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. …

Saturday, June 30, 2007

China, Indonesia to join hands in heritage preservation

2007-06-27 17:29

JAKARTA, June 27 (Xinhua) -- China and Indonesia, which have a long cultural relationship, will cooperate in heritage development and preservation, cultural ministers of the two countries said here Wednesday.

After meeting Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, visiting Chinese Minister of Culture Sun Jiazhen and Indonesian Minister of Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik told a press conference that the relationship of the two countries was very strong and was supported by culture sector.

Sun said that during the meeting with Indonesian President Susiloit the two sides decided that the two countries would further strengthen cultural cooperation under the framework of strategic partnership.

"Our two countries will enhance efforts in cooperation in the field of heritage preservation and development as part of economy," he said.

Sun also said that the culture ministries of the two countries will join efforts to expand more channels and to increase cultural exchanges program in the future.

On his part, Wacik said the relations between Indonesia and China has been lasting for a long time, and the two countries could cooperate in cultural exhibitions and film production.

"In China there are big museums, and so are here. We can exchange the museum's collections and cooperate in producing film which have link with the cultural relations of Indonesia and China," said Wacik.

Ban on RI airlines to EU deals blow to tourism sector

Makassar (ANTARA News) - The European Commission`s plan to ban all 51 Indonesian airlines from flying to Europe will deal a major blow to the tourism sector as the region is the traditional market for the Indonesian tourism, an executive said.

"The European Commission`s step to ban Indonesian airlines from flying to the region is too excessive because it will have an extraordinary impact on tourist arrivals," chief of the South Sulawesi chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) H Andi Ilhamsyah Mattalatta said here Friday.

Garuda Indonesia`s decision to stop serving scheduled flights to Frankruft, Germany, last year already had a large impact on tourist arrivals, the more so if the European Commission banned all 51 Indonesian airlines from flying to the region, he said.

The government must soon lobby the commission to cancel the ban for the sake of the tourism sector which was suffering a blow due to the monetary crisis since a decade ago, he said.

He said the government must be able to convince the commission that the security conditions in Indonesia were quite conducive and all airlines in the country had been trying their best to improve flight safety.

Domestic security played a decisive role in promoting the tourism sector and therefore, the government must pay attention to the security issue besides promoting the tourism sector abroad more vigorously, he said.

Given the ban on Indonesian airlines from flying to Europe, the country would find it hard to achieve the target of six million tourist arrivals for 2007, he said.

"We must continue to launch more promotion campaigns in the region as we have done so far. And the role of diplomats in promoting the Indonesian tourism is badly needed," he said.

The European Commission said on Thursday all Indonesian airlines and several from Russia, Ukraine and Angola will be banned from flying to the European Union due to safety concerns.

The EU experts have recommended the ban which will be effective on July 6 in response to a series of air accidents in Indonesia early this year.

However, no Indonesian airline is operating scheduled flights to any European destination. Garuda Indonesia ceased regular services to Amsterdam and Rome in 2005.

Germany to write off RI`s debts if nat`l parks in Sumatra are preserved

Kota Agung, Lampung (ANTARA News) - The government of Germany has agreed to write off half of Indonesia`s foreign debts if the country could properly preserve the national parks in Sumatra.

Chief of the South Bukit Barisan National Park (TNBBS) Task Force Ir Lusman Pasaribu said here on Friday the agreement made in the form of an MoU would be effective 2007 to 2011.

However, the government of Indonesia provided 6.25 million euros for the preservation of the South Bukit Barisan, Mount Leurse and Kerince Slebat national parks.

"If our government is able to implement the agreement, Germany has agreed to write off twice the value of fund allocated to the national parks," Lukman said.

It was reported that some other countries who acted as creditors for Indonesia as well as international non governmental institutions (NGO) had expressed readiness to provide such support under this facility and fund for the preservation of the three national parks in Sumatra.

Therefore, according to Lukman, the government of Indonesia along with the management of the three national parks should work hard to show to the international community that this country is really able to manage and preserve their flora.

"We should show them our ability to implement the agreement and manage the preservation of the South Bukit Barisan national park," he said.

Covering 356,800 hectares of land, the South Bukit Barisan National Park has a number of protected exotic and rare flora and fauna. Together with two other national parks, South Bukit Barisan national park was nominated as a cluster natural world heritage site as the last shield for the conservation of tropical forests in the world.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Govt told to go for tourism gold during Olympics

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

In an effort to boost tourism next year, when is set to be declared "Visit Indonesia Year", the government should consider establishing a travel-pass system for overseas visitors, Indonesia's Tourism Council says.

Dorodjatun Kuntjorojakti, an advisor to the council, told a tourism seminar Monday that the year 2008, which will also see Beijing hold the Olympic Games, will provide a good opportunity to attract millions of tourists from all over the world to Indonesia.

"Thus, the government should make the best out of this by working on a travel-pass system enabling post-Olympic tourists to come here," he suggested.

He explained that travel passes, consisting of round-trip tickets to destinations throughout Indonesia using any means of transportation, could be sold at tourist destinations and entry gates worldwide.

For the travel pass to work, the government would have to collaborate with travel agents, international airlines and local transportation operators, such as bus companies, state-owned railway operator PT KAI and ferry firm PT Pelni.

"Even though we have don't have an integrated, intermode transportation system or an MRT, we can still make use of what we've already got."

Up to 500,000 foreign tourists and 2.5 million local tourists are expected to attend the Olympics, according to a forecast by the International Olympic Committee. China has invested around US$17 billion on hosting event.

To coincide with the Olympics, Indonesia will declare 2008 "Visit Indonesia Year", with the country set to stage 100 international-scale events and cultural festivals throughout the 33 provinces of the archipelago.

It is hoped that the promotion will increase the number of foreign visitors to some seven million next year from around six million this year.

The official announcement of Visit Indonesia Year, which was initially planned to take place next month, will now be made in September.

As part of its preparations, the government is working on improving basic infrastructure, such as roads and telecommunications access, in the country's top tourist destinations.

The Culture and Tourism Ministry will spend some Rp 153 billion (US$17 million) on improving tourism attractions and promoting the campaign.

Dorodjatun, a former coordinating minister for the economy, said that besides availing of the opportunities provided by the Olympics, the government should also continuously strive to sustainably upgrade tourism facilities and access to tourist destinations.

Responding to the suggestion, the ministry's director general of marketing, Thamrin B. Bachri, said that the proposal sounded good, although what the government was focusing on at the moment was improving the basic infrastructure in tourist destinations.

"The most important thing is to enhance the basic elements first," he said. "How can we attract the tourists if we still adequate facilities, like airports, for instance."

The Indonesian Tourism Council groups tourism experts and business players, and is charged with providing advice and suggestions to the government for the development of the tourism sector.

Number of foreign tourist arrivals in 2009 projected at 10 million

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Culture and Tourism Ministry has projected the number of foreign tourists visiting the country in 2009 at 10 million, a ministry spokesman said here Monday.

"The country will earn US$10 billion in foreign exchange in 2009 with the arrival of 10 million foreign tourists. This tourism growth will create job opportunities for 12.5 million people," Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik said in a statement read by his ministry`s marketing director general, Thamrin B Bachri, at a tourism workshop.

The ministry was also expecting the number of domestic tourists to grow by 1.4 percent annually so that in 2009 their number would reach 218.8 million who would spend some Rp105.9 trillion.

Minister Wacik also foresaw constant development in tourism destinations, marine tourism, cultural tourism and related services in the country.

The ministry would thus step up its efforts to market and develop tourism destinations until 2009 through its Bali Recovery Program, Yogya Recovery Program, Online Marketing and Marketing Representatives.

Meanwhile, in order to help make a planned Visit Indonesia Year (VIY) 2008 program a success, the ministry would promote Indonesian tourism in China, India and the Middle East; step up cooperation with Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand; implement visa integration and increase flight frequencies.

The ministry would also open regional tourism representative offices in Singapore, Frankfurt, China, UAE, Japan, South Korea, India and Australia as well as launch golf, spa, diving, caving and wedding and ecotourism programs.

Monday, June 25, 2007

French govt to honor journalist Goenawan

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post) :The French government will honor prominent Indonesian journalist and noted poet and writer Goenawan Mohamad with the Chevalier dans L'ordre des Arts et des Lettres award.

The French Embassy in Jakarta announced Ambassador Catherine Boivineau will present the award to Goenawan on Monday, in a ceremony at the ambassador's residence in South Jakarta.

Goenawan, the former chief editor of Tempo news magazine, received the prestigious Professor A. Teeuw award from the Netherlands in 1993.

That same year, Goenawan -- who will turn 66 next month --was selected for a Nieman Fellowship to study at Harvard University in the United States.

For his exemplary journalistic work, the Stanley Foundation's publication, World Press Review, selected Goenawan as "International Editor of the Year" in 1999.

The honor, according to the Review, goes to an editor working outside the U.S., who displays courage and leadership in advancing press freedom and human rights, as well as boosting excellence in journalism.

It is a tradition for France to honor artists, writers, journalists and activists from all over the world every year.

Last week, Ambassador Boivineau presented the same award to Jakarta Paris Forum executive Winarsih Arifin for his efforts to enhance ties between the two countries.

Other Indonesians who have been honored by France over the years include singer Anggun, academic Ida Sundari Husen, Culture and Tourism Ministry secretary-general Sapta Nirwandar and a former chief editor of The Jakarta Post, Raymond Toruan

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Craft fair celebrates city birthday

The event, dubbed "We Love Indonesia", will be held all day every Thursday, starting this week until Aug. 17.

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A bazaar featuring traditional handicrafts from all over the country has been organized at South Jakarta's Cilandak Town Square mall -- better known as Citos -- to help out small and medium sized businesses.

The event, dubbed "We Love Indonesia", will be held all day every Thursday, starting this week until Aug. 17.

The event is being held to coincide with Jakarta's 480th anniversary and the 62nd celebration of Independence Day on Aug. 17.

Each week, the bazaar will display products from one of 10 regions of Indonesia: Greater Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, East Java, North Sumatra, Bali, East Nusa Tenggara, Papua, West Sumatra and Kalimantan.

"Through this event, we want to help enterprises promote their goods. We also want Indonesian people to further know their own cultures, and expatriates to see what Indonesian cultures look like," said Baby Jim Aditya, the director of Sinergy, a company coordinating the event along with the Ministry of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises and the Tourism Ministry.

On its first day Thursday, the weekly bazaar displayed goods produced by small and medium enterprises in Greater Jakarta, including handmade embroidered bags, batik wall cloths depicting traditional puppets, paper lamps and ondel-ondel (traditional Betawi effigy) ornaments.

Next week, the bazaar will feature traditional products from West Java.

Nani from Setu Betawi Group, a collection of several Betawi craft makers, showed off a pencil studded with an ondel-ondel ornament made from areca nut.

"It takes about a month to make 100 of these because we have to dry the nuts first to get the perfect shape and color," said Nani, who made the pencils.

At the market was also a stand displaying West Javanese Baduy handicrafts, at which a woman weaved a Baduy shawl.

"I have been weaving since I was 15 years old," said Bisna, 31.

She added that it usually took her about a week to weave a shawl.

"It's quite difficult, therefore there are only a few women from outer Baduy who can weave," Bisna said.

Unlike the inner Baduy sub-tribe who still make their shawls without any tools, Bisna and other outer Baduy make their shawls with the help of a simple loom.

Besides displaying handicrafts, the event will also feature dances and other traditional performances.

On Thursday, a group of dancers from the Jakarta Pavilion of Taman Mini Indonesia Indah performed the so-called Nandak Ganjen (a dance to charm) accompanied by Betawi Gambang Kromong music.

"I choreographed the dance in order to preserve Betawi culture," said Entong, a dancing teacher from the pavilion.

On Aug. 17, the peak of the event, traditional games from throughout the country will highlight the event along with the games usually performed during Independence Day celebrations.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Pulau Umang, a paradise next door

Leo Wahyudi S / The Jakarta Post Contributor

An outdoor banquet on the beach? It sounds wonderful. And it was the balmy night, the food, the sandy beach on a private island in Banten province, all of it.

Not only would young lovers find it romantic but so too would parents taking their family away for a weekend and enjoying dinner on a moonlit beach with the gentle sound of waves lapping the shore.

With fresh seafood as the main course served by amiable staff, every guest enjoyed the magical moment by the sea.

Most urbanites, particularly those residing in a big, crowded city like Jakarta, can only dream of having the sea right at their doorstep, but on Pulau Umang it is a reality. And everyone can enjoy this simple pleasure just by leaving behind the traffic jams of Jakarta and visiting this island on the western tip of Java island.

Pulau Umang, located in Banten's Pandeglang district, is a reasonably priced dream getaway for anyone looking for a relaxing beach experience with ambience. Situated near the UNESCO heritage site of Ujung Kulon nature reserve, Umang Island is a worthwhile destination for travelers.

Umang island resort and spa offers the same comforts as a star-rated hotel. The informal atmosphere enables guests to unwind and enjoy the laid-back pace of this relaxing island.

Pulau Umang is well protected from stormy seas, with the popular Tanjung Lesung beach to the north, Ujung Kulon to the south and Panaitan Island far west of the small island. Visitors have little to fear from large waves on their trip out to the island as it is just a five-minute speedboat ride from the shores of Sumur, Pandeglang, which takes approximately four hours to reach by car from Jakarta. The resort has free 24-hour secure parking at its parking lot in Sumur and accommodation for drivers.

Alighting from the speedboat, visitors walk along the pier to the main gate of the resort. A welcome drink awaits every guest. The natural beauty of the resort becomes apparent as soon as one heads for their cottage. Set amid five hectares of land, the resort has 60 cottages facing the sea, each with a view of either sunrise or sunset depending on individual choice. Each cottage has two large rooms with connecting door. The bedroom on the mezzanine has a distinct romantic feel to it, made all the more special by the fresh sea air and the lulling sound of breaking waves. The structures are all earthquake resistant.

Ten minutes from Umang island is the uninhabited Pulau Oar, which people visit to walk along the white sandy beach or go snorkeling, jet-skiing or for a ride on a banana boat in the crystal clear water. The islet also has many places to get a great shot of sunset or sunrise.

Over all, Pulau Umang is a paradise on earth where holiday-makers can laze around and enjoy its beauty and tranquility, far removed from the hassles of urban life.

Spongebob gets square with Jakarta

The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA: The world's most popular sea creature Spongebob Squarepants has left his pineapple house in Bikini Bottom for Jakarta.

The cheery cartoon character, perhaps the world's most famous driving test dropout, will star in a musical entitled "Spongebob Squarepants Live! The Sponge Who Could Fly!" later this month.

Some 30 performers from New York-based Broadway Asia Entertainment will play at the Tennis Indoor Stadium, Senayan, Central Jakarta, from June 29 to July 1.

"We will greet the student holiday with the Spongebob Squarepants musical," Ellen Kneevel from promoter Creative Production said Thursday.

The musical, performed in English, will be staged three times a day, with ticket prices ranging from Rp 200,000 to Rp 475,000.Jakarta is part of the show's Asia Pacific tour, which began in Singapore in May.

The group is scheduled to stop at other cities in Malaysia, Thailand, The Philippines, Australia and New Zealand

Australian tourists to Bali up by 50 percent

Denpasar (ANTARA News) - The number of foreign tourists flying on Indonesia`s national flag-carrier Garuda Indonesia from Australia to Bali had increased by 50 percent in the past few months compared to last year`s.

The remark was made by Garuda Indonesia`s Operations Director Capt Ari Sapari during a dinner party held to welcome 110 Australian participants of the Mega Familiarization Tour at Novotel Nusa Dua Hotel, Badung district, on Friday evening.

Without mentioning the number of the Australian tourists to Bali, Ari Sapari said their number is only second to that of the Japanese tourists. "One thing worth noting is that Garuda flew more than eight million passengers in a year and has served the route to Australia for 38 years," Ari Sapari said.

A increasing number of Australian tourists to Bali showed that the island resort was still a paradise for tourists to spend their vacation. "We are delighted with this condition because it means better prospects for the aviation business," he said.

Two other tourist destinations in the familiarization tour are Grajakan in East Java for surfing and Jakarta for golf enthusiasts.

The participants of the Garuda Indonesia-Australia mega educational tour including three journalists were led by Garuda Indonesia General Manager for Australia and the US Suranto Yitnoprawiro.

Spokesman for the delegation Ron Moro, who is also Garuda Indonesia sales manager for western Australian region, expressed words of thanks and happiness for being able to enjoy the beauty of Bali`s nature and impressive culture.

Expos managed by Indonesia embassies overseas still ineffective to SMES

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Many of the exhibitions managed by the Indonesian embassies abroad are still ineffective in the development of Indonesian small and medium businesses (SMEs) as many of such events are more oriented to tourism promotion.

Speaking during an orientation meeting for journalists, Assistant to the Production and Business Promotion Deputy at the Cooperatives, Small and Medium Entrepreneurs Ministry Priyadi Admadja said here on Friday that only a few number of SMEs were keen to participate the exhibitions managed by Indonesian embassies because the events are more tourism promotion-oriented.

However the role of Indonesian embassies in foreign countries is helping economic missions, especially by diplomatic means and information on the ways and procedures the SMEs have to follow to enable them to take part in the exhibitions.

Furthermore, he pointed out that to market SMEs` products, including handicraft articles, furniture and garments overseas, such exhibitions played a crucial role.

"Almost all the products produced by SMEs are seasonal in nature," he said, adding that the participation of SMEs in the exhibitions overseas will enable them make direct contacts with the buyers and to learn about the competition in those countries.

It is for these purposes that facilities for the Indonesian cooperatives, small and medium entrepreneurs in such exhibitions or trade missions are very important, because they are trying to seek better market access and increased market shares on international markets.

SMEs participating in these overseas exhibitions, in testing the market of their products, should be able to identify the trend of the overseas market toward their products.

Besides helping develop the international marketing network of SMEs, the exhitions are also aimed to boost their marketing capacity by providing them with learning facilities with a view to motivating them to innovate their products and businesses.

According to him, not only their participation could help them market their products overseas, the government could also help develop the businesses by setting up trading houses in those foreign countries.

The trading houses would be able to develop the marketing of SMEs` products and services in foreign trade, he noted.

Friday, June 22, 2007

RI Muslims remain tolerant: Poll

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Results from a recent survey indicate that the majority of Indonesian Muslims are tolerant toward other religions and reject the imposition of religious bylaws but believe that bombings will continue to be a threat in the future.

Pollster Indo Barometer conducted the survey in May this year to determine Indonesian Muslims' opinions on terrorism and religious tolerance in their own country.

The survey was distributed in 33 provinces using multi-stage random sampling and face-to-face interviews with 1,200 respondents of all religions. Only the answers of 1,047 Muslim respondents were taken into account.

Those surveyed were either aged 17 years and above or in wedlock. Respondents were selected to reflect as closely as possible Central Statistics Agency demographic data.

Director of Indo Barometer M. Qodari said the results showed that 95.4 percent of respondents agree that tolerance between all religions is important, with only 3.5 percent considering it unimportant. He added that 51 percent of respondents reject the idea that religious tolerance is decreasing, while 42.7 percent believe it is.

Additionally, 53.8 percent of respondents believe terrorism still threatens the country, while 71.8 percent reject the notion that terrorism is linked directly to a specific religion.

Qodari added that 88.88 percent of respondents disagree with using violence to battle immoral behavior, while 7.4 percent support it. The results also indicate that 96.2 percent disagree with violence toward people of other religions, while 1.3 percent agree with it.

"Even though the figure is small, there are still some people who advocate violence. We should keep an eye on this figure," Qodari said during the announcement of the survey results at the Wahid Institute on Thursday.

The results indicate that 63.3 percent of respondents disagree with the issuance of religious bylaws, while 27.9 percent agree. Qodari said that 97.6 percent of respondents did not believe that pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) were breeding grounds for terrorism.

Commenting on the survey, a member of Muhammadiyah, Moeslim Abdurrahman, said the results helped provide a picture of contemporary Indonesian Muslims.

He said, however, it was not a good tool for determining which regions had the highest number of hard-liners or for pinpointing who they were in order to counsel them. Moeslim maintained that communication is the key to eliminating terrorism.

"Unfortunately, we can't sort out who the extremists are. That is our organization's biggest weakness. We simply don't know exactly who they are. We know who is in the fundamentalist groups, but we don't know who the terrorists are," he told The Jakarta Post.

Father Benny Susetyo of the Bishops' Council of Indonesia said the survey had made no major revelations because the nature of most Indonesians is to respect the beliefs of others. He added, however, that the government should continue upholding pluralism in Indonesia.

"All religious bylaws should be eliminated. The government should create universal regulations, which don't discriminate among communities," Benny told the Post.

Authentic souvernirs wanting at Jakarta tourist attractions

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Jakarta may be a city where you can find most things. But when it comes to souvenirs to remind you of your stay, things can get exceptionally difficult.

In the capital cities of neighboring countries, tourism operators and businesspeople have long sold souvenirs such as fridge magnets depicting Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Tower, Manila's shell handicrafts or the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum.

Back home, the souvenir stalls at Jakarta's tourists spots offer little more than poor-quality T-shirts, paper or plastic fans bearing pictures of Nickelodeon cartoon characters and souvenirs from other provinces.

T-shirts decorated with a picture of a bajaj and the word "Batavia" can be bought for Rp 15,000 (about US$1.80) at garment wholesale markets like Pasar Pagi, Mangga Dua.

"Most people who buy these T-shirts are people from outside the city or those who want to make a donation," a trader said.

Poor quality material and unattractive designs have turned off many people, who see even the modest Rp 15,000 price tag as asking too much.

At the National Monument (Monas) -- a well recognized symbol of Jakarta that attracts foreign and local tourists -- many vendors sell souvenirs that have little or nothing to do with the capital at all.

Most vendors at the monument ground, instead, offer wooden statues of Lombok and Asmat.

"I don't think Jakarta really has something interesting that can be made into souvenirs. Besides, souvenir makers here seem not to be interested in making authentic souvenirs of Jakarta," said Ujang, one of the souvenir vendors.

Like most vendors at Monas, Ujang sells the wooden statues, which are supplied weekly by artisans based in Cileunyi, Bandung.

Ben Sukma, President of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies, said Jakarta had no natural attractions to offer.

"Unlike Bogor or other cities that have natural recreational sites, Jakarta can only count on man-made resorts, and that's what metropolitan cities usually count on," he said.

He added that governments and the private sector had to take leading roles in building tourist attractions.

According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), the number of foreign tourists arriving in Jakarta in January 2007 was 92,117, while in December 2006 the number was 104,608. In April it reached 104,081, just 0.05 percent lower than March's figure of 104,133.

Sapta Nirwanda, the secretary general of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, said low demand for authentic Jakarta souvenirs meant few businesses were willing to produce them.

Sapta said the ministry had yet to take up the lack of Jakarta-specific souvenirs as an issue because vendors selling souvenirs from outside Jakarta were helping tourism in other provinces.

"It's fine as long as they're still selling souvenirs from other provinces," he said.

Meanwhile, the city's tourism agency has blamed the private sector for not seriously promoting places of interest in Jakarta.

"People may know that Jakarta has Ragunan zoo and Ancol recreation park. But actually we also have other good places for having fun," said Eko Guruh, a Jakarta Tourism Agency spokesman.

But he said a lack of interest from the private sector to come up with investment had hampered tourism development in Jakarta.

Eko said that, for example, car or noodle factories in the capital could make great tourist attractions.

"We could take elementary school students on city tours to those factories and show them how to make noodles or cars," Eko said. "They can have fun while gaining more knowledge."

The Dutch architecture of Jakarta's Old Town and the fish markets in Angke, North Jakarta, could also be interesting to visitors, he said.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

SBY urges Indonesians to museums

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Expressing his concern over the public's lack of interest in visiting museums, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono encouraged people Wednesday to visit museums to learn from the wisdom of the past.

"Let us relive the past glory and pride to build Indonesia to become a developed, advanced and prosperous state. From museums we can learn to appreciate differences and become more tolerant," Yudhoyono told the opening ceremony of the Gedung Arca (Statue Building) at the National Museum.

The president said Indonesia had to be more creative in expanding economic alternatives such as eco-tourism and heritage economics to survive in the future.

He said museums, as repositories of the nation's cultural heritage, could be a new economic resource in the future.

The newly inaugurated building, located next to the main building of the National Museum, has four differently themed floors.

The floors deal with people and the environment; economics and science; social organization and settlement patterns; and ceramics and gold.

The building also boasts an exhibition of Majapahit artifacts from an excavation site in Trowulan, a small village in Mojokerto, East Java.

The Minister for Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik told reporters that the ministry supported Yudhoyono's call and was sending officials to learn museology and marketing at Padjajaran University in Bandung.

Jero said museums across the country shared similar problems of how to attract visitors.

"The hardest task is to encourage people to visit museums frequently. In order to do that, we need people who are experts in both museology and marketing. Future museum experts must be able to promote museums economically," he said.

Jero said the government had provided Rp 100 billion (US$ 11.1 million) for the Directorate General of History and Archeology.

This year's budget for the National Museum alone is Rp 15 billion (US$ 1.6 million).

The government has 287 museums in the country, including 56 in Jakarta. Some of the museums, such as the National Museum, are managed by the central government, while the others such as the Maritime Museum and the Textile Museum are under the management of the city administration.

The National Museum occupies 76,000 square meters of land and houses 140,900 precious objects including rare money, ceramics and gold jewelry. Jero said the museum's collection was one of the best in Southeast Asia.

The museum's director, Retno Sulistianingsih, said she planned to increase the number of visitors by conducting popular events, such as a singing contest, in the museum.

"We've also held exhibitions in shopping malls to encourage people to see artifacts in places they like to hang out," she said.

But Retno said she would need greater funding to promote more events at the museum.

She added that the museum only had Rp 6 billion for this year's budget, with staff salaries being the biggest expense.

The culture counselor at the U.S embassy, Michael H. Anderson, who attended Wednesday's ceremony, suggested Indonesia make museums a bridge between the past and the present by using lively and contemporary topics to bring people to their collections.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Balikpapan crocodile park a treat for lovers of exotic fare

Nurni Sulaiman, The Jakarta Post, Balikpapan

Residents in Balikpapan and other parts of East Kalimantan may be familiar with the Borneo Crocodile Recreational Park on Jl. Mulawarman in the city, managed by CV Surya Raya Crocodile Farm.

The place offers visitors a variety of crocodile leather products, such as briefcases, purses, wallets, belts and bags, as well as some exotic fare -- crocodile satay at Rp 3,000 (approximately 33 U.S. cents) a stick.

Crocodile meat is seen by many as nutritious and is believed to heal a number of diseases, such as asthma and allergies, as well as relieving hypertension and reducing sugar levels in diabetics.

The park is open to the public daily, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, visitors can sample crocodile satay only on Sundays and other major holidays, such as Idul Fitri, Idul Adha, Christmas and New Year's Day.

The Cafe Borneo, where crocodile satay is sold, was packed with dozens of visitors eating satay when The Jakarta Post visited.

Besides local visitors, curious diners come from as far as Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, Medan, Yogyakarta and even overseas.

"This is my first time eating crocodile satay. I got the information from my friends who came here earlier. It tastes delicious, like mutton satay," said Adrianus, from Jakarta, who was on a working visit to Balikpapan.

Another visitor from Jakarta, Roni, concurred. "I am by chance hungry... so it tastes more delicious, like chicken satay," said Roni.

According to an employee at Cafe Borneo, Edi, eating crocodile satay has no side effects and is safe for both children and adults. Only younger crocodiles, ideally around three-and-a-half-years old, are slaughtered for their meet.

"We can sell 500 to 1,000 sticks of satay during Sundays, but more than 2,000 sticks during holidays such as Idul Fitri and New Year," said park employee Hamroni.

The park also sells other crocodile-based products, such as crocodile oil, which costs Rp 8,000 per bottle. It is believed to be an effective ointment to heal burns. Crocodile penises are also on sale at Rp 300,000 to Rp 500,000 a piece and are believed to boost male virility.

A 120-ml bottle containing a medicinal drink mixed with crocodile penis is sold at Rp 15,000. Those who prefer light snacks can buy crocodile crackers at Rp 2,000 per pack.

Visitors can buy unfried crocodile crackers as gifts to loved ones back home for Rp 10,000 per pack. The park also sells frozen crocodile meat, meat floss and crocodile bile, believed by many to have qualities to heal asthma, skin diseases and prevent malaria.

Its crocodile leather products are sought after by visitors from the United States, Korea and Brunei. For those who wish to make their own creation from crocodile leather can buy a whole skin at Rp 1.27 million.

"It can be turned into bags, jackets, shoes and others. One of the company's aims is to provide high quality leather products at affordable prices so people from all walks of life can afford them," said Hamroni.

The park is always packed with visitors on weekends. More than 1,000 people visited the park last Sunday, some just to relax, conduct study tours or hold class farewells, as evident from a bus-load of students from the SDN 18 state elementary school in Samarinda Seberang.

The park is home to thousands of crocodiles, from young to mature.

It is not hard to reach the park. Visitors can take the number 7 public van, with fares ranging from Rp 2,500 to Rp 5,000 depending on the distance. It takes 30 minutes from Sepinggan International Airport by car.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Dynamic cultural show kicks off Bali Arts Festival

I Wayan Juniartha, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar, Bali

A vibrant cultural parade showcasing more than 1,500 performers on Saturday afternoon saw the beginning of the 29th month-long Arts Festival (PKB), the biggest and most influential annual cultural gathering on the resort island.

Highlighting the rich diversity of the island's cultural heritage, the parade featured each of the island's nine regencies performing their own unique dances, musical compositions and performing arts.

Thousands of spectators including groups of Western visitors lined up along the wide Puputan street in Renon to see the procession.

The parade's main performing area was next to the Puputan Margarana square where the bell-shaped Bajra Sandhi monument provided a backdrop for artists as they performed before an elevated wooden stage that hosted President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and scores of VIPs.

The parade was started after President Susilo officially opened the PKB by sounding a traditional wooden bell or kul-kul.

Earlier in his opening speech, Yudhoyono praised the island and its people as the guardian of a large number of precious and unique cultural treasures.

"Lets show the world that Bali is indeed the Island of the Gods as well as the most beautiful island of all," Yudhoyono said.

"We can achieve that by preserving the strength and uniqueness of the island, such as its arts and cultural treasures, its natural beauty and its living spirituality."

He also asked the Balinese to maintain the security of the island as well as the Balinese people's well-known hospitality.

Those things were critical in the effort to rehabilitate the island's tourism industry, he said.

Toward the end of his speech, Yudhoyono reminded the Balinese the country needed to develop a environmental-based tourism trade and a heritage-based economy.

"We must be able to develop and transform the God-given gifts -- rich cultural and historical heritage, diverse local traditions and natural beauty -- into a productive ecotourism and heritage economy," he stressed.

Students from the Denpasar's Indonesia Arts Institute (ISI) started the parade by performing the PKB's official dance of Siwa Nataraja.

The dance was a homage to Lord Siwa, who in Hindu mythology created the universe through his cosmic dance.

The dance was soon followed by various colorful performances from every regency in Bali.

Yudhoyono and first lady Kristiani Herawati were seen laughing as the Gianyar regency's Rina troupe performed a humorous take on the well-known kecak dance.

Spectators gave rousing applause to the parade's visiting participants, including troupes from China, Japan and several other provinces in Indonesia.

The warmest response was received by the East Java troupe, which performed a vivacious folkdance from Sumenep regency.

The PKB is set to run until July 14 at the Taman Budaya Bali in Denpasar.

The program is due to feature 187 events, including 110 performances, six parades and eight competitions and will involve more than 13,000 performers.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

'Electric Woman Stars Brainy Beauties'

Report: Woman Chess EWS Cup 2007 in Indonesia, 16.06.2007

When a national electricity company in a multi-ethnic and predominantly Muslim country like Indonesia sponsors a chess event for women under this name, we can only give it our warmest approval. Great stuff, people!

Six talented young ladies played the tournament in Jakarta, and WIM Nastja Karolvich sent us a big, beautifully illustrated and eminently readable report from Indonesia.

Amex cardholders to get eyes opened at airport

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Holders of American Express goldcards issued by Bank Danamon can now benefit from an eye-scanning facility when passing through immigration at Jakarta's Sukarno Hatta International Airport.

Cardholders will only need to insert iris-data cards and have theirs eyes scanned by a scanning device, which will match the data on the card and with the person's iris.

"This facility is very efficient as passengers no longer have to fill out embarkation forms, or get their passports stamped. They only need to have their irises scanned," said director of Angkasa Pura Schiphol Djoko Santoso during the signing of the collaboration agreement for the facility with Bank Danamon on Thursday.

The eye scanning process, called automatic border passage, will replace manual passport checking, which can take an average of around 20 minutes.

Automatic border passage is part of the Saphire program designed by PT Angkasa Pura Schiphol, a joint venture between PT Angkasa Pura II, the operator of Soekarno Hatta, and the Netherlands-based Schiphol Group.

The holders of Amex gold cards can use the Saphire program for free during the first year, but will have to pay US$180 annually in subsequent years. They can also enjoy other Saphire program perks, including special parking facilities, and exclusive security gates and check-in counters for Saphire customers.

Bank Danamon vice president Subba Vaidyanathan said that the Saphire program was a commercial initiative designed to provide more benefits for Amex gold cardholders, who were often frequent fliers.

"Most of our Amex cardholders are businesspeople that need efficiency when traveling. We believe that the Saphire program will satisfy them as it offers not only time savings, but also an exclusive services," said Subba.

Djoko said that the installation of eye-scanning machines was part of its commitment to making Sukarno Hatta a world-class international airport.

Angkasa Pura Schiphol has invested around Rp 2 billion ($222,200) on installing automatic border passage equipment. The necessary technology was developed by the Schiphol Group, which has been working together with Angkasa Pura II since 1996.

Automatic border passage has been functioning since December last year and has so far facilitated around 1,500 regular travelers. Those interested in availing of the Saphire program should apply at the Saphire service center located in Soekarno-Hatta's terminal 2-F. The service costs $200 per year, and the registration process takes around 20 minutes, including iris data recording and verification of travel documents.

Indonesia extends visa facility to 11 countries

The Hindu

Jakarta, June 17 (Xinhua): Indonesia has extended the visa on arrival (VOA) facility to 11 more countries, and is considering giving the facility to another 11 countries in an attempt to woo foreign tourists, local media reported on Saturday.

The 11 countries includes Algeria, the Czech Republic, Fiji, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Panama, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Tunisia.

The Directorate General of Immigration announced Friday that based on a Justice and Human Rights Ministry decree, beginning on May 28, 2007, citizens from a total of 63 countries will enjoy visa on arrival.

"The extension of the visa on arrival facility is aimed at raising the frequency of visits by foreign tourists," the immigration office said in a statement.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Kristiarto Soeryo Legowo said the government was now studying the possibility of extending the facility to 11 additional countries to allow more tourists and investors to come to Indonesia.

"So, there will be 74 countries that receive the visa on arrival facility soon, pending a decree from the Justice and Human Rights Ministry. We hope more foreigners will come to Indonesia," he was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying.

He refused to identify the 11 additional countries. The visa on arrival was first introduced on Feb. 21, 2004.

Under the system, tourists from selected countries do not have to apply abroad for a visa but can purchase a visa on arrival at Indonesia's international airports and seaports. A seven-day visa costs 10 U.S. dollars, while a 30-day visa costs 25 U.S. dollars.

Indonesia's tourist arrival numbers dropped by 2.61 percent to 4.87 million in 2006 from 5 million in 2005.

The government said extending the visa on arrival facility was expected to raise tourist numbers to 6 million in 2007.

Women to become new power of Indonesia`s economy

Jambi (ANTARA News) - State Minister for Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Suryadharma Ali said the government set to make women a new power of Indonesia`s economy.

"Thus, the government is now empowering women through the gender equality principle," the minister told students of Ikabama Foundation`s Economic Institute here Saturday.

The minister`s office has made a program on women in healthy families, who serve as managers of cooperatives, he said.

Cooperatives will become a power to strengthen the foundation of the country`s macro economy, he added.

He cited Setia Bakti Wanita Cooperatives which is managed by women initially had capital amounting only to Rp10 million now its asset reached Rp80 billion.

The minister pointed out that the government would make women an instrument of cooperatives in line with the program on the micro financial development.

In addition, cooperatives would also be developed with the Syariah (Islamic law) pattern which was considered able to raise the people`s economic growth compared to the conventional institutions.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Bukit Bangkirai a rainforest wonderland

Nurni Sulaimana, The Jakarta Post, Kutai Kartanegara

Imagine an orchid forest with more than 45 different species including dancing and dragon scale varieties, sambas breeding deer, flying fox, short- and long-tailed macaque birds, wild boar and 40-meter-high, 150-year-old bangkirai trees.

A forestry student's dream come true and a native bird-watcher's paradise.

And now it's accessible to those of us without hiking boots.

This is one of the world's most beautiful virgin conservation forests -- and it is at Jakarta's front door, in East Kalimantan.

It is the Bukit Bangkirai forest and conservation parkland, located in Samboja district, Kutai Kartanegara regency.

There are three roads that lead to this incredible 1,500-hectare wonderland as well as wide-ranging accommodation to suit just about anyone.

Bukit Bangkirai forest is internationally recognized yet still one of Indonesia's best kept tourism secrets.

It boasts various species of hardwood trees -- including the bangkirai tree (Shorea laevis), which can survive for more than 150 years and will usually grow as high as 50 meters.

Bukit Bangkirai is a tropical rainforest and natural monument, and home to other woods including ulin (Eusideroxylon Zwageri), blackwood or ebony (Ebenaceae), red meranti (Shorea smithiana), kempas (Koompassia malaccensis) and kruing (Dipterocarpus).

A two-ha area within the forest has been intentionally filled with jungle fruit tree species in a bid to preserve the mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana), the durian family, including lai (Durio kutejensis), and the mentega (magarine) fruit (Diospyros).

Bukit Bangkirai's orchid forest provides orchid lovers with the opportunity to feast their eyes on a collection consisting of 45 species, including the black orchid (Coelegyne pandurata), sugarcane orchid (Grammatophyllum speciousum), dragon scale orchid (Cymbidium antropurpureum) and dancing orchid (Bromheadia fynlaysoniana).

A 3.5-ha breeding ground for deer from the sambas family (Corvus unicolor) was cleared but sadly locals today say it has been neglected for too long and is now overgrown with underbrush.

"I'm not sure when, but the deer breeding activities stopped long ago," said Nyoman Suterini, owner of a food stall in the area.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of other animals to be found in the area, including the owa owa (Hylobates muelleri), short-tailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina), red long-tailed monkey (Presbytus rubicunda), the long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis), wild boar and flying fox.

One of Bukit Bangkirai's most infamous attractions is its bridge that connects five large trees, better known as the "Canopy Bridge".

The bridge is suspended 30 meters from the ground and stretches a total of 64 meters in length. It is made of bangkirai timber laths, bound by steel cables and secured by a 1.5-meter safety net on both sides.

But when the late afternoon wind starts to howl, locals say the bridge will do all it can to frighten the very daylights out of those visitors using it and even passers-by.

"When I was up on the canopy bridge, I yelled my heart out not because I was afraid but too excited," said Japanese student Takeshi Arizono, 29, an alumnus from the forestry school at Mulawarman University in Samarinda.

"My friends and I had a great time ... it was my first time on such a bridge.

"The place is terrific and very suitable to conduct a research project," Takesi said.

As a specialized forestry student, Takesi was investigating the rattan plant and was accompanied by a junior from the Nihon University who was attending comparable studies on the bangkirai tree, the dominant tree species in the area.

"I've also seen a bangkirai tree which is 150 years old and 40 meters tall here," said Takeshi.

Visitors can choose to stay overnight in one of the four fully-equipped cottages built of ulin timber. Tariffs at the time of writing ranged from Rp 350,000 to Rp 450,000 per day.

"The check-out time is more flexible here, unlike hotels in the cities," said Ommeng from the Bukit Bangkirai resort area.

"And the number of guests staying in a room is unlimited."

For those who really want to blend in with the natural surroundings, the resort also offers a camping ground with tents and camping space for rent.

"The fee for a camping space is set at Rp 45,000 per day, which is the same price as hiring an eight-person tent," said Ommeng.

"And a four-person tent is rented for Rp 25,000 per day."

Others who want to enjoy the cool night air of Bukit Bangkirai can try the outbound barracks.

The price here can be as high as Rp 1.5 million per day, but the barracks can accommodate up to 100 people and the area is suitable to hold reunions, workshops and other activities that involve a crowd.

Getting to and from the forest involves either a simple a 58-km drive from Balikpapan, a 150-km drive from Samarinda or a 150-km drive from Tenggarong.

The park is managed by state-run forestry company PT Inhutani and charges entrance fees for visitors and vehicles -- Rp 2,000 (approximately 22 US cents) for adults and motorcycles and Rp 1,000 for those below the age of 12.

The entrance fee for a car is Rp 5,000, while buses are charged Rp 10,000.

A group of 50 people or more can receive a 25 percent discount on the entrance fee and a group of more than 100 people can get a 50 percent discount.

Park puppet show for family fun

The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA: The culture and museum agency will hold a Betawi puppet play this weekend as an alternative form of entertainment for city families.

Antara reported Friday that the play would be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Plaza Taman Fatahillah park in West Jakarta.

The park is situated in front of the Jakarta History Museum, better known as Fatahillah Museum.

"The story is of Jampang, the Betawi hero," agency head Aurora Frida Tambunan said.

Puppeteer Tizar Purbaya had modified the puppets to be able to release smoke from theirs mouths when pretending to smoke, Aurora said.

Aurora said she expected the public would be able to enjoy the entertainment while strolling around the Old Town area.

The Jakarta administration is currently putting the area in order as part of its Old Town revitalization project.

Flashy Jakarta Fair gets mixed reviews from the public

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Some applauded the more modern facilities, while some complained about the higher admission fee.

All in all, this year's Jakarta Fair has certainly been met with mixed reactions.

Held in line with the commemoration of the capital's 480th anniversary, this year's Jakarta Fair has been polished with additional halls and facilities as well as the adoption of a smart card entry pass system.

But these improvements have come packaged with several flaws.

"A lot of people have been disappointed to arrive and find the ticket booths still closed," Tari, a Bekasi resident who has attended the annual fair since her childhood, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Tono, Tari's husband, lamented the rise in parking fees, while Tari added that any increase should have been gradual.

"The entry fee per car is Rp 7,000 now -- a Rp 2,000 hike from last year. It's expensive, leaving aside the Rp 7,000 hourly parking fee," Tono said.

Atie and Mutik, both residents of Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, said this year's attraction failed to justify the high price of entry tickets.

They also said the new smart card system was highly inefficient and even a little unsafe.

"When we got here, only two entry gates were operating for the hundreds of people queuing up. Everyone was pushing and shoving to get into the fair," Mutik said.

Despite such inconveniences, Mutik acknowledged that the fairground had become cleaner and more orderly.

The expansion of the fairground, with the addition of Hall D and an upgrade of facilities at several other halls, also received warm responses.

The 2007 Jakarta Fair, which exhibits goods from around Indonesia ranging from traditional handicrafts and garments to food and electronics, is being held in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta.

Kicked off Thursday by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the fair will run until July 15. A one day general admission ticket costs Rp 15,000 per person on weekdays and Rp 20,000 on weekends.

Admission for children under the age of three, senior citizens aged 60 and over and members of the Indonesian police and military is free of charge.