Indonesian News

Obama seeing China leader as South China Sea tensions rise

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 08:29

President Barack Obama meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Le Bourget, France, Nov. 30, 2015. (AP/Evan Vucci)

President Barack Obama will be meeting with Asian leaders in Washington this week as fears grow that long-smoldering tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in the South China Sea risk flaring into conflict.

World leaders, including those from China, Japan and South Korea, will be in town for a summit hosted by Obama on nuclear security — the final round in the US president's drive for international action to stop materials that could be used for an atomic weapon or dirty bomb from getting into terrorist hands.

But other pressing security issues will be up for discussion on the sidelines of the two-day gathering that starts Thursday.

Obama will on Thursday meet separately with China's President Xi Jinping at a time when frictions between the two world powers over China's island-building in strategic waters are growing and look set to intensify with an upcoming ruling from an international tribunal on Beijing's sweeping territorial claims.

The US president is also meeting with the leaders of Japan and South Korea. Washington is looking for an elusive unity between its core allies in Asia as threats from North Korea reach fever-pitch after Pyongyang was stung with tough sanctions in response to its recent nuclear test and rocket launch.

Obama will be urging China to implement the UN sanctions it signed up to for use against North Korea, its traditional ally. For his part, Xi will want the US to restart negotiations with the authoritarian government of Kim Jong Un, which has been touting progress in miniaturizing nuclear devices and missile technology that could directly threaten America.

With Obama's presidency in its final year, there's uncertainty among Asian nations on what the next administration will portend. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is calling for Japan and South Korea to pay more for US military protection, and is advocating a tougher trade policy toward China.

During his seven years in office, Obama has deepened engagement with Asia, despite the huge distraction of chaos in the Middle East. The US and China have cooperated on issues like climate change and nuclear security, even as their strategic rivalry has grown. The US is a major player in China's fast-growing nuclear industry, and this month, the US and China opened a center in Beijing to train technicians and scientists from across the Asia-Pacific on nuclear security.

But when Obama and Xi meet, the hottest topic will be the most divisive one: China's bold pursuit of its sweeping territorial claims in the South China Sea.

China has reclaimed more than 3,000 acres (1,200 hectares) of land in the past two years near sea lanes crucial for world trade. On these artificial islands, Beijing has installed airstrips and other military facilities that US intelligence assesses will enable China to project offensive military power in the region by early next year.

Despite conflicting territorial claims from five other Asian governments, China contends it has a historic right to most of the South China Sea and maintains the US has no business there. It accuses the US of stoking tensions by sending military ships and planes through the area on freedom of navigation maneuvers.

"Washington should know that the more provocative moves it makes against China, the more counter-measures Beijing will take. Such an undesirable cycle may push both sides nearer confrontation and cause both to prepare for the worst-case scenario, potentially making it self-fulfilling," the US edition of the state-supported China Daily said in a recent editorial.

The stakes are set to rise by mid-year when an international arbitration body is set to rule on a case brought by the Philippines challenging the legal basis of the nine-dash line — Beijing's rough demarcation of its claims.

If the Hague-based tribunal rules in the Philippines' favor, as most experts anticipate, it could undermine China's insistence that its stance is consistent with international law. China has refused to participate in the arbitration and says it will ignore the ruling, but a growing number of countries say both parties should be bound by it.

Jeffrey Bader, Obama's former principal adviser on Asia, wrote in a commentary ahead of the summit that there's concern in Washington and the region about how China might react to the ruling, and whether it will militarily challenge Filipino territorial claims. He said that as the Philippines is a US ally, Obama "may warn Xi of the risks of escalation."

The last time Xi visited Washington, in September, he publicly said that China did not intend to pursue militarization in the Spratly islands where most of the land reclamation has happened — a statement that US officials remind Beijing of at every opportunity. But in recent weeks, China has reportedly positioned more military equipment on disputed islands in the South China Sea.

Categories: Indonesian News

Govt encourages local production of pharmaceuticals

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 08:29

A young boy is vaccinated against polo at a 2016 National Immunization Week event at state-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma’s headquarters in Bandung, West Java, on Tuesday. (thejakartapost.com/Arya Dipa)

The government hopes to increase locally made pharmaceutical products, ingredients and medical equipment through the 11th economic policy package, which was issued on Tuesday, a minister says.

Two hundred and six companies control 76 percent of the local pharmaceutical industry. Ninety-five companies produce 60 types of pharmaceutical products using middle- to low-tech methods. However, 90 percent of the ingredients are imported.

"Regarding the import-dominated industry and the government program to provide universal health care, the government wants medicine and its ingredients to be made locally," said Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution in Jakarta on Tuesday.

At least 939 types of medicine and supplements were used in the national healthcare program last year, he said. Most were basic remedies, such as painkillers, paracetamol and penicillin and vitamins.

Pharmaceutical sales reached Rp 62.1 trillion (US$4.6 billion) last year. “We want the medicine and ingredients made locally. We will issue a presidential decree to speed up deregulation of the pharmaceutical industry,” Darmin said.

Five product categories will be focused on for local production, he continued, such as biotechnology, vaccines, herbal extracts, active pharmaceutical ingredient and medical devices.

The government will encourage business development in the industry through private investment, synergy between private companies with state-owned enterprises and synergy among state-owned pharmaceutical companies Bio Farma, Indofarma and Kimia Farma.

To support the use of locally produced medicine, the government has removed the pharmaceutical sector from the negative investment list, allowing foreign investors 100 percent ownership. The government will extend e-catalogue and medicinal standard usage and provide a tax holiday, a special economic zone and an integrated logistics center. (ags)

Categories: Indonesian News

Tense commuters, politicians: No more 'normal' in Brussels

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 08:29

Commuters walk across a pedestrian crossing near Brussels Central Station as they return to work after the easter holidays in Brussels, Tuesday. (AP/Alastair Grant)

One week after the airport and subway attacks in Brussels, Belgium's justice minister on Tuesday pleaded for an end to the political backstabbing about what went wrong in the investigation and handling of violent extremism, as authorities hunted for fresh clues about the network behind the killings and last year's Paris bloodshed.

Investigators are still looking for at least one suspect in the March 22 attacks that killed at least 35 people. Due to Belgium's complex decision-making processes, criticism has grown that the country is a soft target and that its security services are ill-equipped to deal with extremist networks.

"Now is not the time to fight one another. As far as I know, the enemy is in Syria," Justice Minister Koen Geens said Tuesday.

In the wake of the Paris attacks that killed 130 people, Belgium came under intense criticism since much of the atrocity was at least prepared and coordinated in and around Brussels, and several of the attackers were Belgian or had lived in Brussels for a long time.

In recent days, there have been accusations that investigators should have picked up the scent of the attackers well before March 22. One of the suicide bombers, Ibrahim El Bakraoui, had been caught near Turkey's border with Syria in 2015 and Ankara says it had warned Belgium and the Netherlands that he was "a foreign terrorist fighter." Authorities in Brussels said they did not know he was suspected of terror-related activities until after he was deported to the Netherlands.

Brussels mayor Yvan Mayeur, who is facing criticism for his own actions before and after the suicide bombings, said in Paris on Tuesday, that "there are certainly some analyses to be done on the investigation. Were there mistakes? Did we miss anything? Certainly. Otherwise these attacks would not have happened."

He said his city, which is headquarters to European Union institutions, could never go back to "normal" again. "There's no such thing as 'normal' anymore. That's a concept we have to revisit."

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo pledged solidarity with Belgium as it begins "a long and painful process of grieving and reconstruction."

The airport has yet to reopen since the attacks but it has been testing a temporary check-in system for use in the coming days. The subway system is mostly running again, though under heavy guard.

The Maelbeek station, hit by a suicide bomber in the morning rush hour, remained closed. One stop away, Franz Alderweireldt, 82, who takes the subway every day, said "I think this is not over."

He said that "when terrorists plan an attack, they will do it no matter what, even if there are dozens or hundreds of soldiers or police on the street."

___

Helene Franchineau in Brussels contributed.

Categories: Indonesian News

National University to provide digital library

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 07:00

National University (UNAS) is preparing a digital library that will provide easy access to books, journals, theses, subject gateways, conference proceedings and video learning tools that connect to selected libraries worldwide. (Shutterstock)

National University (UNAS) is preparing a digital library that will provide easy access to books, journals, theses, subject gateways, conference proceedings and video learning tools that connect to selected libraries worldwide.

The university's rector, El Amry Bermawi Putera, said all literature and reading material for lecturers and students would be accessible within the next semester from anywhere, anytime.

Illah Sailah from the Private Universities Coordinating Body (Kopertis) Region III said the launch of the digital library was crucial as higher education institutions in many countries had already provided open courses and allowed people to access their literature online.

By conducting the open course, said Illah, universities would provide open registration that could boost the number of students from other regions, including ASEAN countries. (wir/kes)

 

 

 

Categories: Indonesian News

French president: 3,000 extra staff hired for Euro security

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 07:00

France's President Francois Hollande (center) shakes hands with Belgium Ambassador to France Vincent Mertens de Wilmars, outside the Belgium embassy, in Paris, Tuesday. (AP/Thibault Camus) 

French President Francois Hollande says private security firms have hired an additional 3,000 people for the European Championship soccer tournament.

After last week's Brussels attacks that killed at least 35 people, French authorities decided to continue with Euro 2016 from June 10-July 10 as planned, including the fan zones where spectators gather to watch games on large screens.

Hollande said 2.5 million people are expected to attend the matches in 10 French cities, and about 5 million are expected to visit the open-air areas.

Referring to the high risks of attacks, Hollande said in a speech to sports professionals in Paris that "we must show that sport, like culture, like our lifestyle, will not yield to this pressure and this threat."

Categories: Indonesian News

Police officer stabbed day after girl decapitated in Taiwan

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 07:00

A woman prays in front of a makeshift memorial offered with flowers and stuffed animals for a girl who was attacked to death Monday by a knife-wielding assailant outside a subway station in Taipei, Taiwan, Tuesday. (AP/Chiang Ying-ying)

A transit police officer was stabbed in the head Tuesday a day after a young girl was decapitated in apparently random knife attacks in Taiwan's capital.

The officer attacked at the Xinbeitou subway station in northern Taipei has serious injuries in the head, neck and back. He was taken to a hospital for injuries described as not life-threatening, according to the government's Central News Media and other reports.

A suspect apprehended at the scene was taken in for questioning but no immediate word was given on a possible motive.

Police are also seeking a motive in the attack on the 3-year-old girl who was grabbed from behind by an assailant as she waited with her mother outside another subway station in the capital. The 33-year-old suspect, identified as Wang Ching-yu, had past arrests for drug offenses and had sought treatment for mental illness, according to media reports.

Mourners who gathered Tuesday at the site of the girl's murder in the suburb of Neihu prayed and left flowers and stuffed toys.

Commentators debated possible reasons behind the attack and whether the normally placid island republic of 23 million people was becoming less safe.

The murder has also reignited a debate on whether to end capital punishment on Taiwan as some are campaigning for.

Categories: Indonesian News

Egypt plane drama ends: hijacker arrested, passengers freed

Jakarta Post Latest News - Wed, 2016-03-30 07:00

A passenger leaves a hijacked EgyptAir aircraft after landing at Larnaca Airport in Cyprus Tuesday. (AP/Petros Karadjias)

An Egyptian man who hijacked an EgyptAir plane during a routine domestic flight to Cairo and forced it to land on the island of Cyprus on Tuesday has surrendered and was taken into custody after he released all the passengers and crew.

His surrender ended an hours-long drama and standoff at the Larnaca airport in southern Cyprus. The hijacker had earlier freed most of the passengers but kept seven people — four crew members and three passengers — with him.

Just minutes before the arrest, local TV footage from the airport showed several people disembarking from the aircraft and a man who appeared to be a crew member climbing out of the cockpit window and sliding down the side of the plane.

Alexandros Zenon, the permanent Secretary of the Foreign Ministry in Cyprus, confirmed the hijacker's surrender and subsequent arrest, saying the situation was "over." The arrest was also reported by Egypt's prime minister, Sharif Ismail, and Civil Aviation Minister Sharif Fathi.

"All passengers and crew are safe," Fathi said on state television.

The man's motivation was unclear, but Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said the hijacking was "not something that has to do with terrorism" and a Cyprus government official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the man "seems [to be] in love."

Anastasiades, appearing alongside European Parliament President Martin Schulz in Nicosia, was asked by reporters whether he could confirm that the incident was about a woman. "Always, there is a woman" involved, he replied, drawing laughter.

A Cyprus police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he's not authorized to disclose details of the situation, says the hijacker walked off the plane and was taken into custody by special anti-terrorist police. The official said the man wore a belt but there were no explosives in it. The Cypriot woman who the hijacker had asked to speak to is his former wife with whom he has four children, the police official said. The hijacker had also complained about the current Egyptian government and had demanded the release of female prisoners from Egyptian jails.

A civil aviation official, also speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't allowed to talk to the media, said the man gave negotiators the name of a woman who lives in Cyprus and asked to give her an envelope. It was not clear if she was his former wife.

The flight MS181 took off from the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria on Tuesday morning en route to Cairo with at least 55 passengers, including 26 foreigners, and a seven-member crew.

An official with flight-tracking website FlightRadar24 said the plane showed no immediate signs of distress. The flight between Alexandria and Cairo normally takes about 30 minutes.

There was also confusion about the hijacker's identity. At a news conference in Cairo, Egypt's Civil Aviation minister, Sharif Fathi, refused to identify him.

Earlier, Egyptian government spokesman Hossam al-Queish said the hijacker was Ibrahim Samaha, but an Egyptian woman who identified herself as Samaha's wife said her husband is not the hijacker and was on his way to Cairo so he could fly to the US to attend a conference.

The woman, who identified herself only as Nahla, told the Egyptian private TV network ONTV in a phone interview that her husband had never been to Cyprus and that a photo on Egyptian and regional TV channels that supposedly showed the hijacker was not him. Later, the official Middle East News Agency gave a different name for the hijacker.

Egypt's state news agency, MENA, later identified the hijacker as Seifedeen Mustafa. The name was confirmed by a senior Cypriot official.

Al-Queish, the government spokesman, also told the private CBC TV network that authorities could not confirm that the hijacker had explosives on him. An earlier statement from the Egyptian Aviation Ministry said the man claimed he had a belt with explosives.

The plane landed at the airport in the southern Cypriot city of Larnaca, also on the Mediterranean. A statement from the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry statement said the foreigners on board included eight Americans, four Britons, four Dutch, two Belgians, a French national, an Italian, two Greeks and one Syrian. Three other foreigners could not be identified.

The initial batch of passengers released by the hijacker were seen calmly walking off the plane down a set of stairs, carrying their hand luggage, and boarded a bus parked by the plane's side. Security was tight at the airport, with police repeatedly pushing back reporters and TV news crews working just outside the facility's fence, near where the aircraft stopped.

Police also evacuated the nearby Makenzy beach, a stretch of coast close to the airport and popular with tourists. It was not immediately clear why.

An Egyptian aircraft was expected to later fly to Larnaca so it could bring back the released passengers, according to officials.

The incident raises more questions about security at Egyptian airports, five months after a Russian aircraft crashed over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula minutes after it took off from Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

All 224 people on board were killed in the crash. Russia later said an explosive device brought down the aircraft and the extremist Islamic State group took responsibility.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program Tuesday, said that a "very good question" is whether the man who hijacked the plane Tuesday was able to pass through airport security with a bomb-laden belt.

The hijacking was reminiscent of a deadly 1978 incident that involved Egyptians, planes and Larnaca airport.

The incident arose when two Palestinians assassinated an Egyptian government minister at his hotel in Nicosia. The assailants took hostages and drove to the airport, where they boarded a plane with them. They later returned to Cyprus, where they had an hours-long standoff until an Egyptian C-130 carrying commandos landed at Larnaca airport.

The commandos attempted to storm the Cyprus Airways jet, but were fired upon by Cypriot troops. Many were killed. The Palestinians eventually surrendered. They were arrested, sentenced and released years later.

The incident poisoned Egypt's relations with Cyprus for years. Relations eventually improved, but it was Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, in office since June 2014, who has forged close ties with Cyprus. El-Sissi and Anastasiades frequently confer in person or on the phone. They spoke by phone Tuesday about the hijacking.

___

Hendawi reported from Cairo. Maggie Michael in Cairo contributed to this report.

Categories: Indonesian News

Second ERP Trial to Take Place on Jalan Rasuna Said

Jakarta Globe News Headlines - Tue, 2014-09-30 12:20
Jakarta. The Jakarta administration is set to kick off a second trial run of the electronic road pricing scheme aimed at helping ease traffic congestion, as it eyes having the system up and running by January 2016. The trial run will kick off this afternoon on Jalan Rasuna Said in South Jakarta, where a gantry with cameras and sensors has been set up outside the Setia Budi building by Norwegian traffic management services provider Q-Free. “We’re carrying out this test to determine the quality of the equipment and the system that they’re offering,” Muhammad Akbar, the Jakarta Transportation Office chief, told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday. The system works by detecting cars passing beneath it, and then remotely deducting a toll from a stored-value card in an on-board unit, or OBU, inside the vehicle. For the trial run, Q-Free and the transportation office have installed OBUs in 100 cars. The previous trial, held on Jalan Sudirman, also in South Jakarta, was carried out in July by Vienna-based Kapsch and deemed a success by Deputy Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. However, Akbar said a recurring problem during that earlier trial was the inability of the cameras on the gantry to correctly identify the license plates of all the cars passing beneath. The visual identification is needed in the event that a car without an OBU or without sufficient funds in the stored-value card passes through, so that traffic officers can take action. Akbar said the problem was not with the system’s optical character recognition program, but rather with the non-standardized typeface found on Indonesian license plates. “There’s so much variation in the typeface, and most of them aren’t the standard ones issued by the police,” he said. “A lot of them are made by vendors by the side of the road. That’s why we need an ERP system that can read even a modified plate,” he added. He said he hoped the Q-Free system would prove more effective in that regard. The city administration plans to put the ERP project out to tender at the end of this year, with both Kapsch and Q-Free expected to vie for the contract. Akbar said that if the contract was finalized by February 2015, work could begin on building gantries in the streets covered by the scheme, with the ERP program being implemented in January 2016. Akbar said the city administration would also set up an agency to manage the program, including handling the tolls collected and coordinating the traffic enforcement efforts related to ERP violations. “We haven’t decided yet whether that enforcement will be done by the transportation office of the police,” he said. He also said the city would ramp up its public awareness campaign about the program, including notifying motorists about which streets will be affected and where they can obtain an OBU.
Categories: Indonesian News, News

SBY: I've Got a Plan B for Regional Elections Bill

Jakarta Globe News Headlines - Tue, 2014-09-30 06:43
Jakarta. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono vowed on Tuesday that a controversial amendment abolishing the direct election of local leaders would not stand, saying he was preparing a “Plan B” to have it struck down. The president, speaking at a press conference at 4:30 a.m. at Halim Perdanakusuma Air Base, where he had arrived shortly after midnight from Japan, acknowledged the massive public outcry against the passage by the House of Representatives to the change in the regional elections bill. “There has been a pretty significant rejection of the change to elections by regional legislatures, which is why I want to get the opinion of the Constitutional Court,” he said. He claimed that he was “unable not to sign” the bill into law. “The point is that there is no way for me, as president, not to sign off on what was passed by the House,” Yudhoyono said. “So I’m preparing a Plan B. We’ll work on it today and have it ready by tomorrow. My only interest is to [preserve] the democracy of our people,” he added, but did not elaborate on the plan. Article 20 of the bill passed last week scraps direct elections for governors, mayors and district heads, and hands regional legislative councils the authority to pick local leaders, in a change that critics point out throws Indonesia’s democratic system back into the authoritarian New Order era of the late Suharto. The bill passed after Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, which feigned support for keeping direct elections, walked out of the House plenary session last Thursday to vote on the bill, allowing its proponents to prevail. The legislators who led the walkout claimed that they had Yudhoyono’s support, although the president has since claimed he was surprised and disappointed by their move. Critics have panned Yudhoyono’s sudden objections to the bill, arguing that the president, whose administration submitted the amendment to the House three years ago, has no legal or moral standing to protest it now that it has passed. “He’s the president, how can he reject it now?” Jusuf Kalla, the vice president-elect, said at the House on Monday as quoted by JPNN.com. “Of course he can’t challenge the bill that he himself approved. That bill was the product of deliberations between the administration and the House. It was submitted by the administration three years ago,” said Kalla, who served as Yudhoyono’s vice president from 2004 to 2009.
Categories: Indonesian News, News

Local Elections Ploy Seen as a Setup for Presidential Vote

Jakarta Globe News Headlines - Tue, 2014-09-30 02:16
[caption id="attachment_329536" align="aligncenter" width="780"] The banner of the Red-and-White (Merah Putih) coalition. (Antara Photo/Wahyu Putro)[/caption] Jakarta. If Indonesians thought the abolishment last week of their right to elect regional heads was the end of the country’s dalliance with democracy, then a far nastier surprise awaits in new developments that potentially threaten to end direct presidential elections. Analysts have expressed concern that the Red-and-White coalition of losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, which voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill abolishing direct regional elections, is aiming for control of more than just the country’s provinces, districts and cities. “The end goal of the Red-and-White coalition is not only [control over] regional elections but also the presidential election,” said Ikrar Nusa Bhakti, a political expert at the Indonesia Institute of Sciences, or LIPI. The incoming House of Representatives, set to be inaugurated this week, will see the Red-and-White coalition, also known as the KMP, take control of 353 of the 560 House seats, against 207 seats to be held by the parties backing President-elect Joko Widodo. With a majority in the House, the KMP can easily amend the 2008 Presidential Election Law and the Constitution to allow the People’s Consultative Assembly, or MPR, of which the House forms the bulk, to appoint the president, as it did during the late Suharto’s 32-year dictatorship, Ikrar said. “Prabowo and the KMP leaders realize they can’t win a direct election. But if the president is chosen by the MPR, there’s a chance that Prabowo might win,” he said. Aleksius Jemadu, the dean of the School of Social and Political Studies at Pelita Harapan University, said separately that such a scenario was feasible. “If the Red-and-White coalition can’t contain their ambition and they see the opportunity, it’s not impossible that they will move in that direction,” he said. “The coalition’s confidence is at a high after they managed to pass the local elections bill, so they’re confident that they can make the change.” Others pointed to the KMP’s success in passing the law on legislative bodies, known as the MD3 law, a day before the July 9 election, with key changes that deprive Joko’s party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, or PDI-P, from privileges previously enjoyed by the party that wins the most votes in the legislative election. This includes the right to the House speaker’s post, which will now be decided in a vote that will almost certainly be won by the KMP. A source in the coalition says the KMP leaders have agreed to put forward veteran Golkar Party politician Setya Novanto for the speaker’s post. A bid by the PDI-P to have the changes to the MD3 law struck down was rejected on Monday by the Constitutional Court. [caption id="attachment_329535" align="aligncenter" width="780"] PDI-P politicians, from left, Junimart Girsang, Dwi Ria Latifa and Trimedya Panjaitan. The party lost a bid on Sept. 29, 2014 for the right to the House speaker’s post. (Antara Photo/Andika Wahyu)[/caption] Power up Control of the House translates into control of the MPR, which is made up of the House and the 136-seat Regional Representatives Council, or DPD — whose members ostensibly have no party affiliations but in reality have strong party links. The MPR is the only body in the country with the power to amend the Constitution and to impeach the president. Senior officials from the KMP have made no secret of their dislike for presidential elections, with Prabowo himself saying before last July’s ballot that he did not believe direct elections were compatible with Indonesia’s style of democracy. Herman Kadir, a deputy secretary general of the National Mandate Party, or PAN, whose chairman, Hatta Rajasa, was Prabowo’s running mate, was quoted by Tempo.co on Sunday as saying that direct presidential elections “should be scrapped.” He argued that the concept was “a product of the West” and had given rise to hostilities among Indonesians. “If need be, the president should again be selected through the MPR,” he said. The Democratic Party, which is also a member of the KMP even if its chairman, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, claims otherwise, confirmed that the coalition planned to take over the presidency by scrapping direct presidential elections. “The door for the president to be appointed by the MPR is wide open following the passage of the regional elections law,” said Hayono Isman, a senior Democrat. “The KMP will have power over everything: the House, the regional legislatures, as well as regional leaders.” Serious impact Setara’s Ismail said the idea of returning to the system of presidential appointment by the MPR was not based on the people’s best interest but instead “driven by the KMP’s political lust for power.” He noted that all the laws that the KMP had endorsed were “typical of the New Order regime where political elites control the entire political process.” If the regional elections law stands, the KMP will have control of 31 of 33 provincial legislatures, with the PDI-P enjoying a majority in only the Bali and West Kalimantan legislatures. Analysts believe that regional councilors in these 31 provinces could appoint governors opposed to Joko, rendering the incoming president’s key programs and policies useless. “This will have a serious impact on Joko’s leadership,” said political expert Gun Gun Heryanto. “Joko will face serious opposition as now he’s facing a group of parties that have a long-term agenda. The coalition may tackle Joko’s good programs through policy making.” But whether the KMP, which has struggled to stay united since its inception after the election, can stick out long enough to see this long-term scenario through is debatable, analysts argue. “There is a potential that [KMP] parties will clash when deciding who gets to be regional leaders,” said Ray Rangkuti, the director of the Indonesian Civil Circle, or LIMA, a voter advocacy group. “Second, the regional chapters of each party may have their own agendas to pursue.” That view is shared by Zainuddin Amali, one of 11 Golkar legislators who broke with the party line and voted against the regional elections law last week. Zainuddin predicted the KMP coalition would collapse after Joko was inaugurated. Golkar, the biggest party by far in the coalition, is already riven over chairman Aburizal Bakrie’s failure to ensure that the party, which has never been out of the ruling bloc, backed the winning side in this year’s election. Analysts say that Joko’s choice of former Golkar chairman Jusuf Kalla as his running mate will prevent Golkar from ever fully uniting behind KMP policies. The Democrats, under Yudhoyono, have also been blatantly hedging their bets in a ploy for cabinet seats, while the United Development Party, or PPP, appears increasingly likely to break from the KMP in favor of Joko’s coalition. Ray said the KMP leadership had failed to anticipate these problems because it was “too busy taking revenge” over its loss in the presidential election. “It hasn’t occurred to them that they will be fighting among themselves [and] that reaching a consensus to appoint regional leaders will be hard to achieve,” he said. Charta Politika’s Yunarto agreed on the likelihood of some KMP parties switching sides. “The PPP is going to hold a congress, Golkar is preparing to hold a national meeting — even the Democrats may change their position,” he said. “Will the Red-and-White coalition become more powerful? I don’t think so. I think that Joko [is inaugurated], things will change.” Further Coverage Editorial: Merah Putih’s Iron-Fist Master Plan Initiated First Requests for Election Law Review Filed at Constitutional Court Constitutional Court Rejects Judicial Review of MD3 Law Democrats: SBY Not to Blame for Local Election Law Fiasco
Categories: Indonesian News, News

Asean Makes Its Firm Stance Against Extremism Known

Jakarta Globe News Headlines - Mon, 2014-09-29 23:15
Jakarta. The 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, have expressed concerns over the rise of violence and brutality committed by terrorist organizations and radical groups in Iraq and Syria, noting that they not only pose a threat to the people of these two Middle-Eastern nations, but if left unchecked, to the rest of the world. In a joint press release, the association denounced acts of destruction, violence and terror in all its forms and manifestations. It reiterated its commitments to the implementation of the Asean Convention on Counter Terrorism and the Asean Comprehensive Plan of Action on Counter Terrorism, both of which aim to prevent and suppress extremist activities by addressing its root causes, and disrupting terror networks’ financing channels. Asean also announced its support of two resolutions drafted by the United Nations Security Council (Resolutions 2170 and 2178) which call on the international community to prevent their citizens from traveling to Syria, Iraq and other countries known to harbor terrorist insurgents. The Islamic State (IS), for example, has been actively recruiting members from all over the world, including Indonesia, urging supporters to pick up arms under their twisted ideology. Indonesia has estimated that some 200 citizens have joined IS’s jihadist fight in Syria. The government quickly moved to denounce the radical group and ban its existence in the archipelago. In its press statement, Asean also announced it has renewed its commitment to work with the international community to fight against extremism, radicalism and terrorism and address its root causes, including through the promotion of the Global Movement for Moderates (GMM), to prevent further violence and brutality, in accordance with international law and the UN Charter. “The Association of Southeast Asian Nations deems it is imperative for the international community to work together in unity in the fight against terrorism, extremism and radical groups, wherever they occur,” the association said in its press release.
Categories: Indonesian News, News

‘Blue Carbon’ to Support Climate Protection

Jakarta Globe News Headlines - Mon, 2014-09-29 23:11
Jakarta. Nearing the end of his term in office, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono continues to attempt to portray the country and himself as a global green champion. He reiterated Indonesia’s commitment to efforts to cut carbon emissions and to take over the leadership of an international environmental body. Yudhoyono, during his speech at the UN Climate Summit 2014 in New York last week, said Indonesia stayed committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2040, and even by 41 percent with international assistance. Indonesia has taken several “strategic measures” to achieve those targets, the outgoing President said. These measures include the implementation of a moratorium on new licenses prohibiting the clearing of primary forests and peat land, which will be in place until the end of the year. Indonesia also has established the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) Management Agency, tasked with improving the country’s forest governance, he added. “I am pleased to mention that with close cooperation with the government of Norway, we can deliver both the emission reduction and increase welfare for the local people in our forest and peat land areas,” Yudhoyono said, referring to Norway’s pledge of US$1 billion worth of aid for Indonesia to help protect the country’s forests. The pledge was announced in 2010, although Indonesian environmental officials have complained about the complexity of the fund disbursements. Most of the funds will only be channeled through reimbursement mechanisms. Yudhoyono said beyond the protection of forests, of which destruction has been a major contributor to Indonesia’s greenhouse gases, the country was “exploring” the potential of its “blue carbon” ecosystems as a carbon sink. Blue carbon is a phrase coined to refer to the important role of certain coastal habitats — such as mangrove forests, saltwater marshes and seagrass meadows — in naturally storing greenhouse gases and helping to mitigate climate change. “This [blue carbon] could support the global effort to maintain the temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius,” Yudhoyono said. He added that Indonesia is ready to strengthen bilateral and regional cooperation to support and contribute to global greenhouse gas emission cuts. “I believe that we need to re-double our efforts to conclude a new legally binding agreement for the post 2020 climate change framework. We must exert our utmost efforts to produce a new climate change agreement in Paris next year,” Yudhoyono said. Yudhoyono was inaugurated on the sidelines of the UN Climate Summit last week as the new chairman of the council and the president of the assembly of the Global Green Growth Institute, an international nongovernmental environmental advocacy group based in South Korea. “President SBY’s appointment ... shows that he is recognized as a figure who is able to unify different parties that have been deemed as having conflicting interests — including corporates, civil society and NGOs,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said in a statement. “Indonesia’s commitment to achieving the emission reduction target is unique. Before Indonesia, only a few developing nations were willing to achieve specific targets. Indonesia’s declaration [of commitment] has pushed Brazil and China to do the same,” Marty added. Jakarta Globe
Categories: Indonesian News, News

Indonesia Vows to Fight UN Veto Powers

Jakarta Globe News Headlines - Mon, 2014-09-29 23:05
Jakarta. Indonesia says it will continue to fight for a code of conduct in the use of veto power by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — a proposal that was initiated by France. France, one of the permanent members, called on the other permanent members last year to refrain from exercising their veto rights in activities involving mass crimes — including genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. On the sidelines of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly in New York last week, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and his Mexican counterpart Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena co-hosted the “Ministerial Meeting on Veto in the Face of Massive Crime” to discuss the matter. The meeting was attended by 32 countries, 26 of which were represented by minister-level officials, including Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa. “Indonesia has been consistently rejecting the use of veto rights by permanent members of the UN Security Council, and to date, that stance hasn’t changed,” Marty said in his speech during the meeting, according to a press statement sent to the Jakarta Globe. “Veto rights are anachronistic and must be completely abolished.” Marty admitted it would be difficult to introduce the code of conduct to regulate the use of veto power in the council, but hailed the French initiative as “a good beginning” of measures to improve the council’s credibility . “The majority of countries attending the meeting support the French proposal ... and agree with Indonesia that regulating the use of veto rights is a key element to create a more representative, effective, transparent and accountable UN Security Council,” the statement said. France is committed to continuing to push for the initiative, with abuses of veto powers in the Security Council deemed responsible for its failures to maintain international peace and security mandated by the UN Charter, the statement further added. The four other permanent members of the council are Britain, China, Russia and the United States. Indonesia was among non-permanent members of the council for the 1973-1974, 1995-1996 and 2007-2008 periods, and has applied for another for the period of 2019-2020. University of Indonesia international law professor Hikmahanto Juwana said Indonesia and other countries supporting the French initiative must continue to gather support for it, otherwise their voices would not be heard. “I’m sure the US will thwart this initiative. They will say it will require the UN Charter to be amended, and for that there should be an agreement from the Security Council and the initiative should not be vetoed by any of the permanent members,” Hikmahanto said. “But if [countries supporting the initiative] gather support from more than half of member states of the UN, even 75 percent of them, I’m sure even the US will feel bad [about blocking the move],” he added .
Categories: Indonesian News, News

First Requests for Election Law Review Filed at Constitutional Court

Jakarta Globe News Headlines - Mon, 2014-09-29 23:05
  [caption id="attachment_325636" align="aligncenter" width="780"] An activist holds
up a poster during a protest against the regional elections bill in Central Jakarta on Sept. 14, 2014. (Antara Photo/Widodo S. Jusuf)[/caption] Jakarta. A selection of individuals and nongovernmental organizations have started filing requests for judicial review of Article 3 of the hotly contested regional elections law at the Constitutional Court. The organizations objecting to the controversial law, which was passed last week after a marathon session at the House of Representatives, include the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID) and the Press Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Pers) "Their constititutional rights have been violated, as they [plaintiffs] lost their right to directly elect local leaders," lawyer Wahyudi Djafar said, as quoted by state-run news agency Antara on Monday. Article 3 of the law stipulates that elections of mayors, district heads and governors be conducted by local and regional legislative councils — and not in direct elections, as had been the case previously. Djafar said the issue of direct or indirect local elections touched on people's fundamental rights. "It is our nation's foundation," he said. "That is why this is arranged in the first article of the Constitution: the sovereignty is in the hands of the people."
Categories: Indonesian News, News

Anas Urbaningrum to Appeal 8-Year Prison Sentence

Jakarta Globe News Headlines - Mon, 2014-09-29 22:23
[caption id="attachment_329418" align="aligncenter" width="780"] Anas Urbaningrum at the Anti-Corruption Court last week. (Antara Photo/Rosa Panggabean)[/caption] Jakarta. Graft convict Anas Urbaningrum will appeal the eight-year prison sentence handed down to him by the Anti-Corruption Court, the former Democratic Party chairman's lawyer said on Monday. “After reviewing the ruling and considering advice from family, friends and supporters, today, with all due respect to the panel of judges and the Corruption Eradication Commission [KPK], Anas has decided to use his right to appeal,” lawyer Handika Honggo Wongso said. Anas last week was found guilty of taking bribes as part of his involvement in several government projects, and money laundering. Besides sentencing him to serve eight years in jail, the court also ordered him to pay a Rp 300 million ($25,000) fine, or spend an extra three months in jail, and ordered him to repay Rp 57 billion and $5.2 million in state losses as a consequence of his actions. Handika claimed that there was no evidence of Anas having been involved in corruption. “The eight-year sentence is too heavy and baseless,” Handika said. “And the repayment order is legally unsound because there were no state losses in the case of Anas. He did not receive Rp 55 billion and $5 million.” Handika said that the appeal would be filed on Tuesday. Prosecutors for the KPK, which had sought a 15-year jail sentence, have already filed an appeal against the court ruling.
Categories: Indonesian News, News

Constitutional Court Rejects Judicial Review of MD3 Law

Jakarta Globe News Headlines - Mon, 2014-09-29 21:26
[caption id="attachment_329322" align="aligncenter" width="780"] Constitutional Court chief justice Hamdan Zoelva, left, and justice Patrialis Akbar. (Antara Photo/Andika Wahyu)[/caption] [This story was updated on Monday, Sept. 29, 2014, at 8:28 p.m.] Jakarta. The Constitutional Court on Monday rejected a request for a judicial review of the controversial Law on Legislative Bodies, also known as the MD3 law, clearing the way for the parties opposing President-elect Joko Widodo to take control of key positions in the new House of Representatives. The MD3 law had garnered widespread criticism since its passage by the House on July 8 — when Indonesia was focusing on the next day’s landmark presidential election. But chief justice Hamdan Zoelva said on Monday that the Constitutional Court rejected the objections raised by Joko's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). One of the reasons for the decision, the court said, was that the applicant — the PDI-P — did not have the required legal standing. The court explained that the political party suffered no infringement of its constitutional rights as a consequence of the implementation of the law, and it therefore had no valid reason to file the request. The PDI-P won the most votes in the April 9 legislative election, but based on the new MD3 Law, the party will not be automatically handed the post of House speaker, as had been the case before. Under the new law, the speaker’s post will be put to a vote if there is no consensus on whom to appoint. Given the PDI-P’s lack of a majority in the new House, the post is unlikely to go to the PDI-P. The same mechanism also applies to other key positions at the house: heads of commissions, the Budget Committee (Banggar), the Legislative Body, the Households Affairs Committee (BURT), the inter-parliamentary body BKSAP and the Ethics Council will have to gather a majority of votes. 'Baseless' claims As a consequence, even though the PDI-P won both the legislative and presidential elections this year, its power at the House will be limited. The opposition parties on the other hand, united under the Merah Putih banner and led by the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party of Joko's rival Prabowo Subianto, will be able to rake in all important House jobs. Realizing this prospect of tough times ahead, the PDI-P filed for a review claiming that some articles of the MD3 Law — 84, 97, 104, 109, 115, 121, 152 — were unconstitutional. The party also argued that there were flaws during the deliberation and the passage of the law, a process it described as insufficiently transparent and not based on academic insights. Patrialis Akbar, a Constitutional Court justice who previously served as a politician for the National Mandate Party (PAN), which joined Prabowo's coalition, refused to accept the PDI-P claims. He said that no procedures were violated when the law — originally issued in 2009 — was amended. He also called "baseless" the claim of the PDI-P that the new leadership selection method contradicted the principle of legal certainty and fairness. “The method of [selecting] leaders of the House of Representatives is stipulated in the House's regulations, and it does not contradict legal principles,” Patrialis said, as quoted by detik.com. “The [selection] of House of Representatives leaders is the right and authority of elected lawmakers.” Patrialis added that the court found that it was not discriminatory to no longer automatically grant the seat of House speaker to the party with the largest number of seats. Divided government likely Ari Dwipayana, a political expert from Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, told the Jakarta Globe that he was not surprised at Monday's ruling, even if the Constitutional Court failed to consider the fact that the law was passed because of political interests just a day before the presidential election. “The court only looked at whether [the law] was constitutional or not, but failed to assess whether the law had gone through the proper procedures before it was passed. They did not care about the political interests. They also did not care about whether the process was transparent,” Ari said. He added that the ruling would have two consequences. The first, the academic said, would be that Merah Putih is going to divvy up the various posts at the House. “And secondly, this can lead to a divided government,” Ari said. "The executive would be controlled by the coalition of Jokowi-JK [Joko Widodo and his incoming vice president, Jusuf Kalla], and the legislature would be controlled by the Merah Putih coalition." "This will make it very difficult for the government to carry out its vision and mission, in terms of legislation, budgeting and the recruitment of people for strategic positions."
Categories: Indonesian News, News
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