Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners

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

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions

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

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

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

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

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

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)

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


"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hotels offer temporary sanctuaries during Nyepi

Dicky Christanto , The Jakarta Post , Denpasar , Thu, 02/28/2008 11:29 AM

Tourists will likely find hotels in Bali to be temporary sanctuaries during the Nyepi celebrations of March 7.

Sugeng Purnomo of the Bali Association of Hotels' Public Relation Officers said tourists would go to hotels for activities and electricity, both off-limits to Balinese Hindus on the day.

He said many non-Hindu residents of the island also spent Nyepi holiday in hotels, booking rooms for up to two consecutive nights.

"In past years, this has increased the hotels' occupancy rates during the days prior to and after Nyepi," said Purnomo, also the public relations manager of Nusa Dua's Laguna resort and spa.

He said the increase in occupancy would likely take place in places like Sanur and Nusa Dua, resort areas full of four- and five-star hotels.

"We estimate the occupancy rates in hotels in those areas will be around 70 to 80 percent during the Nyepi holiday this year," he said as quoted by Antara.

"Around 200 of 271 rooms available at the Laguna resort have been booked for this year's Nyepi. Most of the bookings came from European and Russian travelers."

Rainata Tjoa of the Westin resort, located in the same area, said the hotel expected a 20 percent increase in its occupancy rate for this year's Nyepi. The hotel has a daily occupancy rate of 40 percent.

To attract guests, she said the hotel had launched a "family wellness" Nyepi package.

A one-night package starts from Rp 1.2 million, with a 50 percent room discount available for an extra two nights.

"The package includes many activities, including a yoga class for kids," she told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday, adding that the promotion would last from March 6 to 10.

Meuthia Mahardika of the Bali Hyatt Sanur said the hotel wasn't advertising Nyepi promotions because Nyepi was different from other holiday occasions such as Christmas and Idul Fitri.

"Nyepi is a meditation on tranquility and that is why we hold no promotional activities," she said.

During Nyepi, around 90 percent of the island's 3.5 million inhabitants will practice yoga semedi and catur berata penyepian, or the four abstinences: amati geni (refraining from lighting fires and using lights), amati karya (refraining from working), amati lelanguan (refraining from indulging in leisure activities) and amati lelungan (refraining from traveling outside the house).

Visitors are encouraged to stay in their hotels and other places of accommodation during the holiday, as the island will be patrolled by traditional Balinese security guards called pecalang to ensure people abide by the holiday rules.

Meuthia said the Nyepi celebration would not either increase or decrease the hotel's occupancy rates, which had already reached 60 to 70 percent.

"However, we still have a Nyepi package available upon request," she said.

Called "the charm of Nyepi", the package offers international lunch and dinner buffets for US$15 and $30 and a two-night stay starting from Rp 788,000.

If hotels in both Sanur and Nusa Dua benefited from private beach areas, hotels in areas like Kuta were facing the holiday with modest expectations.

Hard Rock hotel public relation officer Dewi Banowati said that even with its "silent way" package, with prices starting at Rp 980,000 per night, the hotel did not expect a significant increase in its occupancy rates. Currently, the hotel occupancy rate stands at around 30 to 40 percent.

Ministry launches children's books on Indonesian culture

The Jakarta Post , Jakarta, Thu, 02/28/2008 11:29 AM, City

Two series of children's books about Indonesian culture and sites are now available in bookstores, taking their place alongside translated Japanese comic books and the Harry Potter series.

"We produced the books to give Indonesian children a source where they can learn about their own culture," the writer Aylawati Sarwono said Wednesday during the book launch, at the Culture and Tourism Ministry in Gambir, Central Jakarta.

"We want to improve younger people's awareness and love of our nation's culture," said Aylawati, who is also the director of the Jaya Suprana Institute (JSI).

The two series are Pustaka (literature) and Wisata (travel).

Produced by the Jaya Suprana Institute and Gramedia's Elex Media Komputindo publishing company, each of the two series contains nine books.

The last three books from each series have yet to be published.

The Pustaka series cover Indonesia's cultural treasures, such a batik, angklung (traditional bamboo musical instrument) and jamu (traditional herbal concoctions). The Wisata series introduces some of the country's remarkable sites, like Borobudur, Tana Toraja and Komodo National Park.

The JSI has donated copies of the two series to 100 elementary schools and mobile libraries in Jakarta.

Margaretha Ita Wenehen, a teacher at St. Theresia elementary school in Central Jakarta, said her students would find the books attractive.

"The way the knowledge is presented in simple language through comic stories will definitely attract my students," she said.

Ita said in her experience as an educator, children continued to be interested in reading.

She said finding affordable books was the main problem for parents and schools in providing children with good books.

"The government should make more of an effort to give children across the archipelago access to good educational books," she said. (JP/dre)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Foreign diplomats` wives asked to help promote Indonesia

Cipanas, Bogor (ANTARA News) - First Lady Ani Yudhoyono has asked representatives of friendly countries to promote Indonesia in their respective countries after completing their diplomatic postings in Indonesia.

"We would like to introduce the beauty of our artistic and cultural diversity to you, hoping you will tell other people in your country about it after returning from Indonesia," Ani Yudhoyono told the wives of foreign ambassadors at a friendship gathering at Cipanas Palace here on Tuesday.

The friendly gathering, attended by around 59 women -- the wives of foreign envoys and United Indonesia Cabinet ministers -- was conducted in an effort to introduce Indonesian artistic and cultural diversity and to strengthen the bonds of international friendship.

On the occasion, the first lady and the wives of cabinet ministers shared their ideas and experiences of the country`s cultural diversity with the foreign diplomats` wives.

Traditional dances and wedding dresses from the provinces of Banten, West Java and North Sumatra were introduced at the event which was also attended by the wives of West Java, and North Sumatra governors as well as the wife of Banten`s deputy governor.

Djiwo Diharjo: Master craftsman, initiator of kris enterprise

Slamet Susanto, The Jakarta Post, Bantul, Yogyakarta

The Javanese traditional kris -- a wavy, double-blade dagger, sometimes spelt keris -- has a significance that goes beyond its role as a weapon.

A kris can be a symbol of a man's social status and power. Some kris are believed to possess supernatural qualities and only certain people are allowed to make them. Only master craftsmen are believed to have the skills and knowledge required to make a kris with special magical powers.

Banyu Sumurup kampong is famous for producing kris -- both souvenir kris and kris that possess magical powers.

The kampong, which is located in Imogiri, Bantul, 25 kilometers south of Yogyakarta city, is home to 70-year-old master craftsman Djiwo Diharjo.

Djiwo is well known, not only among government officials around Indonesia, but also with foreigners.

Empu (master craftsman) Djiwo told The Jakarta Post his ability to make kris was a hereditary skill. This father of four is a descendant of a master craftsman from the Majapahit Kingdom.

Around the 13th century, the empu Supomo ran away to Imogiri. At that time, the Soreng Lono rebellion was underway in the Majapahit Kingdom and the life of the master craftsman was threatened.

He settled with his family at the edge of Thousand Hill area in Banyu Sumurup.

As a fugitive, the skill to produce weapons like the kris proved useful; it was never lost and has been passed down through the generations.

"I represent the 13th generation from empu Supomo," said master craftsman Djiwo.

Empu Djiwo said in order to produce a good kris that has magical powers, a master craftsman must be strong, undergo fasting and deprive himself of sleep to sharpen the ascetic and spiritual elements involved in making a kris.

"The ability to become a master craftsman is a blessing from God," he said.

He said before making an heirloom kris, a craftsman has to fast and present offerings of flowers or food when the iron is first struck. The aim is to put magic in the kris to make it powerful.

Making a kris may only be done once every sepasar (five days, according to the traditional Javanese calendar), he said.

"Every time I want to make a kris, I have to fast ... during that time I may not speak because a master craftsman has to remain quiet.

"If the rituals are broken, then the magical power will be lost," he added.

He said he needed at least eight months to complete an order for one kris.

"If it's a special kris, then it can take years."

In order to produce a kris, a high temperature is required as well as teak wood charcoal for heating the metal. One kris needs hundreds of folds of hot iron, sometimes even more than a thousand.

"The folding technique is important and requires special skill. But the most important thing is the sharpness of the kris and this can only be achieved through following appropriate behaviors," said empu Djiwo.

In 1972, concerned by the unemployment rate in Banyu Sumurup and the state of the economy, empu Djiwo trained 15 young men from the kampong to make iron and aluminum kris, warongko (kris sheaths) as well as how to make carved kris.

"At that time, many tourists were interested in buying kris for souvenirs and I thought the manufacture and sale of kris could help the local economy and the welfare of the people," he said.

The master craftsman established a cooperative tasked with collecting the work of the community and marketing the products. Despite being kept busy making sacred kris, he continued training village men in the art of kris and handicraft production. After several hard years of work, his efforts started to bear fruit.

In 1978, Djiwo staged a kris exhibition in Jakarta. In the same year he also held exhibitions in Semarang, Bali and Bandung.

The kris from Banyu Sumurup started becoming famous from then on and Djiwo continued to promote the kris through exhibitions.

In 1980, kris orders came from everywhere -- Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Brunei and many other nations. The name of Banyu Sumurup became internationally famous.

In 1985, Djiwo held a kris exhibition in the Netherlands, and in 1989 in Australia. In 1992 he went to the Middle East and in 2002 Djiwo exhibited in Brunei Darussalam.

Shop counters displaying Banyu Sumurup kris for sale have been opened in many places such as Sarinah, Blok M, Ancol, Bali, Semarang, Bandung and other cities.

"They are for sale in almost all cities in Indonesia that the exhibitions visited," he said.

Now, almost every household in Banyu Sumurup is now able to make kris; about 200 people are involved and kris manufacture has become a home industry in the kampong.

The marketing of kris is now facilitated by the Daerah Istimewa (special area) Yogyakarta provincial government and the Bantul Regency Government.

"Till 1990, all kris orders were met by the people from this village. They wanted to make different brands, but the orders came to the Banyu Sumurup community," he said.

"What's made me happy is that now almost all the local people can make a living from manufacturing kris and the unemployment rate is lower," he said.

In 1986, for his services in helping develop a home industry, Djiwo Diharjo was given three awards; from then manpower minister Sudomo, the minister for cooperatives Bustanil Arifin and the minister for industry Hartarto.

Kris Dancers in Bali

These days, the price of an heirloom kris can range from Rp 2.5 million (US$270) to tens of millions of rupiah.

"Everything depends on the order; whether the kris is covered in gold or not, if the handle is made of wood or ivory from an elephant tusk, and what level of magic power is required in the making of the kris."

The more power the kris has, the longer and more complex the creation process is, with the manufacturing time taking longer.

In an average year, Djiwo can get between six and ten orders for kris costing from Rp 2 million (US $215) up to hundreds of millions of rupiah.

"Completing a kris can take up two years, or even more ... making a kris requires time and care," he said.

Djiwo said most orders came from officials who ordered kris to improve their blessings, to increase their power and authority, or to ensure a peaceful heart.

"Most officials in Indonesia have ordered a kris," empu Djiwo said as he held a kris ordered by an official from Semarang, West Java, the price of which exceeded Rp 30 million (US$3,250).

Foreigners have also ordered kris from the master craftsman.

"Some of them have come from England, France and Holland and have ordered kris from me.

"The order from France was from a professor. When he visited me after the 2006 earthquake, he told me his life had become calmer since he bought a kris."

Unprecedented palace remodeling job wraps up in Yogyakarta

Sri Wahyuni, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta

A special team of experts in charge of preparing a detailed engineering design for the reconstruction of earthquake-damaged Trajumas hall at the Yogyakarta Palace has completed its job.

The hall, made mostly of teak, was leveled by the powerful 2006 earthquake

"We are ready to submit our report soon to our funding institution, Gadjah Mada University (UGM), to be forwarded to the Palace," leader of the team Yuwono Sri Suwito told The Jakarta Post over the weekend.

The devastating May 27, 2006 quake that damaged parts of the Yogyakarta Palace heritage compound also killed nearly 6,000 people and damaged hundreds of thousands of other buildings in Yogyakarta and parts of Central Java.

Trajumas hall, an open building measuring some 20 by 24 meters near Srimanganti hall, was among the most severely damaged facilities at the palace, with only white ceramic floor tiles and 20 building foundations locally known as umpak remaining.

"The wreckage has been carefully removed and stored for reconstruction," another member of the team, architect and heritage activist Laretna T Adishakti, said.

The Trajumas hall itself used to be the place where courtiers entertained important guests. It was located across from Srimanganti hall where the sultan himself used to receive guests.

The building is believed to be at least as old as the palace, which was built in 1756 by Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono I.

Following a damage assessment, UGM formed a team comprising of 15 experts from different fields, including anthropologists, archeologists, architects and civil engineers, for planning and carrying out the reconstruction.

Yuwono, who is also chairman of the Yogyakarta Provincial Cultural Council, said his team needs over a year to complete the design, especially due to the complexity of the building and lack of information about the original.

"We worked very, very carefully as we want it rebuilt exactly as it was," Yuwono explained.

The team also strongly recommends that the reconstruction of the building not be entrusted to builders on a tight schedule.

"What we need are artisans with the relevant expertise and skills whose are willing to schedule around work, not vice versa. They have to work under the close supervision of the Palace," said Yuwono.

"Everything must be done very, very carefully without any hurry. Otherwise, we will never be able to rebuild it exactly the way it was," said Yuwono.

In terms of construction, he said, the re-building task was complicated and unprecedented.

The team, for example, found joining systems between different parts of the building never encountered before.

"We are proposing that there should be a copyright for the specific construction design of this building. I think it is a blessing from the earthquake," he said.

Local man leads mangrove tours in Jungut Batu

Irawaty Wardany, The Jakarta Post, Nusa Lembongan

Sukitra wasn't born a conservationist. It was a turn of events in his home village of Jungut Batu that transformed him into a leading figure of mangrove conservation.

"Several years ago, the villagers decided to open a large-scale salt farm on the beach near the village. In order to do so, we cleared the mangrove forest along the village's coast," he told The Jakarta Post last week.

It was a doomed enterprise. It turned out that salt farming was a grueling endeavor with a large window for failure. Moreover, the clearing of the mangroves made the village more vulnerable to natural disaster.

"The mangrove forest was a natural barrier. When it was gone, the sea water could easily reach our village and it did flood the village several times," he said.

Jungut Batu lies in the northern part of Nusa Lembongan, one of the three islands off Bali's southeastern coast. Nusa Lembongan is a favorite destination for visitors who yearn for a quiet hideaway with a fantastic beach.

The villagers abandoned salt farming and sought their fortunes in seaweed farming. They also replanted the mangrove forest.

"One day a French man came here and he was amazed to see how healthy and abundant the mangrove forest was," Sukitra said.

The foreign visitor later told Sukitra the mangrove forest had promise as a tourist attraction.

"I was so inspired by what he said that later I approached my fellow villagers and asked them to join me in establishing a group that would manage the mangrove forest as a tourist attraction," he said.

In 2000, Sukitra and 18 other villagers worked together and formed the group. It was later named the Mangrove Tour Group and Sukitra was elected its head.

"Each member provided one boat to the group. The boats would be used to take visitors on a tour across the forest," he said.

For a single trip of around 30 minutes, the group charges each visitor Rp 50,000 (US$5.40).

"We set aside Rp 5,000 for the village and Rp 2,000 for the group's fund and the remaining Rp 43,000 goes to the boat owners," he said.

The mangrove tour provides additional income to the group's members, who work mostly as seaweed farmers.

Sukitra said now the group had 33 members. Once a month, all the members participate in a clean-up activity to comb the forest looking for garbage.

Unfortunately, said Sukitra, the group had yet to receive proper support from village leaders.

"This group has yet to be officially acknowledged by the head of the village even though we have set aside a percentage of our income for the village," he said.

An outreach specialist of the Nature Conservancy, Marthen Welly, said he was impressed with the group's efforts.

"They are able to organize themselves in preserving this mangrove forest. All we have to do is to facilitate cooperation between the group and the village so that this place can be better promoted and developed," he said.

Galleries, apartments planned in Old Town

Mustaqim Adamrah, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The city administration is inviting the State Ministry for State Enterprises to develop Jakarta's Old Town by allowing businesses to make use of the ministry's vacant buildings.

Jakarta Culture and Museum Agency head Aurora Frida Tambunan said Tuesday her agency working to accommodate businesses expected to flourish in the area.

"The Old Town should be a cultural tourism site featuring both city heritage and high economic values. It's the ultimate goal of the Old Town's revitalization," she said at City Hall after a meeting with State Minister Sofyan Djalil and Governor Fauzi Bowo.

"We are now seeking business opportunities with the private sector to have 12 abandoned state-owned buildings (under the ministry's management) in the area (opened for other uses)."

Parts of the 283 preserved buildings in the Old Town heritage site, the 12 vacant buildings are situated on West Jakarta's Jl. Pintu Besar Utara through to Jl. Kalibesar.

Among the buildings' owners are PT Dharma Niaga, PT Cipta Niaga, PT Aneka Niaga, PT Kerta Niaga, Bank Mandiri, Bank Negara Indonesia and United States-based bank Standard Chartered's former branch.

She said a number of local and foreign investors had expressed interest in using and transform the state-owned buildings into restaurants, art galleries, museums and apartments.

"Many investors are interested in using the Old Town's preserved buildings to run their businesses but constraints have since emerged as to where they have to ask for a permit or what policies they should comply with," she said, while declining to provide further details on the investors' identities.

"Therefore, the administration will forge a team to thoroughly examine this plan."

In response, State Minister Sofyan said he endorsed the administration's plan and had promised the governor they would "save the Old Town and let the abandoned buildings be taken care of".

"I'm looking forward to seeing the buildings, which predominantly belong to state-owned enterprises having financial difficulties, being renovated and used to the administration's plan," he said.

Meanwhile, city planner M. Danisworo who joined a city-appointed team in drawing up the Old Town master plan, said the state ministry must first deal with its own regulations in order to make the administration's plan work.

"Businesses, as designed in the Old Town master plan, are mandatory to help spur the Old Town's revitalization and development," he told The Jakarta Post.

"But they need first to address a major obstacle -- a state ministry policy prohibiting the use of state-owned buildings for business purposes like the administration is planning for."

Both parties, he said, should also consider providing prospective investors with regulation, tax and fiscal incentives.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Students help spread word of Yogya's tourist sites

Sri Wahyuni, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta

The association of Yogyakarta tourism ambassadors is working with junior high school SMPN 5 to raise awareness of the city as a tourist attraction.

At least 175 students from SMPN 5 took part in the program Sunday at Yogyakarta Palace, one of the province's most popular tourist attractions.

"We are very concerned by the loss of appreciation and care among young people for the country's cultural richness, including its precious tourist attractions," the association's chairman, Hangga Fathana, said.

"This program is designed to help revitalize that care and appreciation, which, in turn, will create a sense of belonging and ownership strong enough to encourage them to actively participate in preserving Yogyakarta's heritage.

"They all have the same goal of helping to awaken an appreciation for their own culture and tourism," said Hangga, who is a student at Yogyakarta Muhammadiyah University and the Indonesian Islamic University.

The principal of SMPN 5, Suparno, said the program was organized to support the municipal government's efforts to reestablish Yogyakarta as a city of tourism and education.

"Our school has also been chosen by the government as one of the tourism reference schools, so this program is very much in line with ours," Suparno said.

He said the program was also expected to give the students field experience for work they have done in English class.

During the program, the students, accompanying teachers and association members are required to speak English.

Dhea Hajaru Maredita, 13, one of the participating students on Sunday, said the program had opened her eyes and her mind. It was the first time she had entered Yogyakarta Palace.

"There are a lot of things to learn here and they are all interesting," she said.

"I will come back here to learn more about the palace and its history and to share the knowledge with others."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Tomini Bay a new economic growth hub in East Indonesia

Erwida Maulia, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

At a time when poverty remains prevalent in almost 200 out of over 450 regencies and municipalities in the country, Tomini Bay has been introduced as a future hub of economic growth in East Indonesia, following in the footsteps of Batam in the West.

Long before regional autonomy shifted into full gear on the heels of the fall of New Order regime in 1998, the government had named Batam in Riau Islands, Tomini Bay and Bone Bay in Sulawesi, and Sabang in Aceh as the engines of economic development for their respective neighboring areas.

Batam's rapid economic growth of over 8 percent per year has had an impact on nearby areas, including Bangka-Belitung province, and Karimun and Natuna islands.

State Minister for Development of Disadvantaged Regions Lukman Edy says the government is trying to revive the dormant plan to develop the growth hubs. Development of Tomini Bay will take place first because it already has supporting infrastructure and the government has done enough study on the area, says Lukman.

The development of Tomini Bay and later Bone Bay as growth hubs is expected to cut the number of disadvantaged regions in East Indonesia.

"This year we'll finalize our plan and next year, I hope physical development can commence," Lukman said after witnessing the signing of a joint agreement to develop the bay on Togean Islands in Tojo Una-Una regency, Central Sulawesi, last week.

The six regents signing the agreement were from Tojo Una-Una, Banggai, Banggai Islands, Poso, Parigi Moutong regencies in Central Sulawesi and Pohuwato regency in Gorontalo.

The Culture and Tourism Ministry, the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry and the Office of State Minister for the Environment will provide assistance to the regents, who had met to discuss development of fisheries and tourism as the prime sectors in Tomini Bay.

The bay is rich in fish and other marine resources, and stands a great opportunity of emerging as a popular tourist destination thanks to its biodiversity and beautiful nature. Dozens of enchanting small islands dot the bay.

However, nine of 10 regencies across Tomini Bay alone are among the country's disadvantaged regions, with most residents working as fishermen and living under the poverty line.

Central Sulawesi deputy governor Achmad Yahya said Tomini Bay has 587,670 tons of fish reserves. It is also home to a large number of coral reefs that form the bay's rich biodiversity.

The development of fishery and tourism, however, has been impeded by the region's lack of qualified human resources, supporting infrastructure, especially transportation, and investment, said Yahya.

The latest data issued by the Office of State Minister for Development of Disadvantaged Regions revealed that 68 percent of the disadvantaged regions are located in East Indonesia.

The government aims to remove 40 disadvantaged regencies and municipalities from poverty by 2009.

"We're using the hub-growth approach to develop these regions," Lukman said.

Lukman said the government was considering a special authority which would involve several ministerial offices and the private sector to facilitate Tomini Bay's development.

Related Information:

pdf (pdf file 295Kb)

Airport to close for Nyepi

Irawaty Wardany, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar

The Bali Transportation Agency will close Ngurah Rai Airport and the island's seaports during Nyepi, the Hindu Day of Silence, on March 7 this year.

"The airport will be closed from 6 a.m. on March 7 to 6 a.m. the next morning," air transportation division head Krisdiyanto told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

He said that Bali Governor Dewa Beratha had sent letters to all related institutions about the temporary closing of the airport and seaports.

"However, the airport will not be closed totally. Airplanes will still be able to transit for technical landings for fuel refilling and emergency landing, but all crew and passengers should stay in the airplane during the transit," he said.

He said expected all people to respect the Hindu religious ritual of Nyepi.

During Nyepi, Hindus are not allowed to turn on lights or light fires, may not do physical activities except for spiritual purification rituals, and cannot travel or take part in entertainment.

The closures are not expected to cause any problems.

"We have never had problems since the governor usually informs all the related institutions and airplane companies six months prior to Nyepi, therefore the companies have rearranged their schedules on that day," he said.

Head of the Bali chapter of the Association for Indonesian Tours and Travel (Asita) Wayan Alloysius Purwa said that the airline companies as well as travel agents had made adjustments to the policy.

"This is not the first time the Bali administration has implemented such policy so we already know that during Nyepi we are not allowed to fly to and from Bali. All airplane companies and travel agents have adjusted their schedules for the day," he told the Post.

Al Purwa said that he never had complaints from tourists because of the policy. "Instead most of the in-house foreign tourists consider this a new experience. Bali might be the only place in the world that stops all activity during Nyepi," he said.

'Black-out' costs hotels, restaurants

Dicky Christanto, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar

Rolling blackouts imposed by state utility company PLN had caused significant losses to hotels and restaurants in Bali, a trade association official said Saturday.

The temporary, rotating electricity cut-offs started Thursday after rough seas disrupted shipments of coal and oil to major PLN plants in Java.

The disruption reduced resort island's electric supply to 100 megawatts. Normal supply is around 562 MW, with some 200 MW of it coming from power plants in Java.

Officials at the PLN's Bali branch said the blackouts were the worst energy crisis the island had ever faced.

Head of the Badung chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association, Ferry Markus, said that restaurants and non-star hotels suffered the most from the event.

The non-star hotels reported steep increases in operational costs after the black-out forced them to generate their own power supply using privately owned generators.

Almost every hotel in Bali is already equipped with an electric generator. But hotel owners -- particularly at the smaller hotels -- were complaining about the high costs of keeping them running, he told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

Hotel generators run on diesel fuel which is subsidized by the government and costs between Rp 4,250 to Rp 4,500 per liter. However, by law these businesses aren't eligible for subsidized fuel and have to purchase it at prices that are 40 percent higher.

The purchase of diesel fuel alone had seriously impacted daily operational costs said Ferry.

"The electric generator was designed to be a temporary source of energy and not as a main power supply. When hotels have to run their generators 24 hours a day, the noise starts to bother even the most patient guests, and this is what is happening."

Small non-star hotels make up the bulk of the association's 2,000 member hotels.

The island's restaurants suffered even worse losses, according to the official.

As many restaurants don't have generators, food stocks were quickly destroyed when the power cuts occurred.

While the association hadn't finished compiling reports from its members, Ferry said there were preliminary indications the losses would be significant.

"We don't blame the government over this power shortage. We understand it was caused by bad weather. But, we also hope the government will take the matter seriously to keep it from happening again," he said.

"We expect the current crisis will be over soon because the industry simply can't sustain further losses (on this scale)."

Separately, Bali Governor Dewa Made Beratha said the local administration and PLN planned to build a power plant in Gerokgak region, Buleleng regency, around 140 kilometers northwest of Denpasar.

The 450 MW power plant, he said, would be able to meet the island's increasing demand for electric power and alleviate the need to ration power supplies in the future.

"Once it operates, we can even send electricity to Java," he said Friday.

Construction would begin this year and the plant was expected to come online by the end of 2009, he said.

The local administration was also mulling proposals for wind, solar and water-powered energy plants, he added.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Japan Foundation spreads career advice, culture

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

More than 100 students from several vocational schools in Greater Jakarta listened attentively when Arzanela, a senior employee with the Sari Pan Pacific Hotel, spoke about the hotel, its management and how to be a good employee. The students burst into laughter when, once in a while, Arzanela cracked jokes.

Arzanela, who has been working at the same hotel for the past 20 years, gave students tips on working at a hotel.

"Hotel is a business of service. So we have to give a good impression to guests. As a hotel employee, you have to appear neat and attractive, and to smell good," Arzanela said on Feb. 21 during a discussion organized by The Japan Foundation in Jakarta.

The annual discussion, held since 2003, is designed to provide high school students with a forum to exchange ideas, to share information and to transfer knowledge.

This year, the event was held on two days. The first day, on Feb. 19, was dedicated to students of senior high schools while the second day, Feb. 21, was allocated to students from vocational schools.

Each school sent four students and a teacher to the event, making a total of around 200 participants.

On the first day, participants learned about Japanese culture and art, including manga (comics) and taiko (traditional drum). They also had a chance to obtain information about institutions and schools in Jakarta that run Japanese language classes.

For vocational school students, the event had a different focus.

Unlike high school students, who will most likely go on to advanced studies, vocational school students will likely apply for a job as soon as they graduate.

Given this consideration, vocational school students were introduced to businesses, employment opportunities in Japan and the work culture in Japan.

They also learned how to prepare Japanese foods.

Several students and teachers expressed their satisfaction and appreciation of this event.

Sari, a student at Paramitha Tourism high school (SMIP) in East Jakarta, said the discussion broadened her knowledge, especially regarding the tourism industry.

"Now I know the work environment at hotels and how I should prepare for it," she said.

Titik, a teacher at Santa Maria vocational school in Central Jakarta, said the event helped students to obtain information and to interact with students from other schools.

"I have to remind my students that they have to share the information to their peers at school," she said.

Program officer Ita Tundjung of The Japan Foundation said the schools invited to the event were those that had Japanese language classes.

"The students already have basic information about Japan. We have organized this event to stimulate students to be more curious about Japan and its culture," Ita told The Jakarta Post.

According to her, at least 800 elementary and high schools in Indonesia have Japanese language classes for their students, with a total of about 1,300 Japanese language teachers.

"We didn't invite them all to this event because our space is limited. So we focused on schools in Jakarta," she added.

Apart from the discussion, The Japan Foundation also organizes a Cinema Caravan, in which the foundation visits schools and screens documentaries on Japan for students.

"Basically, we want to introduce the Japanese culture to students in Indonesia," she said.

Collector exhibiting works of national significance

Mustaqim Adamrah, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Munir Darwis may not be a member of the Croft family (living for historical treasure hunting in the movie Tomb Rider) but many years of antique hunting and business has led him to realize Indonesia needs to be proud of its national heritage.

Prompted by a love and appreciation of antiques, 73-year-old Munir is exhibiting works from his private collection -- predominantly local pieces -- of more than 200 antiques and 150 old paintings, some of which were painted by Indonesian maestros Affandi, Dullah and S. Sudjojono, as well as Chinese Lee Man Fong.

The exhibition is being curated by Munir's gallery Djody Art, Curio & Antiques with the theme, "A Closer Look at Perpetual Beauty".

The pieces have been valued at between Rp 100,000 (US$10.90) and Rp 15 million each.

The collection, which comprises works dating from 206 B.C. to the 20th century, is being housed for the first time in glass houses in Menteng Park, Central Jakarta, from Feb. 22 to 26.

"I live in this neighborhood and have often jogged around this park," said Munir, who was born in the capital and lives on Jl. Kertosono, one block away from the park.

"One day, I thought to myself it would be interesting to make use of these glass houses for an exhibition of my private collection," the father of five said Friday evening after the opening of the exhibition.

Munir started his business in 1959 by selling antiques door-to-door and received a commission for every item he sold.

On realizing profits he made were more than he could earn in two years on his salary at that time, he began collecting money to buy more antiques for himself.

"It's not always easy to get fine, genuine antiques at cheap prices," he said.

"Often, I have lost money because I misjudged an item, expecting it to be genuine but it turns out to be reproduction. It needs a lifetime of experience."

Darwis has traveled to cities all over the world, including Paris, Amsterdam, London and New York, just to buy antiques at auctions and through private deals.

Munir said he needed 15 to 20 years to be able to affirm his position in the business, with help from his eldest son Djody.

"It's a lucrative business which, at the same time, carries huge risks," Djody said.

Alongside the father and son's pride of owning some antique pieces of national significance, they said they were saddened by the attitude of many Indonesians "who still don't appreciate their own heritage and don't understand the real value of antiques".

Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo, attending the exhibition, said he welcomed Munir's initiative to introduce his private collection to the public.

"This is what Jakarta needs -- an understanding and love of our heritage," he said.

Riau jazz festival with green message

The Jakarta Post

As Jakarta prepares for the upcoming Java Jazz festival, it appears jazz fever has spread beyond the capital, reaching as far as Riau province.

A jazz festival called The Malacca Strait Jazz Green Festival is scheduled be held, with support from the provincial administration, on June 5-7.

Popular local artists will fly to Riau for the festival, including guitarist Dewa Budjana and friends, Donny Suhendra Trio, Canzo, Sherly'O, Andien, Rieka Roslan & Troubadours, Zefanya H & the Uncles, Koko Harsoe, Djogdja Mood Jazz and Jon Gazali.

Carrying environmental messages, the festival will also present young artists, including talented 11-year-old pianist Zefanya and his band The Uncle.

The festival, marking its second year, was inspired by local band Geliga, which has performed jazz with an ethnic Malay touch in many festivals, including last year's Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival.

"We combine Jazz with Malay musical elements. We want to introduce Malay culture to Indonesian people and the world," Gusrianto, Geliga's bassist, said in a press conference in Jakarta.

Riau scholar and the festival supervisor, Yusmar Yusuf, said jazz as global music could be used as a media to attract international attention to the Malay culture.

"In this globalization era, we want to use jazz to promote our culture," he said.

Yusmar hoped the festival would attract a local and foreign audience, especially from neighboring countries, such as Malaysia and Singapore.

He said the festival was expected to complement the existing Singapore Jazz Festival, in Singapore, and the Penang Jazz Festival, in Malaysia.

As well as performances from bands and musicians, the festival's committee will also hold discussions and coaching clinics to introduce jazz to young musicians.

Last year, the first Malacca Strait Jazz Festival, which was held to commemorate the province's 50th anniversary, was praised by music critics as one of the best jazz festivals organized and staged outside of Jakarta.

The provincial administration has pledged to support the jazz festival by including it in its annual tourism program, as well as the government-sanctioned Visit Indonesia Year 2008 program.--A. Junaidi

Friday, February 22, 2008

Foundation supports museums to boost visitor numbers

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post): In an attempt to boost the number of museum visitors, Surabaya-based non-profit organization, House of Sampoerna, has published a brochure advertising seven museums in Indonesia.

The publication is part of the "Wisata Museum" program, which promotes museum tourism.

"Tourism is not merely related to recreation or having fun but also to education and cultural appreciation. By getting to know about our culture, people will learn to appreciate it," Ina Silas of the House of Sampoerna said during the program's launch at the National Museum in Jakarta on Thursday.

The seven museums are the National Museum, Museum of History and Bank Mandiri Museum, all in Jakarta; Batik Danar Hadi Museum in Surakarta, Central Java; Geology Museum in Bandung; and Sepuluh Nopember Museum in Surabaya.

The seven museums were chosen based on their capacity to accommodate visitors. The House of Sampoerna conducted a survey of museum attendance before deciding to publish the brochure.

Dedah Sri Handari of the National Museum said interest to museum had increased within the last few years, but it should be supported by enough information on museum's collection and programs.

Data from the National Museum shows that the number of visitors to the museum fluctuated over the last three year. It reached 170,437 in 2005, shrink to 120,331 in 2006 and slightly increased to 162,227 in 2007.

These number were dominated by students and members of organization that held visiting program to the museum. In 2005 more than 55 percent (93,812) of visitors were students, in 2006 61 percent (73,481), while in 2007 48.43 percent (78,602) were students.

According to Education Ministry data, there are 275 private and state museums in the country.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Grand Racing Indonesia

The Jakarta Post

The Sentul International Circuit in Bogor, West Java, once again played host to world-class drivers on the weekend after hosting the successful A1 Grand Prix of Nations two years ago.

This time several Speedcar Asia Series events and the second race of the Grand Prix 2 Asia Series were held at the track.

Indonesian drivers Ananda Mikola and Moreno Soeprapto were among hopefuls taking part in the Speedcar Asia Series on the weekend.

Ananda gave local spectators something to cheer about when he finished third in Sunday's race.

Ananda finishes in third place

Indonesian Ananda Mikola made amends for an error that cost him dearly in the first race and used his knowledge of the track to finish third in the second race of the inaugural Speedcar Asia series at the Sentul International Circuit in West Java on Sunday.

Uwe Alzen of the Phoenix Racing Team won the race with a time of 40:39.625, followed by former Formula One driver Jean Alesi of the Speedcar Team in 40:42.219. Ananda finished his 26 laps in a time of 40:44.211, good enough for third.

As in the first race on Saturday, Ananda enjoyed a flying start to lead for the first seven laps. However, he lost momentum and was passed by Alzen, who stormed past the Indonesian. Alzen maintained the gap with the pack throughout the remaining laps.

Struggling hard to keep hold of second position, Ananda, who also represents the Speedcar Team, saw his teammate Alesi overtake him in the 24th lap. Alesi was the fastest in Saturday's race.

"I'm happy with the result. I was able to hold my nerve and finish third eventually," Ananda said.

He said finishing third had been his personal target going into the race.

Ananda flopped in the first race on Saturday, finishing eighth after braking too late while in the lead, bouncing across the grass and spinning as he rejoined the circuit.

Uwe Alzen said the race was tough.

"The 45-minute race was hard, but I'm happy with the result," said Alzen in a post-race press conference.

Sentul saw another race on Sunday, the Grand Prix 2 Asia series race, with Malaysian Fairuz Fauzy of the Super Nova Racing team claiming the top spot on the podium.

Fauzy, starting in pole position, maintained his lead over the 31 laps, finishing in a time of 45:06.344.

He said he was happy with the win, while hailing his team's good performance.

"We had a good qualification yesterday (Saturday), good performance today and with this victory all the hard work has paid off," he said.

He hoped Sunday's victory would give him a confidence boost going into the next series.

Finishing behind Fauzy was Brunno Senna of iSport International with a time of 45:07.824, good for second place, and Vitaly Petrov of Barwa International Campos in a time of 45:08.044.

The GP2 Asia series features 27 racers from 12 European teams and an Asian team.

The next round of the GP2 Asia will be held at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia on March 22-23. (nkn)

FEATURE-Aceh's former fighters guide "guerrilla tourists"

By Sara Webb, Mon Feb 18, 2008 8:03am EST

LHOONG, Indonesia, Feb 18 (Reuters) - As a rebel fighter, Marjuni Ibrahim hid out in Aceh's jungle. These days he leads "guerrilla tours" taking visitors with a taste for extreme hiking and an interest in Aceh's turbulent past over the same terrain.

The treks in the northwestern tip of Indonesia are an attempt to lift Aceh out of poverty by developing local tourism projects and reviving the crippled economy after a 30-year conflict and a devastating tsunami in 2004. So just as tourists in Vietnam can scramble through the Cu Chi tunnels used by the Vietcong in the Vietnam war, visitors to Aceh can see where the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) hid from or fought against the Indonesian army (TNI) until as recently as 2005 when the two sides signed a peace agreement.

Marjuni takes tourists on a scramble over sharp rocky trails, past teak trees cloaked in creepers, and alongside pristine waterfalls and sparkling rock pools.

This part of Aceh is home to the endangered Sumatran tiger, deer, and hornbills, as well as rather less appealing leeches.

"The area is very beautiful. I like trekking and I was interested to see what life was like during the conflict," said Hugo Lamers, a Dutch aid worker who went on one of the guerrilla tours last year.

"It's difficult to imagine but three or more years ago they were running around here with guns and fighting the TNI. When I went, they took us to a place where they had lost some of their friends. And then you realise that we are there for fun, but for them this was really serious."

Some of the hikes cover terrain where fighting took place or where visitors can see reminders of the conflict such as leftover army foodpacks and army graffiti. But a few of GAM's former hiding places still remain secret, perhaps for fear that they might one day be needed again.


Marjuni, now 28, joined GAM when he was 20, driven by "injustices, such as the murders of civilians by the TNI just because they were suspected GAM."

An estimated 15,000 people died during nearly three decades of fighting for Aceh's independence. Many others were tortured by the Indonesian military, or traumatised by the conflict.

This part of Sumatra island, once a separate kingdom, was an important centre for trade thanks in part to its strategic position at the northern end of the Malacca Strait, the sea lanes linking Asia to the Middle East and Europe.

But post-colonial Indonesia had no interest in allowing a separate Aceh. The region's abundant natural resources, including oil, gas, and timber, provided revenues for the government. The army moved in to crush opposition among the 4 million Acehnese, with as many as 50,000 troops operating in the area by 2003.

Marjuni said his group of about 20 GAM fighters used to hide in the jungle for several days at a time because they knew that if they returned home, they were likely to be picked up by the army and either tortured or, like Marjuni's brother, jailed.

But every week or so, his unit had to come out of the jungle to pick up rice and other provisions at an agreed location.

"I was most scared coming down from the jungle in case the TNI was there," he said.

They drank water from the waterfalls, and if they missed their food drop, they were forced to live off a fern-like plant or whatever else they could find to eat in the jungle.


It was from high up on the jungle-clad hill that Marjuni and his unit saw the tsunami hit Aceh on Dec. 26, 2004. The noise was so loud they thought it was an aerial bombing.

First the hill shuddered, dislodging rocks. Then in the distance they saw the sea turn black and rush inland.

"We saw it come in and we were very scared" said Marjuni, whose sister and parents were among the 170,000 who died or disappeared in the tsunami in Aceh.

While much of Aceh's coastline was destroyed, the disaster provided an impetus for both sides to pursue peace. Indonesia withdrew troops and police, while GAM fighters came out of the jungle and gave up their weapons in exchange for an amnesty.

Marjuni found work rebuilding homes and infrastructure for a couple of dollars a day. Then one day, he was approached by Mendel Pols, a Dutch citizen who had founded a small adventure tours firm called Aceh Explorer and who was looking for former GAM fighters to take groups of tourists trekking in the jungle.

"When I told GAM my idea they looked at me like I was from Mars," said Pols, who is married to an Acehnese and lives in the capital Banda Aceh.

So far, most of his customers have been foreign aid workers who are based in Aceh for the post-tsunami reconstruction. As business takes off, he plans to invest in better hiking boots for the guides, and provide first aid training.

"I want to make the Acehnese aware of the potential for community-based tourism, and put Aceh on the map as a friendly tourism destination," he said.

(Additional reporting by Mita Valina Liem in Jakarta; editing by Megan Goldin)

No more discrimination against Chinese-Indonesians: President

Desy Nurhayati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono reiterated on Sunday his call for all government offices and state officials to provide Chinese-Indonesians the same level of service afforded all citizens.

In a speech marking the national commemoration of the Chinese New Year here, Yudhoyono said Chinese-Indonesians, as citizens, were entitled to the same government service as all Indonesians.

"In this nation, with its variety of cultures, ethnic groups and religions, we are all one," the President said. "Therefore, I remind the entire state administration not to discriminate against Chinese-Indonesians in public services. Treat them just like any other citizens."

The celebration, organized by the 52-year-old Supreme Council for Confucianism in Indonesia, was also attended by Religious Affairs Minister Muhammad Maftuh Basyuni, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo AS, Education Minister Bambang Sudibyo, House of Representatives Speaker Agung Laksono, Constitutional Court Chairman Jimly Asshiddiqie and Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo.

Organizing committee chairman Peter Lesmana said the Confucian community thanked the government for allowing the public celebration of the Chinese New Year, which had been banned for decades under Soeharto's New Order regime.

This is the ninth year since the collapse of Soeharto's regime that Chinese New Year has been celebrated as a national event.

Chinese-Indonesians faced discrimination during the New Order, with the government requiring ethnic Chinese to obtain an official letter declaring their Indonesian citizenship.

Yudhoyono also thanked the Confucian community for their assistance for the poor and victims of natural and man-made disasters.

"Let's use this moment to improve the nation's unity. Don't create space between us. We should work together to build this nation toward prosperity and improvement," he said.

"Our country is in a transformation process, in which people are the main element. So, we should not let any policy or action of discrimination occur, as it violates human rights and will lead to disintegration."

Yudhoyono said the country was able to eliminate discrimination against ethnic Chinese following the issuance of the 2006 law on nationality, which stipulates all ethnic groups deserve equal treatment.

"We did have an unpleasant history, when there were conflicts among ethnic groups and discrimination against certain groups. But it's over now," the President said.