (9/04/2010) di Den Haag, Belanda. Dalam sidang pengadilan itu, keenam pelaku dituduh melakukan perdagangan dan penyelundupan manusia. Selain itu, mereka dituduh melanggar undang-undang kelayakan sandang pangan Belanda.

Mereka adalah empat orang Belanda keturunan Jawa- Suriname dan seorang pria serta wanita asal Indonesia. Wanita Indonesia itu diperkirakan punya hubungan erat dengan tertuduh utama yang asal Suriname.

Budi, salah satu korban asal Indonesia, bersedia menjadi saksi di pengadilan. Ia ingin orang-orang Indonesia lain dapat belajar dari pengalamannya.

Dari agen di Jakarta, Budi dijanjikan upah 25 euro untuk empat jam kerja. Ia memang ingin bekerja di Eropa untuk membayar utang-utangnya. Istrinya sakit dan biaya perawatan dokter serta rumah sakit menggunung. Sang agen mengurus paspor serta visa dan membelikan tiket hingga ke Paris.

"Saya mendarat di Paris. Dari situ saya naik kereta api ke Belanda, ke Den Haag. Di stasiun saya dijemput," kata Budi.

Tidak manusiawi
Bersama dengan TKI ilegal lainnya, Budi harus membuat keripik pisang dan rengginang. Pada bulan pertama dia hanya bekerja lima hari. Jumlah upah yang diterimanya hanya 125 euro. Uang ini harus dia berikan kepada sang pemilik rumah yang sekaligus bosnya di tempat kerja untuk membayar tempat tinggalnya.

Sedikit uang yang dia bawa dari Indonesia digunakan untuk membeli makan. Biasanya ia hanya makan mi instan atau sisa-sisa makanan yang dibawa orang lainnya dari restoran tempat mereka bekerja. Upah besar yang dijanjikan sang agen di Indonesia ternyata hanya omong kosong belaka.

Pengacara tertuduh utama Van Duijne Strobosch mengakui, bahwa para korban tinggal dan bekerja di lingkungan yang tidak manusiawi. Tetapi ia menambahkan, tuduhan perdagangan manusia tidak bisa dibuktikan.

"Dari pihak pembela ditekankan bahwa orang-orang itu datang ke Belanda secara sukarela. Mereka bebas untuk keluar masuk. Mereka membayar sejumlah uang untuk tempat menginap. Memang mereka tidak mendapat upah seperti apa yang seharusnya diterima orang Belanda menurut aturan upah minimum yang ditetapkan."

Laporan tetangga
Kasus ini sampai ke pihak polisi Belanda setelah laporan tetangga dan penduduk di sekitar Hobbemaplein, di Den Haag. Juli tahun lalu polisi menahan sebelas orang pekerja ilegal asal Indonesia.

Mereka tinggal di kamar yang kotor dan panas karena di lantai bawah ada dua dapur yang aktif siang dan malam. Di tempat itu para inspektur kesehatan menemukan banyak sekali kecoa berkeliaran. Produk makanan yang dibuat di tempat ini dijual di sejumlah toko di Den Haag.

Tidak lama kemudian polisi juga menahan sejumlah TKI ilegal di Rotterdam dan Gouda, yang juga bekerja dan tinggal di tempat yang tidak layak. Mereka hanya menerima upah 200 euro setiap bulan atau delapan hari kerja.

Mereka tidak diizinkan bekerja lebih banyak agar tetap bergantung kepada para agen yang mengirim mereka ke Belanda. Apabila ada satu TKI yang melarikan diri, dipesan sejumlah TKI baru dari Indonesia.

Megawati and PDI-P

Before former President Soeharto stepped down from power on May 1998, Megawati Soekarnoputri and her Indonesian Democratic Party in Struggle (PDI-P) have been my favorite politicians.


The reason was because Megawati and PDI-P adopted an independent policy towards the authoritarian government, and was "crushed" them on 27 July 1996. In 1999 the first democratic election was held and PDI-P won the majority vote and Megawati became Vice President that year, then President in 2001.


During the five years that follows, performances of Megawati and PDI-P were not different from any other politicians and political parties, i.e. corruption, incompetent officials, sales of state owned companies, etc.     Besides, the party totally rely on Megawati, her husband, daughter Puan. No serious efforts were made to regenerate the party. 


As a result, Soeharto's Golkar Party won with 25% and PDI-P 18%. Although the Democrat Party (PD) only got 7% however its founder former Coordinating Minister of Politics, Laws and Security Soesilo Bambang Yudoyono (SBY) won 60% in the presidential election. Megawati was very disappointed and announced that PDI-P became an opposition  party.     


SBY and PD formed a coalition government with Golkar and several Islamic based parties which performed quite well in the following 5 years.


In the 2009 general election, the PD won with 25% votes, followed by Golkar (2nd.) and PDI-P (3rd.) and SBY got 60% votes in the presidential election.


While other political parties have changed leadership, PDI-P only stick to Megawati, her husband, daughter and brother. This was confirmed during the party's recent congress in Bali which re-elected Megawati as  Chairperson who handpicked other leaders of the party, and emphasized that PDI-P will remain as an opposition party.


Considering the above and the fact that people are getting more and more smarter every day, unless serious efforts are made to prepare newer, younger, better educated and quality leaders, PDI-P's future political role would be very difficult, or almost impossible, to predict. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Fabricated TV-Show (part-2)

TV-One has denied that it has paid Andris Ronaldi to confess in its talk show that he is a Legal Case Broker.

The TV station said that Andries has appeared several times in its shows, and its presenter Indy Rahmawaty said that she never persuaded him to tell the fake story. Due to this, the TV plan to sue Andries for Defaming the TV station.

Meanwhile, TV-One will present evidences to prove that Andries is really a Legal Case Broker when the TV's management meet with the Press Council on Monday, 12 April, at 2 pm.

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

I hope that  this matter will be clarified soon, so that the law enforcement agencies can consentrate on other more important cases like the mysterious 6.7 Trillion Rupian Bank Century bailout case.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tifatul Sembiring & Adolf Hitler

Last Thursday, Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring caused a controversy on Twitter when he quoted German NAZI leader Adolf Hitler's words : " the union between two children, when both of  them complete each other, this is magic ".

The Jakarta Post reported that Human rights activist Fadjroel Rahman has reacted by saying that it is not appropriate for a Cabinet Minister of a democratic country to quote the words of a person who was responsible for the genocide of at least 6 million Jewish people during the Second World War.

I hope that the posting of above quote does not imply that Tifatul Sembiring, former Chairman of the Prosperous Justice Party which is part of the coalition government,  idolize Adolf Hitler..

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fabricated TV-Show

Competition among TV stations seemed to be very tough that they would do anything, including paying guest to tell false story, so as to grab viewers' attention.

That's what I thought when I read on The Jakarta Globe about a lady presenter in TV-One who paid a guest to tell a false story during a talk show.

I hope that this incident is merely the work of the presenter and other individuals, and not TV-One which is owned by Golkar Party Chairman Aburizal Bakrie, otherwise it would give a bad name not just said TV but others as well.

April 08, 2010  Jakarta Globe

Well-Known TV Presenter on Wrong End of Story

A prominent television anchorwoman has found herself in hot water with National Police after it was alleged she paid off a man to pose as a member of the judicial mafia on news channel TV One.

National Police Spokesperson Insp. Gen. Edward Aritonang told on Thursday that they had detained the man who claimed on television to broker cases on behalf of national police.

The man, identified as Andris Ronaldi, told police that he was paid by a television news presenter with the initials IR to talk on television.

“He said he was asked to say that he was part of the judicial mafia by the TV presenter,” Edward said. “He was paid Rp 1.5 million ($165) to do so.”

Edward said Andris was detained on Wednesday afternoon after what had been an intensive search. “We arrested him at his house and took him to the National Police headquarters,” he added.

Andris was a guest on “Apa Kabar Indonesia Pagi” (“How Are You Indonesia”), a breakfast news program on TV One, on March 18, 2010 with Denny Indrayana from the judicial mafia eradication task force. The talk show host was IR.

“We might question Denny as well,” Edward said.

According to Edward, Andris was wearing a mask when speaking on camera but after the show finished broadcasting, he removed the mask and he was introduced to Denny.

The National Police would also report IR to the Press Council for allegedly fabricating news, he said.

“We will report her to the Press Council and the Broadcasting Commission. According to Chapter 67 of Law No. 32 on Broadcasting, it is illegal to broadcast slander or lies. It carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a Rp 10 billion penalty,” he said.

Meanwhile, TV One chief editor Karni Ilyas said he was in a meeting with the news manager and producers. “I want to find out from them what really happened. I’ll make a statement later,” Karni said.

IR was not available for comment but seven hours ago she tweeted, “dear problems, my GOD is greater than you ...”

TV One, based in East Jakarta, is owned by the family of Golkar Party Chairman Aburizal Bakrie and his son, Anindya, is the chief commissioner.

Verification over Forest Destruction

In 2008, international environment organization Greenpeace announced that some producers of Crude Palm Oil(CPO), including PT. Sinar Mas, had converted natural forest and peat land as habitats for Orangutan, Tigers, Rhinoceros, into oil palm plantations.

As a result, Unilever, as the world's largest buyer of CPO, has stopped buying from PT. Sinar Mas.
Due to which fact, according to The Jakarta Post, PT. Sinar Mas has assigned two international surveyors i.e. Control Union Certification (CUC) and British Standard Institute (BSI) to clarify this matter.

I hope that the above international surveyors would clarify this matter based on the truth.

Verification over forest destruction claims to be completed in June 
Mustaqim Adamrah ,  The Jakarta Post ,  Jakarta   |  Wed, 04/07/2010 8:22 PM  |  Business 

Publicly listed crude palm oil (CPO) producer PT Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology (SMART) expects to have a verification work over forest destruction claims finished by June’s end.

“We have delivered the term of reference (part of the verification work) to the two consulting (firms) … we still need to arrange some details,” SMART president Daud Dharsono told reporters on Wednesday after a meeting with Trade Ministry officials and the Netherlands-based consumer goods producer Unilever executives.

“We hope the verification will complete within the next eight to 12 weeks – by the end of June.”

For the verification, SMART has appointed the Netherlands-based Control Union Certification (CUC) and British Standards Institute Group (BSI) headquartered in London through their representative offices in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and in Singapore, respectively.

Results of the verification are expected to, as SMART says, “clarify” issues raised by environmental non-governmental organization Greenpeace in the latter’s report.

Meanwhile, Unilever Indonesia corporate secretary Sancoyo Antarikso said Unilever would wait for the results before deciding to whether resume buying CPO from SMART or not.

In a 2008 Greenpeace report, the organization indicated that CPO producers, including SMART, had converted peat lands, natural forests and habitats of Indonesia’s indigenous Orangutan into oil palm plantations. The report was later supported by a field investigation and satellite data.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Death Sentence to Stop Corruption

People in Indonesia are sick and tired of corruption that they want those involved to be sentenced to death so that others would not follow.

And today, the news media have reported that three state officials have agreed with this idea.

The first is Chief of the Constitutional Court Mahfud MD who told VivaNews that the Corruption Eradication Law provide possibility to punnish those who corrupt with a death sentence.

The second is the Chief of the Judicial Comission Busyiro Muqoddas who told VivaNews  that death sentence can be passed on those who corrupted several times;  who is rich because of corruption; and who has corrupted more than 100 billion Rupiah.

The third is the Minister of Law and Human Rights Patrialis Akbar who told BBC that we should follow China's in erradicating corruption that is by punnishing those involved in corruption with death sentence.

I wish that the above idea is also supported by religious organizations that have always been protesting about things which they deemed hazardous for society like Pornography, Smoking Cigarettes, et cetera, et cetera.

Protest against Deforestration

International and local environmental activists have once again urged the government to halt conversion of forests into commercial plantations.

Tempo quoted the activists as saying that the halt is very important to prove the government's seriousness in achieving 26% emission cut target by 2020.

Considering that the above target was promised by President SBY during a meeting of world leaders last September, I hope that the government would pay serious attention to keep this promise.

Greenpeace, Sawit Watch Urge Government to Halt Plantation
Tuesday, 06 April, 2010 | 17:48 WIB 

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta: A coalition of environmental and rights groups have launched another call for the government to end the expansion of plantation areas in natural forests, and demand serious measures from the government to meet its 26 percent carbon cut.

At a press conference in Jakarta the group which includes Greenpeace, Indonesia Friends of the Earth, Sawit Watch, and Forest Watch Indonesia urged President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to order the Forestry Minister to revoke several policies on forest and peat land conversion for large industrial purposes.

The group said expansion of palm oil plantations has come to a critical point. We have 9 million hectares of palm plantationwith expansion of 200,000 hectares per year,” Jefri Gideon Saragih of the Sawit Watch told reporters. Of the expansion figure about 100,000 hectares are peatland which conversion process according to Sawit Watch responsible for the “largest carbon emission in Indonesia”.

The group suggested the government to raise production level by intensifying productivity of the current planttaaion areas. It said malysia who has only about 4.9 hectares was able to produce up to 18 million tonnes of palm oil while Indonesia only produced about 21.3 million a year.

Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace's Southeast Asia forest campaigner said the halt “is important to prove the commitment and determination of the government in achieving the 26 percent emission cut target by 2020.”

The group has also previously said The international will and funding to protect Indonesia’s forests is there. It is therefore contradictory for Indonesia to promote further plantations at the expense of forests

The Forestry Minister, Zulkifli Hasan of Yudhoyono's Democratic party responded to the call by saying "Tell the NGOs to see me.”


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hunting Corruption Suspects in Singapore

Recent success in arresting corruption suspect Gayus Tambunan (30) from his hideout in Singapore has inspired the Police to hunt other suspects who are known to be hiding in the island city.

Kompas quoted the Chief of the Police Detectives Ito Sumarsono as saying that there are around 10 to 20 suspects hiding there, including six who were involved in the 6,7 Trillion Rupiah Bank Century bail out case.

I hope that if the Police succeed in bringing back those suspects, they will be brought to justice and would not escape again.
Indonesia Seeks Singapore Help to Hunt Graft Suspects
Senin, 5 April 2010 | 18:16 WIB

JAKARTA, - Indonesian police want to work more closely with Singapore to track down corruption suspects who have taken sanctuary in the city state, national police chief detective Ito Sumardi said Monday. Singapore came under the spotlight last week when a young tax official suspected of laundering millions of dollars was apprehended there and returned to Jakarta.

The ease with which Indonesian police were allowed to enter Singapore, track  down the official, Gayus Tambunan, 30, and convince him to return to Indonesia has focused attention on other alleged criminals hiding there. Sumardi said 10 to 20 Indonesian suspects were living in Singapore, which has a reputation as the cleanest country in Asia. 
“We need to bring them back to Indonesia... They’re economic criminals. They consider Singapore a safe place to stay,” he told AFP. “First, our target is to bring back six suspects linked to the Bank Century case. They’re all hiding in Singapore,” he said, referring to a scandal over a 700-million-dollar bank bailout.

“After that, we’ll try to find those involved in other cases. Based on police checks, we believe the number of suspects in Singapore is in the teens, including those involved in the Bank Century case.” In a recent update to lawmakers, Deputy Attorney General Darmono said most of 18 alleged graft suspects currently subject to extradition requests were hiding in Singapore.

Another 10 had fled abroad, mostly to Singapore, but were not subject to extradition requests, he added. Sumardi said the police and attorney general’s office might be tracking different suspects and he could not provide a definitive figure for the number of fugitives believed to be in Singapore.

Indonesian officials have complained for years about what they say is the freedom enjoyed by such fugitives in Singapore, where they have allegedly pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into banking and real estate sectors.

“We’ll be working with the Singapore authorities such as the police and immigration department, and we’ll use specific approaches to convince the suspects to return to Indonesia,” Sumardi said, without elaborating.

Indonesia and Singapore signed a long-delayed extradition treaty in 2007 but it has not come into force due to Singapore’s insistence on linking it to defense ties, Indonesian officials said.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Expensive Education Leads to Suicide

The news media have been reporting about very young children committing suicide because they were very disappointed becase their parents cannot afford to pay expensive school fees.

Recently, Kompas reported that a third grade student of a Junior High School in Pasuruan, East Java, has attempted to commit suicide because his parents have no money to pay for his further study.

I hope that the central and local governments and members of parliaments would start thinking about ways to make education in Indonesia more affordable for all the people.

Another Financial Problem over Education in Indonesia Leading to Suicide 
Senin, 5 April 2010 | 07:26 WIB
PASURUAN, - A local junior high school student tried to commit suicide  by taking an influenza medication with soft drink after finishing his national exam as his parents could not afford to finance further study.  Ainul Basori, a third grade student at Nguling junior high school (SMPN 3), Pasuruan, East Java, was found unconscious with the rest of a soft drink and drug at his grandmother’s house near his house in Karangnongko Hamlet, Cukurgondang village, Grati sub-district, on Saturday.

Basori was rushed to nearest public health clinic. He said  his action was prompted by his disappointment for not being able to continue his study to a higher level at Nguling Vocational School (SMKN) after his parents told him that they could not afford it.
Joko Sastro, the father, admitted that he was incapable to pay for his oldest son’s registration at Nguling vocational high school due to his minimum income to support his two siblings. Joko had been relying on the government’s program of Family Hope Program (PKH), but because Basori is now entering high school, the assistance had to be stopped.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

MOU for Law Enforcement Agencies.

Many criminal cases in Indonesia has often been handled inappropriately due to lack of coordination among Law Enforcement Agencies.

For example, when the Supreme Court upheld lower Courts verdicts to send Djoko Chandra to jail, the Immigration Office (under Dept of Justice & H.R)  has let him leave the country before the verdict was announced.

The latest one was the Taxman Gayus Tambunan who was able to escape to Singapore before the Police arrest him for involvement in Tax Mafia cases. Thank God the Police was able to take him back.

In order to avoid such disgusting inconveniences, Tempo reported that the Department of Justice and Human Rights, the Attorney General Office and the Police are now preparing a Memorandum of Understanding which will enable them to work in close coordination in the future.

Three Law Enforcement Agencies to Sign MoU
Friday, 02 April, 2010 | 03:08 WIB 

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta:Three state agencies will sign an MoU on law enforcement procedures. The Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Patrialis Akbar, said that the initiative was taken given that there are many on violations on the process of law enforcement, such as during investigation to prosecution. “Even the Attorney General was surprised when someone explained to him that 1.900 prisoners have not received copies of their court documents,” he said yesterday.

The MoU was drafted by the Police, the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Justice and Human Rights to explore the possibility of working together. Patrialis said that he had communicated with the chief executives of each of the agency.


Educational Legal Entity

On 31 March, the Constitutional Court annulled the Educational Legal Entity Law No. 9/2009 saying that  it is against the Constitution 1945 because it failed to recognize disparities among Indonesia's educational institutions to generate funding to support its activities.

Considering that the National Educational System Law 2003 stipulates that organizers of educational institutions should be legal entities, in which the form shall be ruled by an educational legal entity law, obviously the annulment caused confusion among the educational institutions.

Due to this fact, the government is currently preparing a draft of a new educational legal entity bill.

For details, please click here, here and here.

I hope that the government would draft a new educational legal entity law that would the costs for study  at state owned educational institutions much lower than it is today, that way more people can enjoy good quality educations.