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. …

Friday, November 30, 2007

Dutch society open house to feature music, cinema

Janika Gelinek, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Erasmushuis (the Dutch Cultural Center) in cooperation with the Erasmus Taalcentrum (the Dutch Language Center) in Jakarta will be holding an Open House on Saturday, Dec. 1.

Starting from 11 a.m. and running until the evening, a variety of events from music to cinema will be taking place at the Dutch language center and the Dutch cultural center buildings on Jl. Rasuna Said, South Jakarta.

"It is neither an annual open house nor do we actually have a special occasion for doing it", said language coordinator of the Taalcentrum Kees Groeneboer.

"Last year the language center celebrated its 25th birthday, and the open house was a big success," he said.

"We had 1600 people come (last year). And after that we decided to do that again, this time together with the Erasmushuis, because this gives us an opportunity for an even larger event."

The Open House will start with the launch of the Indonesian translation of the children's book The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt, which recently won an award for best Dutch children's book. The book launch will be followed by a performance from Introdans, one of top dance companies in the Netherlands.

Groeneboer says at least 2,000 people are expected to attend.

A program for children will run all day and a very special guest is expected to arrive from Europe, he said.

"One of the events regarding the Dutch culture is the visit of Santa Claus, who will come here at 1 p.m. He is coming all the way from Spain and therefore cannot make it to the opening, but I promise at 1 p.m. he'll be here."

Dutch author Kristien Hemmerechts is also scheduled to present her book and a language program will be carried out by the poet Joke van Leeuwen, who will present prose and poetry, tell stories and -- if supported by the audience -- also sing.

Later on the day, jazz musician John Hondorp will have a go on his hammond organ to mix its swinging sound with Indonesian jazz brothers Oele and Jack Pattiselanno and at the end of the day Tahera & Friends will stir up the theater with a combination of Latin and jazz.

Kees Groeneboerg says there are a few other surprises in stall for visitors.

"A lot of door gifts will be handed out ... one of the prizes will be a free Dutch course!"

All events are free of charge; for further information check the Erasmushuis Web site at

Religious, traditional wisdom urged for green protection

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Religious and ethnic leaders expressed concern Thursday over global warming, asserting no spiritual teachings or traditional beliefs allowed the unchecked exploitation of nature.

Environmental damage caused by human activities is against all spiritual and traditional values, which teach people to preserve and live in harmony with nature, Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsuddin said during a discussion here.

The event was organized by Muhammadiyah, one of Indonesia's most influential Muslim organizations, to seek a common ground among different groups prior to the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali from Dec. 3 to 14.

World representatives will convene at the UN conference to negotiate a global treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Religious and ethnic leaders will also be involved in the negotiations aimed at pushing developed countries to reduce carbon emissions produced by industrial activities and to shoulder the responsibility for any failure to meet reduction targets.

Present during Thursday's meeting were representatives of Indonesia's five biggest religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism and Hinduism.

Ethnic tribal leaders from Banten, Sumatra, Papua, Madura and Borneo also were in attendance.

Buddhist priest Tadisa Paramita said human greed was behind the environmental degradation that has translated into natural disasters such as floods and drought.

He said humans had benefited from industrial activities at the expense of the environment, ignoring nature's protests sent through a number of disasters.

"Nature responds according to what humans do. We believe that nothing comes as a coincidence ... people reap what they sow."

Father Ismartono of the Indonesian Bishops Conference said: "Humans are not the owners of this earth and have no right to exploit nature the way they do. God is the creator of this earth and humans are the steward."

Indonesia has seen some of the worst environmental damage in the world, with some 50 million hectares of forest throughout the country heavily exploited.

The country has been cited for its rapid rate of deforestation, and has been called one of the main contributors to global warming.

Al Azhar, representing the Riau Malay tribe from Sumatra, told the audience how forests in his region were exploited by timber companies despite protests from indigenous people.

"Indigenous people will plant one tree if they cut down one tree ... but the companies come and take everything from the forest without any effort to replace it."

Leonard Imbiri from Papua said the forests in Papua had been devastated.

"People know of Papua as having amazing and wild forests ... but you can come and see now, the forests and nature there have been badly damaged. Gone are the indigenous people's efforts to preserve them," he said. (lln)

Greening campaign at Besakih temple

KARANGASEM (Jakarta Post): Top government officials joined villagers living near Bali's sacred Besakih Hindu temple in Karangasem, East Bali, on Tuesday to plant some 17,500 trees on the 15-hectare plot of land at the temple complex.

The activity, which involved State Minister for Culture and Tourism Jro Wacik, Bali Governor Dewa Made Beratha and other prominent figures, was part of a national regreening program to plant 79 million trees across the country.

According to the Environmental Agency's Bali office, there is a total of around 55,313 hectares of critical land on the island.

The regreening campaign is aimed at rehabilitating critical land to prevent floods and landslides. Earlier this week, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recognized Governor Beratha for his strong commitment to improving critical forests and lands on the island.

So far, the provincial government has rehabilitated around 28,000 hectares of land and forested areas.

Rehabilitation of the remaining 23,000 hectares of critical land on the island would be gradually carried out until the year 2011. -- JP

Ubud hotel embarks on tree planting campaign

Trisha Sertori, Contributor Tha Jakarta Post, Ubud

Protecting the environment is not only the domain of conservationists and governments; a healthy environment demands action from all, according to one Ubud hotel.

Maya Ubud and Spa's managers say there is a need for environmental action at the grassroots level and have begun a tree planting project involving hotel guests.

"Since its inception six years ago Maya Ubud Resort and Spa has been actively preserving and protecting the environment surrounding the resort. We are now including our guests in our conservation work. We have a program inviting guests to plant a tree along the resort's riverside nature walk. The tree planting is part of the environmental protection projects undertaken by the resort that highlight the importance of protecting and conserving our environment," said Maya's marketing and communications manager Ayu Martiasih.

She added a small fee is charged to plant a tree, with the proceeds being donated to Indonesia's Friends of National Parks Foundation (FNPF), which is currently mass planting the dry island of Nusa Penida, off Bali's south east coast.

FNPF is also known for its conservation and rehabilitation work in Kalimantan, and education on sustainable agricultural practices with community groups across the country.

FNPF was founded by veterinarian Dr. Bayu Wirayudha, who is recognized nationally for his conservation work. Dr Bayuwho won the 2003 Indonesian Kalpataru (Hero of the Earth) Award for his work on conservation and was again nominated for the award in 2007.

"We researched different conservation foundations across the country and felt that FNPF was the best vehicle for funds raised through the Maya Ubud Resort tree planting effort," said Ayu.

Hotel visitors have a range of tree species to choose from, said Ayu. Young trees are grown in the hotel's nursery and include mango, coconuts, cloves, guava, jackfruit, breadfruit, mangosteen and more.

"Each tree planted is tagged with the guest's name so they can find their tree in future years. We have more than three hectares to plant out and the guests can choose where they want to plant their tree," said Ayu, adding that in the future the area would grow into a three-hectare forest zone.

The Baermanns, a couple visiting from Germany, said the opportunity to take part in Maya's conservation project and grow their own tropical tree at the same time was a wonderful experience.

"We have tried to grow the tropical trees we have brought back from Bali in our hometown, but have had no success. Now we will have our own mango tree here in Bali and will look forward to seeing how it develops on future visits," said Baermann.

Ayu added the couple will be able to enjoy eating fresh mangoes from their own tree when they return to Ubud and at the same time will be helping tree plantations on Nusa Penida.

Maya Ubud has, since it opened in 2001, maintained a program of conservation and environmental protection. The hotel uses only energy-saving light globes, an environmentally safe waste water program that recycles waste water for its organic gardens, has developed a medicinal herb garden and continues to plant trees across its ten-hectare site.

100 major tourism events to be organized next year

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

As part of the government's efforts to reach its target of seven million foreign tourist visits in 2008, the Culture and Tourism Ministry plans to promote some 100 international events throughout the archipelago next year.

The ministry's director general for marketing, Thamrin B. Bachri, said that as a facilitator, the ministry would cooperate with local administrations to make the events a success.

"We will help the administrations to properly organize the events so that they will be worth seeing," Thamrin said Thursday.

"In addition, the ministry will also help publicize the events both inside and outside the country," he added.

According to the ministry, the international events will include cultural festivals, musical performances and sports events.

"For example, there will be a Tabot cultural and religious festival in Bengkulu, and we will try to attract as many as tourists as we can from Malaysia and Singapore as the primary markets as they are the closest to Bengkulu," Thamrin said.

In addition to cultural events, he said, tourists would also be able to attend sporting events, such as the Indonesia Open golf tournament and Indonesian International Diving Adventure event, both in Jakarta, and the World Karting Championships in Sentul, Bogor.

Other events expected to support the success of Visit Indonesia Year 2008 are the Arak Tabuik festival in Padang Pariaman, West Sumatra, next August; Tourism Funday in Anyer, Banten, in February; Papua Cultural Festival in August; and the annual Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta in March.

"Basically, these events are held annually, so what we are doing now is further promoting them and packaging them better," Thamrin said.

The soft launch of the Visit Indonesia Year 2008 campaign will take place Friday in the Balai Kartini, Jakarta, with a concert by top Indonesian performers, such as AB-Three, Edo Kondologit and Samsons.

The government will also conduct a public awareness drive as part of its efforts to highlight Indonesia's friendliness.

The domestic campaign will involve encouraging people to smile at tourists and help them in a friendly way, as well as establishing tourist police units in major tourism spots, simplifying licensing procedures, and working together with travel agencies, hotels and airline offices so as to help ensure the success of the campaign.

As for overseas promotion, the government will advertise on international television channels, the Internet, and through Indonesia's tourism offices abroad.

"Visit Indonesia Year is not a program of the Culture and Tourism Ministry alone, it involves all stakeholders and all citizens. So, its success will require their participation," Minister Wacik said Thursday.

Visit Indonesia Year 2008 will be officially launched by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Jan. 1. It is hoped that it will attract seven million foreign tourists to Indonesia's shores and earn the country some US$6.4 billion.(ndr)

Santa Claus arrives from Spain for Open House

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post): The Erasmushuis (the Dutch Cultural Center) in cooperation with the Erasmus Taalcentrum (the Dutch Language Center) in Jakarta will be holding an Open House on Saturday, Dec. 1.

Starting from 11 a.m. and running until the evening, a variety of events from music to cinema will be taking place at the Dutch language center and the Dutch cultural center buildings on Jl. Rasuna Said, South Jakarta.

"It is neither an annual open house nor do we actually have a special occasion for doing it", said language coordinator of the Taalcentrum Kees Groeneboer.

"Last year the language center celebrated its 25th birthday, and the open house was a big success," he said.

"We had 1600 people come (last year). And after that we decided to do that again, this time together with the Erasmushuis, because this gives us an opportunity for an even larger event."(Janika Gelinek)

Thousands protest against Malaysia copying Indonesian dance

The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA (Antara): Around 2,000 people dressed in colorful traditional costumes staged a rally Thursday outside the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta, protesting Malaysia's alleged use of an Indonesian traditional dance in its tourism promotions.

Protesters performed the dance and brought banners which said "Plagiarism" and "Malaysia copied reog ponorogo", causing a traffic jam along JL. Rasuna Said where the embassy is located.

"We want the Malaysian government to stop copying our cultural heritage," a member of Jakarta's reog association, Tritomo, said.

The dispute began when a traditional masked dance called barongan, similar to reog ponorogo, appeared in Malaysia's massive tourism campaign.

Last month many Indonesians were upset with Malaysia when a folk song, claimed to be of Indonesian origin, was used in Malaysia's tourism campaign.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Flats culturally suited for Indonesian people

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Vice President Jusuf Kalla has refuted the opinion that flats are culturally not suited for Indonesian people, saying shrinking land space and increasing demand for housing required the development of flats in big cities.

"Many people have said that flats are culturally not suited for Indonesians. I think this is not true," the vice president said when opening a national working meeting of the Indonesian Developers` Association (Aperti) here on Thursday.

To support his argument, the vice president pointed at the traditional `rumah gadang` (big house) in West Sumatra and the `rumah panjang` (long house) tribal house in Kalimantan.

Kalla said rumah gadang and rumah panjang were basically flats in other forms. Each of these typically traditional houses was home to many families.

"The difference between rumah gadang or rumah panjang and flats is that the former are built in horizontal direction while the latter are built vertically, one storey on another," the vice president said adding that the concept of both kinds of dwelling was the same, namely houses for large numbers of communal families.

Kalla said that in order to overcome the problems of shrinking land space and increasing demand for housing, the only correct choice was to develop flats.

On the occasion, the vice president also promised to develop flats on the land that was once the site of Kemayoran airport.

He said the former airport site would be developed as a people`s housing complex through a flat development program.

"Kemayoran should be made a flat development center next year. It is wrong for people to divide it into lots of land illegally," he said.

He said flat development in a big city like Jakarta was a must. Horizontal houses could no longer be developed in big cities.

The vice president also called on Aperti to help develop flats. The development of low-cost houses so far by Aperti had gained significant recognition. Flats in big cities were also classified as modest houses.

Modest houses would continue to grow in line with the development of the people`s economy, he said.

"If people early in their life-time need small houses, now with higher welfare levels, they want bigger ones," Kalla said.

Govt launches Pavilion Indonesia

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government has launched a Pavilion Indonesia (PI) to inform media, participants and guests of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) about many aspects of the country`s diverse economy and culture.

The pavilion will exist as a physical resources within the UN`s media compound at the Bali International Convention Center in Nusa Dua where the conference will take place from 3 to 14 December, the pavilion OC said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

The pavilion also provides an internet information portal which can be accessed at The portal will be operational starting December 1.

The tagline, "your direct access to Indonesian minds" calls attention to the pavilion as a direct conduit for media to detailed Indonesia-specific information, as well as to interviews with government officials and the non-governmental organization and private enterprise sectors.

International seminar examines so-called clash of civilizations

Blontank Poer, The Jakarta Post, Surakarta

Prominent Catholic thinker Franz Magnis Suseno told a seminar on Wednesday misperceptions about Western culture and the perceived arrogance of the U.S. had led to a general unease in the Islamic community toward the West.

Magnis was speaking at the international symposium, "From the Myth of Clash of Civilizations toward Partnership: Building a Culture of Peace", at Muhammadiyah University in Surakarta, Central Java.

The two day event is co-organized by the university and the German Embassy.

He said the relationship between Islamic countries and Western nations had gradually improved, with the U.S. somewhat distancing itself from Israel and establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with Saudi Arabia.

"The reason behind this change is simple; the politics between states is ruled by pragmatism -- by political and economic interests," he said.

Amien Rais said U.S. arrogance was the primary cause of uneasy relations between Islam and the West.

He also said U.S. action in Iraq was motivated by the simple desire to gain control over that country's vast oil resources.

"If there hadn't been any oil in Iraq, if that country only had vegetables, surely the American invasion would not have taken place," he said.

The deputy rector of Sunan Ampel State Islamic Institute, Nur Syam, said Islamic fundamentalism was largely triggered by the economic hardship that affects a large majority of Muslims.

"Globalization, with its capitalism and principles of materialism, has placed the Islamic community in a difficult position," he said.

"On the one hand Islamic communities want to strengthen their religious practices. On the other hand, they have to face the challenges presented to them by a global economic system that they deem unfair."

That is the reason, he said, fundamentalist Islamic organizations shared the same trait: anti-globalization and anti-Westernization.

This is seen in their opposition to Western products, which they claim do not accord with Islamic values.

Dutch govt offers 200 scholarships to Indonesian

Bandarlampung, Lampung (ANTARA News) - The Dutch Government through the Netherlands Education Support Office (NESO) Indonesia has provided 200 scholarships to Indonesian students for 2008.

Under the StuNed Program, Indonesian scholarship recipients would be able to attend master programs or short courses in the Netherlands` universities, Wiwin Erikawati, a staff member of the NESO office said here on Wednesday.

The scholarship program was part of the Dutch government`s assistance for the Indonesian development program through the improvement of Indonesia`s human resources.

The Netherlands offered around 150-200 scholarships to Indonesians annually, she said.

The registration period of the StuNed Program for 2008 would begin on January 1 and be closed on March 15, 2008, she said.

A total of 1,343 Indonesians have received scholarships from the Netherlands since 2000.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Korean dance group to close art summit

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A work by a Korean choreographer will close Art Summit Indonesia V 2007 at the Graha Bhakti Budayal hall at Taman Ismail Marzuki in Central Jakarta on Nov. 29 and 30.

The choreographer, Ahn Ae-soon, combines movements from traditional Korean dances and modern dance in her work The White Noise, which illustrates the daily pressures on modern society through a humorous lens.

A Korean Embassy counsellor, Yoon Moon-han, said Ahn Ae-soon thought that many people were insensitive to the sounds around them.

"However, people feel afraid if there is no sound," he said.

"White noise" is a term used to refer to a sound that blends all audible frequencies equally over the range of the frequency band. It neutralizes surrounding sounds and is often used to reduce general noise.

In Ae-soon's work, all sounds -- footsteps, water bubbling through a fountain, a pop song -- blend together.

Ahn has staged more than 70 performances in her home country and 30 performances abroad over the last 20 years. She is listed as one of Korea's best dancers in the Oxford Dictionary of Dance (2000).

ASI V 2007 will be The White Noise's second performance, said Yoon, after it was presented in Korea in January this year.

"This contemporary art is very rare for Indonesians and also Koreans who live in Indonesia. I hope people will come to appreciate the performance," he said.

The 70-minutes dance is divided into eight chapters and two intermissions, which are filled with animations.

ASI's chairperson for production Ratna Riantiarno said Ae-Soon's dancers will collaborate with 10 local dancers from Teater Indonesia.

"Our local dancers will help them enliven the atmosphere at the end of the show," she said.

"I guarantee the show will be spectacular and unique as the group brought a cargo-load of equipment, which includes a conveyor," she added.

Tickets are Rp 40,000 (about US$4.29) for members of the general public and Rp 20,000 ($2.14) for students.

Ratna said ASI was meant to introduce contemporary arts to Indonesians. "Many Indonesians think that contemporary arts are hard to understand, however, they don't need to understand the art. Just enjoy the show." (adt)

Police ask Interpol to find Dutch dealer

The Jakarta Post,  Blontank Poer and Slamet Soesanto, Surakarta, Yogyakarta

Central Java Police have requested the assistance of Interpol in locating Hugo Kreijger, a Dutch national allegedly involved in the illegal trade of archaeological artifacts, a high ranking police officer said Monday.

Kreijger is accused of buying and selling stolen goods belonging to Surakarta's Radya Pustaka Museum, some of which have now been seized from the home of a local businessman by police.

"We have contacted the NCB (National Central Bureau)/Interpol and we have also coordinated with other relevant institutions to prevent him from leaving the country," Central Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Doddy Sumantyawan said.

The police say it is believed that Kreijger, who entered the country on a tourist visa, is still in Indonesia.

A lawyer for prominent businessman Hashim Djojohadikusumo has said Hashim bought five statues from Kreijger that were later seized by police, who allege the statues belong to the museum.

Hashim has said he knew Kreijger only as a dealer and consultant for Christie's auction house in Amsterdam. His lawyer said Hashim bought from Kreijger because he worked for a large and reputable establishment.

"The deal didn't take place in Indonesia ... The statues cost Hashim millions of U.S. dollars and not just Rp 500 million as widely reported in the media," lawyer Deni Hermawan Pamungkas said Saturday.

The Jakarta Post tried to contact Christie's representative in Indonesia, Deborah Iskandar, to confirm Kreijger's status with the company, but she was not in the office.

The police have detained four suspects in the case, including museum curator KRH Darmodipuro. They have said the suspects have admitted to creating and placing copies of the artifacts in the museum before selling the originals to Kreijger.

Hashim is the son of the late, respected economist Soemitro Djojohadikusumo and the older brother of the former commander of the Army's Kopassus special forces, Prabowo Subianto.

An archaeologist from Gadjah Mada University, Djoko Dwiyanto, said that most of the collection at Radya Pustaka Museum has already been stolen and replaced with copies.
"The Archaeological Artifacts Preservation Agency should examine thoroughly all the collections in the museum," he said.

The agency is currently conducting a comprehensive evaluation at the museum.

Doors open: Johnny Adams, a Canadian tourist, photographs valuable artifacts at 
Radya Pustaka Museum in Surakarta, Central Java, on Tuesday. The museum was
reopened Tuesday after an eight-month long renovation. (JP/Kusumasari Ayuningtyas) 

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Taman Rama School gets Cambridge Awards

Denpasar (Jakarta Post): The University of Cambridge International Examinations department (CIE) has given Taman Rama School, in Bali, a Cambridge International Fellowship status, making it the first school in the country to receive such recognition.

The school offers the Cambridge International Primary Program, the International General Certificate of Secondary Education and Advance level (A Level) study programs.

"We are very proud to receive such a prestigious status and we are committed to improving our education services," said Made Sutama, the school's principal.

He was accompanied by James Bird, director of studies at the Cambridge International Fellowship Center and Michael McBrien, director of studies for the Cambridge International Primary Program. CIE is the examinations department of the University of Cambridge in London, the United Kingdom. JP

Eco-tourism expands as Bali gets back to nature

Wasti Atmodjo, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar

The eco-tourism industry is on the steady increase in Bali, with many living around or near beaches, hilly areas, paddy fields or forests conserving and managing their land for tourists, coordinator of the Bali Ecotourism Study Group, AA Gde Raka Dalem, says.

Raka is working with a team from Udayana University, to collect data on eco-tourism in Bali. He said the growth was sparked by an aggressive movement to "get back to nature", including how to behave in an environmentally friendly manner.

"It's in line with the rising concern over various issues like gas emissions and global warming and has also been affected by the rising environmental awareness among visiting tourists," he said over the weekend.

Initially it was only tourists from developed countries who were interested in eco-tourism projects.

Based on his own observations, Raka said, an increasing number of tourists from Asia, had displayed a greater interest in eco-tourism.

Data from Culture and Tourism Ministry showed in 1998 the global tourism industry was dominated by Europeans with some 384 million (60.3 percent of the total) visits. European tourists also showed the highest growth rate at 8.1 percent per year between 1980 and 1998.

By the year 2010, the number of global tourist visits is projected to grow by 4.1 percent per annum to 1 billion.

At the national level, foreign tourist arrivals to Indonesia between 2005 and 2009 were projected to reach 10 million per annum, with spending amounting to $10 billion.

In 1996, Raka said, various representatives of the Indonesian tourist industry gathered in Bali to discuss the growing eco-tourism market. They later agreed to establish an Indonesian eco-tourism community.

The group set down eco-tourism's guiding principles, which are being continually developed and revised.

Initially, Raka Dalem said, the eco-tourism concept was translated to mean a tourism business which involved the participation of the community.

The understanding later evolved to incorporate three major pillars -- economy, community involvement and ecological conservation.

In Bali, he said, the concept would be easily implemented due to the existence of traditional wisdom, Tri Hita Karana, which dictates Balinese maintain harmony among Man, God and Nature.

Raka said Bali offers a complete set of eco-tourism projects.

"Including beaches, agricultural farms, forests and hilly areas," he said.

Sambangan area in Buleleng regency, for example, offers packages inviting travellers a glimpse of the agricultural lifestyle, forest walks and waterfall tours.

"Now a new attraction is offered, which we call spiritual tourism, meditation at the above-mentioned waterfall areas," he said.

Tenganan in Karangasem regency, Raka said, also offers unique culture and natural beauty. Locals are known for their skillfully hand-woven cloth.

Tenganan has also a collection of a wide variety of endangered plants and including kluwek, and various colorful butterflies.

"Packages featuring bird watching in a mangrove habitat in Nusa Dua and monkey watching in Alas Kedaton, Sangeh and Ubud, are some examples eco-tourism in Bali," Raka said.

The eco-tourism projects are managed by the government or tourism offices and also by the community itself in cooperation with investors. Jro Gede Karang T Suarsana, for example, is one investors who is focussing on the development of rural tourism in his own village, Tembuku, in Bangli regency.

Tembuku offers trekking through rice paddies, sweet potato and corn fields. In a number of areas tourists can see goats and cows grazing freely and in other locations they see irrigation facilities with clean water.

Upon entering the village, visitors may wish to meet the locals, learn traditional dance, music or how to make utensils for religious offerings.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chinese tourists visiting Bali up 131 percent

Denpasar, Bali (ANTARA News) - The number of Chinese tourists who visited Bali in the first 10 months of 2007 was more than 69,400 or up 131 percent from the same period last year, a tourism operator said.

The figure put China in the sixth place after Japan, Australia, Taiwan, South Korea and Malaysia in terms of foreign tourists visiting the resort island, Tjok Gde Agung said here Tuesday.

Tjok said he was pleased with the rising number of Chinese tourists visiting Bali and asked the government and tourism operators to work hard to attract more Chinese tourists.

Around 34 million Chinese made overseas trips every year and the figure continued to increase from year to year, he said.

This meant that less than 0.1 percent of Chinese tourists visited Bali, he said.

'Perang Topat' celebration of interfaith harmony

Panca Nugraha, The Jakarta Post, West Lombok

Hundreds of Hindus and Muslims celebrated the Perang Topat ritual Saturday at the Lingsar temple in Lingsar village, West Lombok.

The people perform the traditional ritual as an expression of their gratitude to God for a bountiful harvest. The ritual also demonstrates the harmonious relationship between Hindus and Muslims in the region.

The site of the ritual itself is a monument of interfaith harmony. The inner sanctum of the temple houses places of worship for both religions. The Hindu Pura Gaduh stands in the same place as the Kemaliq, a sacred structure for the native Sasak people, who converted to Islam.

The Lingsar temple, some nine kilometers northeast of West Nusa Tenggara's capital, Mataram, was constructed in 1759 by Anak Agung Anglurah Karangasem, who was ruler of the eastern Balinese kingdom of Karangasem, which annexed West Lombok after a successful military expedition

The annual Perang Topat is held in the temple's outer courtyard in line with the full moon of the seventh month and in conjunction with the Hindu festival to commemorate the temple's founding.

"Maybe in the whole world it is only in Lingsar that we can find a religious festival being celebrated by followers of two different faiths," the Kemaliq custodian, Suparman Taufik, said.

Prior to the ritual, the Hindus and Muslims prepare their respective offerings. They mostly comprise cakes, fruit and two buffaloes.

"The cow is a sacred animal to the Hindus, while the pig is haram (forbidden under Islamic law), so the buffalo is a good compromise. Actually, it is an ancient tradition that in the Lingsar temple we are not allowed to present any offerings made of beef or pork," he said.

The most important offering in the ritual is thousands of topat, rice boiled in plaited young coconut leaves.

After the presentation of offerings, the first topat was thrown by West Nusa Tenggara Deputy Police Chief Snr. Comr. Lalu Supratman.

The committee members then distributed more than 2,500 topat to the awaiting crowds, who, as is customary, then started throwing the topat at each other.

The ensuing perang (war) was a noisy and joyous affair.

"It is said that if you get hit during the ritual, your luck will get better. This is the only war in which the participants want to get hit," said a visitor, Budi.

After the ritual, the Hindus and Muslims staged a three-night vigil at the temple.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

SBY sings the blues

Alvin Darlanika Soedarjo, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Can a music CD, which consists of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's original compositions, sung by other artists, help with his declining approval rating?

Using an album such as this as a propaganda tool to win the affection of young voters and the non-voting community will prove difficult. Chart and record sales suggest that they are either in love with dangdut or pop rock, not nostalgic karaoke type music. Just by sampling alone, it turns out that Rinduku Padamu (My Longing to You) is geared more toward the old timers.

Most of the songs are written and composed by SBY, who used to perform in a band in Pacitan, East Java during the 1960s.

When former U.S. President Bill Clinton played Heartbreak Hotel on the saxophone on the Arsenio Hall Show, he looked cool and eventually gained a slew of supporters and went down in television history.

When purchasing SBY's CD at a local record store, I was being quite careful as not to let any of my friends catch me alive holding this CD, which contains 10 songs sung by the likes of Dharma Oratmangun, Gee Foregia, Senno Haryo and Kerispatih.

SBY's songs feel, for a lack of a better term, old-fashioned. Nevertheless those who dig the melancholic music of Ebiet G. Ade should find this collection charming.

Rinduku Padamu, the title song, is sung by Dharma Oratmangun, who, despite his good voice, isn't well known by the average music enthusiast. (For those who favor a more mellow tone, this song also comes in the "medium beat" version.)

Mentari Bersinar (Sun Is Shining) sung by Senno Haryo truly feels archaic despite its message of everlasting hope.

Kerispatih sang Kawan (Friend), which sounded like KLA Project, a defunct pop group, in their heyday. Did I hear a distorted guitar there? At this point, I am convinced that the President really has a knack at songwriting and maybe he should consider a second career.

Dendang Di Malam Purnama (Full Moon Song) has a cool theme, but by the time the rhythm started to kick in I felt that this CD offered too much of the same thing.

Veteran musician Ebiet G. Ade, who co-wrote the tune Mengarungi Keberkahan Tuhan (Recognizing God's Blessing), tells the universal story of how man fights for his life on earth with a little help from above.

Hening (Peaceful) attempts to sooth listeners with Widi Mulia's angelic voice. It is about a rural woman who contemplates the tranquil mornings in her village. So far, this is the highlight of the album as it has a nice layer of traditional Indonesian flute.

So far, there is no subliminal message found in SBY's tunes except that people should go on living peacefully with one other and live under the grace of God. (Oh please).

Don't get me wrong, the sound quality of this CD is excellent and will play well on a any super stereo sound system.

A great aspect on this record, which is released by Nagaswara record, is the SBY logo (The Y is bigger than the S and B). The blue and white logo, which resembles a DC comics superhero logo, represents the CD well -- and could be well used in the next presidential campaign in 2009!

SBY also registered and copyrighted all his songs. Does this mean that there will be no more pirated version of Indonesian records at Ratu Plaza? Only time will tell.

A more novel approach for SBY's second album, which I doubt he will do, is to use various traditional ethnic instruments from this archipelago and pin the album down as a world music rather than the nostalgic pop category. He might do well on the BBC Radio 3 World Music station.

Hashim wants to cooperate, says lawyer

Blontank Poer, The Jakarta Post, Surakarta

Hashim Djojohadikusumo's lawyer said Saturday that the businessman had pledged his cooperation to the ongoing police investigation into the theft of artifacts from the Radya Pustaka Museum in Surakarta, Central Java.

The Surakarta Police had summoned Hashim for questioning Friday, but he failed to appear.

At least eleven archaeological artifacts are reportedly missing from the museum. The police have detained four suspects, including the museum curator KRH Darmodipuro. Based on the information provided by the suspects, the police searched Hashim's house in Jakarta on Wednesday. There they found five statues that are believed to be among the stolen artifacts.

"Pak Hashim wants to cooperate fully with the police. That's why he sent me here to assure (the police) that we have the proper purchase documents for the statues," said Hashim's lawyer, Deni Hermawan Pamungkas.

"I have also arranged an appointment with the police for Pak Hashim's questioning," he added.

Deni said Hashim was abroad and would return home sometime next week.

He also denied that his client had ever met Heru Suryanto, one of the suspects in the case. Heru is allegedly the key player in the theft and the middleman who linked the thieves to buyers.

"I myself am rarely able to contact Pak Hashim, let alone Heru," he said.

However, he confirmed that Hashim knew the Dutch national, who allegedly works as a dealer and consultant for Christie's auction house in Amsterdam. He also acknowledged that Hashim bought the five statues from Heru.

"The deal didn't take place in Indonesia. Moreover, the payment for the purchase was made in foreign currency transferred through accounts with banks outside Indonesia," he stressed.

The statues, he pointed out, cost Hashim millions of U.S. dollars and not just Rp. 500 million as widely reported in the media.

Hashim is the son of the late economist Soemitro Djojohadikusumo, and the elder brother of the former commander of the Army's Kopassus special forces, Prabowo Subianto.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

RI, M`sia have understanding on settlement of cultural claim cases

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia and Malaysia have already reached an understanding on how to settle cases in which Indonesian cultural products are claimed by Malaysia, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Speaking to journalists here on Friday, Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Kristiarto Soeryo Legowo said there already was an understanding between Indonesia`s culture minister and his Malaysian counterpart on what to do when things undeniably belonging to Indonesia are claimed by parties in Malaysia. The Malaysian side had promised that when such cases happened it would take the necessary steps to settle them.

"I think we can trust Malaysia to keep its promise so that the many kinds of trouble such cases will otherwise give rise to can be avoided," he said.

About the recent case in which Malaysia presented a Reog Ponorogo show as being a Malaysian cultural product, Kristiarto said the Art Directorate of the Culture and Tourism Ministry was currently investigating it.

"Certainly the investigation is not only made in Indonesia, but it is also aimed at making an assurance regarding the culture or the art which is also performed in Malaysia who later claimed it as part of its cultural legacy," he said.

In the near future, it was expected the results of the research could be disseminated to the public.

Early this week, there was a rumor in the internet that the Malaysian Cultural Art and Legacy Ministry had claimed Barongan which was like Ponorogo to be part of Malaysia.

ASEAN school heads to meet in Bali

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post): School principals from the Southeast Asian region will hone their networking and management skills in an upcoming round table meeting, from November 26 to 28 in Bali, an official said Friday.

Director of Teaching Development at the Education Ministry, Surya Dharma, said the Second Round Table meeting of ASEAN Education Leaders was aimed at giving new perspectives to principals to boost quality of education and school management.

"We also invited foreign experts to present materials on school management improvement at discussion sessions during the three-day meeting. The experts will also share their knowledge about how to improve skills as principals," Surya told a media conference.

As many as 27 participants from eight ASEAN countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam, have confirmed their participation in the event. "We're still waiting for confirmation from Timor Leste," Surya said.

After the Bali meeting, he said, the principals planned to establish a "School Principal Forum", to nurture the ASEAN school principal network.-- JP/dic

Special scout jamboree opens doors for disabled students

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Walking, assisted by staff, Allan joined a group reposing under a tree Thursday afternoon in the middle of Cibubur camping ground in East Jakarta.

Allan had come with 22 other participants, all the way from Bitung in North Sulawesi, to the five-yearly National Special Scout Jamboree.

After a few minutes of chatter, Allan and other scouts went into a hall to receive instructions on what activities they would be doing next.

This was the fifth day of activities, which began Nov. 18, organized by the National Scouts Committee. Allan was one of 532 special scouts at the event, who were blind, deaf, hyperactive, physically or mentally handicapped, from 17 provinces including Jakarta (which sent the most, 142 scouts).

This was the seventh Special Scouts Jamboree since 1972 involving youths aged between 11 and 21, from second and third scout levels.

As many as 334 scout leaders and doctors were at hand to accompany participants in the activities, which included sending messages in semaphore, outdoor games and making handicrafts.

"The purpose of this camp is to pass on knowledge as well as to foster friendships among participants from different provinces," a spokesperson of the committee, Septembrianti, said.

She said there should be no differences between activities for regular and special scouts.

"For example, even if scouts are mentally challenged they can participate in the same activities as others, only it may take them longer, receiving assistance."

Suryawan, a finance official of the committee, said the Public Welfare Ministry and the State Ministry for Youth and Sports Affairs allocated funds to support the event.

"But each participant had to pay Rp 200,000 (US$23) to pay for food, shirts, a hats and scarfs."

Anang Suparman, the program organizer, said each contingent deployed numerous scout guides to help disabled participants because the committee could not provide enough facilities, such as providing signage in braille for blind participants.

"This year's camp still did not teach them to be independent, because they could ask for help from guides if they had any difficulties," he said.

Andreas, a guide from the North Sumatran contingent, said he needed to be patient to handle 10 scouts who were deaf, blind and mentally handicapped.

"We teach them simple things like codes and ropes," he said.

Samuel, a mentally handicapped participant from Medan, North Sumatra, said he was happy at the jamboree, since this was the first time he could make friends with people from other provinces.

"I love outdoor games because they are challenging," he said. (ewd).

Old Town to be car-free this Sunday

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Several streets in Central Jakarta's Old Town area will be closed to motorists Sunday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. to reduce air pollution at the tourist destination.

The city administration has announced the Old Town area will be a car-free zone on the fourth Sunday of every month, beginning in November. The move is in accordance with a 2005 bylaw on air pollution control.

The policy will affect Jl. Pintu Besar Utara, Jl. Cengkeh and Jl. Tongkol, which are home to Fatahillah Square, the Jakarta Museum, the Puppet Museum and Red House.

Cyclists, pedestrians and public transportation will be allowed on the streets; all other motorists will be rerouted to Jl. Kali Besar Barat and Jl. Kali Besar Timur.

Jakarta Environment Management Board head Budirama Natakusuma said the ban would allow Old Town visitors to enjoy fresher air.

In addition to closing streets, the administration has organized a variety of programs and performances to draw visitors.

"We will collaborate with the Old Town Society to facilitate a mass aerobic exercise, a bazaar of traditional cuisine and traditional attractions such as the Chinese lion dance and performances of the West Java stringed musical instrument kecapi in the courtyard of Fatahillah Museum," he said.

Old Town Society consists of residents and shop owners in the area, which is known for its historic buildings, which date back as far as the 17th century.

The city administration first introduced car-free days in September, when it closed Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. to private vehicles and taxis.

However, the event failed to achieve its goal of reducing air pollution, as motorists simply jammed alternative streets rather than leaving their vehicles at home.

Poor coordination between police and the Jakarta Transportation Agency left motorists confused, resulting in many cars being allowed to enter the supposedly closed-off streets.

Budirama blamed motorists' ignorance for the failure.

"We have to work hard to raise people's awareness of the importance of reducing air pollution."

Between 2001 and 2005, Jakarta experienced an average of fewer than 11 clean air days a year. In 2006, there were 45 clean air days, while there have been 54 so far this year

The administration said vehicle emissions accounted for 70 percent of air pollution in the capital.

A 2005 bylaw stipulates that each of Jakarta's five municipalities must organize one car-free day at the end of each month.

The city administration earlier said it planned to fully enforce the bylaw by November, but to date only Central Jakarta has organized a car-free day. (lln)

Middle class prefer information to soaps, says survey

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Although soap operas remain the most popular TV programs in Indonesia, most middle-income and educated households prefer news and other informative programs, such as talk shows and showbiz news, a survey reveals.

The results of the TV audience and viewing survey, which was conducted in 10 major Indonesian cities by AGB Nielsen Media Research Indonesia in July-September, also shows that, like their parents, only a small percentage of children from middle-income homes are partial to soaps, or sinetron as they are known here.

According to the survey, the households with a monthly income of more than Rp 3 million (about US$315) also preferred to watch soccer matches, musical programs like the Ungu-Nidji Superband Duet, Western children's movies like Harry Potter, and comedy shows, such as Extravaganza.

"Those who are highly educated, such as those who have attended university or equivalent institutions, also tend to watch informative shows, whereas those who are less educated prefer entertainment offerings, such as variety, reality and game shows," AGB Nielsen marketing communications executive Andini Wijendaru told a media briefing Thursday.

She said that other types of musical programs, such as Indonesian Idol and Mamamia, were favored by the upper-income brackets, in addition to Western movies and TV series, and sports tournaments, like the Asia Cup.

In terms of length of time spent viewing, housewives were found to spend the most time per day watching TV, with an average of 3 hours and 12 minutes, 59 minutes of which was spent watching soap operas and the remainder on religion-themed shows.

Other viewers would spend an average of between 2.4 hours and 2.9 hours a day watching a variety of shows, depending on their age segment, educational level, profession and socio-economic background.

"The kind of TV shows people watch depends on their demographic backgrounds, and this is confirmed by our survey," said Hellen Katherina, AGB Nielsen's associate director for marketing and client service.

The AGB Nielsen 2007 third-quarter survey essentially highlights the correlation between a viewer's socioeconomic status and his TV viewing preferences, particularly during prime time.

It reveals that 72.07 percent of soap operas' total viewership comes from households with monthly incomes of less than Rp 1,500,000 (about US$159.63).

"People with a monthly income of below Rp 500,000 spend the most time watching TV, whereas those who make more than Rp 3 million spend the least. The report shows that 74.77 percent of total TV viewership is made up of lower-middle income households," Andini added.

AGB Nielsen, which has been conducting audience surveys for TV networks and advertisers in Indonesia since 2004, carried out the July-September survey by stratified random sampling covering 42 million individuals in 10 major Indonesian cities, including Greater Jakarta, Bandung in West Java, Medan in North Sumatra, Makassar in South Sulawesi and Denpasar in Bali. (amr)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Mt. Kelud lava dome seen as warning sign

Indra Harsaputra, The Jakarta Post, Surabaya

Geologists from 10th November Institute of Technology (ITS) in Surabaya on Thursday say the lava dome that has formed on Mount Kelud's lake crater is not a new phenomenon, and could indicate an eruption is imminent.

They said a similar lava dome was reported before the 1919 eruption that claimed more than 5,000 lives.

They also warned the lava dome could amplify the intensity of an eruption and the damage to surrounding areas.

Geologist and head of the School for Disaster Studies at ITS, Amien Widodo, said documents from the Dutch colonial administration described the formation of a lava dome on Kelud.

"The said the lava dome, comprised of andesite lava, disintegrated and was thrown up during the eruption in the form of large rocks and pebbles, followed by a sand shower," he told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

He added that the depth of the lake crater increased due to the magmatic pressure from the lava pocket. However, the documents did not specify the depth of the lake in detail.

The current depth of the lake crater is 38 meters, holding about 2.5 million cubic meters of water.

"The eruption in 1919 is recorded as the most fatal in the volcano's history, taking a toll of 5,160 lives," said Amien.

He said the presence of the lava dome, along with tremors and discharges of ash up to 120 meters high, must be taken as a serious warning sign.

"In theory Mount Kelud is ready to erupt. The higher the dome grows, the greater the possibility of an eruption," said Amien.

He said it was difficult to gauge the mountain's current Volcanic Explosive Index (VEI), but data from previous eruptions showed Kelud's VEI ranged from three to five.

A magnitude five VEI eruption took place in 1856. The force of that explosion was similar to explosions by the Philippines' Mount Pinatubo in 1991 and Mount St. Helens in the U.S. in 1980.

By comparison, the legendary eruption of Mount Krakatau in 1883 was a magnitude six VEI. The eruption killed more than 36,000 people.

"It's difficult to predict when Mount Kelud will erupt, but a number of theories imply that a full moon could have an influence on volcanic activity," said Amien.

Head of the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center's Volcano Observation Division, Agus Budianto, said there was every possibility Mount Kelud would erupt.

The lava dome is expanding daily and now covers 90 percent of the lake crater, reaching 300 meters in diameter and a height of 120 meters.

"We will constantly monitor Mount Kelud," Amien told the Post.

Sugihwaras village administrative chief in Ngancar district, Kediri regency, Susiadi, said residents were still going about their daily activities, but there had been growing concerning since Kelud was placed on top alert status on Oct. 16.

"Residents have held a traditional jaranan ritual to appease the mountain. They were told that Mount Kelud would erupt before the end of the year," said Susiadi.