Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners

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

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions

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

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

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

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

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

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)

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


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

… The Shift in Human Nature

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Radio Netherlands cuts ties with Indonesia

RNW, 25 June 2012, by Gerhard Verduijn

 (Photo: RNW)
Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) is changing course and goes forward in a slimmed-down version: a smaller organisation focussing on Free Speech. From the old RNW ("2.0") to the new: a tour of the desks which will be terminated or are changing their approach.

Part III, Indonesia.

“There is no shortage of news, but issues like religion and sexuality remain taboo.”

During the Suharto years (1967-1998) Radio Netherlands was a vital source of information in a country without any press freedom whatsoever. Objective news was nowhere to be had, so the broadcasts of the Indonesia desk met a huge demand, says Corine van Dun, coordinator of the Indonesia desk.

Other highlights were the struggle for freedom in East Timor and Aceh and the tsunami that hit Indonesia during Christmas 2004. The latter event prompted Radio Netherlands to rush two mobile radio stations (Radio in a Box) to Aceh to help restore the dissemination of information to the victims.

Former coloniser

The Indonesian desk is one of the oldest at Radio Netherlands. It has been around since the station’s foundation in 1947. As its former coloniser, it was only natural for the Netherlands to maintain ties with Indonesia. Radio Netherlands’ radio programmes reached an audience of nearly two million people on a daily basis, also as a result of rebroadcasting of Radio Netherlands programmes by local partner stations. Its Indonesian language website drew about 100,000 visitors a month.

However, after 65 years the show is now finally over. Radio Netherlands faces radical budget cuts and is changing its focus to free speech. Indonesia is no longer a target country, mainly because of the substantial progress the country has made in the field of press freedom. About 20 employees at Radio Netherlands will lose their jobs and the RNW office in Jakarta will be closed. Radio Netherlands’ regional representative will return to the Netherlands.

Slanted reporting

Corine van Dun readily admits that press freedom in Indonesia is in much better shape than it was under the Suharto regime. However, she adds that even though Indonesia formally has press freedom, which has even been laid down in the constitution, in practice it is under substantial pressure from fundamentalist Islamic groups. In addition, these free media are often in the hands of rich politicians who have an interest in slanted reporting. There is plenty of news, but issues like religion and sexuality remain taboo. In other words, press freedom is not really all that self evident. Just take a look at the Freedom House index, in which Indonesia is characterised as ‘partly free’ as far as press freedom is concerned.

Loyal listeners

Listener Arthur Sailendra remembers how his father became a loyal listener to the Radio Netherlands' broadcasts shortly after his release from prison in the early 1980s. His father had been arrested by the Suharto regime in 1969 and was held without charge for 10 years.

Eddy Setiawan, another loyal listener of many years, says the end of the Radio Netherlands' broadcasts will leave a void that local radio stations will not be able to fill. Setiawan has fond memories of the broadcasts on Queen Juliana’s visit to Indonesia in 1971.

Another listener sums up the departure of Radio Netherlands in just a few words: “We won’t miss the news, of which there’s now an abundance. It’s mostly the background information and the extremely useful projects in Indonesia. These will be sorely missed.”

Historical ties

On 14 June Radio Netherlands organised a seminar in Jakarta called ‘What’s next’? The future of international broadcasting in Indonesia is not at all clear. Van Dun: ‘Deutsche Welle and BBC World Service are still broadcasting to Indonesia, but they are also downsizing; partly as the result of positive developments in the field of free press, but also as a result of budget cuts. Radio Australia is also still active, but the historical ties with the Netherlands will be irrevocably cut on 27 June. A monument will cease to exist”

Radio Netherlands 3.0 may offer some scope for small scale activities targeted at Indonesia. This way, a very thin line of communication may continue to exist between Hilversum and Indonesia.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Keeping The Spirit Of Betawi Culture Alive

Jakarta Globe, Ade Mardiyati, June 23, 2012

Cultural researcher and author Abdul Chaer says young people should
not be  blamed for lacking awareness of Betawi language and culture.
(JG Photo/Ade Mardiyati)
Related articles

At 71, Betawi researcher and author Abdul Chaer still persists in his quest to put together the pieces of the nearly-extinct language and culture of his ethnic group.

Apart from publishing books about Indonesian culture, Bang (big brother) Chaer, as he is known by many, has also written a book on Betawi language and culture. He said he feels the need to “document it, because it will be replaced by a new language.”

The book, which will be published in the near future, includes Betawi idioms, jokes and folklore.

“A lot of young Betawi people don’t know the meanings or haven’t even heard of some of the words that we, the older generation, know and still use. For example, words like ‘teisi’ which means teaspoon, or ‘sundung’ which refers to the yoke one uses to carry grass,” said Chaer, who teaches Indonesian language at universities.

“But [the younger generation] can’t be blamed for not knowing a lot of words in Betawi because they live in the present Jakarta, where people from different ethnic groups and nations come and live, and contribute to the creation of an informal Indonesian dialect, which is widely used,” he added.

Chaer said that it is possible that the Betawi language might disappear in the future, but that small things, like prefixes, suffixes, and pronouns, such as elo (you) and gue (me), would remain and be combined with words in Indonesian and other languages.

“But this should not be seen as a threat [to the Betawi language]. This is reality. A lot of native languages are replaced with new ones because they no longer have speakers,” he said. “That is why I believe documenting Betawi words can, at least, prolong their existence.”

Growing up in an educated and devoted Muslim family, Chaer seems like the unlikely defender of a language that is known to include words that are often considered offensive or rude.

“For words to be considered offensive or rude, it depends on the surrounding society,” he said. “Among the Betawis, words such as bini [wife] is a normal word, but that might not be same for other cultures.”

Chaer was born and has lived in Jakarta all of his life, making him an eyewitness to the city’s evolution.

“A long time ago, long before Jalan Sudirman was built to connect Menteng and Kebayoran, sometime in 1948 or 1949, the area was a kampung [village]. People had farmlands and harvested various fruits. And on what used to be my grandfather’s land, a huge bank building [now] stands,” he said. “In the areas where the Betawis live, you can’t really find the native people. They are gone. Everything has changed.”

Since 1975, Chaer has published 30 books, including dictionaries and other linguistic materials for university students.

On a huge wooden shelf in his living room, Chaer has neatly organized all of the books he has written. They sit next to his extensive collection of works written by other writers.

Many of his books have been used as academic references by foreign students and researchers overseas, mainly in the Netherlands and in the United Kingdom.

“I remember in February 1977, I attended an event at the University of London. A student recognized my name as I was writing it down on the guest book and she asked if I was the same guy who wrote the Jakarta dialect dictionary published a few months earlier. She told me she had used it for her Malay literature studies. I was so happy and proud when she told me that,” he said. “Later on, more and more people said similar things, telling me they have read or used my books as references. It just feels so good every time someone tells me such a thing.”

Chaer said when he writes a book, or gathers words, stories, jokes or legends, he does not think about whether they will sell well after they are published.

“What is more important to me is the fact that I can have a place to transfer all of the things in my head and finish the projects,” he said. “It makes me feel happy and content every time a new book of mine comes out. I hardly think about how many are sold. Although, of course, it would be better if I sell a lot of books so I can earn more, but really, I am happy enough to finally see [the final product].”

In his twilight years, Chaer said he was happy to be kept occupied with writing more books and teaching.

At his quiet home in East Jakarta, he often receives students who need tutorials for their thesis. His wife, Hafsah Oya, said that when students come to visit, the house becomes lively.

“We are happy to have them here,” said Hafsah.

Despite the dozens of books he has written and published, Chaer said he does not think he has done enough, and that drives him to keep learning.

“There are still a lot of things I want to do. My inspirations come from many places — people in the streets, government regulations, the news and much more,” he said.

For his decades of hard work and devotion to preserving Betawi language and culture, the father of two has gained recognition, including from Jakarta governor Fauzi Bowo last year. In 2002 he was granted the “Etnikom Award” from a radio association that covers South Sumatra, Banten, Jakarta and West Java.

“But don’t call me budayawan [cultural observer]” he said. “There is still a lot to do to deserve that title.”

Where the Hell is Matt? 2012 (Video)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Bali bomber Patek sentenced to 20 years

Deutsche Welle, 21 June 2012

A court has found Umar Patek guilty for his role in the 2002 Bali bombings. The verdict concludes a 10-year probe into Indonesia’s deadliest act of terrorism.

After his four-month trial, Patek, called "Demolition Man" by Indonesian media, will serve a 20-year jail sentence. He had faced charges including premeditated murder, illegal firearms possession and murder.

Because he showed remorse during the trial, prosecutors had sought a life sentence, sparing Patek, the final suspect in Indonesian custody to be tried for the attacks, the penalty of death by firing squad. Claiming that he had been against the attacks from the beginning, Patek apologized to victims and their families for helping to assemble the explosives that killed more than 200 people in twin suicide bombings at a bar and a nightclub.

"Indonesians and the international community have long waited for this case to be over," Bambang Suharyadi, the prosecutor, said last month.

Patek had spent eight years as Indonesia's most-wanted terror suspect, evading a $1 million US bounty, before finally being arrested in January 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where Navy SEALs would kill Osama bin Laden just four months later. He was extradited to Indonesia last August.

Indonesia could not charge Patek for the attacks under the country's terrorism laws, first implemented in 2003.

Patek testified that he played a minor role in assembling the explosives, saying he mixed only 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of chemicals out of a ton, and denied having any expertise in making bombs.

In 2008, Indonesia executed three men for their roles in the Bali attacks. Several others have been jailed, including the bomb maker Ali Imron, who was given a life sentence for helping build and deliver bombs.

The only suspect yet to be tried is Riduan Isamuddin, known as Hambali, who allegedly helped orchestrate the attacks and has been detained at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay since 2006, accused of having financial links to al Qaeda.

mkg/sej (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Indonesia, US Foundation to Build World War II Museum in Morotai

Jakarta Globe, Ezra Sihite, June 20, 2012

Indonesia and the US MacArthur Foundation are planning to build a World War II and Operation Trikora museum on Morotai Island near North Maluku.

Morotai played a strategic role in the US advances against the Japanese during World War II, and was also used as a base during the struggle to win Papua from the Dutch colonial administration in the early 1960s — an operation known as Trikora. Planes were based at Morotai as a station to attack Biak island in Papua.

“General Douglas McArther, as the commander of the allied forces in the Pacific during World War II, was known for his frog leap strategy. He jumped from island to island and attacked Morotai island from Biak to paralyze the Japanese occupation forces there,” said Al Busyra Basnur, the US consul general in Houston, Texas in a press release.

The allied forces then build seven airstrips on Morotai to facilitate air strikes on the Philippines.

Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare Agung Laksono and North Maluku Governor Thaib Armaiyn made a visit on Monday to the MacArthur Memorial and MacArthur Museum in Norfolk, Virginia, to discuss the plan, according to Busyra. 

Busyra added that the initial plans to build the museum coincided with the Sail Morotai 2012 event, which will include a parachute jump event, a rocket launch by the National Aerospace and Aviation Institute (Lapan) and a parade of warships and sailboats from various countries.

On Sept 15, at the peak of Sail Morotai, World War II veterans and members of the Trikora operation, will be on hand.

Related Article:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Java Gets Its Chance to Savor Dutch-Indonesian Piano Virtuoso

Jakarta Globe, Katrin Figge, June 17, 2012

Wibi Soerjadi, the 42-year-old Dutch-Indonesian pianist and composer, will
 come to Indonesia in late June and early July for a tour of Java on which he
will perform in Jakarta, Surabaya, Yogyakarta and Solo. (Agency Photo)

He has played in the world’s most highly esteemed concert halls, accompanied by renowned orchestras: Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Musikverein in Vienna, and Carnegie Hall in New York.

Wibi Soerjadi, the 42-year-old Dutch-Indonesian pianist and composer, will come to Indonesia in late June and early July for a tour of Java on which he will perform in Jakarta, Surabaya, Yogyakarta and Solo.

It is a rare treat to witness the performance of a world-class pianist in Indonesia. Because of Wibi’s ancestry, it is that much more exciting.

Born to Indonesian parents in 1970 in Leiden, Wibi studied in Amsterdam at the Sweelinck Conservatory for four years before graduating with a special recognition for his exceptional skills at the piano.

After that he won several prizes, including the National Eurovision Competition for Young Musicians.

It was only the beginning of a stellar career. His recordings have been extremely successful, and in 2005, Wibi was invited to perform at a jubilee concert at Disneyland Resort Paris.

In 2006, he celebrated his 25th year as a pianist with a very special performance: as part of a Franz Liszt recital, Wibi played a recital in Amsterdam using a piano that once belonged to the 19th century Hungarian musician. The next year, he was knighted by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

But it hasn’t been all awards and knighthood for Wibi. At the peak of his career in 2009, he was struck by a strange illness.

Called idiopathic sudden sensor neural hearing loss, it forced him to stop performing, but only for a couple of months. Although he had to cancel an earlier Indonesian tour, he was able to stay creative during his recovery, writing a nine-part composition during his concert-hall hiatus.

The first time he performed again, in Amsterdam, Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad described his concert as “magnificent” and “breathtaking.”

Harry Rolnick, a critic for online magazine Concerto Net, wrote of Wibi’s performance at Carnegie Hall in early 2011: “After a long absence, the Dutch pianist-composer Wibi Soerjadi gave a “recital” last night, though that word is a misnomer. More accurately, Mr. Soerjadi presented two hours of fervor and digital frenzy, dazzling and confounding, where his ten fingers multiplied like dragon’s teeth, where his piano spat out thousands of notes per second.”

Rolnick compared Wibi’s performance to an enchanting show of a magician and praised his ability to combine classical music with show business.

“Mr. Soerjadi is not tyrannized by his fingers, he relishes the sound, speed and virtuosity which puts every internal or introspective thought out of his mind,” he wrote. “It was fun to hear him, it was the most dazzling entertainment imaginable.”

In addition to playing the piano, Wibi is also an accomplished composer.

He wrote, among others, specially commissioned pieces for Karen Venhuizen, the Dutch figure skater, and Anky van Grunsven, the dressage rider, who reveled in the World Championships and Olympic Games in 2008 to the sounds of Wibi’s “Dance of Devotion.”

Wibi Soerjadi
Piano recital
Wednesday, June 20, from 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 5, from 7: 30 p.m.
Erasmus Huis,Jl. Rasuna Said Kav. S-3,Kuningan, South Jakarta

Radio Netherlands Worldwide says goodbye to its audiences

The Jakarta Post, Irawaty Wardany, Jakarta,  Thu, 06/14/2012

Courtesy of

The Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) will end its Indonesian and English broadcast services on June 29 with a-three-hour live broadcast from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The RNW official website announced on Thursday that the measures were a result of steep budget cuts imposed by the Dutch government and a concomitant change in focus

Once RNW’s English web stream ends on June 29 there will be no more daily reviews of the Dutch papers, coverage of Dutch news stories and listening guides, the website announced.

On 29 June RNW will broadcast a radio show looking back at the past decades of the station. Have you got a memory to share? Please let them know, at They would love to hear from you, according to the announcement at the website.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Bali’s Denpasar King Sentenced to Two Years in Jail Over Land Fraud

Jakarta Globe, Made Arya Kencana, June 15, 2012

Denpasar. The Denpasar District Court on Friday sentenced the king of Bali’s Denpasar monarchy to two years in jail in a fraud case surrounding the sale of a plot of land belonging to the royal family.

Denpasar King Ida Tjokorda
Ngurah Jambe Pemecutan IX
The panel of judges said Denpasar King Ida Tjokorda Ngurah Jambe Pemecutan IX, better known as Cok Samirana, 68, was found guilty of deception, by claiming that he had the right to sell a plot of land without approval from other members of the monarchy.

The Denpasar monarch, known locally as Puri Satria, is one of the traditional monarchs that still exists on Bali, Indonesia’s most popular tourist destination, although most of them only play symbolic roles and do not rule administratively.

“The defendant [Samirana] convinced the victim that he was the one who had the right to sell the land,” chief judge Tony Hutauruk said as he read out the verdict.

Tony added that Samirana had abused Article 378 of the Criminal Code on crimes of deception.

The trial revealed that the case began in 2006, when victim Lely Sri Mawarni intended to purchase 10 hectares of land on Jalan Badak Agung in Denpasar. The land was known to be an asset of Puri Satria.

Samirana offered the land at Rp 75 million ($8,025) per are (1 hectare = 100 are), and Lely agreed to purchase the 10 hectare-land at Rp 15 billion, with payment to be made in three installments.

She had already paid Rp 7.6 billion when she asked for an original certificate of the land from Samirana, but the king was unable to show it.

Instead, in November 2006, Lely received a letter from Puri Satria, not the king, informing her that the land was not for sale, that it belonged to the monarchy and could not be handed over to someone else.

Lely said she had complained about the issue to Samirana, but he insisted he had a right to sell the land because he was the king.

Lely then reported Samirana to the Bali Police in January 2009.

Responding to the verdict on Friday, Samirana’s lawyer I Gusti Ngurah Made Arya said his client would file an appeal.

“There was no intention to deceive at all... The defendant has planned to return the money,” Arya said.

YouTube introduces ‘’

The Jakarta Post, Mariel Grazzella,  Thu, 06/14/2012

YouTube, the largest online video sharing community, announced on Thursday the launch of, which will provide content tailored to the Indonesian market.

The site will feature content from YouTube's partners in Indonesia from the media and music industry.

The media companies are Kompas TV, Kompas Cybermedia, Viva Media Group and Meanwhile, the recording companies include Aquarius Musikindo, Nagaswara and Musica Studios.

YouTube has also signed license agreements with Indonesian musicians and composers under Wahana Musik Indonesia (WMI), which would enable the musicians to earn from advertisements that appear on YouTube while their video is being played.

Several companies, such as consumer goods producer PT Unilever Indonesia, mobile phone operator Telkomsel, Bank Central Asia and online shopping site will start placing advertisements on YouTube.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rising Popularity of North Sulawesi's Bunaken Wrecking its Coral Reefs

Jakarta Globe, June 11, 2012

An Indonesian Army soldier applies paint on a billboard advertising Bunaken
 National Sea Park in Manado in this September 2010 file photo. (Antara Photo/
 Basrul Haq)
Related articles

A flood of tourists at North Sulawesi's Bunaken marine park are taking a toll on the park's main attraction: the coral reefs.

Unregulated snorkeling and an overwhelming amount of waste have damaged much of the park's coral reefs, Boyke Toloh, of the Bunakan National Park Management Council, said on Monday. Boyke, who didn't have any figures, explained that the park's coral reefs had deteriorated significantly in the past decade.

"Bunaken National Park ten years ago was like Raja Ampat in Papua today," Boyke said. "It was clean and its charm drew much attention. But now, the more tourists come to Bunaken, the more they impact the environment."

Boyke blamed both tourists and unscrupulous tour operators on the damage.

"Visitors and operators of boats carrying tourists have abandoned the principal of sustainability," Boyke said.

The boat operators transporting tourists from South Sulawesi's Manado to Bunaken Island should have reminded passengers not to dump their garbage overboard and not to step on the coral reef when they snorkel, Boyke said.

“They no longer remember to do so," he said. "This is despite the fact that Bunaken Island’s main commodity is its coral reefs."

The island received an average 13,000 visitors a year, including 10,000 foreign visitors, with the high season running from May to June.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Tourism Minister: Indonesia More Than Just Bali and Terrorists

Jakarta Globe, Faisal Maliki Baskoro,  June 07, 2012

Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka
Pangestu. (JG Photo/Agung Chandra)
Related articles

A poor global perception of Indonesia coupled with a lack of infrastructure and connectivity are hampering foreign tourism growth, the nation’s tourism and creative economy minister said on Thursday.

“If you Google image [search] Indonesia, you will see the national flag, the Garuda [national symbol], and only one picture related to tourism: the Borobudur Temple,” Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said in a visit to the BeritaSatu Media Holdings office in Jakarta.

“But if you Google image Cambodia, you will see a lot of Angkor Wat images,” she added, referring to that country’s renowned Hindu temple complex.

Mari said international perceptions of Indonesia were tainted by terrorism and tsunamis. Meanwhile, Bali remains the main tourism point of reference for most.

“We need to change these perspectives by pushing more positive news about Indonesia and promoting tourism,” she said.

The ministry is targeting the number of foreign tourists to reach 10 million in 2014, but a lack of infrastructure and connectivity is hampering tourism growth.

Mari said the ministry is aiming for average annual growth in foreign tourism of 1 million people per year. Last year, there were 7.6 million foreign tourists and this year the ministry is targeting about 8 million.

“Hopefully in 2014, the number of foreign tourists can reach 10 million. This is still half of Malaysia’s foreign tourists though,” she said.

“What’s more important than numbers is the quality of the tourists. We want tourists to stay longer, spend more and return to Indonesia,” the former trade minister added.

The tourism sector generated a foreign exchange income of $8.6 billion in 2011, a 13 percent increase from the previous year.

Mari said foreign exchange income from the tourism sector was expected to reach $9.5 billion this year and $11 billion by 2014.

She added that domestic tourism is still fueling growth in the sector, with 125 million domestic tourists generating revenues of Rp 15 trillion ($1.6 billion) for the sector last year.

“We will continue to promote tourism destinations. There are approximately 200 points of tourism in 80 destinations in Indonesia. Indonesia is more than just Bali,” she said.

Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Bunaken Island in North Sulawesi and Komodo Island in East Nusa Tenggara are among the tourism gems, Mari said.

The ministry has a budget of Rp 400 billion for promotional purposes, relatively small compared to the foreign exchange income it has generated.

“Our branding, ‘Wonderful Indonesia,’ is not quite working. But I think the problem is not the message. It is the lack of infrastructure and connectivity,” she said.

She said that the number of direct flights to tourism destinations was still lacking and airports and seaports were overcapacity.

“To solve this, we need cooperation with the Public Works Ministry, State Enterprises Ministry and the Transportation Ministry. I can see that improvements have been done,” she said.

The ministry has divided the tourism destinations into seven categories: Sports tourism (diving, golf); eco tourism; cruise ship tourism; spa and medical tourism; culture and heritage tourism; culinary and shopping tourism; and MICE (meeting, incentives, conferences and events) tourism.

Spiritual energy draws Prana to preservation

The Jakarta Post, By Alit Kertarahardja, Thu, 06/07/2012

Living long: The Pemuteran Coral Protection Foundation, started by I
Gusti Agung Prana and Pemuteran locals, recently received a prestigious
 environmental award — the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
Equator Prize.

More than 20 years ago, I Gusti Agung Prana was spiritually amazed when visiting the sacred temples and beautiful coastal areas in faraway Pemuteran village in Buleleng regency, North Bali.

Located on the northwest coast of Bali, around 55 kilometers west of Singaraja and 30 kilometers from Gilimanuk in Jembrana, Pemuteran lies between a cluster of hills and the sea.

A number of old temples like Pura Pulaki, Pura Kerta Kawat and Pura Melanting are the island’s important worship places in the North.

“This place is called Nyegara-Gunung in Balinese language meaning the combination of sea and mountain areas,” Prana explained.

The Balinese believe that such places have extraordinary spiritual energy that brings harmony to the earth, the sea and to the people living there.

Prana said a decisive moment in his life was when he started to open a small-scale hotel for tourists, who, at that time, preferred to spend their holidays in the southern part of Bali like Kuta, Sanur or Ubud.

“Nobody wanted to come to this remote place, quite faraway from the glittering tourist hubs of Kuta,” he remembered.

But Prana was convinced that he received a kind of “spiritual call” to continue his venture.

A businessman by nature, Prana decided to do business in Pemutaran. “I was wondering if I could do more to help local people and to preserve this pristine environment by doing something useful,” he said.

Starting from the community, Prana encouraged local fishermen to alter their destructive fishing methods with more sustainable fishing techniques.

His fatherly approaches worked really well. “I always convince these fishermen to jointly preserve our precious marine habitat by practicing sustainable fishing. Many of them used hazardous cyanide bombs to catch fish while at the same time damaging the coral reefs and underwater life.”

Coral reefs in Bali have been severely damaged in recent years due to the irresponsible use of bombs and cyanide by fishermen. Increasing seawater temperatures linked to climate change and global warming are also blamed for the damage.

The Pemuteran area has the largest shallow reefs accessible to divers and snorkelers because of its lack of extremely strong currents and waves, seen in other coastal areas in Bali.

Together with locals, Prana launched the Pemuteran Coral Protection Foundation, which has been fully supported by marine scientists Thomas Goreau and Wolf Hilbertz.

“I asked for their assistance in restoring the shore, the coral reefs and also educating fishermen and the local community how to protect and to preserve our marine assets.”

Starting with the local community, the Pemuteran Coral Protection Foundation started to embrace all stakeholders in marine businesses such as dive shops, divers, hotels, marine scientists, environmentalists and fishery agencies to do the preservation of marine habitats and coastal areas in Pemuteran and its surroundings.

“It is a bottom-up community-based restoration and preservation effort,” he said.

For more than two decades, Prana and fellow members of the project have been active in educating and developing awareness of the importance of preserving their own natural resources and their main livelihoods. Over a period of 20 years, the nearly barren and damaged coral areas have been returned into a thriving reef full of coral, fish and other marine species.

Related Article: