Determined to keep abreast of affairs throughout the country, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyon has installed a 'situation room' at the Presidential Palace. (Antara Photo/Widodo S. Jusuf)

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Microfinance the First Step in Poverty Eradication

Jakarta Globe, Shoeb K. Zainuddin, Sep 15, 2014

Muhammad Yunus. (Antara
Photo/Andika Wahyu)
Jakarta. Financial inclusion has long been viewed as one of the key drivers of poverty reduction. The argument is that if the unbankable segments of society had access to capital, they would be able to pull themselves out of poverty.

At the heart of this argument is the role and critical importance of microfinance; the system of issuing small loans to micro-enterprises to help them expand. Making credit available to the millions of micro-enterprises, it has been thought, would fix the problem. Not so, said Muliaman Hadad, the chairman of the Indonesian Financial Services Authority (OJK), on Sunday.

Speaking at a Leaders’ Breakfast dialogue with professor Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel laureate, on the topic “Building Business for a Better Society,” Muliaman explained that microfinance must expand beyond just providing access to capital.

“From our experience, micro-finance is the starting point of financial inclusion,” he told the audience. “Microfinance over the past 30 years has not achieved its objective,” he added, which is reducing poverty and closing the income gap.

As such, the OJK is now studying changes to the industry and is seriously looking at amending the regulatory environment to ensure that the system works for the poor. He noted that banks were not the right institutions to drive microfinance because of their restrictions and that the government was studying the possibility of getting finance companies to play a bigger role in microfinance.

“The current [avenue of] thinking is that we will divide the regulations between banks and microfinance institutions,” he said. “Maybe regulations should cap interest rates so that we protect the consumer from companies that only seek to exploit the poor.”

Under the plan, which is still in its initial stages, starting a finance company will be made easier if the shareholders are committed to lending to productive sectors and not just financing consumption.

“We want finance companies to provide loans to farmers, fishermen and other micro-entrepreneurs,” he said.

Rather than accepting deposits as the main channel for raising capital, finance companies will be able to issue bonds and other debt paper to raise funds.

“This system will be more flexible than using the banking system, which is restricted by strict regulations.”

In his comments, Muhammad Yunus noted that microfinance is “serious” banking and it would be a serious mistake to consider microfinance institutions as charitable organizations.

“You cannot use regulations designed for the rich and apply them to the poor.”

He added that microfinance institutions should not be funded by the government as often politics gets in the way of rationale decision making.

“It should be a self-reliant system but the regulatory framework is critical and it should be clearly defined.”

That definition should include the point that microfinance institutions should not demand collateral for issuing loans and he agreed with Muliaman that there should be a cap on the interest rates charged.

“[Everyone] is bankable,” he said. “The question is, whether banks and financial institutions are people-oriented or profit oriented.”

The Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, banker, economist and civil society leader was awarded the Nobel Peace price for founding the Grameen Bank and pioneering concepts of micro-finance and micro-credit. He was in Indonesia to speak at the Indonesian Music and Mission Festival, attended by some 10,000 Indonesian youths. The event was co-organized by Sinergi Indonesia and the Goodwater Company.

“We live in two different economies; one for the rich and one for the poor. We therefore need a conceptual framework for measuring growth which is not purely defined by gross domestic product,” Yunus said.

The world will be a completely different place 25 years from now and Indonesia will be a completely different country, he noted, saying: “Change is guaranteed but we have a choice to make sure that the changes benefit all members of society.”

Related Article:

Friday, September 12, 2014

Govt Meetings Costing $1.5b Are Too Much: Jokowi

Jakarta Globe, Ezra Sihite, Sep 12, 2014

President-elect Joko Widodo says that the cost for government meetings
in next year’s state budget was too high. (Antara Photo/Noveradika)

Jakarta. President-elect Joko Widodo says he was shocked to learn the outgoing administration allocated more than Rp 18 trillion ($1.5 billion) for government meetings in the 2015 state budget.

“Really? For what kind of meetings? How can [the costs] for meetings reach Rp 18 trillion? I don’t understand,” Joko said at Jakarta City Hall on Thursday, adding that the amount was too high.

Joko said that after assuming office he would ask his ministers to optimize the use of facilities in their office.

Holding off-site meetings in expensive hotels is a common government practice, as any noon-time visit to an upscale Jakarta hotel would likely attest.

Joko argued that the practice did not make sound fiscal sense, as meeting rooms in ministries were in good condition and suitable for coordination meetings.

He said he would cut ministries’ meeting budgets and reallocate funds toward priority programs like the Healthy Indonesia Card and Smart Indonesia Card, as well as to build infrastructure in villages.

“Efficiency [measures] must be taken on things like that, especially when there are strains on our cash flow. [Everything] has to be [explained] in detail so that we can understand whether the use is logical or not,” Joko said.

His transition team found that Rp 18.1 trillion had been allocated for government meetings in the 2015 state budget, which comprises Rp 6.25 trillion for meetings in town and Rp 11.9 trillion for out-of-town meetings.

The team also learned that next year’s budget allocates Rp 15.5 trillion for official trip expenses, Rp 14 trillion for IT expenses and Rp 263.9 trillion on salaries for civil servants — a figure that swells to Rp 340 trillion when local civil servants and education budgets are included.

“We calculated that the government allocated up to Rp 18 trillion on meetings,” Joko transition team deputy Hasto Kristiyanto said.

Hasto added that the money would be more wisely invested in improving government efficiency and programs to improve the people’s welfare.

“If it can be reduced by 40 percent, it would bring a huge direct impact on the people,” he said.

Aside from the meeting budget, efficiencies can also be made from IT spending and building maintenance budget.

“The figure is just fantastic. The spirit is how to cut the budget and make them efficient,” Hasto said.

On Tuesday Joko rejected a plan to spend almost Rp 92 billion in state funds to procure ministers’ vehicles.

The State Secretariat announced late last month that Mercedes-Benz Indonesia had won the tender to provide new cars for the next batch of ministers, but later scrapped the plan in favor of leaving the decision for the incoming administration.

State Secretary Sudi Silalahi said the deal could easily be scrapped because no contract had yet been signed with the carmaker.

For perspective on just how much the 2015 state budget had earmarked for meetings, Rp 18 trillion, construction of the north-south route for Jakarta’s Mass Rapid Transit project, which Joko championed as governor, cost only Rp 16 trillion.

Jakarta’s MRT is funded by the government through offshore loans from the Japan International Cooperation Agency. The project is part of the city administration’s effort to overcome chronic traffic congestion in the capital.

The money planned for meetings could also have funded infrastructure projects such as the Suramadu (Surabaya-Madura) Bridge that spans 5.4 kilometers across the Madura Strait at a cost of Rp 4.5 trillion or the double-track rail project spanning 727 kilometers between Jakarta and Surabaya to the tune of Rp 10.78 trillion.

Asked about the whopping meeting budget, presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said he did not handle, nor could he discuss, technical aspects of the budget.

“I don’t know. That’s very technical,” Julian said.

He added that the budget was already approved by legislators and its figures were calculated as a nominal increase on baselines set in previous years’ budgets.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Yudhoyono Recognized for Press Freedom in Decade of Office

Jakarta Globe, Yustinus Paat, Sep 06, 2014

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono gives a speech at an event for the release of a book
titled ‘SBY and Press Freedom’ in Jakarta on Sept. 5, 2014. (Antara Photo/Andika Wahyu)

Jakarta. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was recognized by members of the press on Friday for his effort in guaranteeing press freedom throughout his 10 years in office.

Press Council chairman Bagir Manan said that Yudhoyono acted properly when facing criticism from the press.

“SBY only complained that the news was unfair, but he never intervened in press freedom,” Bagir said on Friday, at an event for the release of a book titled “SBY and the Press Freedom.”

The book was written by 32 journalists as well as by press council officials, academics and nongovernmental organization members.

Atmakusumah Astraatmadja, a senior journalist who had presided over the Press Council in 2000-03, said that Yudhoyono’s presidency has provided the best years of press freedom in Indonesia.

“These past 10 years we have experienced the longest press freedom without pressure from the government. Even though we have the Press Law, never once has the president used it to file a lawsuit and jail a journalist,” he said.

Atmakusumah used to work at Antara, the state-owned news agency, and at other news organizations. His work has been featured in such publications as Tempo, Republika, the Jakarta Post, Independent Watch and Bisnis Indonesia.

Yudhoyono thanked the press back for supervising his authority.

“Overall, I should be the one thanking and appreciating my press friends for helping me restrain myself from abusing my authority and power,” he said on the same occasion. “The press has been motivating and controlling me so that my choices, plans, and policies don’t go outside the corridor of democracy and the Constitution and don’t go against the people’s will.

Yudhoyono hopes that the Indonesian press can keep up the good job by criticizing the leaders but not hating them.

“The press should be critical, but don’t hate the leaders as they always want to give the best for the nation and people,” the president said.

Yudhoyono will have served the two-term limit when he steps down from office next month. He will be succeeded by Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo, who defeated former Army general Prabowo Subianto in a close presidential election.

Attending the event were journalists, writers, Coordinating Economics Minister Chairul Tanjung and State Secretary Sudi Silalahi.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the Presidential 
Palace in Jakarta on Sept. 1, 2014. (Antara Photo/Andika Wahyu)

A Decade After Munir’s Assassination, Questions Still Linger

‘Test of Our History’: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono promised to solve murder of prominent human rights activist, but its masterminds remain at large as his administration comes to an end

Munir Said Thalib, center, his wife Suciwati, left, and an unidentified staff member of the
Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial), moments before the human rights defender
boarded a flight on Garuda Indonesia on Sept. 6, 2004. (Photo courtesy of Imparsial)

Jakarta. They were the last pictures of human rights defender Munir Said Thalib alive, taken late on Sept. 6, 2004, shortly before he took the Garuda Indonesia flight where he would draw his last breath.

The pictures showed Munir with his closest friends: his staff from the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial) and his wife Suciwati, sharing jokes and laughs over cups of coffee at a doughnut shop at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

He looked well. Healthy as could be. His short, curly hair was golden brown, like ripe corn kernels glinting from the camera’s flash.

In almost every shot, Munir is grinning from ear to ear, enthusiastic about his planned post-graduate studies in the Netherlands — a dream he’d had to postpone so many times before because he was too busy advocating for victims of violence, too anxious about leaving Indonesia, whose democracy was still in its infancy.

But that year he found very few reasons to put his dream on hold again. For the first time, Indonesia had held a free presidential election.

Munir was pleased with the fact that former military chief Wiranto, a candidate whom he saw as having the worst human rights record, failed to advance to the runoff vote. In a few weeks’ time, then-president Megawati Soekarnoputri would be going head to head against her former security minister, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Neither was an ideal candidate in Munir’s eyes, but at least they were committed not to let Indonesia fall back into military rule. The outcome of the election made him slightly less uneasy about leaving Indonesia.

It had also been years since Indonesia saw a major human rights violation, and he saw a growing number of people start to speak up about human rights. He was confident he could pass on his work to his peers and juniors.

Poengky Indarti, who eventually took over from Munir as Imparsial’s executive director, felt the urge to take lots of pictures of him before he left that day. She felt it would be years before she could see him again.

She also went against Munir’s wishes and asked an old research consultant friend named Sri Rukminingtyas, who had recently moved to Rotterdam, to pick him up at Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport.

“I don’t need anyone to pick me up,” Poengky, then Munir’s number three at Imparsial, recounts her old boss as saying. But Poengky insisted. “I’m not sure why. Maybe it was just my maternal instinct. I had been taking care of his scholarship applications and getting his visa. I guess I needed to be sure he would be taken care of when he got there.”

On Sept. 7, 2004, Munir died on board the plane as it flew over Budapest.

Sri remembered packing four tuna sandwiches that morning before she set out to pick up Munir. She thought that perhaps Munir might not have eaten on the plane, and getting breakfast at the airport would be too expensive.

She doesn’t remember now what happened to the sandwiches. All she could remember was an announcement blaring from the airport’s speakers mentioning the name “Munir.” She also remembered that shortly afterward she got a call from Poengky. Poengky told her that someone from Garuda had just called to say that Munir was dead.

Sri immediately went to the airport’s information office. A police officer confirmed that Munir had indeed died during the flight. “I lost control of myself and cried loudly. It was like being struck by lightning,” Sri says.

Her seemingly simple task of picking Munir up at the airport turned into a somber affair, but one that threw her into a crucial role in unraveling the true nature of his death.

Sri explained to the Dutch police that Munir was 39 and in good health. She explained that he was a very prominent human rights defender back in Indonesia and that the he had received multiple death threats. Based on Sri’s statements, the Dutch police ordered an autopsy done, and subsequently found a fatal dose of arsenic in Munir’s body.

“If Sri hadn’t been there, maybe his death would have been attributed to natural causes. His body would have been sent back to Indonesia without any investigation and we wouldn’t have known the truth,” Poengky says.

A man covers his face with an image of Munir Said Thalib. (JG Photo/Nivell Rayda)

Legacy of impunity

Sunday marks the 10-year anniversary of Munir’s death, a case that still holds many questions.

Three people have been convicted of his death: Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, an off-duty Garuda pilot and suspected State Intelligence Agency (BIN) operative who spiked Munir’s drink with arsenic; and two accomplices who played minor roles in arranging for Pollycarpus to be on the same flight as Munir.

But those who masterminded the murder, giving Pollycarpus his orders, remain beyond the reach of the law. And activists blame this travesty on the reluctance shown by the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who came into office the same year that Munir died, to bring those responsible to justice.

“At the beginning of his rule, SBY promised to resolve [Munir’s] case and even said that it would be ‘the test of our history,’ ” says Choirul Anam, the executive secretary of the Solidarity Action Committee for Munir (Kasum). “But now at the end of his administration the case is not fully resolved.”

After two months of intense pressure from human rights activists and international media, Yudhoyono formed an independent fact-finding team on Nov. 23, 2004, to monitor the police investigation into the case and conduct its own inquiry.

Witnesses on board the flight noted that Pollycarpus was seated next to Munir on the flight from Jakarta to Singapore, where it picked up more passengers. The passenger manifest indicated that Pollycarpus got off in Singapore and didn’t continue on to Amsterdam. But before he left Singapore’s Changi International Airport, he was seen offering Munir a cup of coffee, which was spiked with arsenic.

Munir’s health deteriorated from that point on, and he eventually died on board, hours before the plane landed in Amsterdam.

The fact-finding team also found that immediately prior to and after Munir’s death, Pollycarpus had communicated extensively with Muchdi Purwoprandjono, who at the time was a deputy chief of the BIN.

In their court testimonies, several intelligence officials also said that Pollycarpus often visited the BIN headquarters and met behind closed doors with Muchdi. In at least one of those meetings, Abdullah Mahmud Hendropriyono, the BIN chief at the time, was also present.

Pollycarpus is now serving a 14-year prison term after the Central Jakarta District Court, on Dec. 1, 2005, found him guilty of murdering Munir. The South Jakarta District Court, however, acquitted Muchdi of all charges on Dec. 31, 2008, despite the judges in Pollycarpus’s trial ruling that Pollycarpus had acted on Muchdi’s instructions.

Police never questioned Hendropriyono for his alleged involvement in Munir’s killing.

Kasum secretary Anam notes that during Yudhoyono’s two terms in office, Pollycarpus’ sentence went from 14 years to two years in 2006, to 20 years in 2008, and finally, last year, back to 14 years. Pollycarpus also enjoyed a number of sentence cuts, amounting to a total of 42 months during six years in prison.

Anam says recent developments in the case should give prosecutors enough evidence to launch a fresh investigation.

“This government has never been serious in punishing those responsible, let alone solving the mysteries surrounding his death,” he says. “Ever since Muchdi was acquitted, [prosecutors] have done nothing. Even after two changes of attorney general, they only made promises.”

Anam says Yudhoyono has left his successor, Joko Widodo, with the very important task of seeking justice for Munir. “They had all the evidence. All that it takes is courage,” he says.

Uli Parulian Sihombing, the executive director of the Indonesian Legal Resource Center, has called on Joko to bar those with questionable rights record from serving in his administration, following Joko’s appointment of Hendropriyono as an adviser to the team preparing the new government for office.

Munir’s widow, Suciwati, has also lambasted Hendropriyono’s appointment. “Human rights is not a political commodity. If [Joko] has promised [to resolve rights abuse cases], then he must fulfill it by forming a government that is free of human rights violators,” she says.

Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono says it is important that Joko appoint reform-minded people as his picks to head up law enforcement agencies, to ensure the resolution of Munir’s case as well as all past human rights abuse cases, in which Munir so passionately sought justice during his lifetime.

A fearless defender

Anam describes Munir as a courageous fighter, even during the Suharto era, when free speech was greatly curbed and those criticizing power ended up dead, missing, or in jail. “He was never afraid of pointing at people’s noses,” Anam says. “Even powerful generals.”

Among those he named as human rights abusers was Hendropriyono. The latter, at the time an Army colonel, led a bloody military crackdown on civilian protesters in Talangsari, Lampung, in 1989 that led to 45 people being killed and 88 others missing. The military also burned the protesters’ village to the ground.

Munir’s criticism of Hendropriyono intensified when the retired general joined Megawati’s campaign. Aside from highlighting his past cases, Munir also raised concerns that he might abuse his authorities as the BIN chief for the campaign’s benefit. Munir even lodged a lawsuit with the State Administrative Court demanding Hendropriyono’s removal from his BIN post.

“But does that have a direct correlation with Munir’s death? We don’t know yet. What we know is that [Hendropriyono] is not the only human rights violator with a military background who had a grudge against Munir,” Anam says, adding that Munir’s many enemies could have conspired to have the rights defender killed.

Then there’s Prabowo Subianto, a close friend of Muchdi’s and the losing candidate in this year’s presidential election. Munir repeatedly accused Prabowo, who was then chief of the Army’s Special Forces unit Kopassus, of kidnapping pro-democracy activists toward the end of Suharto’s 32-year rule.

Several of those activists remain missing to this day.

Munir’s constant pressure to have Prabowo tried forced the government to form a fact-finding team and the military to set up an ethics tribunal, which eventually led to Prabowo’s dismissal from the Army.

Prabowo has repeatedly denied responsibility for the abductions, saying he was simply carrying out orders from his superiors and that all the kidnapped activists were released after being interrogated.

“He would have got onto the first flight back to Indonesia,” Poengky says when asked what she thinks Munir would do if he were alive to see Prabowo running for president.

An activist lays out 10, to commemorate the death of Munir Said Thalib,
who died on Sept. 7, 2004. (JG Photo/Nivell Rayda)

Inspiring generations

Munir’s killers might have been trying to send a message by having the prominent activist killed in an elaborate assassination plot on board an international flight.

“If this can happen to Munir then imagine what could happen to lesser-known activists in remote areas like Papua or Aceh, so far away from the media spotlight,” Poengky says.

But Munir’s death only emboldened the next generation of activists to continue his struggle, advocating for the victims of human rights abuses.

Novia Seni Astriani is 25 and for three years she has been advocating for Munir’s killers to face trial, as a member of Kasum’s campaign and networking division.

“While in college, like so many of my peers, we learned that what we were taught as kids were lies. We never knew that our history was so tainted by so many human rights violations. We were never taught about Munir’s assassination,” says Astri, as she is better known.

“In college I got to know Munir. I got to know the cases he was fighting for … his thinking. And I was saddened. How could anyone murder someone like Munir? How could his case remained unsolved to this day? I felt I needed to do something.”

On Thursday, Astri organized Kamisan, a weekly rally in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta to demand the resolution of past human rights abuses. This week’s Kamisan is dedicated to Munir with some protesters wearing a mask bearing the likeness of the slain activist.

After some 20 minutes of silent protest, Astri grabbed a microphone and began talking to the crowd to fire them up.

“Let’s all gather around facing the so-called ‘palace of the people.’ For 10 years Munir’s case has been in limbo. For 10 years the person at that palace has done so little,” Astri tells some 40 protesters.

Aside from a handful of ageing victims of human rights abuses and violence, most of the rally’s participants are youths, not much older than herself.

Munir has also inspired many to follow in his footsteps of advocating for victims of injustice.

“Munir as a human rights defender has given us a legacy that is simple yet very profound in its meaning,” says 23-year-old Ichsan, who works for the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH).

“In his time, he wasn’t afraid to reveal injustice. All youths should learn from his courage.”

Veronica Koman, 26, another LBH Jakarta lawyer, says she always bows whenever she goes to her office, which proudly displays Munir’s pictures.

“Much of Munir’s legacy inspires me. Munir … has become a symbol of human rights in Indonesia,” she says.

Those behind the assassination might have succeeded in killing Munir, but in doing so, they unwittingly created a martyr, an inspiration and a legend.

Further Coverage

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Indonesian energy minister Wacik named suspect in corruption case

Yahoo - AFP, 3 Sep 2014

Indonesian Energy Minister Jero Wacik speaks to journalists after appearing before
the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in Jakarta, on December 2, 2013

Indonesia's energy minister was Wednesday named a suspect in a corruption case, the third member of the Cabinet to become embroiled in a graft scandal in recent times.

Jero Wacik stands accused of extortion of state funds and abuse of power, and is suspected of swelling his ministry's budget by almost 10 billion rupiah ($850,000) through illicit activities, the agency said.

"He demanded people in the ministry carry out several things so he could get bigger operational funds than budgeted," said Bambang Widjojanto, a senior official from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

These included collecting kickbacks and claiming money for arranging fictitious meetings, said Widjojanto.

The KPK, which has won huge popularity by doggedly pursuing corruption suspects in one of the world's most graft-ridden countries, set its sights on Wacik last year after the head of the main energy regulator was found to have accepted kickbacks.

Rudi Rubiandini was caught red-handed at his home in the capital Jakarta being handed stacks of US and Singapore dollars, and was jailed in April for seven years.

Wacik had recommended Rubiandini for his position, and his regulatory body came under the authority of the energy ministry.

There was no immediate reaction from Wacik, who was still at liberty. The KPK typically names people corruption suspects publicly and only detains them weeks or months later.

Widjojanto said that the agency would seek to have a travel ban imposed on him as soon as possible, the normal procedure when people are named graft suspects.

His arrest comes after the former sports minister was jailed for four years in July following a conviction for corruption linked to the construction of a sports stadium. He had stepped down from his Cabinet post after the scandal erupted.

And in May, the religion minister quit after being accused of misusing funds that were supposed to help Muslims go on pilgrimage to Mecca.

Wacik is a senior figure in the Democratic Party of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, which has been hammered by corruption scandals and saw its popularity fall heavily at April legislative elections.

Yudhoyono has ruled in a coalition with several other parties for the past decade, but in October will step down to make way for Joko Widodo, who is seen as a clean leader and has pledged to root out corruption.

Indonesia is ranked 114th out of 177 countries and territories in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index. A number one ranking means the least corrupt.

Related Article:

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Atut Sentenced to Four Years in Jail for Bribing Top Judge

Jakarta Globe, Rizky Amelia, Sep 01, 2014

Ratu Atut Chosiyah, the suspended governor of Banten, was sentenced to
four years in jail on Monday. (Antara Photo/Vitalis Yogi Trisna)

Jakarta. The Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court on Monday sentenced suspended Banten Governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah to four years in prison for bribing disgraced Constitutional Court Chief Justice Akil Mochtar to sway the results of an election dispute.

“[We] declare defendant Ratu Atut Chosiyah as being validly and convincingly guilty of [practicing] joint corruption,” presiding judge Matheus Samiadji said. “[We] sentence the defendant to four years imprisonment [and to pay] a Rp 200 million [$17,000] fine, or spend an additional five months in jail.”

Matheus said Atut had failed to act in support of the government’s fight against corruption, but added that the judges had also taken into consideration her role as a mother and as a grandmother in her family.

Despite being substantially lighter than the 10-year imprisonment and Rp 250 million fine initially sought by prosecutors, Atut maintains her sentence was unfair.

“It is clearly not fair,” she said, adding that one of the five judges at the court had voiced a dissenting opinion and called for her acquittal. “One judge had acquitted me.”

Atut, who maintained her innocence, has been found guilty of paying Akil Rp 1 billion to issue a favorable ruling in a Lebak election dispute, a scandal that has also implicated her brother Tubagus Chaeri Wardana Chasan and lawyer Susi Tur Andayani — both of whom have been convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.

The money was meant to overturn the results of the Lebak district election and make Amir Hamzah, Atut’s chosen candidate, the winner.

The prosecution has confirmed it will appeal Monday’s verdict.

Related Articles:

Friday, August 29, 2014

For Constitutional Court Chief Hamdan, Justice Will Prevail

Jakarta Globe, Kennial Caroline Laia & Adelia Anjani Putri, Aug 28, 2014

Head of Indonesia’s Constitutional Court Hamdan Zoelva has garnered praise
 for his leadership in a case that decided the fate of an entire nation. (Reuters
Photo/Darren Whiteside)

Jakarta. Hamdan Zoelva was dressed in his gray suit and white shirt — not the black judicial robe he commonly dons while presiding over hearings at the Constitutional Court occasionally broadcast on television.

The chief justice of the Court (MK) has become one of the most talked-about figures in Indonesian politics after he led the court hearing last week upholding outgoing Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo’s win in the presidential election.

Hamdan’s leading role in presiding over an impactful trial that ultimately delivered a unanimous vote in favor of Joko, has won not only praise by political observers, who called him “the man of the hour” as the court handed down its verdict that day, it has also transformed him into a social media darling. The chief justice especially been a big hit with the nation’s female population, with its social media users taking to Twitter and Facebook to gush about his “handsome” looks.

Hamdan said he was aware of his sudden popularity — there have been many mentions of his account on Twitter, @hamdanzoelva, and hordes of fans have been commenting on his Facebook pages since that day of the court ruling.

“Their reactions actually surprised me. But I thank the [social media] commenters for that. I consider that an appreciation,” Hamdan told the Jakarta Globe during an interview in his office on Tuesday.

“But most importantly, to me it means that the court has had a great effect on people. They probably took notice because they watched the judicial process [on television], and that counted as people’s participation in our democracy.”

Born in Bima, West Nusa Tenggara, 52 years ago, Hamdan began his professional career as a lawyer in a Jakarta-based firm. In 1999, he was elected to represent his home province in parliament (DPR), under the banner of the Islamic Crescent Star Party (PBB). Between 1999 and 2002, he was the only representative of the party in the ad hoc committee for the 1945 Constitution amendments.

In early 2010, Hamdan left his political career behind after he was appointed as one of the Constitutional Court justices. Joining the court at the age of 47, Hamdan was the youngest constitutional judge at that time.

Being a chief of the nation’s highest judiciary institution, though, had never been Hamdan’s plan.

“It’s a destined path,” he said, adding that he also had never expected to take on the responsibilities of a job he used to avoid: a judge.

“When I was little, I was told that most judges would go to hell — two out of three of them,” Hamdan said.

“It’s hard to be a fair and good judge, it needs both competency and high integrity. A judge without integrity will bring [disaster] to justice.”

Presidential dispute

Within the comforts of his spacious office, Hamdan, who earned his master and doctorate degrees in law from Bandung’s Padjadjaran University (Unpad), gave the Globe a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the election dispute, as seen through his eyes.

The appeal that kick-started the process had been filed by losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto shortly after the announcement by the General Elections Commission (KPU) of its official tally on July 22, naming Joko as victor of what had been an emotionally charged race.

Hamdan called the trial — and the troubles stemming from it — occupational risks. Not only did the monumental proceedings attract pressures from both social and political parties, Hamdan and his family also received threats, according to media reports.

“Well, they weren’t exactly [terrorist acts],” Hamdan said of the reported threats. “My wife and I did receive [threatening] text messages, but those were all just empty words, nothing serious.”

He responded with a simple act — he turned off his phone.

“I said, if we receive numerous phone calls and messages, just turn it off, it wouldn’t kill us, right? So I turned off my public cellphone for one, maybe two days, and voila . I think of those messages as non existent,” he said.

Police also took precautionary steps by providing special security for the court’s nine justices, including Hamdan.

“There was extra security during the elections, since the legislative ones, but it was tighter during the presidential election. They guarded me, my family, my house, my official residence and even my house back in the village,” he said.

In the court’s headquarters in Central Jakarta, security was also beefed up as Prabowo’s supporters staged rallies in front of the court nearly every day of the proceedings. The crowd, said Hamdan, had no success in affecting the result of the trial.

“We saw them only on TV. We rarely looked at them. We were busy working — meetings, hearings, document checks and filling, and other [duties]. In any case, we cannot be pressured by anything.”

The chief justice was also a subject of a number accusations that surfaced during the trial, including the allegation that he was siding with one party or another. What made these claims particularly interesting — or especially ridiculous — was that they were made by both sides involved in the trial. Joko’s supporters cast doubt on Hamdan because of his past affiliation with the PBB, a party in Prabowo’s coalition, while Prabowo supporters accused him of having familial relation with a member of Joko’s campaign team.

“I’ve kept my neutrality,” Hamdan said on this. “I knew both camps — the candidates, the campaign teams, they are mostly my friends. I used to be in politics, so I know most of them. For me, what’s important is how I position myself in the middle, as a referee. Shutting down my partisanship is the very first thing I have to do before making any decision.”

Hamdan also emphasized he didn’t work alone during the trial; all nine justices claimed equal share in deciding the fate of the nation.

And although none of the justices offered a dissenting opinion during the ruling, Hamdan said disagreements were not uncommon during the justices’ deliberation of cases.

“If we can’t settle on one conclusion, one can always offer a dissenting opinion,” Hamdan said.

Now that the ruling is out, Prabowo’s camp announced it will continue to take legal actions through the state administrative court (PTUN).

Hamdan declined to comment.

“I don’t have to comment on that, it’s outside the [constitutional] court. All rulings [on who can stake claim of the presidency] are final in this court,” he said, implying that nothing would be able to subvert Joko’s victory.

Hamdan did comment on statements made by Prabowo spokesman Tantowi Yahya shortly after the ruling was announced. Tantowi said the court had failed to represent “substantial truth and justice.”

“[Proceedings for] an election dispute are designed to be quick, that’s why the law only gives 14 days to settle [the complaint]. It’s basically only a matter of counting, so if one claims that their votes have gone missing, he has to provide evidence to support it. In this election dispute, the allegations were wide … [but] weren’t supported by evidence, so they were not proven,” he said.

“The court will only process structured, systematic and massive fraud if it results in a significant change in the tally.”

Hamdan agreed that many violations did take place in the July 9 presidential election, but they were minor.

The justices agreed the irregularities could not be considered as “structured, systematic and massive,” nor did they significantly alter the outcome of the final tally.

“So, does that mean that we didn’t take substantial truth into consideration?” he asked. “Justice has to be based on evidence and truth. Without them, there would be deviation.”

Questioned credibility

Hamdan, a successor of disgraced former chief justice Akil Mochtar, said work performance was the sole key to regaining the public’s trust after the court’s credibility was severely tarnished by Akil, who was sentenced to life in prison in June for receiving bribes in several regional election disputes handled by the court.

“We work as professionally as we can. As for credibility, we leave it to the public to judge. We don’t brag about our work. People wouldn’t believe us anyway,” he said.

Hamdan shared his thoughts on his biggest challenge as a justice.

“To maintain objectivity is the biggest challenge in our job. Sometimes, those who approach the Court with a case are people we consider friends or family members. So, how do we keep our objectivity? By simply seeing everyone as equal before the law,” Hamdan said.

“The fear of God is important as well, perhaps the most important, because essentially, we can hide from people, but we cannot hide from God.”

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Indonesia, Australia Sign Deal to End Spying Row

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Aug 28, 2014

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, right, shakes hand with Australian Foreign
 Minister Julie Bishop, left, during their meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali on Aug. 28, 2014.
(EPA Photo/Made Nagi)

Nusa Dua. Indonesia and Australia on Thursday signed an agreement aimed at drawing a line under a damaging espionage row and paving the way for the resumption of full cooperation on issues such as defense.

Ties between the neighbors sank to their lowest point in years in November after reports that Australian spies tried to tap the phones of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his inner circle.

Jakarta recalled its ambassador from Canberra and suspended cooperation in several areas over the incident, including efforts to stop people-smuggling boats reaching Australia.

Yudhoyono called for a code of conduct to govern behavior and, after months of talks on the issue, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and her Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa on Thursday signed an agreement.

With Yudhoyono looking on, the pair inked the deal, named the “Joint Understanding on a Code of Conduct between the Republic of Indonesia and Australia”, at a ceremony on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

In the agreement, Indonesia and Australia pledge to not use their intelligence agencies to harm one another and to increase cooperation at a time fears are growing about the threat posed by home-grown Islamic militants returning from Middle East conflicts.

“We are back to where we should have been in terms of Indonesia-Australia relations,” Natalegawa said, adding that he believed cooperation would be “even more enhanced in the future in front of us”.

Bishop said: “Despite some recent challenges in our relationship — as there can be between neighbors, even strategic partners as close as Australia and Indonesia — we have proven that our two countries can keep working together across the board.”

She added the agreement was “the most effective way to defeat those who would do harm to the people of Australia and Indonesia”.

Extremist concerns

Both countries have expressed alarm that home-grown extremists are heading in increasing numbers to fight with violent groups such as the Islamic State overseas, and have stepped up counter terrorism efforts.

Yudhoyono said he hoped relations would be strengthened by the accord: “I am hoping, personally, that we could go back to our strong relations and effective cooperation.”

Allegations that Australian spies tried to tap the phones of Yudhoyono, his wife and several top officials in 2009 sparked one of the worst diplomatic crises between the two strategic allies in years.

Reports at the time said that Australia’s electronic intelligence agency tracked Yudhoyono’s activity on his mobile phone for 15 days in August 2009, when Labor’s Kevin Rudd was prime minister.

The list of tracking targets also included his wife Ani, the foreign affairs spokesman, the security minister and the information minister.

Jakarta responded furiously to the reports, which were based on documents leaked by US intelligence fugitive Edward Snowden, by suspending bilateral cooperation in key areas.

Ties were further strained by Australia’s policy of pushing people-smuggling boats carrying asylum-seekers back to Indonesia.

Indonesia and Australia are close strategic and trading partners and have traditionally worked together in many areas, including on anti-terrorism initiatives and on the sensitive issue of would-be refugees.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

SBY Satisfied on Leaving Office

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Aug 26, 2014

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. (Antara Photo/Andika Wahyu)

Sydney. Outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Tuesday he leaves office with a sense of satisfaction after strengthening democracy and the economy during a decade in power.

The former general stands down in October when Joko Widodo, the reform-minded governor of Jakarta who won July’s presidential polls, takes the reins of Southeast Asia’s top economy.

In an interview with The Australian newspaper, Yudhoyono admitted there was more work to be done, but said he had accomplished much.

“I leave my office with a sense of satisfaction that I have tried to do my best to serve the nation, and that at the end of my 10 years in office Indonesia is a stronger nation, a stronger democracy and a stronger economy,” he said.

Yudhoyono took on a nation suffering widespread graft, an insurgency in Aceh province and bombings by the Jemaah Islamiyah network when he was elected in Indonesia’s first direct presidential poll in 2004.

“We had many challenges but, one by one, we fixed our problems,” he said.

“We resolved the longstanding separatist conflict in Aceh. We stabilized the situation in Papua. We survived the tsunami crisis [of 2004] and many other natural disasters.

“We fought corruption hard, not always successfully. We neutralized and disrupted terrorist groups. We pursued a more active international engagement in a turbulent world,” he added.

Yudhoyono said Indonesia, where around half of the mostly Muslim population of 250 million are poor, had also weathered the global financial crisis and completed direct elections for all local leaders.

Economic growth had been healthy, averaging 5.9 percent during the period of 2009 to 2013, he said.

And although it had fallen to 5.2 percent in the first part of 2014, Indonesia was still experiencing higher economic growth than many other nations.

“In fact, in the G20, Indonesia has the second highest growth after China,” he said, adding that he expected growth to reach 6.0 percent or more within two years.

The president said that while he had made the unpopular decision to increase the price of petrol last year, and this year hiked electricity and gas, costly fuel subsidies had needed to be adjusted.

“My hope is that the new government will give the subsidy to the poor. We should not give the subsidy to the commodities but to the people who need it: the poor,” he said.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife Ani Yudhoyono at
the legislative complex in Senayan on Friday. (Antara Photo/Ismar Patrizki)

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