Papuan Conflict Will Get Worse Without Development Unit: ICG

The Jakarta Globe

The government must quickly set up a long-awaited body to oversee political and economic development in the restive province of Papua if it is to stem a rising tide of violence there, analysts said on Monday.

Sidney Jones, a senior adviser for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, said it was crucial that the Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B), first proposed in the middle of last year, finally be realized.

“It’s not a guarantee that the situation will get better, but it will certainly get worse without a new approach from the central government,” she said.

A report on the conflict in Papua, which was released by the ICG on Monday, argues that current efforts to create a peaceful resolution are ineffective.

The situation on the ground, it says, in particular in the highland district of Puncak Jaya, remains fraught with conflict.

The report said the current policy of pumping more money and security forces into the province was not a comprehensive conflict resolution strategy, suggesting instead that the establishment of the UP4B had the potential to be more helpful.

“Initially conceived as an agency to implement ‘quick win’ development projects, it seemed by early 2011 to be gaining a wider mandate that could also allow it to address more sensitive issues related to land, conflict and human rights,” ICG said.

However, the draft decree to set up the UP4B has been stalled at the Cabinet Secretariat since May and still not been submitted to the president to sign.

“Without the new unit, the chance of any positive change is much diminished, allowing developments in Puncak Jaya to stand as a symbol for activists inside and outside Indonesia of everything that is wrong with Papua,” the report said.

The ICG said another way to reduce tensions was to ensure that perpetrators of state violence were brought to justice, in a bid to build confidence in the state among the indigenous community.

It also argued that security forces and other officials should be briefed on the complexities of Papuan ethnic relations, and that the series of indicators produced at the Papua Peace Conference in early July should serve as guidelines for public policy at the national and local levels.

“At least the indicators provide some ideas on how to move forward,” said Jim Della-Giacoma, the ICG’s Southeast Asia program director. “The challenge now is to make tangible changes that Papuans themselves would regard as progress.”

The ICG attributed the spike in insurgency-related violence in Puncak Jaya to “a complex set of factors,” including “a sense of historical injustice, harsh actions by security forces and competition and factionalism, sometimes clan-based, among the fighters themselves.”

“Violence there helps fuel local political activism and an international solidarity movement, which in turn fuels antipathy in Jakarta to any steps toward conflict resolution that involve discussion of political grievances,” the report said.

Creative Ideas Make Life Easier for Many

The Jakarta Globe

The idea may not be original but granting microcredits for housewives to develop businesses is proving to be a big help for poor families in rural areas.

The idea, which earned Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus the Nobel Peace Prize, is being put into practice by a South Kalimantan community group.

For Ilah, 31, a housewife in Kertak Hanyar, the small loan helped her and some friends make extra cash by producing handmade Sasirangan batik, which is unique to the area.

She and nine other mothers joined local community development group Al Munawarah, which initially received Rp 10 million ($1,200) from the government.

Then last year, the group received a Rp 27.5 million loan under the National Community Empowerment Program (PNPM).

Banniah, 33, a mother of two, said she was able to earn Rp 1 million per month by making and selling batik. Before joining Al Munawarah in 2009, her husband was the sole breadwinner for the family.

“Now I have been able to save more money for my family,” Banniah told the Jakarta Globe earlier this month.

Al Munawarah chairwoman Masrupah said the group did not operate just for the benefit of its members, but also helped other women in the area.

“They can do part-time jobs such as knitting, especially during the peak season at the start of the school year,” she said.

“Sasirangan batik is very popular for school and office uniforms in South Kalimantan. Because we have so much demand every month, we need more people to work with us so we can meet our deadline,” she said.

State Funding, Community Decision

When the PNPM was introduced in 2007, many cities, including Semarang in Central Java and Surabaya in East Java, rejected the program because they feared it was little more than a disguised political campaign by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

But as public acceptance grew, the program’s budget increased from its initial Rp 3.6 trillion. The government earmarked Rp 13 trillion for the program this year, covering more than 6,500 subdistricts.

Under the program, the government provides financial assistance for communities to deal with jobs, roads, irrigation, water supply, health centers and schools. Since 2007, South Kalimantan has received Rp 6 billion in PNPM funding.

“Because the money is managed according to the community’s needs, it’s not the government who decides where the funding will go, but the community,” said Masadriansyah, a governement official in South Kalimantan.

In addition to community business loans, PNPM funding is also allocated for infrastructure development and job training in small community groups.

Better Water Supply

South Kalimantan’s capital, Banjarmasin, is known as “the city with a thousand rivers,” but water supply and sanitation infrastructure have long been major problems, as rivers become increasingly polluted.

But with PNPM funding, an increasing number of residents are getting access to clean water.

“Previously, my husband and I had to either buy water or simply took water from the polluted river for showers, cooking and washing clothes,” said resident Fridah, 53. “Consuming water from a polluted river is dangerous; I often got sick using it. I am very happy now with the access to the clean water.”

Banjarmasin’s deputy mayor, Irwan Anshari, said local water provider PD PAL now provided more than 120,000 houses with access to clean water, and more than 5,000 houses were connected to the city water sanitation infrastructure.

“The existence of so many rivers is no longer a big help in terms of water supply because of pollution,” he said.

PD PAL is expanding its water sanitation and wastewater management infrastructure. At the moment, it doesn’t charge any fees to subscribers for the first six months. After that, they will have to pay for the service.

Marwanto Harjowiyono, Finance Ministry official, said the central government had allocated Rp 231 billion for clean water supplies and sanitation programs nationwide.

Australian Support

With Australia spending 558 million Australian dollars ($586 million) on help to improve the living standards of 110 million Indonesians living on less than $2 a day, the nation is the key supporter of the PNPM.

Of that amount, about 20 million Australian dollars is allocated to provide piped water facilities in poor urban communities around the country and to increase the number of households with sewerage connections.

This support provides 60,000 households with new connections to piped water and up to 10,000 households with sewerage connections.

“The Australian government is very proud to be the largest supporter of the PNPM program in Indonesia, outside the Indonesian government itself,” said Peter Baxter, director general of the Australian government’s Agency for International Development (AusAID).

“The PNPM program is a very good program for empowering the community and is a very famous program around the world as it has a direct impact on people’s lives.”

Honoring Indonesia’s Everyday Heroes

The Jakarta Globe

Dessy Sagita & Elisabeth Oktofani

Every Independence Day, a moment of silence is accorded to our national heroes, those who sacrificed their lives to make the country what it is today. But for each of those heroes remembered, thousands more are still selflessly toiling away to move this nation forward. Here are just a handful of those unsung heroes:

Paulus J. Agustinus, nurse

Paulus had wanted to become a health worker for as long as he could remember. His father, he said, found satisfaction in his work as a public nurse even though he only earned a meager salary.

“Despite his difficult life, my father passed away with such contentment on his face. I wanted that,” the 50-year-old told the Jakarta Globe. “That’s why I decided to follow his dream and become a nurse myself.”

He moved from his hometown on Kisar, a small island in southeast Maluku, to the bustling city of Ambon to enroll at a nursing academy. While most of his classmates opted for the comfort of working in big cities after graduation, Paulus went to work on Wetar island, about 50 kilometers from East Timor.

“It was 1983. The island was so big,” he recalled. “For that big island, I was the only health worker, serving 23 villages on my own.”

Although Paulus no longer works alone, with 18 other health workers now sharing the burden at the community health center in Ilwaki, Paulus has had to walk long distances to serve the communities he lives with. The island, even today, does not have a public transportation system, so he regularly makes his house visits on foot.

From Ilwaki to the nearest village, Paulus has to walk for at least four hours. If he were to make the rounds of the 23 villages, it would take him three months.

And even after reaching the villages, he still has trouble finding the residents.

“They are farmers, they spend most of their time working on the land, so I have to meet them one by one and ask if they have any health problems,” he said.

Like many other remote regions around the country, malaria is endemic on Wetar, as are health problems stemming from poor nutrition and poor sanitation.

But Paulus said he did not want to work in bigger cities. “I will continue serving here until the day I die, hopefully,” he said.

Achmad Syaiful Kahfi, firefighter

Whenever Kahfi hears a siren, his first reaction is to snap to attention and rush out to look for people in trouble.

“This is our job, rescuing people from fires,” the 42-year-old said. “We must respond very quickly. It’s all about speed, we don’t ever want to be late.”

Kahfi, who has been a firefighter since 1990, told the Jakarta Globe he was nearly killed in a fire in Pasar Baru. He managed to escape but watched the flames claim one of his superiors on the seventh floor of a burning building.

Only last week, he was among three firefighters who ran out of oxygen while rescuing nine people from a building overcome by thick, toxic smoke in Menteng, Central Jakarta.

But even with a job as risky as his, Kahfi has never burdened his wife or his children with the travails of his work.

“I usually only tell my family the good things about my job, especially how people thank us for a job well done in putting out fires,” he said. “It gives us a wonderful feeling to have helped someone. Even when they’ve lost their homes, they’ve lost all their stuff, they still thank us.”

Kahfi said that to make his job easier, people should not panic in the face of a fire.

“In order to effectively put out fires, we need everyone’s cooperation,” he said. “Therefore, the first thing you must do is call us on 113 so we can respond quickly. But you must keep your cellphone with you because we may call back for confirmation.”

For his dedication, Kahfi, a senior high school graduate, was granted a scholarship to complete a diploma at the Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB) in 2002. In 2004, Kahfi undertook a bachelor’s degree at Sekolah Tinggi Teknologi Indonesia and eventually got his master’s degree from Mercubuana University in 2009.

Dwi Sari Tristiana Dewi, water and sanitation specialist

Fresh after finishing her environmental health studies in 2005, Dwi was dying for a little adventure before settling down and starting a career.

As it happened, a reverend from East Nusa Tenggara that she knew offered her a trip to Alor, a quiet island 250 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital, Kupang.

“I was young and bored. All I wanted to do was go traveling,” she said. “This reverend ran an orphanage in Alor and she asked if I wanted to meet the children. So I went there.”

Without thinking twice, she left her hometown of Ponorogo in East Java and headed off to the remote reaches of East Nusa Tenggara, which she now considers her home.

Touched by the plight of the children at the orphanage, Dwi decided to stay on Alor and use her knowledge as a sanitation specialist to help the island’s people, who are still grappling with poor nutrition and poor sanitation.

“At first, I was like: ‘What have I done? This is a ghost town, jungle and sea everywhere, there’s nothing for me here,’ ” she said.

She started working as an administrator at a community health center in Kokar, which is in the northwest of the island, teaching villagers about hygiene. She has trekked up and down mountains and canoed to 20 islets around Alor to help people.

One of her aims is to get every family on the island to build their own toilet facility. Or at least get every three families together to build a shared facility.

This year, she was named the best health worker in East Nusa Tenggara, being granted the honor alongside 131 other health workers from across the country and invited to attend the official Independence Day ceremony at the State Palace on Wednesday.

“I do wonder sometimes why I stay,” she said. “The pay is peanuts and it’s so far away from my family. But I really can’t leave all those people that I love so dearly.”

Dwi said that no matter how poor they were, the villagers were always willing to share their meager harvests of corn, coconut or cassava with her.

Mira Rahmawati, doctor

When Mira graduated from the medical faculty at Trisakti University in Jakarta in the 1990s, she could have opted for a comfortable job in the city.

But she instead chose to return to Sambas in West Kalimantan, where she had done her internship. “I figured somebody had to stay in this remote place, and I didn’t mind finishing what I’d started,” she said.

Mira has since become the principal doctor and head of the Salatiga community health center for the district.

Now the 42-year-old’s home is eight kilometers down a bumpy, muddy path from the nearest main road.

“What worries me is that our health center doesn’t even have electricity,” she said.

Without electricity, she said it was particularly difficult to store medicine and use some of the equipment. The health center is also only able to provide very basic services, which is far from what is needed.

But Mira’s efforts to fight malnutrition in Sambas has nonetheless been recognized with an honorable doctor award this year.

“It’s not about being a hero, it’s about putting a smile on people’s face,” she said. “And it makes you happy as well.”

Former Antigraft Chief’s Lawyers Request Review of Murder Conviction

The Jakarta Globe

The legal team of former antigraft czar Antasari Azhar filed on Monday for a case review of his murder conviction, citing flawed legal reasoning by the judges and overlooked evidence.

Maqdir Ismail, a lawyer for the former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman — who was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2010 for the murder of businessman Nasrudin Zulkarnaen — said there were several issues raised at the trial at the South Jakarta District Court that subsequent appeal courts had failed to properly examine.

Maqdir raised the issue of the threatening text messages reportedly sent by Antasari to Nasrudin. An IT expert testified that Antasari never sent the messages, as alleged by prosecutors, but the judges concluded that he had, based on testimony from three people who claimed to have read the messages. The messages could not be accessed or read during the trial.

Maqdir voiced concerns about the conviction of Antasari for “participation in encouraging others” to carry out the murder, reportedly over a love triangle involving a female golf caddie.

“A conviction based on such a finding is unacceptable because the terminology ‘participation in encouraging’ is not recognized in the Criminal Code and cannot be used to convict a defendant,” the lawyer said.

The terminology for accessory to murder is “participation in a sinister conspiracy” to kill.

Maqdir said another key point was the court’s failure to oblige prosecutors to present the police reports on Nasrudin’s clothes and car during the trial.

“It was important because we could have used them to find out about the range from which the victim was shot. If it was at close range, then there would have been gunpowder on his car and clothes,” he said.

Maqdir also said that the trajectory of the bullet shot into Nasrudin’s head was not the same as the trajectory of the bullets fired into the car.

“This needs to be investigated,” he said, adding that testimony from a ballistics expert indicating that the weapon was broken and could not have been used was also overlooked by the judges.

The Judicial Commission has previously highlighted indications that the three judges trying the case may have willfully overlooked key evidence, and it has since called for them to face a six-month suspension and ethics tribunal. The Supreme Court has refused to act, though, arguing the judges are protected by judicial immunity.

ONE-Year Jail Asked for Suharto Relative

The Jakarta Globe

ONE-Year Jail Asked for Suharto Relative

Prosecutors on Monday sought a one-year jail sentence and a token fine for the great-granddaughter of former President Suharto, Putri Aryanti Haryowibowo, who is currently standing trial for drug use.

Trimo, a prosecutor who is trying the case, told the South Jakarta District Court that Putri, 22, should be found guilty and jailed based on the conclusive evidence, including the results of a urine test taken shortly after her arrest on March 19, which showed up positive for methamphetamine and ecstasy.

“The level of meth in her urine was the same as you’d see in an addict,” he said.

“Therefore, we recommend to the court that she be imprisoned for a maximum of one year, minus the time already spent in jail, and fined Rp 2,000 [20 cents] for court costs.”

Putri could have faced up to 12 years in prison and a Rp 8 billion fine under the country’s narcotics laws, but Trimo said there were several mitigating circumstances in Putri’s favor, including the fact that she confessed to using the drugs, that this was her first criminal offense and that she was still young and had exhibited good behavior throughout the trial.

However, Putri, who is the granddaughter of Suharto’s first son, Sigit Harjojudanto, recanted her admission two weeks ago, claiming she had signed the confession under duress after 24 hours of questioning by police.

Putri’s lawyer, Sandy Arifin, asked the court on Monday for time for his client to prepare a closing statement. Sandy said he would request rehabilitation for Putri rather than jail.

Four other suspects, including Eddi Setiono, a mid-ranking police officer, are awaiting trial after being arrested along with Putri at a South Jakarta hotel. Police seized a total of 32.4 grams of meth from the scene.

Accusations Fly as Govt Scraps Push For Komodo to Join ‘Seven Wonders’

The Jakarta Globe

Accusations Fly as Govt Scraps Push For Komodo to Join ‘Seven Wonders’

Indonesia lashed out at the organizers of the New Seven Wonders of the World competition and withdrew Komodo National Park from the running.

Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik said on Monday the decision to withdraw Komodo was taken “because the organizer of the New7Wonders Foundation has taken actions that are not professional, consistent or transparent.”

The ministry had been leading the charge to have Komodo crowned as one of the world’s new seven wonders of nature.

In 2009, the park was selected as one of 28 finalists from a total of 440 nominations from 220 countries.

Indonesia’s relationship with the organizers, however, quickly soured.

In 2010, Indonesia was chosen to host the announcement ceremony for the competition’s winner. But the agreement fell apart when the government claimed the organizing committee asked for a $10 million license fee, as well as $35 million to hold the award ceremony. The government claimed that the committee threatened to dump Komodo as a finalist for refusing to pay the fee.

However earlier this year, Eamonn Fitzgerald, the foundation’s head of communications, said the agreement with Indonesia to host the event was made “with the ministry fully aware of the investment requirements.”

Emmy Hafild, the chairwoman for P2Komodo, a community campaign to raise votes for Komodo, told the Jakarta Globe that the government did not have the authority to pull Komodo out of the competition because since February, the government was no longer the park’s official supporter in the New7Wonders campaign.

“The Culture and Tourism Ministry can’t end Komodo’s participation in the New7Wonders competition because Komodo has been voted on by the world. The government’s decision is very confusing,” she said.

She added that government support was not necessary for Komodo to win the competition, as long as the Indonesian people supported the park.

As of Monday night, the New7Wonders Web site still listed Komodo as one of the finalists.

Additional reporting from Antara.

Gas Station Fight Rolls on in W. Jakarta

The Jakarta Globe

Residents in West Jakarta said on Friday that they would continue to oppose a gas station being built in the neighborhood over fears about pollution.

A resident, Lenny Suandi, told the Jakarta Globe that the gas station, which is run by Total Oil Indonesia, was being built next door to homes in a residential complex on Jalan Panjang in Kebon Jeruk.

“We’ve rejected the Total pump station since the start because the location is right next to our homes,” the 50-year-old said. “We sent our objection in writing to the mayor, subdistrict head, urban ward head, Total’s management and the Jakarta energy and industry offices in 2010.”

The residents, however, believed the construction had been canceled after a notice board was taken down, she said. But then it resumed again without notice.

Another resident, who declined to be named, said leaks from underground gas tanks could contaminate the local water table and the gas station itself would turn the quiet neighborhood to a busy area for traffic.

Local authorities held a meeting with residents on the issue on Thursday.

Djunaidi, deputy for development and environment at the West Jakarta municipal office, said he could understand the residents’ objections but the gas station had met all the requirements.

“We explained in the meeting that the gas station has met all the requirements and it violates no regulation. Residents understood that in the meeting,” Djunaidi was quoted as saying by the Jakarta administration’s official news portal, Berita Jakarta.

Asep Warlan Yusuf, an environmental law expert from Parahyangan University in Bandung, said feasibility studies on the social and environmental impacts were needed to build new gas stations because such facilities carried risks such as traffic, water pollution and even explosions.

“Spills from the pumps and container leaks can pollute the soil, while the incoming vehicles will add to air pollution. Gas stations should be a safe distance from residential areas,” he said.

Representatives from Total Indonesia could not be reached for comment.

Firefighters Beat Traffic, Pull 7 From Jakarta Blaze

The Jakarta Globe

Elisabeth Oktofani & Arientha Primanita

Firefighters battling traffic as well as a fire managed to pluck seven people from a burning building in Central Jakarta on Tuesday.

The victims, pulled from the fifth to 10th floors of the blazing Adira building on Jalan Menteng Raya with the aid of a ladder truck, were rushed to the hospital suffering from smoke inhalation. They reportedly escaped serious burn injuries.

A firefighter was also treated for smoke inhalation.

As many as 28 teams of firefighters were deployed to battle the massive blaze, which began around 5:30 p.m. and ripped through five floors of the 13-story building.

Emergency services were reportedly kept from reaching the scene by heavy traffic.

Nira, an employee of leading automotive financing company Adira, said she worked on the fifth floor and was still at the office when the alarm sounded.

“We thought nothing was wrong,” she said. “But then my boss ran out and screamed ‘fire.’”

S even people were trapped during the evacuation and could be seen waving frantically through the windows amid billowing smoke before their rescue. They were identified as Sofian, Alan Maulani, Budi, Kuncoro, Landung, Denny and Hamdani. All appeared to be employees of Adira.

Paimin Napitupulu, head of the Jakarta Fire and Disaster Office, said the fire likely started on the fifth floor soon after office hours ended at 5:30 p.m.

“It could have been caused by an electric short-circuit, but we will investigate more thoroughly tomorrow to make sure,” he said.

He said the building had previously passed a fire inspection.

Now Go After Other Fugitives: Activists

The Jakarta Globe

Anita Rachman & Elisabeth Oktofani

Two prominent corruption watchdogs applauded on Tuesday the arrest of high-profile graft suspect Muhammad Nazaruddin but questioned why law enforcers were slow to capture other fugitives.

Adnan Topan Husodo, deputy chairman of Indonesia Corruption Watch, said arresting Nazaruddin would have been much harder than going after other fugitive suspects, such as businesswoman Nunun Nurbaeti Daradjatun.

“Nunun still has family here. Her husband is here,” Adnan said. “She must be contacting them, and [the communications] could actually be traced.”

Adnan added that Nazaruddin’s arrest was the result of good collaboration between officials at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), the National Police and Interpol, as well as the use of sophisticated technology to pinpoint his exact location.

Attempts at similar cooperation had proved fruitless with Nunun, Adnan said.

Boyamin Saiman, chairman of the Indonesian Anti-Corruption Society (Maki), said that unlike Nunun, who has remained quiet, Nazaruddin chose to attack his colleagues in the Democratic Party, attracting the attention of the party’s leader, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Adnan questioned why Yudhoyono specifically instructed law enforcers to bring Nazaruddin back to the country but mentioned no other suspects in his speech.

Yunarto Wijaya, a political analyst from Charta Politika, said the government did not appear interested in arresting corruptors outside of Indonesia.

“What is required is political will from the government to enforce the law, which will pressure law enforcers to take prompt action,” he said.

Phony Bomb Components Set Security Officials Abuzz

The Jakarta Globe

Phony Bomb Components Set Security Officials Abuzz

Elisabeth Oktofani & Farouk Arnaz

Soekarno-Hatta International Airport security officials were surprised on Monday when they saw what appeared to be bomb-making materials inside luggage passing through the X-ray scanners.

Police were relieved, though, when it turned out all of the materials were fake.

“After we examined the luggage, which appeared to contain 10 objects similar to detonators, they turned out to be dummies and not harmful at all,” National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Anton Bachrul Alam said.

The luggage belonged to three South Korean citizens — two men and a woman — who arrived in Jakarta on Sunday night on a Korean Airlines flight from Incheon, South Korea, according to Salahudin Rafi, spokesman for airport operator Angkasa Pura II.

They were set to board a Lion Air flight to Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, but security officials pulled them aside and searched their luggage after scanners turned up images of objects that were similar to detonators, chemicals and jumper cables.

“The materials were packed in a special bag and they were made by a Korean company, Global Hanwha Explosives Dream,” Rafi said.

According to the Web site of the Hanwha Group, the company has a manufacturing unit that produces industrial explosives, munitions and machinery.

The three Koreans were detained but eventually released.

“They were going use them in a presentation to a coal company in Balikpapan, Multi Mikrotama Kimia,” Anton said.

However, Rafi said the three South Koreans were unable to prove their story during the questioning. “They claimed to have come at the invitation of the company, but when our officers asked for proof, they could not show documents to back up their explanation,” he said.

Multi Nitrotama Kimia could not be reached for confirmation, but according to its Web site, it supplies ammonium nitrate, an essential ingredient for explosive materials, and provides explosive services to various mining companies.

Anton said police would summon the coal company officials to testify that the materials were for demonstration purposes only.

“We haven’t named anyone as suspects here, but we want to know for sure,” he said.

Rafi also said that regardless of the fact that the materials turned out to be fake, the incident showed that airport security officers were alert and followed safety protocols to avoid a potentially disastrous incident.

“This is proof that our officers are careful. We’re still in high alert,” he said.