Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners

Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners
Widodo has pledged to bring reform to Indonesia

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has pleaded to Indonesia to stop the execution of prisoners on death row for drug crimes. AFP PHOTO

Pope: 'Death penalty represents failure' – no 'humane' way to kill a person

Pope: 'Death penalty represents failure' – no 'humane' way to kill a person
The pope wrote that the principle of legitimate personal defense isn’t adequate justification to execute someone. Photograph: Zuma/Rex

Obama becomes first president to visit US prison (US Justice Systems / Human Rights)

Obama becomes first president to visit US prison   (US Justice Systems / Human Rights)
US President Barack Obama speaks as he tours the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)
Woman who spent 23 years on US death row cleared (Photo: dpa)


"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. …

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Youths learn about cultures through dance

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

For most people, traveling may be the only way to appreciate new cultural traditions.

But for participants at the second Indonesian Youth Karawitan Concert on Monday and Tuesday, that life-changing experience was all part of the show.

Almost 200 students from six schools and two art and dance studios, including Deutsche Internationale Schule (German International School) in Serpong, Banten, took part in the concert.

"The gamelan sound is unique," said 10-year-old Sahriaa Fenna Ingratubun from the German school.

The girl said she joined the gamelan orchestra to meet new friends.

"They're nice," she said while showing a piece of paper filled with her new friends' signatures.

The event, which was initiated last August, was a joint initiative of the Culture and Tourism Ministry, the National Education Ministry, the National Commission for UNESCO and Radio of the Republic of Indonesia.

The concert was aimed at promoting a sense of appreciation for traditional Indonesian music and culture among youth.

Tita, a sophomore at the Lab School in South Jakarta, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that her participation at cultural events like the concert had allowed her to be more appreciative of Indonesia's cultural diversity.

"It's been an amazing experience," the gamelan (traditional Javanese orchestra) enthusiast said. "Watching other students practice and perform the Gondang Batak ensemble made me more interested in North Sumatra and its traditions."

Gondang Batak was one of the six song-and-dance ensembles that performed Tuesday evening.

Saman, a traditional Acehnese rhythmic dance, was also part of the evening line-up. The performance also included a Javanese gamelan performance, a Kawih Sunda vocal ensemble, Balinese Yadnya and Janger vocal performances, and a Gambang Kromong and Rebana Betawi ensemble.

Traditional cultural performances may not be the top choice for many young Indonesians growing up as part of a generation idolizing pop culture.

But according to Putri, a participant from South Jakarta high school SMU 70, not all youth are solely enthused by contemporary music and dance.

"I'm one of those not keen on modern dance moves," the freshman said. "We prefer traditional dance because it provides a more culturally enriching experience."

Buddhists perform Waisak ceremonies

The Jakarta Post

Buddhist monks performed a series of ceremonies Wednesday in preparation for Buddha's Day of Enlightenment, or Waisak, which falls on Friday.

In Umbul Jumprit village in Temanggung regency, Central Java, monks collected holy water, which they then took to a blessing ritual at Mendut temple in Magelang.

The water ritual was performed after some 130 monks from Indonesia and Thailand took part in the Pindapata begging ritual at Liong Hok Hio temple in Magelang.

The begging ritual began Wednesday morning with about 20 monks walking around the city carrying boa bowls, seeking donations.

Along the road were people waiting with money or food to give to the monks.

"This is an annual ritual ahead of the Waisak celebration and I am hoping for a blessing by giving the monks a donation," said Fransiska Suciati, a resident of Magelang.

The series of ceremonies will continue Thursday with the Dharma fire procession in Mrepen, Central Java. The eternal flame will then be taken to be blessed at Mendut temple.

On Thursday night, the ritual will continue with the lighting of Dharma torches around Borobudur temple in Magelang.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to attend the peak of the celebration at Borobudur temple on Friday. - JP/Slamet Susant and Tarko Sudiarno

President Yudhoyono launches Bali tourism logo

Denpasar, Bali (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to launch Bali`s Tourism logo when he opens the 29th Bali Arts Festival on June 16.

"The launching of the logo will be crowded as it will involve hundreds of artists and in the presence of 14 foreign ambassadors and 10 Indonesian cabinet ministers," Bali Governor Dewa Beratha said on Wednesday.

He expressed hoped the branding would enhance the province`s tourism image in international fora, and also hoped that tourists would consider Bali as a safe and comfortable place for a vacation.

Head of the local tourism agency I Gede Nurjaya said the logo was designed by a team on the basis of the result of a research and study.

He added that the team had interviewed at least 1,500 public figures of different backgrounds.

He said the launching the logo followed the launching of the 2008 Tourism Visit Year by President Yudhoyono.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Nemberala Beach Resort Opens a New Area of Indonesia

By Waterways Surf Travel

If the word “Roti” makes you think of the words “round,” “flat” and “Indian” you are two-thirds correct.

Roti is a small island in the Nusa Tengarra region of Indonesia, southwest of Timor and a very different world away from the increasingly overrun surfing areas of Bali, Sumatra and the Maldives. On the southwest side of the island, the Nemberala Beach Resort is offering thoroughly modern tropical lodging with access to a half dozen, top-quality reefs – classically Indonesian waves where, even in this crowded, modern world, the surfer can still seek the perfect wave on the perfect day and be alone with the surf and his thoughts.

The nation of Timor has a long, interesting and sometimes troubled history. Timor is where Captain Bligh ended his impossible, 3600-mile crossing in a small boat after the mutiny on the Bounty in 1789. (If the photos have already sold you and you are packing for Roti and need a good book, the Bounty Trilogy is fascinating, and appropriate to the area.)

Timor has been divided between the Dutch and the Portuguese for many centuries. West Timor was Dutch Timor from the 1800s until 1949 when it became Indonesian Timor. East Timor was known as Portuguese Timor from 1596 until 1975. Japanese forces occupied the whole island from 1942 to 1945. In 1975, the nation of Indonesia annexed East Timor and was proclaimed Indonesia’s 27th province. After a prolonged guerilla war, East Timor won independence in 2002.

Trouble and strife but there is no reason to be timorous about this corner of Timor. Roti is only 10 miles from the mainland but far removed from the sometimes violent nation-making on the main island. Roti is southwest of Timor and the Nemberala resort is on the southwest side of the island, facing into all that world-famous, well-traveled swell which starts in the turbulent storms of the Southern Ocean, organizes itself as it crosses into the Indian Ocean and arrives 4000 miles later on the reefs of Roti, falling gracefully on a half dozen perfect reef setups.

Roti is not the area most people go looking when they go to Indonesia for surf. According to Sean Murphy of Waterways Travel, “I have been surfing this area for about 10 years with my partner Gary Burns, who operated a surf charter aboard his 52’ sailboat Mahalo I. Through the 70’s and 80’s Gary sailed the globe surfing all through South America, Central America, all regions of the Pacific and most of the Indian Ocean. When Gary came across the group of Islands situated off Timor his search for surf ended at Roti where he has been surfing the dozen breaks in the region for the past 15 years. There was an old, super-budget feral resort there for many years. This property attracted the super budget, $10 per day surf traveler who was content with only the basic necessities. The bungalows were built from local palm fronds with no flush toilets, very limited electricity and no communications. As there were no communications, the only way to get a room was to walk down the path. A few years ago the resort property went up for sale as the Aussie owner and his Indo wife wanted to move back to Darwin. After about a year of escrow held up by a lovers’ quarrel between the Aussie and his wife, we gained title to the property.”

The five-acre beachfront property is located directly in front of the main break providing all rooms - along with the bar and restaurant - a view of the 300+ yard long left reef/point which lies 500 yards off shore. The weather in the region is affected by the huge deserts of NW Australia giving warm dry conditions almost year round except for the brief wet season from December to March. Given the marginal rainfall this area sees only a small fraction of the mosquitoes and insects that one would expect in the more northern areas. The predominant trade winds are SE which blow off-shore at Nemberala most of the year. Given any break from the standard trade winds there are many other waves in the region that work better on north, south or glassy conditions.

The bungalows of the new resort feature a beautiful rock construction with louvered windows to keep the bungalows cool and breezy day and night. The central pool is a beautiful area to lay back with a drink and soak up the environment. Surf transfers are provided on your schedule so you can choose when, how long, and how often you would like to surf: “To build the property we brought in a few investors including Tim Newburn, a contractor from San Diego, Craig Natvig, a real estate agent from Pacific Palisades and Chris Jenson, the owner of Arbor Snowboards,” Sean Murphy said. “ Our original plan for the property was to purchase a few prefabricated bungalows from Bali to be resurrected on the property. The plans quickly changed to utilize both local material and labor. After about a year and a half of construction running way over budget and taking twice as long as anticipated, we now have a property that is much nicer than any of us had originally anticipated. The four-duplex bungalows provide eight rooms each with private bathroom. The rooms can be connected by an interior door for families traveling with children, or for higher-end travelers that would like to change the layout to provide a bedroom with separate living room. All rooms have running water and 24 hour electricity. The kitchen serves up a variety of both Western and Asian dishes with fresh fish always available.”

Due to the low cost of labor in the region, which is the second largest expense next to fuel, the Nemberala Beach Resort is offering remarkably inexpensive packages. “The resort runs $130 per person per day inclusive of meals and surf transfers to the break out front,” Sean Murphy said. “ We can do a full land and air package from Los Angeles for about $2800 giving 9 days at the resort and 2 days in Bali.”

What those days will get you is accommodation at a brand-new resort that is tropically modern and comfortable, and access to an island that is still as wild as when Captain Bligh and his desperate crew passed by, hundreds of years ago. Roti has empty, sandy beaches for walking and thinking, 60 feet visibility for diving, world-class sportfishing and plenty of time to read the Bounty Trilogy.

Indonesia, Netherlands tailoring taut bilateral relations

The Jakarta Post, World News - March 05, 2007

After decades of relatively strained bilateral ties, Indonesia and its former colonial master the Netherlands are currently engaged in a hallmark relationship marked by a profound intention between the two nations to cast away the wounds of the past.

It is understandable that with Asia set to become a major political and economic hub, the Dutch government has recently been stepping up efforts to mend its centuries-old relationship with Indonesia.

To further explore the nature of relations between the two countries, The Jakarta Post's Rendi Akhmad Witular interviewed newly appointed Indonesian Ambassador to the Netherlands, Junus Effendi Habibie -- a retired Dutch-educated public servant and a former legislator from the Democratic Party.

Question: How would you describe the current bilateral relations between Indonesia and the Netherlands?

Answer: Since our independence in 1945 there have always been stumbling blocks in the relations between the two countries, such as issues related to the Dutch refusal to recognize our independence day on Aug. 17, 1945 (the Dutch government initially claimed Indonesia had not gained independence until Dec. 27, 1949).

But since 2005, when the Dutch government officially acknowledged Indonesia's self-proclaimed freedom in 1945, all the pebbles in our shoes that were straining relations have gradually been thrown away.

There is now a great effort between the two countries to enhance the relationship. This is evident by the recent signing of a letter of intent (LoI) on a comprehensive partnership mechanism (for dialog and cooperation) by the foreign ministers of the two nations. This LoI is a follow up to the Dutch intention to enhance cooperation in various sectors in the future.

But the LoI will become fully effective when President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono visits the Netherlands in the coming months and signs the agreement with Queen Beatrix.

With this partnership, we will cooperate under a framework of equality and mutual benefit. I have always said, including to President Yudhoyono, that we should see the Netherlands as a gate to the European Union. I also often ask Dutch businessmen to come to Indonesia because it is a big country with a big market, and is also a gateway to Southeast Asia.

Why were efforts to improve relations not initiated a long time ago?

Well, better late than never. As a country which once invaded and ruled Indonesia, there are still a lot of conservative people (in the Netherlands) who dream of the glory of the colonial era.

However, these kind of people are gradually disappearing now, thanks to the efforts of (Dutch foreign minister) Bernard Bot.

When the Dutch government still only acknowledged the 1949 independence, it also meant that they indirectly refused to recognize the integration of Papua into Indonesia. That is why there is some figures in the OPM (Free Papua Movement) rebel group living (in the Netherlands).

When Sukarno proclaimed independence, the area known as Indonesia included areas from Sabang (in Aceh) to Merauke (in Papua). By recognizing the 1945 independence, the Dutch government has automatically and clearly rejected any kind of separatism.

Now that there are no longer any obstacles in our way, coupled with legal paths to cooperate, I say we should work the iron while it is still hot.

Let us hold hands and look to the future. We should learn from the past. We take the good and throw away the bad. If we are always looking back we will never progress. The Netherlands has shown its serious (attitude toward) enhancing relations. And now it is our turn to take advantage in order to gain mutual benefits.

How serious is the threat issues related to the OPM and RMS (Republic of South Maluku) rebel groups could potentially strain relations between Indonesia and the Netherlands? (Some key members of the groups live in the Netherlands and support the movements from a distance.)

They are our people. If they stage a demonstration here that is fine. But in any part of the world, separatism cannot be accepted. I accept these people as my brothers and sisters. In a family there is always a disagreement, but still we are family. I have told them that my house is also theirs. They can come to my house at any time, but as family.

I have also told them to be good citizens here in the Netherlands. These old people are victims of the past. They were brought here (by the Dutch government). I will be more than happy to bring them home to Indonesia, but under the condition that the do not engage in separatist movements.

As for the younger generation, I advise them to also become good citizens, and to never forget that they should help their families back in Maluku and Papua.

The Dutch government said in 2005 that they would not support any kind of separatist movement in Indonesia.

What kind of issues were raised during your meeting with Queen Beatrix when you presented your credentials?

The Queen is really interested in Indonesia. She asked how the situation in Aceh was. I explained to her that Aceh is peaceful now after the signing of the peace accord between the Aceh rebel group and the government. Now there is a directly-elected governor in the province. The Queen also expects relations between the two nations to become closer.

She also raised questions about Papua. I've explained to her that the situation in the province is extremely better than it was before. However, any giant leap in the development of the province is still not possible because of the low quality of human resources there. You can imagine that there are still tribal wars between villages.

The Papuans want local figure to be their regent or governor. But what happens is that one of the regents in that province has spent 1.5 months of his time in Surabaya (the East Java capital) to have some fun. The Queen seemed to be shocked to hear that.

For sure, the Queen is very concerned with the prosperity of the Papuans. There seems to be a moral obligation for her, and that is obvious. Culturally, we are closer to the Dutch than to the British.

One of your main tasks is to lure more Dutch investors to Indonesia. How are you going to do that?

I have always told Dutch businessmen that corruption in Indonesia can not be entirely stamped out in a day. What we are doing now is building a good system to prevent it. It's not something instant.

Issues related to legal uncertainty, security and labor problems are still being worked out by the government. We are not in paradise yet, but we are heading to it in the right way. These kinds of problems have existed since long ago, and it will take time to fix them.

Source: The Jakarta Post, World News - March 05, 2007

Has Anyone Seen Our Tourists?

Despite Record Setting Foreign Tourist Arrival Numbers, Many Businesses Complain that Business is Bad., 26 May 2007

While's continuing series "Bali by the Numbers" suggest foreign tourist arrivals to Bali are hitting record highs [See: April Foreign Arrival Numbers Set New Records], we are often accused of "cooking the numbers" by local observers who have a difficult time reconciling buoyant arrival reports with quite shops, restaurants and hotels across the Island.

And, in fact, local press reports confirm that many handicraft shops and their supporting workshops are closing down in the face of a dramatic downturn in customers as compared with business in the recent past. A similar fate is also being experienced by restaurant owners and small hotels no longer able to generate the necessary cash flows to meet daily operating expenses.

Where are All the Tourists?

Recent surveys carried out by the Bureau of Statistics (BPS) and Bank Indonesia (BI) in Bali confirm that while the quantity of tourists visiting Bali is increasing dramatically, the overall quality of those tourists is on a sharp decline. Increasing competition among accommodation providers, which now include hundred of private villas and new resorts, has made the current lack of quality embodied in current arrival numbers even more apparent. The survey, conducted in January 2007, showed many starred hotels in Bali are running with occupancies at less than 50%, a fact underlining the dramatic over-supply of rooms facing the Island.

The BI and BPS surveys also showed that there have been fundamental changes in the complexion of inbound tourism to Bali. Much of the growth in arrival numbers can be credited to the advent of low-cost carriers serving short-haul markets in the Asia-Pacific region bringing visitors who spend less and stay for shorter duration than their long-haul counterparts from Europe and the Americas.

While the Bali-based survey suggested an average overall length-of-stay (LOS) of 9.87 days, this figure is down markedly from the 11.71 day LOS recorded just a few years ago. That the actual length of stay may be even lower is suggested by the overwhelming preponderance of Bali visitors who opt for a 7-day visa-on-arrival as opposed to the next alternative of a 30-day visa. This is consistent with other results from the survey which show that North Asian and East Asian visitors are staying on the Island for only 6.83 days while ASEAN visitors spend an even shorter period of 5.10 days in Bali.

Overall, 55.20% of all visitors to Bali stay for less than 7 days.

Spending Less

While regional airlines championing "Now Everyone Can Fly" have largely lived up to that promise, the amount of money left in Bali by regional travelers on perhaps their first trip abroad is much less than more seasoned travelers of yesteryear. One local hotelier said that requests for three or four people sharing a single room are increasingly common and these customers leave the hotel to purchase their meals from local street vendors or dine on food items purchased from local supermarkets.

Arguably, if there is a bright side to this situation it is the money reaped by street vendors lucky enough to snare a share of the "new travelers" and the local inns and home-stays attracting the conservative-spending regional tourists.

In the end, however, the overall net effect for both Bali's larger businesses and small local traders experiencing larger arrival numbers comprised of visitors who stay briefly and spend sparsely means that business is down.

Quake-hit temples need years of repairs

The China Post , 2007/5/26

By Presi Mandari PRAMBANAN, Indonesia, AFP

Damage to one of Indonesia's most spectacular temple complexes caused by last year's devastating Java earthquake was so extensive that repairs will take at least five years, UNESCO says.

Some of the temples at Prambanan are threatening to topple and restoration of the entire Hindu compound, the largest in the country, will be slow and difficult, according to the UN culture agency.

"It's not just putting back the stones, like a facelift," said UNESCO's Himalchuli Gurung, adding that repair work has not yet started.

"There has been physical and structural damage, and there are a lot of internal cracks," she said.

One estimate has put the cost of rebuilding the UNESCO World Heritage site at US$5.8 million.

The extent of the damage has raised fears for the local economy as Indonesia marks one year since the May 27 quake, which destroyed villages and killed almost 6,000 on the main island of Java.

The ninth and 10th century temples -- dedicated to the Hindu gods Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma -- are located about 20 kilometers (10 miles) east of Yogyakarta, the main city in the quake zone.

Prambanan, like the nearby Borobudur temple compound which emerged unscathed, is one of the premier tourist attractions in Central Java, drawing 1.5 million visitors a year, according to the provincial tourism office.

Since the quake, an iron fence has been erected around the main group of temples and safety concerns mean visitors are barred from venturing inside.

"The problem is stones have been dislodged and some are hanging from the top. They could easily fall off," said Sutopo, an official at Prambanan.

He said cracks as wide as five centimeters (two inches) in the main temple devoted to Shiva have been plugged with candle wax to stop water seeping in and corrupting the stones.

Locals selling souvenirs said business has dwindled since the quake and some tourists leave dejected.

"Of course they are disappointed, they have already paid an entrance fee but are unable to go inside," said Eko Widianto, who has sold gifts here for about 20 years.

Titin Prihati, who sells cold drinks at the compound, said he was fearful about the future as sales have plummeted 60 percent.

"There were many more tourists coming before. The car parks were full, especially on public holidays. But now less tourists are coming and that means less income for me," said Prihati.

Repairs are expected to start later this year. Experts from UNESCO, the Indonesian government and other agencies have spent 12 months conducting extensive damage assessments, and devising an action plan.

Gurung said a big concern was the depth of cracks in the temples, which may have severely weakened their structure.

"When you look at the physical damage, falling stones, falling pinnacles, broken stones, we can place them back. But the serious part is the internal structural cracks, we don't know how deep (they are)," she said.

"Some temples have inclined, they are tilting," she added.

The Indian government is among those ready to help with restoration work, said T.S. Tirumurti, India's deputy chief of mission in Indonesia.

Professor Ostelio Remi, director of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Jakarta, said "everything threatens to fall, from the base up to the top."

"It is a universal heritage, among the most beautiful in the world. It has to be saved, whatever the cost," added Remi, who has consulted with UNESCO on damage assessment.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Nias touted for world heritage designation

Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Medan

The central government will support a bid to include Nias Island, in North Sumatra, as a world heritage site.

Representatives from various organizations, academics, researchers, the government and members of the general public attended a meeting Friday in Medan, North Sumatra, to discuss the bid.

The meeting was organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in cooperation with the Culture and Tourism Ministry, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and North Sumatra University.

Head of the World Heritage Center's working committee, Risman Musa, said Nias had a good chance of being listed as a world heritage site, due to its unique cultural heritage.

The island boasts traditional houses which date back hundreds of years, megalithic sites and artifacts, traditional villages, a variety of local languages, special handicrafts and traditional architecture.

Risman, who is also deputy head of religious, cultural and tourism affairs at the Coordinating Ministry for People's Welfare, said the government would submit a bid to the World Heritage Center in Paris, France, to include Nias as a world heritage site.

"Every year, the World Heritage Center offers Indonesia and other countries the chance to submit bids to have their potential natural and cultural sites listed as world heritage sites. This year, we will submit a proposal to support Nias as an Indonesian cultural heritage site," Risman told The Jakarta Post.

He said there were a number of other potential heritage sites in the country that his office would include in the proposal, such as Bali, Tamansari in Yogyakarta and Raja Empat in Papua.

Risma said the last Indonesian site to be listed by the World Heritage Center was Bukit Barisan National Park in Sumatra, in 2005.

"Indonesians should be proud, because so far seven of the country's heritage sites have been listed as world heritage sites," said Risman.

UNESCO's assessment report on Nias' cultural heritage in 2006 recommended the Indonesian government endorse the inclusion of Nias and surrounding islands as a world heritage site.

Chairman of the national committee for UNESCO Arief Rachman said he supported the proposal and urged the government to immediately seek experts on the island's culture and history.

"It's ironic that we don't have local experts on Nias yet. Those who specialize in the culture and history of Nias are from Germany and the Netherlands," said Arief, expressing hope North Sumatra University could help train local experts.

South Nias Regent Fahuwusa Laia, who also attended the meeting, said he welcomed the idea.

"If Nias becomes a world heritage site, it will help promote both local and international tourism to Nias and nearby islands."

Friday, May 25, 2007

'Tempo Doeloe' photos trace city history

SEMARANG (The Jakarta Post) : The history of Semarang was vividly portrayed in Semarang Tempo Doeloe, a photographic exhibit on the city's olden days that was displayed at the Town Hall from May 21-23.

Those who were unable to view the show may still be able to obtain exhibition catalogs filled with pictures of the city in a bygone era.

Exhibition committee chairman M. Maulana Fahmi said the event was held to coincide with the Central Java capital's 460th anniversary.

"We cooperated with the Seputar Semarang daily, the Semarang municipal administration and the Central Java Regional Archives Office" for the exhibit, he said.

Official records indicate that Semarang is mentioned in the accounts of Dutch historians H.J. de Graaf and Th. Pigeaud. The historians pointed out that before Dutch colonial rule, Semarang was already a crossroads of different cultures and civilizations.

Some pictures were portraits of Semarang's noted citizens and others traced the architectural history of the capital.

The photo of the provincial governor's office, for instance, reveals that in 1956, the building was located on Jl. Oei Tiong Ham (now Jl. Pahlawan), named after a Dutch-era business tycoon. Another street called Oei Tiong Bing Weg (street), is now Jl. Sultan Agung.

Aerial photos showed the Djoernatan area with its Semarang River and city tramway, the Kota Lama -- or "Old Town" -- area in 1948 with a Sleko gas plant, and Semarang town square in its original state.

Apart from buildings and public facilities, the pictures also revealed the earliest conditions of Semarang's markets and other economic activities, art and cultural centers, prisoners' camps and night fairs. -- JP/Suherdjoko

Enjoying Borobudur -- beyond the monument

Sri Wahyuni, The Jakarta Post, Magelang, C. Java

There is no doubt that the beauty, glory, and magnificence of the world heritage site, Borobudur temple, is well known not just across Indonesia but also around the globe.

Yet, little may be known about the surrounding areas that are no less interesting destinations and can be enjoyed while visiting Borobudur -- the largest Buddhist temple in the world built around the 7th and 8th centuries, located some 60 kilometers north of Yogyakarta.

Among the human achievements are beautiful natural landscapes, the exoticness of traditional Javanese communities tending to their daily activities, and the uniqueness of traditional cuisines and rituals.

"Riding a horse-drawn cart through the traditional villages indeed offers a different experience of enjoying a visit to the temple, making it even more meaningful to visitors," heritage activist Laretna T. Adishakti told The Jakarta Post recently.

Laretna, also called Sita, is a lecturer and researcher at Gadjah Mada University's Center for Heritage Conservation.

Sita was in Borobudur to guide a group of visitors on the "Borobudur Fun Heritage Trail", a special tour that incorporates cultural landscape surrounding the ancient temple.

Some 70 participants had joined the tour, which was jointly organized by the Culture and Tourism Ministry, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)-Jakarta, and Jogja Gallery.

The tour group comprised of journalists as well as senior and junior high school students, while the same tour was held previously for a group of senior high school teachers.

"Borobudur has been overburdened with thousands of people visiting it every year," said Sita, underlining the importance of introducing the cultural attractions around Borobudur to the greater public.

This way, according to Sita, the surrounding communities would benefit financially from tourists visiting the heritage site, and Borobudur could be preserved at the same time.

At least five sites, including the temple, were on the tour's agenda that day, which was conducted mostly via andong -- horse-drawn carts -- with three to four participants to a cart. The other sites were the villages of Tuksongo, Tanjungsari, Karanganyar and Candirejo.

Tuksongo was on the tour program for its traditional production center of pati onggok -- sago palm flour -- and glass noodles.

Tanjungsari is known for its tofu production while Karanganyar is a center of traditional earthenware.

Participants gathered at the Borobudur Tourism Information Center, a kilometer to the east of the temple, where they were divided into two smaller groups so the andong caravan would not stretch out too long en route to the scheduled sites. The two groups were assigned separate trails, and the tour was off.

The first group took a route through Tuksongo, Tanjungsari, Karanganyar, and Candirejo; the other started at Karanganyar then continued through Tanjungsari and Tuksongo, to regroup at Candirejo.

A feeling of exotic nostalgia arose once tour members boarded their andong and rolled to the clopping rhythm of the horses.

The leisurely tour revealed views of traditional kampongs with shady trees -- mostly fruit trees -- lining the village roads, with grinning children and villagers waving or nodding their heads in greeting, and traditional houses with spacious yards.

"Hellooo!" several children cried as they ran alongside the carts as the tour passed them.

"The residents here are used to having tourists visiting their villages like this," Yusuf, an andong driver, commented spontaneously.

Yusuf, 60, said he had frequently taken tourists to areas around Borobudur, adding that tourists were welcome to join the villagers in harvesting rice and vegetable crops, as well as pick fruits grown in private gardens.

"But you have to tell them prior to the visit so that they can arrange that for you," he advised.

Enjoying a panoramic view of the temple atop its hill, creating a backdrop to a green expanse of rice fields as farmers tended to the harvest, adds another level of excitement for visitors on the heritage tour.

"This is truly something that we could never enjoy at the temple," said Ratna, a journalist on the tour. "From here, the temple looks much more glorious and magnificent to me."

At strategic points where photographic opportunities were evident, participants were indeed welcome to alight from the andong to take pictures or simply to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

"I will surely come back here later and bring my family to enjoy all of this. I might even spend a night or two here," Ratna added.

Visitors can stay in the area at local accommodations for a night or more to further explore the surrounding area. Candirejo village, only some 3 kilometers to the south of Borobudur, has 50 or so home stays open to visitors.

Over the past four years, the village has been developed steadily into a tourist destination, and offers several different tour packages, including a cooking class on traditional cuisines and snacks.

Candirejo was also where that day's Borobudur Fun Heritage Trail participants stopped by for a rest and lunch.

From there, the andong journey continued to Borobudur. Upon ascending the temple's steps, tour participants were able to recognize the places they had just visited. And from the temple's many relief panels, they were able to learn about daily life in the past, which made the visit much more meaningful.

On the return trip to Yogyakarta, this time on buses, participants were taken for a short visit to a nearby river to trace the remains of a prehistoric lake believe to have once surrounded Borobudur temple.

Geologist Helmy Murwanto of the Yogyakarta-based UPN Veteran's University accompanied this part of the tour, explaining his recent scientific findings on the existence of the lake.

The findings and ongoing research on the lake has inspired heritage activists to design possible trails for special-interest groups, keeping in mind the benefits to local communities and heritage conservation.

"Heritage conservation is not romanticism of the past. In fact, it is for developing the future by sustaining the potentials of the past toward select development today," Sita said.

As regards Borobudur in terms of heritage conservation, she continued, it was not just about the monument's physical structure but also its intangible aspects, including culture, potentials and the daily life of surrounding communities.

In line with this thinking, the Borobudur Fun Heritage Trail is available to everyone who wishes to enjoy the cultural landscape of Borobudur Temple.

The five villages visited above are just a few of the tour's attraction.

Cultural landscape heritage, or pusaka saujana as it has been popularized by local heritage activists, is defined as a mix of natural and cultural heritage within a unity of place and time.

"Unfortunately, the preservation of the cultural landscape here is not yet fully understood, regardless that Indonesia possesses one of the world's largest mosaics of cultural landscapes," said Sita, and that it was time for the government to start adopting the concept as part of its development policy.

2m Indonesians to visit S'pore this year

Ika Krismantari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesian will remain Singapore's number-one source of overseas visitors for the foreseeable future despite the sluggish growth in tourists traveling to the city state from Indonesia in recent years.

Singapore Tourism Board (STB) regional director for international operations Chooi Yee Choong said here Thursday that about 10 million foreign tourists were expected to visit Singapore this year, about two million of whom would come from Indonesia.

Indonesian would remain Singapore's largest source of visitors for at least the next few years, he said.

Since 2004, the number of Indonesian tourists visiting Singapore has been increasing by only an average of between 2 and 4 percent per year. Last year, of the total of 9.7 million tourists visiting Singapore, Indonesians accounted for the biggest portion at 20 percent, or about 1.9 million people spending an average of S$800 (US$520) per person.

Chooi said that even though Indonesia was categorized as a mature market, with most visitors coming from the countries big cities, such as Jakarta, Medan and Surabaya, there were still opportunities to attract more visitors from Indonesia's smaller cities.

STB tourism business manager Hassan Kassim said that as part of its effort to attract more Indonesians to Singapore, the STB conducted promotions in secondary cities, such as Jambi and Manado, last year.

"This year, we will hold the Great Singapore Sale Travel Fair in Pekanbaru, Riau, to provide not only comprehensive information on tourism programs for local people, but also to attract them with special discounted travel packages," Kassim said.

Aware of the importance of Indonesians to its tourism industry, the STB has arranged for Indonesians to benefit from bigger discounts during this year's Great Singapore Sale from May 25 to July 22. This comes on top of other tourist benefits as tax refunds and discount cards, and only requires the production of an Indonesian passport.

"Indonesia is still a big market for us, besides other potential markets like China," said STB area director Hoe Teck Wei.

Teck Wei told The Jakarta Post that China had become one of Singapore's top suppliers of foreign tourists for the first time ever, with about 1 million visitors traveling from China last year, second only to Indonesia.

"In the old days, Chinese people didn't travel very much. But due to the current economic boom, which has made them richer, a lot of them want to travel," Teck Wei explained.

With a lot of upcoming tourism projects, Teck Wei said that he was optimistic Singapore would be able to achieve its target of 17 million visitor arrivals and S$30 billion in tourism receipts by 2025.

Singapore will launch its first giant observation wheel, known as the Singapore Flyer and similar to the London Eye, in April next year. In addition, two casino resorts, Marina Bay Sands and Sentosa, will open in September next year and in 2010 respectively. Singapore has also recently won approval to hold a nighttime Formula 1 grand prix, with the first race to be staged in September next year.

Busy Jakarta still finds time for breakfast

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Unlike many global urbanites forced to skip breakfast or resort to grab-and-go meals, Jakarta residents still see breakfast as the most important meal of the day.

The sight of warung (food stalls) and food carts thriving in alleys behind city skyscrapers attests to the morning dietary habits of Jakartans.

Working people from all walks of life gather at the many makeshift eateries sprawling across the city to feast on morning delicacies such chicken porridge, roti bakar (toast), nasi uduk (rice cooked in coconut cream), ketupat sayur (rice in plaited palm leaves in coconut soup with crackers) and instant noodles with poached eggs.

Proximity, comfort and flexible opening hours are the top considerations from customers. Sanitation and taste come second.

"I often have breakfast around here," said Dayat, a bank employee, pointing to the short stretch of warung along Jl. Setiabudi Utara I in South Jakarta.

Dayat lives in Ciledug, West Jakarta, and works at the Landmark Building in Setiabudi. He leaves home early in order to beat the city's infamous traffic.

"I leave at 6 a.m. and arrive at the office at a quarter to seven. If I leave any later than that, I don't make it to the office on time," Dayat said.

"It would be too early for me to have breakfast before leaving the house, so I'm having it here."

Dayat ordered oxtail soup with rice and a glass of tea without sugar, costing Rp 8,000 (less than US$1) at one of food joints along the stretch, Warung Sunda.

Warung Sunda offers several breakfast meals. Instant noodles with poached eggs, however, is the stall's most popular dish, while roti bakar is the second most ordered breakfast meal, stall helper Nani said.

Dewi, a regular who works in a nearby office building, is a fan of Warung Sunda.

"Even though I heard that instant noodles aren't healthy to eat daily, they're still a personal favorite, " the bank administrator said.

"I try to alternate between soto (clear soup with shredded chicken or beef), mie pangsit (noodle soup with dumplings) and roti bakar each day."

She said there are food stalls near her house in Slipi, West Jakarta.

"But none are open early enough for me to eat before leaving for work at half past seven," she said, adding that food from the warung was cheaper than fast food.

"I spend around Rp 5,000 to Rp 6,000 on a meal including drink," Dewi said. "It's still cheaper than the cheapest fast food."

A breakfast package consisting of a donut and a cold drink or juice at Dunkin Donuts, which opens daily at 6 a.m, costs Rp 7,900 at the least, not including tax.

David, a customer of Warung Kopi -- a food stall adjacent to Warung Sunda -- gets a daily lunch allowance of Rp 11,000 from his employer, a nearby bank.

"The allowance only covers lunch, so I pay extra for breakfast. (But) I don't mind since breakfast is important," David, said.

Despite the many visitors frequenting the Setiabudi food stalls, Kamil, a food stall owner, said business had been significantly slower since 1998.

"We used to consume up to three boxes of instant noodles per day, but now we are lucky enough to finish up a box," Kamil said.

"Many companies have closed shop since the flood of 1998, taking most of our customers with them."

Similar sentiments were shared by Ida, the owner of a rice stall near the Mega Kuningan complex in South Jakarta. Ida said that she first opened her stall three years ago, around the same time the nearby Ritz Carlton Hotel project started.

"Many of my customers then were construction workers," she said.

"Business really flourished at that time, but ever since construction stopped at the Mega Kuningan complex, profit has decreased significantly."

Ida, whose breakfast specialties include nasi uduk and fried fritters, now mainly provides breakfast for security guards and drivers working at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.

"I send over about 20 servings of nasi uduk to the security post every morning at 6 a.m," Ida said.

A portion of nasi uduk costs Rp 4,000, or Rp 5,000 with coffee. "I make enough to support myself," she said.

Old locomotive gets new life

Anissa S. Febrina, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Thursday was no typical working day for the dozen or so workers at state train operator PT Kereta Api's (PT KA) garage, Balai Yasa, in South Jakarta's Manggarai.

"Ready.. slowly, OK!" shouted a worker to the crane operator, his eyes remaining glued to a rusty locomotive pinned by a pair of giant metal hands.

Lifting up locomotive frames might be business as usual for the workers but Thursday they were lifting the old frame of Jakarta's long-abandoned first electric locomotive. And that was surely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Lok Bon Bon -- the name given to the old locomotive because of its resemblance to a candy box -- got a new lease on life after it was lifted into the air for the restoration of its lower frame.

"We're putting on beautiful make up before displaying it to the public," said Warsidi, a technician at the train garage.

"It will take two days to wash the lower body with chemical spray and within a month it should be ready for a new coat of paint," he explained.

Several months ago, Bon Bon almost ended up being sold off for scrap metal -- for a mere Rp 1,500 per kilogram.

But the train aficionados of the Indonesian Railway Preservation Society (IRPS) found Bon Bon hidden among other unused locomotives and trains at the garage.

There is of course something special about Bon Bon that has made IRPS members willing to do almost anything to rescue the locomotive, which was manufactured in 1928.

Officially known as Werkspoor-Heemaf, Bon Bon was a silent witness to the paramount role played by railways in the development of Batavia, as colonial era Jakarta was known.

Since 1925, the Dutch colonists provided railway services along the outer periphery of Batavia and imported electronic locomotives to serve commuters.

At first, the trains carried commuters from Menteng and Weltevreden to their workplaces in what is now Jakarta's old town. Later on the service was expanded to reach Bogor, which was then known as Buitenzorg.

Last year, after getting the nod from PT KA to restore Bon Bon, IRPS members spent weekends cleaning dried leaves and dust from the locomotive.

The rest of the restoration effort needed professional hands.

"We have been welding new metal sheets onto badly rusted parts of the locomotive," PT KA's Greater Jakarta spokesman Akhmad Sujadi said.

After being strengthened, the upper body was lifted to allow workers to work on Bon Bon's lower frame, the most amazing part of the locomotive.

With the upper body lifted, one can see closely the huge and solid construction of the locomotive's lower frame.

Despite being covered in thick reddish brown rust and gray dust, the locomotives inner parts look as strong as ever.

PT KA plans to finish the restoration process in the next couple of months, before dragging Bon Bon to West Jakarta's Kota train station and make it part of its electric railway museum.

Spokesman Sujadi said funding of up to Rp 200 million would be needed to display the locomotive as well as set up a small historical railway library in Kota station.

"We hope to be able to mark Bon Bon's return to the public with a festival scheduled for early September and immediately collect funding to continue the restoration process," IRPS member Ni Komang Ariyanti said.

The festival is planned to feature family entertainment, ranging from drawing competitions for children to culinary tours for adults, to be held on board electric trains.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Lippo Karawaci launches US$667 mln property project in Jakarta

Jakarta (ANTARA News/Asia Pulse) - Listed property company PT Lippo Karawaci will launch a Rp6 trillion (US$667 million) property project in South Jakarta this year.

The project over a 12-hectare plot of land will include three luxury apartment towers, a 29-floor hotel of Aryaduta Regency, a 250-bed hospital of Siloam Hospital, a convention center and an private school to be run by the Pelita Harapan Group.

Funding for the project is from the real estate investment trust (REIT) it issued in Singapore in December, 2006, the company said.

New development demonstrates conservation via compromise

Anissa S. Febrina, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

On the side of the fast-paced strip of Gajah Mada, West Jakarta, modern concrete columns converge with an old Chinese roof, creating a space where time, or at least history, stands still.

Amid criticism that new urban development projects often swallow up architectural heritage, an as yet unnamed high-rise apartment project featuring a 19th century Chinese mansion as part of its main entrance serves as an example of how old and new buildings can cross paths.

But in the case of this building, they were paths that crossed involuntarily. It was only public resistance, and then the 1997 monetary crisis, that halted the original plans for the 32 story mixed use complex.

Candra Naya, the old Chinese mansion, still looks as if it has been swallowed by the giant concrete structure built overhead. But at least it has not been chewed.

As land has become increasingly expensive and the urge to build and build has continued unabated, heritage sites have been far from the top priority of developers and the city administration.

True heritage buffs stand at one extreme, arguing nothing should be done to alter historically rich old buildings.

With no incentives on offer for the restoration of these buildings it is difficult and expensive to maintain their upkeep.

Furthermore, it would take significant investment to make them function in line with the pace of modern urban life.

And new investment comes only when something is offered in return.

"There should be compromises to protect heritage buildings. This has been done with Candra Naya," said lecturer at Tarumanagara University's School of Architecture Naniek Widayati, who is overseeing the conservation project.

"After a series of discussions, the developer agreed to make the main building of the mansion part of the main entrance," Naniek said Tuesday.

In the project that intertwines new development with heritage conservation, what started as a conflict of interest between developers and heritage protectors turned out to be a compromise worth observing.

Candra Naya itself was built somewhere between 1807 and 1867. No inscription of the buildings exact date has been found in the building, Naniek explained in her research paper.

The complex originally occupied a 2.4 hectares of land, comprising a main building at the front and an extension at the back.

The house was declared a heritage site in 1931 under a Dutch Monumente Ordonantie and later by a ministerial decree in 1988. A 1993 gubernatorial decree classified it as an A-class heritage site that could not be physically altered.

But in 1994, private developer PT Bumi Perkasa Permai obtained a building permit to build its mixed use complex on the Candra Naya site.

The extension wing was torn down, with the company arguing it was a mere addition to the original building and that the new structure needed the area for essential support.

The public reaction was that the partial demolition had destroyed the beauty and essence of the heritage building.

But what is the essence of heritage?

For Candra Naya, physical existence is only a secondary factor. Most important is the story of how the building helped shape Jakarta's urban society.

The Khouw family who built the complex was prominent in Jakarta life during the 19th century.

Khouw Tian Sek, family's patriarch, was a rich landlord who passed his land on to his son Khouw Tjeng Tjoan, who passed it down to his son Khouw Kim An.

The latter was a Dutch-appointed Chinese community leader, who, apart from being member of the Dutch representative council the Volksraad, was also head of the Chinese council Kong Kwan and the political party Chung Hwa Hui.

Khouw died in 1945 in a concentration camp during the Japanese occupation and was buried in the family cemetery in Jati Petamburan, Central Jakarta.

In 1946, the complex was occupied by Sin Ming Hui, a Chinese social organization which turned the private house into a center for health, social and education services.

The activities later developed into what we know today as Sumber Waras private hospital, sports organizations and education institutions such as the Candra Naya school complex and Tarumanagara university.

Jakarta cultural and museum agency head Aurora Tambunan has stressed the importance of preserving history and making it available to the public, rather than solely concentrating on preserving physical structures.

As much as it sounds like a defensive line from an administration uncommitted to conservation, there is a point: conservation efforts shouldn't just be about pure romanticism.

Architecturally, engulfing an old elegant Chinese mansion with giant concrete columns cannot be a pretty sight.

But architecture isn't the only thing in this world, is it?