"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -

“ … 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.)

The headquarters of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in 
Jakarta. (BeritaSatu Photo)
"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Friday, May 31, 2013

Commentary: Minimum Wage Boost Aids Consumers and Retailers

Jakarta Globe, Eka Kusuma, May 30, 2013 
A shopping center in Makassar. (JG Photo/ Yudhi Sukma Wijaya)

At the start of this year, following large demonstrations, the Jakarta provincial government increased the minimum wage by 44 percent — to Rp 2.2 million ($224) a month, from Rp 1.5 million.

Even as other provinces raised their rates, Jakarta continued to offer the most generous minimum wage in the country. The increases prompted the question: how does the minimum wage affect the spending patterns of Indonesian consumers across different social classes?

It appears a wage increase does indeed boost consumption. This sounds like good news for manufacturers as they can harvest more sales from consumers, who may purchase more premium products, or others more focused on needs.

A recent study from Kantar Worldpanel into premium fast-moving consumer goods in Indonesia found that optimism was likely to be positively correlated with income, meaning high-income earners were more optimistic than low- and middle-income earners.

The study of 7,000 households across the country also found that people with higher levels of optimism toward the economy spend more on average than those who are more pessimistic.

With regard to brand preference for fast-moving consumer goods, Kantar Worldpanel found that consumers are more likely to purchase premium brands on personal care categories compared with other segments, like home care or food and beverage.

Food and beverage purchases constitute the bulk of household spending, and is also the sector where the spending gap between the rich and the poor is largest.

During festive periods, such as Ramadan and Christmas, spending on food and beverage represented an even higher share of household income than usual. The average household increased its spending by 16 percent during festive periods, while high-income earners increased their spending by an average of 21 percent.

This suggests the increased minimum wage would likely lead to increased festive spending.

But a note of caution is necessary — a 2011 study of Indonesia’s minimum wage found that increasing the minimum wages led to a fall in jobs, as companies seek to control their costs. Such an outcome would hurt discretionary spending.

Eka Kusuma works for Kantar Worldpanel, a multinational consumer research company.

Yudhoyono Receives World Statesman Award in New York

Jakarta Globe, Markus Junianto Sihaloho, May 31, 2013

An Indonesian shi’ite woman (1st L) is comforted by a Batak Christian congregation
 member (L-white) as they reveal photos depicting persecutions during a protest held by
 Solidarity for Victims of Freedom of Religion, Worship and Faith (Sobat KBB) against
 “the World Statesman” award for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, outside
the presidential palace in Jakarta on May 26, 2013. (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono received in New York on Thursday evening the World Statesman Award from a US interfaith organization for his role in promoting religious tolerance and freedom of worship in Indonesia.

Yudhoyono said building a tolerant society is a matter of good statecraft.

“And this is something that no leader can do alone. This is something that requires the collective work of a large pool of leaders, of all persuasion, and in all fields doing their statecraft to lead and inspire those who follow them,” he said in his speech, a copy of which was sent to the Jakarta Globe.

The president has been widely criticized by human rights organization over his decision to receive the award from the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, citing cases of religious intolerance in Indonesia, such as the shuttering of the GKI Yasmin and HKBP Filadelfia churches and the attacks on Ahmadiyah members and their mosques.

Philosophy lecturer and interfaith activist Franz Magnis Suseno sent a letter to the foundation objecting to the award. He said that Yudhoyono did not do anything significant to protect the Ahmadiyah and Shia communities, who were considered heretics by conservative Islamic groups.

“This is a shame, a shame for you. It discredits any claim you might make as an institution with moral intentions,” Franz wrote in his letter. “How can you take such a decision without asking concerned people in Indonesia? Hopefully you have not made this decision in response to prodding by people from our government or the entourage of the president.”

The son of Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama figure Imam Shofwan even made an online petition called “No Award to SBY,” calling for the foundation not to give the award.

“I grew up in a Nahdatul Ulama family, and I agree with what Prof. Magnis said. I believe that a crime committed in the name of religion is a crime against religion. Ironically, this happens to be ACF’s credo.”

In his speech, Yudhoyono said that “maintaining peace, order, and harmony is something that can never be taken for granted.”

“We are still facing a number of problems on the ground.  Pockets of intolerance persist.  Communal conflicts occasionally flare up. Religious sensitivities sometimes give rise to disputes, with groups taking matters into their own hands.  Radicalism still exists on the fringe,” he said.

“This, I believe, is a problem that is not exclusive to Indonesia alone, and may in fact be a global phenomenon.”

He said the Indonesian government would use several approaches to solve the problem, and that the government “would not tolerate any act of senseless violence committed by any group in the name of the religion.”

“We will not allow any desecration of places of worship of any religion for whatever reason. We will always protect our minorities and ensure that no one suffers from discrimination. We will make sure that those who violate the rights of others will face the arms of justice,” he said.

Yudhoyono added that people might be surprised to know that there are actually 61,000 churches in Indonesia, which he said was probably more than the number of churches in Great Britain and Germany.

Eva Kusuma Sundari, a lawmaker from the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said she was disappointed that the president insisted on receiving the award.

“I’m sad over the president’s decision to still receive the award, which was not accountably given as from the start the process was full of controversy,” Eva said on Friday.

Eva claimed that the award was given after one of Yudhoyono’s former ministers lobbied the foundation.

“I heard that Indonesian embassy staff were busy as they had to be the sales people of the event, which did not receive a positive response from buyers,” Eva said. “This is our concern because the award ceremony was not an interesting show.”

Information from the foundation shows that the tickets to the dinner event were priced at $1,0oo for individuals while corporate sponsorships go from $10,000 to $100,000 per table.

President Yudhoyono received the World Statement Award presented by Rabbi Arthur Scheneier at an event which was also attended by former US state secretary Henry Kissinger, Antara news agency reported.

Also present on the occasion were First Lady Ani Yudhoyono, Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa, State Secretary Sudi Silalahi, and Indonesian Ambassador to the US Dino Patty Djalal.

President Yudhoyono receives the World Statesman Award by Rabbi
Schneier. (Reuters Photo/Eduardo Munoz).

Related Articles:

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration LecturesGod / CreatorReligions/Spiritual systems  (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it),  Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse),  Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) (Text version) 

… Spiritual Systems

Let's speak about spiritual systems. I will report on what we have said in the past and what may very well be in store for you in the future. There are many spiritual systems on the planet, but the one that we wish to speak of is the one right now that has approximately one billion followers, for this is one we have spoken of before and it's the one that's going to change the most. It's old, and the leader is currently called the Pope.

Now, if you want some information about what's going on in his church, find out how many are signing up to be priests and nuns. In most parts of the world, it's very few. Certain countries have sustained the numbers, but most of them are finding the numbers reduced greatly. Without interest from younger people, this whole spiritual breed is dying. The organization is losing its younger leader pool, and it has been noticed by the church.

Now, here's what I'd like to tell you, dear ones: The potentials are that this church is going to survive, as well it should. Know this: There is nothing occurring now that will create a full earth that will be metaphysical, esoterically minded or New Age. That is not going to happen. It doesn't have to happen and it shouldn't happen, for it doesn't respect the elders of those who have different systems, but who also have healings and the love of God in their systems. Instead, these systems are going to see themselves recalibrate - that is, adjust and correct.

Blessed are the Human Beings who find God in their own way. Old souls will awaken to a truth that new souls are still working on. This explains the various levels of worship on this planet and the reason for very diverse spiritual systems. Many Human Beings who do not have the advantage of your old soul wisdom will motivate towards systems you may feel are too simple, and even mythological. But these systems are often the beginnings of understanding God. There is a place for it all. So let us speak about the Catholic Church.

I gave you a channelling years ago when Pope John Paul was alive. John Paul loved Mary, the mother. Had John Paul survived another 10 years, he would have done what the next Pope [The one after the current one, Benedict XVI] will do, and that is to bring women into the Church. This Pope you have now [Benedict XVI] won't be here long.* The next Pope will be the one who has to change the rules, should he survive. If he doesn't, it will be the one after that.

There it a large struggle within the Church, even right now, and great dissention, for it knows that it is not giving what humanity wants. The doctrine is not current to the puzzles of life. The answer will be to create a better balance between the feminine and masculine, and the new Pope, or the one after that, will try to allow women to be in the higher echelon of the Church structure to assist the priests.

It will be suggested to let women participate in services, doing things women did not do before. This graduates them within church law to an equality with priests, but doesn't actually let them become priests just yet. However, don't be surprised if this begins in another way, and instead gives priests the ability to marry. This will bring the feminine into the church in other ways. It will eventually happen and has to happen. If it does not, it will be the end of the Catholic Church, for humanity will not sustain a spiritual belief system that is out of balance with the love of God and also out of balance with intuitive Human awareness.

New Tolerance

Look for a softening of finger pointing and an awakening of new tolerance. There will remain many systems for different cultures, as traditions and history are important to sustaining the integrity of culture. So there are many in the Middle East who would follow the prophet and they will continue, but with an increase of awareness. It will be the increase of awareness of what the prophet really wanted all along - unity and tolerance. The angel in the cave instructed him to "unify the tribes and give them the God of Israel." You're going to start seeing a softening of intolerance and the beginning of a new way of being.

Eventually, this will create an acknowledgement that says, "You may not believe the way we believe, but we honor you and your God. We honor our prophet and we will love you according to his teachings. We don't have to agree in order to love." How would you like that? The earth is not going to turn into one belief system. It never will, for Humans don't do that. There must be variety, and there must be the beauty of cultural differences. But the systems will slowly update themselves with increased awareness of the truth of a new kind of balance. So that's the first thing. Watch for these changes, dear ones. ...."

"... Conclusion

This is the message of the day. The recalibration of awareness is going to change systems, education, government and finance. Those who don't choose to be spiritual at all will still move with a new awareness, for they will be aware of something that they are not aware of now - a softer way of living.

We close with a trite statement that we've given before, but that many have stated in jest: "If women ran the world, they would never send their sons to be killed on a battlefield."

Many laugh. How trite, how simple minded. Indeed, there have been women leaders who have put wars together; they had to. They sent their sons, so that's not really a correct statement. However, it's more right than you may think, dear ones.

So now I will make the statement I have made over and over in these recalibrated channellings: "When recalibrated Humans run the world, there will come a day when they will never send their sons into the battlefield." You see, awareness will change all of that. They will eventually see the wisdom of unification, new ways to settle issues, and the intuitive attribute of putting things together instead of tearing them apart.

There will be a time when government armies will not need to be large, and weapons will not be as powerful. Slowly, government won't need them. Slowly, slower than you want, these things will happen as the old soul carries his light and looks at the masters of the planet and emulates them.

You've all heard it: There will come a time when the masters will come back to Earth, and there are many who are waiting for this. However, it has already happened! They couldn't come back until the alignment was right and now it is right. This is what you are feeling in 2012 and beyond. It's starting to happen, and they're back. But they're not back as corporeal Human Beings. They're back as the energy of recalibrating of the awareness of God.

I wouldn't say these things unless they were true. Watch for these things, dear ones. Remember where you heard them first and when some of them start to occur in your news. And when you see the earth working in this fashion, dear one, maybe you'll realize that what I have given today is real.

Be circumspect. There is no perfect timing. Humans will create all this at their own pace. Do not be in fear of the things that might follow, for I say it yet again that the old energy will show itself soon in survival mode and it won't be pretty.

In this beginning of new energy, stand tall and turn on your light. Darkness will shirk before you. That is the truth of the day. ...”

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

ILO Prepares Building Safety Guidelines for Indonesian Garment Factories

Jakarta Globe, Erwida Maulia, May 28, 2013

Workers set up a tent as they demand for better pay in front of a garment factory
in Tangerang, Banten, in this April 10, 2013 file photo. (JG Photo/Fajrin Raharjo)

The Indonesian office of the International Labor Organization on Tuesday said it was preparing new infrastructure safety assessment guidelines for Indonesian garment factories in the wake of a building collapse in Bangladesh that killed over 1,100 people.

The ILO said it was drafting the new infrastructure assessment criteria under its Better Work Indonesia program, and would use it to appeal to Indonesian garment makers to ensure the safety of their factories.

“In a country that is prone to earthquakes and other natural disasters, it is imperative that employers ensure their buildings are structurally sound by regularly making sure that their buildings are in line with government regulations,” BWI program manager Simon Field said in a press statement on Tuesday.

BWI senior enterprise adviser Muhammad Anis Nugroho said that Indonesia already has comprehensive regulations on building safety, but admitted that implementation was always an issue.

“A public works minister regulation on this [building safety], for example, is quite detailed — there should be regular inspections, and so on,” Anis said. “But it uses phrases only experts on the matter can comprehend.”

The new ILO guidelines, Anis said, are expected to help factories comply with the existing regulations by translating the technical terms into “practicable” guidelines.

He said that it was still unclear how well the government has followed its own regulations.

However, he added, companies should want to improve the safety of their work environments following the collapse of the eight-story building that housed five garment factories in Bangladesh, dubbed the world’s worst garment industry disaster.

“We will involve the government in the creation of the guidelines,” Anis said. “In the end, we want this to help the government carry out inspections.”

Indonesia earned $12.5 billion from textile exports last year. The figure is expected to increase to $13.5 billion this year, with the United States and Europe remaining the country’s main markets.

In comparison, Bangladesh, the world’s second largest apparel exporter after China, records $20 billion annually from textile exports.

SBY Signs Eco-Friendly Car Regulation

Jakarta Globe, May 28, 2013

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recently signed a government regulation aimed at supporting the development of environmentally-friendly vehicles in Indonesia.

Newsportal Kompas.com reported on Tuesday that Yudhoyono signed the Low Emission Car Project decree, which seeks to curb taxes and boost demand for greener cars.

“The president signed it yesterday [Monday],” Johnny Darmawan, the president director of Toyota Astra Motor, told Kompas.com on Monday.

An anonymous source at the Ministry of Industry also confirmed to Kompas that the decree had been signed.

The regulation stipulates special tax incentives for eco-friendly vehicles such as hybrids and electric cars. Furthermore, it notes that such cars must be assembled in Indonesia and fulfill the minimum standard for local parts to receive the tax break.

“It was proposed that luxury taxes would not apply to low-cost green cars ,” Budi Darmadi, the director general of advanced industry based on high technology at the Ministry of Industry, said.

Previously, Astra International said the company would delay production of its eco-friendly vehicle model, the Ayla.

Astra Daihatsu director Pongky Prabowo said the company is waiting for government regulations on low-cost green cars before it starts producing the Daihatsu Ayla and the Toyota Agya, the latter a collaboration with Toyota Motors.

Related Article:

Monday, May 27, 2013

Xi Jinping cracks down on luxury mansion owners in PLA

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2013-05-26

China's president, Xi Jinping, greets soldiers on May 23, 2013. (Photo/Xinhua)

China's president and chairman of CPC Central Military Commission, Xi Jinping, is cracking down on senior officers in the People's Liberation Army with luxurious mansions, reports our sister paper Want Daily.

The latest anti-corruption initiative, which began earlier this month, is expected to conclude before the National Day holidays in October and is reportedly aimed towards extravagant high ranking officials and the illegal sale or lease of military property.

The operation comes amid reports that Gu Junshan, the former deputy commander of the PLA's General Logistics Department, was sacked last February and is currently under investigation for alleged corruption, owning a 13,200 square meter mansion in Beijing. Gu is also said to be the owner of a second mansion in his hometown of Puyang in central China's Henan province, with each tree within the mansion's garden estimated to be worth at least 400,000 yuan (US$65,200).

Beijing will also look into claims that high ranking PLA officials are selling or leasing military property for personal gain. All sales and leases of PLA property must first obtain permission from the Central Military Commission, which owns all military property rights.

The move appears to be yet another push by Xi to eradicate official corruption in the Chinese military. Since being appointed chairman of the Central Military Commission last November, Xi has already launched a frugality campaign banning officials and state-owned companies from using public funds to hold lavish banquets and purchase luxury cars.

Liu Mingfu, a professor at the PLA National Defence University in Beijing, said that the sweeping anti-corruption measures initiated by Xi have stunned the PLA. Anti-corruption schemes must have high standards, be thorough, and value the voice of the people, Liu said, adding that the PLA must learn to accept public supervision. 

  • Xi Jinping  習近平 
  • Gu Junshan  谷俊山 
  • Liu Mingfu  劉明福
Related Article:

'The Sumatran rainforest will mostly disappear within 20 years'

In only a few years, logging and agribusiness have cut Indonesia's vast rainforest by half. The government has renewed a moratorium on deforestation but it may already be too late for the endangered animals –and for the people whose lives lie in ruin

The Guardian, John Vidal, The Observer, Sunday 26 May 2013

Our small plane had been flying low over Sumatra for three hours but all we had seen was an industrial landscape of palm and acacia trees stretching 30 miles in every direction. A haze of blue smoke from newly cleared land drifted eastward over giant plantations. Long drainage canals dug through equatorial swamps dissected the land. The only sign of life was excavators loading trees onto barges to take to pulp mills.

The end is in sight for the great forests of Sumatra and Borneo and the animals and people who depend on them. Thirty years ago the world's third- and sixth-largest islands were full of tigers, elephants, rhinos, orangutan and exotic birds and plants but in a frenzy of development they have been trashed in a single generation by global agribusiness and pulp and paper industries.

Their plantations supply Britain and the world with toilet paper, biofuels and vegetable oil to make everyday foods such as margarine, cream cheese and chocolate, but distraught scientists and environmental groups this week warn that one of the 21st century's greatest ecological disasters is rapidly unfolding.

Official figures show more than half of Indonesia's rainforest, the third-largest swath in the world, has been felled in a few years and permission has been granted to convert up to 70% of what remains into palm or acacia plantations. The government last week renewed a moratorium on the felling of rainforest, but nearly a million hectares are still being cut each year and the last pristine areas, in provinces such as Ache and Papua, are now prime targets for giant logging, palm and mining companies.

The toll on wildlife across an area nearly the size of Europe is vast, say scientists who warn that many of Indonesia's species could be extinct in the wild within 20-30 years. Orangutan numbers are in precipitous decline, only 250-400 tigers remain and fewer than 100 rhino are left in the forests, said the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Millions of hectares are nominally protected, but the forest is fragmented, national parks are surrounded by plantations, illegal loggers work with impunity and corruption is rife in government. "This is the fastest, most comprehensive transformation of an entire landscape that has ever taken place anywhere in the world including the Amazon. If it continues at this rate all that will be left in 20 years is a few fragmented areas of natural forest surrounded by huge manmade plantations. There will be increased floods, fires and droughts but no animals," said Yuyun Indradi, political forest campaigner with Greenpeace southeast Asia in Jakarta.

Last night the WWF's chief Asian tiger expert pleaded with the Indonesian government and the world to stop the growth of palm oil plantations. "Forest conversion is massive. We urgently need stronger commitment from the government and massive support from the people. We cannot tolerate any further conversion of natural forests," said Sunarto Sunarto in Jakarta.

Indonesia's deforestation has been accompanied by rising violence, say watchdog groups. Last year, more than 600 major land conflicts were recorded in the palm plantations. Many turned violent as communities that had lost their traditional forest fought multinational companies and security forces. More than 5,000 human rights abuses were recorded, with 22 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

"The legacy of deforestation has been conflict, increased poverty, migration to the cities and the erosion of habitat for animals. As the forests come down, social conflicts are exploding everywhere," said Abetnego Tarigan, director of Walhi, Indonesia's largest environment group.

Scientists fear that the end of the forest could come quickly. Conflict-wracked Aceh, which bore the brunt of the tsunami in 2004, will lose more than half its trees if a new government plan to change the land use is pushed through. A single Canadian mining company is seeking to exploit 1.77m hectares for mining, logging and palm plantations.

Large areas of central Sumatra and Kalimantan are being felled as coal, copper and gold mining companies move in. Millions of hectares of forest in west Papua are expected to be converted to palm plantations.

"Papuans, some of the poorest citizens in Indonesia, are being utterly exploited in legally questionable oil palm land deals that provide huge financial opportunities for international investors at the expense of the people and forests of West Papua," said Jago Wadley, a forest campaigner with the Environment Investigation Agency.

Despite a commitment last week from the government to extend a moratorium on deforestation for two years, Indonesia is still cutting down its forests faster than any other country. Loopholes in the law mean the moratorium only covers new licences and primary forests, and excludes key peatland areas and existing concessions which are tiger and elephant habitats. "No one seems able to stop the destruction," said Greenpeace International's forest spokesman, Phil Aikman.

The conflicts often arise when companies are granted dubious logging or plantation permissions that overlap with community-managed traditional forests and protected areas such as national parks.

Nine villages have been in conflict with the giant paper company April, which has permission to convert, with others, 450,000 hectares of deep peat forests on the Kampar Peninsula in central Sumatra. Because the area contains as much as 1.5bn tonnes of carbon, it has global importance in the fight against climate change.

"We would die for this [forest] if necessary. This is a matter of life and death. The forest is our life. We depend on it when we want to build our houses or boats. We protect it. The permits were handed out illegally, but now we have no option but to work for the companies or hire ourselves out for pitiful wages," said one village leader from Teluk Meranti who feared to give his name.

They accuse corrupt local officials of illegally grabbing their land. April, which strongly denies involvement in corruption, last week announced plans to work with London-based Flora and Fauna international to restore 20,000 hectares of degraded forest land.

Fifty miles away, near the town of Rengit, villagers watched in horror last year when their community forest was burned down – they suspect by people in the pay of a large palm oil company. "Life is terrible now. We are ruined. We used to get resin, wood, timber, fuel from the forest. Now we have no option but to work for the palm oil company. The company beat us. The fire was deliberate. This forest was everything for us. We used it as our supermarket, building store, chemist shop and fuel supplier for generations of people. Now we must put plastic on our roofs," said one man from the village of Bayesjaya who also asked not to be named.

Mursyi Ali from the village of Kuala Cenaku in the province of Riau, has spent 10 years fighting oil plantation companies which were awarded a giant concession. "Maybe 35,000 people have been impacted by their plantations. Everyone is very upset. People have died in protests. I have not accepted defeat yet. These conflicts are going on everywhere. Before the companies came we had a lot of natural resources, like honey, rattan, fish, shrimps and wood," he said.

"We had all we wanted. That all went when the companies came. Everything that we depended on went. Deforestaion has led to pollution and health problems. We are all poorer now. I blame the companies and the government, but most of all the government," he continued. He pleaded with the company: "Please resolve this problem and give us back the 4,100 hectares of land. We would die for this if necessary. This is a life or death," he says.

Greenpeace and other groups accuse the giant pulp and palm companies of trashing tens of thousands of hectares of rainforest a year but the companies respond that they are the forest defenders and without them the ecological devastation would be worse. "There has been a rampant escalation of the denuding of the landscape but it is mostly by migrant labour and palm oil growers. Poverty and illegal logging along with migrant labour have caused the deforestation," said April's spokesman, David Goodwin.

"What April does is not deforestation. In establishing acacia plantations in already-disturbed forest areas, it is contributing strongly to reforestation. Last year April planted more than 100 million trees. Deforestation happens because of highly organised illegal logging, slash-and-burn practices by migrant labour, unregulated timber operations. There has been a explosion of palm oil concessions."

The company would not reveal how much rainforest it and its suppliers fell each year but internal papers seen by the Observer show that it planned to deforest 60,000 hectares of rainforest in 2012 but postponed this pending the moratorium. It admits that it has a concession of 20,000 hectares of forest that it has permission to fell and that it takes up to one third of its timber from "mixed tropical hardwood" for its giant pulp and paper mill near Penabaru in Riau.

There are some signs of hope. The heat is now on other large palm oil and paper companies after Asia Pacific Resources International (APP), one of the world's largest pulp and paper companies, was persuaded this year by international and local Indonesian groups to end all rainforest deforestation and to rely solely on its plantations for its wood.

The company, which admits to having felled hundreds of thousands of acres of Sumatran forest in the last 20 years, had been embarrassed and financially hurt when other global firms including Adidas, Kraft, Mattel, Hasbro, Nestlé, Carrefour, Staples and Unilever dropped products made by APP that had been made with rainforest timber.

"We thought that if we adopted national laws to protect the forest that this would be enough. But it clearly was not. We realised something was not right and that we needed a much higher standard. So now we will stop the deforestation, whatever the cost. We are now convinced that the long term benefits will be greater," said Aida Greenbury, APP's sustainability director. "Yes. We got it wrong. We could not have done worse."

This file aerial photograph taken on June 7, 2012 shows lush
tropical forest in Central Kalimantan (AFP Photo/Romeo Gacad)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

US, China sign memo on audit files access

Want China Times, Xinhua 2013-05-25

The New York Stock Exchange. (Photo/Xinhua)

China and the United States have signed a cooperation memorandum agreeing to share audit and accounting records of concerned companies, marking an important step in cross-border coordination of such probes.

In a statement, China Securities Regulatory Commission and the Ministry of Finance said they had signed an agreement with the US Public Company Accounting Oversight Board earlier this month to share audit records.

In recent years, a string of accounting scandals at dozens of Chinese firms listed in the US has led to trading halts and investigations, prompting the two sides to coordinate efforts to address loopholes in the cross-border regulation system.

"The latest move lays down a good foundation for further cooperation in cross-border investigations," the statement said.

The two Chinese agencies said they will continue to work with the US board to discuss how to supervise Chinese auditors of US-listed Chinese companies in ways that are acceptable to both sides.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Indonesian Government to Establish New Shariah Bank

Jakarta Globe, May 19, 2013

A banner advertising a mortgage product from the Shariah unit of state-owned
 Bank Tabungan Negara is displayed in the 2nd Shariah Economy Festival in
 Jakarta in this Feb. 2009 file photo. (JG Photo/Yudhi Sukma Wijaya)

State-Owned Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan on Sunday revealed that the government is planning to establish a Shariah-compliant bank in order to manage Rp 40 trillion ($4 billion) worth of Indonesian hajj funds.

Dahlan said the establishment of the bank will support the implementation of a new policy issued by the Ministry of Religious Affairs obliging hajj funds to be managed exclusively by Shariah banks.

The government has stakes in four lenders — Bank Mandiri, Bank Rakyat Indonesia, Bank Negara Indonesia and Bank Negara — that run their own Shariah units. None of these banks, however, focus solely on Shariah banking.

Dahlan said the government wants to support the development of Shariah banking in Indonesia with the new bank since the sector controls only 4.9 percent of market shares in Indonesia’s banking industry, according to first quarter data from Bank Indonesia.

“Shariah banks in Indonesia command … only a seventh of the assets that Malaysian Shariah banks [do],” Dahlan told Indonesian news portal republika.co.id.

Indonesia’s Shariah-compliant banks controlled a total of Rp 214.5 trillion in the first quarter of 2013, a 37.8 percent increase compared with the same period last year. The hajj funds are expected to help boost this figure.

Bank Indonesia is targeting a 58 percent increase in banking assets this year that comply with Islam’s ban on interest.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Indonesia Court Ruling Boosts Indigenous Land Rights

Jakarta Globe – AFP, May 17, 2013

This file aerial photograph taken on June 7, 2012 shows lush tropical forest
in Central Kalimantan (AFP Photo/Romeo Gacad)

An Indonesian court has ruled indigenous people have the right to manage forests where they live, a move which supporters said prevents the government from handing over community-run land to businesses.

Disputes between indigenous groups and companies have become increasingly tense in recent years, as soaring global demand for commodities like palm oil has seen plantations encroach on forests.

In Thursday’s ruling, Constitutional Court judges said that a 1999 law should be changed so it no longer defines forest that has been inhabited by indigenous groups for generations as “state forest,” according to court documents.

“Indigenous Indonesians have the right to log their forests and cultivate the land for their personal needs, and the needs of their families,” judge Muhammad Alim said as he handed down the ruling, state news agency Antara reported.

While environmentalists welcomed the ruling, they warned it could unintentionally lead to an upsurge in disputes between authorities and communities over the classification of indigenous land.

In March, seven villagers were shot and at least 15 police officers were injured in North Sumatra, where a dispute over a forest claimed by both the community and government has been simmering since 1998.

The National People’s Indigenous Organization filed the challenge to the 1999 law, which they say has let officials sell permits allowing palm oil, paper, mining and timber companies to exploit their land.

The group said Friday’s ruling affected 40 million hectare of forest — slightly larger than Japan, and 30 percent of Indonesia’s forest coverage.

They said this area was legally classified as “customary forest,” the term that describes forests that have been inhabited by indigenous people for a long time.

“About 40 million indigenous people are now the rightful owners of our customary forests,” said the group’s chief Abdon Nababan.

However, a senior forestry minister official said he believed the total amount of “customary forest” was far lower, and stressed it could take time to implement the changes as local governments would all need to issue a decree.

Stepi Hakim, Indonesia director of the Clinton Climate Initiative, said the ruling would give legal grounds for indigenous communities to challenge businesses operating in their forests, but this could lead to a string of new disputes.

“As soon as this policy is delivered, local governments have to be ready to mitigate conflicts,” he said.

Indigenous groups are commonly defined as those that retain economic, social and cultural characteristics that are different from those of the wider societies in which they live.

Agence France-Presse
Related Article:

More Than a Million Support Petition to Stop Aceh Deforestation

Jakarta Globe, May 18, 2013

An aerial view of burning peatland in Rawa Tripa in Aceh is seen in this
handout photo taken March 27, 2012. (Reuters Photo)

More than a million people across the globe have signed an online petition demanding the Indonesian government to cancel the plan to open the protected virgin rainforest in Aceh to commercial exploitation.

Arief Aziz, the communications director for the online petition website Change.org, said in a statement on Saturday that the “#SaveAceh” campaign has been signed by more than 20,000 Indonesians since its launch in March.

Following the massive reaction, Rudi Putra, an environmental activist, started another petition for the same cause on Avaaz.org, which has garnered more than 1.2 million signatures in its first 11 days.

“Aceh rainforests, home to endangered animals like orangutan and Sumatran rhino, have been destroyed by illegal hunters and loggers, but this new exploration will be an ultimate disaster,” he said.

Rights groups say the plan will allow around 1.2 million hectares that were previously protected to be cleared.

Approval of the plan would open up the forest on the northern tip of Sumatra to mining, paper and palm oil plantations.

The Aceh government banned the granting of new logging permits six years ago to protect the forest, but a new administration that came in last year is in favor of allowing logging again.

“Yudhoyono has the options: to leave an important legacy to protect the rich natural resources or to trash his own track record by allowing this disaster,” Avaaz’ campaign director Ian Baasin said.

Jakarta has signaled it will sign off on Aceh’s plan in the coming weeks, even as it is expected to extend the moratorium on new logging permits which expires on Monday and has been in force for two years.

There is also strong support in the Aceh parliament which has the final say, and officials say they hope it will pass soon.

Although it seems to fly in the face of the national moratorium, the project is possible because it hinges on Aceh’s decision to overturn its own deforestation ban which was introduced at the local level six years ago.

The ban, stronger than the national measure, was brought in by the previous local administration — but it will be scrapped under the plan.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Singapore Boosts Measures Against Global Tax Cheats

Jakarta Globe, Agence France-Presse, May 14, 2013

The central business district of Singapore seen on Tuesday, May 14, 2013.
(Bloomberg Photo/Munshi Ahmed)

Singapore. Singapore said Tuesday it will implement new measures that will make it easier to share information with other countries on cross-border tax evaders trying to hide assets in the city-state.

The move comes as the United States and developed countries in Europe intensify efforts to ferret out citizens who avoid paying taxes by parking their money in offshore financial centers like Singapore.

Officials said Singapore plans to reach an agreement with the United States that will enable financial institutions to comply with a US law requiring them to share information on Americans’ overseas accounts.

It also aims to amend its laws so that the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) will no longer need a court order to get information from banks on accounts of suspected tax dodgers at the request of a foreign government.

From July 1 it will be a criminal offence in Singapore to handle proceeds from tax evasion.

“There no conflict between high standards of financial integrity and keeping our strengths as a financial center for managing wealth,” Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in a statement.

“Singapore will continue to be a vibrant wealth management center, with laws and rules that safeguard legitimate funds and reject tainted money.”

The joint statement by the finance ministry, central bank and IRAS said Singapore had already been able to respond promptly to most requests for information from foreign governments.

But removing the requirement of a court order will “further streamline” the exchange of information, it said.

Singapore will also sign an international convention on mutual assistance in tax matters and increase the number of countries with which it is able to exchange information for tax purposes from 41 to 83, including the United States.

The statement said the necessary legal changes would be made this year.

French authorities recently said they would seek Singapore’s help with an international probe into suspected tax fraud by a former budget minister.

Jerome Cahuzac stepped down in March after prosecutors announced there would be a full criminal inquiry into allegations that he had an undeclared bank account in Switzerland.

The 60-year-old is also suspected of moving assets to Singapore to hide them from the tax authorities.

Assets managed by fund managers in Singapore stood at Sg$1.34 trillion ($1.05 trillion) as of 2011, with over 70 percent coming from overseas, according to central bank data.