The National Commission for Child Protection is “thrilled” at the success of a celebrity event that raised more than $23,000 for an eight-month-old baby girl who was kidnapped, raped and left to die.
Seto Mulyadi, chairman of the commission, also known as Komnas Anak, applauded the efforts of the public who came together for an event featuring a number of Indonesian celebrities in Jakarta on Sunday night and raised Rp 200 million ($23,200) for the victim and her family.
“[Komnas Anak] is thrilled that there are a lot of people who care about the baby,” Seto told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday. “The government should not look the other way, especially the municipal government of South Sulawesi. They should make sure that the baby is well taken care of, both her future and her health.”
The eight-month old was found bleeding from injuries consistent with a sexual attack and abandoned in a boat floating in waters off Bantaeng, South Sulawesi, on May 27.
It was subsequently discovered that the baby had been kidnapped earlier that morning. The girl’s father, a poor fisherman, 24, and mother, 17, had reported the case to police.
It is understood there may be other, similar cases in the area.
Musician Fla Priscilla, who initiated the fund-raising auction and concert in the Cilandak Town Square, South Jakarta, said after hearing media reports about the attack, he confirmed details with activists and traveled to Bantaeng, a fishing village about four-hours’ drive from Makassar.
“As a mother, I only wanted to hug the baby’s mother,” Fla told the Globe. “I know how she feels because I also have a daughter and I wanted to support her family by holding the fundraiser.”
A number of Indonesian celebrities were in attendance at the event, including award-winning actress Dian Sastro, musician Melly Goeslaw and rockers Slank.
For Erwin Arnada, former editor of the short-lived Indonesian edition of Playboy magazine, memories of prison — such as the smell of rusty iron and moldy prison walls — are taking some time to shed.
Erwin, who was released on Friday having served eight months in the Cipinang State Penitentiary in the capital, told the Jakarta Globe that he could not get rid of the sense he was still behind bars.
“I feel like I have jet lag. I have no idea about anything. I am sure it is because we [prisoners] never prepare ourselves for when we leave prison,” he said.
“It all happened because there was this absurd judicial process. There was a sentiment against an American brand and there was a game behind my case.”
The first edition of Indonesian Playboy was published in April 2006. Despite displaying no nudity, for which the publication is famous overseas, it was still greeted with a spate of vandalism and violent protests by conservative religious groups, among them the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).
The hard-liners pressed for charges of public indecency against Erwin in 2007, which state prosecutors decided to pursue. But he was acquitted by the South Jakarta District Court, which ruled that any such allegation should be dealt with through the Press Law and not the Criminal Code.
Then in 2009, the Supreme Court controversially overturned Erwin’s acquittal and sentenced him to two years in jail for distributing pictures that offended common decency. But it was only in September that he was sent a letter notifying him of his impending incarceration.
“Oddly enough, on the same day that I received the letter, the press council found other information on the Supreme Court’s Web site indicating that I was not proven guilty,” he said.
When queried, the prosecutor told him that the ruling contained in the letter was correct.
“I feel that I was treated unfairly and I am sure that my case was politicized by a group and they used the religious issue to fight against me,” Erwin said, though he declined to name the group.
“There are many other adult magazines that still can produce their magazine freely.
“Honestly, if you want to compare Playboy and those other adult magazines, you can tell which one is presenting erotic content.
“It is very important that authorities judge a publication’s content rather than the publication’s brand, because it is obvious that there is discrimination, a negative sentiment, against American brands,” he explained.
He said the reason that he took on the role of editor of the Indonesian edition of Playboy was because he wanted to present quality articles for adult male readers.
He said the magazine also published contributions from the Pantau Foundation, a literary organization.
“I can tell you that we did not write articles about dildos or how a man can get a girl in a bar or whatever else, like the other adult magazines do,” he said.
Erwin said he had made use of his more than eight months in jail to write three books, and screenplays for three films.
“My first book is ‘Midnite di Negeri Nonsens’ [‘Midnight in a Nonsense Country’], which will hopefully be published in the next few months. It is a testimony of my time in the Cipinang Prison,” he said.
“Another book, about religious tolerance, I also plan to turn into a film. The last book will be released in the US,” he said, declining to give details on that work or the screenplays.
Erwin said he also planned to continue to publish a bilingual cultural magazine in Bali, which was launched in May.
Predominantly Hindu Bali became the home of Indonesia Playboy after violence forced the closure of its Jakarta office.
Train Fare Bump Gets Jeers From Commuters
Ahead of a planned fare increase, angry commuters are calling for state-run railway firm Kereta Api Indonesia to cut prices on its trains serving the Greater Jakarta area, and the company appears to be listening.
KAI subsidiary Kereta Jabodetabek Commuter said last month that it would stop running expensive express trains in favor of more economy-class ones in the hopes of increasing ridership.
After already being delayed in March, the new plan is set be implemented on Saturday. However, many area residents who rely on the train have expressed anger over the company’s decision to do away with express trains while increasing the cost of an economy-class ticket, which currently runs commuters Rp 1,500 to Rp 4,500 (17 cents to 52 cents).
The new fares could go as high as Rp 9,000. That anger has prompted KAI to rethink its fare increases with an eye toward making them less severe, spokesman Mateta Rijalulhaq said.
“We have decided to reduce the train fare to a reasonable rate that can be accepted by the public and can help finance the company’s operating costs at the same time,” he said.
“The Jakarta-Bogor route, for instance, will be reduced from Rp 9,000 to Rp 7,000, or Jakarta-Depok from Rp 8,000 to Rp 6,000. The slight drop in price is doing little to appease commuters, who welcome paying a higher fare to ride in greater comfort and speed.
“I take a KRL Express train to get to Jakarta faster than I would in a bus or in my own car. The new pricing system, which implemented one single fare and stopovers in every station, is both really inefficient and yet very expensive,” said Angga Setiawan, 28, a Bogor resident.
He expressed frustration that he would be forced to spend longer amounts of time on his daily train commute while paying more for what he said was the same old economy-class.
Tickets for the air-conditioned express trains range from Rp 4,500 to Rp 11,000 depending on the route. Express service trains also stop at just a few stations, unlike economy-class trains.
Rosita Primandari, 18, an economy passenger from Bekasi, said that despite KAI’s announcement, the higher fare would still increase her financial burden heavily.
“I do not take the express train. I use the economy class, for which I only pay Rp 1,500, but I heard the new train fare will be raised to as much as Rp 6,000. I need to ask more money from my parents then,” she said.
Indah Anggraini, a regular rider from Depok, voiced concern that despite the higher fares, mechanical problems resulting in long delays would still continue to plague the railways trains.
KAI operates three classes of commuter train services between Jakarta and its satellite cities of Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi.
The two cheaper ones, served by economy and air-conditioned economy trains, stop at every station along the route.
The third, the express service, stops at just a few stations and is the most expensive, enjoyed by upper middle-class workers across Greater Jakarta popular The new fares will be implemented by July 2.
”Express train ticket prices will be reduced once the express trains are converted to economy class. In addition to the poor service and inconsistent pricing policy, the company is also short of railway cars to accommodate hundreds of thousands of commuting passengers everyday, said Indah Anggraini, 33, who lives in Depok.
“Many people know that economy train often encounters mechanical problems and we have to wait for over half an hour until it moves again. If we pay for the same amount of money but we do not get a better service, I will say that it is not fair at all,” she said.
“Therefore, it might be better if the government adds more fleet.” With more trains as backup, the company will always have a replacement when one train is broken and need to be repaired, she said.
“With more fleets, if there is a problem, it can be solved easily.”
The Many Who Get Lost in the Red Tape Muddle
Suparmin has since 2008 been shuttling between Jakarta and his hometown of Purwodadi in Central Java to try and find news of his daughter, who went to work in Malaysia in 2006.
Wiwik Hariyanti was only 16 when she left, and Suparmin says he wanted her to go on to vocational school here.
“Things didn’t go as I planned because I didn’t have enough money to pay the entrance fee,” he says.
“Wiwik felt so depressed and ashamed that she couldn’t continue her studies, so she decided to find work in Malaysia. I let her go.”
She communicated regularly with her parents until 2008, when nothing more was heard from her, Suparmin says. “I went to the placement agency that got her the job, I went to the Manpower Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the BNP2TKI [National Board for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Overseas Workers], but I got no answers,” he says.
“I later found out that Wiwik’s data was falsified by the placement agency, her age in particular and her marital status. I didn’t realize that at the time because I couldn’t read or write. Nor did I really understand the requirements to be a migrant worker. As far as I knew, she went to Malaysia through an authorized placement agency.”
For parents like Suparmin, the potential danger faced by their children working overseas is unnecessary. Why, they question, does the government not provide enough jobs at home?
“I never dreamed that my child would work aboard as a migrant worker, because I believe that Indonesia is a rich country,” Suparmin says.
For Fatihudin, 45, who used to work in Malaysia, the choice of whether to seek work at home or abroad is an easy one to make.
“If I could choose, I wouldn’t be a migrant worker,” he says.
“I’d work in Indonesia, where I could stay with my family and provide my children with a good education.” But the choice is not that simple, he points out.
“It’s no secret that even though Indonesia is such a rich country, it has limited employment opportunities,” he says.
That lack of opportunity is what prompted him to go to Malaysia in 1998, after registering with the manpower office in Bojonegoro, East Java. But that data was never shared with the Indonesian Embassy in Malaysia.
“It didn’t just happen to me, but also to another 70 migrant workers who were sent there at that time,” Fatihudin says.
“We only found out after we got fired by our employers. When we went to the embassy to ask for help, they claimed they didn’t have our data, which made us illegal migrant workers.”
What perplexes him is how the government could have let this happen. “Why did the manpower office turn us into illegal migrants, despite the fact that we paid all the required fees?” he asks.
The Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta), which has taken up the cases of Suparmin and Fatihudin, says it received 27 reports in 2009 and 2010 regarding migrant workers’ cases, including allegations of human trafficking, torture and withholding of salaries.
The former editor of the short-lived Indonesian edition of Playboy magazine has said his release from prison marks a victory for press freedom in the country.
Erwin Arnada was released on Friday afternoon from East Jakarta’s Cipinang Penitentiary, where he had been detained since October for public indecency.
“My release is proof that freedom of the press in Indonesia is still respected, and I hope there will be no other journalists prosecuted as I have been under the Criminal Code,” he said outside the prison’s gates, where he brandished the official order for his release and donned a T-shirt reading: “Journalism is not a crime.”
“I do not feel that I have become a victim or a hero. I feel that I have become part of Indonesian history in fighting for freedom of the press. And I believe the statement on my T-shirt explains more than what I just said.”
Muslim hard-liners pressed charges of public indecency against Erwin in 2007, shortly after the launch of the local version of Playboy, which did not feature nudity. He was later acquitted by the South Jakarta District Court, which ruled that it should be dealt with through the Press Law and not the Criminal Code.
However, on appeal, the Supreme Court overturned the ruling in 2009 and sentenced Erwin to two years in jail. In May, however, the court overturned its own ruling — although an official copy of the decision only reached Todung Mulya Lubis, Erwin’s lawyer, this week.
Todung said he appreciated the court’s latest verdict. “This is not only a victory for Erwin Arnada, but also a victory for Indonesian press freedom,” he said.
“We also want to thank the Supreme Court for its commitment to enforcing the Press Law as a lex specialis law,” he added, referring to the legal doctrine that states specific laws cannot be overridden by general legislation.
Erwin said he would not file a lawsuit against the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which first pressed charges against him.
“The one thing I want to say about the FPI sending me to jail is that my parents taught me to be forgiving instead of being slanderous,” he said. “I just hope that my reputation can be rehabilitated. However, I understand that it will take some time and we will keep trying to work on it.”
Erwin also said he would go back into the publishing business, but headed off any talk about reviving Playboy Indonesia, citing security concerns.
He said his immediate plan was to visit his mother’s grave.
The Jakarta City Council urged transportation officials on Thursday to review a recently imposed parking ban in the city’s center following a wave of complaints from local businesses.
“We ask the Jakarta Transportation Office to review the implementation of the on-street parking ban along Jalan Gajah Mada and Jalan Hayam Wuruk, or see if it can be implemented only in certain areas at certain times,” said Selamat Nurdin, head of the council’s Commission B.
He spoke after meeting with businessmen, parking attendants and other employees who work in the area.
The ban began on Monday to clear parked cars along the busy thoroughfares that span Central and West Jakarta. During a one-month socialization period, cars found parked along the roads will be towed or clamped, but owners will not be fined until the month is up.
“Parked cars outside shops and restaurants along both streets take up valuable road space and causes daily congestion,” said Bernhard Hutajulu, the head of traffic management at the Jakarta Transportation Office.
“On average, about 660 parked cars take up three lanes of the roads. If these lanes were freed up, we estimate traffic capacity could increase by an extra 1,800 cars an hour.”
Bernhard said there were 1,355 off-street parking spaces in the area, including at buildings such as Duta Merlin, the Pelni office, Gajah Mada Plaza, Hayam Wuruk Plaza, Lindeteves Trade Center and Hotel Grand Paragon that were safer than parking by the side of the road.
However, local businessmen suggested during the council meeting that there was a hidden agenda behind the policy.
“I am sure there is a mafia who wants to take control of the Gajah Mada area, and they want to buy our land at a cheap price and the city is taking their side,” said Lieus Sungkharisma, a shop owner on Gajah Mada.
Willy Rentamzil, another Gajah Mada businessman, said that not long after the ban began, an individual visited him offering to buy his land for a cheap price, citing the decline in customers.
“The on-street parking ban is obviously not just to manage Gajah Mada’s traffic,” Willy said.
Lieus claimed the barely week-old ban had already made a big impact on local businesses and the livelihood of people working in the area.
“For people like me, businessmen, we will probably still be OK if we lose our income in Gajah Mada. What about our employees, the parking attendants and street vendors?” he said.
The administration has promised that 160 affected street parking attendants in the area will be moved elsewhere.
Tatak Suwita, who owns a paint shop on Gajah Mada, said the ban was unfairly penalizing businesses in the area when they were not the cause of the traffic.
“If we’re talking about on-street parking causing heavy traffic on Jalan Gajah Mada, the Jakarta Transportation Office needs to see where it happens most of the time,” he said.
“It happens usually in front of the Central Jakarta District Court, and most of the court’s visitors double-park. Most of the shoppers, meanwhile, don’t park a long time. They just come and go quickly.”
Aca Sugandhy, an urban planning expert at the University of Indonesia, agreed with the city administration, saying the ban on on-street parking was a step in the right direction.
H e said the city still needed to come up with a longer-term plan to effectively reduce traffic congestion in the area.
“The administration needs to make a long-term traffic plan to reduce the heavy traffic along Jalan Gajah Mada and Jalan Hayam Wuruk because there will be more cars in the near future,” he said.
A week after a new tax scheme was announced to end the foreign film boycott, there was still no word on when Hollywood blockbusters would again hit the country’s big screens.
Ukus Kuswara, head of culture, arts and film at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, said the next big issue that needed to be resolved was the matter of unpaid royalties to the government.
The Ministry of Finance announced the new tax scheme last week, with importers now only needing to pay a specific tax on films, providing a simple solution to the long-running dispute over royalties for imported movies.
But the issue of unpaid royalties over the past two years — totaling about Rp 31 billion ($3.6 million) from three major importers, according to the government — has yet to be resolved. Only one of the three importers has settled its bill and is now allowed to import films, although it deals mostly with small, independent movies.
Widhi Hartono, head of audits at the Customs Office, said the other two importers had filed appeals against the government’s demands for unpaid royalties.
“These two are still banned from bringing in films pending a court decision,” he said.
The two importers are understood to be largely responsible for bringing in the big Hollywood movies.
But Djonny Sjafruddin, head of the Indonesian Cinema Companies Union, said the issue must be resolved once and for all. “Unless the government solves this problem properly, more than half of Indonesia’s cinemas will be closed within four months,” he said.
Ukus said the government was working on a win-win solution. “We are having intensive meetings [with importers] to find out what problems they’re facing,” he said. “Once we figure out the problem, we’ll find the solution to bring back films so people don’t have to go abroad to watch them.”
Combination of Poor Infrastructure and Corruption Hurting Public Services: NGO
The government is failing to provide its citizens with basic public services as the country continues to grapple with poor infrastructure, inadequate health services and corrupt government officials, activists said on Wednesday.
Fransisca Fitri from Yappika, a nonprofit public service organization, said that despite the 2009 law on public services, the government has not lived up to its promise to provide citizens with basic amenities.
She pointed out that only those who could afford to pay for health services could get proper treatment in hospitals, while most citizens struggled to access health care.
Reports of incidents such as the collapsing roof at a dilapidated public elementary school in Central Jakarta that injured three of its students and traffic accidents related to the damaged roads that criss-cross the capital highlight the chronic state of basic public services in the country, she said.
“Why did it happen? It happened because the government has provided low-quality public services in the first place,” she said.
Even obtaining an identification card, known as a KTP, is a struggle, as government officials at the urban ward offices often only move to process the request after receiving a bribe.
Dela, 68, a resident of Muara Baru in North Jakarta, said on the sidelines of the public service discussion organized by Yappika that she had to pay the official at her urban ward office Rp 200,000 ($23) to process her identification card application even through it was supposed to be free of charge.
Although Dela considered Rp 200,000 a large sum, she paid the officer because a KTP was necessary for processing other documents.
“I don’t have a choice but to spend Rp 200,000 even though I cannot afford it,” she said.
The Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta) said it had received reports from 12,000 people regarding the lack of public services since the start of last year.
The complaints are related to health services, public transportation, road infrastructure and difficulties in obtaining a KTP.
Muhammad Reza Sahib from the People’s Coalition on Rights to Water (KRuHA) said that privatizing public services made it even more difficult for people to access the public services they required.
He gave the examples of water management in Jakarta, which is partly handled by private companies, and the government’s practice of selling some of its public hospitals to be run by the private sector. Elisabeth Oktofani
Adapt Wayang to Appeal to Modern Kids, And Nation Will Benefit, Minister Says
Wayang puppet theater can be used to promote integrity of spirit in the nation’s youth and performances should be presented in a way that fits modern times, the culture and tourism minister said on Wednesday.
Launching the 2011 Indonesian Wayang Festival (FWI), Jero Wacik said wayang performances could be used to build character because they were deep with meaning.
“Nowadays, wayang performances are not very popular with the younger generation,” he said. “They need to know that wayang stories are actually rich in philosophical value that can help to build the nation’s character.”
“When I was young, entertainment choices were very limited and wayang shows were one of the few things we had,” he continued. “I really enjoyed watching the performances because I learned so much.
“Therefore, it is very important to find a way to present wayang performances according to the times. We must not neglect our culture just because it appears old-fashioned, especially because wayang was recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage by Unesco in 2003.”
The minister referred to the United Nations’ cultural body.
“We can make animations and videos of wayang, for instance,” he said. “It would really help to get the attention of the young generation because it appears interesting.”
Suparmin Sunjoyo, the head of the FWI committee, said wayang could be presented to the young generation in a number of ways.
“Through this festival, we want to introduce wayang to the young generation and also revive some puppets that have disappeared, such as Palembang wayang.” Suparmin said.
“We do not want wayang to disappear from Indonesian culture because our young people have lost interest.”
Suparmin said he was encouraged that there were many children who wanted to learn how to puppet masters, or dalang.
Galih, 12, who has been learning how to be a dalang for the past two years, said there was something about wayang that reminded him of his great grandfather.
“My great grandfather is a puppet master and I want to be like him,” Galih said. “It is fun to learn how to be a puppeteer because I can learn the wayang stories and Javanese.”
The 2011 FWI is being held by the Indonesian Wayang Secretariat (Senawangi) and the Indonesian Puppeteers Association (Pepadi). Performances will be held at the Wayang Building in East Jakarta in July and October, with domestic and foreign participants.
Locals Offer Advice to Combat Traffic Gridlock
Acap on private vehicle ownership, coupled with a comfortable and reliable public transportation system, is just the ticket to solve Jakarta’s traffic woes, residents said on Tuesday.
Faozan Latief, 24, told the Jakarta Globe that he wished there were fewer cars choking the city’s streets.
“I’d say that living in Jakarta is like living in hell, because other than wasting so much time in traffic, we also waste money on commuting,” he said. “So the only thing that the government can do to reduce private vehicle ownership is impose a high vehicle tax.”
He added that the next logical move would be to expand the current public transportation network to accommodate former and would-be private commuters.
“The government also needs to provide proper public transportation and optimize the TransJakarta busway by adding more buses, so we don’t have to wait in line for ages,” Faozan said.
Novieta Tourisia, 23, agreed that the busway system needed to be improved if it were to entice commuters away from their cars and motorcycles.
“The government needs to enlarge the city’s busway system and introduce a restriction on private vehicle ownership, because right now, it is too easy for anyone to get a car or motorbike,” she said.
But she also said the government needed to crack down on the angkot , the ubiquitous minibuses that stop at random and take up entire lanes of already crowded roads while gathering passengers.
“We all know that angkots stop whenever and wherever the driver pleases,” she said.
“Therefore the government needs to enforce the transportation law seriously, because angkots are one of the reasons why Jakarta has such heavy traffic congestion.”
Fauzana Fidya Rizky, a local university student, said the burden should not rest solely on the authorities. She said it was also up to the community to ensure that public transportation facilities were properly maintained. “Although I drive, if the facilities were improved, I wouldn’t mind taking public transportation,” she said.
“Take the busway shelters, for instance. Some of them have been damaged by vandals who simply didn’t have a sense of social responsibility They don’t understand these facilities are for us, the citizens.”
She added that without a sense of ownership over public facilities, “people won’t care about helping the government maintain the facilities.”