Jakarta Post Latest News

Syndicate content
The Jakarta Post News Channel
Updated: 1 year 46 weeks ago

Drugs rampant in rural parts of Bali, says BNN

Thu, 2016-03-31 17:58

Officials of the National Narcotics Agency’s (BNN) Bali chapter parade four drug suspects at the agency's offices in Denpasar on Thursday. (thejakartapost.com/Ni Komang Erviani)

The National Narcotics Agency’s (BNN) Bali chapter has said that drug dealers on the island do not only target city-dwellers, but also sell narcotics to people in rural areas, particularly children and young people.

“We believe that drug-dealing in rural areas is rampant now," said BNN Bali chief Brig. Gen. Putu Gede Suastawa on Thursday, adding that since early this year, BNN Bali had arrested 29 drugs dealers from across Bali, 24 of whom were arrested in rural areas.

The most recent arrest was carried out in Banyuatis village, a small village in the hilly Buleleng regency in northern Bali. The agency’s officers arrested Kadek Citayana , 47, and seized 26 small packages of crystal methamphetamine, along with plastic bags, a digital scales, a mobile phone and Rp 34 million in cash.

The BNN also arrested two  dealers in neighboring villages. Kadek Saraswastika, 26, was arrested in Tampekan village and Komang Arimbawa, 33, in Kaliuntu village.

From the two suspects, the team seized seven packages of crystal methamphetamine measuring 2.36 grams in total. The agency also seized Rp 2 million in cash, plastic bags and bank account receipts.

All of the suspects said they had obtained the drugs in Java, and were targeting young people in rural areas, particularly those from rich families. "Banyuatis village was one of their targets as there are many rich clove farmers in the village," Suastawa said.

On Tuesday, the agency arrested a further suspect, identified as Anton Listyo Trenggono, 33, in the Renon area of Denpasar.  (bbn)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Ahok fears minority issues will hamper his candidacy in Jakarta Election

Thu, 2016-03-31 17:58

Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama speaks with the Netherlands Foreign Affairs Minister Bert Koenders (right) during a visit to Pluit Reservoir on March 24.(Antara/Hafidz Mubarak A.)

Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama is expressing concern that Jakartans will still take religious and race into consideration when voting for a leader for the capital, despite a recent survey that says otherwise.

In response to a survey by Charta Politica published on Wednesday, Ahok said he noted there was anomaly in the results.

The survey, conducted from March 15 to 20 with 400 respondents revealed that Jakartans don't mind Ahok's minority status as a Christian and as an Indonesian of Chinese descent. Respondents' satisfaction level to Ahok soared to 80 percent while his electability stood at 44.5 percent. Something that Ahok found strange was that electability was half of the satisfaction level.

"Usually if people are satisfied with your work, electability would follow, but the results did not [show that] so there might be basic issues or people don't like my style," he told journalists at City Hall on Thursday.

The former East Belitung regent said he had been used to race and religion being used against him. He even recalled people who cited verses from the Koran to urge others not to support him for he is a non-Muslim.

Even though the survey by Charta Politica said that Jakartan voters are more mature and looked more at the performances of the hopefuls rather than at personal backgrounds, Ahok said he still suspected that religion and racial issues would hamper his candidacy.

However, Ahok expressed optimism over fighting political parties in the 2017 Jakarta Gubernatorial Election, being an independent candidate with Heru Budi Hartono, the head of the City’s Financial Asset Management Board (BPKAD), as his running mate.

He recalled that when he was running to be deputy governor with Joko "Jokowi" Widodo the pair, supported by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) was able to beat then incumbent Fauzi Bowo, who was backed by big political parties.

"Fauzi Bowo even tried to gather all the parties, but he still lost. It is not about political parties. People are smarter now," Ahok added.

Ahok and Heru had announced that they would run as independent candidates in the 2017 Jakarta Election. Despite being independent, the pair has received support from two parties: Nasdem and the People's Conscience Party (Hanura). (rin)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

China proposes new Web rules that could enhance censorship

Thu, 2016-03-31 17:58

Pedestrians past by an advertisement for a Chinese news web portal in Beijing, China, Wednesday, March 30, 2016. China is consolidating its ability to censor the Internet by drafting new rules requiring businesses that serve domestic Internet users to register their Web addresses inside the country, a move seen as targeting Chinese companies but that has raised concerns among foreign businesses.(AP/Ng Han Guan)

China is consolidating its ability to censor the Internet by drafting rules requiring businesses that serve domestic Internet users to register their Web addresses inside the country, a move seen as targeting Chinese companies but that has raised concerns among foreign businesses.

In its most draconian interpretation, the proposed requirements could also further limit access within the Chinese network, analysts said. That appears to be the latest step by the ruling Communist Party to erect cyber barriers in the name of what some officials call "Internet sovereignty."

"This expands control over domestic Internet operators and contributes to the gradual buildup of the capability underpinning Internet sovereignty," said Rogier Creemers, an expert on Chinese media policy at the University of Oxford.

Under the draft regulations released this week by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, any firm that provides services to Chinese users must register its domain, or Web address, with a Chinese provider. The rules are found in Article 37 of the ministry's proposed update to a set of decade-old Internet laws.

Analysts said the main targets appear to be Chinese Internet companies that store their content domestically but keep their Web address registered overseas with reputable, international firms for security purposes.

Requiring them to shift their registration to a domestic provider under Chinese government control would allow censors to react more quickly in blocking access to certain sites, said Long Weilian, an IT consultant based in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen who has blogged extensively on the issue.

"Before, they had to contact the server, get the address, talk to the manager and then ask them to censor something," Long said. "If the domains are all domestic, they can directly stop traffic going to your domain with a command."

Jacob Parker, vice president for China operations with the U.S.-China Business Council, which lobbies the Chinese government on trade policy, said his group was concerned that the rules would block the free flow of information.

"Any kind of restrictions would undermine China's broader economic development goals," Parker said.

Concerned that a borderless, U.S.-led global Internet could weaken its political control, China's government has repeatedly issued cyber regulations that have drawn criticism from Western trade groups. Following pushback from the White House last year, China dropped a provision in a cybersecurity law that would require companies to keep Chinese user data at facilities in China, allowing the government access to personal information.

Questions remain about the new rules' true purpose and how strictly they would be enforced. The ministry is currently soliciting feedback on the proposed registration regulations, and Chinese laws are often softened during the revision process.

Fang Xingdong, the director of a top Chinese technology think tank, said he believes Chinese leaders are seeking to enhance their control, but not to wall China off from the rest of the world.

"Under the current wording, all this is doing is integrating large Chinese Web service providers under a more rigorous supervision framework, while most small businesses won't be affected," said Fang, whose organization regularly submits opinions to the government on Internet issues.

Any attempt to seal off the Chinese Internet "would hurt China as much as America," he said.(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

6 Instagram-worthy hotels for your next holiday

Thu, 2016-03-31 17:58

In addition to its strategic location in the city center, Artotel is also a favorite among editorial magazines and TV shows to hold a shoot.(Artotel/-)

Holidays are arguably the most share-worthy moments for netizens as they Instagram their plane tickets and passport, check in at the hippest locations on Path and make sure their followers stay updated with what they devour from breakfast until dinner.

For those looking to add more gorgeous photos to their social media, we have curated these Instagrammable hotels in Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta and Bali that are just too good not to share.

Summerbird Bed and Brasserie

Only a 10-minute drive to Bandung's popular shopping mall Paris van Java, this BnB quickly became the subject of talk among young people for to its cute, thematic rooms. Room prices are pocket-friendly for youngsters too as they start from Rp 439,000 (US $33) per night, including breakfast for two.

Mix up the room pictures with the well-lit dining area that offers the perfect spot to take  #ootd or #foodgram photos.

Location: Jl. Ksatriaan No. 11 Bandung

Oliver’s Hostelry

Situated in the northern part of Bandung overlooking the city lights, this inn looks like a lodge usually found in the US. Up to 18 rooms are available for reservation; each is uniquely designed and named after a popular song like “Holocene”, “Wonderwall” and “What a Wonderful World.”

The place also has an outdoor coffee corner, which means ample sunlight, so there is no need to edit the brightness of photos.

Location: Jl. Panumbang Jaya No. 5 Ciumbuleuit, Bandung

Artotel Thamrin

In addition to its strategic location in the city center, Artotel is also a favorite among editorial magazines and TV shows to hold a shoot. The hotel features original artwork by local artists; in fact, all three Artotels are customized and designed individually based on their location -- currently available in Jakarta, Surabaya and Bali -- and the locals' lifestyle.

Those checking in at its Jakarta location, take an elevator up to its rooftop bar, which offers a view of the capital city's picturesque skyscrapers.

Location: Jl. Sunda No. 3 Menteng, Central Jakarta

Brown Feather

When a hotel’s backdrop is Bali's signature lush paddies, the first thing any good netizen would do is take out their smartphones and snap a photo of the view. This two-story boutique hotel, which exudes vintage vibes with its white-painted walls, rustic and vintage furniture using local materials and recycled wood, offers just that.

Despite its very au naturel location, it is only five-10 minutes away from Seminyak’s shopping and dining district.

Location: Jl. Batu Belig No. 100 Kerobokan, Bali

Tijili Hotel Seminyak

Stepping inside this spacious boutique hotel is like entering an eclectic-style painting as it is dominated by bright colors and pattern-clashing interiors. The balconies are also colorful, making them noticeable even from a distance.

The lobby alone is worthy of an Instagram post with its dry-stone walls and splashes of color. The natural light that shines through the windows also makes for a pretty image without an added filter.  

Location: Jl. Drupadi 9 Seminyak, Bali

Lokal Hotel

Deliberately not built into a high-rise building, this hotel only has 12 rooms and an 80-seat restaurant. Its one-story and mezzanine rooms have a strong homey vibe.

As the name suggests, it only uses locally made products, including the shredded kawung artworks found on the hotel’s walls and floors, and attractively features a mix of minimalistic and traditional design.

Location: Jl. Jembatan Merah No. 104C, Yogyakarta

Categories: Indonesian News

Fuel price cut to remain for six months

Thu, 2016-03-31 16:29

A worker checks the sales record at a fuel station in Jakarta. (tempo.com)

The government will maintain the new price of subsidized fuel for the next six months amid a global trend toward price increases, an energy official has said.

The government announced on Wednesday that it would cut subsidized fuel prices by Rp 500 (4 US cents) per liter, starting April 1, with an expected concomitant 3 percent reduction in public transportation fares.

“The Rp500 per liter cut in Premium gasoline and diesel prices takes into account the trend in oil prices throughout the next six months,” Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry director general of oil and gas IGN Wiratmaja Puja told thejakartapost.com on Thursday.

The decision, he added, ensures there will be no fluctuation in fuel prices during the fasting month and Idul Fitri holiday in June and July. “Global oil prices are projected to rise over the next six months, but we will maintain the price until Sept. 30," he said.

The government will cut the price of subsidized Premium gasoline from Rp 6,950 per liter to Rp 6,450, down by Rp 500. Similarly, subsidized diesel will drop from Rp 5,650 per liter to Rp 5,150. Kerosene remains at Rp 2,500 per liter.

The fuel price cut follows a three-month low in global oil prices, Wiratmaja added, while the rupiah has over the same period strengthened against the US dollar.

As of Wednesday, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) stood at $38.84 per barrel, down 20.2 percent year-on-year (yoy), while Brent reached $39.32 per barrel, slumping 30.1 percent yoy.

"Regarding the upward trend, the ministry projects global oil prices to rise until 2019, though not sharply," Wiratmaja went on.

State-owned energy company Pertamina has  cut subsidized gasoline and diesel prices by Rp 200 per liter from 12 a.m. today, the second price cut this month, with total cuts reaching Rp 400 per liter. (bbn)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Meet 5 of the city’s hair heroes

Thu, 2016-03-31 16:29

The hairstyle heroes (from left to right): Aar Yanuar, Anton Gozalt, Hisato Suzuki, Kirman and Waris.(thejakartapost.com/Asmara Wreksono & Ni Nyoman Wira)

Jakarta has abundant resources when it comes to style. However, only a select few are able to weather the ever-changing trends and scenes and manage to keep being relevant and sought-after.  

In the hairstyle department, thejakartapost.com has revealed five of the city’s most recommended star stylists who are in the business of making women beautiful and are not planning to leave the scene just yet.

Anton Gozalt

His edgy Japanese-style hairdo, colorful choice of clothes and welcoming demeanor make even first-time clients feel comfortable. “In handling clients, first I need to know what they want. I’m not the kind of hairdresser who dictates to my customers. And although they are longtime clients, I always ask first and then we discuss,” Anton said.

In his 15-year career as a hairdresser and stylist, Anton has handled local and multicultural clients. “My expat clients are very loyal, but they usually regenerate. That means they leave eventually but suggest my name to their replacements.”

An expert in cutting and coloring, Anton tells thejakartapost.com that ombre is still the coveted coloring trend, although bolder and braver color tones will be dominating 2016. “This year, the tone is slightly braver, although it will not be shown on the outer part of the hair but the inner parts.”  

Prepare to shell out Rp 200,000 (US$15) to Rp 2 million for cutting and coloring treatments.  

Location: GMCM Salon, Pondok Indah Mall 2, South Jakarta

Contact: +62-21 75920791


One of the most respected senior hairstylist in the metropolis, Kirman maintains a large clientele, from expats to socialites, celebrities and prominent figures. Having clients of importance, Kirman remains professional: “I treat all my customers equally, because they are all kings in my eyes. They also treat me with the same respect and become very loyal, so even in the past when I switched salons, they all still looked for me,” he said.

Having started his career 20 years ago, Kirman never stops learning. “I always participate in trainings and experiments to keep up with the trends. It’s the only way to enrich my knowledge.”  

Christian, owner of deCoiffure salon, is also very supportive of Kirman’s career, providing insights to keep his top stylist up-to-date. “I’m a trend-observer and I always give new insights to my team. And they always manage to apply the styles to the customers really well,” he said.

Treatments at deCoiffure with Kirman range from Rp 350,000 to Rp 1 million.

Location: deCoiffure Salon, Le Papilion Kemang, South Jakarta

Contact: +62-21 7190789

Hisato Suzuki

Twenty years of hairstyling around the globe have not yet been enough for Hisato Suzuki to keep on learning and adding new artful hair creations to his portfolio.

Now in Indonesia, tending to a younger but more sophisticated crowd, Hisato is very much used to unique requests: “Most of my work on my clients creates a ‘wow’ factor. In the past two years, everyone wants to have edgy hairstyles and bright colors. I love it because I often persuade my clients to try something bold.”

Hisato is known for his Japanese Step Bone Cut, a cutting technique which makes hair feel lighter, bouncier and easier to manage.

“This year, lighter colors are still in fashion, asymmetric cuts are also still favored although they have become common,” Hisato said, commenting on hairstyle trend of 2016.  

To get Hisato’s touch on your hairstyle, prepare to spend between Rp 200,000 and Rp 2 million.

Location: One Piece Studio by Hisato, Lippo Mall Kemang, South Jakarta

Contact: +62-21 29528398

Aar Yazuar

In the private setting of Prestige Salon in Kemang Utara 5E, Aar Yazuar gives his best work to his loyal clients who have trusted him with their hairdos for decades. Aar has been one of Jakarta’s trusted names in hairstyling since around 1997.  

While popular among his clients, Aar stays humble. “I have to stay up to date, willing to learn and keep on developing my skills so I can cater to my clients’ needs. This is the internet era; it’s easier to monitor trends, but I still communicate with the clients about what style suits them and what style makes them comfortable,” he said.

Marking cutting and coloring as the main strengths of his salon, Aar noted the growing trend of bold colors in the past year. “These days people are bolder than ever before. They’re OK with multiple rainbow colors. Ombre colors are still popular, but the requests for brighter colors are increasing.”

Prices start from Rp 100,000 to Rp 3 million for various treatments.

Location: Prestige Hair and Beauty, Kemang Utara Raya No. 5E, South Jakarta

Contact: +62-21 71793193


Most of the regular patrons at Irwan Team Salon's Pondok Indah Mall 1 branch swear by his name when it comes to cutting and coloring. Waris has been with the salon chain since 2004 and there is a reason why customers love him: He’s a fast learner when it comes to people’s needs.

“For me, each customer’s needs and wants are different. I have to be able to connect with a wide range of clients from college students, housewives, prominent people and I have to understand them fast.”

Waris also noted the importance of following a customer’s wishes while at the same time advising what suits them and what does not. “As long as they want it and they like it, and it suits their ego, I will do it.”

Foreign clients, who make up about 10 percent of his clientele, according to Waris, are somewhat simpler in their requests, “My foreign clients especially Caucasians have it easier when it comes to hair coloring. They only need one process because their hair pigment is not as strong as Asians'. However, they don’t really request many colors, usually just highlights.”  

Prices start from Rp 265,000 for men and Rp 385,000 for women.

Location: Irwan Team Salon Pondok Indah Mall 1, South Jakarta

Contact: +62-21 7506747

Categories: Indonesian News

Jakartans don't care about Ahok's race and religion, survey says

Thu, 2016-03-31 16:29

People fill in forms to support Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama at the Teman Ahok secretariat in Graha Pejaten, South Jakarta, on March 21. Teman Ahok, or Friends of Ahok, opened the post to gather copies of citizens' identity cards for Ahok, who will run as an independent candidate in the 2017 Jakarta Gubernatorial Election.(Antara/Reno Esnir)

The chance of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama staying on in the capital's top post next year might be open wide as Jakartans are most likely to choose him despite his minority status and outspoken personality, according to a recent poll.

The survey indicates Jakarta's voters are more mature and discount the two things often used to attack Ahok as issues: the fact he is Christian and of Chinese descent.

In the survey conducted by Charta Politica with 400 respondents from March 15 to 20 after Ahok announced Heru Budi Hartono as his running mate, the head of the city’s Financial Asset Management Board (BPKAD), the respondents did not even dispute Ahok's outspoken and often rude comments, tempo.co reported on Thursday.

Ahok's electability ranked at 44.5 percent, according to the survey released on Wednesday. The number far exceeded that of his rival, former Justice and Human Rights Miniser Yusril Ihza Mahendra, whose electability stood at 7.8 percent.

Other people who had declared their intentions to run as candidates in the 2017 race, such as businessman Sandiaga Uno, former Youth and Sports Minister Adhyaksa Dault also raked in small amounts in the survey.

"Ahok received benefits from the disobedience of political party members," Charta Politica executive director Yunarto Wijaya said as quoted by tempo.co.

Ahok had announced that he and Heru would run as independent candidates without political party backing. The move was applauded by many, but also  denounced by political parties that called Ahok's move an attempt to weaken the role of political parties in Indonesian democracy.

Two small parties, NasDem and the People's Conscience Party (Hanura), had announced their support for Ahok and Heru for next year's Jakarta election.

Moreover, the survey also showed that most Jakartan members of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) would probably vote for Ahok.

Kompas.com reported that out of 400 respondents, PDI-P voters represented the most at 19.3 percent. Of those, 67.5 percent said they would vote for Ahok to be Jakarta governor for the next term.

The PDI-P had not yet announced its official support for any candidate for next year's election. Charta Politica saw there was a big chance that the PDI-P would support Ahok because despite the refusal of several members, there has been no word yet from the chief patron of the party, Megawati Sukarnoputri.

"Megawati had not yet made any comments. There is a possibility that the PDI-P would support Ahok in the Jakarta election," he said as quoted by kompas.com.(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

International Jazz Day is coming to the White House

Thu, 2016-03-31 16:29

In this Feb. 24, 2016 file photo, Andra Day and Anthony Hamilton perform for President Barack Obama, front row, lower right, and others during the “In Performance at the White House” series in the East Room of the White House, in Washington. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle plan to host a blockbuster concert April 29 with established stars and up-and-coming musical artists. The show is to be televised by ABC the following day, on April 30, the fifth anniversary of International Jazz Day.(AP/Carolyn Kaster)

President Barack Obama plans to host a blockbuster concert on April 29 featuring such artists as Aretha Franklin, Al Jarreau, Sting, Herbie Hancock and many others.

The show is to be televised by ABC the following day, the fifth anniversary of International Jazz Day.

UNESCO and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz are the sponsors of International Jazz Day, a worldwide celebration of jazz music.

Hancock, a UNESCO goodwill ambassador whose idea led to the creation of International Jazz Day, said jazz is a musical language understood worldwide.

An award-winning pianist and bandleader, Hancock said "incredible" jazz musicians are now everywhere. "That really shows me the power of the music and the fact that it has reached every country on the planet," Hancock told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Previous host cities for International Jazz Day were Istanbul, Turkey, in 2013; Osaka, Japan, in 2014; and Paris in 2015.

In 2012, programs were held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris; in New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz; and at the U.N. General Assembly Hall in New York City.

Last year's programming reached more than 2.8 billion people, Tom Carter, president of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, told the AP.

Obama and the first lady are big music lovers and supporters of jazz. During a recent appearance at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, Mrs. Obama said one of her grandfathers loved and collected jazz and that she would visit him on Saturdays while growing up in Chicago "and I would just play music with him."

The Obamas practically jumped at the chance to bring the International Jazz Day concert to the White House, Carter said.

"They welcomed us with open arms," added Hancock.(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Now Watching: Top 5 picks for TV series you should binge-watch

Thu, 2016-03-31 15:00

In case you’ve been living under a rock with no internet connection or TV, Game of Thrones is set mainly in Westeros, a continent in a fictional world. (HBO)

When you have some me-time to spare or simply want to do nothing, chances are you will find at least one of these five TV series entertaining enough to keep you company.

Game of Thrones

Current season: 5

In case you’ve been living under a rock with no internet connection or TV, this award-winning series is set mainly in Westeros, a continent in a fictional world. On the continent, there are seven kingdoms that are currently fighting for the iron throne of the Seven Kingdoms since whoever sits on that throne holds the power to control the whole of Westeros.

With stories infused with political and sexual influence and violent scenes in almost every episode, it is no wonder that this series is the most talked-about and watched by people all over the world.


Current season: 2

The fall finale of Empire's Season 2 was filled with endless OMG moments. This critically acclaimed hip-hop soap opera has been praised for changing television culture and has been nominated for several awards, including a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Series Drama for Taraji P. Henson, thanks to her portrayal of the sassy, loud-mouthed Queen Cookie Lyon.

This series will return on March 30 for its remaining eight episodes.


Current season: 2

This Netflix original series is unlike the typical popcorn superhero series you’ve seen on TV. Daredevil has a dark tone with its intriguing storyline surrounding a blind lawyer, Matt Murdock, who moonlights as the Daredevil himself, fighting against crimes in Hell’s Kitchen.

Expect to see cameos from other Marvel heroes, since the series is tied into the Marvel universe.

The Big Bang Theory

Current season: 9

Who says nerds aren’t funny? This comedy series created by Chuck Lorre, who previously produced Dharma & Greg andTwo and a Half Men, revolves around a nerd squad of Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj.

Add a pretty blond named Penny who becomes neighbors with Sheldon and Leonard, and their everyday antics will leave youROFLYAO.

Making a Murderer

Current season: 1

This docu-series by Netflix chronicles the real-life trial of Steven Avery who was wrongfully convicted of two different murders in his hometown of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, the US

The 10-part series took 10 years to make, along the way uncovering corruption, the bureaucracy of the local law enforcement and the things they did to keep their reputation untarnished. (kes)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Airbnb dares you to sleep with the sharks in Paris – for free

Thu, 2016-03-31 15:00

The aquarium's first sleepover, hosted by world-record breaking freediver Fred Buyle, will welcome three lucky winners and their guests between April 11 and 13. (Airbnb)

The phrase “sleeping with the fishes” has taken a new meaning as online lodging service Airbnb is set to offer among its listings a one-night stay for two at an aquarium full of sharks.

Interestingly, the rare opportunity of sleeping in an underwater bedroom in the 10-meter deep Shark Aquarium will be completely free of charge as it is part of a competition held by Airbnb, supported by the Aquarium de Paris, which opened in 1867 and is conveniently situated right in front of the Eiffel Tower.

The aquarium's first sleepover, hosted by world-record breaking freediver Fred Buyle, will welcome three lucky winners and their guests between April 11 and 13. Buyle reportedly would entertain the guests by dancing among the sharks and give a private tour around the aquarium.

The competition is open to almost all global citizens, including Indonesians, as the prize includes economy class round-trip tickets to Paris and a private dinner for two, with a total value of approximately 2,000 euros (US$2,262).

The experience is part of Airbnb's monthly Night At events that basically tranform iconic spaces into homes for just one night. Previous unforgettable stays include spending the night suspended in a cable car-turned-luxury apartment 2,743 meters above the ground in France's Courchevel ski resort and staying at the home of the Chicago Bulls. (ken/kes)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Wika to build $27 million Semanggi flyover

Thu, 2016-03-31 15:00

Elevated discussion: Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama displays an image on his cell phone depicting planned elevated roads at the Semanggi junction. (thejakartapost.com/Dewanti A.Wardhani)

State-owned company PT Wijaya Karya (Wika) has signed a deal worth Rp 360 billion (US$27.15 million) for the construction of additional elevated roads in Semanggi, South Jakarta, with the groundbreaking slated for April.

“Wika has signed a contract for the construction worth Rp 360 billion,” the operational director of Wika Beton, a subsidiary of Wika, Fery Hendrianto, said on Wednesday.

Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama said in January that the city administration would construct additional elevated roads in front of Plaza Semanggi shopping mall. The roads will cater to motorists traveling from Grogol in West Jakarta to Kebayoran Baru in South Jakarta, and from Pancoran in South Jakarta to the National Monument (Monas) in Central Jakarta.

The Jakarta city administration has made a deal with PT Mori Building, a private company from Japan, which plans to construct a new building in the Semanggi area. The company will fund the new elevated roads construction in return for an increased building floor coefficient (KLB), the standard for a building’s total maximum size permitted on a given area.

“The construction will be finished in the middle of 2017,” Ahok said as quoted by Tempo.co.

Wika Beton has been ordered to supply materials for the roads construction. Despite its long track record in construction projects, the company views the project as a tough challenge.

“The project is highly prestigious, as it requires a high-end technology. Even with our track record in this business, we are still worried [about carrying out the project],” Wika Beton president director Wilfred A. Singkali said. (vps/ebf)



Categories: Indonesian News

Govt to decide Hambalang project within two weeks

Thu, 2016-03-31 15:00

All ready: Accompanied by Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi (center) and Public Works and Public Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono (left), President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo visits the site of a sports facility project in Hambalang, West Java, on March 18. (Antara/Yudhi Mahatma)

Public Works and Public Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono has said a recommendation on the future of the long-halted Hambalang sports facility construction project will be submitted in the next two weeks.

Basuki said on Wednesday that the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry had established a technical audit team consisting of experts in the field of geology and building structures and planning, which would develop a recommendation on the handling of the construction project, following President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s visit to the site on May 18.

The minister further explained that the technical team would be chaired by the head of the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry’s research and development division and it would oversee four audit groups, which would handle matters related to building audits, drainage, environmental and geo-technical affairs and regulation and licensing.

"They will later develop a recommendation. It may take time because as the President has said, the recommendation will be very technical in nature and related to the country’s legal and financial concerns," Basuki said after a limited Cabinet meeting at the State Palace on Wednesday.

In his visit to the Hambalang site on May 18, President Jokowi urged the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry to conduct a thorough check of the conditions of the buildings in the Hambalang sports facilityin Bogor, West Java, to find a way to rescue the state assets.

Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi said the government did not want to repeat the mistakes that occurred during the construction of the Hambalang project in the past; therefore, the future of the project would be decided carefully.

"The President also ordered the Youth and Sports Ministry to prepare an alternative solution to anticipate if the project is not to continue," he said.

Harry Azhar Aziz of the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) said, according to the agency's investigation, the country's losses in the Hambalang project were Rp 243 billion (US$18.26 million) in 2012 and Rp 462 billion in 2013.

"On the agency’s stance, we appreciate any decision taken to save the country from losses connected to the Hambalang project," Harry said.

Construction, which began in 2010, was halted in 2013 after being hit by a corruption scandal. Former youth and sports minister Andi Mallarangeng and former Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum are among those who have been found guilty in the case. (ebf)


Categories: Indonesian News

Govt to revise regulations to speed up LRT construction

Thu, 2016-03-31 15:00

All aboard: President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo (middle) and PT Adhi Karya president director Kiswodarmawan (right) at the LRT groundbreaking ceremony on Feb. 3. (thejakartapost.com/Raditya Margi)

Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama has said the government is set to revise a presidential decree (Perpres) and a government regulation (PP) to speed up the construction of the light rail transit (LRT) project.

Ahok said President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Tuesday held a meeting to follow up on the construction of LRT projects in several regions across Indonesia. The Jakarta governor said he and Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan, as well as West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan and South Sumatera Governor Alex Noerdin, attended the meeting.

During the meeting, Ahok said, Jokowi asked him to present a report on the progress of the LRT project because up until now the city administration had not yet started construction.

As reported earlier, two regulations, namely PP No. 79/2015 on the implementation of construction services and Perpres No. 98/2015 on the acceleration of the implementation of LRT projects in Jakarta, Bogor, Depok and Bekasi, have continued to hamper the implementation of the LRT construction project in Jakarta.

PP 79 stipulates the Jakarta administration may appoint a state-owned enterprise to implement the LRT construction project. The problem is the Jakarta administration has planned that the city's LRT construction project will be conducted by a provincially owned company, PT Jakarta Propertindo (Jakpro), which will team up with state-owned developer PT Adhi Karya. To resolve the matter, the government must first revise existing regulations.

Ahok said Perpres 98 should be revised so that the Jakarta administration could appoint operators such as city-owned PT Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and state-owned train operator PT Kereta Api Indonesia to develop LRT projects in the future.

Meanwhile, PP 79 should be revised so that the Jakarta administration could directly appoint a state-owned enterprise to carry out the LRT project, the governor further said.

"The legal interpretation of the PP is that [Jakpro] cannot appoint PT Adhi Karya to carry out the LRT project, since the project winner should be decided through a tender process. If we revise this regulation, Adhi Karya can directly work on the construction project," Ahok said.

The governor said he believed that the revision of the two regulations would not take a long time.

The Jakarta administration has also planned to ask PT MRT to conduct a project tender to comply with Law No. 23/2007 on the railway. “PT MRT has had experience in conducting such a tender; thus, it [entrusting the project tendering to the company] may speed up the LRT construction,” Ahok said. (ebf)


Categories: Indonesian News

Hardwell to entertain Jakartans in April

Thu, 2016-03-31 15:00

Dutch DJ Hardwell is slated to make a stop on his world tour at Carnaval Beach in Ancol, North Jakarta, on April 2.(djhardwell.com)

Dutch DJ Hardwell will make a stop on his world tour at Carnaval Beach in Ancol, North Jakarta, on April 2.

Since releasing his debut album United We Are last year, which reached number two on the iTunes worldwide album chart, the DJ has become an unstoppable force by touring the globe.

Prior to visiting the capital, he has entertained electro house lovers in Malaysia with tracks from his album, including “Sally”, “Don’t Stop the Madness” and “Echo”.

Hardwell said that his upcoming concert would be bigger and better. Pre-sale tickets have already sold out, though general admission tickets are still available, as are VIP tickets.

VIP ticket holders will have access to a bar, special viewing area and an exclusive line to exchange e-vouchers.

For more information, visit the concert promoter's official website, ismayalive.com. (kes)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

House receives draft revision of Regional Elections Law

Thu, 2016-03-31 13:58

All ready: House of Representatives members are pictured inside the House. The lawmakers are expected to start deliberating the draft revision of Law No. 8/2015 on regional elections in early April. (Kompas)

The House of Representatives has received the draft revision of Law No. 8/2015 on regional elections as it prepares to resume sitting early in April, a lawmaker has said.

Rambe Kamarul Zaman, chairman of House Commission II overseeing regional affairs, said it received a set of documents concerning the revision of the 2015 Regional Elections Law on Tuesday.

“We have received the draft revision of the 2015 Regional Elections Law, an academic paper on the law revision and a Presidential Mandate [Ampres] on the law revision,” he said at the House complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta, on Wednesday.

The House is scheduled to start deliberating the revisions in the first week of April, during which it will resume sitting. The government and the House are striving to complete the revisions because another delay in the deliberations will affect the organizing of the simultaneous regional elections in 2017.

The government completed the harmonization of the revisions in February.

Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo said separately that the draft contains 15 revisions. They include the handling of regional election disputes, the regional head candidacy processes and matters related to political dynasties, he said. (ebf)


Categories: Indonesian News

Romantic agony, the soul of Pita Maha

Thu, 2016-03-31 13:58

Side by side: Rudolf Bonnet (right) stands beside Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno.

The Pita Maha arts society just celebrated its 80th anniversary. However, the life stories of maestros from the organization, such as I Nyoman Ngendon, Ida Bagus Made Poleng and Ida Bagus Made Nadera, are still not familiar to many people despite being the inspiration behind their remarkable paintings.

Founded in Ubud, Bali, on Jan. 29, 1936, by the late Rudolf Bonnet, Walter Spies and Tjokorda Gde Agung Sukawati, Pita Maha held its first exhibitions in March and April of the same year.

Support from art figures like I Gusti Nyoman Lempad and Tjokorda Gde Raka Sukawati enabled the organization of artists to change the paradigm of painting in Bali, from classical depictions of shadow puppets, mythology and religion, to more modern and secular themes.

The advent of this more secular approach enriched painting in Bali, allowing artists to present virtually any ideas, and an unlimited number of styles, in their paintings.

“Pantai Kodok” (Frog Beach) by I Ketut Regig

This artistic shift saw the birth of progressive traditional painters such as Anak Agung Gde Sobrat, Ida Bagus Made Widja, I Ketut Regig, I Wayan Taweng, Ida Bagus Made Togog, Anak Agung Gde Meregeg and I Wayan Ketig. Not all of them were Ubud locals either, with artists coming from Batuan, Singaraja, Klungkung, Sanur and various other cities in Bali.

Amazingly, their names have continued to dominate the Balinese art scene for eight decades, while their successors now elegantly adorn the history of art. Pita Maha has also become legendary in the international fine art world, with famous auction houses such as Larasati periodically auctioning their works in Bali, Jakarta and Singapore.

But it’s not just being the forerunner of secular themes that made Pita Maha so noteworthy. “A romantic agony factor from every painter has preserved the soul of this organization,” Bonnet said in 1975.

Indeed, Bonnet and Spies as the organization’s leaders constantly emphasized romantic agony as an attitude that the organization should embody.

“Panen Buah” (Harvesting Fruit) by I Gusti Nyoman Lempad

The essence of this attitude was for artists to uphold their principles and be confident in their own personal truth. To consider themselves as the guiding force of their own lives, and their artworks as their beacon of truth.

Romantic agony has often been the most important part of the cosmology of the art world, and dominates certain works of art. It is the agony and powerful vision of artists such as Michelangelo, Vincent van Gogh and Jean Michael Basquiat that attracts millions of people to their masterpieces.

Bonnet said this myth should be maintained and disseminated through writings and talks. Romantic agony is a way of preserving artistic works. Puri Lukisan Museum in Ubud, which he founded, is one of the reminders of this myth. At the museum, visitors are reminded that behind the beautiful paintings lay unique, tough, bitter and even distressing life stories.

“Nearly all members of Pita Maha possess features of romantic agony. The question is whether their attitude and life stories can be communicated to society by the people and institutions that inherit their works, whether they can revive the soul of the inanimate canvases before us,” Bonnet once said.

Sadly, Bonnet’s expectations have only been realized in the 21st century. The lives of Pita Maha painters are still unfamiliar to most people. The various catalogues and books published by Puri Lukisan Museum and fine art museums in Bali do not yet present the passion of romantic agony.

Consequently, the Pita Maha maestros’ remarkable paintings remain only visually outstanding. Behind the elegance of traditional culture, the thrilling individual dimension seems to be left out and allowed to fade away. It is thus necessary to introduce three of the dozens of best-known Pita Maha figures and their works.

I Nyoman Ngendon was born in Banjar Dentiyis, Batuan, between 1903 and 1910. As a traditional artist, he also produced realist paintings after meeting his modern peers in Yogyakarta, which he visited in 1935. Ngendon also created anti-colonial posters in Bali and joined the military in Regiment I of Ngurah Rai as an information officer.

Unfortunately, in 1946 he was caught by the Netherlands Indies Civil Administration (NICA) in Ketewel village in Bali. After being tortured, on July 2, 1947 he was killed by NICA police at the Dentiyis graveyard, Batuan. Ngendon’s works are mostly held by foreign collectors, including US anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, but were once displayed at the Arma Museum, Ubud.

Ida Bagus Made Poleng, commonly called Gus Made, was born in Tebesaya, Ubud in 1915. Known as a painter who highly valued his own works, he very rarely sold his canvases to Indonesian collectors, whom he regarded as having a commercial mentality. Instead, he considered European and American collectors to be real lovers of Bali’s paintings.

Gus Made showed how strict his principles were when in 1956 President Sukarno visited his studio to buy a painting. One afternoon, an officer assigned by Sukarno came to pick up the picture and Gus Made carried it himself. But as he noticed the vehicle used was a horse cart, he said, “Sorry, my painting cannot be transported on a cart.”

“Pentas Kecak” (Kecak Dance)by I Wayan Ketig

The next day a presidential car collected the canvas, Memohon Berkah (Pleading for Blessings), which later entered Sukarno’s painting collection book.

The fate of Gus Made’s best-loved works took a sudden twist when in 1986, his modest studio was broken into and 14 of his paintings stolen. For years, Gus Made was saddened by the theft. While crying, he said with some pride, “All beings love my paintings, from collectors to burglars!”

Ida Bagus Made Nadera was born around 1910 to 1915 in Banjar Tegallinggah, Bedahulu village, Gianyar. He worked in the district office of Blahbatu and painted in his spare time. The hobby brought him to become an assistant of an art teacher in a primary school in Buruan village. Humorously, he also worked as a tax collector. Along with his peers he read old Hindu books until he was well versed in the religion. Like his changing career, Nadera also had five marriages and divorces, and many children.

The paintings of Ngendon, Gus Made and Nadera are now exhibited at major museums in Bali, at the Presidential Palace of Indonesia and at several other museums in Europe and the US. The late Bonnet might see some romantic agony struggling to manifest itself in each of their works as people admiringly gaze at them.

— Photos by Agus Dermawan T

Categories: Indonesian News

Bullish outlook

Thu, 2016-03-31 13:58

CIMB Niaga sharia banking chief Pandji P. Djajanegara (center) talks with his deputy Rusdi Dahardin (right) and the bank’s marketing, brand and communications head, Slamet Sudijono, in a discussion organized by the bank’s sharia business unit, CIMB Niaga Syariah, on Wednesday. CIMB Niaga Syariah reported that its total third-party funds increased by 12 percent from Rp 6.77 trillion (US$510.6 million) in 2014 to Rp 7.58 trillion last year.(JP/DON)

Categories: Indonesian News

Jakarta to see LRT route before Asian Games 2018: Governor

Thu, 2016-03-31 13:58

Having ironed out several problems surrounding Jakarta’s Light Rail Transit (LRT), Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama has vowed to complete the project, at least one route, in time for the 2018 Asian Games.

The central government has agreed to revise regulations to strengthen legal protection and so the administration has scheduled the LRT groundbreaking for June, Ahok said on Wednesday, citing the route designed to service the Asian Games as a priority.

“President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo has agreed to the prompt revision of those regulations which have become our legal basis in the construction of the LRT. We will be able to kick start the construction soon,” Ahok said, adding that Jakartans could expect to see the initial construction work on the route connecting Asian Games venues, such as the Velodrome Sports complex in Rawamangun, East Jakarta, the Britama basketball court at Kelapa Gading Sports Mall in North Jakarta and the athletes village in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta begin in September.

He explained that Jokowi had agreed to revise Article 8 of Presidential Regulation No. 99/2015 on Acceleration of Railway Operation in Jakarta, as well as Government Regulation No. 79/2015 on Implementation of Construction Services.

With the revision, a governor will also be able to appoint both state and or city-owned companies to carry out the construction, Ahok added.

Hence, he said, the administration had appointed state-owned developer Adhi Karya to work with city-owned PT Jakarta Propertindo (Jakpro), which is responsible for the construction of the city’s LRT.

Previously, the administration had doubted a prompt start to construction as the regulations had been deemed to not provide certainty for the administration nor Jakpro, in the selection of partners.

On Tuesday, the city administration met with the central government and the Palembang administration, as Palembang in South Sumatra will also host the 2018 Asian Games, to discuss various transportation projects to reduce traffic congestion in both cities throughout the duration of the event.

After the meeting, Jokowi informed reporters that he had demanded that the governors begin the construction of LRT in both regions so that the transportation would be operational before the start of the 2018 Asian Games on Aug. 18, 2018.

“This is the fifth [Cabinet] meeting to discuss LRT. I don’t want to see another [Cabinet] meeting because all [matters hindering construction] should have been completed this afternoon,” he said, citing data that suggests congestion had caused the country to suffer losses of around Rp 28 trillion (US$1.2 billion).

The President further said that, in a bid to ease mobility, he expected the LRT lines to reach the airport in both regions.

Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said that the government expected the Jakarta LRT project to be finished by April or June 2018. Therefore, people from satellite cities, such as Tangerang in Banten and Bekasi in West Java, would be able to travel to the capital to witness the games in a speedy fashion.

The Jakarta administration are expected to build 123.7 kilometers of intra-city LRT lines, which will be integrated with 142 kilometers of LRT lines to be built by the Transportation Ministry from the capital to other regions in West Java, like Karawang, Walini and Tegalluar.

However, in the initial phase, the administration plan to set 83 kilometers of LRT lines, serving nine corridors.

The routes that have been named as a priority will connect Asian Games venues, such as the Velodrome Sports complex in Rawamangun, East Jakarta, the Britama basketball court at Kelapa Gading Sports Mall in North Jakarta and the athletes village in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta.

The capital will also benefit from a “Greater Jakarta LRT” built by PT Adhi Karya. The first route is under construction and will run between Cibubur/Bekasi Timur in West Java to Cawang in East Jakarta, and will expand to Dukuh Atas in Central Jakarta. The first phase is slated for completion in December 2017.

Meanwhile, the capital’s mass rapid transit (MRT) from Lebak Bulus in South Jakarta to Hotel Indonesia in Central Jakarta is targeted for completion in August 2018.

Categories: Indonesian News

Mertasari festival celebrates community

Thu, 2016-03-31 12:29

Into the night: Crowds begin to gather at Mertasari Beach for an evening of live music.

Thousands of people flocked to Sanur to celebrate community during the 2016 Mertasari Beach Festival.

The free-to-the-public Mertasari Beach Festival was an opportunity for people from all walks of life to come together and share music, beach yoga and student performances, as well as a place for stall holders to show off their innovative products.

On show among the stalls was sublime chemical-free ice cream, a Volkswagon (VW) combi converted into a burrito stand, organic health foods, bamboo-framed sunglasses and young jewelry designers keen to show off their art.

Kid business: At just 15 years of age, Chandra Vangsgaard (left) has turned her hand to business with her Mexicombi food truck.

Events like the Mertasari Beach Festival held last weekend are a boon for these new-to-the-market products, offering the ideal opportunity to showcase ideas to the public.

At her 1981 VW Combi, 15-year-old Chandra Vangsgaard was busy taking burrito orders. She and her mother, Minni, set up the food truck a year ago as a work experience project for the high school student.

“I love people, so it’s fantastic I can talk to new people. The selling part of the business is amazing,” says Chandra, adding the festival opens the door to new customers and more importantly brings together people of all ages.

“The festival is a great benefit to us. People can discover our business and they can get to know us. Here we see people new to Bali mixing with locals. It’s great to see such a high level of local involvement. Even the kids come up to see if I have trash that needs to be taken away,” says Chandra of the festival that she believes will accrue new word-of-mouth customers for her Mexicombi food truck.

Nearby, Javier Velazquez is doing a roaring trade in natural ice creams, another new product for Bali. Javier explains the Mexican-style ice cream known as Pelatas is 100 percent chemical-free and extremely low in sugar, the natural fruits offering ample sweetness to the delicious treats.

Check this out: Mertasari Beach Festival serves as an opportunity for local traders to introduce new products to potential customers.

“We are at the festival because our ice cream fits with the health and wellbeing theme of the festival. There is free yoga being held and lots of healthy products and well-being information available here and our ice cream fits that lifestyle,” says Javier during a break between customers.

Pelatas Wey ice cream has between 6 and 10 percent sugar compared to more than 30 percent in most ice creams and is manufactured in Bali from local fruits without chemicals and flavorings.

“Having our stall here for the festival is an opportunity for us to share what we have to offer to people who are interested in healthy food options,” says Javier, adding that Pelatas Wey ice cream will soon open a store in Jakarta.

As well as foods from around the world available at the festival stalls, young fashion designers and jewelry makers also showed off their wares.

The simple and elegant designs from new jewelry craftswomen, Dian Ariantika, attracted a strong following, says the 28-year-old who heads up Ariant Jewellery.

“Having my stall here at the festival is a great way to introduce my designs to the public. I don’t have a shop front and I just began the jewelry line a year ago, so I felt the festival was a great way to promote my products,” says Dian.

Her silver jewelry, with a strong use of natural stones such as turquoise, was a hit with the young crowd at the festival.

“Business has been very good. The market seems to be for the young women who really like my simple designs,” says Dian, who hopes her presence at the festival will improve brand recognition in the future.

Celebrating health: Healthy lifestyles take center stage as people flock to Mertasarl Beach Festival in Sanur.

“My main hope from my stall here is to get people to better know my brand and it would also be fantastic if I was to meet people seeking wholesale jewellery. That would really launch my brand,” says Dian.

Promoting new products was key for many stall holders during the festival, including painter and jeweler Made Mulyani whose miniatures of Bali life proved a drawcard.

“The benefit has been the opportunity to introduce our new stock to the public. I do have a shop in Sanur, but it has been very quiet. Here business has been much better and it is a great way to advertise what we offer,” says Made, adding he hopes future festivals will offer stalls electricity to allow trading to continue into the evenings.

Dozens of other stalls trading fashion, foods, art and crafts also joined the festival.

— Photos by J.B.Djwan

Categories: Indonesian News

Seizing the opportunity to lift Jakarta-Naypyitaw relations

Thu, 2016-03-31 12:29

Htin Kyaw has carved out history by becoming Myanmar’s first civilian President in over 50 years. While not the person many had hoped for — Myanmar’s military-drafted Constitution bars opposition-turned ruling party leader Aung San Suu Kyi from the presidency — it nevertheless represents a momentous milestone in the country’s democratic transition from decades of military rule.

One country that is no stranger to such transitions is Indonesia, which itself emerged from decades of authoritarian rule in 1998. While 4,000 km separates the two Southeast Asian countries, it is remarkable that they have charted an almost identical path. Each emerged from the ashes of bitter independence struggles against their respective colonizers. Both became vanguards for the decolonized world under the leadership of Sukarno and U Nu, respectively.

Each faced a daunting challenge to maintain national unity amid complex diversity along racial, ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural lines. And both had failed experiments with parliamentary democracy that paved the way for the military to assume power.

These shared experiences have fostered a sense of understanding between the two states, which is perhaps stronger than those that exist with their more immediate neighbors. While Indonesia-Malaysia relations are fraught with regular diplomatic spats and Myanmar-Thailand relations seen as ambivalent, contrastingly, Indonesia-Myanmar ties were described as a “special relationship” by The Irrawaddy (a leading, independent Burmese news publication).

One visible demonstration of this can be seen in Jakarta’s efforts to assist Myanmar’s democratization process, which were acknowledged by Suu Kyi who expressed her appreciation and admiration of Indonesia’s role. Giving substance to the special relationship rhetoric was the fact that Indonesia was one of the few countries granted high-level access to sites of communal conflicts that broke out in Rakhine state in 2013.

Nevertheless, the special relationship at the government-to-government level appears to have dipped in recent months. The Indonesian Foreign Ministry was criticized for taking two weeks to congratulate Myanmar’s historic elections that saw Suu Kyi’s NLD Party sweep to victory in November 2015. Beyond this level, however, it is questionable if a special relationship exists at the business-to-business or people-to-people level.

Bilateral trade between Indonesia and Myanmar stood at US$689 million in 2014, far short of the targeted bilateral trade of $1 billion set for 2016. In 2014, Indonesia was listed as only the ninth largest trading partner for Myanmar, while Myanmar did not even feature in the top 10 largest-trading partners for Indonesia.

Concerns have been raised at how Indonesians have not reaped any significant economic benefits from Myanmar’s recent opening to the outside world. This is despite Jakarta having devoted much political and diplomatic effort to integrate Naypyitaw with the international community. It should not be forgotten that it was the then Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa’s positive endorsement of Myanmar’s “Roadmap to Discipline-flourishing Democracy” that paved the way for Naypyitaw to take up the ASEAN chairmanship of 2014.

Ever since international pressure had forced Myanmar to forego its turn to chair the regional organization in 2006, Naypyitaw was determined to avoid a repeat and miss out on the coveted international recognition that went with holding the ASEAN chairmanship. At the same time, there were doubts about the genuineness of Myanmar’s reforms with some in the international community calling for a boycott if the country was allowed to take up the ASEAN chair.

Marty’s assessment mission was thus crucial in finding a win-win solution that appeased the desire of Naypyitaw and the concerns of the international community. Yet despite this, it is companies from Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand that have since benefited from Myanmar opening up, not Indonesia.

At the people-to-people level, no direct flights between the two countries currently exist. This is despite the fact that the first commercial flight of Indonesia’s national airline, Garuda Indonesia, actually flew from Calcutta to Yangon in 1949.

According to Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Indonesians do not even feature in the 2015 list of top 10 visitors from Asia to Myanmar (instead categorized under “others”). Similarly, Indonesia’s Central Bureau of Statistics show that Myanmar nationals do not feature in the list of top six visitors from ASEAN states to Indonesia for 2014 (instead categorized as “other ASEAN countries”). Indeed, the “other ASEAN countries” made up of Myanmar along with Cambodia and Lao PDR registered no more than 67,248 visitors (or 1.8 percent of total ASEAN visitors), where a 2008 report indicated only 2,500 Burmese visited Indonesia.

Clearly there are still significant gaps in Indonesia-Myanmar relations. Given the historic ties between the two countries, such a state of affairs is unfortunate and needs to be addressed.

However, restoring the special relationship goes beyond simply nostalgic reasons. Seen as the last frontier in Southeast Asia, Myanmar promises to become the next economic “tiger” with above-8 percent annual growth predicted for the years to come. This boom will be driven by rapid expansion in the oil and gas sector, tourism, textiles and telecommunications; areas where Indonesia could do business.

While concerns over President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s interest in foreign policy remain, the economic argument should be apparent to him and the government. Indonesia should not and must not miss out on this. In other words, it should seize the opportunity of Myanmar’s first civilian President to lift Jakarta-Naypyitaw relations to new heights and to ensure that Indonesia benefits from Myanmar opening up.

The writer is head of the ASEAN Studies Program, The Habibie Center in Jakarta. The views expressed are his own.

Categories: Indonesian News