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. …

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Human Rights Watch to Jokowi Amid Execution Revival: Make Rights Matter

Last year, the president promised to investigate past instances of gross human rights violations, but he has not done any of this so far

Jakarta Globe, Jan 31, 2015

Australian lawyer Julian McMohan, right, delivers a statement to reporters after
meeting with two Australians on death row, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan,
in Kerobokan Prison in Denpasar, Bali on Jan. 23, 2015. (Antara Photo/Nyoman

Jakarta. Human Rights Watch has lamented President Joko Widodo’s insistence on reviving executions of condemned inmates, calling it a “cruel” position to take with no proven deterrent effect.

“HRW is seriously disappointed with the executions carried out by Joko’s government,” HRW Asia director Phelim Kine said in Jakarta on Friday.

“It is cruel, it is irreversible,” he added.

Kine was speaking at the local launch of the organization’s “World Report 2015,” which highlighted the promise of greater respect for human rights that was part of Joko’s campaign platform in his election win in 2014. It did not, however, address the execution in the early hours of Jan. 18 of five foreigners and one Indonesian convicted of drug trafficking.

Kine said Indonesia should follow the example set by other countries that had abolished the death penalty, and questioned the government’s argument that executing traffickers would serve as a “deterrent” to other would-be traffickers.

The group asked Joko, who has vowed not to grant clemency to drug offenders on death row, to reconsider his stance.

The Attorney General’s Office said earlier this week that seven more foreigners and four Indonesians, most of them on death row for drug offenses, would face the firing squad soon.

HRW Indonesia researcher Andreas Harsono said several local and international rights groups had spoken with Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly, urging him to abolish the death penalty.

Harsono said the groups presented numerous studies that capital punishment was both wrong and ineffective in deterring crimes.

“Joko is somebody who works based on facts and evidence. By doing this, we believe that the government can ensure a moratorium on death penalty,” Kine said.

The group urged Joko to start making the protection of human rights a priority, saying that the challenges inherited from his predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, were immense.

HRW said sectarian attacks and impunity by the security forces had worsened over the years.

Last year, Joko explicitly promised to investigate past instances of gross human rights violations, including the disappearance of pro-democracy activists in 1998 and the 1965-66 anti-communist purge.

Joko also indicated in July that he would seek to end the government stranglehold on foreign media access to Papua.

He had not done any of this so far.

HRW said Joko should also address the impunity enjoyed by hard-line groups, which have launched attacks against religious minority groups, tolerance and LGBT rights activists and advocates, freely and without fear of prosecution.

People react as Edith Visvanathan (not seen in the picture), the grandmother of Myuran Sukumaran who is one of the drug convicts facing execution in Indonesia, appeals to the Indonesian government during a vigil in Sydney on Jan. 29, 2015. More than two thousand Australians, led by local musicians, gathered in Sydney on January 29 in a plea for mercy for two drug convicts facing execution in Indonesia, as concern grew they could soon face a firing squad. (AFP Photo/Saeed Khan)

Related Article:

A New Miss India Indonesia Is Crowned

Jakarta Globe, Rabab Hannan, Jan 31, 2015

Grace Walia is crowned Miss India Indonesia 2015
by Miss India Indonesia 2014 Mansi Sharmi, left,
as Indian Ambassador to Indonesia and Timor Leste
 Gurjit Singh, right, looks on. (JG Photo/Rabab Hannan)

Jakarta. Grace Walia was named Miss India Indonesia 2015 early on Saturday in the pageant’s grand finale.

Walia was crowned by Mansi Sharma, who was Miss India Indonesia 2014, at the JW Marriott Hotel Jakarta.

Indian Ambassador to Indonesia and Timor Leste Gujrit Singh opened the night, encouraging the audience to value and respect all women.

“As we walk towards to the century of women I think today is the time to celebrate womanhood,” Singh told hundreds of attendants on Friday night.

The event, which started at 8 p.m., featured showcases of traditional Indonesian and Indian costumes including batik, tenun (a handwoven fabric) and sari (a long Indian drape wrapped around the body), accompanied by speeches and various classical and contemporary performances.

Country manager of the competition, Shanti Tolani, related the importance of this program for young women and girls as they explore new horizons through their cultural identity.

“They are strong and smart and have a big, big heart,” talent mentor Putri Minangsari said.

Sharma stressed this year’s pageant theme — valuing education.

“In 2014 the theme was simplicity and compassion. We were reminding people you don’t have to do a lot to give back to people. This year the cause is educate the girl child which is very close to my heart, too,” Sharma said.

Miss India Indonesia is a collaboration of Sahabat India: an initiative by India and Indonesia in unifying both nations through cultural, social, and political engagements as the three-month-long Festival of India in Indonesia continues.

The contestants voiced their dreams and ambitions for their futures, collectively hoping to strengthen the relationship between both countries.

The pageant’s panel judges included Neeru Singh, wife of the Indian ambassador, Lingga Suwahjo of Star Harvest Academy, designer  Poppy Dharsono and BeritaSatu Media Holdings chief executive Sachin Gopalan.

Sahabat India will continue its festivities of entertainment, cultural exhibitions and programs throughout the next few months.

BeritaSatu Media is affiliated with the Jakarta Globe.

Related Articles:

Thursday, January 29, 2015

US Ambassador Says Kim Jong-un Visit to Bandung a Matter for Indonesia

Jakarta Globe, Natasia Christy, Jan 29, 2015

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un delivers a New Year's address in this Jan. 1, 2015,
 photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang.
(Reuters Photo).

Jakarta. As Indonesia prepares to welcome up to 109 heads of state to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference in April, the US ambassador to Jakarta advised a cautious approach to one name on the list — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The original Asia-Africa Conference was held in Jakarta and Bandung in April, 1955. It was attended by 25 countries and was an important precursor to the Non-Aligned Movement. The government has invited 109 head of states to attend the 60th commemoration of the event in Bandung and Jakarta.

“It’s a decision that Indonesia has to make,” US Ambassador Robert Blake said, referring to the invitation extended to Kim. “However, Indonesia should be cautious with the world view on the sanctioned country. Of course, this will be a consideration for The Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

Blake said the US embassy had yet to receive official notice of Kim’s plans to attended the April event. South Korean news agency Yonhap announced Kim’s plans to attend.

Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha said the North Korean leader had yet to send his RSVP.

Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil was enjoying the prospect of Bandung in the spotlight.

“All eyes will be on Bandung on April 24, especially if the North Korean leader is coming” Ridwan said. “It’s his right [to visit Bandung]. He is invited. We invited his country. Whether the country is bad is not a criteria to receive an invitation.”

Tradition meets Twitter as Saudis pledge to new king

Yahoo - AFPWissam Keyrouz, 27 Jan 2015

Saudi Arabia's new King Salman attends a ceremony at the Diwan royal
palace in Riyadh on January 24, 2015 (AFP)

Decades ago, Saudis trekked across their desert kingdom to pledge allegiance to their new kings at their palaces. Now they are just using Twitter.

Thousands of Saudis have poured into the palace of King Salman who acceded the throne after the death of his half-brother Abdullah last week.

Many others exercised the entrenched tradition at the palaces of provincial princes.

Saudi blogger Raef Badawi, shown
in Jeddah in 2012, was sentenced
in May 2014 to 10 years in prison,
1,000 lashes and a fine for
"insulting Islam" (AFP)
But thousands of others have pledged their allegiance to the new ruler online, taking advantage of social media networks.

Chief among them is Twitter, whose popularity has exploded with an astounding 40 percent of Saudis now using the microblogging website.

Saudi Arabia is governed by a strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law, but authorities have stopped short of banning Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, unlike in the Islamic republic of Iran.

Ultra-conservatives tweet as much as liberals in the tightly censored absolute monarchy, with clerics attracting the most followers, like Mohammed al-Arefe who has 10.8 million of them.

However several users have faced jail over their posts that have been deemed offensive to the authorities or to Islam.

King Salman himself has an account that saw its number of followers surge to 1.6 million as he became the monarch.

"I pray to God to help me serve our dear people and achieve their aspirations, and to keep our country secure and stable," read a tweet posted on the account following his accession.

A hashtag in Arabic declaring "I pledge allegiance to King Salman" spread quickly among Saudi tweeps after King Abdullah died on Friday, as users of the site mourned the late monarch.

'Progress without abandoning tradition'

"I have pledged my allegiance through Twitter because as we progress technologically, we do not abandon our identity and traditions," said Twitter user Salman al-Otaibi.

"This pledge is a duty on every Muslim," he told AFP.

Metab al-Samiri tweeted: "With full obedience, I pledge allegiance to you Salman."

The pledge is both an Islamic obligation to provide the ruler with legitimacy and a tribal commitment to obey the new leader.

Twitter has also proven to be a headache for authorities in Gulf monarchies as social media blogging sites render their censorship largely helpless.

Users calling for reforms in the kingdom have taken to the platform to voice discontent and demand concessions from the ruling family.

"We want a consultative Shura Council that is elected by the people, capable of legislating laws and holding the cabinet to account," said one tweet.

"This way, the alleged reforms could be achieved," it added, using another popular hashtag that said: "Demands for King Salman."

Despite timid steps to introduce reforms, Saudi Arabia under Abdullah remained a tightly controlled kingdom, where conservatives continue to play a strong role.

The case of blogger Raef Badawi serves as an example of the Gulf state's ever-tightening freedom of expression.

Badawi is serving a 10-year jail sentence for insulting Islam, and he has also been sentenced to 1,000 lashes, having received 50 of them in public this month.

Twitter is "the source of all evil and devastation", said the kingdom's top cleric Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh in a fatwa edict in October.

"People are rushing to it thinking it's a source of credible information but it's a source of lies and falsehood," he said.

Despite such warnings, there are no signs of Twitter's popularity waning in Saudi Arabia, whose five million users give the kingdom the world's highest penetration.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Record number of tourists worldwide

The number of international tourists rose by 4.7 percent to reach a record of 1.14 billion last year, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said in Madrid.

Deutsche Welle, 28 Jan 2015

Tourism is growing faster than other economic sectors. The industry's increase has been above the average economic growth for five years in a row. A further growth of up to 4 percent is expected this year.

"Over the past years, tourism has proven to be a surprisingly strong and resilient economic activity," said Taled Rifai, the World Tourism Organization's secretary general. "It is a fundamental contributor to the economic recovery by generating billions of dollars in exports and creating millions of jobs."

According to the UNWTO, the number of international tourists particularly increased in North and South America, rising by 7 percent. Asia and the Pacific registered a growth of 5 percent. Receiving 588 million tourists in 2014, Europe consolidated its position as the most visited region in the world.

Germany had a beyond average performance as a holiday destination.

"Inbound tourism continues to develop so dynamically that, according to the available numbers, we have reached for the fifth year in a row a new record in 2014," said Petra Hedorfer of the German tourism marketing organization Deutsche Zentrale für Tourismus. "Growth in Germany's inbound tourism is stronger than the average calculated by the UNWTO for Europe, which is 3.9 percent."

UNWTO statistics included all tourists who spend at least one night in a foreign country.

at / ak (dpa, DZT)

Commentary: In Saudi King Eulogy, Reminder of Pardons to Indonesians on Death Row

The president must be aware that routine executions of criminals are not a characteristic of democratic countries

Jakarta Globe, Johannes Nugroho, Jan 28, 2015

A picture taken on Jan. 26, 2015 in the coastal seaport City of Jeddah shows a
 Saudi man carrying his baby to pose for a picture in front of a mural dedicated to
 late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz with a slogan in Arabic reading: ‘Where are you
going? Look back and say hello. We didn’t get enough of you’. (AFP Photo)

In a eulogy of recently deceased King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said: “At my request, the late king pardoned many Indonesian citizens who had been sentenced to death by Saudi courts.”

His remark is a timely reminder that attempts made by any government to prevent the execution of its citizens in a foreign nation are part of routine diplomacy. And apparently neither Yudhoyono nor the Saudi government saw the request as an intrusion into Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty. By contrast, a great portion of local media has portrayed attempts made by various foreign governments to plead clemency for their citizens on death row as an outlandish attack on Indonesia’s sovereignty.

Egged on by the media frenzy over threats to our “judicial sovereignty,” most Indonesian social media users have applauded the government’s adamant stance on denying clemency to those sentenced to death in our courts. The subsequent recalls of the Dutch and Brazilian ambassadors following the execution of six drug traffickers swung the Indonesian public opinion further into the government’s camp.

As common sense gives way to emotions, many of us have evidently forgotten that we ourselves take umbrage every time we learn an Indonesian national has been sentenced to death abroad.

It is surprising that the Dutch government decided to recall its ambassador from Jakarta, considering it did not take such action when Dutch engineer Johannes van Damme was hanged for heroin smuggling in 1994 by the Singaporean government. But over 20 years have passed since van Damme’s execution, and so the sociopolitical circumstances in the Netherlands today cannot possibly be compared to those in the recent past.

We should also understand that, although Singapore is widely admired for its order-liness and world-class standards of public service, it is not perceived as a working democracy. Despite the existence of elections in the small republic, the results have always been predictable. Civil liberties are also highly regulated there, effectively making freedom of speech something arbitrated by the government.

By juxtaposition, Indonesia’s democracy — flawed as it may be — is seen as the most robust in Southeast Asia. More importantly, President Joko Widodo at first managed to generate a worldwide image as a leader with a strong commitment to democracy and human rights. Arguably, much of Joko’s image as a defender of human rights is based on hope rather than on scrutiny of his performance in office.

The international media was also guilty of promoting this perception of Joko by portraying him as a man of the people and democracy. TIME magazine, placing Joko on its front cover last October, described the new president as “the new face of Indonesian democracy” and “the world’s most modest national leader.”

So, it was no wonder that most Western governments, perhaps rather naively, assumed that he was a leader who shared their values. Seen in this context, Joko’s seemingly inhumane refusal to grant clemency to drug offenders on death row was something contrary to what people expected of him. His attitude towards capital punishment was likely formed long ago, but attracted no attention.

While wrong on human rights, the foreign media was accurate in predicting the Joko government’s insularity, which is evident not just in its indifference to, if not anger at, foreign protests over the death penalty, but also in its foreign affairs directives. But the president must be aware that routine executions of criminals are not a characteristic of democratic countries.

Though Yudhoyono may not have had the prisoners on Indonesia’s own death row in mind at the time, his praise of King Abdullah’s mercifulness is indeed a potent reminder that mercy can legitimately be shown to people condemned to death.

Moreover, if an autocracy like Saudi Arabia can show mercy, why can’t a beacon of democracy like Indonesia?

Johannes Nugroho, a writer from Surabaya, can be contacted at
Related Articles:

Festival Celebrates Indonesia-India Ties

Jakarta Globe, Rabab Hannan, Jan 28, 2015

Guests at the opening ceremony of Sahabat India at Jakarta’s Taman Ismail
Marzuki concert hall. (Photo courtesy of the Indian Embassy)

Jakarta. Enchanting tunes of classical Indian music reverberated through the opening ceremony of Sahabat India as former President Megawati Soekarnoputri launched the Festival of India in Indonesia at Jakarta’s Taman Ismail Marzuki concert hall on Monday night.

Indian Ambassador to Indonesia and Timor-Leste Gurjit Singh welcomed more than a hundred guests to the three-month-long festival celebrating India’s social, economic and cultural engagement with Indonesia.

Ambassador Singh welcomed guests to Monday’s ceremony, which commemorated India’s 66th Republic Day, with the slogan “Sahabat India,” meaning “trustful, loyal, true friend.”

Megawati’s surprise appearance stunned the crowd. “As the fifth president of the Republic of Indonesia and as chairwoman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle [PDI-P], I have always reminded [myself] that is very important to build friendship and cooperation between nations.”

Megawati highlighted Indonesia’s profound friendship and respect for India in its appreciation of ahimsa, one of Hinduism’s cardinal virtues and the essence of non-violence.

“As nations we both possess many similar values: ahimsa, for example,” Megawati said. “Ahimsa is an instrument effective in struggling for advancement … to stand on our own feet, which has become the basis of Indonesia’s formation: integrity and character in our culture.”

“It is this cultural link and a long friendship that unifies our nations and people. This festival serves as a platform for strengthening relations between India and Indonesia.”

Trade Minister Rahmat Gobel also used the opportunity to emphasize the festival’s importance for strengthening trade and investment between the two countries in the coming years of President Joko Widodo’s government.

“Indonesia and India already enjoy a robust economic relationship in which India has become Indonesia’s largest trading partner, export market and source of imports from South Asia,” he said.

“However, I understand that there are hurdles and challenges to overcome, therefore we must work together to break down barriers to trade and investment,” Rahmat added. “I look forward to the commencement of the negotiation of the Indonesian India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement for the benefit of both our nations.”

Miss Indonesia India 2015 contestants also participated in the ceremony ahead of their competition’s finale later this month.

The festival will run through May 2015, programming for which includes Indian folk dances, Bollywood film exhibitions and various food and entertainment events.

Former President Megawati Soekarnoputri, right, praises the historic friendship
 between Indonesia and India which, in the words of Ambassador Gurjit Singh 
draws on a civilizational bond, during India’s Republic Day festivities on Jan. 26,
2015. (BeritaSatu Photo/Gugun A. Suminarto)

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Police Arrest Four in 4.25-Ton Aceh Marijuana Bust

Jakarta Globe, Jan 27, 2015

A marijuana plantation in Indrapuri, Aceh, discovered by police in
February 2013. (AFP Photo/Atha)

Jakarta. Indonesian police have announced the seizure of more than four tons of marijuana bound for Jakarta from Aceh, the latest such bust of the drug from the ostensibly staunchly conservative province.

Police discovered the drugs in a truck on the highway between Medan and Binjai in North Sumatra on Jan. 17, Insp. Gen. Eko Sutedjo, the chief of the North Sumatra Police, said in Medan on Monday as quoted by

The truck was loaded with 96 sacks of marijuana, weighing a combined 4,250 kilograms, Eko said.

Police arrested the driver, Nasir, 33, and his assistant, Fadli, 40, both from Aceh.

The suspects told investigators that the drugs came from Aceh and were destined for Jakarta. Two of their associates, Mursal, 40, and Zulkifli, 33, were picked up by police in Jakarta, Eko said.

“These two suspects worked as informants, letting the others know about any police raids,” the police chief said.

He added that the North Sumatra Police were working with their counterparts in Aceh to hunt down the suppliers and growers of the drugs.

Busts of large amounts of marijuana from Aceh are common, with the drug grown on vast farms in the province, which enforces a limited form of shariah, or Islamic law. In October last year, police seized a truck carrying 2,000 kilograms of the contraband after it broke down by the side of the road in Aceh. Police later tracked down and arrested the driver, who had wandered off to find spare parts.

In early December, police in Medan arrested nine people found with 350 kilograms of marijuana, which also came from Aceh. And in the last week of December, police in Jakarta arrested a truck driver from Aceh who had driven all the way to the capital with a load of 1,200 kilograms of marijuana.

Earlier this month, police discovered eight hectares of marijuana plants growing in Aceh Besar district. They have not been able to identify the owner.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

100 days in power - Has Indonesia's Jokowi shaken things up?

Joko Widodo came to power on pledges of ushering in an era of change and a new leadership style. But while many praise the Indonesian President for economic reforms, analysts say his 'Mr. Clean' image has been dented.

Deutsche Welle, 26 Jan 2015

For many Indonesians, October 20, 2014 seemed like the beginning of a new chapter in the country's recent democratic history. 53-year-old Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, was sworn in as president of the world's fourth most populous country, after narrowly defeating ex-general Prabowo Subianto in a hotly contested election in July.

The move symbolized not only the culmination of the remarkable career of a man who started off as a furniture seller on the island of Java and quickly rose through the ranks of government. It also indicated a generational change as Jokowi became the first president without links to the government of former dictator Suharto, who was overthrown in 1998 after more than three decades in power.

High hopes

Expectations were high when Jokowi came to power. His reputation for being corruption-free, direct and down-to-earth as governor of Jakarta had appealed to many voters, some of whom even compared the 53-year-old to US President Barack Obama who spent part of his childhood in the Southeast Asian nation.

Many say Jokowi's cabinet makeup
 reflects the strong influence exerted
by Megawati Sukarnoputri
Three months into his presidency, the Indonesian leader has been facing a host of major challenges inherited from previous governments, ranging from fighting the country's endemic corruption and rising inequality, to revitalizing the sluggish economy and improving the infrastructure.

In addition, Jokowi has had to deal with a hostile parliament, given that most of its members are aligned with losing candidate Prabowo.

Given the difficult task ahead and Jokowi's lack of experience in regional and international affairs, many had warned against expecting sensational developments in the first 100 days of his term. But has Jokowi laid the groundwork for a successful presidency? The results are mixed.

Jokowi's team

An early test for the new leader came with the formation of his cabinet. While Jokowi's outsider credentials made him appealing to the electorate during the campaign, they also meant that he lacked the political and patronage networks that other national politicians in Indonesia enjoy.

So he appointed a total of 18 technocrats and newcomers to lead several ministries to implement some of the country's much-needed reforms - a move welcomed both at home and abroad.

However, the other posts of his 34-strong cabinet went to members of his ruling coalition, a move criticized by many as reflecting the strong influence of his party's chairwoman and former president Megawati Sukarnoputri.

"The political mandate from the PDI-P and its party coalition for his presidency created an apparent headache for Jokowi when selecting his ministers. The new Cabinet is obviously not all the president's men," Wahyudi Kumorotomo, professor of Public Administration at Indonesia's Gadjah Mada University wrote on the academic site "The Conversation."

Even more controversial has been his choice for national police chief, Budi Gunawan, suspected by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) of receiving bribes - an appointment that has cast doubts on Jokowi's campaign promise to deliver clean governance.

The issue of corruption has been plaguing the country for years now, with Indonesia ranking 107th out of 174 nations in Transparency International's 2014 Corruption Perception Index. The president has therefore been under mounting pressure to replace his pick, but has so far refused.

But more than just graft, analysts argue the issue also reflects Jokowi's struggle with consolidating power. Budi is seen as close to Megawati and many in the country consider his nomination a political maneuver aimed at further appeasing the PDI-P.
Yohanes Sulaiman, political analyst and lecturer at the Indonesian Defense University, argues that by nominating Budi as police chief, the president has squandered a lot of the goodwill from people: "Many saw this as proof of Jokowi deferring too much to Megawati at the expense of his principles," he said.

Reducing fuel subsidies

As for the economy, one of the president's top priorities, Jokowi has shown decisiveness in taking on the task of reducing government fuel subsidies, which for years had been a major drain on government fiscal resources, earning him international praise.

Takehiko Nakao, President of the Asian Development Bank, said: "With the extra budget funds resulting from fuel subsidy cuts, the government can now allocate more resources for infrastructure, which are needed to revive and diversify sources of economic growth." In fact, many multinational companies were encouraged by Jokowi's "clean image" and announced plans to expand operations in Indonesia.

Jokowi earned international praise by acting decisively on
curbing fuel subsidies

"The move to cut fuel subsidies is encouraging since it suggests that Jokowi is serious about economic reform in Indonesia, and is even prepared to take steps that may prove unpopular in the short run," Gareth Leather, Asia Economist at Capital Economics told DW.

But while the cuts were welcomed by economists, they also partly dented his popularity as the price of petrol and diesel across the archipelago went up by more than 30 percent in mid-November.

The impact, however, was partly cushioned by the recent fall in global oil prices.

Helping the poorest

The president has also made good on his campaign promise to help the nation's poorest by diverting some of the extra funds to areas such as health and education. Just days after his inauguration, the government launched the Indonesia Smart Card and Indonesia Heath Card, guaranteeing free medical treatment for the poor as well free schooling.

Analyst Sulaiman argues this gesture towards the country's low and middle-classes certainly offset the impact of the fuel price hike. "Jokowi's biggest political capital comes from the impression among many that he genuinely cares about people and that he is one of them, which to some degree may come from his humble background," Sulaiman said.

And it seems that Jokowi has kept this personal connection with the people as seen in his reaction to the loss of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 where he met with the victims' families and organized a swift response.

Dealing with the opposition

A somewhat unexpected positive aspect of Jokowi's first three months in office has been the apparent improvement of relations with the opposition, which initially seemed bent on making his life very difficult in parliament.

"There have been internal squabbles within Golkar, one of the biggest parties within the opposition, which have led them to tone down the rhetoric," said Sulaiman.

Jokowi's relations with the opposition in
Parliament have apparently improved.
But how long will this last?
If Golkar as an organization were to switch sides, or if a large enough number of individual lawmakers was to defect to Jokowi, he could gain the legislative majority he now lacks.

On top of that, in an apparent concession to the president, the opposition-dominated parliament recently approved direct elections for governors and mayors, overturning controversial legislation passed in September under Jokowi's predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, which had led to protests and criticism amongst many Indonesians.

'No clemency for drug traffickers'

Despite the signs of progress in parliament, one of Jokowi's latest decisions has led many outside the country to slam his stance on human rights and tarnish his image. Indonesia brushed aside last-minute appeals by foreign leaders and, on January 18, executed a total of six people convicted of drug trafficking, including five foreigners from Vietnam, Malawi, Nigeria, Brazil and the Netherlands.

President Jokowi not only rejected clemency requests, but also refused a last-minute appeal by Brasilia and Den Haag to spare their countrymen. Instead, he defended the executions, saying those convicted of drug trafficking would not receive a presidential pardon since Indonesia is facing an "emergency" over drug use.

The incident didn't only heighten diplomatic tensions, but also triggered international criticism from human rights groups. Amnesty International said the first executions under Indonesia's new president were "a retrograde step" for human rights. Jakarta had an unofficial four-year moratorium on executions until 2013, when five people were put before the firing squad. There were no executions last year.

Jokowi rejected clemency for
drug trafficking convicts
Another controversial issue, especially among Indonesia's neighbors, has been Jakarta's decision to sink foreign boats caught illegally fishing in Indonesian waters. While the new administration has defended the policy as a "necessary deterrent," others argue the issue is not one of legality but propriety.

"If any Malaysian fishermen accidentally enter into Indonesian waters, there is no need to sink their boats. Just escort them back to the Malaysian waters," Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi Ad was quoted as saying by the "The Rakyat Post."

The road ahead

It's been 100 days since Jokowi assumed office, and the so-called "Jokowi-effect" seems to have been replaced by realism. The new leader has offered Indonesia the prospect of a fresh start, but he also has his work cut out for him. Analyst Gregory Poling, Indonesia expert with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies says Jokowi has passed through the period of post-election euphoria and into the gritty realm of day-to-day governing.

"For every step taken toward necessary reforms, his administration seems to take another backward," Poling underlines. Moving forward, he argues, the electorate will be looking to see whether his pledges of good governance will outweigh patronage politics within his coalition, and especially whether he can step out of Megawati's shadow.

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More Than 40 Philippine Police Killed in Clash With Muslims

Officers claim to have killed Zulkifli, a bombmaker for Jemaah Islamiyah that staged 2002 Bali bombings

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Jan 26, 2015

An injured police commando on stretcher waits to be loaded onto a waiting US
 military helicopter in the town of Mamasapano, on the southern Philippine island
 of Mindanao on Jan. 26, 2015, following clashes with Muslim rebels. (AFP Photo/
Mark Navales)

Manila. More than 40 Philippine police commandos were killed in an 11-hour firefight with Muslim rebels which erupted while they were chasing one of the region’s most wanted militants, police said on Monday.

The clash — which broke out despite a peace pact with the main rebel group — was “the single largest loss of life in recent memory by our security forces”, said interior secretary Manuel Roxas.

A total of 43 commandos were killed Sunday in the remote town of Mamasapano, a known rebel stronghold, on Mindanao island in the south, the national police chief Leonardo Espina told a news conference.

Regional police spokeswoman Judith Ambong told AFP separately the bodies of 49 policemen were recovered.

Eleven police were injured but there was no information on any Muslim rebel casualties.

Almost 400 police commandos swooped before dawn on the hideout of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a splinter group which rejects the peace pact, in search of Zulkifli bin Hir.

Roxas said police claimed to have killed Zulkifli, a bombmaker for the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) group which staged the 2002 Bali bombings and other deadly attacks.

He is among the United States’ most wanted militants, with a $5 million bounty for his capture.

But as the commandos were leaving they encountered the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), sparking a “misencounter”, he said.

The 10,000-strong MILF, the main Muslim rebel group in the south, signed a peace treaty with the government in March last year.

The BIFF, a breakaway faction of several hundred Muslim gunmen, was not part of the deal.

President Benigno Aquino ordered an investigation into the incident, a major test of the accord intended to end a 40-year insurgency that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

The MILF said police did not coordinate the operation as required under the ceasefire accord.

“There will be an impact but we are hopeful and confident that this will not derail the peace talks,” Roxas said.

He said Zulkifli was believed killed based on pictures from the encounter site, but his body had not been recovered or positively identified.

The Malaysian is the most prominent of the 10 to 12 foreign JI members believed hiding in the Philippines. He slipped into the southern region in 2003 and has since been training local militants, according to the military.

‘Big problem’

Roxas said the leader of the BIFF, Basit Usman, escaped. He had been blamed for recent bomb attacks in the south.

“This is going to be a big problem,” the MILF’s chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal told AFP when asked how the fighting would affect the peace process, adding that it still stood.

The MILF had agreed to end its revolt in the mainly Catholic nation in exchange for a proposed law now being debated in parliament that would give minority Muslims self-rule in several southern provinces.

The rebels were scheduled to start disarming at the start of this year.

“This is the first encounter between the MILF and [government forces] this year. Hopefully, this will be the last,” Iqbal said.

“We are committed [to the peace process]. For the MILF, the ceasefire still holds,” he said.

The rebel group’s vice chairman, Ghazali Jaafar, said the peace treaty signed last March was the only solution to the conflict.

Sunday’s bloodbath highlighted “security challenges” but nonetheless strengthened the resolve of negotiators, government peace panel chairperson Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said in a statement.

Over 1,000 people displaced by the violence have begun returning to their homes after the fighting stopped Sunday afternoon, Mamasapano town mayor Tahirodin Benzar Ampatuan said.

The firefight was only the second since the ceasefire. Two soldiers and 18 Muslim gunmen were killed in a clash on the southern island of Basilan in April 2014.

Since the peace accord was signed, authorities have been hot on the trail of the BIFF. The group pledged allegiance to Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria last year.

Agence France-Presse

Indonesian to Join US Activists in First Peace Delegation to Cuba

Jakarta Globe, Jan 26, 2015

US flags are seen in a bici-taxi near the capitol in
Havana on Jan. 23, 2015. (AFP Photo/Yamil Lage)

Jakarta. US-based peace activist group Codepink will be leading a delegation of 150 people — including an Indonesian participant — to Cuba to mark the recent thaw in US-Cuba relations, particularly the easing of travel restrictions.

Timed to coincide with Valentine’s Day, the “To Cuba With Love” delegation will include a number of renowned activists and leaders from peace and justice movements, environmental groups, women’s  rights organizations, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) advocacy groups.

Indonesian activist Tunggal Pawestri will be the only representative from Asia to join the delegation.

“I’m jumping on this opportunity to reach out to the Cuban people and its government,” Tunggal said.

She added that she was anxious to exchange ideas on issues critical to Indonesia, including women’s rights, health care, environmental sustainability, poverty reduction and LGBTQ rights.

“I believe that Indonesia has a lot to learn from Cuba, especially its legendary health care system,” said Tunggal, who has been active in advocating for the rights of the archipelago’s minority groups, including its LGBTQ community.

The multinational delegation will have the opportunity to conduct high-level meetings with government officials; visit members of the Cuban Five, Cuban intelligence officers who were incarcerated in the United Stares in 1998 and recently released; speak with doctors working to combat Ebola in Africa; meet with entrepreneurs concerning new business opportunities; and interact with local residents to discuss the Caribbean nation’s cultural, economic, environmental, educational, agricultural and health care issues.

The delegation includes a number of activists who have been involved with Cuban-US issues for years by protesting the Guantanamo Bay prison and the US-led economic embargo, and by calling for an end to travel restrictions.

Some, including Codepink co-founder Medea Benjamin, have had their passports confiscated and bank accounts frozen for their efforts.

“It’s so exciting that after 50 years, the US government is finally beginning to lift the ridiculous restrictions on our right to visit our Cuban neighbors,” Benjamin said.  “We look forward to the day when all restrictions are lifted.”