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. …

Sunday, September 30, 2007

New sources on Indonesia's regional history discussed

Hendrik E. Niemeijer, Contributor The Jakarta Post, Denpasar, Bali

One of the crucial orientation points in the search for Indonesia's (future) identity is history.

Local identity, regional autonomy, the rise of Islam and Christianity, centralization of government, environmental changes, natural disasters, corruption, the encounter with the West -- all hot topics have their own history.

The problem is that national history hardly deals with them, and that the collective memory does not recall much.

Bali conference on collective memory

The functioning of national collective memory was debated among archivists and historians at a conference in Bali held Sept. 3 through 5.

The organizer, Arsip Nasional Republic Indonesia (ANRI), invited several heads of national archives from Sri Lanka, India, Portugal, the UK, Australia, Singapore, South Africa and Surname. These countries keep interesting records on their past contacts with Indonesia. Archivists from these countries presented their collections.

New finding aid of VOC records

Special emphasis was given to the cooperation with the Netherlands.

State Minister of Administrative Reforms Taufiq Effendi received the first copy of a 571-page book Arsip-arsip Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie dan lembaga-lembaga pemerintahan kota Batavia.

On this occasion, the Minister of Home Affairs of Suriname, Mr. Maurtis Hassankhan, also received the book. The Director General of ANRI, Mr. Djoko Utomo, explained how the book contains the final inventories of hundreds of meters of records of the former VOC (1602-1795).

The fact that ministers from both Indonesia and Suriname paid full attention to VOC-records and colonial archives is not only a sign of the much improved political relations between the Netherlands and its former colonies, but also demonstrates a growing political awareness of the importance of an objective re-evaluation of historical relations.

In his speech last year at the opening of the academic year of Leiden University, Taufiq rightly analyzed Indonesia's history from a global perspective.

Regional and 'autonomous' history

VOC-records offer many insights concerning the so-called "Age of Reconnaissance" or "Age of Partnership". Thousands of records witness the first personal encounters between Asians and Europeans.

These encounters offer many surprises. When the Dutch arrived on Java around 1600, they discovered that the Javanese were of their own size and "physically well-shaped".

For Indonesia, VOC-records are absolutely invaluable to study local and regional 17th- and 18th-Century history. At the Bali conference, several Indonesian archivists from the different kabupaten (regencies) and provinces were present.

The regions suffer from an almost complete lack of historical documentation when they aim to establish their own museums and libraries. The VOC-records offer a rich documentation from the times that most of the regions of the Malay-Indonesian archipelago were still independent sultanates and principalities.

Historians have already started a reevaluation of regional Indonesian history in the 1970s, after colonial history writing had been declared dead.

While Indonesia's historians were completely occupied by constructing national history, U.S. and Australian historians such as M.C. Ricklefs, L.Y. Andaya and A. Reid did something completely different.

They started to focus on regional "autonomous" Southeast Asian history. Much research was done in the 1.5 kilometers of VOC records being kept in the National Archives of the Netherlands in The Hague. The VOC records also constitute important data on Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Iran and Yemen.

In 2004 UNESCO rightly included the VOC records in its Memory of the World Register.

New partnerships on mutual heritage

With the new Indonesian inventory, some of the two kilometers of VOC archives kept in the ANRI depots are now accessible to the public. The finding aid is the outcome of seven years of cooperation between Indonesian and Dutch archivist in the program "Towards a New Age of Partnership" (

Recently Leiden University launched a new program called "Encountering a Common Past" (Encompass) to train Indonesian historian and archivists.

Hopefully, these initiatives will be followed by more projects including also the period up to 1942. ANRI also keeps some 10 kilometers of 19th- and 20th-Century Dutch archives. ANRI keeps the fourth-largest collection of Dutch archives anywhere in the world.

Since Indonesia's independence, the Indonesian government has had the wisdom to finance the preservation of these Dutch collections and not in vain. An increasing number of well-trained Indonesian historians make use of them for a modern rediscovery of the rich history of the different regions of the Malay-Indonesian archipelago.

Hendrik E. Niemeijer is a historian at Leiden University, The Netherlands.

Association forges unity among overseas Indonesian students

Rendi A. Witular, The Jakarta Post, Groningen, The Netherlands

Encouraged by strong bonds with fellow countrymen, Indonesian students in Groningen, the Netherlands, have maintained to unite among themselves through the formation of a local students association.

From just six members during its inception back in July 1998, the Association of Indonesian Students in Groningen (PPIG) may possibly be the largest and most active Indonesian student association overseas.

The association has around 150 members ranging from undergraduate students to doctorate candidates from various ethnic and religious backgrounds.

According to Salahudin, one of its founders, the setting up of PPIG was initially driven by the need to unite Indonesian students and seek representatives to attend various events in the Netherlands and those organized by the Indonesian embassy there.

"PPIG was a medium at that time to communicate activities internally among the students and externally with other organizations or institutions. It is also aimed at assisting Indonesian students in adapting to their new surroundings," said Salahudin.

He also explained that the association was also active in providing future students of Groningen with useful experiences of past students, strengthening bonds with local people and with other Indonesian students in other cities around the Netherlands.

PPIG is now known as a fairly powerful lobbyist for Indonesian students in relation to administration affairs with the education institutions in Groningen -- the Royal University of Groningen and the Hanzehogeschool of Groningen.

"PPIG is the voice of the Indonesian students in Groningen. It is also a forum where students from various ethnic, professional and religious background can be united," said Joko Tirto Rahardjo, current chairman of the association.

The chairmanship of PPIG is fostered through a democratic annual election by its members.

Aside from providing new students in Groningen with helpful information about daily life and how to adapt to a new environment, PPIG also organizes several major events, such as Groens Cup, an annual Idul Fitri gathering and group travel.

Aside from its website ( with comprehensive information about living whereabouts in Groningen, the association also has an Internet-based radio station dubbed Invogro (, which features Indonesian music ranging from mainstream pop to traditional music.

Information from association members is passed through an e-mail group ( Aside from functioning as a discussion forum, the members can also share tips for looking for cheap second-hand bicycles, housing, halal food and cool spots to hang out.

Marine festival offers attractions in W. Sumatra

The Jakarta Post, Syofiardi Bachyul

The Youth and Sports Ministry organized last month a marine festival at a beautiful beach in Padang, West Sumatra. The annual event, called the International Youth and Sport Marine Festival (FIPOB) was aimed at promoting tourism in the province.

Apart from sports contests such as boat race, diving, swimming, fishing, surfing, paragliding and many more, the festival also highlighted cultural shows.

It also saw culinary competitions like cooking lemang (local snack) and crushing chilis.

There was a contest dedicated to fishermen, namely pulling the fishing net competition.

The most appealing contest was the kite competition during which various shapes of kites were flown.

Expatriates from Brunei Darussalam, Germany and Malaysia took part in various competitions.

Groens Cup, PPIG's gallant sports event

The Jakarta Post, Rendi A. Witular

The Association of Indonesian Students in Groningen (PPIG) in the Netherlands has maintained the tradition of organizing probably Indonesia's largest sporting event overseas.

The sixth annual sport event, dubbed the Groens Cup, was held on May 26 and 27 in Groningen, with the sole intention of forging kinship not only between Indonesians residing in the Netherlands but also those of Indonesian descent who have become Dutch nationals.

"Groens Cup is the only event that can unite Indonesian people from all cities in the Netherlands regardless of their religion and ethnic identity back home," said Joko Tirto Rahardjo, current PPIG chairman.

The association was the sole organizer of Groens Cup, which was participated by around 110 Indonesians from 11 cities in the Netherlands, including several diplomats from the Indonesian embassy.

Taking into account the accompanying supporters -- including children and the elderly -- it is estimated that 700 Indonesians flocked to the Groningen's ACLO sport complex, turning it completely into an Indonesian hamlet filled with original Indonesian food, writing and songs.

"It is the kind of Indonesian environment that we want to create here: uniting Indonesian people together, helping them create a network and fostering friendship. Groens Cup is more than just a competition, its spirit stretches beyond that," said Joko.

Indeed, participants in the event have not only focused on competing with each other in sport, but also with other kinds of social activities ranging from seeking contacts for jobs to finding potential life partners.

"The competition is not a big matter for me. Finding new friends is one of my priorities. Who knows, I may find the love of my life here, or I might even find a business contact who can help me export goods from Indonesia," said Rulli Putra, a participant.

PPIG put up six sports for this year -- badminton, indoor soccer, volleyball, table tennis, basketball and chess.

The contingent from Rotterdam secured most of the gold medals, making them the general winner of the event, followed by a contingent from the Indonesian embassy and the host contingent.

According to Joko, the association spent 5,000 to 6,000 euros on organizing the event; the association was assisted by 40 PPIG members who had made a firm commitment to help prepare the event since the end of last year.

Funding has been derived from various sponsors in Groningen, ranging from universities to Indonesian-owned small businesses, and from fees paid by participants.

Although funds were limited, the organizers have managed to provide a comprehensive service for participants, including pickup service, meals, housing and tour guides.

As for the organizers, the motivation in holding the events lies in the fact that Groens Cup has become an annual tradition that all Indonesians in the Netherlands eagerly await. It is an event where homesickness can be alleviated a little.

"Groens Cup has become a trademark. Although most of us (the organizers) are busy with studying, somehow we managed to secure time for it. I think unity among Indonesian students here is what drives us forward," said Febry Budianto, one of the organizers.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Young people in Jakarta get into the swing of Aceh's 'saman' dance

Adisti Sukma Sawitri, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Describe cool for high school students. The general notion of what is cool may include the ear-clinging iPod or joining a band or the basketball team.

But this is not the case for hundreds of high school students who came to cheer their friends in a saman dance competition at the Jakarta Convention Center on Friday.

The 2007 FEMME Exhibition featured the dance competition, to cater to the growing interest among students to learn the Acehnese traditional dance.

Thirteen groups from schools in Greater Jakarta were selected for the final of the competition, beating out 15 other groups from the preliminary rounds.

Groups of girls in colorful costumes sat down while moving and shouting in harmony with the beat of the drums accompanying an Acehnese song on the stage.

Said Rahmat, president of an organization dedicated to traditional arts and folklore festivals -- the Conseil International des Organisations de Festivals de Folklore et d'Arts Traditionals -- said the growing interest in saman was related to the increasing international recognition of the dance.

"Every time I attended sessions of Indonesian performances abroad, people often ask for saman instead of Javanese or Balinese dance," he said.

He said his organization, which actively teaches traditional dances at schools, introduced saman to students in 1997.

Said said the growing interest in the dance among youth came from its dynamic moves, which matched the students' young spirit.

Saman is usually performed in a group of up to 15 students, with one person playing the drum and another singing an Acehnese song. Since the dance was originally about spreading Islamic teachings, the songs mostly deal with religious advice and examples of good deeds from the past.

Some artists also develop new songs, but still in Acehnese.

The exhibition's organizing committee director, Linda Herlinda, said it was the second time the annual event had included saman among its events.

The saman performance at last year's exhibition was recognized by the Indonesian Record Museum as it involved 114 dancers in one performance.

"We made it a competition for youth this year because we want to draw more young visitors to the exhibition," she said.

The FEMME Exhibition, which is aimed at small and medium enterprises, particularly those owned by women, is in its fourth year. Part of the revenue from the exhibition will go to an organization that works with women diagnosed with breast cancer.

PATA expected to jump-start Indonesia's tourism industry

eTravelblackboardasia, Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Place your ad hereIn a report by Bernama, the 2007 Pacific Asian Travel Association (PATA) Travel Mart is expected to deliver great benefits to Indonesia’s domestic tourism industry.

"The decline of Indonesian tourism in the last two years due to natural disasters, security problems and the avian flu attack are expected to be gradually halted," Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik was quoted as saying in the article.

As a result, the government and those involved in tourism are committed to normalising the nation’s tourism industry. The government is targeting 7 million foreign tourists to Indonesia in 2008. Recently, Bali has alone witnessed an average of 5,200 foreign tourists a day, well above the normal level of 4,500.

According to the report, Minister Jero Wacik believes that the improvement in Indonesia’s tourism climate is the result of frequent Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) being held in the country. The Minister hopes that PATA will also help boost foreign tourists to Indonesia through increased trade and media coverage.

PATA will take place in Nusa Dua, Bali this week and is expected to draw in more than 1,500 people from 50 member countries.

Iran introduces its tourist attractions

Iran is opening tourism information offices in 25 counties in a bid to introduce the country's rich cultural and tourist attractions.

Presstv, Sat, 29 Sep 2007 06:31:00

Iran has so far established five tourism information offices in Sweden, Libya, Qatar, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, said Deputy Director of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization, Mohammad Sharif Malek Zadeh.

Iran has also signed several Memoranda of understanding on tourism with Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Syria, the official said.

He said Iran had invited 200 foreign diplomats and their families for a one- week free tour of Iran.

Malaysia hopes for two million tourists from Indonesia

Nusa Dua, Bali (ANTARA News) - Malaysian Tourism Promotion Director General Dato Mirza Mohammad Taiyab hoped the number of Indonesian tourists coming to Malaysia in 2007 would reach two million.

"We hope that the number of Indonesian tourists visiting our country would meet our expectations," Dato Mirza Mohammad Thiyab told the press on the sidelines of the ongoing PATA Travel Mart in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Friday.

He said Malaysia on the occasion of the tourist visit year and its 50th anniversary is offering special and affordable tourist packages.

According to data, from January through July 2007, more than one million people had come to Malaysia to spend their holiday, Dato Mirza flanked by Malaysian Senior Tourism Director Abdul Halim Saruji, said.

Most of the Indonesian tourists visiting Malaysia came from Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Java.

Dato Mirza also hoped Malaysia`s relations with Indonesia both in the economic, socio-cultural and political sectors need also to be developed through cooperation in the tourism sector.

He said the tourism industry in his country is the biggest contributor to the state`s revenue. "Practically all parts of Malaysia have interesting tourists spots, like the Petronas Twin Tower in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Johor," he said.

In the meantime, the Malaysian Ministry of Tourism in promoting the country`s tourism sector has also offered mega sale packages and Eye on Malaysia tickets to Indonesian tourists.

"The Malaysian government devoted a special attention to Indonesian tourists since 1998, because the tourism industry has achieved impressive achievements", Dato Mirza added.

The 2007 Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Travel Mart which was opened by Vice President Jusuf Kalla last Wednesday marked the Indonesian tourist island`s return as a major world tourist destination.

The tourist island has been struggling to recover from the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in 2002 and 2005, which had seriously damaghed its tourism industry.

But two years after the most recent bombings, Bali won its bid to host the PATA Travel Mart over destinations in China and India.

The ongoing 3-day Travel Mart is believed to be the biggest ever with 423 buyers from 40 countries, more than last year`s even in Hong Kong which was attended by 353 buyers.

The Travel Mart also features 860 sellers from 36 countries.

Friday, September 28, 2007

China to establish language, cultural center

JAKARTA (JP): China is set to establish its first Chinese language and cultural center in Indonesia, the Kongzi Institute, in an attempt to broaden the use of Chinese language in here.

The institute will be established in cooperation between Beijing Hanban -- a Beijing-based organization appointed by the Chinese government to build Chinese language centers worldwide -- and Bina Terampil Insan Persada (BTIP), a Jakarta-based Chinese language course.

The establishment of Kongzi Institute was marked by the agreement signing Friday between the Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia, Lan Lijun, and BTIP's director Philip Liwan Pangkey.

Lijun said in his speech that Kongzi Institute was aimed at introducing Chinese language and culture among Indonesians in a hope that it would enhance bilateral relationship between the two countries.

"We expect more Indonesians to be able to speak Chinese and understand Chinese culture in the hope that it will foster the strategic partnership that our governments have built," the ambassador said.

"In the last couple of years, China has been the world's focus due to its great economic development, and thus it will be important to master Chinese language to promote cooperation with the country."

Currently, there are 190 Kongzi Institutes established in more than 60 countries worldwide. The Jakarta Kongzi Institute will be the first of such institute in Indonesia.

Philip said that the Kongzi Institute would be established in BTIP's center in Central Jakarta. The language course has been established since 1996.

"We are very pleased to be appointed by the Beijing Hanban to establish the institute. This is an acknowledgement of our efforts for years to spread the use of Chinese language in Indonesia," he said. (Desy Nurhayati/**)

What next for Burma's generals?

The Burmese junta, the SPDC, makes no secret of its admiration for the pseudo-democracy run by President Suharto

By Jonathan Head, BBC News, Bangkok

Will Burma's military rulers listen to the endless pleas for restraint and dialogue? Could the regime crumble under the weight of popular anger, or through splits in the ranks of the armed forces?

Or will they succeed in terrorising the population into submission again through mass killings, as they did in 1988?

We simply do not know which of these scenarios is more plausible, because it is impossible to know the thinking of the tight clique of generals who run the country.

But there are "end-of-regime" scenarios we can look at in other countries; specifically Indonesia, a fellow member of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean).

Military role

The Burmese junta, the SPDC, makes no secret of its admiration for the pseudo-democracy run by President Suharto, the former Indonesian strongman, so perhaps it is instructive to look at how the Suharto regime was overthrown.

The parallels between the two countries are striking. They are both large, tropical countries comprising many diverse ethnic groups and cultures that won independence from colonial rule in the chaotic aftermath of the Second World War.

In both countries, nation-building was hampered by strong separatist movements in their outlying regions.

In both the army became the dominant political force in the 1960s, arguing it was the only institution that could hold the country together.

Both countries' officer classes involved themselves heavily in business and politics.

Both Gen Suharto and Gen Ne Win, Burma's military strongman until the 1990s, were from humble, superstitious backgrounds, but had their worldviews profoundly altered when they were members of Japanese paramilitary units as young men during the Japanese occupations of their countries.

It instilled in both men a belief in martial values and the central role of the military in political life.

But there the similarities end.

'Tiger' economy

Perhaps timing was the reason - Indonesia nearly fell apart under its mercurial founding father Sukarno in the 1960s.

Suharto took advantage, after a failed coup, but needed rapid economic development to restore the government's legitimacy.

It was a time when Western governments needed Cold War allies - they were willing to overlook Suharto's horrific human rights abuses, and offered aid and investment.

At the time, Ne Win had taken Burma along what he called the "Burmese way" of socialism, a bizarre form of isolation.

As a result, by the 1980s Indonesia was being hailed as one of the successful "tiger" economies of South-East Asia with spectacular growth rates. Burma was a basket case. That led to two very different results.

In Burma, economic misery provoked massive anti-government protests in 1988, which were savagely put down by the army over a period of three months. Thousands died.

The regime tried to adapt itself. It held elections, but miscalculated disastrously, losing by a huge margin to Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD party.

It refused to recognise the results, but tried to win the population over by encouraging foreign investment in an attempt to stimulate Indonesian-style development.

But it was no longer the 1960s; it was the post-Cold War 1990s.

Western governments were no longer willing to overlook human rights abuses. They were charmed by the dignity of Aung San Suu Kyi, who had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, and imposed increasingly tough sanctions.

But President Suharto's successful development strategy came back to haunt him. When people began tiring of his corrupt and authoritarian ways in the 1990s, he reverted back to type, banning newspapers and locking up or intimidating his opponents.

In Burma, complete isolation means the generals have little to lose from international sanctions

He had skilfully managed promotions in the army to keep it loyal, and gave it a large slice of the economy to manage.

He created pseudo-parties guaranteed to win pseudo-elections to a pseudo parliament - all tactics now being copied by Burma's generals.

But rapid development had created a powerful new class of people who became rich through trade with the rest of the world, who sent their children to be educated in America, Europe or Australia.

Even some army officers enjoyed foreign contact and training.

'Elite' class

When the charms of the aging Suharto and his clique began to fade, this group was not prepared to risk international isolation; it didn't have the stomach for massive repression. Instead, it told Suharto to go.

In Burma, complete isolation means the generals have little to lose from international sanctions. Nor is there a large and powerful middle class with a lot to lose. There is only the military - the most powerful institution in the country - with its fingers in every aspect of daily life.

It suffers little from isolation, except in the increasingly narrow view of its officers.

Soldiers are taught that they are an elite class, entitled to special respect - and that anyone who opposes them is an enemy bent on returning the country to chaos and civil war.

That will almost certainly be the warped instruction given now to the troops who have shot at unarmed monks and civilians in Rangoon.

Yogyakarta to build wildlife park

Yogyakarta (ANTARA News) - The Yogyakarta administration will turn a 634-ha piece of land in the Bunder area of Gunungkidul district into a wildlife park for research and tourism as well as to increase the local people`s welfare, an official said.

"Therefore, the administration will set up a technical implementation unit in 2008 to manage development of the proposed forest," head of the Yogyakarta forestry and plantation office`s program development division, Hardiyanto, said here Thursday.

"Ten percent of the proposed wildlife area will be used by the technical implementation unit to develop supporting facilities," he said.

Bunder conservation forest has so far been managed jointly by Gajahmada University (UGM) and the Yogyakarta administration for a research program.

However, there was no information on the amount of funds needed to create the wildlife park.

Public offerings for the unseen constitute big business in Bali

Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Setting foot for the first time in Bali, the intense religious atmosphere in the island is palpable.

The smell of the air is different -- it has a subtle scent of screw pines and burnt incense. And everywhere, on every street corner, and in front of every small shop, offerings can be seen.

The most common form of offering everywhere in Bali on a daily basis is known as canang, formed from a coconut palm leaf square basket filled with a slice of banana or sugar cane, a few grains of rice, a betel quid, vibrant hues of flowers and shredded leaf on top.

Presenting banten (Balinese for offerings) to the unseen inhabitants of the island gods, ancestors and demons -- is a huge part of Balinese Hindu rituals.

The various types of offerings number in the hundreds and include gifts to express gratitude to benevolent spirits. At the same time, these gifts placate demons to prevent them from disturbing the harmony of life.

Balinese Hindus spend much of their time and money offering rituals.

"It's a form of gratitude, for the rice on the table, for our well being," said 23-year-old Ni Luh Suryati, who places banten every morning and afternoon.

Balinese women prepare the offerings. Men become involved if the offerings include sacrificing animals.

As more Balinese women work outside their homes, entering the public domain, they have less time to prepare the offerings themselves.

This created a market of ready-made offerings made by tukang banten (offering makers).

Balinese economist from Udayana University Ketut Rahyuda said the banten trade was enormous in Bali.

"One household spends around 20 to 30 percent of their income for ritual consumption," he said.

"This is enormous as more than 80 percent of Balinese are Hindu," he said.

A 2000 research by Udayana Forum for Research, Information and Development (LPIP Forum Udayana) showed an average household in Bali spends Rp 2.32 million per year for daily offerings.

The research said this trade in Bali was worth around Rp 1.4 trillion per year.

"This is a really big part if the informal sector of the Balinese economy," he said.

"It creates jobs and it also opens up chances for trading with other areas in Indonesia for offerings material," he said.

At the gate to the Badung market, in the center of Bali's capital city Denpasar, dozens of traders sell offering materials, including flowers, bananas, sugar cane and young coconut leaves.

Bali provides itself with a supply of flowers for offering materials and regencies including Buleleng and Karangasem are the main flower suppliers.

Coconut leaves and fruits are imported from Java.

"We're dependent on Java for the supply of coconut leaves," flower seller Rahayu, 40 said.

She said if coconut leaves are scarce in Bali, it's a real problem.

"It's more serious if coconut leaves are scarce than say lack of meat."

Inside the market, the scent and the view was unlike the traditional smelly markets in other cities.

The familiar scent of screw pine and incense mixed with the scent of flowers filled the air.

In every stall there was a small shrine made of wood with canang inside it and incense burning. Here, people buy the ready-made banten.

Ni Ketut Budiasi, 13, was putting together dozens of canang. Her hands moved quickly inserting flowers and leaves to the coconut palm leaf square baskets.

"I can make up to 2,000 per day and on a busy day I can sell all that," Ni said.

For big ceremonies, however, complex banten are made.

In her house in Denpasar, banten-maker Ida Ayu Cahyani said her orders were worth around Rp 5 million to Rp 20 million.

Early this week she had five workers gathered along with her family and neighbors to help her fill orders for a ceremony in the Garuda Wisnu Kencana.

She bought all the materials at the Badung market.

"It is a good business, but more importantly one with blessings," she said.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

EU to decide on RI air travel ban in November

Alvin Darlanika Soedarjo, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The EU will decide on whether to lift the air travel ban for Indonesian airlines in November after a recent preliminary meeting between an Indonesian delegation and EU officials in Montreal, Canada.

"The meeting was a technical one. It involved our clarification on aviation safety documents as requested by the EU. So there is no decision yet from Montreal," Transportation Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal said Monday as quoted by newsportal.

Speaking after a meeting with the House of Representatives Commission V overseeing transportation issues, Jusman said Director General of Air Transport Budhi M. Suyitno and National Team for the Evaluation of Transportation Safety and Security chief Chappy Hakim led the Indonesian delegation.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) general assembly with the EU represented by its safety committee consisting of France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain.

On July 6, the EU prohibited all Indonesian air carriers from entering European airspace, despite the fact that at the time there were no Indonesian airlines that flew to European destinations.

Jusman added the Indonesian delegation also presented the ministry's plan for zero accidents and policy on local airlines compliance ratings.

"In the meeting, I addressed the Indonesian government's disappointment on the EU flight restriction. We believe if the ban is to be continued, then there would be unhealthy air transportation competition.

"Several countries can simply give sanctions without coordination with the affected country," he said.

Indonesia also proposed that the ICAO regulate the mechanism on such bans and lift the restriction.

"All ICAO members should use the same standard. That way there will be no one-sided decisions."

Jusman said Garuda Indonesia, which had planned to resume its service to the Netherlands just before the ban, should be exempt from the ban as it is Indonesia's flag carrier.

The Indonesian government had called on the EU to send its technical delegates to directly inspect Indonesian airlines.

The Saudi Arabian General Authority on Civil Aviation (GACA) in July planned to join the EU in banning Indonesian airlines from flying to the country.

However, the GACA sent a team of technical delegates to Indonesia and cleared Garuda in August. Garuda is the only Indonesian airline serving routes to Saudi Arabia.

Several local major airlines, including Garuda, have attempted to highlight their improvements by obtaining official certification through an operational safety audit from the International Air Transport Association.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Cheng Hoo Mosque a melting pot of religious tolerance

ID Nugroho, The Jakarta Post, Surabaya

Annisa Mahsuna has a simple way of introducing her family and three children to religious tolerance -- by taking them to break the fast at Cheng Hoo mosque in Surabaya, East Java.

The 38-year-old native of Sidoarjo said breaking the fast at the mosque has become an annual tradition in her family.

"I always take my family to Cheng Hoo mosque to break the fast together with other people," said Annisa as she broke her fast with a portion of take-away rice.

With this simple gesture, she hopes her children will learn to better understand differences.

"People who break their fast in this mosque come from many different groups within the community. Through their interaction with others here, my children learn about the meaning of diversity," she said.

During the fasting month of Ramadhan, there is an atmosphere of religious harmony at the Chinese-style mosque, which was designed to resemble a temple.

Even before dusk, several members from a Chinese-Muslim organization and residents from around the mosque work together to prepare food to break the fast.

Hundreds of cold beverages, arranged next to snacks and dates, are prepared. Flasks of hot beverages and packages of rice are also made available.

Others place mats on the basketball court in front of the mosque, where hundreds of people from different groups and backgrounds wait for the time to break the fast.

"Here, there is no difference between those who are local residents and those who are not," said Oei Tjing Yen, the mosque's coordinator.

When the time to break the fast draws near, hundreds of people arrive in their cars, on motorcycles or on foot and enter the mosque's three-hectare compound. Some wash and then perform their prayers or recite the Koran, while others simply wait.

They queue to receive their share of snacks and beverages when the time to break the fast is announced.

The mosque receives around Rp 2.2 million (US$239) in cash donations per day from Chinese-Muslims and other donors. The money is used to buy rice, snacks and beverages for as many as 350 people a day.

"The more donations we receive, the more food we can prepare," Oei said.

The mosque, which was built at a cost of Rp 3.3 billion and first opened in October 2003, was named after Chinese admiral Cheng Hoo and was designed to resemble Niu Jie mosque in Beijing, China.

The mosque, the first of which to use a Chinese name here, blends Islam and Chinese philosophies -- the building's 11-meter length is similar to that of the holy Ka'bah when it was first created, while its nine-meter width is symbolic of the nine Walis who disseminated Islam in Java.

The top of the main building has eight corners. Eight is a lucky number according to Chinese beliefs. It is shaped to resemble a spiderweb, which was believed to have rescued prophet Muhammad when he was about to be murdered by the Quraish people.

Uniquely, the area where the imam leads the congregation in prayer is shaped like a church's entrance gate.

On the right side of the mosque, there is a relief of admiral Cheng Hoo with his ships, which were used to conquer the Indian Ocean.

Oei said the relief seems to remind people not to think too highly of themselves and that they should follow the example of Cheng Hoo, who made friends with everyone.

This spirit, Oei said, was achieved through providing free food to break the fast every Ramadhan. "It's like a message from our ancestors ... that we should perform this deed."

Friday, September 21, 2007

Balinese ecologists to offer local wisdom during climate meeting

Ary Hermawan, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar

A coalition of Balinese ecological activists and spiritual leaders will use the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCC) on Bali in December as an opportunity to call for the revival and implementation of forgotten traditional wisdom to slow down global warming.

"Human beings must give mother nature time to recover after being exploited excessively for such a long time," I Nyoman Sadra of the Wisnu Foundation said on the sidelines of a seminar on climate change Thursday. "We are calling for an international day of silence during which people around the world stop their activities and let mother nature rest," he added.

The foundation has collaborated with the Bali Center for Environmental Education (PPLH), the Bali chapter of Walhi Indonesian Forum for the Environment and the Bali Organic Association.

"We call ourselves the Bali Climate Change Collaboration," PPLH director Catur Yudha Hariani said, adding the coalition expected all Balinese people to join the coalition.

Catur said Balinese people, as hosts of the conference, are eager to take part in the global effort to cope with climate change through promoting the spirit of Nyepi; the Balinese-Hindu day of silence. During the annual religious event, Balinese-Hindus refrain from working, lighting fires, enjoying any form of entertainment and traveling.

"We are attempting to take the essence of the Nyepi ritual and make it a global movement," she said.

She added the coalition tried to lobby the conference's committee in order to be able to participate in the international assembly, hoping 10 representatives of the group could get approval.

"We have no intention of spreading Balinese-Hindu teachings. What matters is the essence. We want the world to rest, which would have a considerable impact in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," she said.

Hindu high priest Ida Pedanda Gde Ketut Sebali Tianyar Arimbawa said the practice of Nyepi -- apart from its theological background -- was not exclusively followed by Balinese-Hindus.

"It is practiced by many religious communities," he said.

Before becoming Indonesia's first tourism destination, Bali's idyllic landscape and pristine nature had long been protected and preserved by the traditional beliefs held by Balinese ancestors. Balinese-Hindu teachings emphasize love and respect for nature as a way to maintain the equilibrium of a sustainable life, Sadra said.

Tenganan is the only village on the island that still firmly upholds the traditional wisdom of preservation of nature. The lifestyle of Tenganan villagers has been strictly regulated according to awig-awig customary laws, which have abided by for many centuries. The laws and the villagers' deference to them have remained largely unchanged since the 11th century.

Every resident of Tenganan village is obliged to preserve and protect the centuries-old rules in order to maintain their traditions. "We are glad that our environment is still well preserved," said Sadra, who is the former Tenganan village head and now regarded as one of its respected figures.

The villagers are prohibited from cutting down live trees without the permission of the village head and only dead trees can be felled. Villagers are also not allowed to sell or lease their land.

"We refuse the pleasures (of exploiting nature) that discount conscience," he said.

Bali is currently facing serious environmental problems with eroding beaches, deteriorating air quality and a declining greenbelt. As it now hopes for more investment to boost tourism, Bali authorities often overlook precious traditional wisdom for the sake of economic growth.

Hira Jamtani, an eco-feminist who now lives on Bali, said the government should begin promoting and implementing eco-friendly development.

"Efforts to reduce greenhouse gases must not forsake the poor. We must preserve their right to access energy. What we need to do is push for a change in our development paradigm and develop the technology of renewable energy," she said.

Around 10,000 representatives from 180 countries will participate in the December climate change meeting, with the aim to reach a global consensus on global warming.

Conflicting interests have long deadlocked international talks on global warming, while the damaging effects continue to cause negative impacts in many parts of the world.

Australian confidence in Bali tourism back to normal: Garuda official

Brisbane (ANTARA News) - Australians` confidence in Indonesian tourism, notably in the popular resort island of Bali, has returned to pre-2005 Bali bombing levels, a Garuda Indonesia official here said.

"Garuda carried 9,000 Australian tourists from Darwin to Bali in January-August 2007. The number represents an increase by 48 percent compared to the figure in the same period last year," Sahrul Tahir, head of Garuda operations in Australia`s Northern Territory, told ANTARA News Friday.

"The number of Australian tourists visiting Bali has increased while their decision to use Garuda Indonesia shows their great trust in Indonesia`s national flag carrier. We have won their confidence again thanks to our competitive ticket prices and perfect timing," he said.

Garuda Indonesia flies the Darwin-Denpasar-Jakarta route on Mondays and Fridays with Boeing 737-400s which each have 16 business-class and 117 economic-class seats.

The European Union recently barred 51 airlines certified in Indonesia from European airspace, citing safety concerns.

Bali experienced two deadly bombings, namely in October 2002 which killed 202 people including 164 foreigners mostly Australian tourists, and in October 2005 when 27 people were killed.

The two tragedies caused by terrorist activity occurred in the busy tourist hubs of Kuta`s town square, Jimbaran beach and nightclubs in Kuta resort.

Sharp increase in foreign tourist arrivals in N Sulawesi

Manado, N sulawesi (ANTARA News) - The number of foreign tourist arrivals in North Sulawesi last August increased sharply by 15.3 percent compared to the figure in the previous month, a local statistics official said.

In August, 1,893 foreign tourists came to North Sulawesi whereas their number in July was only 1,642, Jasa Bangun, head of the North Sulawesi branch of the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) said here on Thursday.

Some 349 or most of the foreign tourists who visited North Sulawesi in August came from Italy, 294 from Japan, 155 from Singapore, 137 from the United States, 120 from Britain, 106 from Germany and 102 from the Netherlands.

The foreign tourists came to North Sulawesi with various kinds of visa. Some 1,445 of them used on-arrival visa, 261 short-visit visa, 71 business visa, 12 socio-cultural visit visa and 10 temporary residence visa.

Edwin Silangen, the head of the provincial tourism and culture office, said North Sulawesi had continued to be a much preferred tourist destination in Indonesia. The number of foreign tourist arrivals was rising continuously.

The very conducive security conditions in North Sulawesi were among the reasons that foreign tourists liked to come to the region, he said.

The local government had also asked people in the province to warmly welcome all foreign tourists in preparation for the World Ocean Conference (WOC) due to take place in Manado in 2009, he said.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Indonesia promotes Bali in Japan`s International Tourism Expo

Tokyo (ANTARA News) - Indonesia again promoted Bali as the famous tourist destination with a good security in an international tourism expo organized by the Japan Association Travel Agency (JATA) in Tokyo, Japan.

To attract more foreign tourists to visit Indonesia, we really want to Bali as the most secured tourist object including a serious of handling of bird flu by local government," Director General for Marketing Affairs of the Culture and Tourism Ministry Thamrin Bachri told Antara correspondent here on Sunday.

He also gave an emphasis on the importance of promoting Bali as a secured tourist object following the a myriad of sensitive issues on Bali bombs and bird flu affecting this region in the past few years.

Japan itself was one of the main indicators of the international tourism industry, he said.

"With a big number of Japanese tourists flowing to Bali, it will hopefully place Bali to be in the top rank in international tourism," he said.

Based on Antara monitoring of the international tourism export, Indonesian stand was more dominated by Bali and Jakarta as could be seen from the brochures made available to the visitors.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Muslim Aid provides Rp560 mln for "ifthar" program in Indonesia

Banda Aceh, Aceh Province (ANTARA News) - A London-based non-governmental organization called `Muslim Aid` provided Rp560 million in financial aid for an "Ifthar" (fast-breaking) program at 114 orphanages in four provinces in Indonesia.

"The fast-breaking or ifthar program is being implemented throughout the Ramadhan (Fasting) month and intended for orphans and abandoned children in Aceh, Yogyakarta, Jakarta and Padang," Coordinator of Muslim Aid Indonesia Akhyari Hananto said here on Saturday.

"The funds are from our headquarters in London and will be spent to buy food for around 34,000 orphans in Indonesia," he said.

Indonesia`s Muslims are currently observing Ramadhan, a month-long period in which they fast from dawn to dusk.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Raffles to manage Bali resort

Raffles Hotels & Resorts has signed a contract to manage a new luxury resort in Bali, Indonesia. Raffles Amartha, expected to open in 2010, is sited on the Jimbaran coast, 15 minutes from Denpasar International Airport.

Encompassing 11 hectares, the resort will comprise 90 luxury villas and 25 Raffles Residences for private ownership.

Built in the style of a water palace and incorporating Javanese-Hindu influences, it will feature an 18-hole golf course, 2,000sq m spa and a cliff-top wedding pavilion.

BW Plans to be Largest Hotel Chain in Asia by 2010

PHOENIX | Best Western International, already the fastest-growing hotel chain in Asia, is quickly becoming the largest hotel chain on the continent. It is on pace to have more than 200 properties by 2010 – expanding from just six hotels in 2001 to 106 today.

“Our numbers are impressive, and that is because of the way we are expanding in Asia: By forming strong local partnerships with developers who understand the history, culture and people of each country and are interested in building high-quality hotels in high-profile areas,” said David Kong, Best Western president and CEO. “Best Western is quickly becoming one of the most respected hotel brands on the continent.”

Best Western’s global sales and marketing, quality assurance and Gold Crown Club International loyalty programs are several reasons the brand is popular with Asian developers and hoteliers. “As the world’s largest hotel chain, we bring scale, reach and a billion-dollar reservation system,” said Kong.

Best Western currently has properties in:

China. With 32 hotels either open or in the pipeline -- including two slated to be in operation in Beijing before the 2008 Summer Olympics -- Best Western is on pace to open 7 to 10 hotels per year.

India. The chain recently signed a new master licensing agreement with Cabana Hotels. A $1.2 billion investment is expected to bring 100 hotels and 10,000 rooms to India over the next decade.

South Korea. Best Western has 11 hotels and is the country’s largest and fastest-growing hotel chain.

Thailand. With 11 already operating properties, Best Western aims to have up to 30 hotels in the country by 2010. Best Western’s Asia headquarters is located in Bangkok.

Japan. Twenty-one hotels are under development in the country. When complete, the new properties will add nearly 3,000 hotel rooms to the system.

Indonesia. Best Western recently established a development office in the country and expects to have 20 hotels within the next three years.

The chain also is operating or developing hotels in Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines.

The best 4-star hotel in Manado - Swiss-Belhotel Maleosan Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia

Monday, September 03, 2007

Swiss-Belhotel International, the manager of hotels, resorts and serviced Residences in Asia, is pleased to announce the new hotel in Manado, North Sulawesi.

The new hotel is a result of a management agreement between a private high-profile Manado investor and Swiss-Belhotel International. The Architectural and Interior Consultants for this hotel are PT. Progress Design Prosperina. The hotel construction is expected to be completed in December 2007.

The agreement was signed in Jakarta on 9 June 2007 by Mr. Harry Pirono, the Owner and Mr. Gavin M. Faull, President of Swiss-Belhotel International.

Swiss-Belhotel Maleosan, Manado is located in central business district. Featuring 162 guest rooms and suites.

This 4-star property will boast extensive restaurant, bar, discotheque, karaoke and first class health and recreation facilities including an outdoor freshwater swimming pools and fitness centre.

In addition of the above mentioned facilities Swiss-Belhotel Maleosan, Manado also offers ballroom that can accommodate up to 1,600 persons, combining a wide range of International and Asian cuisine and a full modern range of audio visual equipment will be available.

“We are delighted to have Swiss-Belhotel Maleosan, Manado. The development of Swiss-Belhotel Maleosan, Manado as a tourism destination and shares our enthusiasm to build a first class hotel offering the highest levels of service.

We envisage the hotel as a destination not only for tourists but also adding to the social infrastructure of the growing city.” said Emmanuel Guillard, Vice President Operations & Development of Swiss-Belhotel International Indonesia.

Incentives needed to preserve heritage: NGOs

Sri Wahyuni, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta

Heritage activists have strongly urged the government to give incentives to individuals and institutions helping presever the country's cultural and historical heritage.

The suggestion was made at a recent discussion in Yogyakarta organized by the Jogja Heritage Society in cooperation with other related government and non-government organizations.

Attended by local heritage activists, lawmakers, government officials and other stakeholders, the meeting announced the latest list of Yogyakarta province's protected heritage buildings and sites.

Ari Setyastuti of the Yogyakarta Provincial Heritage Conservation Office announced that 28 more heritage buildings and sites had been added to the province's 12 existing protected sites.

"With that we now have 40 cultural heritage buildings and sites to preserve and protect," said Ari.

Among those on the new list include Tugu landmark Mataram Kuno Mosque in Kotagede, Santo Yusup Catholic Church in Bintaran, Marga Mulya Protestant Church, and Buddha Prabha Temple in Gondomanan.

On the original list are Benteng Vrederburg, Ratu Boko, Kalasan Temple, Ijo Temple, Tamansari Water Castle, Sambisari site, Banyunibo Temple, and Prambanan Temple.

Ari who is head of the conservation office's working group on protection, however, said that the preservation of the protected cultural heritages had mainly only be conducted by the government.

"The community's rights and obligation to participate in the preservation of its cultural heritage are unbalanced," she said.

She said the community had struggled to obtain property tax exemptions for cultural heritage buildings, but had failed.

She said such incentives contributed greatly to the success of a preservation activity especially when it came to privately owned protected cultural heritage buildings or sites.

Other speakers concurred, saying that such incentives were important because many of the province's heritage buildings are often owned by individuals or institutions that had little money.

"A tax exemption would not just make preservation efforts a bit easier to afford but as well attract more people to actively participate in the efforts," lawyer Henny Astiyanto of the Bonang Foundation advocacy body said.

"It would even be much better if such incentives were also given for the preservation of non-protected heritage sites," said Ari, adding that there were hundreds of cultural buildings and sites on the conservation office's list that were waiting for a ministerial decree for further preservation and protection.

Ari also said that no less important in the preservation of cultural heritage was the implementation of a community-based heritage conservation approach.

Such an approach, she said, would enable the community to know more about their cultural heritage, how to develop and make use of it, and how to appreciate and fully understand it for the benefit of their material and spiritual wealth.

"There has been a misleading understanding among the wider community that once a building or site is declared a protected heritage, they are not allowed to do anything with it. This is not true. And it's our task to change this perception," Ari said.