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. …

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Whale, dolphin hot spot near East Timor ,  December 31, 2008 - 1:42PM 

Thousands of dolphins and whales have been sighted in the deep waters off East Timor, with scientists hoping the migratory corridor will jump-start the tiny country's tourism sector. 

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) has conducted the country's first major boat-based survey of cetaceans in a joint project with the Timor-Leste government. 

"The dolphins and small whales were literally jumping out of the water all around us, it was hard to know which animal to photograph," said Timorese researcher Jose Monteiro. 

Working on board a traditional 20-metre wooden Indonesian vessel, the scientists were surprised to uncover a global hot spot of whale and dolphin activity. 

They identified about 10 species of cetaceans, including blue whales, beaked whales, short-finned pilot whales, melon headed whales and six species of dolphins. 

Size comparison of all known extant cetacean species. 
(Note the human diver at lower right for scale)

In one day alone, more than 1,000 individuals in eight separate pods were spotted over a 50-kilometre stretch of coast. 

"This is among the highest level of cetacean abundance ever recorded," said principal scientist Karen Edyvane. 

"We were all amazed to see such an abundance, diversity and density of cetaceans." 

Prof Edyvane said the findings confirmed that the deep oceanic waters off East Timor - along the Wetar and Ombai straits - were a major migratory route for marine wildlife moving between the Pacific and Indian oceans. 

Celestino Barreto de Cunha, director of fisheries management within East Timor's Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, said the marine hot spot could hold the key to the developing nation's tourism industry. 

"The government recognises the enormous potential for marine ecotourism along its coast and will proceed very carefully in the development of this industry," he said. 

"We are committed to ensuring that this marine biodiversity is protected and we will continue to look to Australia to provide good scientific advice on developing a sustainable marine ecotourism industry." 

AIMS project leader Dr Mark Meekan said ecotourism had become one of the world's fastest growing marine industries and could provide a much needed boost to East Timor's economy. 

"There are absolutely huge numbers of cetaceans, that is whales and dolphins," he said. 

"It is probably a global hot spot for biodiversity of these animals - it's really quite striking."

Related Information:

WOC Website

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bandung's Braga Festival kicks off today

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Tue, 12/30/2008 12:05 PM 

LET THE FESTIVAL BEGIN: Sendy Yusuf, wife of West Java deputy governor Yusuf Macan Effendi or "Dede Yusuf," cuts a garland of jasmine to mark the opening of the Braga Festival in Bandung. The 600-meter-long Jl. Braga will be closed to traffic on Tuesday and Wednesday during the cultural festival. JP/Yuli Tri Suwarni

Bandung's annual cultural festival, held in the city's Braga district, kicks off on Tuesday, with seven main arteries to be closed to vehicular traffic. 

"No public or private vehicles will be allowed during the festival, save those of visitors and festival volunteers," Bandung Traffic Police chief Herukoco said, as quoted by 

The seven main roads that will be blocked off for festival events are Jl. ABC, Jl. Asia Afrika, Jl. Banceuy, Jl. Braga, Jl. Naripan, Jl. Suniaraja and Jl. Tamblong he added. 

Forty-six stage events and various booths offering food, arts and crafts will entertain visitors during the two-day festival, which was first held in 2006. (amr)


The Jakarta Post,  Tue, 12/30/2008 8:20 AM  |  Bali 


  Foreign and domestic tourists flock the famous Kuta beach during the Christmas’ holiday period. The beach is one of Bali’s main tourist attractions. (JP/Zul Trio Anggono)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas vacation

Antara, Mon December 29, 2008, Cisarua, Bogor.

A child gives a carrot to elephant in Taman Safari Indonesia in Cisarua, Bogor, West Java, Monday (Dec.29). Thousands people was visit the animal conservation in Christmas holiday. (ANTARA photo/Jafkhairi)


The Jakarta Post   |  Mon, 12/29/2008 2:20 PM  

 DANCING FESTIVAL: Belly dancers entertain spectators at the opening of the Gajah Mada Town Festival on Jl. Gajah Mada, Denpasar, on Sunday. The festival is featuring various attractions, including a lion dance, Jayapangus dance drama, multicultural parade and belly dancing. The festival will run until Dec. 30. JP/Wasti Atmojo

RI citizens in Netherlands celebrate Islamic New Year

The Jakarta Post, Rotterdam | Mon, 12/29/2008 8:49 AM  

Hundreds of Indonesian moslems in Netherlands conducted an intensive study on Islam between Dec. 26 and 28 to welcome the Islamic New Year 1430 that falls today, state news wire Antara reports. 

Under the program of “ Islamic Intensive Study at the Beginning and End of the Year,” moslems studied about the life of Prophet Muhammad and received training on praying performance. 

The event took place in Rotterdam and was attended by RI citizens from other cities, including Maastricht and Brussel of Belgium.Moslems in the Netherlands came to the event as well. 

The program’s committee member Abdul Muiz said on Monday that the committee had carried out such event annually to courage all moslems evaluating on what had they done in 2008 and would do during the new year. 

“Also, the occasion is a beneficial thing to make our long holiday season be worthwhile,” he said. (ewd)

Related Article:

Agus Maryono, The Jakarta Post, Pemalang, Central Java | Tue, 12/30/2008 7:25 AM  

GIFT FOR THE INVISIBLE: Villagers conduct the Larung Sesaji, an offering ritual, at the Ngebel dam in Ponorogo, East Java, on Monday to commemorate the Islamic New Year. The giant cone of rice, the main offering, was carried on a raft to the middle of the dam before being thrown into the water. (JP/ID Nugroho)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Getting back to nature, the herbal way

Juliana Harsianti, Contributor The Jakarta PostJakarta Wed, 07/16/2008 12:29 PM 

The peculiar-sounding plant names Lidah Mertua and Ekor Kucing may seem unfamiliar, but most people would recognize the two plants if they saw them. 

And the place to see them is Kampoeng Djamoe Organik (KaDO), a herbal medicine village set up by Martha Tilaar, the owner of traditional cosmetics brand Sariayu. 


  Children play in the gardens of Kampoeng Djamoe Organik herbal medicine village set up by cosmetics giant Martha Tilaar, in Cikarang, East Jakarta. (JP/Juliana Harsianti)  

Given the village is all about greenery and nature, its location is rather unexpected -- it lies in the middle of East Jakarta's industrial park in Cikarang, on a 10-hectare plot originally intended for one of Sariayu's factories. 

But after the monetary crisis in the late 1990s, the owner chose to use the land to create a park featuring traditional Indonesian plants -- a project a long time in the making. 

"Many people can't believe we first started preparing this place in 1996," said Iqbal, the operational manager of KaDO. 

It took three years to convert the former industrial area into an arable plot of land and then plant the selected herbs and shrubs, he said. 

In mid-2000, KaDO was opened to the public. Of the 10 hectares, four are dedicated to therapeutic herbs, flowers and fishponds, displaying a wide range of genuine Indonesian herbs with medicinal properties. 

Among the park's visitors are families, school students and tourists, as well as those who are training in or otherwise studying medicinal plants. 


  Traditional herbal plants are marked throughout the village. (JP/Juliana Harsianti)

Visitors are given information about the herbs, postharvesting processes and the plants' uses injamu (herbal medicine) and cosmetics. They can also learn how to prepare popular jamu recipes such as kunyit asam (turmeric and tamarind), beras kencur (rice and galangal root) and cabe lempuyang (chili and wild ginger). 

When The Jakarta Post visited KaDO, families were leisurely strolling around the KaDO grounds. Children were running along the paths between the garden beds of medicinal plants. Others were looking at the herbs, reading out their names and asking guides about plants that sounded unfamiliar. 

"As you can see, the extensive green areas allow greater freedom for children to play," said Neni, a guide at the village. 

With such a vast -- and rare -- green area, KaDO also gives visitors the opportunity to grow and take care of their own plants and enjoy their harvests. 

"Many people like growing quick-yielding vegetables that require little maintenance. All the plants here are organically raised, which means they are safe for our health and the environment," Neni said. 

But the park has more than just plants. 

"We also raise domestic animals here such as cows and goats," Neni said. 

"Besides maintaining the ecosystem, they are a source of amusement for guests. A lot of city children have never seen cows or touched them, even though they may consume beef daily." 

Indeed, the cows roaming through the village were soon surrounded by children, who watched and patted the animals with curiosity. The cattle seemed only too happy to step into the spotlight and pose with the children for group photographs. 

"For those who prefer to visit for more than one day, we offer wooden houses as accommodation, which creates a rural atmosphere," Iqbal said. 

Facilities for physical fitness and beauty care are available for those who wish to do yoga or take make-up lessons. 

KaDO also seeks to attract corporate customers in Cikarang and Jakarta. 

"Instead of going to other cities further away, company employees can take breaks and vacations here, in office groups or with their peers," Iqbal added. 

And visitors do not go home empty handed -- KaDO gives away potted plants to be grown at home, such as Zodia, a natural mosquito repellent. And the best of it is these plants require no special care -- they can endure harsh conditions with minimum maintenance. 

"Apart from their use for greening up the environment, such plants are beneficial to us," Iqbal said.

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The Jakarta Post   |  Sun, 12/28/2008 12:47 PM  


 TURTLES GO WILD: Foreign tourists join the people of Gili Trawangan in West Lombok to release turtles to the wild at the Gili Terawangan beach on Saturday. Muhamad Taufik, head of Gili Indah village, said that a total of 50 turtles were released to the wild. The turtles were collected from a number of turtle breeding facilities in the area. JP/Panca Nugraha

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Roro Blonyo statue

Antara, Sun December 28, 2008, Yogyakarta .

Two artisans are finishing making of roro blonyo statue in Goa Selarong, Bantul, Yogyakarta province, Saturday (Dec.27). The statue of Javanese bridegroom was sold for 30,000 to 2.5 million rupiahs a unit in Indonesia, Europe, and US market. (ANTARA photo/Noveradika)


The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 12/27/2008 9:55 AM 

A party trumpet vendor waits for buyers on Jl. Matraman, East Jakarta, on Friday. The seasonal products for New Year’s eve parties are sold at between Rp 10,000 (US$1) and 15,000 each. (JP/Ricky Yudhistira)

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‘Be positive’ in facing the global crisis, SBY says

Desy Nurhayati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sun, 12/28/2008 8:33 AM  

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called on the nation to stay optimistic in facing the coming impacts of the global economic crisis, while highlighting the importance of promoting harmony among followers of different religions. 

In his speech to mark the national celebration of Christmas at the Jakarta Convention Center on Saturday evening, the President said the nation should remain united in dealing with the economic crisis. 

“We have to be positive that our country will not plunge into crisis if we build togetherness and solidarity,” he told thousands of Christians during the event. 

He added that as well as the economic crisis, the global community has to deal with various problems, such as terrorism, natural disasters and poverty. 

The world should take concerted action to address these issues, he added.  

Yudhoyono reiterated the importance of building religious harmony and tolerance among different groups, taking into account that Indonesia is a plural nation. 

“We should not perpetrate anarchic actions against those with different faiths,” he said. 

At the end of his speech, the President highlighted the government’s commitment to improve religious-based development as a foundation for the country’s advancement. 

He also said how pleased he was over the peaceful celebration of Christmas nationwide on Thursday, saying it proved there was harmony and trust within the nation. 

Among those attending the Christmas celebrations were Vice President Jusuf Kalla and his wife Mufidah Kalla, Cabinet ministers and representatives of neighboring countries. 

On Thursday, Yudhoyono and several members of his Cabinet attended a Christmas celebration in Manado, North Sulawesi.  

Christmas celebrations across the country were marked in a smooth and peaceful manner on Thursday, with tight security measures in place ensuring no major incidents. 

Police said they had worked with church officials to keep the festivities safe. 

Saturday, December 27, 2008

In Puja Mandala, religion lays no barrier

Andra Wisnu, The Jakarta Post, Nusa Dua | Sat, 12/27/2008 10:55 AM

It was the morning before Christmas, and the Puja Mandala area, Nusa Dua, was filled with people working to finish the penjor (decorated bamboo pole), which would be erected in front of Bukit Doa Protestant church to mark the Christian holy day.

Traditionally, penjor is the icon of Balinese Hinduism. It symbolizes the Hindus' gratitude to the Gods for abundant harvests and a banner of victory.

Each Balinese Hindu family will erect one penjor in front of its house during the Galungan and Kuningan, the festive religious festivals to celebrate the victory of dharma (virtues) over adharma (vices).

In the Puja Mandala area, and also in various churches across the island where penjor were erected during Christmas by the Balinese Christians, the decorated bamboo poles had became a testament of the island's religious tolerance.

On this island, religious difference has never been an issue for the various congregations.

"The Muslims have said that they will help with organizing the parking spots for our congregations, while we have our Christmas mass," said Yulius Leo Suprobo, head of the pastoral council of the Maria Mother of All People Catholic Church in Puja Mandala, on Wednesday.

"And another man from Java, who is a Muslim, has nicely decided to help train our choir to play the angklung (traditional percussion instrument) for the Christmas mass too."

Puja Mandala, literally means a space for devotion, is one of Indonesia's many icons of religious tolerance. It is a cluster of houses of worship located in the middle of Bualu village, Badung.

It hosts the Ibnu Baitullah Mosque, right next to it is the Maria Bunda Segala Bangsa Catholic Church, the Budhina Guna Buddhist temple right next to that, the Bukit Doa Protestant Church afterwards, and on the other end lies the Jagat Natha Hindu temple.

In front of the houses of worship is a shared parking area the size of a soccer field, a testament, Yulius said, to the people's commitment to religious tolerance in the area.

"Especially during times when we have two or three big religious ceremonies together and parking spots become scarce, people from the different religions work together to manage the mess," he said.

Yulius said the site was always peaceful despite Indonesia's often bloody history of sectarian conflicts.

"Even this year, when Nyepi (Hindu day of silence) fell on a Friday, the Muslims agreed not to put on the loudspeaker for Friday prayer," he said.

"And they didn't drive to the mosque, they walked. There was no argument. It's just a common understanding."

The idea for the site was conceived in the early 90's during the boom in Bali's tourism industry by then Minister of Tourism, Postal and Telecommunication Joop Ave, then Minister of Religion Tarmizi Taher and then Bali Governor Ida Bagus Oka.

Bali's population was rising and becoming more religiously cosmopolitan with migrants from all around Indonesia coming to get a share of the island's economy.

The need for the site became increasingly clear as Nusa Dua began to develop as a popular site for conferences and seminars. Hotels needed to provide guests with a proper place to pray.

The Bali Tourism and Development Corporation donated the land and various religious communities shared the development costs. The construction was finished in 1997.

The site was conceived, and remains, as a go-to site for tourists of different religious backgrounds who are staying in the Nusa Dua region. Hotels continue to provide shuttle services to the area.

It has also become a tradition for the churches in the area to have masses in English, including for the Christmas mass.

"We uphold acculturation here, because I think that's what makes this country beautiful," Yulius said.

"When I hear the call for Maghrib from the Mosque right next door every time I give the afternoon mass, it's just the most beautiful feeling."

Puja Mandala remains a unifying spot for many Balinese.

Tetty Lular, a Protestant, who was making the penjor for his church's Christmas mass, said he often helped make ones for other occasions celebrated by people of other religions in the area.

"We help when there's weddings, birthdays, Easter and Lebaran (Muslim celebrations). We are all friends here," he said.

Got any slogans for Visit Indonesia Year 2009?

Endy M. Bayuni, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 12/27/2008 10:55 AM  

For a nation that seems to have lived on slogans almost all its 63 years of history, we Indonesians really suck when it comes to inventing one to promote ourselves abroad. 

After a somewhat successful Visit Indonesia Year 2008 -- at least that is what tourism officials claim -- the government has extended the program and declared 2009 another Visit Indonesia Year. 

This time, however, the government has yet to come up with a slogan, or has yet to publicly announce one. 

Just as well, perhaps. This year, we came up with the worst slogan one could ever imagine for our tourism campaign: "Celebrating 100 Years of National Awakening." 

It is doubtful if the increase in tourist arrivals in 2008 was due to this slogan. Most visitors would likely have been perplexed by it. Many Indonesians, for that matter, had no clear idea what it was exactly we were celebrating this year (yes, we suck at history too). 

The slogan is painted on the tails of flag carrier Garuda Indonesia's planes, as well as at various tourist attractions. But most airline passengers would not care so much about the national awakening celebration as about the pilot being awake and getting them to their destinations safe and sound. 

"Celebrating" is a slogan even a marketing novice would refrain from using because not only is it too long, and therefore not catchy, but it is also incomprehensible. 

This is even after the government saved itself from a very embarrassing situation when the Financial Times reported before the launch of VIY 2008 that the original slogan, "Celebrating 100 Years of Nation's Awakening", was grammatically incorrect. 

Why couldn't we have come up with or settled for something simple, catchy and that really encompasses Indonesia? Surely this is not for lack of creativity on the part of the nation's 240 million people. 

Other countries by contrast seem to be much more creative. Here are some examples: 

  • Malaysia, Truly Asia 
  • Amazing Thailand 
  • Wow Philippines 
  • Dynamic Korea 
  • Incredible India
  • Vietnam, the Hidden Charm
  • Armenia, It is Beautiful 

Some local private-run TV stations are much more creative in inventing slogans.
RCTI Okay must have been so successful that the station has continued to use this slogan for many years now. SCTV Ngetop is another successful one. 

The Election Channel launched by Metro TV was a statement claiming it to be the main TV network of reference when it came to the 2009 elections. That works too. 

Indonesia has a dynamic and creative advertising industry that would surely be able to come up with a much better slogan than "Celebrating". 

One idea is to organize a national or even international competition for members of the public to come up with proposals for a tourism campaign slogan. 

We could pick the top five winners and use a different slogan each year for the next five years. 

A slogan for a tourism campaign is not something that should be entrusted entirely to the government, considering it has only been 10 years since we moved from an authoritarian regime when churning out slogans was part of the ruling tool. 

In those days, slogans were designed more to "educate" people. They did not have to sell as much as to indoctrinate people. 

Let us help those in charge of writing up the slogan for Visit Indonesia Year 2009. 

Here are some suggestions: 

  • Indonesia High and Dry -- reflecting on the shortage of alcoholic drinks thanks to the red tape and a new 300 percent import tax. 

  • Intolerant Indonesia -- reflecting on the increasing intolerance that some members of society are now showing to others. 

  • Celebrating Diversity -- since we are in the mood of celebrating, we may as well celebrate our richness. 

Or if VIY 2009 is a continuation of VIY 2008, and since we are too lazy to think of a new slogan, let's just settle with "Celebrating 101 years...

Got any suggestions?  Send in your entry by email to or by SMS to +628111872772. 

Happy New Year.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Tourism: Singing same old songs

Aditya Suharmoko, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Mon, 12/22/2008 2:49 PM 

  DIFFERENT WORLDS: European tourists in April watch Papuans in their traditional outfits. Indonesia’s rich diversity of traditions and cultures is one of its major draws for foreign tourists, although critics say the government failed to market this aspect properly as part of the 2008 Visit Indonesia Year campaign. (JP/P.J. Leo)


Attracting 6.4 million foreign tourists to a country so rich in sights and experiences that few places in the world can match it should be an easy task, even without an expensive government campaign. 

Yet somehow it wasn't. Even with months of preparations and extensive promotions as part of the 2008 Visit Indonesia Year campaign, Indonesia fell short of its target for the year. 

By the end of October, the number of foreign tourist arrivals in 2008 had reached 5.1 million, according to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS). While this represents growth of 13.07 percent from the same period of 2007, making up the 1.3 million shortfall by the end of the year seems to be asking too much. 

The initial target, when the campaign was launched, was for 7 million visitors. But after months of extensive promotions, in June the Culture and Tourism Ministry revised down the target to 6.4 million, citing weakening purchasing power due to the global economic slowdown. 

"With the looming (economic) crisis, I'm afraid we won't have the expected peak of foreign tourist arrivals in December," said Sapta Nirwandar, a director general at the ministry. 

BPS chairman Rusman Heriawan said Indonesia might receive only about 6 million tourists this year, provided November and December each had at least 500,000 visitors. 

"But you can't say that the government has failed. It (the number) is an expectation, and you can't expect it to be reached instantly," Rusman said. 

Echoing Rusman, Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association chairman Yanti Sukamdani said it would be good enough for Indonesia to receive 6 million visitors. 

"Visit Indonesia Year is a good campaign. Without it, Indonesia's tourism would remain so-so," Yanti said, adding that the hotel occupancy rate had risen by between 10 percent and 15 percent from a year earlier. 

According to the BPS, the occupancy rate of star-rated hotels in September was 42.66 percent, with an average length of stay of 2.57 days. The rate was higher in August, reaching 55.19 percent. 

Despite these improvements, Indonesian tourism is definitely falling behind its neighbors in many respects. The Jakarta Post's WEEKENDER has reported that Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore combined succeeded in attracting a total of 46 million tourists in 2007. 

The three have succeeded by narrowing their promotions to the best they have to offer. Singapore, for instance, has been promoting itself as heaven for fashionistas, drawing shoppers from around the globe, including rich and trendy Indonesians. 

Meanwhile, Indonesia keeps singing the same old song: Inviting people to visit without mentioning what makes it different from its neighbors, or indeed, anywhere else in the world. 

Promotions that focused consistently on the archipelago's unique landscape and diverse cultures would definitely help. 

The beaches, mountains and tropical forests that adorn so many parts of the country should be a major draw for visitors. Yet, besides the ever-popular Bali which for some tourists is Indonesia - so many wonders, whether in Kalimantan, Sumatra or Sulawesi, to name just a few, seem to be overlooked. 

The relative low cost of Indonesia should also be a draw, perhaps even more now than ever. Not only could the global economic crisis put some other countries out of reach for those on a shoestring, backpacking is becoming increasingly popular. 

Felix Dass, a young traveler, said Indonesia should be a main destination for every traveler. Nature in this country is just so beautiful. Natural beauty is one of the reasons a place can be considered as a tourism destination." 

However, he said, Indonesia had yet to manage to provide decent tourism facilities and services.can help people have a comfortable and safe vacation, while Indonesia has not been able to do so. Bangkok has signs in local and Latin languages everywhere, for example, while we find this kind of thing even in Jakarta." 

Attracting tourists needs more than slick promotions. Further development in supporting infrastructure and more relaxed visa regulations are among the other issues that need to be addressed to better the country's tourism industry. 

The government now has another year to redeem itself, as it has extended the Visit Indonesia Year campaign to 2009, with the target for foreign tourist arrivals set at 7 million. 

Sapta has said the ministry remains upbeat about next year's target, although acknowledging great challenges too. 

"Next year there will be greater challenges for tourism stemming from the global economic downturn and the upcoming (legislative and presidential) elections," he said.

Hotels hold on despite global financial crisis

Andra Wisnu, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar | Fri, 12/26/2008 11:21 AM  

Hotels in Bali are yet to experience any significant downturn in occupancy or room-booking rates, as the island's tourism leaders watch nervously for signs the global financial crisis is starting to hit the industry. 

Several hotels in Bali have reported only slightly lower occupancy and booking rates than last year, with the drops attributed to the global crisis and the Australian government's travel warning. 

Meutia Mahardhika, public relations manager of the Bali Hyatt in Sanur, said the hotel's occupancy rate was at about 50 to 60 percent in the first few weeks of December, similar to that experienced in the same period last year. 

She said the Hyatt had not noticed any significant reduction in booking rates for New Year celebrations, as it was already about 80 percent booked until early January. 

"So far we're still doing well, but we are worried about the financial crisis because our base market is Europeans, who might feel less inclined to travel all the way to Bali for their holidays and could opt for closer destinations instead," she said. 

Ani, a reservations officer at the Mercure Hotel in Sanur, reported a downturn of about 10 percent in bookings over the December-January period, to an average occupancy rate of 70 percent this year from 80 percent last year. 

Nevertheless, the hotel is about 90 percent booked for the end of December. 

"So I can say that we're still getting guests despite the financial crisis," she said. 

In Kuta's Seminyak and Legian areas, hotels are experiencing less than encouraging numbers. 

Sukaesih Winjarini, Sales Manager of Oberoi Hotel, said bookings had been slow in December, with occupancy averaging about 60 percent. 

Bali hotels tend to experience 70 to 90 percent occupancy during December to January, a period known as the local tourism industry's traditional peak season. 

"In our case, we've just been having a slow month, whether it's because of the financial crisis or something else," she said. 

With the numbers heading south, Robin Deb, manager of an Accor operated hotel chain, warned another problem for Bali's tourism industry could be coming from the south too -- the Australian government's travel warning issued last month concerning the recent execution of the three Bali bombers. 

"I can say that, at least for Accor hotels in the Seminyak and Legian areas, cancellations have come mainly from Australian tourists, which I suspect is due to the travel warning," he said. 

Head of the Bali Tourism Board, Ngurah Wijaya, confirmed that Bali had experienced lower occupancy rates in the first couple of weeks of December, a sign that tourists were waiting for the financial crisis to subside before going on holidays. 

"Booking rates may remain the same or only slightly lower, but that's still not a telltale sign of what's going to happen in the days to come except that it will not be as high as last year," he said. 

"The deciding point will arrive in January and February, and I hope we'll continue to have guests." 

He urged hotels and tour operators against engaging in price wars, as witnessed after the first Bali bombing in 2002, which nearly destroyed the island's tourism industry. 

"Businesses in the tourism industry must work together by helping each other in promoting the island because it will be in the island's best interests to survive as a whole," he said.

Unregistered taxpayers to pay double for exit tax

Aditya Suharmoko, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta  | Fri, 12/26/2008 9:20 AM  

An bilboard on a Jakarta street encourages Indonesians to register with the tax office. Under the so-called “Sunset Policy” program, which ends on Dec. 31, the tax office said over 10 million people have so far registered for a tax file number (NPWP). (JP/Ricky Yudhistira)

The tax office has officially announced an increase in the much-decried fiskal, or exit tax for travelers going overseas, in part to put to rest widespread speculation over the amount of the increase. 

The exit tax for those aged 21 years and above departing from airports will be raised from Rp 1 million (US$91) to Rp 2.5 million, and for those traveling by sea from Rp 500,000 to Rp 1 million, effective Jan. 1, 2009, to Dec. 31, 2010. 

However, registered taxpayers will not have to pay a single cent; and starting from 2011, the exit tax will be scrapped altogether, according to the Finance Ministry’s directorate general of taxation. 

Director general Darmin Nasution said the increase in exit tax was part of an effort to get more potential taxpayers to register for a tax number (NPWP). 

It is proving a smart ruse, with many middle-to-high-income residents flocking to nearby tax offices to get an NPWP to comply with the office’s Sunset Policy program that ends on Dec. 31. 

The program, under which applicants’ tax obligations in previous years are written off, has seen people rushing to register themselves. 

This month alone, the number of people registering for an NPWP was between 50,000 and 100,000 per day, up from about 7,000 people daily in previous months. 

The exit tax will from now on become an up-front payment for income tax. 

For instance, an employee whose income tax is Rp 20 million per year and who has traveled abroad twice this year — paying Rp 1 million in exit tax each time — will only have to pay Rp 18 million in income tax when filing their tax returns in March 2009. 

For those not yet registered, the new exit tax of Rp 2.5 million could prove very daunting. 

Satria Ramadhan, who will go to Bangkok for holidays in early January, said he was glad to have registered for an NPWP. 

“Otherwise, I would have to pay Rp 2.5 million. I would have definitely canceled my trip if I had to pay such a huge amount.” 

Another traveler, Frederick Tobing, praised the move by the directorate general of taxation.

“It’s a smart move. Most people, including myself, will rush to register at the tax office, just to avoid paying the exit tax.” 

The directorate general of taxation estimates up to 10 million new taxpayers have registered this year, Darmin said. 

“I didn’t expect the number to be this huge. No one expected to tap 10 million new taxpayers,” he said.

To get exemption from paying the exit tax, registered taxpayers must submit a copy of their NPWP, passport and boarding pass to tax officials at airports or ports. 

If the NPWP is declared valid, the officials will put a “free exit tax” sticker on the boarding pass. If it is not valid, travelers will have to pay the exit tax. 

  1. Exit tax from airports for people aged 21 years and above raised from Rp 1 million to Rp 2.5 million.

  2. Exit tax from ports for people aged 21 years and above raised from Rp 500,000 to Rp 1 million.

  3. Those automatically exempt from paying the exit tax include: People aged less than 21 years; foreigners staying in Indonesia no more than 183 days within the last 12 months; diplomats; employees of international organizations; Indonesian citizens with official documents from other countries, including students; Haj pilgrims and Indonesian migrant laborers.

  4. Those exempt from paying the exit tax but required to provide documentary proof: Foreign students with letters of recommendation from their universities; foreign researchers; foreign workers in Batam, Bintan and Karimun; disabled or ill people seeking medical treatment abroad paid for by social organizations; people traveling for art, culture, sport and religious missions, and students in a student-exchange program. 

Thursday, December 25, 2008


The Jakarta Post    |  Thu, 12/25/2008 5:51 PM   



Catholics at Lor Senowo Church, Dukun District, Magelang, West Java, celebrate mass Wednesday night replete with a  wayang kulit, a traditional shadow puppet play. The performance helped convey the Christmas sermon. (JP/Tarko Sudiarno)

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The Jakarta Post  | Thu, 12/25/2008 9:42 PM 

  Young women from Lelea near West Java's north coast mark their marriagability by participating in the annual Ngarot festival to mark the planting of new rice. Their headdresses are made from hundreds of flowers and weigh several kilograms. The community holds the festival to guarantee a good harvest in the coming season. (JP/Edith A. Johnson)

Hope to celebratory drinks raises spirits

Mariani Dewi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 12/24/2008 10:49 AM

Christmas and New Year's Eve partygoers, sobering up to the gloomy reality of a shortage of alcoholic beverages, could soon find relief in reports that container-loads of drinks are on their way from Tanjung Priok Port to hotels, restaurants and bars across the city.

Mugi Harjo, general manager of supplier PT Pandawa Mas, said stocks were trickling out of the port, where 50 containers full of fresh supply have been detained for failing to clear customs and excise.

"It's not as much as we would have liked, but the supplies are starting to come in. We're hoping to have them in time for the Christmas and New Year festivities," he said.

The company is rationing its limited stock to buyers, with many forced to wait in line for delivery.

The Sultan Hotel is one of them. Herman Kartaamidjaja, food and beverage director at the Sultan, said his hotel had seen very few deliveries recently.

"We can't get any spirits. But we've managed to hunt down a few bottles of wine from different suppliers," he said.

As the hotel prepares to host New Year's Eve celebrations, it has fallen back on last year's excess stock to serve to an expected 1,500 customers.

"We're lucky we bought too much last year and now have some leftover. We've rationed the selling to leave some for New Year's Eve. We hope it's enough, but the selection is very limited," Herman said.

Stocks have been running dry over the last few months, with hotels, restaurants and other entertainment establishments thirsting for fresh supplies. Individual buyers - including expatriates -- are also leaving empty-handed from retail outlets, despite being willing to fork out more money for their favorite drinks.

"They're just gone. All I can get is local beer. I like it, but I want more selection and I want a taste of my country's local flavor. I wonder what's really happening," a Japanese expatriate told The Jakarta Post last week.

According to the city's official news portal,, 50 containers loaded with alcoholic beverages have been held up at Tanjung Priok Port since early December on suspicion of falsified invoices and the drinks being illegally imported.

The reported release of the drinks through the customs checkpoint comes after successive talks between state-owned sole importer PT Sarinah, and hotel operators, the customs and excise office and the industry office. No official statement has been released to the media about the suspension or the release of the drinks.

The city, meanwhile, is gearing up for the year-end festivities. As of Dec. 19, the Jakarta Tourism Agency has approved 131 New Year's Eve events registered by 91 entertainment establishments across the city.

They include 43 hotels, 17 bars and pubs and 10 nightclubs -- all of which list alcoholic beverages in their drinks menus.

Arie Budiman, head of the tourism agency, was upbeat the establishments would get their hands on fresh supplies in time for the parties.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Kuta resort gets merry for tropical Christmas

Claudia Sardi, The Jakarta Post, Kuta | Wed, 12/24/2008 10:50 AM 

ONE MORE SLEEP TO GO: A worker puts the finishing touches on a cave, 6 meters high and 6 meters wide, made from blangkon, the traditional Javanese hat that symbolizes modesty, at Santo Petrus Church in Semarang, Central Java, on Tuesday. (JP/J. Adiguna)

Bali may well be the nation's last bastion of Hinduism but that has not stopped the islanders, known for their natural hospitality and religious tolerance, from offering their guests a special tropical Christmas. 

Visitors from all over the world who have chosen to spend the holy day away from snow and freshly cut Christmas trees may catch a glimpse of Balinese in and around Kuta decorating the streets, hotels and other public areas to lend the beachside resort a joyful Christmas feel. 

"We appreciate the effort to give us some Christmas feeling, although it is a bit odd to see all those decorations and local servers wearing the Santa Claus caps," Wendy Cummings, an Australian visitor, said near Kuta beach. 

On Tuesday night, the palm-lined streets were ablaze with flashing green and red lights. 

Almost every restaurant and shop seemed to have its own Christmas tree, some small and attracting no further attention, others unusual enough to stop passersby in their tracks. 

The Hard Rock Hotel decorates its artificial 5-meter-high tree in a different "rocky" way each year. 

"This year we chose to decorate it with 20 real guitars. It took some effort as they are pretty heavy," said Franziscus Danang, the hotel's food and beverage manager. 

He added they always used a decorative theme related to music. 

It turns out that Christmas trees do not necessarily have to be green and decorated with red. Many places chose a more modern interpretation such as that seen outside the Bounty Club. 

Long metal branches, all in white -- the color of peace -- form the shape of a tree and create a special cool ambiance lit up with small blue lights. 

The Sofitel Hotel in Seminyak is adding an exotic flavor to its Christmas dinner on Dec. 25. 

"We stick dried chilies into a shape that will finally look like a Christmas tree," said Harumi, Sofitel's food and beverage supervisor. 

It gets cuter and cozier at Carrefour hypermarket, where dozens of pink teddy bears form a Christmas tree, brightening the eyes of children enduring boring shopping sessions with their parents. 

The cold breeze of the rainy season cooled down the streets for a while, letting domestic tourists enjoy some calm far away from their daily duties. 

"We love to spend Christmas here on the beach because this is hardly possible to have in crowded Jakarta," Jakartan Elisabeth Damayanti said after posing for a photo in front of a huge "surfing Santa Claus" in Kuta. 

"We spend a lot of time with our family and will go to church together. Bali is so nicely decorated," she added.

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The Jakarta Post, Wed, 12/24/2008 6:30 PM 

An armed Indonesian police officer stands guard outside a church prior to Christmas Eve services in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Wednesday. Indonesia has been hit by a string of terror attacks since Sept. 11, 2001, but experts say the risk of more large-scale attacks has diminished with the arrest of hundreds of suspects. (AP/Binsar Bakkara)