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, April 30, 2014

Abuse Against Women Shows No Sign of Abating

Jakarta Globe, Apr 30, 2014

Women rallied at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta to mark
 International Women's Day, in this file photo taken on March 8, 2013.
(JG Photo/Safir Makki)

Islam does not forbid a wife from reporting her husband to the authorities for committing domestic violence (KDRT) and therefore such an act is not sinful, a member of the country’s top Islamic organization said.

“KDRT is a violation. It is against the law of the land and it is against the teachings of Islam,” Abidin Wakano, Nadhlatul Ulama’s Maluku deputy chairman, said on Tuesday. “It is perfectly permissible for a woman to report her husband to the police if she feels she has been a victim of domestic violence.”

Abidin, who is also a lecturer at Ambon’s State Islamic University and a director of the Inter-Faith Institution (LAIM), said that Islam regulates clearly the functions and responsibilities of a husband and wife in a household with the stress on love.

Husbands and wives should respect each other’s rights and obligations and encourage each other to carry out their roles and responsibilities as well as they can.

“Islam teaches people to form harmonious and blessed families and therefore KDRT, whether it is committed by a husband to his wife or vice versa, or by parents to their children, is an act of sin that violates religious teachings,” said Abidin.

Abidin said that in Islam, there are several stages that husbands and wives can take in settling a conflict.

First by sitting together to talk about the problem and if that doesn’t work then turning to a third party as a mediator to offer a solution. If that still failed to produce a solution and the domestic violence continues, the victim can report it to the police and take legal action, he said.

“Reporting spousal abuse is not about humiliating a family. The peaceful process has failed to bring results so the problems must be taken to the next level because at the end of the day there has been sin committed,” he said.

Discriminatory bylaws

Yuniyanti Chuzaifah, chairwoman of the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), said that cases of violence against women continue to rise with an estimated 279,000 cases since the era of reformation until this March.

Yuniyanti pointed out that 342 bylaws issued since Reformation also had the potential to discriminate women.

Speaking at a discussion on women’s issues at the House of Representatives on Monday, Yuniyanti said there had been little progress from “Kartini’s struggles and the gender equality in the early 21st century,” referring to the Indonesian women’s rights pioneer.

“Komnas Perempuan knows of 342 bylaws that have the potential to criminalize women,” she added.

Yuniyanti also said that Kartini Day, celebrated annually, was mostly about substance and paid little attention to the struggle many women face in education, the workplace, the family or politics

“Kartini’s message was an intellectual one. It was about improving the minds of women, not just parading in a kebaya once a year,” she pointed out.

Yuniyanti went on to bemoan the lack of state support for victims of spousal abuse across the country.

“What makes it painful is that the state does not provide services for the recovery of victims of domestic violence. It’s no surprise to see women eventually become sex workers because of the way they are treated. They feel helpless and alone and are prone to manipulation,” she said.

Yuniyanti also cited the forms of violence endured by female migrant workers working far from home. The case of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, for example, the maid who was badly beaten while working in Hong Kong, is currently going through the courts in the territory.

Returning to the general theme of spousal abuse, Yuniyanti claimed Indonesia wasn’t doing enough.

“All this violence can happen and offenders can get away with it because the state condones violence towards women as there is a lack of harsh punishment against the perpetrators,” she said.

Divorce rates

At the same discussion, a government official said domestic violence was a contributing factor in many divorce cases.

West Jakarta recorded the highest divorce rates in Jakarta with around 600 cases over the past four months with domestic violence contributing the most to the divorce.

“Seventy percent of couples [who wanted to break up their relationship] filed for divorce because of KDRT,” said Rizal, a spokesman for the West Jakarta Religious Court.

Rizal said that 420 of the divorce cases were caused by KDRT in which 5 percent to 10 percent of the violence was directed against men.

“So far only 30 percent have been settled while the rest are still being processed,” he said.

Rizal said that the divorce process becomes complicated when it involves child custody and assets to be divided.

Financial reasons were another common factor in divorce cases and Rizal revealed it was usually women who started the divorce process.

State violence against women

Arimbi Heroepoetri of Komnas Perempuan said that around 100,000 cases of violence against wives were reported last year, while 3,530 violent incidents against women occurred in public spaces in the form of rape, harassment and molestation.

Violence against women by the state was reported in 445 cases — up eightfold from 2009 — of which 395 were victims of evictions in Jakarta.

But there were also several cases reported of women suffering at the hands of the state in the name of religion and morality.

This included the burning of places of worship, forcibly preventing women from engaging in religious activities and even trafficking of people who had been charged under the controversial anti-pornography law.

Arimbi said that domestic violence makes up almost 96 percent of all the violence cases against women and attributed it to power gap between men and women and weak laws to protect women from violence.

Ninik Rahayu, a Komnas Perempuan commissioner, criticized the government for its lack of commitment to provide support for victims of violence.

“The structure, facilities and infrastructure to ensure victims can get the justice and support they deserve have not been met as promised.”

The Women Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry’s deputy assistant on matters related to violence against women, Retno Adji Prasetiaju, said that the ministry is currently coordinating with the National Police chief, Gen. Sutarman, to have a women and child protection unit in every station at subdistrict and ward levels in order to provide maximum service for the victims of violence.

Easy targets

Earlier this year a retired police general and his wife allegedly held 16 domestic workers in captivity and tortured them in their Bogor, West Java mansion. Such captivity is a form of modern-day slavery and is believed to be the tip of the ice-berg. What makes the case remarkable is that the victims went public. It is widely believed many more women are scared to go down that path.

Anis Hidayah, executive director of Jakarta-based Migrant Care, told the Jakarta Globe that such practices are physically concealed but occur all around us, stripping those silent victims of their most basic of human rights: freedom.

Mutiara Situmorang and her husband, retired police general Mangisi Situmorang, were reported to the police after one of their 16 domestic workers — half of whom were under the legal working age of 17 — fled the mansion, claiming she had suffered from physical abuse.

Anis said this case was far from unique in Indonesia.

Related Article:

Women hold a demonstration in Abuja over the mass abduction of 
schoolgirls by Nigerian militants Boko Haram. Photograph: Gbemiga

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Indonesia School Abuse Scandal Sparks Soul-Searching

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Apr 29, 2014

Indonesian mothers protest against child sexual abuse in Banda Aceh, following
 incidents of child sexual abuse in the Aceh province and in the capital, Jakarta.
(AFP Photo/Chaideer Mahyuddin)

Jakarta. A sex abuse scandal at one of Indonesia’s most prestigious international schools has sparked a heated debate about the failure to protect children in the country and prompted calls for harsher punishments for pedophiles.

Accusations that a six-year-old boy was sexually assaulted by cleaning staff at the nursery of the Jakarta International School, a favorite with the capital’s expatriates and wealthy Indonesians, sparked widespread anger this month.

A second child has since come forward claiming to have been assaulted at the nursery — which the government has now ordered to be closed — and the school has also disclosed it used to employ an American teacher who was suspected of being a prolific pedophile.

Police have arrested six cleaners contracted from an outside company over the recent abuse accusations, one of whom has committed suicide, and the school has pledged to cooperate with the investigation.

Beyond public anger over the alleged abuse at the elite school, the scandal has focused attention on a subject previously little discussed in Indonesia — the high incidence of child sex attacks, particularly in schools.

The national commission for child protection (KPAI) says it received around 3,000 reports of sexual abuse of minors in 2013, double the figure from five years ago, with some 30 percent of cases in educational institutions.

Commission member Seto Mulyadi said the figures were “only the tip of the iceberg”.

“Many cases still go unreported because victims’ families feel ashamed,” he added.

There has been much soul-searching in the national media on the subject following the Jakarta case, with commentators demanding that more action be taken to guarantee the safety of youngsters.

Calls for harsher punishments

Media have also focused intensely on other sex abuse stories in the wake of the scandal, such as one involving a six-year-old girl allegedly assaulted by a policeman in Aceh province, on western Sumatra island.

A six-year-old girl from Banda Aceh who was the victim of alleged sexual abuse
 by a local policeman, being held by her mother, on April 24, 2014 (AFP Photo/
Chaideer Mahyuddin)

The child’s mother initially said she felt too “ashamed” to report the matter but when accusations surfaced the policeman abused a second girl, she decided to go to the police.

The accused officer has since been arrested.

However even when attackers are caught, child safety campaigners say that sentences are typically too short to deter potential pedophiles.

The maximum sentence for a child sex offender in Indonesia is 15 years and a fine of up to $26,000 — but most who are convicted typically only receive three to five years in jail, campaigners say.

However the debate sparked by the Jakarta case has led to calls for tougher punishment and politicians have started discussing increasing sentences for people who sexually assault youngsters.

“The sentence should be increased to 20 years in prison at the minimum and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment,” said minister Linda Amalia Sari Gumelar, whose portfolio includes child protection.

Senior education ministry official Lydia Freyani Hawadi added the case was a “golden opportunity” to improve checks on people applying to become teachers at schools.

Adding to the sense of crisis at Jakarta International School, news emerged last week that William James Vahey, a 64-year-old US citizen described by the FBI as a “suspected serial child predator”, taught at the institution for a decade until 2002.

However there have been no allegations that Vahey, who committed suicide last month when his then employer discovered a thumb drive containing graphic images of boys, carried out abuse at the Indonesian school.

The institution has moved to try and put a lid on the controversy, with the head Tim Carr insisting in regular media appearances the school is committed to child protection.

The school says it has strengthened security by adding extra security cameras and improving its child protection measures.

While there is hope that something good may come out of a horrible case in the form of stronger legislation to protect children, activists say for many youngsters across Indonesia, it is already too late.

Children who have been abused “develop esteem problems, become withdrawn, have problems studying, and may be so disturbed that they grow up modeling the same behavior as their perpetrators,” said Seto from the child protection commission.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Joko Widodo Lays Out Agricultural Manifesto for Indonesia

Jakarta Globe, Deti Mega Purnamasari & Markus Junianto Sihaloho, Apr 27, 2014

A Balinese farmer threshes rice in Denpasar. (EPA Photo/Made Nahi)

Jakarta. Over a month after officially entering the presidential race, Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo, nominated as presidential candidate by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, or PDI-P, has begun introducing his vision and mission to the voters.

Visiting local farmers at the Tanjungrasa village in Bogor district’s Cariu subdistrict, Joko on Sunday addressed six points in the field of agriculture and food security that would be his focus should he be elected president in the election set to take place on July 9.

Productive agricultural lands, Joko said, should not be converted into other use, such as residential or industrial areas, and should instead be preserved. Additionally, he said farmers would have to be assisted in making sure that even the smallest plots of lands were used productively and that farmers were educated not to use chemically engineered seeds or pesticides.

Joko also emphasized the need to build better infrastructure for farmers, the need to monitor the quality of water in the fields, as well as improved monetary benefits for farmers and better access to capital and financial support.

“I asked farmers, how many tons [of rice] can be produced from one hectare [of land]? Apparently it was six tons, because farmers here are using a good mix,” Joko said during his visit on Sunday.

According to him, the average amount of rice produced on Indonesian farms was between four to five tons for each hectare of land, while the population grew by three million each year.

“Like it or not, we need to prepare more food for this growth. Additionally, in the past five years there has been a significant increase in food imports,” he said, citing hikes in the imports of several staple food items such as rice, corn, soy, flour, sugar, salt, beef, onions and fruits.

“We import fish. We are a maritime nation but our fish imports have spiked,” Joko said “These are issues that need to be sorted out. These things are the reason why inflation on certain basic commodities easily occurs for a long period of time and repeatedly.”

Joko was adamant that the issue would see major risks unfurl in the next five to 10 years should the government fail to take strict and extreme policies. “Without that, we are risking our sovereignty and food security,” he said.

As such, Joko said it was important to ensure the production sector was improved so as to limit imports.

“We have to concentrate the production. Imports have to be cut and eventually eliminated. With some effort and hard work, I think we can achieve this within four or five years,” he said.

A change of mentality

Aside from his vision for the Indonesian agricultural sector, Joko on Sunday also introduced what he called a “mental revolution,” which he cited as one of the main requirements needed to see positive changes in Indonesia in the future.

“A mental revolution, because we have to change ourselves, so that this nation can reach its potential, because we are a big nation. Let’s change our mentality from the negative to the positive,” Joko said on Sunday, emphasizing that the issue would be one of his biggest focuses if elected president and would cover areas such as education, health and agriculture.

“We cannot be stuck in negative thoughts and instead should be positive, we have to be sure that we can do this well and in the right way,” Joko said.

A member of Joko’s national secretariat team, Eva Kusuma Sundari, said that with the program, Joko would become an icon of transformative leadership bringing new values to be practiced by government.

“[Joko is] a leader who seeks to promote a mental revolution for the sake of transforming Indonesia into becoming a sovereign, independent nation, the embodiment of a 21st-century Trisakti [ideology],” Eva said in Jakarta on Sunday, referring leadership principles espoused by Sukarno.

A mental revolution, she said, was part of an effort to build a fair and prosperous society that adheres to the Pancasila state ideology. “A nation that never leaves behind nation and character building projects,” Eva explained.

She emphasized that Joko had started this mission in Jakarta, with people becoming more aware of their responsibility not to litter in the areas surrounding the Angke river in West Jakarta following the city administration’s revitalization program.

“The Indonesian culture of working together has to be developed and strengthened for it to become the base of our [development],” Eva said, adding that education played a pivotal role in ensuring the strengthening of this culture among Indonesians. “Of course people and human resources are the engine of any public transformation projects and, as such, the spirit of education has to be made the center of character-building efforts.”

PDI-P central executive board chairman Maruar Sirait said Joko was ready to build up the country by focusing on three indicators: Indonesia’s political sovereignty, economic independence and a positive image in the cultural sector.

“It is important for us to move towards a mental revolution, as explained by Joko, because our nation is yet to unite mentally, but it will. We have to be confident with our capabilities,” he said.

Despite having a vast supply of natural resources, such as marine, mineral and energy resources, Indonesia remains hampered by bigger issues such as uneven economic growth, poor law enforcement as well as other leadership and mental issues, he said.

“That is why the mental revolution explained by Joko is very relevant,” Maruar said, adding that the program would inspire optimism throughout the nation’s stakeholders.

Furthermore, Maruar also explained that Indonesia’s diversity has yet to be well understood by the public and that the concept of pluralism remained in tatters as a result of years of colonialism and imperialism by the Dutch, who at the time used divisive rule to prevent the people from uniting against them.

“The mental revolution will have to nurture a mentality of unity, Indonesians have to come together in building a better Indonesia,” he said.

“[It’s called] a mental revolution because we have to change ourselves, so that this nation would have hope. Because we are a great nation.”

Search for a running mate

Maruar also said on Sunday that the mental revolution concept also proved PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri had made the right decision by appointing Joko as the party’s candidate and that she would also elect the right running mate for Joko.

“We are sure Mega will elect the right vice presidential candidate for Joko, one who will not merely be a spare tire,” Maruar said. “Let the decision be based on dialectics and public discussions. They [the public] have proved receptive towards the PDI-P’s presidential candidate, and now we hope they will react in the same way towards the PDI-P’s [appointment of a] vice presidential candidate.”

He added the party wanted to make sure any vice president would work with the president in following through party policies and was not burdened with past misdeeds.

Related Article:

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Finding an Inner ‘Light’ Through Tarot Cards

Jakarta Globe, Tunggul Wirajuda, Apr 27, 2014

(Photo courtesy of the Light Givers)

The participants in the tarot workshop choose from a row of overturned cards at random. Grouped in pairs, they take turns interpreting three or four of their partners’ cards to gain insights on their past, present and future.

The point of the activity is as practical as it is mystical; participants seek to find solutions to their problems and shortcomings. The results of their enquiries, whether it be about love, wealth or other aspects of life, are as unexpected as they are uncanny. One hand unveiled by the reader turns out to be the nine of wands, showing the subject’s determination to hold on to her loved one. Another card is the nine of pentacles, indicating the promise of prosperity for the subject.

These mystical seekers were among eight people who joined a workshop held by the Light Givers, a community specializing in reading tarot cards. Founded by digital marketing consultant Nanies Effendy and tarot reader Audifax in June 2013, the group seeks to help young people realize their potential.

“[Light Givers] believe that we are born with our share of luck, much of which we are often unaware. That luck is the ‘light’ that shines inside each and every one of us,” explains the community in its mission statement, though it added that one’s free will also determine their life’s direction, as do experiences and traumas. “We convey our program in a fun format of psychological consultation through fortune telling, whether it be tarot, zodiac, palmistry and so on. This format is accessible and has won us a thriving fan base. Most of all, we aim to help the young realize their potential, and be a place they can turn to when they face problems and feel alone.”

Since its founding, Light Givers has been offering monthly workshops costing Rp 350,000 ($30). The sessions, which can accommodate five to 12 participants, include an introduction to the 22 cards of the Major Arcana, and the 56 cards that make up the Minor Arcana. The former, which comprises well known symbols like The Lovers, The Devil and Death, symbolizes the functions of thinking, feeling, sense and intuition. On the other hand, the Minor Arcana of Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles are elemental, representing Fire, Water, Air and Earth.

“For many people, the first thing that comes to mind when they think tarot cards are images of superstition, fortune telling and other irrational elements. But the cards aren’t as random as they look, since they reflect both the collective and individual subconscious and how they work,” says Audiofax. “The subconscious works quicker than the conscious mind. What tarot does is train people to hone and control it.”

Fellow tarot reader Rendy Fudoh agrees with Light Givers co-founder.

“What drew me to tarot is its philosophy. When I learn about tarot cards, I can learn about everything else, such as religion, culture and other aspects of life. It gives me a better perspective about their backgrounds, much of which are shaped by the subconscious,” says the mentalist and magician, who was inspired to try his hand at tarot after reading a book on magic and mentalism by Dedy Corbuzier, an Indonesian mover in both fields.

“One can also do many things with tarot, like put together a story, perform some magic tricks, and use it for counseling. We can even use it for self hypnosis.”

Depicting symbols of the elements and emotions, tarot cards carry a psychological weight beyond their fortune telling capacities.

“Tarot cards have many practical benefits, as they predate the archetypes highlighted in Jungian psychology by thousands of years. Aside from learning about symbols and archetypes, one can also learn about ‘hierarchy,’” says tarot reader Aryo Nugroho, a practicing lawyer. “Hierarchies define people’s places in the world, whether they’re made to lead, find their style or know their place in life. The reader can also define their character through the card’s symbolism. For instance, some of my women friends identify themselves with the High Priestess and the Hierophant, since the former symbolizes the ancient Earth goddesses while the latter symbolizes faith and undisputed truths.”

One participant, Nurul, a psychology major at Tarumanegara University, was quick to perceive how the cards can change her perspective.

“The insights I gained from tarot adds a new dimension to the inner workings of the human psyche that I previously got from the study of graphology, or studying people’s handwriting. Tarot goes deeper into the subconscious, whereas graphology is wider in scope and is less detailed or in depth,” she says. “Its approach of pairing our persons with strangers help us understand ourselves and our future, as they have no preconceptions about us. I’m certain that the use of tarots will be very useful should I take graduate studies in counseling.”

The confidence Nurul gave to Light Givers is shared by thousands of others. The community’s participation in a number of events, like the 2013 Social Media Festival, University of Indonesia’s Festival Budaya or Cultural Festival, as well as Hai Day, which they often stage in cooperation with the Klub Tarot Jakarta and Tarot Institut, ensures an increasing number of enthusiasts. To date, its Twitter page @LightGivers has a following of nearly 5,600 people.

“Our tarot readers are college and high school students, who also make up most of our followers on Twitter and Facebook. Many are drawn to the tarots after they try out readings at social festivals. Other clients are executives who use the cards to uncover issues they can’t discuss with their loved ones” says Nanies. “Social media outlets help spread the word about us. However, our promotional vehicle is still through word of mouth.”

While Light Givers Corps lived up to its name and enlightened thousands of young people about tarot, the group still has its fair share of challenges.

“The practice of reading tarot cards continues to be dogged by public perceptions of it as a superstition. For instance, one person at the Social Media festival questioned our participation there, on the grounds that we’re carrying out a superstitious activity like fortune telling,” Rendy lamented. “People like these find superstition easier to believe in. Tarot works by intuition, which is far less tangible for them. They are also too lazy to learn the difference, or that tarot can be used to tackle life’s major challenges. We might as well disregard them and continue what we’re doing.”

Friday, April 25, 2014

Passenger arrested after hijack scare on Virgin Australia flight to Bali

Passenger believed to be drunk attempts to enter the plane's cockpit on flight from Brisbane to Indonesian island of Bali, Peter Walker and agencies, Friday 25 April 2014

A Virgin Australia plane flying to Bali was the focus of a hijack scare after an apparently drunk passenger attempted to enter the plane's cockpit.

The security alert began when Indonesian officials said the pilot of the Boeing 737 flight from Brisbane reported a hijack attempt. When the plane landed at Bali's airport it was escorted away from the terminal by military trucks, with other flights grounded, witnesses at the airport said.

However, the local airport manager for Virgin Australia, Heru Sudjatmiko, told local TV the disturbance was caused by a seemingly drunk passenger, a 28-year-old Australian, who was acting aggressively and had to be handcuffed by crew after trying to enter the cockpit.

Drunken Australian passenger arrested by 
Indonesian police after sparking hijack alert
on Bali-bound plane. (AFP)
"This is no hijacking, this is a miscommunication," he was quoted as saying by AFP. "What happened was there was a drunk person. Too much alcohol consumption caused him to act aggressively.

"Based on the report I received, the passenger tried to enter the cockpit, through the cockpit door, by banging on the door but he did not enter the cockpit at all."

The man, named by Indonesian officials as Matt Christopher Lockley, was apprehended by crew members before being handcuffed and put in a seat at the back of the plane. After the flight landed he was removed and arrested.

"The police are having difficulty digging up information on what he intended to do because he is still in an unstable condition," a police official at Bali airport told reporters. A member of the flight crew told police that Lockley had appeared "paranoid". His blood is being tested for alcohol and drugs.

Indonesian military officials said later that no one on board had been injured and the 137 passengers were evacuated.

Virgin Australia Airlines, formerly Virgin Blue Airlines, is Australia's second-largest airline as well as the largest by fleet size to use the Virgin brand.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Jokowi Effect Puts Spotlight on Indonesia’s Mayors

Jakarta Globe, Berni Moestafa, Apr 24, 2014

Joko Widodo’s supporters hope he can transform the country just as
he did with Solo when he was mayor.  (AFP Photo)

The popularity of Joko Widodo is giving traction to local leaders in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy as they adopt the hands-on style that helped propel Jakarta’s governor to the front of the presidential race.

Joko is the best-known of the officials to emerge from outside the machinery of the major parties after a decade of direct elections. While pushing power outward has led to graft in some Indonesian towns, the popularity of officials such as the mayors of Bandung and Surabaya may force the big parties to become more responsive to concerns among the 250 million-strong population about corruption, infrastructure and health services.

“In Indonesia, if you are a leader you must come down to the ground level, so not be just the driver but also be the mechanic,” said Ridwan Kamil, 42, who since September has been mayor of Bandung in West Java, a city of 2.6 million people. “Local leaders are pragmatic, problem solvers,” he said in an interview in Jakarta on March 28.

Ridwan and Tri Rismaharini from Surabaya are starting to garner attention nationally, potentially widening the pool of future leaders in a country where a lack of roads, bridges and ports has slowed growth. Joko’s popularity rests on hopes he can replicate his can-do approach in Jakarta and create a more nimble government, even as he looks to form a coalition during the presidential campaign. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono now governs with a group of five other parties.

“The era of political dynasties and feudalistic culture in politics is starting to be left behind,” Yunarto Wijaya, executive director of consultancy Charta Politika Indonesia, said on April 11. “That’s given greater room for local figures, many of whom are simple bureaucrats, or ordinary people whose achievements stand out, to then become leaders, and this is what has happened to Jokowi,” he said, referring to Joko by his nickname.

Economic challenge

Joko, 52, leads popularity polls for July’s election, ahead of tycoon Aburizal Bakrie, a former economy minister who is head of the family that owns the Bakrie Group, and ex-general Prabowo Subianto, who was once married to the daughter of former dictator Suharto. A Roy Morgan survey in March showed Joko on 45 percent of votes, 30 percentage points ahead of Prabowo.

The next government must revive an economy that grew at the slowest pace in four years in 2013. While Indonesia’s poverty rate fell to 12 percent in 2012 from 16 percent in 2005, a World Bank report in March showed that income inequality as measured by the gini coefficient widened to 0.41 from 0.35 over the same period, past the 0.4 level that the United Nations has said is a predictor of social unrest.

The Democratic Party of Yudhoyono, who is barred from running for a third term, was the biggest loser in the April 9 parliament ballot, falling to an estimated 9.7 percent of the vote from 20.8 percent in 2009, according to survey company Lingkaran Survei Indonesia. Joko’s party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), won the most votes at about 19 percent, according to LSI.

Regents rise

Joko’s political success is based on a hands-on approach to solving problems adopted when he became the first directly elected mayor of the Central Java town of Solo in 2005: Find out what concerns people by making daily visits to the areas where they live, the markets where they shop and the streets where they sit stalled in choking traffic. Among his daily walks through Jakarta’s streets he waded in January through knee-deep floodwaters.

Indonesia’s move to decentralize the central government in 2001 has enabled local leaders to confront problems on the ground, said Budi Sulistyono, who is in charge of Ngawi, a regency of about 912,000 people in East Java.

“Knowing the difficulties of your people is crucial,” Budi, 53, said on March 31. “The provincial government is more administrative in nature whereas all problems of the city, of the people in this region are almost entirely handled by the regent.”

Big bang

The end of Suharto’s three-decade rule at the height of the Asian financial crisis in 1998 led the government to devolve power to the regions to prevent the archipelago from breaking apart. Dubbed the Big Bang decentralization in 2001, Indonesia almost doubled the share of government spending to regions, transferred almost two thirds of the central government workforce, and handed over more than 16,000 public services such as hospitals and schools, according to a 2003 World Bank report.

“A politician, a leader, can only be said to have been tested when he has a political career of leading a smaller region,” Charta Politika’s Wijaya said. They contrast with “political party figures, who sometimes don’t have any experience in the government, have not been tested with a political career, but because of blue blood or because of their money to form a political party are instantly nominated for president.”

Prize winner

For turning Solo from a “crime-ridden” city into a regional center for the arts, Joko came third in the 2012 World Mayor Prize by the City Mayors Foundation, a London-based think tank.

The foundation named Tri Rismaharini, or Risma, who leads Indonesia’s second-largest city of Surabaya in East Java, mayor of the month for February. The 52-year-old, who has been running the city since September 2010, convinced Jakarta to push ahead with a port development after a two-decade standstill, spurring a 200 percent rise in Surabaya port traffic, according to the foundation.

In Bandung, Ridwan said he uses social media to direct complaints about public service to the relevant office in his administration, allowing everyone to monitor progress online. Photos of cleared sewers and fixed potholes are uploaded via Twitter as each office tries to bring the complaint level down to zero, said Ridwan, a University of California, Berkeley, graduate.

Reward, punishment

“I believe in reward and punishment,” Ridwan said. “Every three months I review my officials and in every three months there must be improvement.”

Still, as power spread with decentralization, corruption too trickled from Jakarta to the regions. Indonesia ranked 114th among 177 countries in a 2013 Transparency International survey on corruption perceptions.

Of the 500 heads of local administrations, about 300 are implicated in various graft cases, Agus Santoso, deputy chairman at the nation’s anti-money laundering agency, said Feb. 21. Bandung is the only Indonesian city that, together with the nation’s corruption eradication commission, designed an anti-graft program, according to Ridwan.

Vested interests

In Indonesia’s capital of 9.6 million people it’s easy to make Rp 100 billion ($8.6 million) on the side, said Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

“Are you ready to die?” Basuki said of working against vested interests. “Everything you decide will affect the interests of other people, those who have had it comfortable for 30 to 40 years.”

Bandung’s Ridwan said he often bikes to work, adding he’s setting an example as Risma does in Surabaya by picking up garbage on her way to work and Joko with his daily meetings with locals.

“No longer can leaders keep their distance from their people,” Ridwan said. “They must mingle and eat among them.”


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Second Victim Comes Forward in JIS Sex Abuse Scandal

Jakarta Globe, Markus Junianto Sihaloho & Bayu Marhaenjati, Apr 23, 2014

A second rape victim has come forward in the scandal gripping the
Jakarta International School. (JG Photo/ Yudhi Sukma Wijaya)

Jakarta. The Indonesian Commission for Child Protection announced another 6-year-old boy has stepped forward to report that he, too, had suffered from sexual abuse at the hands of Jakarta International School’s janitorial staff.

Erlinda, the secretary of the commission known as the KPAI, claimed on Wednesday that teachers and management of the international school, commonly referred to as JIS, had known about the incident but made attempts to prevent details from coming to light.

She said the boy had described his assailants, one of whom is believed to be one of the two suspects currently in police custody.

“He doesn’t know [their names]. He only referred to them as ‘the big boys,’ or ‘the blue,’” Erlinda said, referring to the janitors’ uniform.

The boy is in the same class as the first victim, whose rape case triggered a firestorm of legal and media scrutiny on one of Jakarta’s most expensive private schools.

Erlinda said the incident occurred in February and mirrored the other case, with the alleged rape occurring in the school bathroom, beyond the coverage of the school’s closed-circuit television cameras.

The KPAI vowed to protect the boy even though JIS had provided the services of their psychologist.

“We will take over. The boy will be given therapy to cope with the traumatizing memories,” she said.

She called on police to collect blood and DNA samples from all JIS employees.

Meanwhile, Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr Rikwanto said the Jakarta Police’s Women’s and Children Unit is seeking to charge the school for negligence that led to the sexual assault of its students.

“It will be developed into [a case of] negligence,” Rikwanto said, adding that investigators would question teachers, student councilors and the school’s principal.

“We will summon members of the teaching staff as well as their principal to collect details on their teaching methodology, and how they watch over their students, because such an unspeakable act should not have been allowed to occurred within the school compound,” Rikwanto said.

The police spokesman said the teachers should have been aware of any behavioral changes in their students as they were the ones the children were closest to.

Furthermore, he said, it was the teachers’ responsibility to approach a child if she displayed any signs of fear or discomfort.

“It’s like this: a class consists of 16 students. The teacher should keep track of each student under his or her care. For instance, when a student asks for permission to go to the rest room, or when they want to eat, and so on,” Rikwanto said.

“It’s easy to detect when a child has experienced extraordinary physical and psychological changes,” he added.

The Education Ministry has ordered the JIS kindergarten campus closed in the wake of the scandal, citing its lack of an operating permit, while the immigration department says it will review the work permits of the foreign staff employed there.

Indonesian mothers protest against child sexual abuse in Banda Aceh, following
 incidents of child sexual abuse in the Aceh province and in the capital, Jakarta.
(AFP Photo/Chaideer Mahyuddin)

William James Vahey in 2013, left, and 2004. The teacher, 64,
 killed himself after confessing to drugging and molesting
children while on field trips. Photograph: AP

Monday, April 21, 2014

Kartini’s Legacy: Women of a New Era

Jakarta Globe, Rebecca Lake, Apr 20, 2014

The Anwar sisters. (JG Photo)

It’s been over 110 years since Indonesian heroine Raden Ajeng Kartini penned her thoughts on the emancipation of women.

Considered the pioneer of women’s rights in Indonesia, Kartini, whose birthday the nation celebrates on Monday, paved the way for many others in her wake to continue the fight for respect and equal opportunity.

Despite her revolutionary thinking for the time, Kartini was not immune to the social constraints, barriers and beliefs that were imbedded in early 20th century Javanese society. She was forced out of school at the age of 12 to marry into a polygamous relationship, which her writing reveals she was strongly opposed to. While the heroine achieved significant advancements for the rights of women, such as establishing the nation’s first school for girls, she died in child birth, ironically, at the age of 25, leaving her trailblazing efforts in the hands of the generations of women to come.

Today there are countless examples of Indonesian women who have taken on Kartini’s mantra. The Anwar sisters are three such noteworthy champions.

All highly successful in their own right Dewi, Danti and Desi are testaments to the notion that Kartini’s voice lives on, now more than ever.

“Clearly since Kartini’s day women have come a long long way, not just in Indonesia.… She grew up in a time when there were very few options for women,” says Dewi, the oldest of the three siblings, in an interview during one of the rare instances when all three busy women could be together at the same time in the same place.

As a highly respected professor and a senior advisor to Vice President Boediono, Dewi has had an accomplished career. But it hasn’t come without conscious striving to fulfill her ambitions and exercise her rights.

“She had a prenup before her wedding,” says youngest sister Desi, a senior Metro TV journalist, with a laugh.

“My husband comes from a more traditional family… so I had a prenup, I wanted to do my PhD and I did it,” Dewi says matter-of-factly. “We had a one-year-old daughter when I left to Australia to do my PhD.”

It was a challenge, she says, to be away from her young family, but one she felt was necessary.

Her sister Danti, the Ministerial Secretary of the Ministry for Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, who completed her studies in England, endured the same situation in order to achieve her career goals.

“The challenges were when I was abroad for a certain time, if our kids were sick or stuff like that, of course we really looked to our husband to take care, but… that was very hard,” she says.

Indonesians Commemorate Kartini Day in 1953. (Wikimedia Commons)

Challenges remain

These “sacrifices” to obtain a quality education are among the many struggles modern women face in Indonesia.

“Indonesia being so big, we cannot claim that the benefits for women are universal,” says Dewi, who credits her upbringing in West Sumatra and the positive influences of her parents for much of her success.

“There are certain parts of Indonesia, particularly true for example in the remote regions where poverty remains a major issue and where access to education remains very limited, and those areas suffer doubly,” says the Deputy Chairman for Social Sciences and Humanities at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).

A recent report by the World Economic Forum ranks Indonesia 95th out of 135 countries in terms of gender equality, scoring far below its neighbor, the Philippines, which ranked fifth.

“There are some areas particularly in the eastern parts of Indonesia where women have to continually defer to their male elders even when it comes to their own health. For example in certain parts of eastern Indonesia, a pregnant woman can’t make a decision to go to the doctor. That would be the decision for her husband to make and sometimes he will also have to defer to the view of the male elders,” says Dewi, adding that its situations like this contribute significantly to Indonesia’s appalling maternal mortality rate, the worst in Southeast Asia.

It is examples such as this, Desi says, that have rendered women “prisoners of the system created by humans and in this case by Indonesians.

“For me, when religion plays an influencing factor in how you treat women, you subscribe to a certain idea that a boy and a girl have certain roles… then that’s not very constructive because… you are creating certain limitations and ways of thinking.

“I mean Indonesia is one of the biggest Muslim countries. It’s very much influenced by the idea that women should not be the captains of the ship. You follow, there’s only one captain of the house and you follow. That is already a constraint.”

All three sisters credit their supportive father and mother, who despite having three children, unashamedly bucked social norms and left for America to study, leaving her “capable” husband to manage the household, which effectively shielded the sisters from gender stereotypes.

“There were a lot of malicious comments,” says Dewi, but this determined attitude is what the sisters admired most about their mother: “She turned the table around.”

Women in politics

Boosting female participation in Indonesian politics is not only essential to eradicate discriminatory policies and implement those that help to close the gender divide, but is also necessary for a legitimate democracy, says Danti.

“The number of men and women is equal so we need to have more equal access in all areas of development,” she says. “This is a real democracy.”

Enabling more female participation is of course the tricky part. Unrealistic expectations placed on women by themselves and by society to maintain a happy home pushes many out of the political arena. Other issues include outright marginalization and discrimination on the part of male counterparts and social stereotypes about gender and leadership.

But according to Danti, these issues are being addressed through a number of programs such as affirmative action and gender mainstreaming policies, which encourage all areas of civil society to welcome and employ more women.

All political parties are required to work toward having 30 percent of candidates as women.

While that goal has yet to be achieved, promising progress has been docmented. In the space of just two years, the participation of women in politics went up by 6 percent.

“There is progress but… this is male-dominated country,” says Danti, who emphasizes the enormous barriers women must surmount to enter politics, such as facing down patronizing and unsupportive male peers. “That’s why in the future we should have not just affirmative action but reserved seats like in other countries.”

Winning Women

Despite the setbacks for women in politics, media and academia, all three sisters say they have not personally experienced much direct discrimination.

It’s high time for women in the media, said Desi. “When I started in RCTI, for example, a video camera was quite heavy, it was like 15 kilos, so we tended to have camera men. But nowadays it’s lighter; technology actually opens up plenty of jobs and careers for women.”

“Maybe I’m just too thick skinned,” Dewi laughs, adding she has never seen her gender as a disadvantage. “I’ve noticed that being a woman is an advantage because they don’t know what to expect from you and then you can get away with a lot of things,” she says highlighting her ability to speak directly and critically without putting anyone off.

“If they patronize me,” she say, “I don’t see it as a threat to my integrity.”