Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners

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

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions

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

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

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

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

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

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)

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


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

… The Shift in Human Nature

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 26, 2010

Blogger Auto Pagination Speeds Page Loads but Angers Bloggers

Susan's Blogging Blog, by Susan Gunelius, Thursday February 25, 2010

Last week, Blogger rolled out Auto Pagination, which automates the amount of content that is displayed on Blogger blog pages based on the amount of HTML and and images on each page. Google claimed that the purpose behind the change is to speed page load time. For example, with the new Auto Pagination feature, a Blogger blog might be limited to only display two posts per page if those posts include a lot of images. Visitors would need to click on the Next Post link to view additional posts from the blog.

While the change is unlikely to affect a lot of smaller bloggers, it has caused concern from larger bloggers, particularly those who use Blogger for photo blogs or blogs that are image-intensive, such as celebrity fan bloggers.

Many of the Blogger users who found their blogs suddenly altered to display only a couple of posts per page blogged about the new Blogger Auto Pagination feature in order to complain about the change. According to some of the more vocal bloggers, they were able to email Google and work with them to modify their blogs so the Auto Pagination feature doesn't affect their blogs. If you use Blogger and dislike the Auto Pagination feature, be sure to contact Blogger support and voice your concerns.

Has the new Blogger Auto Pagination function affected your blog or any of the blogs that you read? Leave a comment and share your experiences.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

SBY's Mother Discharged From Hospital

Jakarta Globe, February 25, 2010

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, right, with his mother Siti Habibah during Idul Fitri celebrations in 2007. (Antara Photo)

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono`s mother has been discharged from the hospital after five days of treatment for a gall bladder infection.

"Alhamdulillah, she was allowed to leave the hospital on Wednesday afternoon, although the therapy is not yet over," SBY said on Thursday.

The president rearranged meetings and cancelled official appearances in recent days to spend time at his mother's bedside.

Siti Habibah, who is 83, was admitted to Gatot Subroto Hospital on Saturday. She was briefly transferred to Husada Hospital for treatment before returning to Gatot Subroto. Her doctor said her condition was not serious.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Yudhoyono receives UNEP Award for coral initiative

Erwida Maulia, The Jakarta Post, Nusa Dua, Bali | Wed, 02/24/2010 5:45 PM

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been honored with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Award for Leadership in Promoting Ocean and Marine Conservation and Management.

The award was presented Wednesday by UNEP executive director Achiem Steiner during the opening of UNEP's 11th Special Session of the Governing Council in Nusa Dua, Bali, which is the first ministerial-level meeting organized by the UN body since the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

The President was honored for "personally spearheading" the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI), the high-level political commitment among the governments of several countries around the Coral Triangle area, to safeguard the region's marine and coastal biological resources for the sustainable growth and prosperity of current and future generations.

The Coral Triangle covers the areas of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, East Timor and Papua New Guinea. It lies across mere 1 percent of the earth’s surface, but is said to contain a third of the world's coral and three-quarters of its coral reef species.

In August 2007, Yudhoyono wrote to seven other leaders in the area proposing a new CTI, which was then agreed upon and signed in Manado shortly after the World Ocean Conference in May 2009.

"The CTI represents a key step in protecting one of the most important marine ecosystems on the planet," UNEP director of information Satinder Bindra said before presenting the award to the Indonesian President.

"It's a commendable example of regional cooperation and it's an initiative which has been personally spearheaded by His Excellency President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono," he added.

In his speech after the award ceremony, Yudhoyono said the award belonged to all Indonesians, not just to him.

Related Article:

SBY Gets Award for Ocean Protection

Divers swim near coral reefs teeming with fishes in the water off Indonesia's Komodo island. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

President outlines five strategies to save environment

Antara News, Wednesday, February 24, 2010 16:05 WIB

Nusa Dua (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono outlined five strategies to save the environment when officially opening the 11th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council /Global Ministerial Environment Forum, here on Wednesday.

The first strategy is to change the pattern of production and consumption in order to save the Earth which is seriously damaged, for the sake of the present and future generations.

Other strategies are to lower biodiversity loss by implementing real actions; to promote new orientation of development and economic paradigm which are pro-poor, pro-job, and pro-growth; to finalize agreements for sustainable development; and to finalize negotiations on climate change to ensure the success of the planned Mexico Climate Change Summit , the head of state said.

On the occasion, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner presented a UNEP Award of Leadership to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for promoting and conserving marine ecosystem management.

President Yudhoyono said he accepted the award as a recognition to the work of the whole Indonesian people in managing the marine ecosystem.

He also reaffirmed Indonesia`s commitment to reducing the level of deforestation and land degradation and to lowering the level of carbon emissions.

The world environmental minister meeting taking place under the auspices of UNEP at the Bali International Convention Center from February 24 to 26, is being participated in by around 1,000 delegates from 130 countries.The meeting`s slogan is "One Planet: Our Responsibility.

SBY Urges Bali Delegates to 'Save This World'

Jakarta Globe, Fidelis E. Satriastanti, February 24, 2010

Delegates from around the world have gathered in Nusa Dua for the UNEP conference. (JG Photo/JP Christo)

Nusa Dua. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is urging countries to use the United Nations Environment Program meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, to resolve deadlocks on climate change ahead of this year’s Mexico Climate Talks.

Speaking at the opening of a global ministerial forum, Yudhoyono said nations “cannot wait any longer” to deal with human impacts on the world’s climate.

“We need to finalize the climate change negotiations at the Mexico climate talks by end of this year,” said Yudhoyono on his speech. “I hear that there will be an informal meeting in Bali concerning the issue and I urge all of you to use this forum to find the best solution.”

“I think that we’re still not too late to do our best to save this world.”

Delegations from 130 countries have gathered for the Bali meetings, which will focus on sustainable development, eco-friendly economies and biodiversity. The ministerial meeting will be the first since last year’s Cophenhagen climate talks, which were largely deemed a failure since they did not produce a legally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Those gases are believed to be increasing the world’s temperature, melting glaciers, raising sea levels and causing potentially catastrophic disruptions to the environment.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Solo Batik Museum Highlights Indonesia's National Treasure

Jakarta Globe, Candra Malik, February 23, 2010

Tracing a pattern at the museum’s workshop. (JG Photo/Candra Malik)

There is no question that batik has become synonymous with Indonesian culture. The much-lauded traditional cloth traces its origins to a noble past and has endured over the centuries, recently being designated as world heritage by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The Danar Hadi Antique Batik Museum in Solo is a good place to learn more about the fabric and the craft that creates it.

In Oct. 20, 2000, Prince Santosa Doellah Hadikusumo opened the museum to showcase his extensive batik collection. Asti Suryo, the museum’s assistant manager, said that Santosa has dedicated his life to identifying, studying, saving and preserving the traditional cloth.

“He started collecting batik at the age of 15 and now he’s 68,” Asti said.

The collection is rightfully housed in a historical venue. The house on Jalan Slamet Riyadi, about three kilometers from the Solo Palace, once belonged to Prince Woerjoningrat, a son-in-law of the late King Solo Pakubuwono X.

Built in 1890 in the Dutch colonial style, the house was declared a heritage building by a mayoral decree in 1997.

Batik has royal roots. The original form, batik keraton (palace batik), was crafted by the nobles themselves. In the early 17th century, the royal kingdom of Mataram — where the palaces of Surakarta Hadiningrat (Solo) and Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat (Yogyakarta) trace their origins — created the canting , an instrument for designing on cloth.

The word itself is derived from ambatik , which refers to the meaningful set of points that make up a certain pattern. Javanese culture comes together with Hindu ( garuda , hayat tree and tongue of fire), Buddhism (swastika) and Islam (which bans decorating living things) design to make up a traditional pattern.

The cloth’s design denotes one’s stature in society. There are rules that govern what designs can be worn for certain occasions and by whom.

Two-hundred pieces from Santosa’s extensive collection of at least 2,800 ancient Chinese batik are now on display at the museum as part of the Chinese Batik Festival, which ends on March 31.

“It should be emphasized that the Chinese are also legitimate owners of batik because their predecessors were also involved in the history of batik’s development,” Santosa said.

Toetti T Surjanto, the museum’s curator, said that Chinese batik from Indonesia absorbed the elements of culture brought by Chinese merchants. The design is influenced by Chinese mythical animals such as dragons, lions, phoenixes, turtles, kilin (lion-headed dogs), gods and goddesses, ancient China ceramics design and red-or-blue-hued clouds. Chinese batik also incorporate flowers into its design, mainly because of the influence of the Netherlands Batik.

Santosa has received many awards for his batik collection. According to Jaya Suprana, head of the Indonesian Record Museum (MURI), the prince holds the world record for the largest and most diverse collection of Chinese batik.

“I have visited museums around the world and I have yet to find a batik museum that is as complete and which carries such unique varieties as the Danar Hadi Batik Museum,” Jaya said.

During the Chinese Batik Festival, Santosa received two awards from MURI.

“Especially for the Chinese batik, I collected more than 2,800 batik clothes with different decorations,” Santosa said. “These are all stored neatly in a special cabinet. Only 200 pieces are now exhibited. After this, I will hold two festivals, the Netherlands batik and the Japanese batik or Hokokai Javanese batik.”

Aside from Chinese works, the museum is home of the other traditional batik varieties from Santosa’s collection, which are displayed in eight rooms.

Museum curator Toetti said that aside from the Chinese, Netherlands and Japanese types of batik, the museum also has Indian, batik keraton, batik saudagaran (merchant’s batik), batik petani (farmer batik’s) and modern batik.

“From the museum’s collection, we can say that the color and pattern on a piece of batik cloth was influenced by the era and the environment,” Toetti said. “The Netherlands batik, for example, was not batik from Netherlands. It was made in Indonesia and influenced by Dutch culture brought by the VOC [Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie] to Indonesia, especially between 1840-1910.”

He said that this explained why patterns of the Netherlands batik was initially influenced by Dutch folklore themes like Snow White, Little Red Hiding Hood and Hanzel and Gretel. Dutch ladies who fell in love with batik during colonial times also contributed their own motifs.

During the close to four years of Japanese occupation in Indonesia, the Hokokai Javanese batik came into being.

Foreign merchants who immigrated to Indonesia from South China also did not want to give up wearing the batik so they adopted batik pesisiran (littoral batik) and made their own batik clothes.

Meanwhile, local merchants who were prohibited from wearing batik keraton drew unique motifs known as batik saudagaran .

Santosa has made it his mission to trace and preserve the history of batik around the world. For instance, he bought the entire batik collection of Harmen C. Veldhuisen in the Netherlands when the collector decided to sell it all after divorcing his wife. Santosa also purchased an old batik collection from Christie’s Fine Art Auction house in Paris.

“On one hand, Santosa has been selling batik since he was studying economics at Padjadjaran University in Bandung,” said Danarsih, Santosa’s wife. “On the other hand, he hunts down the best ancient batik from anybody anywhere he goes. Santosa is a strict collector. He refuses to buy a batik with low-level pattern and torn fabric.”

Museum assistant manager Asti said that only batik that Santosa is only interested in batik that is over 100 years old and created by the royal family. “Believe me, all batik in the museum does not exist outside anymore,” she said.

“The entire collection of Batik Saudagar here, for example, is no longer owned by the merchants of Kauman and Laweyan Batik Tourism Villages in Solo, Central Java, although they were actually the original owners of the motif.”

In addition to its unparalleled batik collection, the museum also has seven kinds of wax for batik that can only be found in Indonesia on display.

At the museum’s backyard, visitors can watch how batik tulis — which uses the original technique of applying waxy by hand — is made and how the more modern batik cap is done using a combination of print device and hand technique.

Over the years, the museum has received numerous awards. It often holds seminars and workshops on batik making and entrepreneurship. Many students have also written papers on its collections.

One avid collector’s passion has successfully provided an avenue of learning for the public.

Danar Hadi Antique Batik Museum
Jalan Slamet Riyadi No. 261, Solo, Central Java
Tel: 02 7171 4326
Fax: 02 7171 3140

Monday, February 22, 2010

Indonesia Aims to be World's Breadbasket

Jakarta Globe, Jerome Rivet, February 22, 2010

A Papuan farmer attends to his vegetables in Timika. Indonesia aims to become a major food producer, offering hundreds of thousands of hectares of rice paddies and fields to domestic and foreign investors. (AFP Photo/Tjahjo Eranius)

Following Brazil’s trail, Indonesia is encouraging foreign and local investors to lease huge swathes of fertile countryside and help make the country a major food producer.

“Feed Indonesia, then feed the world,” was the recent call from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono after the government announced plans to fast-track development of vast agricultural estates in remote areas like Papua and Borneo.

Between now and 2030 Indonesia expects to become one of the world’s biggest producers of rice, maize, sugar, coffee, shrimp, meats and palm oil, senior agriculture ministry official Hilman Manan said.

The world’s fourth most populous country, with 235 million people, Indonesia has been self-sufficient in rice since 2008 and is already the top producer of palm oil.

“If everything goes well, Indonesia should be able to be self-sufficient in five years. And then it can start to feed the world,” said Sony Heru Priyanto, an expert at Satya Wacana Christian University.

The first area targeted for development is 1.6 million hectares in the southeast of the largely undeveloped province of Papua, around the town of Merauke.

The Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate will, the government hopes, create thousands of jobs and turn an impoverished and neglected corner of the Indonesian archipelago into a hive of activity.

“We chose Merauke because it’s the ideal place for food crop cultivation, such as rice, corn, soybean and sugar cane. Merauke district has 4.5 million hectares of land; 2.5 million hectares are ideal for cultivation,” Manan said.

“The area is flat and has a good climate. Its soil is appropriate for those crops. Sumatra is already congested with other plantations, such as palm oil, and Kalimantan is already full of mining areas and many plantation areas also.”

He said Merauke’s population of some 175,000 people could rocket to 800,000 if the plan takes off.

Foreigners will be able to control a maximum of 49 percent of any investing company, and will be offered incentives like tax breaks and reductions in customs and excise duties.

“In order to avoid any forms of monopolies or land grabbing, we’re limiting each company to a maximum of 10,000 hectares of land,” Manan said, stressing that the government was selling land use rights, not the land itself.

He said interest had come from Japan, South Korea and the Middle East.

But analysts said the region’s biggest advantage — expanses of “empty” land — was also the main obstacle: the project will require up to five billion dollars in infrastructure investments, from a new port to roads and runways.

And there is opposition from small-scale farmers who say their traditional livelihoods could be threatened by the large-scale commercialization of agriculture.

“We reject the concept of the food estate. For us, food estates are another kind of land grabbing scheme. It’s like going back to the era of feudalism,” Indonesian Farmers Union official Kartini Samon said.

“The regular farmers’ land will be taken by big companies and the farmers will be left with nothing,” she said.

Such worries are well known in other countries with similar schemes, such as Brazil and Madagascar, where there is deep suspicion about food and bio-fuel companies monopolising agricultural land.

There are also fears for the rights of indigenous Papuans, an ethnic-Melanesian minority who have long complained that their traditional lands are being unjustly exploited by outsiders.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

SBY vows to protect rights of Chinese Indonesians

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 02/20/2010 9:45 PM

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono promised Saturday to further protect the civil rights of Chinese Indonesians, particularly followers of Confucianism.

The pledge marked the President’s address to thousands of Chinese Indonesians attending the commemoration of the Chinese New Year at the Jakarta Convention Center in Central Jakarta.

“In the future I will ask the minister of religious affairs, the minister of justice and human rights, the minister of education and other officials in the central and regional governments to improve protection of the civil rights of Confucianism followers and Chinese descents,” Yudhoyono said.

The President said the government had enacted regulations that protect the rights of Chinese Indonesians, including the 2006 law on citizenship which revokes differentiation between indigenous and non-indigenous.

“I am happy to see significant progress in the government’s efforts to fulfill the rights of Confucianism followers,” he said.

Yudhoyono called on Chinese Indonesian community to take the momentum of Chinese New Year to promote harmony in diversity.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Scientists Help Indonesian Schools End '2012' Apocalypse Paranoia

Jakarta Globe, Nurfika Osman, February 19, 2010

Illegal copies of the movie "2012" for sale on the Bendungan Hilir pedestrian overpass in Central Jakarta. (JG File Photo)

The after-effect of the doomsday hype that Hollywood packaged into a disaster movie last year and spawned a maelstrom of criticism from the country’s religious leaders is apparently still being felt by, among others, children.

“It’s a very sad movie. I don’t want to watch it again,” said Farah Rahman, 10, referring to “2012,” the movie based on Mayan mythology that the world will end that year.

“I’m scared to see people dying, and tsunamis and earthquakes happening,” said Aqila Sabirra, another 10-year-old.

Looking to separate fact from science fiction, the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (Lapan) gathered about 200 public school teachers in Pulogadung district in East Jakarta for a workshop run by scientists on Thursday to help educators answer students’ questions about the apocalypse.

Rahmad Alam, a science teacher at SMP 158 junior high school, lauded the scientists for making an extra effort to shed light on such an unlikely occurrence and explain it in a way that young students could understand.

“We need to encourage students to be more critical about what they see and consider scientific explanations before making any judgment,” Rahmad said. “We don’t want them to be misled by things that are not scientifically proven.”

“2012” depicts an Earth going through several cataclysmic scenarios — massive earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis — all at the same time because of a dramatic rise in the planet’s temperature.

Jiyo Haryo Suwito, a Lapan researcher, calls the phenomenon “space weather,” a fusion of activities caused by energy coming from the sun and high-energy plasma particles. “Basically it’s an 11-year cycle that’s been recorded as a natural phenomenon hundreds of years ago. So there’s really nothing special about space weather phenomena,” Jiyo said.

“The apocalyptic images on ‘2012’ were all just an exaggeration. No scientific data can prove that such a thing can occur.”

Sri Kaloka Prabotosari, head of Lapan’s space science center, believes that because the public is usually vulnerable to what the media says, it should resort to scientific analysis first to remove its doubts.

“The public has to know about phenomena like solar storms so they will know that the ‘2012’ myth is just that — a myth,” Sri Kaloka said. “When people link prophesy that is depicted in a movie with the apocalypse and all sorts of disasters, it is scientifically inaccurate.”

“This is why we need people to be more attentive to what science has to say, so that they don’t fall for something unless it comes with scientific proof,” Sri Kaloka added. “We have to be more critical about what is happening around us presently and what lies in the future.”

In an interview in December, Thomas Djamaluddin, a senior researcher at Lapan, said: “The apocalypse rumors are scientifically unfounded.”

Thursday’s workshop not only seemed to have answered some doomsday questions, but it also gave the teachers who attended the lecture confidence to confront anxious students.

Kartini, a science teacher from SMP 92 junior high school, said she was constantly being bombarded with questions from her students about the end of the world. Spending time with scientists this week helped her become more equipped in handling those inquisitive minds.

“My students are really afraid until now. They keep asking me ‘Is the movie true?’ Some of them even say that scientists don’t believe in ancient prophecies, and in the end they would regret not buying into the myth,” Kartini said.

“That’s why it’s important to shed light on the issue from a scientist’s point of view. It helps to discourage students from believing something immediately just because they saw it in a movie.”

Daniel Ruman, a science teacher at SMP 99 junior high school, said that because the message of “2012” had caused such a deep effect on his students, Lapan’s decision to reach out to schools was a good way to tone down the unnecessary paranoia.

“To be honest, the movie has had a deep impact on my students. When a kid sees all these things on the screen, it’s difficult not to believe such an event could never happen. And they’re worried that it will really happen in 2012,” Daniel said.

“However, having listened this week to what the scientific community has to say, I’m sure it will help the students to be less afraid. All we have to do is convince them that what they’ve seen on screen isn’t true and make them understand the science behind it.”

Friday, February 19, 2010

Get Back to Batiks With Iwan Tirta’s Tableware

Jakarta Globe, Sylviana Hamdani, February 19, 2010

The Tumpal Nanas collection was inspired by the batik headpieces worn by servants of the old Javanese imperial courts. (Photo courtesy of Iwan Tirta)

Although better know for his prowess in the world of fashion, feted batik designer Iwan Tirta has lent his considerable talents to something that is probably better associated with the aristocracy of Europe: porcelain.

While most people are familiar with the traditional blue and white china, or the stately sets produced by famous international designers, an Indonesian company is aiming to bring an air of sophistication to the country’s dining tables with traditional, heritage-styled batik designs.

Late last month, PT Pusaka Iwan Tirta, a collaboration between the senior fashion designer and Lydia Kusuma Hendra, the chairwoman of the local ceramics company PT Tri Marga Jaya Hutama, relaunched its first line of ceramic dinnerware.

Called “ Pusaka Maha Karya (“Heritage Masterpieces”), the line consists of two collections — Modang and Hokokai — and is available at the Metro Department Store in Plaza Senayan, South Jakarta.

Priced at Rp 317 million ($34,000), the collections are each comprised of 258 pieces, including a range of plates and bowls, a tea, coffee and espresso set, salt and pepper shakers, as well as water goblets and wine glasses for 12 people. All pieces are plated with 22 carat gold along the rims.

The refined design of the Modang collection is set off by intricate and artistic motifs depicting blue tongues of fire that encircle each piece.

Modang batik was traditionally worn by the imperial and noble families of Yogyakarta as a symbol of their power and unbreakable spirit.

“I do think this [collection] is more beautiful than foreign products,” said Mien Uno, president director of public relations firm Duta Bangsa, at the relaunch.

“The design is very detailed and sophisticated, with Iwan Tirta’s name and a serial number inscribed underneath each piece. That makes it exclusive, like the Royal Doulton collection,” she added, referring to the British premium tableware brand.

By contrast, the Hokokai collection is lively and colorful with vibrant patterns of flowers and butterflies decorating the immaculate porcelain pieces.

Hokokai batik was created during the Japanese occupation in the 1940s, when traditional batik painters in Pekalongan, Central Java, were inspired by the colorful kimonos worn by Japanese women.

“It’s definitely a heritage collection,” Mien said. “These dinnerware pieces beautifully portray the intricate patterns of traditional batik. They would be perfect on my dining table at home. In fact, I think all Indonesians should have one.”

Only 25 sets of the Modang and Hokokai premium collections were produced. And just eight sets remain available for purchase at Metro.

At the relaunch, Iwan Tirta also launched a second line of dinnerware — the more affordable “ Pusaka Indonesia ” (“Indonesian Heritage”) line. This line consists of two collections — Tumpal Nanas and Pandai Sikat — priced at Rp 1.8 million per set. Each collection consist of plates, bowls, cups and saucers for four.

“I hope the Pusaka Indonesia collection can help to acquaint Indonesia’s young generation with our cultural heritage,” Iwan Tirta said.

“This is very important as Indonesian cultural heritage represents our nation to the international world.

“Our cultural heritage can also become a source of inspiration to create new innovative products that are highly competitive in the global market,” the 75-year-old said.

The Pandai Sikat collection was inspired by silk songket (hand-woven fabrics) from Bukittinggi in West Sumatra.

One of the key characteristics of Pandai Sikat is the balapak motif, in which the fabric is almost completely covered with geometrical patterns of gold and silver threads.

The Tumpal Nanas collection was inspired by the batik headpieces worn by servants of the old Javanese imperial courts. The motif consists of triangular patterns that symbolize the governmental hierarchy. For the tableware collection, this is translated into classic triangular motifs merged into the circles that enclose each piece.

The tableware is not just stylish, it is also produced with safety and sustainability in mind.

“Our china is environmentally-friendly,” Lydia said.

“It is produced at a low combustion: 1,000 degrees Celsius. The low combustion means that our production is energy-efficient and safe for the ozone.”

Ceramics are usually fired at about 1,300 to 1,500 degrees Celsius.

“The clay formula is also biodegradable,” Lydia added. “Once you drop the china and bury it in your backyard, the clay will easily merge with the soil. We also use colorings that are free from toxins underneath the glaze to make it safe for food.”

The batik motifs are ingrained by using decal transfer paper placed on top of the ceramics during the combustion process. All the motifs were designed by Iwan Tirta himself.

“Iwan Tirta’s designs have a strong batik soul,” Lydia said.

“It’s because all of his designs are based on original history and traditions.”

Pusaka Iwan Tirta plans to launch a third line, “Pusaka Nusantara” (“Heritage of the Archipelago”), in April.

“If Americans have Vera Wang and Italians have Armani, we shouldn’t forget that we have Iwan Tirta in Indonesia,” Lydia said.

“We should support our national products, especially when a son of the nation, like Iwan Tirta, can produce something of such excellent quality.”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Expat Hotel Blast Victim Comes Back to Indonesia With Message of Hope

Jakarta Globe, Camelia Pasandaran, February 18, 2010

Jakarta bombings survivor Max Boon meeting President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday. (Antara Photo)

Foreigners living here often fall in love with the country, proclaiming they “want to be part of Indonesia.” But for businessman Max Boon, that claim is nothing short of astonishing.

The Dutchman, who has every reason to quit Indonesia for good after being maimed and almost dying in the terrorist bombings of two upscale Jakarta hotels last July, now says he wishes only peace for the nation and has voiced an emotional wish to stay and marry his sweetheart.

An executive at consulting firm Castle Asia, Boon was at the JW Marriott Hotel on July 17 attending a monthly businesspeople’s breakfast meeting organized by his firm. Nine people were killed in the blast there and across the road at the Ritz-Carlton, and 52 were injured, including Boon.

He was left with mangled legs, severe burns and shrapnel wounds, and was rushed to the hospital, then airlifted to Singapore where he slowly regained consciousness. He lost both of his legs and is confined to a wheelchair, and he also remained in limbo about his future for weeks as others rallied to help him pay the huge cost of his medical recovery.

But back in Indonesia on Thursday, Boon made his first public appearance since the bombings to meet President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. “Indonesia is not a dangerous place to live in,” he said at a news conference afterward. “I hope after what has happened, Indonesia can attain peace and move forward. I wish there will be no more victims like me.”

Boon, who holds a degree in Indonesian language and culture from Leiden University, said he had learned much in his more than five years in Indonesia.

“I learned that the Indonesian people are not in favor of the bombings,” he said. “I was also inspired by Indonesians who kept moving forward. That makes me want to be part of Indonesia.”

“As far as I know, the government is really supportive of the victims,” he added.

Asked what he expected from the Indonesian government, Boon said he wished only that Indonesian people would cooperate with the government to report anything suspicious around them.

State news agency Antara quoted Yudhoyono as expressing his appreciation for Boon’s commitment to return. “He may have lost his legs, but not his heart, spirit or mind,” the president said.

Yudhoyono reportedly wept after receiving a letter from Boon last year congratulating him on the 64th anniversary of the country’s independence.

In a final emotional twist to Boon’s story, he said he intended to marry his longtime Indonesian girlfriend shortly.

“It’s a romantic love story. Despite what has happened, they will still get married,” presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal said.

Boon’s story could help lift the xenophobia that has been a problem for a while, Dino added.

“In the national discourse in Indonesia, many groups use the word ‘foreign’ as if it were a scourge. But Max’s statement brings new understanding that many foreigners truly love Indonesia,” he said.

“We have to apply this understanding in our life.”

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Obama plans to give a public speech in Jakarta

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 02/17/2010 8:15 PM

US President Barrack Obama has expressed his intention to give a public speech during his visit to Jakarta next month.

“The White House hopes President Obama can deliver a public speech in an open-air venue,” Ted Osius, the deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Jakarta, said Wednesday as quoted by Antara state news agency.

However, the exact schedule is yet to be decided, he added.

Among the places that might be suitable for the public speech are the National Monument area or Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Central Jakarta.

Obama will visit Indonesia between March 21 and March 23. He spent his childhood in Jakarta for several years.

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Peaceful celebration

The Jakarta Post | Wed, 02/17/2010 4:58 PM

Peaceful celebration: Civil servants from the Surakarta administration wear religious costumes according their own religions to celebrate the city's 265th anniversary, which falls on Feb. 17, at the Surakarta City Hall, on Wednesday. Antara/Akbar Nugroho Gumay

Tourists struggle to obtain visas at Ngurah Rai airport

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 02/17/2010 4:54 PM

Tourism authorities have asked immigration officers at Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali to improve their visa on arrival service following complaints from foreign visitors.

“The problem within the immigration division, especially its visa on arrival service, at Ngurah Rai airport looks like a severe disease,” Bali tourism agency head Ida Bagus Kade Subhiksu was quoted by on Wednesday.

He added that foreign tourists had to line up for hours in a heavily crowded booth to obtain their visas on arrival.

“Once I received a report saying that a tourist went mad because of the inconvenient service at the immigration booth,” Subhiksu said.

The Bali administration has been urging the central government to fix the nagging matter, but the trouble has remained unaddressed, he added.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Indonesia out of extreme terror risk list

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Tue, 02/16/2010 9:24 PM

A global ranking, revealing the countries most at risk from terrorist attacks, has rated Indonesia outside the extreme risk category despite last year’s twin bomb attacks targeting international hotel chains.

The latest Terrorism Risk Index (TRI), developed by London-based Maplecroft for companies to assess terrorism risks to their international assets, saw Southeast Asian neighbor Thailand join the rank of most dangerous countries for the first time. Thailand ranked 11th last year.

Iraq (1), Afghanistan (2), Pakistan (3) and Somalia (4) top the ranking of 162 countries and are rated, along with Lebanon (5), India (6), Algeria (7), Colombia (8) and Thailand (9), as the only extreme risk nations.

The index measures not only the risks of an attack, but also the chances of mass casualties occurring.

To provide a comprehensive picture of worldwide terrorism risk Maplecroft analyses terrorist incidents every six months for their frequency, intensity and number of victims, plus the proportion of attacks that were 'mass-casualty' in each nation. A country's historical experience of terrorism was also factored in along with threats made against it by groups such as al-Qaeda.

Following the Jakarta twin hotel bomb blasts that killed nine people in July last year, Indonesian counterterror squad conducted endless crackdown on terror suspects, killing long-time top fugitive Noordin M. Top and his close accomplices in the process. The court is trying two suspects in the terror attacks.

A Pilgrimage to the Root of Islam in Java

Jakarta Globe, Wahyuni Kamah, February 16, 2010

The historic and revered Sunan Ampel Mosque sits proudly in vibrant Arab quarter in Surabaya, the capital of East Java.

Sunan Ampel Mosque and the surrounding Arab quarter is a melting pot where spiritualism meets commercialism, cultures merge, and saints and sinners collide.

It is only four kilometers from Tanjung Perak in Surabaya, the busiest port in eastern Indonesia, and situated near what used to be Kalisosok Prison, where the nation’s founding fathers — including President Sukarno — were once detained.

It is considered a less than safe place to travel, known for its rampant pickpockets. Still, hundreds of people flock there every day in buses and cars, all day and long into the night. More come on Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, and in the month of Ramadan. Most are pilgrims from across the country who come to visit the mosque and pray by Sunan Ampel’s tomb.

The story of the Sunan Ampel Mosque began in the 15th century when Raden Achmad Rachmatullah traveled from his native land of Champa, Cambodia, to East Java, then ruled by the Majapahit Hindu kingdom. King Brawijaya V of Majapahit granted Rachmatullah a plot of land at Ampel Dento, now Surabaya. In 1421, Rachmatullah built a school and a mosque which grew to become a center for the dissemination of Islam.

He became widely known as Sunan Ampel, and was recognized as one of the nine scholars who spread Islam across the archipelago. When he died in 1481 he was buried in the mosque courtyard, and his tomb has been drawing a steady stream of pilgrims ever since.

Instead of a dome, the mosque has a three-tiered roof that shows strong Javanese architectural influence. Sixteen teak pillars support the 3,000-square-meter mosque.

The five arched gates around the mosque are named after the Javanese words for the five principles of Islam. Paneksen Arch stands for syahadat , the Muslim declaration of belief in the one god and in the Prophet Muhammad. Ngamal Arch represents amal , or charity. Poso Arch represents fasting. Madep Arch symbolizes the five daily prayers, with madep literally meaning to face Mecca, which Muslims must turn toward for their prayers. Munggah Arch, in the complex’s southern corner, stands for hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.

The mosque is located on Jl. KH Mansyur in the heart of the Arab quarter of the city. A sprawling bazaar with an Arab atmosphere and a pack of pedicabs mark the entrance to the mosque. Middle-Eastern songs blast from music stores while the smell of incense and perfume scents the air.

Restaurants offer Arabic fare, including mung bean curry with roti maryam , a chapati-like flat bread, and coffee brewed with cardamom that you can enjoy while taking a puff from a hookah. Many shops also sell Arabic souvenirs and traditional snacks, like dates, raisins and pistachios.