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, July 30, 2010

Protect and secure

The Jakarta Post | Fri, 07/30/2010 4:57 PM

Protect and secure: Army soldiers stand on guard during a roll call at the Halong naval base in the Maluku capital of Ambon. Military and police troops regrouped Friday in a show of their readiness to maintain security and order during the Sail Banda international yacht regatta. – JP/Nurhayati

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‘Development funds for Papua among the highest’

The Jakarta Post, N | Thu, 07/29/2010 11:00 PM

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called on Thursday for an audit of the disbursement of the state budget for the development of Papua island, saying that the achievement of the development on the island was far from satisfying.

“I think it would be important for us to conduct an audit on the special autonomy region development fund of Papua. I have received many letters, even accusing of our [Jakarta] carelessness for, among others, the lack of Papua’s development fund,” he said at the Presidential Palace on Thursday.

The President said that the progress of the two provinces in Papua should be far better than what were seen today because the government’s spending for the development in the two provinces were among the highest in the country.

Among the country’s 33 provinces, he said, Papua and West Papua provinces have the largest per capita development spending. “If there is no improvement there, then we have to know, why?” he said.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Indonesia's Gamelan Music Finds Ears Overseas

Jakarta Globe, Report Candra Malik | July 29, 2010

When Joko Sutrisno first started working at the Minnesota State University Moorhead, the gamelan set was unused because nobody knew how to play it. (JG Photos/Candra Malik)

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Joko Sutrisno made a bold decision to uproot his family from New Zealand, leave a secure and well-paying job at the Indonesian Embassy and move halfway across the world in 1995 to Minnesota, all for the love of Indonesian gamelan music.

At the time, Joko was working at the Indonesian Embassy in New Zealand. He also occasionally taught how to play the traditional Javanese musical instrument set — comprising of percussion instruments such as bamboo xylophones and wooden or bronze chimes — at the University of Victoria in Wellington.

But he could not resist the temptation of a job posting from the Minnesota State University Moorhead for what Joko said was someone to “babysit the gamelan.”

“I started a new life with a meager salary of only $500 in Minnesota,” Joko told the Jakarta Globe in Solo last week. “The amount was $1,000 less than what I earned before in New Zealand, in addition to the income I got from teaching gamelan at the university.”

But the man was on a mission — to make the rich sound of gamelan music come to life and acquaint an audience with its ancient philosophy in a country far away from home.

“Personally, I felt challenged about bringing gamelan music to America. [The university] already had a gamelan set, but it wasn’t being played,” he said.

Joko made the move to the United States with his wife, Tri Supartini, and his children Irma Hapsari Ahadiah, Nanda Sutrisno and Ratih Sutrisno after living in New Zealand for eight years.

“My wife supported the decision although she knew it would not be easy for us,” Joko said.

Born in Sragen, Central Java, on March 6, 1963, Joko was brought up in an environment where gamelan was a big part of everyday life. His mother is a pesinden , a singer of classical Javanese songs.

However, Joko’s father did not approve of his musical aspirations, and Joko did not get a chance to study the instrument formally until after he finished his first degree.

“He wanted me to be a teacher like him. Now I can say that I am very thankful for having them as my parents because they were the first people to introduce me to the gamelan,” he said.

Joko studied at a teacher’s college for three years before attending the Surakarta Institute of Arts in Solo, where he learned composition and performing arts.

Upon his graduation in 1987, Joko took the opportunity to work at the Indonesian Embassy in New Zealand.

When Joko first started out at Minnesota State University Moorhead, the gamelan set had been gathering dust because nobody knew how to play it.

The university bought the instruments from a remote town in Bekonang near Solo to be displayed at its school of music, where Asian music was taught.

Joko decided to take matters into his own hands and established a program for students interested in learning to play the instruments.

The Schubert Club — a nonprofit organization founded in 1882 in St. Paul, Minnesota, that seeks to promote music — sponsored the extracurricular program.

As more students took up the course, the university gradually provided Joko with more facilities.

With gamelan experiencing a surge in popularity, Joko decided to form an orchestra and the Sumunar Gamelan and Dance Ensemble was born in 1996.

“It was my idea to have a gamelan ensemble that could illuminate and give warmth to people who listen to it, like how gamelan sounds can do to me,” Jako said, adding that in Javanese sumunar means glowing.

To promote the ensemble and to encourage better appreciation of gamelan among Americans, Joko tirelessly organized programs and events. He even held a gamelan camp where people of all ages could learn how to play the instruments.

His hard work bore fruit and in 2000, gamelan became a formal subject of study at the university.

“It’s no longer a mere extracurricular activity,” Joko said, adding that the instrument’s surge in popularity at the institution also indirectly boosted the gamelan-making industry in Bekonang.

Joko’s persistent effort to share the Javanese cultural treasure of gamelan with the people of Minnesota has been a success.

The Sumunar Ensemble has performed at concert halls, museums, public libraries, schools and even in interstates.

Joko also won numerous awards from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation, the Young Audiences of Minnesota and the American Composers Forum.

Joko’s projects even include creating gospel song rearrangements on gamelan for songs such as “The Holy Mana,” “The Foundation,” “Shady Grove” and “Wondrous Love.”

He also released two gamelan albums with the Sumunar Ensemble, “Sumunar” (2001) and “Sayuk” (“Togetherness” in 2008).

Some of Jako’s students have even become instructors at other schools and universities and gamelan is now a formal subject at the University of South Dakota’s school of music.

Joko was in Indonesia last week with his American gamelan students on a study tour.

The group, who were invited by the Ministry of National Education, performed at the 15th Yogyakarta Gamelan Festival on July 18, as well as in Jakarta, Bandung and Solo.

Aaron Victorin-Vangerud, 18, a member of the Sumunar Ensemble who came to Indonesia as part of the study tour group, said that he fell in love with gamelan after he inspired by Joko in 2008.

“I saw him playing the kempul and gong [both part of the gamelan orchestra] in my class. I thought it would be nice to play it. Since then, I opted for a career as a gamelan musician,” said Vangerud, who is majoring in percussion study.

“To come to Indonesia and play gamelan in front of Javanese people was exciting, frightening and mostly a great honor,” he said.

Neal Hines, a lake and water pollution researcher, said that playing the Javanese instruments was for him a unique spiritual experience.

“Gamelan teaches us how to listen and to synchronize our beat with one another,” he said. “Joko played a huge role in helping us understand this music.”

Young Indonesian Academics Again Taste Victory

Jakarta Globe, July 29, 2010

 Victorious Indonesian high school students claimed four medals at the International Chemistry Olympiad in Tokyo. (Photo courtesy of 

Tokyo, Japan. Budding Indonesian scientists are again sitting on top of the world after four senior high school students claimed medals at the 42nd International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) in Tokyo, Japan.

According to the event’s Web site, Indonesia’s Manoel Manuputty won a gold medal, Alimatum Nashira won a silver and Stephen Haniel and Agung Hartoko were each awarded bronze.

Manoel, 17, a senior high school student from Jakarta scored 92.5 in the competition. Alimatum, from Yogyakarta, scored 78.7, while Stephen and Agung from Central Java scored 71.6 and 70.8 respectively.

The olympiad was held from July 15-27 at two universities, namely Waseda University for lab sessions and Tokyo University for theory, and attracted 276 participants from 68 countries.

The achievement completed Indonesia’s remarkable medal tally in international science competitions this year.

Last Monday, Indonesia won two gold medals and two bronze medals at the 21st International Biology Olympiad in Changwon, South Korea.

A few days later, the country won four gold medals and one silver medal at the 41st International Physics Olympiad in Zagreb, Croatia.

The olympiads are held annually.

Editorial: Would you play for Indonesia?

The Jakarta Post | Thu, 07/29/2010 9:51 AM

If it all goes to plan, a team from the Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI) will fly to the Netherlands on Friday hoping to recruit several Dutch players with Indonesian roots, to play for the red-and-white flag on the international stage. The nearest goal would be fielding the players in Indonesian jerseys at the ASEAN Football Federation by the end of the year.

The idea of the naturalization of foreign footballers was suggested earlier this year by PSSI chairman Nurdin Halid. He argued that having naturalized players in the national team would be a good way to boost Indonesia’s performance. Nurdin — who has been criticized for the national team’s poor performance since he took the helm in 2003 — said the association had its eyes on five Australians and a dozen Dutch players who might be interested in playing for Indonesia, currently ranked 138th in the world.

Naturalization is common in sports and it is not taboo. Our neighboring country, Singapore, is among countries that have done it. The Olympic Charter regulates it. Indonesia’s 2006 Law on Citizenship also enables it. The question is, do we really need to offer naturalization? And would those players really be interested in becoming Indonesian?

And what could the PSSI offer to the Dutch players? The Netherlands after all just finished as runner-up in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa (after losing to eventual champion Spain). A chance at competing in the World Cup would be far greater on the Dutch team, for sure.

Many Dutch players also play for other teams in Europe’s major leagues, such as the English Premiership, Italy’s Serie A and Spain’s La Liga, which offer bulky salaries and contracts — not to mention millions of dollars worth of endorsement from multinational companies. Those players might think twice before giving up what they already have at home. Not to mention Indonesia’s image of being a country with rampant corruption and a history of security threats and human rights abuse.

It is thus doubtful Indonesia will be attractive to top Dutch players. There is a big likelihood we would only be able get second- or third-class players, whose skills and capabilities are about the same as our local players.
Meanwhile, soccer fans in Indonesia are split between the pros and cons. Those desperately wanting to see Indonesia perform on the world stage support the naturalization idea, hoping the new players would share skills and help boost the team’s performance.

Those against the idea argue that naturalization would cost the PSSI dearly, since it would need to make its offer irresistible for players choose to come here.

Many have said there must be hundreds of talented young players among Indonesia’s population of 238 million. They say the PSSI needs to improve its recruitment system and set standards for development programs at regency and province levels, as well as improve the quality of local leagues for different age groups.

Indonesia has sent dozens of talented boys to compete in soccer competitions worldwide. However, only a few of them have ever emerged as professional footballers. Fewer, if any, play in higher-level leagues.

We would appreciate the PSSI’s efforts more if its officials spent more time and energy working to build more solid and talented leagues at home, to produce Indonesia’s future champions. Even if the association thinks it would be better to recruit players from overseas, they had better ask the players first, “Will you be Indonesian?”

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Clerics take on corruption with fatwa on accountability

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Thu, 07/29/2010 9:01 AM 

Charismatic Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) cleric Sahal Mahfudh has been re-elected chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), which wrapped up its national congress Wednesday with a number of new fatwas.

Some fatwas, including one concerning the need to apply the retroactive accountability principle in tackling corruption, have been lauded by the public as “progressive”, while others are said to be controversial.

Sahal, also chairman of NU’s lawmaking body, has held the position since 2000. Wednesday’s election will make him the longest serving leader of the MUI, which was jointly set up by representatives from the country’s major Islamic groups in 1975.

His predecessor, Ali Yafie, has chaired the council since 1990. 

“The election for the members of the next MUI’s executive board began Tuesday night and finished at 7 a.m. 
[Wednesday] morning,” Ichwan Syam, a member of a team tasked with forming the executive board, said as quoted by Antara.  

The four-day congress also re-elected Din Syamsuddin, who was recently mandated to lead Muhammadiyah for the second time, as Sahal’s deputy. NU and Muhammadiyah are the country’s two largest Islamic groups.

The council produced seven fatwas during the congress. A fatwa is a legal opinion produced by a single or group of Muslim scholars. It is not legally binding and could be ignored as long as one has strong arguments to refute it. 

One fatwa was made to push the law enforcers to apply the retroactive accountability principle. The council said Islam upheld presumption of innocence. In certain cases where an individual is alleged to have amounted wealth illegally, they are required to prove their innocence, the clerics said. A similar fatwa was issued by Muhammadiyah during its centennial congress in Yogyakarta early this month.

The MUI called for the revision of the country’s legislations to enable law enforcers to track down wealth from questionable origins of high ranking officials. Currently, when an official reports his wealth, the Corruption Eradication Commission, for example, cannot ask the person to explain the sources of accumulated wealth.

The council also urged housewives to ensure their husbands get their money through legal means.

“Women’s role is very strategic in many aspects of life, including in corruption eradication efforts,” the council’s propagation department head Amrulllah Ahmad said as quoted by 

Hasril Hertanto, a legal expert from the University of Indonesia said, “[The MUI] must provide arguments from the Islamic perspective, strengthening its calls using religious principles.”

People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) deputy speaker Lukman Hakim Saifuddin also commended the council for supporting the nation’s anticorruption drive.

Responding to a recent controversy on if the government should censor gossip shows, the council declared watching them as forbidden according to Islam. The NU issued a similar fatwa in 2009 and Muslims apparently ignored it as so-called “infotainment” remains popular.

The clerics also issued fatwas banning sex changes and sperm banks. They also issued fatwas allowing pilots to break their fast while on duty as long as they pay compensation and the usage of breast milk banks.

Again, high profile figures turn down Bakrie Award

Arghea Desafti Hapsari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Thu, 07/29/2010 9:34 AM

Noted poet Sitor Situmorang and social scientist Daoed Joesoef, also former education and culture minister, have joined a group of intellectuals who refused to receive the Achmad Bakrie Award.

Sitor was named a winner for the award this year for his exceptional works in literature and Daoed for his contribution to social thinking.

This has added to the list of high-profile figures who turned down the award. Earlier in June, poet, journalist and cultural critic Goenawan Mohamad returned the same award he was presented in 2004.

In 2007, Catholic intellectual Rev. Franz Magnis-Suseno declined to receive the award because of Bakrie’s connection to a mudflow disaster in Sidoarjo, East Java.

Scientists have blamed the mudflow on PT Lapindo Brantas, a company owned by the Bakrie Group, controlled by Aburizal Bakrie’s family.

Nong Darol Mahmada, program manager of the Freedom Institute, the organizer of the Achmad Bakrie Award, said Daoed had declined receiving the award immediately.

“After our judges concluded the winners in late June, we traveled to his house in Kemang to share the news… It was then [that he declined],” she told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Sitor, she added, sent the organizer an email stating his refusal in mid July. The senior poet now resides in the Netherlands.

Nong, however, refused to detail the reasons expressed by either Daoed or Sitor for declining
the award, which comes with a trophy and Rp 250 million in prize money, up from last year’s Rp 150 million.

In late June, Goenawan said he could not help but associate the award with the recent controversies surrounding businessman Aburizal Bakrie, son of Achmad Bakrie.

Nong said Daoed and Sitor’s refusals would not affect the eight-year-old award.

“We will continue with what we are doing… for years to come, because this kind of award is very rare in Indonesia,” she said, adding that the organizer sought to add new award categories each year and increase the prize money.

She also said the other four winners had confirmed they were to receive the award in a ceremony to be held on Aug. 5 at the Balai Sarbini convention hall in Jakarta.

This year’s award will be presented to S. Yati Soenarto, who will be awarded for her outstanding research in health and Sjamsoe’oed Sadjad for his breakthroughs in technology.

Daniel Murdiyarso, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, will also be awarded for his achievements in science, while Ratno Nuryadi will receive a special prize for developing an atomic force microscope.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

ILO organizes hotel training to support Sail Banda

Antara News, Wednesday, July 28, 2010 16:51 WIB

Ambon, Maluku (ANTARA News) - Some 60 youths here are taking part in a three-month hotel training as part of the ongoing Sail Banda 2010.

The training is organized by the International Labor Organization (ILO) representative office in Maluku in its bid to support the international marine event of Sail Banda.

ILO organizes the hotel training in cooperation with six star hotels in Ambon, namely Aston, Swiss Bell, Amans, Manise, Amaris, and Mutiara which were officiated on Monday by local Manpower and Transmigration Office chief Jeri Uweubun.

ILO education and training program coordinator Lucky Lumingkewas said here on Wednesday there were as yet few trained horel workers in Maluku , and therefore the training was necessary.

Lumingkewas said the hotel training, organized by ILO in cooperation with the six star hotels here, was intended to create job opportunity and skilled workers for hotels.

"This three-month training in the form of theory and internships is expected to create skilled hotel workers because we use standard syllabus referring to Indonesian National Working Standard," Lumingkewas said.

Asked why such a training was carried out late while Sail Banda has already started hotel guests start trickling in, Lumingkewas said it was part of their contribution to make the international marine event a success.

"We know that hotel industry in Ambon has just grown following Sail Banda event, and therefore we will continue to contribute to make it a success," he added.

The 60 youngsters participating in the training are taking internship program at Aston Hotel, Swiss Bell Hotel, Amans Hotel, Manise Hotel, Amaris Hotel, and Mutiara Hotel.

Lumingkewas expressed hope that the training would yield skilled manpower in hotel affairs in Maluku, especially in the provincial city of Ambon.

Mercy visit: The US Navy's USNS Mercy hospital ship docks in the Gulf of Jakarta on Wednesday. The ship will take part in the Sail Banda 2010, which is scheduled to run from late July to August.Antara/Fanny Octavianus

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Emotional Scenes as Indonesian Court Rules in Favor of Elderly Woman

Jakarta Globe, Stephanie Riady, July 27, 2010

Soetarti Sukarno, right, has won her case — and evaded a jail sentence — after legal action launched by state pawnshop company PT Perum Pegadaian. (JG Photo/Safir Makki)

Jakarta. The elderly widow of one of Indonesia’s independence heroes has won a battle of David and Goliath proportions against state pawnshop company PT Perum Pegadaian.

To cheers of delight from an overflowing public gallery and cries of “merdeka” (“freedom”), the East Jakarta District Court “declares Soetarti Soekarno free of all charges” in a ruling that will allow her to live out her final years in the home she has been occupying for the last 20 years.

In wildly emotional scenes, members of the media and supporters rushed the woman, who is in her 70s, jumping the bar of the court to take photographs and offer their congratulations.

As police screamed at reporters to control themselves, others in the court started singing the Indonesian national anthem.

Similar scenes were replayed outside the courtroom, as news of the verdict traveled like the wind to supporters and demonstrators protesting outside.

Two other widows similarly prosecuted by Pegadaian are awaiting their verdicts in separate trials. The rulings are expected later today.

State prosecutors, led by Ibnu Suud, had been demanding a two-month jail sentence after Pegadaian accused the elderly trio of illegally squatting in the homes owned by the company.

Pegadaian wanted to tear down the homes and convert them to townhouses for its high-ranking officials.

The women have been attempting to take advantage of government subsidies and buy back the homes they have lived in for decades.

A 1994 law stipulates that petitioners can apply to buy the company-issued homes they live in, provided they can pay for half of the house in installments over a five- to 20-year period.

The widows were encouraged by earlier cases in which residents were able to buy back their company-issued homes.

However, the three women’s requests have been turned down.

The women and their families have been living on Jalan Cipinang Jaya, East Jakarta, since 1979. Their husbands all worked for Pegadaian.

Monday, July 26, 2010

As English Spreads, Indonesians Fear for Their Language

The New York Times, By NORIMITSU ONISHI, July 25, 2010

Children learning to prepare coffee at Kidzania, an amusement park in Jakarta that lets children try out jobs; both Indonesian and English are used there. (Kemal Jufri for The New York Times)

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Paulina Sugiarto’s three children played together at a mall here the other day, chattering not in Indonesia’s national language, but English. Their fluency often draws admiring questions from other Indonesian parents Ms. Sugiarto encounters in this city’s upscale malls.

At a mall in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, Paulina Sugiarto and her three children, who speak fluent English, looked over comic books in Indonesian.

But the children’s ability in English obscured the fact that, though born and raised in Indonesia, they were struggling with the Indonesian language, known as Bahasa Indonesia. Their parents, who grew up speaking the Indonesian language but went to college in the United States and Australia, talk to their children in English.

And the children attend a private school where English is the main language of instruction.

“They know they’re Indonesian,” Ms. Sugiarto, 34, said. “They love Indonesia. They just can’t speak Bahasa Indonesia. It’s tragic.”

Indonesia’s linguistic legacy is increasingly under threat as growing numbers of wealthy and upper-middle-class families shun public schools where Indonesian remains the main language but English is often taught poorly. They are turning, instead, to private schools that focus on English and devote little time, if any, to Indonesian.

For some Indonesians, as mastery of English has become increasingly tied to social standing, Indonesian has been relegated to second-class status. In extreme cases, people take pride in speaking Indonesian poorly.

At a mall in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, Paulina Sugiarto
and her three children, who speak fluent English, looked
over comic books in Indonesian.
(Kemal Jufri for The New York Times)
The global spread of English, with its sometimes corrosive effects on local languages, has caused much hand-wringing in many non-English-speaking corners of the world. But the implications may be more far-reaching in Indonesia, where generations of political leaders promoted Indonesian to unite the nation and forge a national identity out of countless ethnic groups, ancient cultures and disparate dialects.

The government recently announced that it would require all private schools to teach the nation’s official language to its Indonesian students by 2013. Details remain sketchy, though.

“These schools operate here, but don’t offer Bahasa to our citizens,” said Suyanto, who oversees primary and secondary education at the Education Ministry.

“If we don’t regulate them, in the long run this could be dangerous for the continuity of our language,” said Mr. Suyanto, who like many Indonesians uses one name. “If this big country doesn’t have a strong language to unite it, it could be dangerous.”

The seemingly reflexive preference for English has begun to attract criticism in the popular culture. Last year, a woman, whose father is Indonesian and her mother American, was crowned Miss Indonesia despite her poor command of Indonesian. The judges were later denounced in the news media and in the blogosphere for being impressed by her English fluency and for disregarding the fact that, despite growing up here, she needed interpreters to translate the judges’ questions.

In 1928, nationalists seeking independence from Dutch rule chose Indonesian, a form of Malay, as the language of civic unity. While a small percentage of educated Indonesians spoke Dutch, Indonesian became the preferred language of intellectuals.

Each language had a social rank, said Arief Rachman, an education expert. “If you spoke Javanese, you were below,” he said, referring to the main language on the island of Java. “If you spoke Indonesian, you were a bit above. If you spoke Dutch, you were at the top.”

Leaders, especially Suharto, the general who ruled Indonesia until 1998, enforced teaching of Indonesian and curbed use of English.

“During the Suharto era, Bahasa Indonesia was the only language that we could see or read. English was at the bottom of the rung,” said Aimee Dawis, who teaches communications at Universitas Indonesia. “It was used to create a national identity, and it worked, because all of us spoke Bahasa Indonesia. Now the dilution of Bahasa Indonesia is not the result of a deliberate government policy. It’s just occurring naturally.”

With Indonesia’s democratization in the past decade, experts say, English became the new Dutch. Regulations were loosened, allowing Indonesian children to attend private schools that did not follow the national curriculum, but offered English. The more expensive ones, with tuition costing several thousand dollars a year, usually employ native speakers of English, said Elena Racho, vice chairwoman of the Association of National Plus Schools, an umbrella organization for private schools.

But with the popularity of private schools booming, hundreds have opened in recent years, Ms. Racho said.

The less expensive ones, unable to hire foreigners, are often staffed with Indonesians teaching all subjects in English, if often imperfect English, she added.

Many children attending those schools end up speaking Indonesian poorly, experts said. Uchu Riza — who owns a private school that teaches both languages and also owns the local franchise of Kidzania, an amusement park where children can try out different professions — said some Indonesians were willing to sacrifice Indonesian for a language with perceived higher status.

“Sometimes they look down on people who don’t speak English,” she said.

She added: “In some families, the grandchildren cannot speak with the grandmother because they don’t speak Bahasa Indonesia. That’s sad.”

Anna Surti Ariani, a psychologist who provides counseling at private schools and in her own practice, said some parents even displayed “a negative pride” that their children spoke poor Indonesian. Schools typically advise the parents to speak to their children in English at home even though the parents may be far from fluent in the language.

“Sometimes the parents even ask the baby sitters not to speak in Indonesian but in English,” Ms. Ariani said.

It is a sight often seen in this city’s malls on weekends: Indonesian parents addressing their children in sometimes halting English, followed by nannies using what English words they know.

But Della Raymena Jovanka, 30, a mother of two preschoolers, has developed misgivings. Her son Fathiy, 4, attended an English play group and was enrolled in a kindergarten focusing on English; Ms. Jovanka allowed him to watch only English TV programs.

The result was that her son responded to his parents only in English and had difficulties with Indonesian. Ms. Jovanka was considering sending her son to a regular public school next year. But friends and relatives were pressing her to choose a private school so that her son could become fluent in English.

Asked whether she would rather have her son become fluent in English or Indonesian, Ms. Jovanka said, “To be honest, English. But this can become a big problem in his socialization. He’s Indonesian. He lives in Indonesia. If he can’t communicate with people, it’ll be a big problem.”

Kompas Journalist Found Dead in Kalimantan

Jakarta Globe, July 26, 2010

Journalist Muhammad Syaifulah was found dead in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan on Monday. Syaifullah, the head of Kompas' Kalimantan bureau was known for his articles about environmental issues in Kalimantan. (Photo Kompas)

Balikpapan, Indonesia. Muhammad Syaifullah, head of the widely circulated Kompas newspaper's Kalimantan bureau, was found dead at his house in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, on Monday. His body was taken to the Bhayangkara Hospital in Balikpapan for an autopsy.

A source told the Jakarta Globe that Syaifullah's wife asked two journalist friends to check on him. He lived alone in the newspaper's staff house at the Balikpapan Baru complex on Jalan Mediterania.

When the friends arrived at 9 a.m., they saw that Syaifulla's car and motorbike were parked at the carport. They let themselves in and found Syaifullah's body in front of the TV. His body was covered in bruises and he was frothing at the mouth.

Kompas' managing editor, Budiman Tanuredja, told online news portal that the autopsy was conducted based on the family's request.

“We are waiting for the autopsy results and we will take action after we know the cause of death,” Budiman said.

Born in South Kalimantan in 1967, Syaifullah joined Kompas in 1996. He is survived by his wife Isnainijah Sri Rohmani and their two daughters, Nadhila Amajida, 12, and Najmi Izzah Sabrina, 6.

Syaifullah was known for his passion for the environment. Many of his articles were about the environmental destruction in Kalimantan caused by the mining industry.

The Alliance of Independent Journalists to investigate the death of Kompas journalist Muhammad Syaifullah depending on the autopsy results. (Photo Kompas)

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Japan, RI in promoting peace and security

The Jakarta Post, Kojiro Shiojiri, Jakarta | Sat, 07/24/2010 9:45 AM | Opinion

It’s no big secret that Indonesia and Japan are good friends. We have a long history of cooperation, and in many ways, we have been making positive and constructive contributions to the region and to the world. But I believe that there are still much more we can do together.

While we are quite used to hearing about Indonesia and Japan cooperating in the economic field, we should not shy away from more active cooperation in dealing with common threats to the peace and security of our region and the world.

There are many things that can be achieved if Indonesia and Japan work together to deal with issues like international terrorism, post-conflict nation building, maritime security and disaster management.

I would like to suggest a way forward in this regard, i.e., building up concrete successful examples of our cooperation in these fields. In doing so, we should start shifting from merely working side by side, to working as an integrated team, thinking together, acting together and sharing responsibilities together in dealing with common threats to the security and prosperity of the international community.

Some things are already happening to this end. One example is in the area of disaster relief. In Banda Aceh, Yogyakarta and Padang, Japan has always been working side by side with Indonesia to help alleviate the damage and suffering of natural disasters. But now, Indonesia and Japan are working together as co-hosts of a multilateral disaster relief exercise called ARF DiREx 2011.

The exercise will be held in Manado in March 2011, with participation from many countries, with the aim of improving the disaster preparedness of both civilian and military authorities of countries in the region.

This is a concrete example of how Indonesia and Japan have started to “think together” and “share responsibilities together”, in addition to just “acting together” in response to a certain event.

Another example is the change in the quality of our navy-to-navy cooperation that is starting to be observed.

In the past, most of the visits made by Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) vessels to Indonesia have been ceremonial in nature, such as the participation by JMSDF (Kashima, Yugiri and Shimayuki) in the Sail Bunaken international fleet review in August 2009.

However, the recent visit by JMSDF destroyers Sawagiri and Ohnami to Jakarta was qualitatively different.

As these were destroyers dispatched for anti-piracy activities in the Gulf of Aden, the JMSDF crew was able to share practical and operational knowledge and experience in countering piracy with the Indonesian Navy.

As both Japan and Indonesia are archipelagic states, we share a common interest in the safety of navigation of the seas. The benefit to both sides of information sharing and enhanced cooperation in this filed is clear.

These are just examples, but notice the qualitative change in the nature of our cooperation. We are not just participating in your party as a good neighbor, but we are starting to plan a party together for everyone in the community to benefit from.

Just imagine what we can achieve, if we started to think and act together, in a number of other areas like Middle East Peace, peace keeping, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

Why do we want to do so?

First and foremost, because Japan and Indonesia share a common interest in the security and stability of our region, and in effectively addressing the new threats we face.

Second, because of the fundamental values that Indonesia shares with Japan, such as democracy and human rights, tolerance and the rule of law. We also have a strong cultural affinity towards each other.

And third but not least, because the importance of Indonesia as a player in the international community is increasing. Indonesia, as a member of the G20 and a leader of ASEAN, has the strong enthusiasm and commitment to contribute to the peace and the stability of the world community.

The point I want to make is that no matter how much the strategic environment in our region might change in the near future, these attributes of Japan-Indonesia relations will never change. This means that the reasons for Indonesia and Japan to cooperate will continue to exist well into the foreseeable future.

To put it in simple terms, we, Japan and Indonesia, are “Strategic Partners for Good”. This partnership is not just in words, but actual and genuine. Our relations have entered a new era in which we must further deepen our cooperation under a new sense of mission. In this new era, let us think, act and take responsibility, together!

The writer is Japan Ambassador to Indonesia.

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