Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners

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

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions

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

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

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

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

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

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)

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


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

… The Shift in Human Nature

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Indonesia's Batik Air to launch international service

Google – AFP, 27 February 2014

Two air hostesses stand next to a Boeing 737-900 plane of the new Indonesian
 airline Batik Air in Tangerang on the outskirts of Jakarta on April 25, 2013 (AFP,
Adek Berry)

Singapore — An airline owned by Indonesia's Lion Group announced Thursday it will launch international services with a flight from Jakarta to Singapore later this year.

Batik Air, which is part of the Lion Group that also owns Indonesian budget carrier Lion Air, will start the flights by November or December, said its chief executive Achmad Luthfie.

The airline, which operates as a full-service carrier with meals and drinks and offers business and economy class seating, began operations in May last year servicing domestic destinations in Indonesia.

"Our first international destination will be Singapore and we aim to have more than a daily service on the route," Luthfie said in a statement.

"We chose Singapore as our first international destination because we can see that demand continues to increase," he added.

Speaking at a news conference in Singapore, Luthfie said Batik Air plans to fly next from the Indonesian capital to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

Luthfie said that eventually it is looking to fly to Southern China and Western Australia.

On the domestic front, the airline plans to more than double its network to 22 destinations including Palembang, Solo and Batam.

Luthfie said the carrier is currently filling 90 percent of seats.

Batik Air operates six Boeing 737-900ER aircrafts and is based in Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport.

Six Airbus A320 aircraft and four Boeing 737-800 planes will be delivered by the end of this year, the airline said.

Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago of over 17,000 islands cutting across three time zones, relies heavily on air transport and is experiencing a sharp growth in its aviation sector, thanks to a rapidly rising middle class.

Indonesian Capital Seeks to Revive Crumbling Kota Tua

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Madura McCormack, February 26, 2014

A man sits near a neglected colonial building in Kota Tua, North Jakarta,
in this file photo. (JG Photo/Afriadi Hikmal)

Jakarta. Once resplendent facades sagging in the tropical heat and empty shells of colonial-era buildings are depressing signs that the old town of the Indonesian capital Jakarta, once considered the “Jewel of Asia,” has suffered decades of neglect.

Palm trees grow through crumbling windows in what was once the center of power for Indonesia’s Dutch colonial rulers, and many buildings that are still intact lie empty, stained grey by fumes from hordes of passing traffic.

But Jakarta’s popular governor Joko Widodo, who has energetically taken on the task of transforming one of the world’s most chaotic metropolises, has a new plan to overhaul the old town and attract more tourists.

“It has to be done, otherwise it is going to deteriorate,” said Goenawan Mohamad, a well-known Indonesian writer and member of the group set up to regenerate Kota Tua. “It’s about time.”

Nevertheless, there is much scepticism.

Other plans have failed and some fear that even if the latest makes progress, developers might transform the area into a “Disneyland” full of garish malls rather than a well-preserved heritage area.

Restoring colonial splendor

Kota Tua, in modern-day North Jakarta, was once a global trading center, where merchants would arrive to buy and sell goods from across the Indonesian archipelago, particularly spices sought after in Europe.

With its whitewashed buildings and cobbled streets, the area for centuries made up almost the whole of Jakarta, then known as Batavia, and was called the “Jewel of Asia” by European sailors arriving after long sea voyages.

Jakarta has expanded to become a city with a population of some 10 million, better known now for its traffic jams than historic buildings, and Kota Tua has fallen into disrepair, out of favor with the city’s well-heeled residents.

Some small sections have been preserved. Cobbled “Fatahillah” square, the heart of the old town and the most visited part, is in good condition and is packed out with vendors selling trinkets to the small number of passing tourists.

On the square, and also well-preserved, are the former city hall and a museum showcasing Indonesian puppets.

But outside this small area most of the buildings are in a state of serious decay.

Joko — who was elected last year — and his supporters hope their initiative might at last return some colonial splendor to Jakarta.

They believe their plan stands a better chance of success than previous ones as they have created an umbrella organisation with what they believe is the right mix of people to oversee the regeneration.

The consortium includes private firms, a former government minister and a heritage group.

Crucially they have the strong backing of the Jakarta authorities, who have pledged a 150 billion rupiah ($12.5 million) budget for the regeneration.

Previous attempts suffered either from a lack of coordination between numerous different players, or the opposite — just one group but a lack of resources, said Lin Che Wei, chairman of the consortium’s board of advisors.

There are signs that work is under way on some buildings in the area, and a visitor centre and exhibition space for contemporary art are due to open next month.

The consortium intends to renovate 85 historic buildings over five years, a program it says will create 11,400 jobs.

Disneyland fears

However, some have expressed fears over-enthusiastic development might destroy Kota Tua’s charms and transform it into an area full of ugly modern buildings and shopping malls.

“Kota Tua is a city, it’s not Disneyland,” said Ella Ubaidi, owner of a colonial-era building in the old town.

Her apprehensiveness stems from the profile of the consortiums’ board of trustees, some of whom are from large Indonesian property companies.

There is also a lack of enthusiasm among the public.

Some regard Kota Tua, a district built by colonizers, as a symbol of repressive rule, and there has been little interest among Jakarta’s citizens in maintaining it since the Dutch left Indonesia in the late 1940s.

Nevertheless, the plan’s backers are optimistic. They believe they can attract more tourists to Jakarta, which lags behind other Southeast Asian capitals in numbers of foreign visitors, as they restore Kota Tua to its former glory.

Agence France-Presse

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Double-Decker Tour Buses Launched Today

Jakarta Globe, Lenny Tristia Tambun, February 24, 2014

The capital’s free tourist buses began service on Feb. 24. (AFP Photo)

Jakarta. “Hopefully everything will work out as planned,” was how the head of the Jakarta Tourism Agency introduced five new yellow-and-purple tour buses that began ferrying tourists around the capital on Monday.

“As promised, we are operating the double-decker buses on Feb. 24,” Jakarta Tourism and Culture Agency chief Arie Budhiman said on Monday. “From our week-long evaluation, bus drivers and crew members have done a pretty good job.”

The buses are scheduled to operate — free of charge — from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week, with a later service beginning at midday on Sunday. The bus will not use the city’s busway lane.

The first five buses will ply a trial route through the very center of the city, starting from the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle before heading past the National Monument to the Istiqlal mosque, and continuing on to the State Palace and City Hall before returning back to Hotel Indonesia.

Andriyanto, a resident of Central Jakarta, claimed on Monday that he had waited for more than one hour for a bus to arrive.

“My wife and I, along with our child, wanted to try the tourism bus today. We found out that the buses would start operating today from TV,” he said at the Hotel Indonesia bus stop on Monday.

In the end, Andriyanto hailed a cab.

Captive audience

The government plans to roll out another 15 buses onto an expanded tour of the capital, for tourists to absorb the Dutch colonial surroundings of Kota Tua in the city’s north as well as the sights and sounds of Blok M in South Jakarta.

Arie said the first five buses were slated to accommodate up to 3,000 passengers per day. Each bus would make around 10 round trips daily, with a capacity of around 60 passengers, he said.

The city has sought to emphasize that it will focus on passenger safety and will not allow overcrowding. It remains to be seen whether the city will be able to ward off opportunistic commuters seeking a free ride home through the new service.

The city government has partnered with the Indonesian tourist board and the Historia Community to provide a historical precis of the sites along the bus routes.

“Our buses are equipped with GPS and the audio systems can also be computerized,” Arie said. “Later on, we will use an automatic audio system [that will provide information] based on the [buses’] positions.”

The Jakarta Tourism Agency officially counted 2.29 million tourist visits last year, an eight percent increase on the 2012 figure of 2.1 million.

The Jakarta administration spent Rp 17 billion ($1.4 million) to purchase the fleet of buses from China. It plans to expand the program to include as many as 20 buses in the near future.

The city administration so far this year received a total of 656 buses from China, mostly for an expansion of the Integrated City Busway (BKTB) program. However, less than a month into their use, 10 BKTB buses and five TransJakarta buses were found to be unfit for use, prompting an investigation into alleged corruption in the city’s procurement process.

Related Article:

Monday, February 24, 2014

North Korea to Participate in Asian Games: Media Reports

Jakarta Globe - AFP, February 24, 2014

Misaki Sango of Japan, center, leads the Women’s 3000 meter Steeplechase
 before finishing in second place during the East Asian Games held at the Tianjin
 Olympic Center Stadium in China on October 9, 2013. The East Asian Games which
 are held every four years see nine countries — including China, Japan, South and
North Korea — participate in 262 events and 22 different sports. (AFP Photo/Mark

Seoul. North Korea will participate in all events at the Asian Games to be hosted in South Korea’s western port city of Incheon later this year, reports said Monday.

North Korean officials told South Korean reporters that preparations are under way to compete in all events at the so-called Asiad games, according to pooled media reports from the current reunion of families divided by the Korean War.

South Korea has invited North Korea to participate in the games, which will run from September 19 to October 4, through the Olympic Council of Asia, a body that governs all sports in Asia.

But there has been no formal confirmation of participation yet from North Korea’s rulers.

The North boycotted the 1988 Olympics hosted by Seoul but sent athletes and cheerleaders for the 2002 Asian Games in South Korea’s southern port city of Busan.

The first family reunion for more than three years is under way at a mountain resort in North Korea, raising hopes of greater North-South cooperation.

North Korea had originally threatened to cancel if the South and the United States pushed ahead with annual joint military drills that began on Monday.

In an apparent goodwill gesture, Seoul last week approved the shipment by two private aid groups for close to $1.0 million worth of tuberculosis medicine and powdered milk to North Korea.

On Monday South Korea offered to send vaccine and medical equipment to help contain an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the North.

The offer came days after the North confirmed cases of the highly contagious livestock disease at a pig farm in a suburb of Pyongyang.

Chiang Mai locals resent Chinese tourists: report

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2014-02-24

Chiang Mai University, Thailand. (Internet photo)

A poll by Chiang Mai University in Thailand has showed that local people do not welcome the increasing number of Chinese tourists, reports the state-run China News Service (CNS).

CNS cited a poll published on Feb. 17 which claimed that 80% of those surveyed said that they dislike Chinese visitors because they do not respect local culture and leave a mess.

Visitors from China were criticized for talking too loudly in public, cutting in line, smoking, spitting and litter in the streets. Some 70% said peace and quiet are immediately destroyed whenever a Chinese visitor enters the house; 53% complained that the local government does nothing to address poor behavior on the part of tourists, and 30% said public order in Chiang Mai has been jeopardized because of the increasing number of Chinese tourists.

CNS reported that Chiang Mai University has begun to ask visitors to show their photo ID or passport on entering its campus after a group of Chinese visitors spent a night camping on the grounds, during which they painted on the ground without permission.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Rescued Japan Divers Return Home After Indonesia Ordeal

Jakarta Globe – AFP, February 21, 2014

(L-R) Rescued Japanese tourists Nahomi Tomita, Atsumi Yoshinobe,
 Emi Yamamoto, Aya Morizono attend a press conference at Sanglah Hospital
in Denpasar on Bali island on Feb. 20, 2014. (AFP Photo/Sonny Tumbelaka)

Tokyo. Four Japanese scuba divers who went missing off Bali for three days before being rescued from a rocky outcrop returned home Friday, looking exhausted from the terrifying ordeal.

Crowds of journalists were waiting for them at Kansai airport in western Japan when they arrived home from Indonesia.

“I feel terrible to think that we could not come back together,” said Emi Yamamoto, one of the four, referring to fellow diver Ritsuko Miyata whose body was discovered earlier this week.

“I hope we can recover soon and go back to life as it was before,” said Yamamoto, whose face was badly sunburned.

The four women were among seven who disappeared after setting off on a diving expedition last Friday.

Five were rescued, while the body of a sixth was found floating near a beach. One woman is still missing, although the Indonesian authorities have now called off their search.

The party of seven set off last week from Nusa Lembongan island just east of Bali but soon got lost. After drifting for a long time, they were slammed against rocks near the coast and were “swallowed by big waves three to four times” they said in Indonesia.

Four of them managed to clamber onto some rocks in a remote area off Nusa Penida island, which is next to Nusa Lembongan, on Saturday.

They sheltered from the harsh sun during the day and climbed up to the highest point to flash distress lights at night, fighting all the time against exhaustion and thirst.

“We were exhausted. We couldn’t get any water on the first day as it was sunny. On the second day, we collected rain water in our fins to quench our thirst. We also collected rain water in plastic bottles picked up from garbage,” they said in a joint statement.

They were rescued by boat Monday in the Manta Point area off Nusa Penida, some 20 kilometers from where they set off.

A fifth diver, Bali-based instructor Saori Furukawa, was picked up by helicopter nearby.

The rescued divers suffered sunburn and dehydration but no serious injuries, although they have been left mentally “devastated,” a Japanese official on Bali has said.

Indonesian police have arrested the captain of a boat that took the group.

The man has been named a suspect and is accused of “negligence which caused the loss of life” by leaving the female divers alone in the open seas during the trip.

Agence France-Presse
Related Article:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Indonesia Threatens to Revoke Corby’s Parole if She ‘Causes a Stir’ With TV Interview

Jakarta Globe, Rizky Amelia, February 18, 2014

A foreign tourist imitates freed Australian drug trafficker Schapelle Corby by
 covering her face as she passes journalists at the resort where Corby is staying
in Seminyak, Bali. (AFP Photo/Sonny Tumbelaka)

Jakarta. Paroled Australian drug trafficker Schapelle Corby could find herself back behind bars if she goes ahead with a planned tell-all interview slated to run on an Australian news network, an Indonesian official warned on Tuesday.

The interview, for which Corby was allegedly offered more than $1 million, was scheduled to run as a Channel Seven news exclusive, according to reports byAgence France-Presse. But discussing her sentence, and eventual parole, could prove to be too controversial for Indonesian officials.

Lawmakers, angered by what they called a weakening of the nation’s strict anti-drugs stance, have already lobbed criticism at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights over the marijuana trafficker’s release. The claims that Corby would profit handsomely from telling her story only fanned the flames in Indonesia, prompting the nation’s Justice and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin to publicly urge Corby to turn down the cash.

“Corby is not allowed to do any activities that can make people feel uneasy or trigger a sense of injustice in society,” Amir said last week.

Accepting the payout, an exorbitant sum by anyone’s standards, would likely play poorly in front of the Indonesian public and could be a violation of Cobry’s parole terms, Amir said. On Tuesday the ministry’s deputy minister Denny Indrayana upped the ante, threatening to revoke her parole one week after her release.

“We are considering revoking the parole,” Denny said.

Any action that disturbed the greater public could be grounds to place Corby back behind bars, he explained.

“The factors [for the revocation] are causing a stir in public, such as the interview, [receiving] money, and the interview content, which could create negative polemics,”  Denny said.

The interview, for now, is only a rumor, Denny said. No one at the ministry had been informed that it will actually occur. But the suggestion that Corby stands to become a millionaire have proven controversial in Australia as well. Australian Federal Police raided Channel Seven on Tuesday, reportedly in connection with the interview negotiations.

Corby was released from Bali’s Kerobokan Prison on Feb. 10 after spending more than nine years behind bars for attempting to smuggle 4.1 kilograms of marijuana through customs. She was sentenced to 20 years in jail in 2005, but saw the sentence reduced by annual sentence cuts and a presidential decision to slash five years off the term.

She will have to remain in Bali until 2017 under the terms of her parole.

Related Article:

Australian Spying Fails to Dent Relations Between Indonesia, United States

Jakarta Globe, Vanesha Manuturi & Kennial Caroline Laia, February 17, 2014

US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaks during a news conference with
 Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa at the Pancasila building in Jakarta
on Monday. (Reuters Photo/Evan Vucci/Pool)

Jakarta. Observers have lauded Indonesian government officials’ restraint in not confronting visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry with allegations that Washington may have benefited in a trade spat with Indonesia from espionage carried out by Canberra, saying Australia was solely to blame in the affair.

Hikmahanto Juwana, a law professor at the University of Indonesia, said on Monday that by focusing his outrage on the alleged spying by Australian intelligence, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa had wisely chosen to localize the problem.

“The fact remains that the party doing the spying on Indonesia was Australia, not United States,” he said. “Whether the US was involved before or after the spying, whether they shared information for their interests, is not the main concern for Indonesia. The main concern is why Australia [spied]. “This is a matter between Indonesia and Australia,” he added.

A report from The New York Times, published as Kerry arrived in Jakarta over the weekend as part of his Asian tour, cited documents released by former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden as showing that the Australian Signals Directorate monitored communications between Indonesian officials and a US-based law firm representing Jakarta in a trade dispute with the United States.

Australia offered to share its findings with the NSA, including possibly “information covered by attorney-client privilege.” It was not immediately clear whether the NSA accepted the Australian offer or what the dispute in question was about, but at the time of the 2013 NSA bulletin Indonesia was embroiled in a dispute over a US ban on sales of clove cigarettes, and US claims that shrimp from Indonesia were being sold below market prices. The US later dropped its claim in the shrimp case, while the World Trade Organization has referred the clove cigarette case to arbitration.

Hikmahanto said Jakarta’s refusal to lay the blame for the spying with Washington was not because “Indonesia is taking sides with America or is trying to being nice, but simply because the alleged perpetrator of the spying is Australia.”

Aleksius Jemadu, the dean of Pelita Harapan University’s School of Social and Political Sciences, agreed that Indonesia was approaching the issue on the right tack as well as showing deference to a visiting foreign official.

“Kerry’s visit here is essentially to discuss the bilateral relationship. He is a guest in the country. It won’t do any good if Indonesia welcomes him by confronting him with these spying allegations,” he said. “After Kerry’s visit, Indonesia might air its concerns with the United States. This is about the issue of trust.”

In a joint press conference with Kerry in Jakarta on Monday, Marty said Indonesia-US relations remained strong. He also cited a speech by US President Barack Obama last month in which the latter addressed his efforts to reform US intelligence activities, and said he hoped the president’s promises would mean a change to how Indonesia was treated in terms of intelligence gathering. “Our understanding is that the kind of review or amendments signaled by the United States will also be relevant in the conduct of its relations with Indonesia,” Marty said.

Kerry said he shared Indonesia’s concern but stressed that Washington would exercise its intelligence-gathering activities as it deemed necessary for its own national security interests. “We take the issue very seriously, which is why President Obama laid down a series of concrete and substantial reforms that we believe should give greater confidence to people everywhere about their liberty and that they’re being protected, and at the same time, preserving very important tools with respect to keeping us safe in an age of major threats and terrorism,” Kerry said.

Australia has declined to comment specifically on the latest allegation, but Prime Minister Tony Abbott has justified his government’s intelligence gathering “for the benefit of our friends” — a point that Marty took issue with. “I find it extremely difficult to comprehend how talks between the US and Indonesia on shrimps has any direct or indirect implication on Australia’s security,” he said. “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

Marty said that as neighbors, Indonesia and Australia must be transparent with one another. “Neighbors should be looking out for each other, not turning against each other,” he said. “We should be listening to one another, not listening in.”

Related Article:

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Seven Japanese divers missing in Indonesia

Google – AFP, 15 February 2014

A rescue team search for seven Japanese tourists who went missing after
 leaving for a scuba diving trip in waters off Bali on February 15, 2014 (AFP,
Sonny Tumbelaka)

Jakarta — Seven Japanese tourists were missing after leaving for a scuba diving trip in waters off the Indonesian island of Bali, police said Saturday.

The group disappeared after heading out on a speedboat to Nusa Lembongan, a small island off the southeast coast of the popular resort isle, Bali police spokesman Hariadi told AFP.

"Seven Japanese tourists went missing after a diving activity in the area on Friday," he said.

A rescue team search for seven Japanese
 tourists who went missing after leaving for
 a scuba diving trip in waters off Bali on
February 15, 2014 (AFP, Sonny Tumbelaka)
"We have sent out rescue boats and a helicopter this morning to comb the beaches and surrounding areas to look for them as well as their speedboat. So far, we have found nothing," he added.

It is not yet clear if the group got into trouble once they entered the water, or if they were on the boat.

"Our priority is to find them first. We don't know if they had experienced engine trouble, strong currents or bad weather conditions," Hariadi said.

Yasue Katsunobu, the deputy consul general of Japan in Denpasar, confirmed that the missing were Japanese and he was "awaiting results of the search".

Nusa Lembongan is a popular scuba diving spot is part of Coral Triangle, widely considered the world's richest underwater wilderness.

It across six nations between the Indian and Pacific oceans -- Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

Related Articles:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Borobudur, Other Sites, Closed After Mount Kelud Eruption

Jakarta Globe, February 14, 2014

Workers cover the famous Borobudur temple to protect it. (EPA Photo)

Jakarta. Key tourism sites on the Indonesian island of Java were shut down on Friday as Mount Kelud’s explosive eruption blanketed a significant swath of Central Java in gray ash.

Workers covered the iconic stupas and statues of Borobudur temple on Friday, closing the region’s largest tourism location to visitors. The Prambanan temple and Ratu Boko palace were also closed for the day. It was unknown on Friday when the historic sites would reopen, the sites’ tourism company told the state-run Antara News Agency.

The company apologized for any inconvenience they may have caused travelers.

“We’re sorry for the inconvenient situation for people who were about to visit Borobudur and Prambanan temples and the Ratu Boko archeological site,” said Achamad Muchlis, secretary of the Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur, Prambanan dan Ratu Boko Yogyakarta company.

Borobudur could remained closed for the coming week, the company’s spokesman said.

“The Borobudur temple conservation agency in Central Java has covered some of [the temple's] stupas to protect the temple stones from volcanic ash,” spokesman Indra said. “It’s predicted that the stupas will be covered for the next seven days.”

Indra warned tourists to not attempt to visit the sites, explaining that the roads leading to Prambanan  were still slick with ash.

Mount Kelud blew its top late Thursday night in an explosive eruption heard as far away as Yogyakarta. As ash fell on Friday, the central government called for the evacuation of 36 villages in a 10-kilometer radius around the volcano, according to reports by Agence France-Presse. Some 200,000 were driven from their homes in and around Kediri district, East Java.

The eruption covered the region in thick ash as it spewed some 120 cubic meters of debris 17 kilometers into the sky, Gede Suantika, of the Volcanology and Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG), told the Indonesian news portal Detik.comon Friday.

Related Articles:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Knowledge Shared Empowers Everyone

Jakarta Globe, Cemara Dinda, February 13, 2014

Library directors from the United States, Germany and Indonesia spokes about
the global ‘Open Access’ movement at @america. (JG Photo/Cemara Dinda)

“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come,” Victor Hugo once said.

The words of the French poet and novelist resonated throughout the digital conference and discussion “Open Access,” held last week at the US cultural center, @america.

Library directors from the United States, Germany, Jakarta, Medan and Surabaya discussed a worldwide movement that can open up doors for knowledge to be shared for all.

Myra Brown from the US Embassy’s library in Jakarta explained that Open Access was “an unrestricted Internet access for scholarly research,” liberated from barriers such as subscription fees to view academic writings.

This has become possible by Creative Commons, a non-profit organization in the United States that enables creativity and knowledge to be shared through copyright licenses that writers and researches are comfortable with. Those who use their work as a reference are therefore free from the tussles of copyright infringement and plagiarism while gaining free access. With an exciting premise.

“Open Access can integrate communities, young people will get a lot of international knowledge, so it’s a win-win situation,” said Christel Mahnke of the Goethe-Institut.

OA’s success in the US and Europe is now being replicated in Indonesia.

Sri Hartinah from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) explained how it had embraced Open Access as LIPI was “all about the disclosure of information and knowledge.”

Formed in 1965, LIPI has encouraged research in Indonesia and is now improving the digitalization and therefore sharing of reports, dissertations and journals.

Jonner Hasugian from the University of North Sumatra showed that Open Access was becoming more visible and accessible.

Programs such as the Technological and Professional Skills Development Project (TPSDP) and Indonesia — Managing Higher Education for Relevance and Efficiency (IMHERE) have improved educational support systems such as libraries and sources for online learning.

“Why put knowledge out on the shelves if it can’t be shared?” Jonner said.

Open Access enables these works of knowledge to be shared by users on the Internet where they can read, copy, download and distribute them.

But authors retain a say on how their works should be treated by not allowing readers to use their work for commercial purposes. It is important to keep that in mind, to avoid confusion and quarrels as who is utilizing the “true” Open Access and who is not.

According to Jonner, those born in the digital era are well on their way to a higher education — what better way to make their long hours researching more bearable than open access to knowledge? So the remaining main challenge of librarians in Indonesia and abroad is to be a partner to researchers, synchronize movements with the government and universities, as to strengthen the impact of Open Access internationally.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

SBY Named ‘Best Friend of the Press’

Jakarta Globe, February 9, 2014

A handout photo released on Dec. 2, 2013 shows Indonesia’s President Susilo
 Bambang Yudhoyono delivering a speech during the opening of the 9th WTO
Ministerial meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali on Nov. 3, 2013. (AFP Photo/Abroro
Rizki/Office of the Indonesian President)

Bengkulu. The Indonesian Journalists Union (PWI) named President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono the “Best Friend of the Press” during an event observing National Press Day in Bengkulu on Sunday.

The award was handed over by PWI chairman Margiono and Press Council chairman Bagir Manan.

Margiono said the PWI had decided to grant the honor to the president because of his stellar communication with the country’s press during his two terms in office.

Margiono jokingly suggested that Yudhoyono actively run a news publication after leaving the presidential office in October, although the president is known to already have a stake in the local daily Jurnal Nasional.

“Led by common people like us, [the Indonesian press] has developed,” Margiono said in his speech during the National Press Day commemoration in Bengkulu. “Imagine if the president takes charge.”

Yudhoyono, though, insinuated in his speech that the press had been rather unfriendly to him during his tenure in office. He said, though, that scrutiny helped him make more careful decisions during his nearly 10 years in office.

“Thank God I’ve survived,” the president said.

He reminded the press, though, to be responsible in their reporting.

“A free and responsible press is the guardian of democracy, as well as a watchdog for good governance,” Yudhoyono said. “To me, press freedom is a fertilizer of democracy. Libel, insults and defamation, meanwhile, are the pests of democracy.”

Friday, February 7, 2014

Australian Media in Overdrive as Indonesia Grants Schapelle Parole

Jakarta Globe – AFP,  February 7, 2014

Australian drug trafficker Schapelle Corby seen here escorted by police to
a court in Denpasar in Bali on Aug. 25, 2006. (AFP Photo)

Bali/Jakarta. Convicted drug trafficker Schapelle Corby will soon walk free from a notorious Bali prison after Indonesia’s justice minister confirmed on Friday that she had been granted parole, bringing to an end her nine years spent as a guest of the Indonesian justice system.

“Corby is one of the 1,291 [inmates whose parole has been processed],” Amir Syamsuddin said at a delayed press conference on Friday afternoon. “I do not want to talk specifically about Schapelle. What I want to stress here is that this conditional parole is not a policy, not generosity of the government, nor the ministry, it is a law that is regulated and enacted by the government.

“Because of that, we, myself as the minister, we uphold the law and our nation has our own dignity. We uphold the law without looking at who the person involved is. One more time, do not force me to repeat, we have dignity, there is law in the country. We do not seek popularity and we are not afraid of critics. Enough,” the minister said in Jakarta.

Corby was sentenced to 20 years in jail in 2005 after customs agents at Bali’s Nugurah Rai International Airport found 4.1 kilograms of marijuana in her bodyboard bag. Her consistent denial that she knew nothing of the drugs failed to persuade the judges presiding over her initial trial and subsequent appeal.

In Bali, a scrum of Australian journalists crowded outside Kerobokan prison on Friday as Schapelle’s sister, Mercedes, arrived to meet with officials. A condition of the 36-year-old’s parole is that she will have to live in Bali with her sister until 2017.

A crowd of some 60 reporters, cameramen and photographers were outside the prison Friday, an AFP reporter at the scene said. Channel Seven has reportedly sent the biggest crew to Bali, with 17 staff dispatched from Australia and another seven locals on board.

The press conference in Jakarta was, however, subject to a delay of around an hour.

“Australian journos been staking out Indonesian Justice min Amir Syamsuddin all week for Schapelle announcement. 40 minute delay his revenge?” tweeted The Age’s correspondent Michael Bachelard at 3:10 p.m., before the press conference eventually got underway.

Earlier on Friday, as Mercedes emerged after the visit to Kerobakan, she told reporters she had received no indication of what Amir’s decision might be.

“We are just waiting for her to be freed,” she said, adding “please give us some privacy.”

A media bidding war is reportedly in full swing in Australia that could see Corby earn millions of dollars for her tell-all story if she is released.

There have been claims that the bidders would pay as much as Aus$3 million ($2.7 million), although The Australian broadsheet said informed sources had told it that a more realistic price would be Aus$1 million.

Corby, who has always steadfastly maintained her innocence, had her original sentence cut substantially. She received several remissions for good behavior and a five-year reduction from the Indonesian president after an appeal for clemency.

Her parole bid was a complex, months-long process and speculation began mounting last year that she was on the verge of release, only for it to again run into problems. It sped up in the past week after the parole board finally heard her application.

The process has been complicated by the fact it is rare for Indonesia to release foreigners on parole. However Corby’s bid received a boost last month when a French drug smuggler was given an early release.

While many in Australia support her early release, some in Indonesia have been against it, saying it amounts to special treatment.

Eight lawmakers on Thursday handed a letter of protest to Amir voicing opposition to Corby getting parole.

They said a decision to grant her early release would run counter to Jakarta’s tough anti-drugs laws and would be inappropriate at a time when Australia-Indonesia ties were at a low after a row over spying.

The Justice Ministry counts around 150,000 people incarcerated in severely overcrowded prisons across Indonesia. Estimates of the numbers of drug users in the Indonesian justice system go as high as 70 percent of the inmate population.

Australian Twitter users’ reaction to the lead up to the Justice Ministry’s press conference was generally split between gentle sarcasm directed at the media furor and support for the Queenslander.

“Are the Indonesians going to put #Schapelle on a lifeboat and tow her to Australian waters,” mooted one person, while another offered up the more slightly more supportive “My thoughts and prayers are with #Schapelle Corby at the moment, and I wish much comfort and privacy for here in the coming three years.”

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

‘Father of Indonesian Tourism’ Joop Ave Dead at 79

Jakarta Globe, Hendro Situmorang, February 6, 2014

Former Tourism Minister Joop Ave died on Wednesday at the age of 79.
(Photo Supplied)

Jakarta. Joop Ave, Indonesia’s former Minister of Tourism and Telecommunications, passed away at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Singapore from complications due to various illnesses. He was 79.

His body will be flown to Indonesia on Thursday and will be cremated in Bali.

Tourism ministry spokesman Noviendi Makalam said Joop passed away at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.

“According to the plan, he will be taken to Denpasar, Bali, on Thursday morning to be cremated on Saturday, Feb. 8,” Noviendi said.

The Yogyakarta-born former minister helped promote Indonesian tourism at the international level in the 1990s, Noviendi said.

Joop served as the minister from 1993 to 1998 under former president Suharto.

“We all feel saddened by the loss of Joop Ave, the father who made Indonesian tourism as big as it is today,” Noviendi said.

“Ibu Mari Pangestu [the current tourism minister] will fly to Bali and attend the cremation ceremony on Friday,” he added.

He served as Head of the Household of the Presidential Palace from 1972 to 1978.

Jakarta’s ‘Topeng Monyet’ Could Be Released Into the Wild: Joko

Jakarta Globe, Lenny Tristia Tambun, February 6, 2014

Children watch a trained monkey wearing a mask during a “topeng monyet”
(masked monkey) show, a traditional Indonesian street performance, in East Jakarta,
in this file picture taken on April 25, 2011. (Reuters Photo/Beawiharta)

Jakarta. Dozens of masked monkeys seized in the Indonesian capital may be released into the wild after the city’s zoo declined to take the animals into its care, Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo said on Thursday.

The Jakarta administration staged a city-wide crackdown on topeng monyet — a cruel practice where long-tailed macaques are forced to wear costumes and perform for spare change — last October, purchasing the monkeys from handlers for Rp 1 million ($82) each. More than 60 monkeys were seized in the sweeps, putting an end to what was once a common sight on the streets of Jakarta. But the question of what to do with the animals, many of which suffered years of abuse, still hangs in the air.

The monkeys, which are being rehabilitated by the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), were initially slated for the city’s Ragunan Zoo. But zoo officials have declined to take in the capital’s street monkeys, arguing that they suffered from diseases and posed a threat to the facilities current animal population.

“The illnesses vary, from hepatitis to tuberculosis, so if Ragunan Zoo doesn’t want them, then that’s OK,” Joko said.

Instead, the city should look to releasing the monkeys into the wild, he said.

“The ill monkeys have to be healed, but once they’re healthy we may release them to the forest,” Joko said.

JAAN wild animal protection coordinator Femke den Haas told the Jakarta Globe that the animals were no longer sick. Fourteen macaques were put down after testing positive for tuberculosis, Den Haas said. The remaining 67 are free of disease and slowly learning to socialize with other macaques — a significant step after spending much of their lives living alongside humans.

“All the monkeys we have now are healthy, so they are ready to be transferred to wherever is best for them,” Den Haas said. “[But] we still have to socialize them [first]… to socialize monkeys who are traumatized and have not spent time around other monkeys takes time.

“That is why we don’t want them relocated now.”

The organization, which campaigned for years to get the monkeys off the streets, has floated the idea of purchasing an uninhabited island in Pulau Seribu — the capital’s Thousand Islands district — to house the animals. The group is now staging a fundraising campaign to buy the small island and establish a topeng monyet sanctuary.

“We at JAAN believe the monkeys are best off on an island,” Den Haas said. “They will be happy on an island… but for Jakarta, for the government, it would be great if they had an enclosure for these dancing monkeys.”

JAAN hoped Ragunan Zoo would reconsider its refusal to accept the monkeys and construct an appropriate habitat and eduction center to show the capital’s residents that the animals are better off after the sweeps.

“They should make as mall museum to show the pictures we have of these monkeys when they were still working on the street,” Den Haas said. “It could be very educational for Jakarta citizens. They could learn about them and see that the monkeys are now happy and living in groups. I think it is good to educate the public.”

The capital’s move to ban performing monkeys has been wildly successful, Den Haas said.

“We don’t see any monkeys on Jakarta’s streets anymore,” she said. “We used to get phone calls every day, but now we don’t get phone calls about monkeys [in] Jakarta.”

The organization still receives word of topeng monyet performing in the West Java cities of Bandung and Bekasi, but the measures taken by Joko’s administration seem to be catching on, she said. The local government in Bandung is currently preparing for sweeps of its own.

“We think other cities will follow,” Den Haas said.

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