Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners

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

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions

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

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

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

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

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

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)

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


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

… The Shift in Human Nature

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

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

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

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

Saturday, January 31, 2009

With arms stretched out

The Jakarta Post  |  Sat, 01/31/2009 4:08 PM  

 Kindergarten and elementary students reach their hands to touch two characters of Jalan Sesama, the local version of Sesame Street TV show, during the show's launching ceremony at the National Gallery in Jakarta on Saturday. The show is produced by a non-profit educational institute Sesame Workshop in cooperation with Jakarta-based Creative Indigo Production with funding from the United States Agency for International Development. JP/P.J. LEO

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Dance draws on Javanese and Tai Chi traditions

Matheos Viktor Messakh, THE JAKARTA POST, JAKARTA | Sat, 01/31/2009 10:54 AM 

A contemporary dance performance will be held at the Salihara Community next week, exploring the connections between Javanese traditional dance and Tai Chi movement. 

“This work is my exploration, trying to get at a deeper understanding of the body. I want to know more about the essence of human movement. My curiosity comes out of my knowledge of basic Javanese traditional dance and Tai Chi, which I’ve been learning since I moved to Taiwan,” dancer and choreographer Danang Pamungkas told The Jakarta Post upon his arrival form Taiwan on Wednesday. 

“I want to know the similarities and differences between the gestures and movements of these two traditions.” 

He said he found links between the smooth and meditative gestures of Javanese dance and the meditative patterns of Tai Chi. 

Courtesy of Salihara

“These movements are subtle but carry a powerful influence no less.”

Having named the composition Song of Body, Danang said it will express and explore a deeper understanding of the essential elements of body movement. 

“It’s a kind of meditative movement beginning in the body’s core, allowing the dancer to be closer to nature,” Danang said. However, he said not to look for direct references, the choreography would not quote gestures from these traditions, even though he has used them as a jumping off point in this work, in pursuit of a selfsame feeling. 

Danang and Rianto will performed the dance on Feb. 2-3, accompanied by Song and Poems for Solo Cello by the American minimalist composer Philip Glass and supported by lighting designer Sugeng Yeah. 

Danang has reason to be curious about the powerful magic of the two cultural expressions since he has experienced both worlds throughout his career. Moreover, he has now join the Cloud Gate Dance Theater in Taiwan where he also learns Tai Chi. Born in Surakarta (Solo), Central Java, in 1979, he started studying dance at age 15. 

He received formal training at Solo’s high school for traditional arts and graduated from the Indonesian Art Institute Surakarta (STSI) in 2005. He also learned traditional dance as it is practiced at the Keraton Mangkunegaran, Solo’s royal palace, where he took the role of principal dancer. 

His works including Gulung (1999), Gliyong (2000), Trance (2002), Dograg and Gaung (2003), Di ujung Pintu (2005), On The Chair (2006), and One Circle (2007) have been performed on many occasions in the major cities of Java.  

His Panyot Pun Padam was awarded first prize at The Next Wave Indonesian national choreography competition in 2004. 

Since 2003, his dancing in works by several prominent choreographers have also fueled his transboundary exploratory fire. He danced in Sardono W. Kusumo’s Hutan Plastik (Plastic Forest) in Jakarta and Bangkok and his No Body Body’s in Jakarta and Surabaya, Selasar

Sunaryo’s Sunken Sea in Bandung and Eko Supriyanto’s Opera Ronggeng in Solo. 

He also played in Ki Slamet Gundono’s grass-puppet plays and performed in Korean choreographer Sen Hea Ha’s Infinita at Uijeoungbu Music Festival and at Modafe Art Festival in Korea, at Singapore Art Mart in Singapore in 2005, as well as in Belgium and the Anmaro Art Festival in Amsterdam in 2006. 

He has also produced some collaborative pieces such as Spring in Solo with the Japanese Pappa Tarahumara Dance Theater which was performed in Solo in 2002, Monteverdi’s Orfeo with the English National Opera which was performed at the London Coliseum and the Shubert Theater in Boston in 2006, as well as The Coronation of Poppea likewise staged at the Shubert and the Coliseum in 2007. 

Song of Body 

The dance will be presented at Teater Salihara on Feb. 2-3, 2009, at 8 p.m.. Tickets (Rp 30,000  or Rp 15,000 for students) can be bought at the Salihara Community, by phone (Asty 0817-999-5057, Laly 0812-8008-9008, Nike 0818-0730-4036) or by online reservation (

Education the key to history

Trisha Sertori, The Jakarta Post, Fri, 01/30/2009 3:14 PM  

Few people today are interested in the country's ancient history, says archaeologist Kristiawan, who teaches at Udayana University in Denpasar. 

"We have just 15 students studying archaeology and the number who apply goes down every year. That's why we have developed an outreach initiative. We go to villages and schools where we raise awareness about archaeology among the general public." This program has proved to be a good way of spreading information about Indonesia's prehistory. 

The public's lack of respect for the past can be destructive; however, the nation's heritage laws and their criteria for what must be preserved plays an even greater role in shaping the future legacy. 

The turtle-shaped sarcophagus found near Kremes, despite being 2000 years old and made during Indonesia's Bronze Age, is considered an also-ran in importance. Turtle-shaped sarcophagi are common, as ancient Balinese believe the turtle served as the vessel to the next life. 

"Ten sarcophagi like this one have been discovered in the Kremes area," Kristiawan said. "Other sarcophagi found closer to the mountains are of greater importance because of their more elaborate decoration, technology and rarity." 

Although any artifact from 2,000 years ago is pretty significant, Kristiawan said some were more significant than others. He pointed out that stone sarcophagi were carved by hand, and, for some still-undetermined reason, stopped being used in burials 2,000 years ago. 

Chinese ceramics found at the site date from between the 10th and 16th centuries, with the bulk of ceramic fragments probably dating from before the 14th century when the two countries were regular trading parties. Trade between the two nations slowed after the 14th century because China closed her doors and destroyed all her shipyards and sailing vessels. 

With the continuing destruction of these porcelain fragments and no archaeological research cataloging the finds at Kremes, we may never learn how strong the relationship was these two great ancient cultures. 

The damage being done daily to the Kremes site can be compared to that which occurred at the Prambanan Temple in Central Java. 

Over the centuries people removed stones from this ninth century Hindu temple, using them to build homes or roads. If that practice had not been stopped and the site protected, Prambanan would be the stuff of legend alone. 

Kremes may not be in the same league as that great Hindu monument, but until it is safely excavated, no one will ever know for sure. 

Friday, January 30, 2009

Blending In

The Jakarta Post | Fri, 01/30/2009 10:18 AM 

A man sits outside of a shop selling Islamic headscarves in Yogyakarta on Thursday. Competition between such stores is at an all time high amid an increasing trend for Muslim women to cover their heads, with some shops selling three headscarves for Rp 10,000 (88 US cents), and claiming they contribute (JP/Tarko Sudiarno)

City mosques reject Islamic formalization

Trawaty Wardany, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Fri, 01/30/2009 7:54 AM  

Most managers of mosques in Jakarta embrace a moderate brand of Islam and support the unitary state of Indonesia, a survey released Thursday reveals. 

Only a few wish for Indonesia to become an Islamic state, it added.

The survey was conducted by the Center for the Study of Religion and Culture (CSRC) at Jakarta's Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University between November 2008 and January 2009. It surveyed 250 takmir masjid (mosque managers) in Jakarta.

“Some 88.8 percent of the respondents approve of Pancasila [state ideology] and [view] the 1945 Constitution as the best model for Indonesia. As many as 78.4 percent agree that democracy is the best system of governance for Indonesia,” CSRC research coordinator Ridwan Al Makassary told a press conference.

“However, we found a kind of split personality among the mosque managers. As citizens they support Pancasila as the state ideology for the country, but as Muslims they support the establishment of an Islamic country,” another CSRC senior researcher Sukron Kamil said at the same forum.

The survey reveals that 31 percent of the respondents agree that Indonesians should enforce sharia law, 56 percent reject the notion, and 13 percent did not answer.

Some 74 percent said they would not fight a government that refuses to implement Islamic sharia law and 14 percent said they would.

Some 74 percent did not agree that the main purpose of jihad was to wage war, and 15 percent said it was. 

“On the question of whether violence is allowed to uphold amar ma’ruf nahi munkar [guiding people to the right path], 89 percent of the respondents reject it, 9 percent agree and the remaining 2 percent are undecided,” Ridwan said.

The study shows 75 percent reject that suicide bombing can be considered jihad, and 9 percent said it was acceptable, the study said.

However, when asked whether the state should have the authority to regulate Muslims’ dress code, a surprising 60 percent of the respondents said they agreed and 33 percent opposed the idea.

Also, 41 percent said they agreed the state should have the authority to regulate religious activities, 50 percent did not agree and 9 percent did not answer.

"Generally, the majority of mosques in Jakarta embrace moderate Islamic ideas and thoughts. 

Nevertheless, among the total is a small number with a tendency toward increasing radical Islamic ideas," Ridwan said.

Masdar Farid Mas'udi of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the country's largest Muslim organization, said mosques were often used by clerics to preach "provocative sermons", particularly aimed against people of other beliefs.

"Mosque preachers tend to create enemies and look for friends, while failing to bridge differences among other groups," he told a discussion at the launch of another study, which would survey mosques in other regions, and in particular those affiliated with NU, which is widely known as a moderate Islamic organization.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Indonesia joins race to host 2018, 2022 World Cup

The Jakarta Post, The Associated Press, Zurich | Wed, 01/28/2009 8:47 PM  

The Indonesian football federation officially expressed interest in staging one of the tournaments to FIFA late Tuesday, becoming the sixth potential host to show interest ahead of Monday's deadline. 

England, Japan, Qatar, Russia and a joint Spain-Portugal candidacy have already declared intentions to bid. 

Other contenders including Australia, a combined Belgium-Netherlands-Luxembourg proposal, Canada, China, Mexico and the United States are expected to enter the first stage of a two-year selection process before the cutoff. 

Though its team is currently No. 14 in the FIFA world rankings, Indonesia fulfills one major requirement of hosting the world's most-watched sports event - it has a stadium capable of holding at least 80,000 spectators for the opening match and final. 

The government-owned Bung Karno Stadium in the capital Jakarta has a capacity of 88,000 and staged the 2007 Asian Cup final, when Iraq beat Saudi Arabia 1-0. 

Indonesia has previously made World Cup history. 

It became the first Asian nation to play at a World Cup, at the 138 tournament in France under its colonial name of the Dutch East Indies. The team lost 6-0 to eventual runner-up Hungary in a first-round match at Reims. 

Indonesia was quickly knocked out of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup being played in South Africa. It advanced through the Asian first round when oppoent Guam withdrew, then lost 11-1 to Syria in a two-legged series in November 2007. 

FIFA began the process of choosing the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts two weeks ago. It will issue official bid forms next month, which must be returned by March 16. 

Candidates capable of providing around 12 stadiums each holding at least 40,000 fans can apply for either the 2018 or the 2022 tournament, or for both. 

FIFA said no South American country can apply for either tournament because Brazil is hosting the 2014 edition. African countries can bid only for the 2022 event because South Africa is hosting next year. 

The hosts will be chosen by FIFA's 24-man executive committee in December 2010. 

If successful, Indonesia would be the second World Cup host from Asia. The 2002 tournament was played in Japan and South Korea.

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Indonesia vs Australia

Antara, Wednesday 28 January 2009 

Indonesian player Boas Salossa (left) scramble ball with Australian Matt Thompson in Asia Cup qualification match in Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, Wednesday night (Jan. 28). In first stage the match ended by score 0-0. (ANTARA photo/Andika Wahyu)

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Imlek in Aceh

The Jakarta Post | Mon, 01/26/2009 5:17 PM

Imlek in Aceh: Chinese Indonesians light candles and incense at Vihara Dharma Bakti in Banda Aceh on Monday, to celebrate the first day of the Chinese Year of the Ox. Aceh is the only province in Indonesia with local regulations that conform to sharia, an Islamic legal code. (JP/Hotli Simanjuntak)

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Indonesia bans yoga for Muslims

Muslims in Indonesia have been banned from doing yoga if they engage in Hindu religious rituals during the exercise, the chairman of the country's top Islamic body said on Sunday.,  7:05PM GMT 25 Jan 2009

Muslim clerics object to the chanting of mantras Photo: JEFF GILBERT 

About 700 clerics from the Indonesian Council of Ulemas (MUI) agreed to ban the practice of yoga over fears that the use of Hindu prayers could "erode" Muslims' faith. 

"The yoga practice that contains religious rituals of Hinduism including the recitation of mantras is "haram" (forbidden in Islam)," Ma'ruf Amin, a spokesman for the group, said. 

"Muslims should not practise other religious rituals as it will erode and weaken their Islamic faith," he added. 

The council said Muslims could do yoga as long as it is was only for physical exercise and did not include chanting, mantras or meditation. 

The MUI has carved a key role for itself in Indonesia and its pronouncements on everything from Islamic banking to halal food can have a powerful influence. The fatwas are not legally binding but can influence government policy and it is considered sinful to ignore them. 

Yoga, an ancient Indian aid to meditation dating back thousands of years, is a popular stress-buster in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. 

Indonesia, which is officially secular, has the world's largest Muslim population. Nearly 90 per cent of the country's 234 million people are followers of Islam.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Baby orangutan born

The Jakarta Post | Sun, 01/25/2009 3:10 PM  

Obamy the orangutan was born  at the Ragunan Zoo, South Jakarta, late  Tuesday. 


Courtesy of Ragunan Zoo

The “mother of the orangutan”, Ulrike Freifrau von Mengden, assisted the birth of  the baby orangutan girl at almost at the same moment as the inauguration of US President Barack Obama. 

The baby was named after the president, but days later, von Mengden discovered the baby was a girl, hence a new name was called for: Obamy. 

Ibu Ulla and a volunteer, Barbara Ossenkopp, wrote in a statement on Saturday, “The name Obamy was chosen in the hope for a change for the life of the almost extinct Kalimantan orangutan.” 

“No more monkey business in 2009. Yes, we can,” they went on in the statement.

Obamy is the second offspring of 12-year-old Kalimantan orangutan Betina. 

Catch the eclipse on Monday

Agnes Winarti, The Jakarta Post | Sun, 01/25/2009 1:49 PM  

Indonesians will have the rare opportunity to view a solar eclipse Monday afternoon, as the archipelago is the only land mass on earth from which the annual cosmic occurrence will be visible. 

In a solar eclipse, the moon and the sun appear to merge and a ring, or annulus, of bright sunlight beams from behind the moon. This is caused when the moon passes directly in front of the sun, blocking the majority of light but leaving the exterior glow.

Those with sunlight filters will be able to stare at the sky Monday afternoon, although only several parts of the archipelago will enjoy the annulus in its most identifiable form.  

Its path will pass through the southern part of Sumatra including Tanjung Karang in Lampung and Tanjung Pandan in Belitung, the western part of Java including Cilegon, Serang and Anyer and the central part of Kalimantan including Puruk Cahu and Samarinda in the east.  

”Jakarta will also be able to observe the eclipse, though not likely in its fullest form,” B. Adi Nugroho, founder of the astronomy hobbyist community IndoSkyGazer said. 

At 03:24 p.m., Jakartans will be able to observe the moon aligning with the middle of the sun, then at 04:45 p.m. about 92 percent of the sun’s rays will be covered by the moon’s mass. The resulting ring surrounding the moon will last for around six minutes.

By 5:50 p.m. the eclipse will be complete.   

It is extremely harmful to view a solar eclipse directly with unprotected eyes or common sunglasses.   

The Science Exhibition Center (PP Iptek) at the Indonesian Miniature Park TMII in East Jakarta have prepared six telescopes especially designed for solar eclipse observation, promotion  manager Putu Lia Sur-yaningsih said. 

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Indonesians among the few to witness solar eclipse 

The Jakarta Post, Zakki Hakim, The Associated Press, Anyer, Banten | Mon, 01/26/2009 7:00 PM 

Indonesians were among the few worldwide to witness an eclipse of the sun Monday, but even there the view was hampered in most places by cloudy skies. 

Dozens gathered in the western coastal town of Anyer as the moon passed across the sun's path at 4:40 p.m., covering 92 percent of the sun's diameter and leaving a white, flaming ring of fire that lasted about four minutes. 

"I'm old, but I still think this is magical," said Roanna Makmur, 66, who drove several hours with eight friends to witness the sight, known as an annular eclipse, because it does not completely black out the sun.


Clouded eclipse: The moon cast a shadow at the sun blocking it partially in a partial solar eclipse as it sets on Monday in Jakarta. JP/Arief Suhardiman

"I can't help but feel the greatness of God," she said, as other onlookers cheered. "Anyone who passed up this opportunity, really missed out." 

Annular eclipses, which are considered far less important to astronomers than total eclipses of the sun, occur about 66 times a century and can only be viewed by people in the narrow band along its path. 

A relatively small number of people were in the best places to view Monday's eclipse, said Jay Pasachoff, professor of astronomy at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and chair of the International Astronomical Union's Working Group on Eclipses. 

Aside from several regions in Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, only villagers on a tiny South Pacific island group known as the Cocos, administered by Australia, were to have been able to see the ring-shaped corona, he wrote in a statement. 

A partial eclipse - with coverage ranging from 1 percent to 84 percent of the sun's diameter - was to be visible in the southern third of Africa, in southeastern India, and southeast Asia, as well as the western part of Australia. 

The last total eclipse of the sun was Aug. 1, 2008, and was visible in Canada, across northern Greenland, the Arctic, central Russia, Mongolia and China. 

The next total eclipse will be July 22, 2009, and will be visible in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, China and some Japanese islands.

Romance, serenity at the Water Palace

Retno K. Djojo, The Jakarta Post, Thu, 01/22/2009 1:48 PM 

Culture: A view over the ponds of the Soekasada water palace, with the garden compound in the background. (JP/Retno K. Djojo)

If you're hungering for a taste of history, art and culture, you will get a good dose in Karangasem regency, in the eastern part of Bali, which is rich in examples of the island's cultural heritage. 

Taman Soekasada or "The Water Palace" in Ujung is one of Bali's finest such cultural treasures. 

It is, in short, an astounding architectural and cultural jewel not to be missed. 

The 12-hectare water palace complex some 5 kilometers south of Amlapura, the capital of Karangasem, is ringed by an ornate fence. 

The three big pavilions float on a serene lotus pond, connected by bridges, creating an intriguing and romantic atmosphere. 

The palace was designed and constructed under the patronage and protection of Karangasem's last king, Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut Karang Asem, in 1926. 

The late ruler, a learned and well-traveled man, modeled Soekasada on the Versailles Palace in France. 

It was originally intended as a meeting place and guesthouse for delegates of the Dutch government and dignitaries of other countries visiting tropical Bali.


Serenity: The still waters of a lotus pond in the Soekasada water palace, East Bali, surround one of the pavilions. (JP/Retno K. Djojo)

The wide windows of the pavilions look over the palace waters, testimony to the late ruler's passion for harmonizing nature and art. As a culturalist with an international perspective, he blended traditional motifs with modern materials, and balanced Western-style geometry with a Balinese sense of place and symbolism. To ensure his cultural vision materialized, he personally oversaw work at the construction site. 

A visit is memorable: Take in the exotic blend of western and Middle Eastern architectural styles enlivened with intricated Balinese carvings, or stroll under the Middle Eastern flavored archways held up by elegant Italian columns, or pause a moment in a walkway shaded by frangipangi and mango trees. 

The highest point in the park affords a marvelous view over the distant Lombok Strait and the lush green hills of Mt. Rinjani in Lombok. The view north is a breathtaking panorama of rice terraces set against the backdrop of the mighty Mt. Agung. 

Soekasada sustained severe damage during the eruption of Mt. Agung in 1963 and the earthquake in 1975. 

Because of the future of Bali's rich art and cultural heritage lies in its past, intensive restoration work was carried out from 2000 to 2004 by members of the Karang Asem court. 

Thanks to these efforts, one of Bali's finest examples of its cultural heritage has been saved. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

President chairs Institute for Peace and Democracy meeting

Gianyar, Bali (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono chaired Institute for Peace and Democracy meeting at Tampak Siring Palace here on Saturday morning.

Friday, April 27, 2007 - Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, right, speaks as Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong looks on during a press conference at Tampak Siring Palace on Bali, Indonesia, Friday, April 27, 2007. Indonesia and Singapore signed agreements of extradition and military cooperation between two countries on the tourist island of Bali.

In his capacity as the establisher of the institute, the president in the meeting was accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Hassan Wirayuda, Udayana University rector I Made Bakta, and Bali Governor I Made Mangku Pastika.

Also present in the meeting were the members of the Institute Managing Board, namely Azyumardi Azra, Dewi Fortuna Anwar, Wiryono S, Dino Patti Djalal, Umar Hadi, I Ketut Putra Erawan, and Ayu Krisna Wijaya.

Attendees from the Foreign Affairs Ministry were Director General for Public Diplomacy and Information Andri Hadi, Director General for Asia-Pacific and Africa Primo Alui Joelianto, Director General for America and Europe Retno LP Marsudi, and Director General for ASEAN Coopertaion Djauhari Oratmangun.

While from Udayana University were Rector-I assistant Prof KG Bendesa, Rector-IV assistant Prof Wirawan, and Suryo Hapsoro of the National Education Ministry.

The meeting was the follow up to the dedication of the Institute for Peace and Democracy which took place at Udayana University on December 10, 2008.

It is the first peace institution in Asia at Bukit Jimbaran campus, located some six kilometers from Nusa Dua, and is expected to be the center of research on political development in Indonesia and abroad.

President Yudhoyono and his entourage arrived in Denpasar on Friday afternoon after concluding a three-day working visit in Sorong and Manokwari districts in West Papua.

On the way from Ngurah Rai airport to Tampak Siring Palace to spend the night, the president and his entourage visited the Tirta Empul Temple which is being developed as a tourist spot of historical and cultural interest.

Tirta Empul Temple or Tampak Siring Temple is a holy spring water temple located in Tampak Siring village, Gianyar district and lies about 39 kilometers east of Denpasar city.

West of the temple is Tampak Siring presidential palace which was built by Indonesia`s first president, Soekarno.

The temple is regarded as one of the six most important ones in Bali such as Pura Besakih and Pura Luhur Uluwatu.

The name "Tirta Empul" signifies a crystal clear stream from which holy water for various religious ceremonies is derived.

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Bringing in the New Year

The Jakarta Globe, Titania Veda, January 23, 2009

Deep in the bustling heart of Glodok, West Jakarta, lies Jalan Kemenangan III. The busy street overflows with vendors selling textiles, cellular phones, flowers and food, all vying for space and attention. Pedestrians, motorcyclists, pedicabs and carts weave in and out along the narrow brick lane. A popular Hong Kong song from the 1960s plays from a row of compact shops, and a barongsai , or lion dance, takes place in front of a store.

Splashes of scarlet are seen in items on sale throughout the small street, from Chinese-style pajamas for toddlers to ang pao envelopes to hold money given on Chinese holidays. Lamps and paper dragons hang from trees above a wet market where merchants sell a variety of fruits.

This street is also home to Jin De Yuan, the city’s oldest Chinese temple, also called a kelenteng . The temple was built in 1650 by a Chinese lieutenant by the name of Guo Xun-Gan to honor Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy.

Under a small pavilion in a square outside the temple is a large golden hio lo , a place where joss sticks are burned, filled to the brim with ashes. It is the first port of call for those who come to pray and represents Giok Hong Siong Te, the God of Heaven. Clutching a bouquet of lit incense sticks, supplicants bow several times in prayer before placing them into the urn.

Beside a fenced garden, calico and tabby cats laze. A man reads a Mandarin newspaper, while beside him, a gray-haired woman sits quietly with red plastic bags on her lap. Although she cannot recall her age, Lim Lee Qui Fung states with certainty that she has been a regular at Jin De Yuan for the past 40 years.

“I can pray for five hours here. No one disturbs me,” Lim says.

The caretakers and temple staff greet Lim as they pass by. Every few minutes, she takes a sheet of kim chua, a gold ritual banknote, out of one of her plastic bags, walks to a smoldering gray stone urn at the corner of the square, and drops the note in. The golden paper turns to ash and smoke as it burns, lifting her prayers up to the skies. “I pray for my family, my grandchildren, my community and country,” Lim says.

Greeting visitors at the temple entrance stands a statue of the jolly-faced Chai Sen, the God of Prosperity. He wears a colorful robe, his hands raised to the sky as if giving thanks for the profusion of oranges, pears and apples offered on the ornately carved table beside him. Sunlight streaming in from the courtyard behind pierces a gunmetal gray fog wafting from the smouldering incense. The glowing incense spreads a sharp musky smell and also stings the eyes.

Clad in a soiled blue T-shirt with his glasses perched on his red baseball cap, a Tionghoa, or Chinese-Indonesian, named Yayan sits amid a mountain of magenta-colored incense. By his side are a pile of red candles and kim chua banknotes.

Yayan says that the bundles of incense, candles and gold paper form a Chinese New Year packet that he sells for Rp 17,000 ($1.51) to visitors.

The interior of the temple is a hive of activity. In steady streams, men and women enter, buy packets of offerings and make the rounds of the 24 hio lo.

Behind each of the hio lo stations, statues of gods stand or sit in their glass-covered abodes. These include the mahogany-skinned Tat Mo Coo Su, a patriarch of Zen Buddhism from India also known as Bodhidharma; the wise looking Cham Kui Coo Su, a shepherd from the 8th Song Dynasty, sitting in his golden robe; and Pe Hou Ciang Kun, the white tiger god.

To the uninitiated, the prayer rituals seem to have no order, but a more thorough scrutiny shows a pattern, which Suherman, the caretaker, explains.

“First, they light a candle,” he says, his speech seasoned with Mandarin terms. “Second, they light the hio, which is then placed in the hio lo. After they finish praying, they pour oil. Then they burn the kim paper.”

Though he has been the temple’s caretaker for only three years, Suherman spent his childhood playing and praying at Jin De Yuan. He decided to become a caretaker because it was his “heart’s calling.”

“We have a large community who come to the temple, especially youths,” he says, his hands moving animatedly. “But they only know ‘cung cung cep,’ which is gesturing with the hio and then placing it into the hio lo.”

“And they do not know what they are praying for or even the gods they are praying to. So I felt compelled to explain it to them.”

Suherman has also created a Web site to impart knowledge of the temple, its history and its gods for those interested in learning more.

Most of those who frequent the temple come from the surrounding Glodok area. But for Chinese New Year, Suherman expects people from throughout the regions surrounding Jakarta, Lampung and Cirebon.

Speaking with rapid-fire speed, Suherman describes how the number of young people coming to the temple increased during the administration of former President Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid (1999–2001).

“Gus Dur as president allowed the display of Tionghoa customs and even allowed for the celebration of Imlek [an Indonesian term for Chinese New Year], something we were not allowed to do during the Suharto administration [1965–1998],” Suherman says. “Even the writing of Chinese characters was deemed illegal because Suharto said it was political.

“Due to Suharto, an entire generation of Tionghoa cannot speak Mandarin. It was a great tragedy,” Suherman says, shaking his head.

Yayan, who sells the New Year packets, is from Tangerang, West Java, but does not speak Mandarin. He has worked at the temple since 2004 as a permanent staff member. Along with 18 others, he helps with the cleaning and maintenance of Jin De Yuan.

For Chinese New Year, the temple is cleaned and given a fresh coat of paint. Preparations began at the start of the 12th month of the Imlek calendar, or Cap Ji Gwe, which fell at the end of December 2008.

Inside the temple, standing by a table caked with melted wax from prayer candles, is toddler Ivan Ibrahim. The 20-month-old is with his parents, a young couple in their late 20s. Sofian, the boy’s father, has been coming to Jin De Yuan since he himself was a young boy living just down the street. Sofian’s parents taught him to pray at the temple and now he is teaching his son.

“We are teaching Ivan how to pray to the Goddess Guan Yin,” says Erlina, the child’s mother. The family visits Jin De Yuan weekly, even though they now live in Sunter, North Jakarta.

“He knows how to pai-pai now,” Erlina says, referring to the correct way to pay respect to the deities. Cradled by his mother, the toddler smiles and follows her clasped hands as she prays before a hio lo.

“This place is the best temple to go to because a lot of prayers are answered here,” Erlina says. “And we have had this belief since we were little.”

A tiny woman with sad eyes and extremely pale skin washing her hands nearby tells how her prayers made at the temple have been answered. Thung Geok Siu, in her 70s, says her children have all converted to Catholicism but she remains steadfast in her own faith. “I began coming here because the people of the temple helped me,” the Sulawesi native says. “They blessed my family.

“One time my husband hurt his leg. I came here to pai-pai and his leg was healed. If I feel troubled, this is where I go.” Thung’s husband has since passed away but she has continued to come to Jin De Yuan for 30 years. “I have suffered terribly in my life and coming here has helped. Because of God and this temple, I am all right,” Thung says, her eyes welling with tears.

Suherman agrees that the temple is special, saying that readings here of the ciam si, bamboo slips used to tell one’s fortune, are precise. “That is why people keep coming here,” he says.

As the day progresses, the number of supplicants increases, and the smoke rising from the burning hio and votive candles thickens. Outside in the square, a slight elderly man is paying respects to the four corners of the earth. With his hands clasped together in constant vertical movement, he seems deep in trance. No one disturbs him as they pass, entering or leaving Jin De Yuan.

Jin De Yuan temple can be found online at

Photo: People visit the temple from throughout Jakarta and surrounding areas to pray at Chinese New Year. (Titania Veda, JG)

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Commentary: Chinese New Year: Should we politicize heritage?

Harry Bhaskara , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Fri, 01/23/2009 7:57 AM

Chinese New Year which falls on Monday, Jan. 26, has been a national holiday since 2003. The euphoria that ensued after the important holiday gained official status, particularly among Indonesians of Chinese descent, was well founded.

Public expression of Chinese culture had been denied for more than three decades under Soeharto’s rule.

After Soeharto requested in 1967 that expressions of Chinese culture be limited, his subordinates interpreted his appeal as instructions to ban everything Chinese. This amounted to cultural genocide since the generation of Chinese Indonesians born after 1967 have been alienated from their own culture. Even Chinese characters are unrecognizable to many of them.

Chinese schools were closed, Chinese characters were banned. The lion and dragon dances went on a long hiatus.

Young Chinese became equally ignorant of Chinese songs as broadcasting them in the radio became illegal. Only after Soeharto fell from grace in 1998 did things begin to turn around.

Many Chinese Indonesians have spent the last 10 years scaling a steep relearning curve.

Others remain indifferent to a culture they have learned to keep at arm’s length.

Were Soeharto alive today he might have gnashed his teeth to see the 1,000 Chinese flowers blooming, of a different sort. Language schools have blossomed, songs and programs in Chinese are broadcast on radio and television and Chinese MCs and celebrities have taken center stage.

Had he strolled through Jakarta’s posh commercial district in Kuningan, home to the offices of foreign envoys, he would be surprised to see the Chinese embassy there. The older building in Chinatown closed down in 1967.

The young army general came to the fore when the world was embroiled in the Cold War.

Backstopped by Western governments, particularly the United States, Soeharto’s policies mirrored the conflict between capitalism and communism.

Chances were, any leader emerging under such circumstances would have leaned on one or the other of the two belligerents.

Seven years after Megawati Soekarnoputri made it a public holiday in 2002 through a presidential decree, it may be timely to ask ourselves if her decision was sensible.

It is less an effort to ask for its revocation than to consider carefully whether the decision was made on a solid foundation.

If the basis for the decree was cultural, then Imlek — as it is known locally — had been celebrated in the past by a cross-section of the society. Why single out Chinese culture over Batak, Javanese, Papua or the hundreds of other cultures resident in Indonesia? We may as well include Diwali for Indians, Hannukah or Yom Kippur for Jews, or others.

Does every cultural group have the right to a public holiday in a democracy?

If the national holiday is based on religion, the usual assumption is that Confucianism should determine its day, since a goodly portion of the 10-odd million Chinese Indonesians are Confucianists. However, some consider it merely as a set of teachings, though it is recognized as one of the six government-sanctioned religions.

Based on the lunar calendar, Chinese New Year is used by Chinese farmers to arrange their planting season. So to say that religion is the basis of the decree also misses the mark.

Proponents of the national holiday like to say the official holiday serves as a sort of glue to unite people.

They, too, stand on shaky ground. How could a pluralist and democratic society predate modern Indonesia?

There are lessons to learn from the past as far as unity is concerned. People from different ethnic and faith groups used to live in harmony in a democratic society. Ancient buildings, including mosques, temples and churches across the country are testaments to it.

Megawati’s years were marked by the postdictatorship crisis. More urgent matters awaited her.

Megawati could have channeled more energy towards them rather than dwelling on matters such as public holidays. Her laundry list was exhaustive: solving the economic crisis, punishing corrupt business and political leaders, upholding justice and overhauling the legislature.

Megawati’s presidential decree came on the heels of her predecessor Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid’s term. He had begun to allow the Chinese to celebrate their culture publicly in 2001, thus canceling out Soeharto’s presidential instruction 14/1967 in one stroke.

Gus Dur held the holiday should be optional. Those who celebrated it could take the holiday.

Looking back, Gus Dur’s decision to make Chinese New Year an optional holiday seems sounder than Megawati’s. The latter could have just left it that way.

Indonesia should allow every ethnic group to celebrate their cultural traditions, as they have in the past. There is no need to politicize it.

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