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Ahok demands dismissal of ambassador for racist remark

Jakarta Post Latest News - Thu, 2016-03-31 07:00

Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama attends a NasDem Party event at Istora Senayan in Jakarta on March. 20. (Antara/Puspa Perwitasari)

Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama is on the warpath against what he claims was a racist remark made on Twitter by Ambassador to Japan Yusron Ihza Mahendra, whom he demanded be fired by Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi.

Yusron, who is the brother of Jakarta governor hopeful Yusril Ihza Mahendra, wrote on his Twitter account that “Ahok should not be arrogant. Pity the destitute, good Chinese-Indonesians who could become victims.”

"I have sent people to Minister Retno to say that this type of ambassador should not be a [representative of] Indonesia," Ahok said on Wednesday.

Ahok said Yusron’s statement was disrespectful, particularly because it was made by an Indonesian ambassador.

Ahok also accused Yusron of using religion to attack him. "Even God is not racist. You are a Muslim and I am a Christian, we breathe the same air. If God deems Christians to be infidels, He may just kill me now," Ahok said.

Previously, Ahok accused Yusril him of discrediting him by falsely claiming that the Jakarta administration would demolish the ancient Luar Batang Mosque in North Jakarta. According to a recent survey, Ahok is the strongest Jakarta gubernatorial candidate while Yusril is his closest contender. (bbn)

Categories: Indonesian News

China proposes new Web rules that could enhance censorship

Jakarta Post Latest News - Thu, 2016-03-31 07:00

Pedestrians past by an advertisement for a Chinese news web portal in Beijing, China, March 30. (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 US-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

Thai junta chief gives military broad new police-like powers

Jakarta Post Latest News - Thu, 2016-03-31 07:00

Thai soldiers form a line while guarding a bus stop area to prevent an anti-coup demonstration at Victory Monument in Bangkok, Thailand, May 29, 2014. (AP/Wason Wanichakorn)

Thailand's junta chief has given the military broad new police-like powers to arrest and detain criminal suspects, in an unannounced move that rights groups criticized Wednesday as a recipe for human rights violations.

The decree Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha issued late Tuesday night comes amid a wider crackdown on civil liberties. Authorities the same day charged a woman with sedition for posting a Facebook photo of herself holding a red plastic bowl that was deemed too politically charged.

The order, published in Thailand's Royal Gazette under the title "Suppression of wrongdoings that could threaten Thai economy and society," gives soldiers in the army, navy and air force who are ranked sub-lieutenant and higher the power to summon, arrest and detain suspects in a wide range of crimes for up to seven days.

The soldiers can act against people suspected in 27 different types of crime, including extortion, human trafficking, robbery, fraud, forgery, defamation, debt collection, gambling, child protection, prostitution, loan sharking and tour guide services. It says the soldiers are appointed "crime prevention and suppression officers" and anyone ranked below sub-lieutenant can act as their assistants.

Prayuth, the former army chief, invoked the powers under a law he enacted after leading a May 2014 coup that gives him as junta chief near-absolute authority without any accountability. The law, known as Article 44, allows Prayuth to take any measures deemed necessary to promote public order and unity. Rights groups say Article 44 is essentially martial law in all but name.

"There are people whose behavior and wrongdoings are considered crimes. They threaten the country's economy and society," the order says. Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan was quoted by The Bangkok Post as saying that soldiers would also act as interrogators and were taking on the new role because there were not enough police to tackle crime.

Brad Adams, the Asia director of Human Rights Watch, called the move "a recipe for abuse, not greater peace and order."

"By erasing the line between the military and the police, Prime Minister Prayuth has further reinforced his dictatorship and guaranteed more blatant human rights abuses, increased numbers of civilians being tried in military courts, and further impunity for soldiers to do whatever they want whenever they want," he said.

Since toppling an elected government in the 2014 coup, Prayuth has restricted freedom of speech, barred public protests and relentlessly pursued critics by detaining journalists, academics and other perceived dissidents at military bases for so-called "attitude adjustment." The junta says criticism could destabilize the nation, which it says needs unity after almost a decade of sometimes violent political conflict.

On Tuesday, a 57-year-old woman in northern Thailand was arrested and charged with sedition for posting a photo of herself holding a red plastic bowl inscribed with a New Year's greeting from two former prime ministers, siblings Yingluck and Thaksin Shinawatra, according to Human Rights Watch. A military court in Chiang Mai released her on 100,000 baht (US$2,800) bail pending a military trial. If found guilty, Theerawan Charoensuk could face up to seven years in prison.

"The Thai junta's fears of a red plastic bowl show its intolerance of dissent has reached the point of absolute absurdity," said Adams. "It's clear that the end of repression is nowhere in sight."

A Thai journalist who is one of the junta's prominent critics, Pravit Rojanaphruk, said he learned Wednesday that the junta will not allow him to leave the country in May to attend a conference in Finland on World Press Freedom Day.

He posted the news on Facebook, along with a tweet from Finnish Ambassador to Thailand Kirsti Westphalen: "The Embassy of Finland regrets Thailand government decision to forbid [Pravit] to travel to Helsinki to attend World Press Freedom Day."

Pravit was twice detained for "attitude adjustment" while working for The Nation newspaper, which ultimately asked him to leave because of pressure from the junta.

A government spokesman, Sansern Kaewkamnerd, said he was not aware of the ban against Pravit but, "if it's true, it must be related to national security."

Categories: Indonesian News

Klaten residents refuse autopsy for alleged terrorist

Jakarta Post Latest News - Thu, 2016-03-31 07:00

The chairman of Muhammadiyah Youth Association, Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak (left), scatters flowers on the tomb of alleged terrorist Siyono in Pogung village, Central Java. (Antara/Aloysius Jarot Nugroho)

The chairman of Muhammadiyah Youth Association, Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak (left), scatters flowers on the tomb of alleged terrorist Siyono in Pogung village, Central Java. (Antara/Aloysius Jarot Nugroho)

The local residents of Pogung Village in Klaten, Centra Java, have refused to allow a Muslim organization to open the tomb of Siyono, an alleged terrorist who died suspiciously under police custody. The residents claim that they do not wish for an autopsy to be conducted.

The residents of Pogung Village in the sub-district of Cawas in Klaten claim that Siyono's family previously provided a statement letter saying that they would not be requesting an autopsy.

While the family are entitled to proceed with the autopsy plan, the procedure must be conducted outside the Pogung area, Pogung Village chief Djoko Widoyo said, emphasizing that, in such a case, locals would not allow Siyono's body to be returned for burial in the village.

The villagers have threatened to expel Siyono's family from the village if they support the autopsy.

"This is a collective decision based on a joint meeting between the village administration and local public figures with RT [neighborhood] and RW [community] representatives last night," Djoko said on Wednesday.

The refusal is said to be based on a letter written by Siyono's family in which they are said to have requested protection from the village administration.

The family said they had let go of Siyono and would not request an autopsy on the dead body.

"Siyono's father asked local people to guard Siyono's tomb. So we refuse autopsy based on the mandate of Siyono's father," Djoko said.

The letter was written by Siyono's parents and his brothers, natives of the village, Djoko said.

However, Siyono's wife Suratmi went to the Yogyakarta branch of Muhammadiyah's central committee to ask for legal protection file and to file a report on the alleged abuse and the injustice her husband received at the hands of the police while he was under arrest.

Subsequent inquiries lead the country's second largest Muslim organization to request an autopsy, a plan supported by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM).

Djoko emphasized that Suratmi was not a Pogung native and had no right to make a decision with regard to the matter.

In hopes of assisting with the request for autopsy, Muhammadiyah Youth Association head Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak said on Tuesday that he would travel to Yogyakarta to discuss the matter with Klaten PP Muhammadiyah chairman Busyro and Komnas HAM member Maneger Nasution.

Muhammadiyah had decided to uphold Siyono's rights, taken away by Densus 88 following his arrest in Klaten on March 8, Dahnil said on Tuesday.

Siyono died without clear cause of death after four days under police custody.

The National Police chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti has ordered the National Police Internal Affairs Division to investigate the cause of death.

The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) suspect that the police tortured Siyono while he was detained in custody as Siyono's body had been returned to his family covered in blood and bruises. (afr/rin)

Categories: Indonesian News

Hanura requires members to vote for Ahok

Jakarta Post Latest News - Thu, 2016-03-31 07:00

Chairman of Hanura’s Jakarta chapter Mohamad "Ongen" Sangaji shakes hands with Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama during the declaration of the party’s support of Ahok’s reelection bid in Jakarta on March 26. (kompas.com)

The Hanura Party is requiring all of its members to vote for incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama in the 2017 gubernatorial election or face losing their membership, particularly for those who have a position within the party.

"Whether the members like it or not, they should comply with what has been decided by the party. We work based on one command, especially because our top leader is [ex] military personnel," Hanura deputy chairman Miryam Haryani told thejakartapost.com on Wednesday.

She was referring to Hanura chairman Gen. (ret.) Wiranto.

Hanura has officially thrown its support behind Ahok, who will seek reelection as an independent candidate. However, a number of political leaders, including two board members of Hanura’s Jakarta chapter, Rahmat HS and Bustami Rahawarin, have publicly stated that supporting Ahok was not in line with the aspirations of the party’s constituents.

Those members who were not willing to support Ahok could resign from their positions in the party or be fired, Miryam said.

 “Hanura is ready to dismiss the dissenting members,” Miryam said.

Chairman of the City Council’s Hanura faction, Muhammad Sangaji, offered a different opinion.

“The party does not mind if there are some members who disagree with the party line, but they must remain silent,” he said.

"The party may dismiss members who rebel against the party decision and make hateful statements," Sangaji said.

Meanwhile, Ahok has not made any public statement regarding the internal conflict within Hanura.  “Just ask Hanura about it," Ahok said on Wednesday. (bbn)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Say hello to Spotify: Can it beat the old players?

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 23:00

A user opens the Spotify application on her cell phone. Officially launched on Wednesday in Jakarta, Spotify boasts over 30 million songs with a 320 kbps bitrate streaming quality and even higher quality versions for those who upgrade to a premium service.(Shutterstock.com/Denys Prykhodov)

It's official — Spotify is finally part of the country's music streaming platform competition, joining the likes of Guvera and Apple Music.

Officially launched on Wednesday in Jakarta, the service boasts over 30 million songs with a 320 kilobits per second (kbps) bitrate streaming quality and even higher quality versions for those who upgrade to a premium service.

Founded in 2008, the Swedish company features details of albums and playlists, music charts from different countries, new releases and tickets. All are easy to navigate on the sleek black and green display. It also supports a wide variety of devices besides smartphones and computers, such as tablets, home entertainment systems and PlayStations.

Several membership options are available for subscribers in Indonesia including a free seven-day trial for Android users and a free 30-day trial for PC users. After the complimentary service is over, members will be charged Rp 49,990 per month (US$3.80) with benefits including offline streaming and no ads.

The placement of ads is indeed rather disruptive as they sometimes cover small parts of the page and come with sounds.

With a reported 30 million subscribers worldwide, Spotify also offers a premium service with a starting price of Rp 500,000 per year and a family package that starts at Rp 70,000 per month for a maximum of five family members.

In the archipelago, one of the company's toughest competitors is Guvera. Established in 2008 in Australia, the service uses a brand-funding system that guarantees both music labels and artists receive their rewards.

Supported by over 15 million subscribers in 20 countries, Guvera provides an easy-to-adapt display in an eye-catching red and a catalog of more than 30 million songs with a 256 kbps bitrate. Free membership is available with features including creating playlists and playing music in shuffle mode. Those wanting to skip songs anytime they want and access music offline might want to consider platinum membership, which starts at Rp 55,000 per month.

Available for web browsers and popular mobile operating systems (iOS, Android and Windows Phone), ad placement in Guvera for free accounts is quite friendly; they show up on the page but only last for six seconds without making any sounds.

Another strong contender in music streaming is, of course, Apple Music, which has over 30 million songs with 256 kbps bitrate in its library. Despite being an iOS-based app, the service can also be downloaded for a limited period on Android smartphones.

For new members, Apple Music offers a three-month trial, and subsequent rates from Rp 65,000 for individuals and Rp 109,000 for families with a maximum of six users.

Although free-trial users will particularly enjoy the fact that it is almost free of ads, the service arguably lacks some indie music and remix tracks that are not included on artists' original albums. (kes)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Uniqlo to open first global flagship store in Singapore, Southeast Asia

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 21:58

An artist's impression of the new Uniqlo global flagship store in Singapore. (Uniqlo via The Straits Times)

Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo will be opening its first global flagship store in Singapore and the South-east Asia region in Orchard Road this year and the store will create more than 300 jobs here.

The store, with a total area of 2,700 sq m, will span across three levels at Orchard Central, and will be its biggest outlet in Singapore and the region.

It is slated to open in the second half of this year.

Other than showcasing the latest lines for women, men, kids and babies, the new flagship store will also offer the brand's most extensive range of products in Singapore, said Uniqlo's PR manager Cheok Weiling.

"The opening of a global flagship store in Singapore not only highlights its prominence in the brand's expansion plan worldwide, but also it can showcase the Uniqlo's LifeWear concept through a global flagship store's innovative, high-tech display and extensive product lineup," said Ms Cheok.

"Singapore as the hub of South-east Asia is the ideal location for us to open our first Uniqlo global flagship store in the region," she told The Straits Times.

The company's South-east Asia CEO Taku Morikawa said in a press release that they are honored and excited to open their first global flagship store in Singapore.

"Having been a member of the local retail scene since 2009, we remain committed towards contributing to the local community and being an integral part of Singapore's growth and future," he said.

According to the press release, the new flagship store will create more than 300 jobs.

There are currently 13 global flagship stores around the world, including in New York, London, Paris and Shanghai. (+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Ally to power broker Suu Kyi sworn in as Myanmar's president

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 21:58

New Myanmar President Htin Kyaw (left) sits with outgoing president Thein Sein during a handover ceremony at the presidential palace in Naypyitaw on Wednesday.(Pool Photo via AP/Ye Aung Thu)

Htin Kyaw, a trusted friend of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, took over as Myanmar's president on Wednesday, calling it a "historic moment" in the country's long-drawn transition to democracy after decades of military rule.

In a day full of ceremony and symbolism, Htin Kyaw was sworn in along with his two vice presidents and 18-member Cabinet. Suu Kyi, the face of Myanmar's pro-democracy movement, takes on a prominent role as the country's new foreign minister and the head of three other ministries.

The swearing in was held in an austere hall of parliament, with lawmakers dressed in traditional costume. A few hours later, outgoing President Thein Sein shook hands with his successor and handed him a letter officially transferring power.

While it was a momentous day in the history of this impoverished Southeast Asian country, democracy still feels incomplete. The military retains considerable power in the government and parliament, and the president himself will play second fiddle to Suu Kyi, who has repeatedly said she will run the country from behind the scenes because the military has ensured — through a constitutional manipulation — that she cannot be the president.

Still, the day belonged to Htin Kyaw and Suu Kyi, who sat in the front row watching her confidant become head of a government she had long aspired to lead.

"The Union Parliament has elected me as president, which is a historic moment for this country," Htin Kyaw, 70, said in a speech after being sworn in. He pledged to work toward national reconciliation, peace between warring ethnic groups and improving the lives of Myanmar's 54 million people.

Rightfully, the job belonged to Suu Kyi, who led her National League for Democracy party to a landslide win in November elections, ushering in Myanmar's first civilian government after 54 years of direct and indirect military rule.

Suu Kyi endured decades of house arrest and harassment by military rulers without ever giving up on her nonviolent campaign to unseat them. The constitutional clause that denied her the presidency excludes anyone from the position who has a foreign spouse or child. Suu Kyi's two sons are British, as was her late husband. The clause is widely seen as having been written by the military with Suu Kyi in mind.

She has repeatedly made it clear that she will run the government from behind the scenes, and in his speech on Wednesday, Htin Kyaw signaled the dominant role Suu Kyi will play in his government.

"The new parliament and new government are formed in accord with the policies of the National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi," he said, and referred to the party's goal to amend the constitution.

"I have the obligation to work toward achieving a constitution that has democratic norms and is suitable for the nation," Htin Kyaw said. "I want to tell the new government, we must constantly try to fulfill the hope and will of the people of this country. I wish all citizens of this country a successful and peaceful life."

The constitution, drafted by the former junta, reserves 25 percent of the seats in parliament for military officers, guaranteeing that no government can amend the constitution without its approval. The military also heads the Home Ministry and the Defense Ministry, which gives it control over the corrections department, ensuring that the release of political prisoners is its decision to make.

The military also ensured that one of Htin Kyaw's two vice presidents is a former general, Myint Swe, a close ally of former junta leader Than Shwe. Myint Swe remains on a US Treasury Department blacklist that bars American companies from doing business with several tycoons and senior military figures connected with the former junta.

As Htin Syaw was sworn in, Suu Kyi sat in the front row watching. The same pledge was simultaneously read by First Vice President Myint Swe and Second Vice President Henry Van Tio. After a 20-minute tea break, 18 members of Htin Kyaw's Cabinet, including Suu Kyi, took a joint oath of office read out by the speaker.

The speaker then announced the portfolios of the 18 ministers. Suu Kyi will head four ministries — foreign, education, energy and the president's office.

Despite her inability to become president, Suu Kyi's entry into the government is a remarkable turn of fortune not only for her, but also for the country, which had been under iron-fisted military rule since 1962. For decades, the junta kept Myanmar in isolation and economic stagnation while refusing to listen to international counsel or homegrown demands for democracy.

Suu Kyi came to prominence in 1988, when popular protests were building up. The junta crushed the protests, which had turned into anti-government riots, killing thousands of people and placing Suu Kyi under house arrest in 1989.

The junta called elections in 1990, but refused to hand over power when Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party, or NLD, won overwhelmingly. Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize a year later while under house arrest.

The junta finally started loosening its grip on power in 2010, allowing elections that were won by a military-allied party after the NLD boycotted the polls as unfair. Thein Sein, a former general, was installed as president for a five-year term that started March 30, 2011, and ended Wednesday. (+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Donald Trump gets schooled by Anderson Cooper

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 21:58

Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump participates in a CNN town hall with Anderson Cooper in the historic Riverside Theatre on March 29 in Milwaukee, US. (AP/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The ongoing bickering between Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump took a new turn last week when Donald Trump re-tweeted an unflattering photo of Ted Cruz's wife, Heidi, next to Trump's own wife, Melania.

"@Don_Vito_08: "A picture is worth a thousand words"
@realDonaldTrump #LyingTed #NeverCruz
@MELANIATRUMP pic.twitter.com/5bvVEwMVF8"

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2016

During a CNN town hall event on Tuesday night (local time), journalist Anderson Cooper confronted Trump about the tweet, to which he replied: "I didn't start it."

Cooper, obviously not delighted with this answer, retorted: “Sir, with all due respect, that’s the argument of a 5-year-old. The argument of a 5-year-old is 'He started it'.”

In a video posted on YouTube, Trump kept on insisting that it was Cruz who started the fight.

Various media outlets have reported Trump's sexist stand on women. The Huffington Post even went so far as to compile a list of all the things the presidential hopeful has said to women, which includes his feud with Fox News Channel's anchor Megyn Kelly and him insulting just about everyone, from celebrities to female reporters. (kes)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Pakistani police warn Islamists to disperse 4-day rally

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 21:58

Protesters from Pakistan's Sunni Tehreek group sit in protest near the parliament building in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday. (AP/B.K. Bangash)

Pakistani police were readying Wednesday to disperse hundreds of radical Islamists rallying outside the parliament building in Islamabad if they failed to disperse peacefully, officials said.

Earlier, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan warned the demonstrators late Tuesday that the government would use force if they did not halt their sit-in, underway since Sunday.

Thousands of riot police and paramilitary troops have been deployed around the site, police official Nauman Alvi said. Khan, the minister, said nearly 7,000 security forces were awaiting a government order to move in.

"We don't want any violence, but we can't tolerate it anymore," Khan said.

More than 10,000 Islamists from Pakistan's Sunni Tehreek group descended on Islamabad on Sunday to denounce last month's hanging of officer Mumtaz Qadri for the 2011 murder of secular Gov. Salman Taseer who had campaigned against Pakistan's harsh blasphemy laws.

The protesters also demand the death of a jailed Christian woman whom Taseer had defended against blasphemy allegations, as well as enforcement of Islamic Shariah law in the country. The government has said it will not fulfill their demands.

Their rally turned violent on Sunday and police fired tear gas but failed to disperse the protesters. Though the sit-in continued, the number of protesters has dwindled down to about 1,200.

Qadri's hanging was part of the government's latest efforts to turn the tide against extremism and militancy, which have claimed tens of thousands of lives over the last decade.

The Islamabad protest comes against the backdrop of a massive suicide bombing by a breakaway Taliban faction that targeted Christians gathered for Eastern Sunday in a park in Lahore, killing 72 people, most of them Muslim.


Categories: Indonesian News

ADB says Asia economy to grow 5.7 percent in 2016 and 2017

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 21:58

A crane moves a shipping container in the container pool of a seaport in Qingdao in eastern China's Shandong province, Oct. 13, 2015.(Chinatopix via AP)

Softer growth prospects for China and a weak recovery in major industrial economies are expected to push down economic growth in developing Asia to 5.7 percent this year and next, below projections, the Asian Development Bank said Wednesday.

The gross domestic product of the region, made up of 45 countries, grew 5.9 percent in 2015.

China's economic growth is seen moderating to 6.5 percent this year and 6.3 percent next year, compared to 6.9 percent last year, the ADB report said. Slower exports, a falling labor supply and supply-side reforms are reshaping the world's second-largest economy toward more domestic consumption and a further reduction in excess industrial capacity, it said.

The report said that India will remain one of the fastest-growing major economies, while South Asia is forecast to post the most rapid growth among sub-regions. India's economy is seen expanding by 7.4 percent in 2016, and 7.8 percent in 2017. Last year, India's economy grew 7.6 percent on the back of strong public investment.

South Asia's economic growth is projected to slightly dip to 6.9 percent this year, from 7 percent in 2015, but that is seen to accelerate to 7.3 percent in 2017.

Southeast Asia's economy is set for stronger growth at 4.5 percent this year and 4.8 percent next year, up from 4.4 percent in 2015. The region will be led by its biggest economy, Indonesia, as it ramps up investment in infrastructure and implements policy reforms to spur private investment.

"[China's] growth moderation and uneven global recovery are weighing down overall growth in Asia," said Shang-Jin Wei, ADB's chief economist. Still, the region will continue to contribute over 60 percent of total global growth, he said.

Aggregate growth in the United States, the euro area and Japan will stay at 1.8 percent in 2016 and inch up to 1.9 percent in 2017, the report said.

It also cited a United Nations' projection that growth in the region's working-age population will be lower in 2015-2020 than in 2008-2014, and that demographic effect alone could depress developing Asia's potential growth by 0.4 percentage points.(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Lawmakers oppose Israel's call to have ties with Indonesia

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 20:29

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu poses for photos with a delegation of senior Indonesian journalists in a meeting in Jerusalem on Monday.(Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairsicial website/Haim Zach )

Following Israel's call for official bilateral relations with Indonesia, this country's lawmakers will keep pushing the government to not establish diplomatic ties with Israel as Indonesia strongly opposes the former's occupation of Palestinian land .

Israel has long wanted to have bilateral relations with Indonesia, Tantowi Yahya, a lawmaker from the House of Representatives commission I that oversees foreign and security affairs said on Wednesday.

Indonesia's stance in support of Palestine was taken in accordance with the Constitution, which asserted that independence was the natural right of every nation. Israel's wish to have formal ties with Indonesia would remain a mere wish as long as the country still occupies Palestinian land, said the Golkar lawmaker.

"We will not forge diplomatic ties with a country that colonizes another country. That is the mandate of our Constitution," Tantowi said as quoted by kompas.com on Wednesday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had expressed his hope for Indonesia and Israel to begin official relations to a delegation of senior Indonesian journalists invited to the country on Monday.

Netanyahu said both countries had many opportunities to cooperate, such as in the fields of water and technology. He also said Israel has good relations with several countries in Asia, particularly China, Japan, India and Vietnam.

"The time has come to change our relations; the reasons that prevented this are no longer relevant and I hope that your visit will help with this," he said as quoted by the Israeli Foreign Ministry's website, www.mfa.gov.il, on Monday.

Commission I chairman Mahfudz Siddiq criticized the senior journalists' visit to Israel, saying it clashed with Indonesia's full support of Palestinian independence from occupation by Israel.

He said the journalists' decision to accept Israel's invitation reflected their insensitivity toward Indonesia's policy of support for Palestinian independence.

He also slammed Israel's ambitious move to start diplomatic ties with Indonesia and invited the journalists to help create an alternative public opinion about Israel.

Mahfudz added that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had reaffirmed Indonesia's stance against Israel during the the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit in Jakarta earlier this month, when he called for countries to boycott products made in the occupied territories.

"Not only because Indonesia strongly refuses any form of occupation in the world, but also because Israeli actions against Palestine have been condemned by many countries in the world," said the Prosperous Justice Party lawmaker as quoted by tribunnews.com. (afr/rin)

Categories: Indonesian News

Vietnam jails 3 women for waving flags of former South

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 20:29

Vietnam's prominent blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh (left) and his assistant Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy stand together during a trial in Hanoi, Vietnam, March 23.(Vietnam News Agency via AP/Bui Doan Tan)

A Vietnamese court has sentenced three women who held up the flags of the defeated US-backed South Vietnam to up to four years in prison on charges of spreading anti-state propaganda, media reported Wednesday.

The women were convicted of holding anti-state banners, the flags and chanting anti-state slogans outside the United State diplomatic mission in Ho Chi Minh City in July 2014, Thanh Nien newspaper reported.

Their trial lasted half a day Wednesday. Ngo Thi Minh Uoc, 57, got four years, and Nguyen Thi Tri and Nguyen Thi Be Hai, both 58, were given three years in prison by the People's Court in Ho Chi Minh City.

The newspaper said the three were also given two years of house arrest after serving their sentences.

It quoted the verdict as saying their action was "very serious, infringing on national security, distorting, instigating, causing suspicion and mistrust of the people in the (Communist) Party and state."

Such open defiance of the government involving waving the flags of former South Vietnam in the former capital of Saigon is extremely rare.

The three women previously had been fined for disturbing public order by participating in illegal protests, it said.

The sentences came a week after a court in Hanoi sentenced a prominent blogger to five years in prison for posting anti-state writings.

International human rights groups and the US and other governments often criticize Vietnam for jailing dissidents, but Hanoi maintains that it only punishes only those who break the law. (+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Kylie Jenner for Puma

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 20:29

Reality star Kylie Jenner is the latest celebrity to front Puma's new shoe launch.(Puma)

First came Rihanna. Now reality star Kylie Jenner is the latest celebrity to front Puma's new shoe launch. The Puma Fierce fitness footwear range features lightweight and laceless shoes.

They boast features that claim to enhance performance, such as a supportive midsole and a flex grooved outsole that allows for fast and dynamic multi-directional movements.

The shoe, priced at $169, comes in black, white, grey and gold. More colours will be available later this year.

It goes on sale from April 1 at Puma and Limited Edt stores. (+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Deregulation and better infrastructure will help RI be more competitive: Jokowi

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 17:58

Vice President Jusuf Kalla speaks to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo during a meeting at the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry in Jakarta.(Antara/Puspa Perwitasari)

Deregulation and the improvement of infrastructure across the country should be extended to help the country survive amid the tougher global completion, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Speaking at a public discussion held by the Indonesian Economists Association (ISEI), Jokowi said that in the midst of global competition and a rapidly changing world economy, the government needs to be quicker and more flexible in making decisions.

"Our focus ahead is deregulation and infrastructure development. Even though I know industrialization is also important, the development of human resources is very important in order to be prepared, but we will proceed with deregulation and infrastructure first," Jokowi said.

Thus, the 11 economic policy packages that have been released by government since September last year have focused on simplifying and accelerating the process of licensing and fair competition.

"Our orientation should be results-oriented, but speed ​​is also required in competition," he said.

One of the concrete efforts undertaken was to instruct the Home Affairs Minister to remove 3,000 problematic local government regulations. In total there are 42,000 regulations in the country, according to Bappenas data.

"They ensnare and limit our flexibility and speed of action. This is what we want to remove. I ordered the home minister to remove the 3,000 problematic regulations. There is no need for them to be examined again," he said.

ISEI chairman Muliaman Hadad said that what is needed to support competitive economic growth is macroeconomic stability through price stability. "In particular, the price of food and the healthy management of the state budget," he said.

The government needs to introduce special policies to revitalize the manufacturing industry and the acceleration of competitive and export-oriented manufacturing. "Increased productivity is also a key," Muliaman added.

To increase productivity, Muliaman continued, infrastructure needs investments, especially in transportation and logistics, focusing on ports and shipping, railways, roads and internet networks.

"Structural transformation is also needed to sustain growth and the reallocation of labor to added-value and higher productivity sectors," he added. (bbn)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

More political parties slam House's grand library construction plan

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 17:58

A lawmaker attends a plenary meeting to pass the Disability Law at the House of Representatives complex on March 17.(Antara/Hafidz Mubarak A.)

More political party factions at the House of Representatives are expressing opposition to the House speaker's costly new library construction plan, saying such a project is unnecessary in the country's current economic situation.

The ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Golkar Party joined the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), NasDem and the People's Conscience Party (Hanura) in rejecting the ambitious plan.
House Speaker Ade Komarudin revealed last week a plan to build Southeast Asia's biggest library using funds from the state budget.
The library plan, which would cost Rp 570 billion (US$42.69 million), could be postponed because of a state deficit of almost Rp 300 trillion, PDI-P faction deputy chairman Hendrawan Supratikno said.

"Both of the government and the House must focus on the spending priorities. The ones that are highly prioritized should come first," he told journalists on on Tuesday.

PAN faction secretary Yandri Susanto suggested that the money for the construction plan could be used instead for public facilities for the betterment of the people.

Speaker Ade pushed for the planning for the library to start the immediately, arguing it would be beneficial to meet the needs of intellectuals.

The design would imitate that of the US Library of Congress and the funds would be taken from this year's budget, Ade said.

He insisted that it is of high importance for the House to build the biggest library in Southeast Asia that would accommodate up to 600,000 books to compete with the Singapore's National Library, which has 500,000 books.

The Gerindra, NasDem and Hanura factions expressed their disagreement with the plan on Monday, when they said they believed the House would be able to work without a new library, especially in the current  unfavorable economic conditions. (rin)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Author writes that rape in her novel came from her life

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 17:58

Jessica Knoll, writing on a website for young women that's co-managed by Lena Dunham, said that since the book came out last year she has deflected questions about similarities between herself and the protagonist, TifAni.(shutterstock.com)

The author of the best-selling novel "Luckiest Girl Alive" posted an essay online Tuesday saying that the gang rape in high school her character suffered was based on an assault in her own life.

Jessica Knoll, writing on a website for young women that's co-managed by Lena Dunham, said that since the book came out last year she has deflected questions about similarities between herself and the protagonist, TifAni.

"I've been running and I've been ducking and I've been dodging because I'm scared," she wrote on www.lennyletter.com.

"I'm scared people won't call what happened to me rape because for a long time, no one did. But as I gear up for my paperback tour, and as I brace myself for the women who ask me, in nervous, brave tones, what I meant by my dedication, What do I know? I've come to a simple, powerful revelation: everyone is calling it rape now. There's no reason to cover my head. There's no reason I shouldn't say what I know."

Knoll, a former editor at Cosmopolitan, wrote in her essay that readers had been curious about the book's dedication: "To all the TifAni FaNellis of the world, I know."

"It means I know what it's like to not belong, I waffle in response to readers, usually women whose albatrosses I can sense, just as they sense mine," she said. "What I don't add: I know what it's like to shut down and power through, to have no other choice than to pretend to be OK. I am a savant of survivor mode."

Knoll's novel has been optioned for a feature film, with Reese Witherspoon expected to produce. (+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Govt cuts taxes on real estate investment trusts

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 17:58

Real estate development company Lippo Group previously announced a plan to shift two of its real estate investment trusts (REITs), together worth Rp 35 trillion (US$2.6 billion), from Singapore to Indonesia.(Courtesy of/lippokarawaci.co.id)

The government is cutting the tax on real estate investment trusts (REITs) to boost local use of the financial mechanism that employs commercial properties like malls, hospitals, warehouses, hotels and office buildings as underlying assets.

Indonesia only had two REITs created in the country in the past nine years, namely Lippo Malls Indonesia Retail Trust (created in November 2007) and DIRE Ciptadana Properti Ritel Indonesia (created in November 2012).

"Some local businessmen have created REITs in neighboring countries, but we saw only one REIT created in Indonesia after 2012. The higher tax compared to in neighboring countries is the main problem," said Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution in Jakarta on Tuesday.

The government, he explained, issued the 2015 Finance Ministry Regulation to remove a double taxation in REITs. However, the tax is still much higher than that in neighboring countries especially amid economic slowdown and the Rupiah weakening.

The government tried to address the issue in its fifth economic stimulus package by cutting a multiple tax previously imposed on REITs and it further cut the tax from 5 percent to only 0.5 percent in its newly released 11th package.

The government also plans to issue a regulation to cut the land and building acquisition taxes (BPHTB) from 5 to 1 percent. "There will be several regulations issued by local governments that aim to utilize REITs in their region," Darmin said. (ags)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Fuel subsidy cut announced today, minister say

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 16:29

A worker checks the sales records at a fueling station in Jakarta.(tempo.com)

The government will announce a fuel subsidy cut after a limited Cabinet meeting at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, said Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) Minister Sudirman.

"The fuel subsidies will be cut. There's no hurdle at all right now. We don't want to make difficulties for the public because fuel prices are highly correlated to the prices of goods," Sudirman told thejakartapost.com on the sidelines of a Centre for Strategic and International Study (CSIS) seminar on Optimizing Indonesia's Energy Resources Using Digital Technology.

He said that the exact size of the cut will be decided at the meeting.  Analysts suggest a cut of Rp 200 to Rp 500 per liter.

Currently in Java, Madura, and Bali, the price of Premium (subsidized gasoline) stands at Rp 7,050 (52 US cents) per liter, while the price outside the area is Rp 6,950. Solar (subsidized diesel) costs Rp 5,669 per liter and kerosene Rp 2,500.

He said the subsidy cut will not affect the prices of the subsidized fuels because government will adjust the cut to the selling price. "Our prediction is that in this year and even until 2017 there will be no significant rise in global oil prices, so we can still manage it," he said.

Sudirman was also speaking about the government’s intention to further cut subsidies on diesel so that the government had much more money to develop infrastructure. Right now the diesel subsidy is Rp 1,000 per liter.

He said that the House of Representatives’ Commission VII overseeing natural resources had agreed with the plan. "We appreciate the Commission VII support to use the money for more productive sectors," He said.

The minister said that the subsidy cut would help biofuel producers because currently the subsidized diesel price is too cheap compared to the vegetable oil. Ideally, diesel needs to be sold at about Rp 5,000 to Rp 6,000 to make biofuel production economical.

The energy subsidy in 2016 costs Rp 85.4 trillion. (bbn)(+)

Categories: Indonesian News

Yellen stresses that Fed foresees gradual pace of rate hikes

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 16:29

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen addresses an Economic Club of New York luncheon, on March 29, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Tuesday that the Fed still envisions only a gradual pace of interest rate increases in light of global pressures that could affect the U.S. economy.

Her comments spurred a rally on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing at its highest level this year.

Yellen didn't specify a timetable for further hikes to follow the Fed's rate increase in December from record lows. She said risks to the United States appear limited but cautioned that that assessment is subject to "considerable uncertainty."

Speaking to the Economic Club of New York, Yellen said the central bank is monitoring a global economic slump, sharply lower oil prices and stock market turbulence, which she said have hurt some U.S. consumers and key sectors such as manufacturing.

Singling out China — the world's second-largest economy, after the United States — Yellen noted widespread uncertainty over how well Beijing will manage a delicate slowdown in coming years.

She said that because foreign economic growth seems to have further weakened this year, the Fed will "proceed cautiously" in raising rates.

In light of her comments, most economists expect no hike at the Fed's next policy meeting — April 26-27 — despite remarks last week from other Fed officials that had raised the possibility of a rate increase then.

Investors welcomed Yellen's message that the Fed would move slowly in raising rates. The Dow surged nearly 98 points, or 0.6 percent. And the yield on the 10-year Treasury note sank to 1.80 percent from 1.89 percent.

"Despite a growing chorus of calls from even centrist-leaning officials to resume raising policy rates, Chair Yellen stuck to the dovish script of the March meeting statement," when the Fed expressed concerns about the global economy and kept rates unchanged, said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Yellen noted that the U.S. job market and housing recovery have lifted the economy close to full health despite the risks that remain. She observed that the economy has benefited from low long-term U.S. borrowing rates.

Those rates have been held down by money flowing into U.S. bonds from investors, who have scaled back their expectations for the number of Fed rate hikes this year from four to two at most.

The Fed chair said that while stock prices have rebounded to roughly where they were when 2016 began, "in other respects economic and financial conditions remain less favorable than they did" in December, when the Fed raised its key rate modestly after keeping it near zero since 2008, when the financial crisis erupted.

Subject to revision

Yellen cautioned that the Fed's expectations for rates remain subject to revision to reflect any significant changes in the U.S. or international economic outlook.

"I anticipate that the overall fallout for the U.S. economy from global market developments since the start of the year will most likely be limited, although this assessment is subject to considerable uncertainty," she said.

She said she still thought inflation will rise gradually over the next two to three years to the Fed's target of 2 percent annual increases in prices. Inflation has been running below this level for nearly four years. But Yellen warned that if oil prices began falling again, it could have "adverse spillover effects to the rest of the global economy."

Such expressions of concern about risks, which were sprinkled throughout her speech, help explain why Yellen seems inclined to keep rates unchanged in the near future.

Responding to a question after her speech, Yellen said the Fed foresees U.S. worker productivity, which has been historically low in recent years, eventually rising but says that assessment is "a source of huge uncertainty." Productivity — the average output produced per hour of work — is needed to boost living standards.

When the Fed met two weeks ago, it signaled the likelihood of just two rate increases this year — half the number that Fed officials had envisioned in December. As a result, most economists concluded that no rate increase would likely occur before June.

But comments last week from several of the Fed's regional bank presidents had raised the possibility that the central bank would decide to raise rates in April.

One of them, Dennis Lockhart of the Fed's Atlanta regional bank, said in a speech that he thought the strength of the most recent U.S. economic data could justify a rate increase as early as April. The views expressed by Lockhart, who is regarded as a centrist in his approach to interest rates, was echoed by some other Fed regional bank presidents.

Whatever decision the Fed does make in April will hinge on its view of the economy's durability. In the past week, some reports have produced weaker-than-expected readings, including a sharp drop in orders for long-lasting manufactured goods and tepid consumer spending.

Those reports have led some economists to downgrade their forecasts for growth in the current January-March quarter from a 2 percent annual rate to a lackluster 1 percent.

The consumer spending report also showed that the Fed's preferred inflation gauge is still signaling that inflation remains well below its target level. For the 12 months that ended in February, inflation rose just 1 percent. "Core" inflation, which excludes the volatile items of food and energy, increased 1.7 percent. (ags)

Categories: Indonesian News
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