Indonesian News

Gov't to Help Local Seafood Producers Meet Global Health Standards

Jakarta Globe Business - Sat, 2018-01-20 00:05
Jakarta. Indonesian producers will receive intensive guidance on health requirements for fish and seafood products in the country's main export markets, a senior official at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said. Nilanto Perbowo, director general of product competitiveness at the ministry, said a general lack of awareness of seafood health requirements among Indonesian exporters is one of the main reasons the country could not meet its fish export target last year. "We must provide domestic fish processing companies with proper guidance," Nilanto said in Jakarta on Friday (19/01). He added that countries such as the United States, Japan and the European Union impose strict safety requirements on seafood products. He expressed hope that Indonesia will be able to achieve its $5.3 billion seafood export target by the end of this year. The country was only able to achieve 51 percent of its $7.62 billion seafood export target in the first 10 months of last year. The main importers of Indonesian seafood products are the United States, Japan, China, the European Union and member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
Categories: Indonesian News

Bitcoin Use Under Scrutiny in Bali

Jakarta Globe Business - Fri, 2018-01-19 23:13
Jakarta/Kuta. Indonesian authorities are investigating the use of bitcoin in the holiday island of Bali, amid warnings by the central bank over the risks posed by virtual currencies, an official said. The probe started after the central bank on Dec. 7 issued a regulation banning the use of cryptocurrencies in payment systems, said Causa Iman Karana, head of Bank Indonesia's representative office in Bali. "We found out from some postings on social media that Bali appeared to have become a haven for bitcoin transactions," said Causa, adding that central bank officials and police went undercover at the end of 2017 to investigate scores of businesses in Bali advertising online that they offered bitcoin payment services. The team found two cafes still using bitcoin as a means of payment, but 44 businesses including car rental outlets, hotels, travel companies and jewelry stores, previously offering the service, had now stopped, he said. One of the cafes used bitcoin only for transactions of more than Rp 243,000 ($18), or about 0.001 bitcoin. A single transaction took about one and a half hours to be processed and included a fee of Rp 123,000 so this had discouraged its wider use for payments, Causa said. The official declined to name the businesses because he was still waiting for further instructions from Bank Indonesia in Jakarta. "The next step is we will ban them as mandated by the law. We ask them not to use it anymore. Along with the National Police's Criminal Investigation Unit (Bareskrim), we will enforce the rule that all transactions in Indonesia must use rupiah." Some locals in Bali said bitcoin was being used mainly by foreigners on the island, which is Indonesia's tourism hub and has a large expatriate community. Bank Indonesia has called ownership of virtual currencies high risk and prone to speculation, because no authority takes responsibility or officially administers them and because there is no underlying asset to be the basis for the price. Virtual currencies could also be used in money laundering and terrorism funding, and could have an impact on the stability of the financial system and causes losses for society, it has said. While trading has not be regulated so far, the central bank has said it was looking into the issue. Regulators around the world have been grappling with how to address risks posed by cryptocurrencies, as bitcoin, the world's most popular virtual currency, soared more than 1,700 percent last year. Prices have plummeted since South Korea said last week it may ban domestic cryptocurrency exchanges. Bitcoin.co.id, an Indonesian online cryptocurrency exchange, said on its website that bitcoin was trading at Rp 162.70 million per unit after losing around a quarter of it value this week. Reuters
Categories: Indonesian News

Jokowi Calls on Lenders to Help Accelerate Economic Growth

Jakarta Globe Business - Fri, 2018-01-19 19:33
Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has called on local lenders to disburse more loans to small and medium enterprises to accelerate growth in the Indonesian economy this year. "I want to see banks grant loans to everyone, not only to some 'mature' parties. It must be spread more equally [to include small and medium enterprises]," Jokowi said in his speech at the annual meeting of the financial services industry, hosted by the Financial Services Authority (OJK) in Jakarta on Thursday (18/01). Indonesia has seen single-digit loan growth over the past two years as banks held back on disbursements to deal with a spike in bad loans due to a sluggish economy. This has often resulted in reduced access to loans for smaller businesses, deemed a greater risk than their more established counterparts. However, the president said many indicators are pointing to an improving economy this year, which should encourage bankers to adopt a more optimistic view on loan disbursements. "We have good monetary policy, good fiscal expenditure with an improved 2.42 percent state-budget deficit, improved trade balance, improved composite index and improved forex reserves of $130 billion," Jokowi said. He added that global credit rating agencies have made favorable assessments of the Indonesian economy, with the latest by Fitch Ratings, which upgraded the country's long-term sovereign debt rating to "BBB with a stable outlook," in December last year. "The ease of doing business has also improved, with Indonesia currently ranked in 72nd place, up from 120th previously," Jokowi said. "With these healthy economic indicators, why can we still not run fast?" OJK chairman Wimboh Santoso meanwhile said the financial sector has shown positive signs of recovery last year partly due to lower interest rates, which prompted companies to raise Rp 294 trillion ($20.5 billion) in the capital markets – compared with Rp 217 trillion in 2016 – to support business expansion, among others. "Last year, we had an economic growth rate of 5.1 percent, which was deemed adequate. We are optimistic that the financial sector can contribute significantly to this year's target of 5.4 percent, set by the government," Wimboh said. The OJK has stated that it will push for more varied financing options this year to assist the country's current infrastructure boost. These options include perpetual and regional bonds. In addition, the OJK will also stimulate regional growth in the financial sector by simplifying procedures and making it easier for stakeholders to obtain regulatory approval. Bank Indonesia has decided to keep its benchmark rate unchanged, on the back of a recovery in the global and domestic economy. The central bank has maintained its seven-day reverse repo rate at 4.25 percent for four consecutive months. The bank noted that there has been an improvement in economic resilience in Indonesia, marked by low inflation within the target rate over the past three years, a robust current-account balance, high inflows of foreign capital, a stable rupiah exchange rate, foreign exchange reserves reaching record levels and strong financial stability. Externally, the global economy is recovering, especially due to the positive impact of tax reforms on growth in the United States economy, which is fueling higher prices for Indonesia's commodity exports. The US Federal Reserve is expected to raise the benchmark interest rate and lower its balance sheet as planned, reducing any risks of shocks in the global financial market, Bank Indonesia said.
Categories: Indonesian News

Mitsubishi UFJ Signs $80m Syndicated Loan Agreement to Develop TransJava Toll Road

Jakarta Globe Business - Fri, 2018-01-19 14:42
Jakarta. Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group signed a Rp 1 trillion ($80 million) syndicated loan agreement with state-controlled construction firm Waskita Karya to develop the Salatiga-Kertasura toll road in Central Java, the company announced on Thursday (18/01). Through its subsidiary Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (MUFG), the lender is one of the four that joined in the loan agreement and will also act as joint mandated lead arranger and bookrunner and serve as the security agent for the loan agreement. The other lenders include state-controlled Sarana Multi Infrastruktur, Bank CIMB Niaga, Indonesia's fifth biggest bank by assets, and state-controlled Bank Mandiri. "We are proud to be a part of these significant infrastructure projects in Indonesia. With our experience, expertise and financing capabilities, we want to contribute and support the infrastructure needs to further develop the economy of Indonesia," said Yusuke Katsuta, chief executive and general manager of MUFG in Indonesia, in a statement on Thursday. The 32 km Salatiga-Kartasura toll road comprises one section of the larger TransJava toll road network. Waskita has completed about half of all toll road construction. The project is slated to be completed before Idul Fitri celebrations in June this year. The Salatiga-Kartasura section connects Salatiga, a city in Central Java with Kartasura, a district nearby Solo city. MUFG also participated last year in a Rp 19.25 trillion syndicated loan with 12 local and foreign lenders to state-controlled railway operator Kereta Api Indonesia for the construction of Jakarta's light rail transit network. Other banks that participated in that loan include Bank Mandiri, Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI), Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), Bank Central Asia (BCA), CIMB Niaga, Sarana Multi Infrastruktur (SMI) Bank DKI, Hana Bank, Shinhan Bank Indonesia, Bank Sumut and Bank Mega. The 18-year loan contract is a much-needed investment for the project that connects Cawang in East Jakarta to the East Bekasi industrial area in West Java. The loan contract comprises Rp 18.1 trillion in investment loans and another Rp 1.15 trillion in working capital loans for the construction of the 44-kilometer elevated track. Since November, Kereta Api Indonesia has been the project concession holder after the government created a new financing scheme. State-controlled construction firm Adhi Karya also helped to fund part of the project. MUFG also participated in the financing of the Central Java 2x1000 megawatt power plant, LRT project in Palembang (South Sumatra), the Balikpapan-Samarinda toll road (East Kalimantan) and the Jakarta-Cikampek II elevated toll road.
Categories: Indonesian News

ABB Nabs $40m Contract to Assist in Muara Tawar Power Plant Upgrade

Jakarta Globe Business - Fri, 2018-01-19 12:05
Jakarta. ABB, a Swedish-Swiss multinational power and automation company, has secured a $40 million contract to assist on a project to upgrade and expand the Muara Tawar power plant in Bekasi, West Java. ABB was hired by a consortium of state-owned construction company Hutama Karya and South Korea's Doosan Heavy Industries, which was awarded the project by state utility company Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) in March through a tender. "We're proud to be part of this innovative project, which matches our vision of enabling a stronger, smarter and greener grid," ABB's power grids head Claudio Facchin said in a statement on Wednesday (17/01). The consortium of Indonesian builder and South Korean contractor won their contract for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) works in March last year. The contract from PLN, worth about $401.5 million, is to convert the 1,150 megawatt gas-fueled power plant in Muara Tawar into a 1,800 MW combined-cycle power plant. A combined-cycle power plant uses both gas and steam turbines to produce more power from the same amount of fuel compared to a traditional simple-cycle plant. The consortium is expected to complete the contract work within 30 months. Muara Tawar currently supplies power to Greater Jakarta. The additional power after the upgrade will also be supplied to the same area. Zurich-headquartered ABB will be responsible for the design, engineering, installation and commissioning of supporting components and auxiliary systems for the power plant. ABB will also supply a 500-kilovolt air-insulated switchgear substation, generator circuit breakers, medium- and low-voltage switchgear and transformers and protection utilities. The power plant upgrade is part of the Indonesian government's ambitious plan to add 35,000 MW to the country's power grid by 2019. Indonesia aims to have 99.7 percent of all homes in the country connected to its power grid by 2025. The country is also targeting 23 percent of renewables in its energy mix by 2025. ABB has already completed a number of power projects in Indonesia. Recently it inaugurated a new manufacturing facility for high-voltage switchgear in Tangerang, Banten. In 2015, ABB also established a medium-voltage switchgear factory at the same location.
Categories: Indonesian News

Lawmakers Scrutinize Rice Import as $105m Windfall Expected

Jakarta Globe Business - Fri, 2018-01-19 11:41
Jakarta. Indonesia's House of Representatives on Thursday (18/01) questioned the government's decision to import rice so close to the local harvest season, which is expected to bring in Rp 1.5 trillion — around $105 million — in profit for importers. The government has ordered national procurement agency Bulog to import 500,000 tons of medium quality rice by the end of January to boost the country’s stockpile. Bulog has started an auction on its website to search for suppliers from rice-producing countries, including India, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam. Bidding will start on Jan. 19, and the letter of credit on the import is expected to be released on Jan. 22. But lawmakers pointed out there will be a huge gap between the prices of local and imported rice, which will result in a huge windfall of profit for importers that win the Bulog contract. Rieke Diah Pitaloka, a lawmaker from Indonesia’s ruling party the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, said she estimated a total profit of at least Rp 1.5 trillion for Bulog and the importers, assuming a Rp 3,000 price gap per kilogram between imported rice and the recommended retail price for local rice of Rp 9,450 per kg. Medium quality rice was offered at $415-$420 per metric ton last week in Thailand — the world's second-biggest rice exporter — up from $395-$410, according to a report from Reuters. "As long there is no clarity on who will exactly benefit from this [rice import], I will continue to oppose it," Rieke said in a hearing between the government and the House's Commission VI, which oversees industry, investment and state-owned enterprises. Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita, Bulog chairman Djarot Kusumayakti and Indonesian Trading Agency (PPI) chairman Agus Andriyani were also present in the hearing. Rieke pointed out the potential huge windfall for importers stands in stark contrast to Bulog’s limited ability to buy rice from local farmers. The agency only bought 42 percent of the country's total rice harvest yield during the major harvest season last year, far below its target of 70 percent. "Bulog has to be audited... the real problem is their inability to buy rice from local farmers, not lack of stock," she said. The commission will form an investigation team to supervise the rice import, which is expected to arrive in Indonesia starting in the first week of February to avoid clashing with the local rice harvest season. "The team will dig into data reported from ministries and agencies," the commission's chairman Teguh Juwarno told reporters. The make-up of the investigation team will be decided next week, he said. Minister's Defense Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita welcomed the commission's plan to investigate discrepancies in the country's rice import data. "I also suggested [the lawmakers should establish] a monitoring team to help supervise the import," he said. The minister did nevertheless defend the government's decision to import rice so close to a harvest season. "The price of rice keeps rising since the beginning of the year. We don’t want to risk a supply shortage," Enggartiasto said in the hearing. Trade ministry data released on Jan. 17 showed the country’s rice stock held by Bulog was at 854,947 tons, including a reserve of 134,646 tons. Meanwhile, from Dec. 31 to Jan. 17 the government on average released 8,902 tons of rice every day to the market. This means a total of 462,918 tons will have to be distributed between Jan. 13 and March 31. The remaining rice stock on March 31 is therefore estimated at 142,029 tons. According to data from the Agriculture Ministry, total rice consumption this year is estimated to be 33.8 million tons. Last year its was 30.65 million tons. Each Indonesian consumed on average 117 kilograms of rice last year.  
Categories: Indonesian News

UN court acquits Serb ultranationalist Seselj of all counts

Jakarta Post Latest News - Fri, 2016-04-01 04:29

A man walks past posters depicting Vojislav Seselj, the leader of the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS), reading: "We don't want into EU", in Belgrade, Serbia, Dec. 7, 2011. (AP/Darko Vojinovic)

In a sweeping defeat for UN prosecutors, the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal acquitted Serbian ultranationalist Vojislav Seselj on Thursday of all nine counts alleging that he was responsible for or incited atrocities by Serbian paramilitaries in the 1990s Balkan wars. The ruling sparked joy in Serbia and outrage in Bosnia and Croatia.

Prosecutors had charged Seselj, 61, with crimes including persecution, murder and torture and had demanded a 28-year sentence. But in a majority decision, the three-judge panel said there was insufficient evidence linking the politician himself to the crimes.

"Following this verdict, Vojislav Seselj is now a free man," Presiding Judge Jean-Claude Antonetti said at a hearing in The Hague, which Seselj did not attend.

At a Belgrade news conference shortly after his acquittal, Seselj, who defended himself throughout his trial and did not call a single defense witness, said the decision was "the only possible one from the legal aspect."

"After so many proceedings in which innocent Serbs were given draconian punishments, this time two honest judges showed they valued honor more than political pressure," he said.

The court's chief prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, questioned a number of key findings by two of the three trial judges. He almost certainly will appeal, but said Thursday he first has to study the 100-page ruling and its dissenting opinions.

In a majority ruling, the three-judge panel ruled that Serbian plans to carve out a "Greater Serbia" by uniting lands they considered Serb territory in Croatia and Bosnia was a "political goal" and not a criminal plan, as prosecutors alleged. The plan often was accompanied by military campaigns that drove out thousands of non-Serb civilians and left thousands of others dead.

Antonetti, the judge, distanced Seselj from the crimes of the paramilitaries he helped to establish, saying that although Seselj, "may have had a certain amount of moral authority over his party's volunteers, they were not his subordinates" when they went into combat.

Brammertz, the prosecutor, pointed to the ruling's controversial findings, including that there was not a widespread attack by Serb forces on civilians in Bosnia and Croatia, and that operations to bus non-Serbs out of areas claimed by Serbs as part of a "Greater Serbia" amounted to a humanitarian mission rather than the forcible removal of the population.

"The reading of the conflict by the trial chamber is very, very different to what we are used to," he told reporters at the court, adding that the marathon case was beset by allegations of interference with witnesses and evidence.

The acquittal stunned many Bosnians.

"An absolutely shocking decision," said lawyer and publicist Senad Pecanin. "This is the lowest point of The Hague tribunal."

Ismar Jamakovic, 23, a student of political science from Sarajevo, said judges ruled that "advocating the creation of Greater Serbia was a political and not a criminal act. Does this mean I can now advocate the creation of an Islamic State without facing any consequences? You've got to be kidding me."

The ruling also triggered outrage in Croatia, with media headlines declaring "Shame on The Hague, the notorious warmonger is free" by the Jutarnji List newspaper.

Russian state television covered the Seselj verdict extensively, spinning it as a triumph of justice.

Dmitry Rogozin, a Russian nationalist politician turned deputy prime minister, welcomed Seselj's acquittal. Rogozin met Seselj during his trip to Belgrade in January. He said at the time that was a private visit and that he had known Seselj since the 1990s.

"I congratulate my friend on his victory!" Rogozin said on Twitter. "But who is going to restore his health that was battered by the time in prison and public humiliation?"

Seselj's return to Belgrade in late 2014, when the tribunal released him on humanitarian grounds due to his ill health, only boosted his popularity among the ultranationalists.

With a surge in pro-Russian and right-wing sentiments ahead of Serbia's April 24 general election, Seselj's Serbian Radical Party has a good chance to return to parliament after missing out after the last vote two years ago.

Seselj has campaigned on the platform that Serbia must never enter the 28-nation European Union or NATO and should forge closer ties with Moscow. He has burned EU flags during pre-election rallies, and said he would join a coalition government with the incumbent populists, his former allies, only if they give up their goal of EU accession.

The acquittal has given Seselj an additional boost ahead of the vote. He also said he filed a lawsuit in 2012 against the UN court demanding 12 million euros in compensation and could now add 2 million euros more to his demand.

He said he expects to win 20-25 percent of the vote for his far-right radicals.

"The most important is that we get more than the progressives," he said, referring to the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, his former allies-turned-foes.

Natasa Kandic, a human rights activist in Serbia, said the acquittal would likely be overturned on appeal.

"Some of the explanations are contrary to sane logic," she said.

____

Associated Press writers Jovana Gec in Belgrade, Aida Cerkez in Sarajevo and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.

Categories: Indonesian News

21 killed, many trapped in overpass collapse in India

Jakarta Post Latest News - Fri, 2016-04-01 04:29

Locals and rescue workers clear the rubbles of a partially collapsed overpass in Kolkata, Thursday. (Swapan Mahapatra/Press Trust of India via AP)

A long section of a road overpass under construction collapsed Thursday in a crowded Kolkata neighborhood, with tons of concrete and steel slamming into midday traffic, leaving at least 21 people dead and scores of others injured in the Indian city, police said.

Rescuers used saws, small cranes and their bare hands to dig through the wreckage in search of survivors.

At least 21 people were killed, a police official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. It was not immediately clear how many people remained missing.

Yogesh Sharma was sitting at a small roadside tea stand with friends when the overpass, which spanned nearly the width of the city street and was designed to ease traffic through the densely crowded neighborhood, "came down with a huge crashing sound."

"I left my cup of tea and ran," said Sharma, a 23-year-old resident of the Bara Bazaar neighborhood. "I was crying at the spot."

Smashed yellow taxis, destroyed rickshaws and the bloody legs of trapped people jutted from the collapsed girders and concrete slabs.

The fallen sections of the overpass totaled perhaps 100 meters (yards), with many other parts still standing. Mamta Banerjee, the top elected official of West Bengal state, said a private builder had missed several deadlines for completing the construction.

Army troops and personnel from the National Disaster Response Force joined efforts to extract people from vehicles that lay under massive concrete blocks and metal debris. Huge cranes and other rescue equipment reached the site and began clearing the rubble. Workers also used gas cutters to pry open the slabs.

O.P. Singh, the chief of the disaster response force, said the operation was a "very, very challenging task."

Rescuers were using sniffer dogs and special cameras to find trapped people, Singh told reporters.

More than 70 injured people were admitted to two hospitals in Kolkata, the state capital, hospital officials said.

"The area was very, very crowded. Motorized rickshaws, taxis ... there was a lot of traffic," one witness told NDTV television.

The contract for the overpass was signed in 2007 and it was expected to be completed in two years. Banerjee accused the previous Communist government in West Bengal of not adhering to building regulations.

"We completed nearly 70 percent of the construction work without any mishap," said K.P Rao, a top official of IVRCL Infrastructure company, which was building the overpass. "We have to go into the details to find out whether the collapse was due to any technical or quality issue."

"It was a total act of God,'" said his colleague, Dilip, who uses one name.

Building collapses are common in India, where regulations are poorly enforced and builders often use substandard materials.

Categories: Indonesian News

Group says 98 girls in C. African Republic sexually abused

Jakarta Post Latest News - Fri, 2016-04-01 04:29

UN peacekeeping soldiers patrol the streets on the occasion of Pope Francis' visit at a refugee camp, in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 13, 2015. (AP/Andrew Medichini)

A US-based advocacy group says 98 girls in Central African Republic reported they were sexually abused by international peacekeepers, and three girls told UN staff they were tied up, undressed and forced to have sex with a dog by a French military commander in 2014.

AIDS-Free World's Code Blue Campaign to end sexual abuse and exploitation said the three girls told a UN human rights officer that a fourth girl tied up with them later died of an unknown disease.

The group said the information it received, including the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl in another part of the country on Monday, is in the hands of senior UN officials.

The UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, in a statement Thursday called the allegations "sickening" and said all three countries whose peacekeepers are accused have been formally notified. He said countries must do more to stop abuse and hold their troops accountable, "otherwise this awful cycle of abuse will never end."

There was no immediate comment from French authorities.

The United Nations has been in the spotlight for months over allegations of child rape and other sexual abuses by its peacekeepers, especially those based in Central African Republic. There have been similar allegations against the French force known as Sangaris, which operates independently in Central African Republic, known as CAR.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said last week that a UN team was sent to gather information about recently reported allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by UN and non-UN forces as well as civilians in Kemo prefecture, east of the capital Bangui, in 2014 and 2015.

Dujarric said in a note to correspondents Wednesday evening that the new allegations went back to 2013 and included allegations against local armed groups. He said a UN team is on the ground and the exact number and nature of "these extremely troubling allegations" is still being determined.

The team has identified the alleged involvement of UN contingents from Burundi and Gabon, which will remain confined to camps during the investigation, Dujarric said. Allegations against French forces in the same area are also being investigated, he said.

The UN recently reported that 25 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation were registered with the UN mission in Central African Republic in January and February, most from previous years. This compares with a total of six allegations in the 15 other UN peacekeeping missions in the first two months of this year, the UN peacekeeping department said.

A UN report earlier this month said there were 69 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers in 2015 — 22 of them in CAR.

Central African Republic has been rocked by sectarian violence since 2013.

AIDS-Free World called the information it received "shocking." Two weeks ago, it said, the UN children's agency UNICEF interviewed 98 girls who reported being sexually abused.

The group said that Saturday a delegation from the UN peacekeeping mission known as MINUSCA met local leaders and victims who alleged that troops from France and Gabon had sexually abused girls. Some victims left the area because they were stigmatized by the community, it said.

During the delegation's visit, AIDS-Free World said the three girls reported being tied up inside a camp by the French military commander. After having sex with the dog, the group said, each girl was given 5,000 Central African Francs, or about US$9.

One girl told the UN human rights officer that the fourth girl who later died "was called 'the Sangaris' dog' by people in the community."

AIDS-Free World also said the mother of a 16-year-old girl informed local police in another part of CAR that a Congolese UN peacekeeper raped her daughter in a hotel room Monday afternoon.

The group said that when the soldier was questioned by police in the presence of his commander he confirmed that he "had sexual intercourse" with the victim several times and paid her between 2,000 and 5,000 Central African Francs.

___

Associated Press writer Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed.

Categories: Indonesian News

Indonesia rejects Israel's latest call for bilateral relations

Jakarta Post Latest News - Fri, 2016-04-01 04:29

Israeli Arab Bedouin children play before a rally marking the 40th anniversary of Land Day and against a plan to uproot the village of Umm Al-Hiran, in Umm Al-Hiran, the Negev desert, southern Israel on Wednesday. Land Day commemorates the killing of six Arab citizens of Israel by the Israeli army and police on March 30, 1976, during protests over Israeli confiscations of Arab land.(AP/Ariel Schalit)

Indonesia will stand firm in its support of an independent Palestine and will not respond to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu most recent call for official bilateral relations, an official said on Thursday.

"We want to assert that Indonesia's support and efforts to push for the independence of Palestine will not change," Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said on Thursday as quoted by kompas.com.

He also expressed disappointment that several senior Indonesian journalists had recently visited Israel, after being invited by Netanyahu, who said that he wanted to change public opinion about Israel.

During the meeting, the prime minister expressed his hopes that Indonesia and Israel would initiate official relations, saying that both countries had many opportunities to cooperate.

The ministry was aware that the Middle Eastern country had conducted similar activities in the past to promote its tourist and business sectors.

"We regret that such activities are politicized by Israel," he said.

Tantowi Yahya, a lawmaker from the House of Representatives commission I overseeing foreign and security affairs, said Indonesia's support of Palestine was in accordance with the Constitution, which asserts that independence is the natural right of every nation. (liz/rin)

Categories: Indonesian News

Harvard taking more steps to acknowledge its ties to slavery

Jakarta Post Latest News - Fri, 2016-04-01 04:29

A bicyclist walks by Harvard University's Langdell Hall, which includes Harvard Law School's library, in Cambridge, Mass., Aug. 1, 2005. (AP/Charles Krupa)

Harvard's president says the Ivy league university will do more to acknowledge its ties to slavery.

University President Drew Faust announced Wednesday in an op-ed in the student newspaper that the nearly 400-year-old institution will install a plaque next month at the former home for college presidents to recognize the slaves who lived and worked there. Slavery was abolished in Massachusetts in 1783.

She's also convened a committee to recommend other campus sites warranting similar recognition and says Harvard will host a conference on universities and slavery next year.

Faust said in her op-ed that Harvard, like many New England institutions, was "directly complicit in America's system of racial bondage" but has rarely acknowledged it.

The announcement comes as Harvard has taken steps to remove university symbols and references that harken to the slave era.

Categories: Indonesian News

Papua will continue to use noken voting system: KPU

Jakarta Post Latest News - Fri, 2016-04-01 04:29

In focus: A photojournalist takes his place in front of a screen showing an election-related violence index compiled by the election supervisory agency (Bawaslu) ahead of the simultaneous local elections on Dec. 9. General Elections Commission (KPU) chairman Husni Kamil Manik said the noken voting system would be still used in the 2017 regional elections in Papua. (thejakartapost.com/DON)

The noken voting system will be still used in regional elections in Papua, as the social custom of the Papuan people, which has been passed across generations, has many good values, an election official has said.

General Elections Commission (KPU) chairman Husni Kamil Manik said that as a gauge of public opinion in Papuan culture, noken could not be totally removed from either regional head elections or general elections.

“Several values in the noken system are in line with general election principles, but some other values are not yet in accordance with election principles, so we need to alter how they are implemented,” he said in Jayapura on Tuesday.

Giving an example, Kamil said the noken system adopted Indonesia’s widespread “musyawarah untuk mufakat” (deliberation for consensus) style of decision-making. In a general election under the noken system, there is also a campaign period, during which a candidate conveys his or her vision and mission to all constituents. The constituents are also be given time to analyze the candidate and deliberate until consensus is reached, he added.

However, Kamil further said, that the noken system did not protect voters’ right to confidentiality, which was not in line with Indonesia’s principle of direct, public and free elections. Under the noken system, the choices of voters can be seen by all people present at a voting station.

“This could potentially trigger political resentment because a candidate will be fully aware who chose him or her and who did not support him or her,” said Kamil.

Under such conditions, the KPU chairman said, the Provincial General Elections Commission (KPUD) must alter the practice so that it maintained voter confidentiality.

“Until now, [voting takes place via] a noken [traditional Papuan bag] with the name of a chosen candidate attached to it. As the result, everybody knows ‘who chooses who’,” said Kamil.

“There should be a new method. We can still use a noken but we put it in a booth so that the confidentiality of our choice is maintained. The noken will be put into a ballot box before they are counted,” he said.

To adjust the noken system so that it complies with Indonesia’s direct, public and free election principles, Kamil said, all KPUD officials in areas still using the noken system must start a dialogue with the public about the positives and negatives of the noken voting system.

“One thing that they must tell the public is that it is important for a voter to be able to cast his or her vote directly. Although there has been an agreement that they must choose a certain candidate, they should still be allowed to participate in the voting process directly, and not be represented by others as has happened under the noken system until now” said Kamil.

KPUD Papua chairman Adam Arisoi said 11 regencies and municipalities would participate in regional elections in Papua in 2017. Of the total, six regencies, namely Dogiyai, Nduga, Lanny Jaya, Puncak, Puncak Jaya and Tolikara, would still use the noken system.

“However, not all polling stations in the six regencies will apply the noken system. Only some of them will use it and the remainder will allow for vote-casting in line with nationally-adopted direct, public and free election principles,” said Adam.

He further said that in the 2017 regional elections, tribal chiefs would no longer represent their tribes in casting votes. All voters will cast their votes directly.

KPUD Puncak Jaya chairman Jennifer Darling Tabuni said the noken system would be used at only eight locations. “Voters in other areas of the regency will cast their vote in line with the direct, public and free election principles,” he said. (ebf)

 

 

Categories: Indonesian News

Papua bans alcohol consumption

Jakarta Post Latest News - Fri, 2016-04-01 04:29

Members of the Navy's elite frogmen command (Kopaska) and Sea Security Force from Western Fleet Quick Response IV check the cargo of KM Kawal Bahari 1 and KM Kharisma Indah at the Lantamal IV Port at Tanjung Pinang, Riau Islands on March 20. The two boats were arrested when sailing from Singapore and hiding 500 sacks of sugar, 1,000 sacks of rice, 50 boxes of cigarettes, 4,000 cases of alcohol and several other types of goods.(Antara/M. N Kanwa)

Alcohol distribution and production are officially prohibited in Papua province starting Thursday to save Papuans from the disastrous effects of alcohol consumption, the Papua governor has said.

The prohibition came into effect with the signing of an integrity pact on Thursday. The document was signed by Governor Lukas Enembe, regents and mayors in Papua, the Papua Provincial Council (DPRD), Papua Police, military command and district court chiefs during a coordinating meeting.

The integrity pact would support the existing 2013 Provincial Regulations on alcohol prohibition to prevent alcohol distribution in Indonesia's easternmost province, Enembe said.

Several regional leaders expressed their support of the integrity pact, saying that alcohol had only brought issues such as domestic violence to Papua.

"Alcohol destroys Papuans. It could be the cause of their extinction," Enembe said on Thursday.

The integrity pact consists of several points, including prohibition of the production, distribution and sale of alcohol, cooperation with relevant offices in monitoring alcohol prohibition and implementation the 2013 Provincial Regulations.

Fien Yarangga, an activist from group Papuan Women (Perempuan Papua), applauded the provincial administration’s move, saying that it showed that local officials cared about the issues.

"Women are most often the victims of alcohol consumption. They fall victim to domestic violence triggered by alcohol," Fien said.

The group is currently assisting three victims of alcohol-related violence. One of them is the wife of a Jayapura public official who was tortured by her drunk husband. The two other women were raped by drunk men.

The group urged the provincial administration to promote the regulation and integrity pact among the public to raise awareness.

According to Papua Police data, 86 people have died, 264 have been heavily injured and 839 suffered light injuries since 2013 in alcohol-related cases. (rin)

Categories: Indonesian News

Hunters add to haze problem in Indochina

Jakarta Post Latest News - Fri, 2016-04-01 04:29

A Thai official extinguishing wildfires causing the haze in the region at a forest in Tak province, northern Thailand. (EPA via AP)

Hunting is contributing to the haze that has become an annual hazard in several parts of Indochina during the hot, dry months from February to April, when farmers burn their agricultural waste as well as clear land by fire to prepare for the next crop.

According to Nion Sirimongkonlertkun, a lecturer from the Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna who works closely with firefighters in the northern Thai province of Chiang Rai, some of the biggest fires in recent weeks have been caused by hunters setting forests alight to expose wildlife.

"When [the firefighters] go to check, they see people there waiting with a gun to kill animals," she told The Straits Times.

NASA-based satellite imagery on Tuesday and Wednesday showed several hot spots raging in Cambodia, Vietnam, northern Thailand, as well as in Myanmar and Laos near the Thai border.

Wednesday, the amount of air pollutants measuring 10 micrometers or less in diameter breached the safe level of 120 micrograms per cubic m in the Thai border provinces of Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son.

Doctors say they usually see a jump in the number of patients with respiratory ailments during this time of the year.

Depending on the wind direction, the haze can reduce visibility to just a few hundred meters. This has forced airlines to cancel or divert some flights recently in Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son.

The haze in Thailand's northern provinces can blow to other countries like Laos and Myanmar, said Maytee Mahayosananta, who heads the government's Northern Meteorological Center.

"But they won't go down to the central area or the south, as the wind during this season doesn't travel in this direction and is not that strong."

Thai officials have tried several methods to control the haze, including a ban on burning from mid-February to mid-April.

But locals say it has little effect in mountainous areas, where waste disposal transportation is both time-consuming and expensive, and hence there is little incentive to heed the ban.

In recent years, corn farms have been singled out for causing the haze. The hardy crop, which can be harvested in just four months, is a major component of animal feed.

Put on the defensive, agricultural conglomerate Charoen Pokphand earlier this week disclosed that it was setting up a social enterprise to steer farmers in Nan province away from corn, the Bangkok Post reported.

Categories: Indonesian News

Decapitation of 3-year-old sparks anger and fear in Taiwan

Jakarta Post Latest News - Fri, 2016-04-01 04:29

A woman visits a makeshift memorial for a girl who was attacked to death Monday by a knife-wielding assailant outside a subway station in Taipei, Taiwan, March 29. (AP/Chiang Ying-ying)

The apparently random decapitation of a 3-year-old girl in front of her mother in low-crime Taipei this week has sparked outrage, calls to save the death penalty and questions about the island's state of mental health care.

The attack on the child, who was walking behind her mother on the way to a metro station, has stunned and horrified inhabitants of greater Taipei, with the reaction at times verging on violence. Hours after the girl was killed, a crowd gathered outside the police station where the slaying suspect was taken, some of them armed with baseball bats.

"I can't accept this," said Chiu Yuan-chao, Taipei mother of a 9-year-old, said in a telephone interview. "This kind of person shouldn't be allowed to enjoy the treatment of a normal person. I think all moms and dads will have this kind of view. This sort of incident is becoming something of a trend and my feeling is that the society is amid some sort of panic."

Police arrested Wang Ching-yu, 33, who they suspect killed the child. He had been was hospitalized for treatment in 2010 and 2014 after arguing with his family because of an unspecified mental illness, Central News Agency said, citing police.

Authorities have not said whether mental illness was a factor in the attack or whether Wang had been clinically diagnosed with any mental illness.

City dwellers largely still consider the metro area of 5.6 million to be safe. Murders across the island have fallen from 1,765 cases in 1995 to 474 in 2014, statistics from the National Police Agency show.

But the attack triggered debate about whether to keep the death penalty as a deterrent against violent crime. Legislators have been discussing reforms to the punishment, which had been effectively suspended from December 2005 to May 2008. Thirty-three people have been executed since 2008.

About 80 percent of Taiwanese support capital punishment, according to the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty.

"We need a deeper discussion, not just keep or drop the death penalty, but a more complete system," alliance Executive Director Lin Hsin-yi said Thursday. "If we let a criminal out of jail, will he do more bad things? We need to talk about that."

The girl's killing was among several cases of random violence in recent years that have raised concerns about crime and the city's ability to provide adequate mental health support.

A day after the slaying, a police officer was stabbed at a metro station, again apparently at random. Last year, an 8-year-old girl was killed on an elementary school campus by a man who local media said heard voices. In 2014, a man killed four people in Taipei's ever-crowded metro system.

In each instance, the attackers were characterized as suffering from mental disorders. The man convicted of killing passengers on the subway at age 21 was sentenced to death last year.

The attack has also raised questions about potential inadequacies in the island's mental health services. Lin Wan-i, an incoming official of the president-elect's administration, told local media that the suspect had not been properly diagnosed and observed before being discharged.

Since Monday, many people in Taiwan, including a local official overseeing a Taipei borough, have called for hospitalizing severely mentally ill people in hospitals.

But Pan Chun-hung, director the Department of Addiction Science with Taipei City Hospital, said Taiwan needs to raise the public's overall awareness of mental health issues. Some people may have difficulty recognizing mental illness in themselves and others or are unaware that treatment is available, he said. Strangers should not fear the mentally ill as "most have no antisocial traits," he said.

"When things happen there's a bit of panic and a reaction that people should be quarantined," Pan said. "But our medication is advanced and people can be treated effectively. We hope eventually, if people know more, they won't feel so panicked."

Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's president-elect, said Wednesday that Taiwan's future head of police will need to devise "specific strategies and activities" to boost public safety.

"Facing the innocent sacrifice of a child, we can't just be angry and sad," she said in a statement. "Our responsibility is to give every father, mother and child a life that's free of fear."

Categories: Indonesian News

15 killed, many trapped in overpass collapse in India

Jakarta Post Latest News - Fri, 2016-04-01 04:29

Locals and rescue workers clear the rubbles of a partially collapsed overpass in Kolkata, India, Thursday. (Swapan Mahapatra/Press Trust of India via AP)

Rescuers in Kolkata dug through large chunks of debris from an overpass that collapsed while under construction Thursday, killing at least 15 people and injuring scores of others, officials said.

A section of the overpass in the busy Bara Bazaar residential and shopping area in north Kolkata fell on vehicles and people moving underneath, trapping scores in their cars, trucks and motorized rickshaws.

"We heard a loud rumble and then saw a lot of dust in the sky," a witness told the New Delhi Television news channel, NDTV.

Mamta Banerjee, the top elected official of West Bengal state, said 15 people had been confirmed dead. Banerjee visited the collapse site and said a private builder had missed several deadlines for completing the overpass.

Army troops and personnel from the National Disaster Response Force joined efforts to extract people from vehicles that lay under massive concrete blocks and metal debris. Huge cranes and other rescue equipment reached the site and began clearing the rubble. Workers also used gas cutters to pry open the slabs.

O.P. Singh, the chief of the disaster response force, said the operation was a "very, very challenging task."

Rescuers were using sniffer dogs and victim locating cameras to find trapped people, Singh told reporters.

More than 70 injured people were admitted to two hospitals in Kolkata, the state capital, hospital officials said.

"The area was very, very crowded. Motorized rickshaws, taxis ... there was a lot of traffic," one witness told NDTV.

Television images showed the bloody legs of some of trapped people jutting out of the collapsed girders and concrete slabs.

The contract for the overpass was signed in 2007 and it was expected to be completed in two years. Banerjee accused the previous Communist government in West Bengal of not adhering to building regulations.

Building collapses are common in India, where regulations are poorly enforced and builders often use substandard materials.

 

Categories: Indonesian News

Google photo editing software now free to download

Jakarta Post Latest News - Thu, 2016-03-31 21:58

Google's photo editing software that previously retailed for US$149 is now free to download for both Mac and Windows users. (Shutterstock)

Google's photo editing software that previously retailed for US$149 is now free to download for both Mac and Windows users.

According to the company's announcement, the Nik Collection desktop suite, designed for professional photographers, was made available for free following Google's long-term plans to focus on building photo editing tools for mobile applications such as Google Photos and Snapseed.

The free-to-download package consists of seven desktop plugins including Analog Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Dfine, Sharpener Pro, Sliver Efex Pro, Viveza and HDR Efex Pro.

Those who already purchased the desktop suite this year can expect to receive a full refund.

PCMagazine reported that the collection's seven different plugins could be use as a standalone product, but they work better when combined with existing image editing programs such as Adobe's Photoshop.

This is not the first time for Google to change its policy regarding software pricing. In January, Google Earth Pro, which allows users to virtually explore the globe, has also been made available for free from previously being priced at $399. (kes)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Turkish army rules out 'anti-Erdogan coup'

Jakarta Post Latest News - Thu, 2016-03-31 21:58

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accompanied by his wife Emine walk down the stairs upon his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., March 29. (AP/Jose Luis Magana)

The Turkish army says it has no plans to stage a coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and has threatened legal action against anyone who suggests otherwise.

The rare statement aims to squash speculation over the possibility of a military coup in Turkey as the president visits the United States. The military said on its website such "baseless news" was hurting morale in its ranks without naming specific publications.

The Turkish army, historically seen as a defender of secular principles, has ousted three elected governments and one prime minister.

The institution saw its power reduced through a series of measures after Erdogan came to power as prime minister in 2003. Now the country's president, Erdogan is due to return to Turkey on Sunday.(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Rights body calls for revision of history textbooks

Jakarta Post Latest News - Thu, 2016-03-31 21:58

Human rights activists stage a rally in front of the State Palace to demand justice for past human rights abuses. Participants in the weekly protests, which began eight years ago and occur every Thursday, have called on President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to fulfill his campaign promise to create a rights tribunal.(JP)

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has called on the government to revise school history books, which it believes have been manipulated for decades by those in power.

“We can’t depend on the version of history that was provided by the New Order government [from 1966 to 1998], for example. There should be new lesson materials based on the process of revealing the truth,” said Komnas HAM commissioner Dianto Bachriadi.

History textbooks should be revised after the government reveals the truth regarding past human rights cases, he added.

Komnas HAM has launched its own investigations into the cases but its recommendations have never been followed up by the Attorney General’s Office.

Dianto said the government should provide updated materials for history lessons in schools countrywide and compensate victims of past rights abuses.

However, Benny Susetyo of the Setara Institute said the most important thing in resolving past human rights cases was recognition and, therefore, the government should recognize the country’s dark past in order to bring about justice for victims.

“Our society discourages efforts to recognize the truth of the past as it would threaten perpetrators’ positions nowadays,” said Benny.

The government has expressed its wish to resolve seven past human rights violations, namely a 1989 massacre in Talangsari, Lampung; the forced disappearance of anti-Soeharto activists in 1997 and 1998; the 1998 Trisakti University shootings; the Semanggi I and Semanggi II student shootings in 1998 and 1999; the mysterious killings of alleged criminals in the 1980s; the communist purge of 1965; and various abuses that took place in Wasior and Wamena, Papua, in 2001 and 2003.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said on March 17 that the government expected to resolve at least six of those cases by May 2. (vps/bbn)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

World’s leaders of moderate Islam to meet on radicalism and terrorism

Jakarta Post Latest News - Thu, 2016-03-31 21:58

Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) chairman Said Agil Siradj (right) sits next to NU rais am (supreme leader) Ma'ruf Amien at the muktamar (national congress) on Aug. 5, 2015.(Antara/Zabur Karuru)

About 300 leaders of moderate Islam from across the globe will meet in Jakarta to discuss measures to prevent the spread of Islamic radicalism and terrorism in the name of religion, an Islamic cleric has said.

"This event is to harmonize the perception of Islam because [the profile of] radicalism and terrorism has been intensifying given the recent bomb attacks", Nahdlatul Ulama’s (NU) advisory board chairman Ma'ruf Amin said after a meeting with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo at the State Palace on Thursday.

The event named the “International Summit of the Islamic Moderate Leaders” will take place from May 9 to 11 at the Jakarta Convention Center, and will be attended by some 300 representatives from 60 countries, Ma’ruf added.

NU chairman Said Aqil Siradj stressed that the country’s largest Islamic organization was an anti-violent socio-religious organization, starting from its executives in the central board to its smallest branches in villages.  "All of us are anti-radicalism and hold the principle of a tolerant Islam", he went on.

The event will also attended by a number of government officials such as Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan and the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) chief Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian.

The organizers have also invited experts from all around the world namely Nico Proca, an expert of the Islamic State movement, from the University of Vienna, the former Grand Mufti of Egypt Sheikh Ali Gomaa, Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus from Bangladesh and the presidential envoy to the Middle East and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Alwi Shihab. (bbn)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News
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